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Odd Lots

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  • The old pennies appear to be back. (See my entry for November 7, 2019.) Over the last two weeks, at least 75% of the pennies I’ve gotten at McDonald’s were pre-2000, some of them very pre-2000. Yesterday alone I got three pennies, two from the ’90s, and one from…1962. This morning I actually got a parking-lot nickel. (Left, above.) It’s from 1999 in case you can’t make it out, and it’s lived a very hard life. The nickel on the right is 80 years old. The penny, a trifling 38. I wonder if, with new coins in short supply, McDonald’s is again getting them from the people who run networks of supermarket coin exchangers. I was getting shiny new pennies for a couple of months, and then suddenly I wasn’t. We’ll just have to see how it goes.
    • “How did I come into the world? Why was I not consulted? And if I am compelled to take part in it, where is the manager? I would like to see him.”
      –Soren Kierkegaard, Edifying Discourses in Various Spirits (1847)

      (Hmmm. Maybe “Soren” is German for “Karen”.)

    • There’s an excellent COVID-19 stats dashboard maintained by the Arizona Department of Health Services that as best I can tell is updated daily. It covers new cases, hospitalization rates, daily death rates by date of death, demographics, and lots of other useful stuff. The daily death rates for the disease have been in single digits since September 10, and the peak death day was July 17, when 97 people died. Seeing the graphs and digesting the numbers, it’s pretty obvious that the pandemic is burning out in Arizona.
    • The older red wine is, the less trans-resveratrol it contains, and thus the fewer beneficial health effects. I’m not a wine snob, and most wine I drink these days is 2017 or 2018. I’ll open old wine now and then (we have some) when the occasion demands, but not for daily consumption.

    • Put this on your calendar: On December 21 there will be a “grand conjunction” of Jupiter and Saturn, which will be the closest conjunction of the two giant planets since 1623 AD. The planets will be separated by only 6 arc minutes, which is one-fifth the width of the full Moon. With a decent scope and good eyepieces, you should be able to see the disks of both planets in one view.
    • This is a good year for planet spotting. On October 6, Mars will reach its closest approach to Earth during its 2020 opposition. (The opposition itself refers to Mars with respect to the Sun, and is on October 14.) The Red Planet will reach magtnitude -2.6, and on that date will be brighter than Jupiter. It won’t be this big or bright again until 2030. So put it on your calendars.
    • Great fun: Sixty Seconds of Stella Leaf Jumps. (I remember leaves, heh.)
    • We’ve been hearing that Vitamin D enhances immune function for respiratory infections for quite awhile. It’s also true that many of the people who die from COVID-19 are significantly and often severely deficient in the vitamin. Here’s a scientific paper correlating Vitamin D levels with SARS-CoV-2 test results. Short form: The more deficient you are, the more likely you are to be infected after contact with the virus. Take some pills. Get some sun. Don’t just cower in your spare room waiting for a vaccine.
    • Twitter can be so worth it sometimes.
    • Check out the first graph in this article. Countries that treat their COVID-19 patients with hydroxychloroquine have far lower case-fatality rates than countries (including ours) that has banned or discouraged the use of the drug.


    1. Jason Bucata says:

      Do you happen to know, or have any unsubstantiated opinions 🙂 about the required dose of vitamin D for pandemic health? (The paper abstract mentions serum levels but I’d have no way to correlate that to consumed levels.)

      Reason I ask is, I’ve tried D3 supplements in the past, and the ones from the drug stores that I’ve tried are at 2,000 IU (250% RDA) or more, and I somehow kept getting adverse side effects, mostly brain fog/listlessness, which would go away a day or two after I stopped taking them. (The first time I tried supplementing D was ~10 years ago, and noticed those symptoms, so it wasn’t due to some recent sickness or anything like that.)

      Since then I’ve been using Emergen-C gummies with added vitamin D, and the standard daily dose of 3 gummies equals just about 100% of RDA, and I’ve noticed no adverse effects therefrom.

      I’ve also started drinking some milk again recently, partly as a result of dialing back my consumption of soda and even sparkling water.

      1. Keith says:

        The advice I have seen is that proper dosage is highly variable from one person to the next, and the only reliable way to tell is to get the 25(OH)D blood test occasionally to see what level you have reached. (There is a 1,25(OH)D test, which is not recommended.)

        I take 8000 IU per day of Carlson Solar D Gems (4000 IU twice per day), and that gives me a 25(OH)D result between 70 and 80 ng/ml. Your experience probably will be different.

        You may see warnings about danger of vitamin D toxicity from too high a level. I have read that this mostly was due to supplements that were not pure vitamin D-3, and is very uncommon today with better formulations. It apparently still is possible to reach levels that are toxic, but they are much higher than the target range that most vitamin D advocates suggest today — in the 150 to 200 ng/ml range and higher is the danger zone.

        You probably know that there is a bit of disagreement among doctors and researchers about what the proper blood level is to maintain good health. I have been going by recommendations to aim for 40 to 80 ng/ml, and even up to 100 ng/ml if you have a severe disease. That is a bit above the more common recommendation of around 30 to 50 ng/ml that most practicing doctors have been taught. I subscribe to the theory that the active researchers probably are closer to the truth than the medical schools are, so I go by the higher recommended levels.

        The only negative I have heard about the higher recommended range is that there has been some correlation noticed between higher vitamin D blood levels and development of kidney stones. As far as I have heard, so far this is just a correlation, and no research has been done to determine whether the vitamin D level is a cause of kidney stones, or the two are just associated.

      2. I doubt anybody knows with precision. There’s a heuristic bracket that can be applied to Vitamin D blood tests, and Carol and I are both near the top of that bracket. We take 2500 IU three times a week, and we get sun. (In AZ, it’s hard NOT to get sun.) We’ve never seen any adverse side effects of D supplementation. And given our ages (67 & 68) we’re not taking chances with SARS 2.

        We have other friends who have reacted badly to D supplementation. I don’t think anybody knows why this happens, but it does. We’re just lucky, I guess, that we haven’t had any problems.

        Arizona is down to onesy-twosies on the daily death number, and considering how many deaths are WITH COVID-19 but not FROM COVID-19, this tells me that here, at least, the pandemic is over.

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