Tidal Pool Tour – 1 June 2021 – De Hoop Reserve, South Africa

Editor note:

More from Tom  

By Tom Allin

Birds in the morning and little animals in the tidal pools along the coast in the afternoon.  The birding tour we had the guide to ourselves but the tidal pool tour we had to share the guide with two other couples.  There are advantages when traveling during the time of a pandemic – fewer people that you must share the guides with.

The De Hoop Reserve has some very large coast sand dunes.

Use the links below to read Tom’s complete story




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1. Fear of public shaming keeps masks on, and infections low, in Japan.

”…Japan’s Covid death rate, just one-twelfth of that in the United States, is the lowest among the world’s wealthiest nations. With the world’s third-largest economy and 11th-largest populace, Japan also tops global rankings in vaccination and has consistently had one of the globe’s lowest infection rates….

Although no government authority has ever mandated masks or vaccinations or instituted lockdowns or mass surveillance, Japan’s residents have largely evaded the worst ravages of the virus. Instead, in many ways, Japan let peer pressure do a lot of the work.

2. Updated Covid shots are coming, but will they be too late?

”…Vaccine updates are becoming more urgent by the day, many scientists said. The most evasive forms of Omicron yet, known as BA.4 and BA.5, appear to be driving a fresh surge of cases across much of the United States. The same subvariants have sent hospital admissions climbing in Britain, France, Portugal, Belgium and Israel…

Covid deaths in the United States, which had been hovering for months near their lowest levels of the pandemic, are rising again. In the worst case, epidemiologists have predicted some 200,000 Covid deaths in the United States within the next year….get that booster… And help mature their immune response and help prevent another wave…”


New COVID-19 subvariants cause concern in California…

In a sign of how the new coronavirus wave continues to spread across California, two-thirds of the state’s counties are now in the high COVID-19 community level, in which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends universal masking in indoor public spaces.


1. Association of BNT162b2 Vaccine Third Dose Receipt With Incidence of SARS-CoV-2 Infection, COVID-19–Related Hospitalization, and Death Among Residents of Long-term Care Facilities, August to October 2021

”…The third dose of BNT162b2 vaccine was associated with a reduced burden of SARS-CoV-2 infection, COVID-19–related hospitalizations, and COVID-19–related deaths in long-term care facilities[in Israel]…”

2. Analysis of COVID-19–Related Croup and SARS-CoV-2 Variant Predominance in the US

”…Recent reports have found an association between SARS-CoV-2 and croup.1-3 We aimed to investigate whether SARS-CoV-2 variants were associated with the proportion of children with croup, as well as hospital and intensive care unit (ICU) admissions and racemic epinephrine (RE) treatment…The proportion of children with COVID-19–related croup was significantly increased during Omicron (10.9%) compared with Alpha or other variant (4.1%) and Delta…Given that COVID-19 is likely to become endemic, our findings suggest that pediatric health systems should consider variation in SARS-CoV-2 phenotypes and their association with patient care…”

(J. Harris: Yes, Covid can cause Croup in children)

3. Association Between BNT162b2 Vaccination and Long COVID After Infections Not Requiring Hospitalization in Health Care Workers

”…A [PREVIOUS] study of older US veterans showed 15% reduction of long COVID after vaccination; however, study limitations included the low number of women and suboptimal vaccination schedules…”

”…[ITALIAN STUDY]We defined long COVID as reporting at least 1 SARS-CoV-2–related symptom with a duration of more than 4 weeks. Hospitalized individuals were excluded to avoid bias related to severe disease, as were individuals with a date of infection less than 28 days before the survey. We included asymptomatic infections in the acute infection group (they could not have long COVID by definition) to avoid overestimating the prevalence of long COVID. The analysis was restricted to health care workers who were tested every 1 or 2 weeks with complete demographic data and a documented positive result for SARS-CoV-2 between March 2020 and March 2022...

”Of 2560 participants, 739 individuals (29%) had COVID-19 (89 asymptomatic), of whom 229 (31.0%; 95% CI, 27.7%-34.5%) had long COVID (Table 1). The prevalence of long COVID varied across the pandemic waves, from 48.1% (95% CI, 39.9%-56.2%) in wave 1 to 35.9% (95% CI, 30.5%-41.6%) in wave 2 to 16.5% (95% CI, 12.4%-21.4%) in wave 3. The number of vaccine doses was associated with lower long COVID prevalence: 41.8% (95% CI, 37.0%-46.7%) in unvaccinated patients, 30.0% (95% CI, 6.7%-65.2%) with 1 dose, 17.4% (95% CI, 7.8%-31.4%) with 2 doses, and 16.0% (95% CI, 11.8%-21.0%) with 3 doses. Older age, higher body mass index, allergies, and obstructive lung disease were associated with long COVID….In this longitudinal observational study conducted among health care workers with SARS-CoV-2 infections not requiring hospitalization, 2 or 3 doses of vaccine, compared with no vaccination, were associated with lower long COVID prevalence. Study limitations include that symptoms and duration were self-reported, and causality cannot be inferred….”

(J. Harris: Helpful study performed during the worst part of the pandemic — so far.)

4. Neurodevelopmental Outcomes at 1 Year in Infants of Mothers Who Tested Positive for SARS-CoV-2 During Pregnancy

”Question  Is COVID-19 exposure in utero associated with increased risk for neurodevelopmental disorders in the first year of life?

Findings  In this cohort study of 7772 infants delivered during the COVID-19 pandemic, those born to the 222 mothers with a positive SARS-CoV-2 polymerase chain reaction test during pregnancy were more likely to receive a neurodevelopmental diagnosis in the first 12 months after delivery, even after accounting for preterm delivery.

Meaning  These preliminary findings suggest that COVID-19 exposure may be associated with neurodevelopmental changes and highlight the need for prospective investigation of outcomes in children exposed to COVID-19 in utero.

 5. Epidemiology of Myocarditis and Pericarditis Following mRNA Vaccination by Vaccine Product, Schedule, and Interdose Interval Among Adolescents and Adults in Ontario, Canada

”…This population-based cohort study of 297 individuals in Ontario, Canada, with myocarditis or pericarditis following COVID-19 vaccination found higher rates of myocarditis or pericarditis associated with receipt of mRNA-1273 [MODERNA] compared with BNT162b2 [PFIZER] as a second dose, particularly among male individuals aged 18 to 24 years. Higher rates were also observed with shorter interdose intervals. 

From THE WASHINGTON POST: For the Veterans

Senators kill sweeping plan to reshape sprawling VA health-care system


1. COVID-19 hospitalizations can be predicted through Google searches


1. The Secrets of Covid ‘Brain Fog’ Are Starting to Lift (Wired) Many of these hard-to-define Covid-19 symptoms can persist over time—weeks, months, years. Now, new research in the journal Cell is shedding some light on the biological mechanisms of how Covid-19 affects the brain. Led by researchers Michelle Monje and Akiko Iwasaki, of Stanford and Yale Universities respectively, scientists determined that in mice with mild Covid-19 infections, the virus disrupted the normal activity of several brain cell populations and left behind signs of inflammation. They believe that these findings may help explain some of the cognitive disruption experienced by Covid-19 survivors and provide potential pathways for therapies.

2. Bad News for Paxlovid? Coronavirus Can Find Multiple Ways to Evade COVID-19 Drug (Science) Prescriptions for Pfizer’s blockbuster drug Paxlovid have skyrocketed in recent weeks. That’s good news for many COVID-19 patients, as the pill has been proven to reduce severe disease from SARS-CoV-2 infections. But a bevy of new lab studies shows the coronavirus can mutate in ways that make it less susceptible to the drug, by far the most widely used of the two oral antiviral drugs authorized to treat COVID-19 in the United States. Researchers have found some of those mutations in variants already circulating in infected people, raising fresh concerns that physicians could soon lose one of their best therapies for fighting COVID-19.

3. New York City Will Offer Paxlovid at Mobile Testing Sites, a First in the U.S. (New York Times) New York City is creating the first mobile testing units in the United States that will allow people who test positive for the coronavirus to immediately receive for free the antiviral treatment Paxlovid. Mayor Eric Adams announced the new program on Thursday in Manhattan with Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House Covid-19 response coordinator.

Efficacy Of Pfizer’s Paxlovid COVID Drug Less According To New NIH-Funded Study

”…The drug—the most prescribed FDA-approved oral COVID medication in the United States—has seen its efficacy rate drop in half, according to the report. The findings may validate the concerns of some researchers that predict Paxlovid’s efficacy could decrease over time, given its reliance on antiviral mode-of-action…Adjusting for limitations arising from differential access and uptake of COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics, and treatment, the study found the overall risk of hospitalization was 45% lower among patients prescribed Pfizer’s Paxlovid. While still significant, the efficacy rate provided in the NIH-funded study is appreciably lower than the 89% reduction in hospitalizations indicated in Paxlovid’s high-risk clinical trial, which took place during the Delta wave.

(J. Harris: 45% ”beats the hell out of a snowball.”)


Thank you, Tom Allin


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A Real Nail-Biter

By Ron Munden — started 11/28/2021 -> finished 7/5/2022

Have you ever dreamed you failed to pay 10,000 people?  I had this  nightmare and I was awake.  

Today I received an email from my bank.  It said that my December retirement check had been deposited into my account by the Federal Reserve one day early.

This email sent old memories flooding back into my mind.

In the mid-1980s I was moved from the Head of Technical Support for the Design Division position into the Head of Information Resources Management (IRM) for Mare Island Naval Shipyard.  Two weeks into my new job an incident occured that remains crystal clear in my mind today.

One of the responsibilities of IRM was processing payroll data and generating a computer tape that could be delivered to the Federal Reserve (FR) in San Francisco.  The Federal Reserve processed the tape and sent electronic transactions into the country’s banking system and deposited funds into the accounts of the 10,000+ people working at Mare Island Naval Shipyard.

The process is repeated every two weeks.  On Monday the payroll for the previous two weeks was processed on swing shift at Mare Island.  Tuesday morning the tape was hand delivered to the FR.  That evening the FR used the tape to generate the transactions that would deposit the pay into MI employees’ banking accounts.  On Thursday night all 10,000 employees’ bank accounts were credited with the pay for the previous two weeks.  On Friday morning the funds were available for use. 

This process had been used for the prior couple of years without a problem.

This time we ran payroll and the Comptroller Department took the tape to the FR Tuesday as scheduled.

On Tuesday night I was at home having dinner when I received a call from a computer operator at the FR.  He told me that our magnetic tape had failed validation at the FR and they could not process Mare Island’s payroll.

I was not really worried when I got off the phone.  I knew magnetic tapes were not completely reliable and we have to rerun jobs from time to time.

On Wednesday morning I got to the shipyard at about 6:30am.  I noticed the schedulers in operations that we were going to need to re-run payroll and generate a new tape to take to the FS.  My next call was to the Comptroller, a Navy Captain.  I explained the situation.  He said that he would have the Deputy Comptroller dive it to the FR and wait to ensure it passed validation.

We re-ran payroll and got it to the FR by mid-morning.  

Just before noon the Comptroller walked into my office and told me that his Deputy had just called and said the new tape had failed validation.  This was the point that the Comptroller and I both realized we had a serious problem.  If we could not pay people on Friday, there were going to be a lot of bounced checks Friday night. 

Our problem was complicated by the fact that our office did not write the software that was failing.  It was written by a central design agent on the East Coast.  We reported the problem to them but the group was not known for quick responses so we could not count on them to fix our problem.

We started looking for solutions.  The shipyard had been using this software for about 6 months.  Prior to that we printed checks and distributed them on Friday at the Shipyard.  We thought we could go back to the old software and print checks bypassing the FR electronic processing.  A quick look at check form inventory showed that we did not have enough checks in stock to print 10,000 checks.

That left us with only two alternative:

  1. Find the error in the payroll software and fix it or
  2. Modify the magnetic tape going to the FR so it would pass validation.  

We also recognized we had to develop a plan of action to address the possibility that we could not get the people paid.

I took the lead on 1 and 2 approaches.  The Comptroller finalized his plan of action if alternative 1 and 2 both failed.

It is now mid-afternoon on Wednesday and the drop-dead for FR processing was late-afternoon Thursday without special processing by the FR.  

I used the Admiral Rickover approach by assigning different teams  to work in parallel and trying to solve a problem using two different approaches.

We assigned the two best Cobol coders to read the payroll source code listing and try to find any coding errors that might be causing the problem.

A second team of engineers started writing computer C code to read the payroll output tape and recalculate the tallies that the FR  expected so the modified tape would pass validation.  I worried a little about if this was legal but the vision of the Comptroller and I hanging from a crane on the waterfront trumped the legal concern at this point.

Meanwhile the Comptroller scoped out the size of the problem.  As I mentioned at that time the shipyard employed about 10,000 people.  Those people used 54 banks in the Bay Area.

The Comptroller wrote a letter that would be hand delivered to each of the 54 banks first thing on Friday if our efforts to fix the problem failed.  Each letter had an attachment listing the name and bank account number for each person doing business with that bank.   The letter quickly outlined the problem and asked the banks to honor all checks listed in the attachment.  It also committed the Shipyard to pay all the bank charges resulting from any account overdraws.

At about 6pm the Comptroller stopped by the office.  I briefed him on my status. I calculated we had about 12 to 14 hours to fix the problem and deliver a good magnetic tape to the FR.  I told the Comptroller we would work through the night and with luck we would have a tape that would pass validation before 8am Friday morning.  The Comptroller said he could not be much help but he could keep us supplied with coffee and donuts.

He was true to his word.  Every couple of hours he would drop by our office with more coffee and donuts.

At about 3am Thursday morning the Cobol programmers came to my office and said that they thought they may have found the bug.  They showed another manager and me the code.  There was a problem but was that the only problem?  They ask if they should continue looking?  I did a quick calculation in my head and decided we had run out of time.  I told them to stop looking and start fixin.  I also allerted computer operations  to prepare to re-run payroll again. 

The programmers made the corrections to the source code and recompiled the corrected code.  They were very careful because everyone knew we only had one change to get it right.

By 6am we were ready to re-run payroll and cut a new tape.  By 10am the Deputy Comptroller had the tape and was driving to San Francisco.

Then the hard part – we wait to see if the tape would pass validation.  Before 2pm we got the call.  The tape passed validation at the FR.  The transaction would be loaded into the banking system on its next run.  Money would be in employee bank accounts Friday morning.

It had been a long two days. We were all very happy people.  The image of the Comptroller and yours truly hanging from a crane on the buildways slowly faded from my memory,  replaced by a team working together.


After more research we knew what had happened.  The software had worked and paid personnel in all the shipyards for 6 months.  That was about 80,000 people.  Why did it stop working at Mare Island?

There are 8 Federal Reserve banks in the country.  The software should have been able to handle payments going through more than one FR bank but for the previous 6 month all shipyards had all their employees using a single FR bank.

For years Mare Island supplied employees to  work at a prototype nuclear reactor site in New York state.  The assignments were usually 3 to 6 months. During these assignments no employee had ever opened a bank account in NY and had their paycheck deposited into that account.  The week before our payroll run failed validation, one employee did exactly that. The payroll software had a bug.  It only worked when all the deposits went to a single FR bank.  Therefore, our payroll contained data for two FR banks and the central design agents software generated tallies that could not pass validation.

We notified the central design agent in Washington of the problem.  They issued a software fix to all of the shipyards prior to the next pay date. 

I stayed in the IRM job for another 7 or more years.  We ever had another nail-biter moment like this during that period.  What a way to start a new job.


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