“I didn’t even know cyclists could get a speeding ticket,” said a woman nabbed for speeding through a school zone.
That makes two of us!
I’ve never received any kind of a ticket on a bicycle; certainly not a speeding ticket. Not that I ever would. I don’t travel very quickly on a bicycle. My ride is of a slow and steady mid-price mountain bike, not a high end road bike. I’m like the cowboy who chooses the steady, (if somewhat crotchety) old mare over the plucky stallion. Slow and steady wins the race for me.
Not for this cyclist apparently. She was ripped through Saanich at 45 km per hour. That’s an impressive speed at any time, especially on a flat surface. Hell, I’m lucky if I even approach that kind of speed coming down the side of the Malahat! I might hit a “4” or a “5”, but NEVER a “4” and “5” together!
This woman admirable velocity wasn't so impressive to the Saanich police. She achieved her velocity while going through a school zone, and she fell right into a speed trap.
"We were stopping motorists, but we couldn't help but notice cyclists coming through our speed zones were in excess of the speed limit," said super cop Sgt. John Price. "The rules apply equally to a cyclist as they do to a driver of a vehicle.”
Those of you who know Sgt. Price know he’s a real stickler for the rules. That’s probably a good thing if you’re a cop. And I have to admit, even though as a cyclist I’m really surprised that I could potentially receive a ticket, as a father, I’m delighted that he’s watching out for kid’s safety.
There are no details on how Sgt. Price caught this speedster. Did he jump on his police bicycle, all decked out in police lights and siren and give chase to the offender? Wouldn’t that be cool to see? A high speed bike chase through the sleepy municipalities of Saanich.
I’m also really curious to know... Just how much IS a speeding ticket is for cyclists? If you are speeding through a school zone in your car, you can receive a fine as high as $483. Can you receive the same amount on a bike, or would the fine be half the amount a motor vehicle receives for half the number of wheels?
Wait now, that wouldn’t be very fair, would it? Kids caught speeding through a school zone on their tricycle would be subject to a third higher fine than cyclists. Not to mention seniors in scooters zipping down the sidewalk. I don’t know about you, but I get really intimidated by grinning seniors bearing down on me in their scooter on the sidewalk. Shouldn’t they be receiving fines too?
Wishing you safe cycling (driving, scooting, walking... whatever).
First, it is important to know this is not an influenza virus. Covid-19, and before that SARS and MERS are all part of a larger group called corona viruses which are almost always found in other animals besides humans. These particular corona viruses originated in bats. It is believed SARS jumped from bats into civet cats before infecting humans and MERS jumped from bats into camels, then people.
In the case of COVID-19, epidemiologist suspect the wild animal market in Wuhan was the source of the outbreak, and a pangolin was likely the host for the virus which it passed on to people after catching it from a bat.
FYI, a pangolin is a very small, nocturnal mammal that eats ant and termites. It is popular for eating, for traditional Chinese medicine and it is trafficked around the world.
Why are bats the source of so many viruses?
When a disease jumps the biological barrier from one kind of animal into another, it often finds an immune system unaccustomed to defeating or accommodating it and the resulting pandemic in new populations can be destructive. Rodents, primates and birds carry diseases that can and have jumped to people, but bats are host to a significantly higher proportion of zoonoses – those diseases that spill over from animals to humans - than any other mammalian orders. Indeed, Chinese researchers have been studying bats and the CoVs they carry for some time. A group of researchers released an article last spring wherein they wrote that “it is generally believed that batborne CoVs will re-emerge to cause the next disease outbreak. In this regard, China is a likely hot spot.” Seems prescient now.
Interesting Bat Facts:
• Bats are numerous and widespread. They live on every continent except Antarctica.
• They often live in proximity to humans and farms.
• Their ability to fly makes them wide-ranging, which increases the spread of viruses.
• People in many parts of the world eat bats and sell them in live animal markets; the source of SARS, and possibly the latest coronavirus outbreak that began in Wuhan.
• They often live in huge colonies in caves, where crowded conditions are ideal for passing viruses to one another.
• They are very long-lived for small animals. The big brown bat, a common species in the United States, can live nearly 20 years in the wild. Others live nearly 40 years. By comparison, house mice live about two years on average.
All this does not mean that the bats are to blame for the outbreak. Humans are encroaching on the habitats of bats, not the other way around. It would be unfortunate to see the same hysterical reaction from people who started slaughtering civet cats wholesale after the outbreak of SARS.
Covid-19 is changing our society, social norms and practices.
Fears of a COVID-19 epidemic has already removed 5 trillion dollars from the world’s economy.
Economic impacts in China, Japan, Iran, Spain and 54 other countries are only beginning to be felt as the number of reported infections rise to more than 89,000 around the world. No matter how deadly this disease, the economic impacts are potentially far more devastating if fear prevails over reasoned and measured responses based on scientific data and containment procedures.
On Monday, February 24th, China banned wildlife markets when a standing committee of the 13th National People’s Congress made the decision of “Comprehensively Prohibiting the Illegal Trade of Wild Animals, Eliminating the Bad Habits of Wild Animal Consumption, and Protecting the Health and Safety of the People.” It essentially bans all trade and eating of non-aquatic wild animals – a way of life for many people.
The Louvre, the world’s most visited museum, closed their doors indefinitely due to staff’s fears of the coronavirus.
Japan may postpone the 2020 Olympics to the end of the year.
The World Health Organization is worried because protective gear such as masks and googles used by health workers is running out of protective gear such as masks and googles. Publicly traded companies will certainly see their stock increase.
Try to find any disinfectants on grocery shelves today. You won’t find any.
Greeting Habits are Changing. Australia has implemented a pandemic plan and the Health Minister is asking people to avoid shaking hands.
Football clubs in Europe have begun asking players, staff and officials not to shake hands.
Elbow bumps, pats on the back or bowing are replacing the handshake. People are also abstaining from giving pecks on the cheek, hugs and high-fives. We’ll see more of that as the virus spreads.
Will our world change?
Absolutely. But doesn’t it always?
Did you know 75 to 90 per cent of all doctor's office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints? While it is true our bodies are designed to utilize stress – the positive "eustress" which keeps us alert and ready to avoid danger, stress becomes negative, or "distress" when we experience continuous challenges without relief or relaxation. This type of stress will build into chronic stress which can cause a long list of ailments like headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, depression, anxiety and more.
Now, new studies are revealing chronic stress may also have harmful effects on the body at the most fundamental level of cellular biology and ageing. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that stress can add years to the age of individual immune system cells. The scientists tracked the telomeres and the stress levels of fifty-eight healthy premenopausal women and concluded that "on average, the immune system cells of highly stressed women had aged by an extra 10 years"!
Telomere are reliable markers of the ageing process. These are the caps on the end of chromosomes which shorten every time the cell divides. Researchers were unable to explain exactly how the women's excessive stress had added the years to the immune cells. But they theorized that their stress hormones "could somehow be shortening telomeres and cutting the life span of the cells."
More tests will need to be completed and verified, but this will be an astonishing development if proven out.
The good news is we have a lot of control over our emotional stress reactions. We don’t have to stay in a state of stress. We can choose to do something about it. There are proven strategies we can turn to in order to help us manage our stress and possibly live longer.
But first, let’s get one theory out of the way. So many “experts” have spoken and written on the idea that we must have a positive attitude to live a long life. You might be glad to hear this just isn’t true. There isn’t a shred of evidence. Grumpy people can and do live as long as happy-go-lucky people. Being a sourpuss or in possession of a biting sense of satire can be enjoyable, after all.
What HAS been proven to be a strong mitigating factor and buffer for stress is a supportive social circle of friends and family. Susan Pinker presented a Ted Talk called The secret to living longer may be your social life, where she presented the results of her study of centenarians on the Italian island of Sardinia. She chose it because, astonishingly, there are TEN times as many centenarians than there are in North America.
It wasn’t because of sunny dispositions or a low-fat, gluten-free diet, clean air or virtuous lifestyle. It was their emphasis on close personal relationships and face-to-face interactions. As she says, “fresh evidence shows that in-person friendships create a biological force field against disease and decline.”
The most effective way to reduce stress in your life (and hopefully live longer) is to build and curate friendships. If you are a bit shy or reluctant, remember the best way to attain a friend is to BE a friend.
A second way to manage stress is probably won't be a surprise to you. We were designed to move much more than our sedentary lives allow. Next time you are feeling stressed and no one is around with and ear to bend, getting out for a long walk is your next best option.
A study published in Psychoneuroendocrinology found physically fit women in their mid-60s had the same response to stress as a group of unfit women in their late 20s. In contrast, women in their mid-60s who were not physically fit released greater amounts of cortisol in response to stress.
Higher levels of cortisol equal high levels of stress. What’s the best way to lower cortisol? Exercise. It is a proven stress-buster for people of all ages, and regular exercise reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body. We most definitely need to schedule some form of exercise into our often-hectic lives.
Lower your stress and live longer by staying connected to friends and family, exercising, and staying active. A fabulous secondary effect is it makes life worth living too. Wouldn’t you agree?
Otte, C. et al. A meta-analysis of cortisol response to challenge in human aging: importance of gender. Psychoneuroendocrinology. January 30(1): 80-91.
The Coronavirus is a family of viruses with spikes that look like a crown (thus “corona”) which the viruses use to attach to cells. Once attached, the virus injects its own genetic material into your cell to coopt it into replicating more viruses. Once it has done so, your cell literally explodes spewing millions of new viruses into your body which infect more cells.
While that sounds horribly visceral, that’s how every virus works. Your body’s immune system soon identifies and attacks the virus with a special weapon called T-cells which can cut the spikes and render the virus harmless. There a many other biological processes in play for this over-simplified explanation, but suffice to say, that’s how you recover from every viral infection.
This particular group - the coronavirus - cause diseases in mammals, including humans, and birds. In humans, the virus results in respiratory infections which are usually mild but, in rare cases, can be lethal. The latest coronavirus outbreak has been more lethal than previous ones because the human body’s immune system hasn’t seen this mutation before and in some instances cannot react in time to stop the onslaught.
The outbreak of the coronavirus in China likely originated in illegal, but still very popular live animal markets. This allowed an interface when an infected animal breathed or sneezed a mutated version of the virus which eventually found its way into human lungs where it could exploit its ability to attach itself to a human lung cell. Most of the time, an animal virus cannot attack human lung cells unless there has been a mutation allowing it to cross the biological barrier from animals to people.
Hopefully, as is often the case, the virus will stop there because it doesn't have a mechanism to become communicable. Sometimes the virus can become airborne where, if it survives long enough, it will be picked up by another person from close proximity, or from surfaces such as door handles, tabletops, railings of other commonly handled items.
When this happens, the virus starts to travel from one host to another, and the viral infection becomes an epidemic. In the coronavirus outbreak, we started to see health care worker and family members getting sick.
How do I catch it and how do I remain healthy?
This virus has a “key” which allows it to attach to only specific cells in your body. In the case of the coronavirus, the key fits your lung cells. It absolutely cannot enter your body except by way of your lungs.
Avoid groups of sneezing and coughing people.
If a contagious person sneezes, the droplets can enter your lungs if you breath it in. Most of us have the good sense to stay away from sick people, but what we don’t realize is, the sick person sneezes and those particles with the virus can land on a tabletop. If you touch it, then touch your face, you provide instant access. Or, the particles land on the floor and you put down your purse, your backpack or your grocery bag, pick it up again, touch the bottom, then touch your face.
Wash your hands often and stop touching your face.
The average North American touches their face an average of 3.6 times per hour and common objects like counter tops and table surfaces 3.6 times per hour. With our hands touching common surfaces that often re-contamination can occur very quickly after we wash our hands.
Wear a mask.
You might think a mask works because it prevents contaminated particles in the air from reaching your lungs, but it doesn’t. The paper masks are leaky, and if someone sneezed right at you, while it would be better to have the mask as a barrier than not, the real reason these masks work is because they prevent you from constantly touching your face; especially your nose and mouth.
No, you don’t have to avoid imported meat.
Meat coming from Asia will not contaminate you because it must be breathed in for the virus to get into your lungs. Your stomach acid is a potent defence mechanism to prevent infections from entering your body by destroying most viruses and bacteria. Regardless, the only way you catch coronavirus is if it gets into your lungs. Packaged meat can’t do that.
Most important advice? Don’t needlessly panic.
While there are likely many more sick people in China than previously reported. There are currently only two reported cases of coronavirus in Toronto which Canadian medical officials are closely watching, along with an additional 19 people who travelled to the Hubei region of China and who now have respiratory symptoms. Health Canada very quickly and effectively isolated the potential risks by locating and quarantining those affected. Health officials are also taking samples of the virus to track how it is mutating (evolving) to see if it is becoming more virulent or more effective in transmission.
If you’re feeling sick, the odds that you have a case of coronavirus is extremely small, so rest well and get better. If you start to feel extremely sick, call your health professionals or 911 in an emergency.
To your health!