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Dreams can be surprisingly creative. Regrettably, I forgot most of them. The wild dreams I had while sleeping evaporated quickly once I woke up. Only on some occasions, I remembered enough and cared to write them down. This leaves me with some complex and intriguing stories.

This morning, my dream lingered long enough in my mind that I decided to write them down. It has three separate stories. My real life is woven into the dream. Therefore, I added some brief background to give some relevant context of my real life.

Story I - The Fish Cohort Movie

Background - At work, we were talking about “fish cohort”. Our business is to serve the aquaculture industry in Norway. My Norgwegian colleague explained to us the industrial practice. “Fish cohort” is a group of fish that were grown together. They might get moved to other places and mix with other cohorts.

I was in the audience watching a fish cohort movie. The fish pen is a large farm house (a house on land). There are many cohorts, or groups, of fishes inside. They were played by adult men. They weren't wearing fish suits or had any sign to suggest they are fishes. They dressed in regular clothes. We simply accepted that they play fish cohorts. Soon we recognize individuals and their respective cohort. After living for some time in the farm house, they marched out of the house to be harvested. They were vaguely aware of their fate on the way to the slaughterhouse. I was part of the last cohort to leave.

Story II - The bike trip

Background - I have just made a major bike trip to climb the highest peak in the Bay Area. It was a strenuous all day ride that tested my stamina.

After the first movie ended, I left the farm house. I have made a major bike trip to this place for vacation. Now it was time for me to go home. I changed my mind to go back by car. I decided to bike back via another route and use rail for part of the trip. I started to research the travel plan. Where and when can I catch a train? The pressure to be there at the right time has become stressful (stress about getting somewhere on time is a recurring theme in my dream.)

Before I could figure out the schedule, I heard the horn from an approaching train. The station was within sight. So I sped toward there on my bike. I ran down a hillside. There was no trail. I just ran over the dirt and through the shrubs. I got down to the track. Unfortunately, the wire fence stopped me from reaching it. I found an opening further ahead. Passengers were getting out from the opening.

I finally made it onboard. It was a very short train with only two cars. One is like a cattle car with no seats, just a completely open floor. As I was catching my breath, I noticed I have not worn a mask like everyone else. I searched for the mask in my pockets.

I haven’t figured out the travel plan yet. So I went to the next car to look for a printed schedule. The main area of the car was taped off. There was a man struggling on the floor. He might be suffering from a heart attack. I was told the space was tape off to create social distance space, not to make room for medical personnel as I expected.

Story III - The Boy

Background: I have recently watched a retrospective of a Hollywood director Mitchell Leisen. He was well known in the first half of the 20th century but was very much forgotten today. I like his movies and their humanistic story. This story is a psychodrama falsely attributed to Leisen. It is actually my dream.

The characters were a couple. He has experienced childhood trauma as a boy. His father had ran into financial problem and it ended in his suicide. The long shadow might have been the root of some couple issues they have today.

I don't recall the main part of the movie. It goes straight to the final scene.

Filmed in black and white, the boy was standing on the rooftop peering over the white stone rails to below. The camera panned to his wife, a close up of her in a room. Her hair style and makeup were of the pre-war era. She looked straight at him and said, "It was you". "It was me", the boy peered over the stone rails. "It wasn't my father who killed himself. He died from another clause. When he died, it was me who jumped off the building and survived". The wife answered, "I know. Your sister has told me".

*** The end ***



End Of Covid - Check In

At the end of February, I have predicted that the COVID-19 pandemic will recede definitively. I said I will hold myself accountable and evaluate my prediction after three months. The time is due. As promised, I reviewed the current situation.

As of 6/4/2021, 79% of San Francisco over 12 have received at least one dose of vaccine. My elder son is going to get his second dose today. The vaccination effort in SF is hitting a plateau. Nevertheless, 79% is a great milestone to attain. Congratulations to the citizens and health workers.

SF COVID cases 2021
SF COVID cases 2021

As you can see from the data, new COVID-19 cases in San Francisco have fallen from about 50 per day at the end of February to about 12 per day now. The threat is now at minimal level. Further large-scale outbreak is very unlikely.

I did not have any extra information or used any sophisticated model to make my prediction. I thought the trend was pretty obvious just from public data reported. The winter surge has clearly passed. At that point, many people have already been infected. The vaccine supply and adoption is robust (contrary what many health officials said). The pandemic will end, one way or the other. I thought it was so clear that everyone should see what I have seen. It is perplexing to me that so many people still have a fatalistic view. This includes public quotes from many epidemic experts. For example, this article from March is titled Why another COVID surge could hit the Bay Area in the months ahead. Specific predictions made by experts includes

Dr. John Swartzberg, a UC Berkeley infectious disease expert, gives the likelihood of another surge a 45% chance. If it occurs, it will hit at the end of March and into April, he says.
Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, a UCSF infectious disease expert, has a bleaker prediction: The likelihood is 100%, he said.

I wish the press would hold themselves and the experts accountable like what I have done here. It is to the best interest of the public when we check the statement people made about the future. Granted they can hedge by saying there is a surge somewhere around the country. But that is the pandemic has receded in the San Francisco Bay Area rather than surging. This article actually quoted similar data and used similar arguments like what I have done here. Why we come up with polar opposite prognosis is a mystery. The stakes are higher than just who wins the wager. It is about trust and credibility. For their own good, they should do a post-mortem to analyze why some of the things they have said are so off.

Back to the big question, when does the pandemic end? I think of this from two perspectives. From one perspective, there is still much going on. A significant portion of the population do not plan to receive vaccines. Inflection and death from COVID still happen everyday. Problems are flaring in the rest of the world, where vaccination is lacking behind the developed countries. And then there are variants to worry about. In the fight against COVID, there is no end in sight.

The other perspective says that political leadership means the ability to make decisive decisions in a messy world. There is never a time when things are 100% alright or when people are 100% in agreement. Yet we cannot afford to delay decisions forever waiting for perfection. From time to time, we have to make a clear decision. From this perspective, I say the pandemic is now over. Take a second look at the data I quoted in the beginning of this post. They are sufficient information. I hurray Governor Newsom’s plan to end all pandemic measures in California by Jun 15th, or President Biden’s goal for the citizens to properly celebrate 4th of July. These are great rituals to signal the end of our main pandemic responses.

The next phrase will be to make the best effort to vaccinate the rest of the US, and more importantly, the rest of the world. To my surprise, like the puzzling fatalistic view of the medical experts, a portion of the population are not comfortable with the idea that the pandemic is over. They have dutifully practiced all the COVID precautions since last year, it is hard to put them down. In particular, some people are very uncomfortable that we are not all wearing masks anymore. They seem to be less concerned with the actual efficacy in real life, but more about doing everything to eliminate any risk no matter how small they are. As COVID-19 cases and death continue to drop, the gap between their fear and the reality widens. At some point we would ask if this is irrational fear? I name this condition COVID-phobia. Those people who believe they have legitimate health concerns may find this offense. On the other hand, I sincerely believe that a large-scale phobia is of real public health concern. It could manifest as the Hikikomori phenomenon observed in Japan. Or it could manifest as the problem that US public school teachers continue to refuse to return to school, unconvinced by the efficacy of vaccines, and unconcerned that they are out of step with the rest of the society.

My new prediction is the medical community will become aware of the problem of COVID-phobia in the coming months. I admit this is less certain than the COVID-19 is waning prediction I made a few months ago. But if a prediction is risk free and unsurprising, it is not much of a prediction. I will again revisit this in six months. I hope the story will end well.



On Two Dose Vaccine

In the United States, many people have received either Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. These vaccines require two doses spaced one month apart. There is a period between the first dose, when the vaccine provides some degree of protection, to after the second dose when the vaccine protection is maximized. In public, this is often described as partially vaccinated v.s. fully vaccinated. The label partially vaccinated has a connotation of temporary and insufficient. I believe this is not accurate. I suggest a different set of labels, vaccinated and double vaccinated, to describe these two stages. This label could help shape public perception and health policy and improve outcome.

First of all, the maxim of biology is that nothing is ever binary. Everything is really different shades of gray. In this respect, the label fully vaccinated also has an inaccurate connotation. Rather than making you 100% safe from COVID, it should be understood as having stronger protection, not a 0 and 1 difference. Pfizer and Moderna are impressively effective vaccines. Real world data suggest just one dose of vaccine reduce the chance of inflection by 80%. This is higher than the 70% effectiveness claimed by the alternative J&J vaccine. It should not be thought of as insufficient.

How do people decide there should be two doses of vaccine spaced one month apart? Is it better or worse than spacing three months or six months apart? Why is two doses instead of one dose? Could three doses do even better? There is not really a correct answer. The way it is decided can be described as trial and error. Scientists experimented with different dosages and schedules and found one that works best. Given the compressed schedule to obtain regulatory approval, the pharma companies do not even have time to test three month or six month spacing. So one month it is. The recommendation is also a balance of cost and benefit. Let’s say a third dose provides an additional 5% protection. This is unlikely to be recommended because the benefit does not justify the cost and the burden of making three visits to a clinic.

There are different strategies to roll out vaccination besides strictly following the one month spacing. Consider 100 people and 100 vaccine doses available. We can either give every one one shot, or we can have 50 people two doses but left nothing for the other 50 people. In the first case, all 100 people have 80% protection. In the second case, 50 people have 90-95% protection, but the other 50 have none. The first case is much more preferable than the second as far as public health’s concern. UK has adopted the first strategy for its vaccine roll out. People are recommended to wait three months for the second dose in order to vaccinate more people. As a result, the COVID case in the UK has plummeted, a sharp contrast to continental Europe.

This is why I suggest to use the label vaccinated and double vaccinated to avoid the connotation of inadequately vaccinated. For public health tracking purposes, the primary metric to consider is the number of people vaccinated. The number of people who have received two doses is much less important than the first.



Where Are We With Vaccination

San Francisco’s COVID vaccine effort continues at a brisk pace. Today, 56% of adults have already received at least one shot of vaccine. How much longer does it take to vaccinate 80% of adults? At the current pace of 12.6k vaccination per day, it will take 15 more days. April 26th is the earliest day where everyone who wants a vaccine will get a vaccine (assuming 20% of people decline). In practice, it will take more days because some vaccines are used for second shots. Nevertheless, it is tremendously encouraging to see the progress. This schedule is ahead of even the most optimistic prediction at the beginning of the roll out.

Vaccine Dashboard
Vaccine Dashboard

San Francisco’s COVID vaccine effort continues at a brisk pace. Today, 56% of adults have already received at least one shot of vaccine. How much longer does it take to vaccinate 80% of adults? At the current pace of 12.6k vaccination per day, it will take 15 more days. April 26th is the earliest day where everyone who wants a vaccine will get a vaccine (assuming 20% of people decline). In practice, it will take more days because some vaccines are used for second shots. Nevertheless, it is tremendously encouraging to see the progress. This schedule is ahead of even the most optimistic prediction at the beginning of the roll out.

Therefore I am rather puzzled by the persistent reservation from a skeptic group of people. Some health experts, the media, and many concerned citizens seem to be uncomfortable with the idea that the pandemic, at least locally, is finally receding. They are nervous that the business and social restrictions will be relaxed. They raise alarm for a possible fourth wave, the threat of variants, and outbreak brought on by reopening too soon. For some reason, they tend to dismiss the vaccine success that I celebrated. The health authorities and media are reluctant. They say we don’t have enough vaccines. They say we have a supply problem.

This is misleading and false. If everyone demands vaccines today, there are not enough. But this is not what people are asking for. They just want to get in line to receive a vaccine in a predictable time frame. As I have shown, it only takes 15 more days at the earliest to vaccinate everyone who wants a vaccine. There is no supply problem I am aware of. Why do health authorities keep making caution statements that are not warranted? Why don’t they acknowledge and celebrate the success? Newsom and London Breed understand that there is a robust supply. Therefore they keep pushing the eligibility time frame more and more ahead. Why do the health authorities not see this?

Ironically, the retreat of the pandemic intimidates some people. They are used to and feel safe to remain in the isolated cocoon. It feels scary to mingle with people again.

The justification is usually that the risk remains here and we must be cautious. It is true that the assessment of the risk is subjective, with some people tend to be optimistic and some people tend to be pessimistic. Nevertheless, any reasonable argument must be constrained by objective basis. We criticized the Trump administration for denying evidence and downplaying the pandemic. In a similar manner, we should question the alarmists who make unwarranted cautions. Too little action is bad. However, excessive amounts of action are also bad. The proper action should be proportional to the risk, not too little, not too much.

Today the pandemic has not yet come to a definitive end. But, as you can see in the vaccination progress, change is coming fast. The skeptics believe they are rightly being cautious. But if they do not adjust their assessment as the situations change, this belief will quickly descend into superstition.



We have a lot of vaccines

I find it frustrating that, when it comes to covering COVID-19 issues, the media and the community has largely remained gloomy. For example, this is an article headline

The steep dive in the Bay Area's coronavirus numbers has stopped. How worried should we be?

Thank you for keeping us feel worried.

California has announced they will remove vaccination eligibility requirements and open it up to all adults by April 16th. This is followed by the announcement of individual counties of advanced schedule to first open it up to 50s and above by April 1st. Contra Costa County race ahead to open to all by April 1st. The general availability of vaccines should be greeted as a victory. Yet the press keeps on publishing quotes that pour cold water on the good news

“Except we don’t have the vaccine,” said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, Santa Clara County’s vaccine officer.

Certainly they have vaccines. What it means is it can take several weeks to vaccinate everyone eligible. No problem. A reservation system is set up to manage the demand for this reason. I don’t think anyone demands to get vaccinated on day 1. A reservation system is expected and welcome. People are used to make reservations for routine diagnostics tests. To wait a week or two is entirely acceptable. All these gloomy predictions of vaccination sites overrun by a stampede of people is unwarranted and unnecessary discouraging.

Let’s say the demand of the 50-64 group is so high that appointments have stretched out to three weeks. This means there will be no opening by April 16th for general availability. Given this proven demand, the authority should adjust the schedule and push it out a week or two. Again, this is informed policy adjustment. It is not a reason for gloomy predictions. In fact, I find this encouraging if people treat vaccination with such high priority.

The fact is, the outlook of vaccine availability is very positive. This is the fundamental basis of opening up vaccination to everyone by April 16th. From January to March, San Francisco has already vaccinated 44% of adults. Out of the first three months, January was very slow. The supply was only picked up in March. If we can do so much in the first three months, the coming glut of supply is only going to accelerate this. I will even make another prediction. After May, anyone (in San Francisco) who wants a vaccine can get a vaccine. There will be no line anymore.

Running out of vaccines is not a concern at all. You will quickly find out from the experience of the accelerated schedule of Contra Costa county. The true worry is a substantial number of people either refuse it or treat it as a low priority. Instead of limiting people from getting vaccines, the priority of the health department will quickly shift to persuading these people to get vaccinated. Supply is the least of their concern.




Sometime ago I discovered Chloé Zhao’s Songs My Brothers Taught Me, the story of a Native American boy planning to leave his family and the reservation. I like the subtle connection and tension between his sister and him. Her films are great portraits of characters from the margin of the society, first Native Americans, then in Nomadland, the tribe of wanderer by choice. It surprised me to learn Chloé was not born American but came from China, for she has made such fine narration that even American filmmakers would have admired.

movie shot

While Songs My Brothers Taught Me was a fine independent movie, when Nomadland won the best picture of Golden Globe Award, I wonder if they have given her too much accolade. I was a little skeptical going into the theatre. Well, it was two hours well spent. The truth is, Nomadland is an excellent movie.

Frances McDormand plays Fern, a widow living out of her van, initially by necessity. But eventually, she was drawn into the tribe of a full time nomad who adopted this life as the true way of living. Chloé films feel very authentic. Here we have some fiercely independent people. They choose to live a lifestyle deviating from the stable and prosperous life desired by mainstream society. We are invited into their life to listen and to observe. While they survived on very little, the story was never patronizing. People support each other mutually. They are at once independent and communal.

The story is a lot more than day to day struggle of money and DIY vehicle repair. It was to live an unconventional life, to find your own way, and to contemplate the meaning of life.

Some scenes have caught my eye. First, the scene of people working inside Amazon’s massive distribution center. Amazon granted Chloé filming access. My guess it is because they recognize her talent and her style to depict situations non-judgmentally. The second interesting shot is a close up of a baby’s tender hand. It can make anybody’s heart melt.

Congratulations to Frances McDormand and Chloé Zhao for the great film and the well deserved recognition.



End of COVID outbreak

The COVID trend, in SF, California, and the US as a whole, is clearly heading down. In addition, vaccination is producing result. Vaccine production and vaccination rate is set to multiply in the coming weeks. My prediction is the COVID epidemic will recede definitively in just three months.

I will hold myself accountable for my prediction. At the beginning of June, I will evaluate the progress in the past three months, and if coronavirus indeed recedes definitively.

Ironically, people are not prepared for good news. We are trained to minimize risk by measures such as social distancing. It will take weeks and months to relax shutdown order and other restrictions. People’s minds might take even longer to change. The threat of COVID will remain in their consciousness despite it no longer being the case objectively.



Has Tech Destroyed Society

Has Tech Destroyed Society? Here is a very interesting story about a bet made 25 years ago covered by Steven Levy. The antagonist - techno-optimist Kevin Kelly and “anarchocommunalist” Kirkpatrick Sale. The prediction – the society would collapse. The date – 2020. The judge – William Patrick, a book publisher whom both have worked with. He is to decide based on the three agreed upon criteria - an economic disaster that would render the dollar worthless; a rebellion of the poor against the monied; and a significant number of environmental catastrophes.

25 years have passed and 2020 has arrived. Who won? The verdict turned out to be much less clear cut than expected. The wild ride of 2020 especially forced us to reexamine many of our viewpoints. Patrick declared Kelly the winner. But this is not really a vindication of the optimists. Of the three predictions, Patrick gave each side one and half points. The economy did not collapse; the environment was disastrous; the war between the poor and rich, a toss up. Kelly won because the rule needs all three to happen.

Let me inject my views. The society has not collapsed. Having lived through 2020 with wildfire raging around me and woke up to the apocalyptic orange sky day, it is justified to say it was catastrophic. But to qualify as civilization destroying climate change, there should be a significant pattern depart from the regular great flood or great earthquake that people have endured historically. The jury is still out for the long term environmental impact. Moreover, people have overlooked nature's resilience. There are many success stories of pollution getting cleaned up. Disturbed forests and wildlife, if left alone, are found to roar back in just decades. On the one side there are doom and gloom stories, and on the other side, hope and restoration. I am not convinced that the environment was irrecoverably ruined.

Is a class warfare being waged? Donald Trump’s far right movement has advanced much further than anyone would have imagined. What if he successfully overturned American’s election and declared himself president for life? This would be a nightmarish collapse of the democratic institution. However, is this a collapse of civilization as envisioned by Sale? Or is this just a different form of civilization, a fascist dictatorship? This is, for the adherents of the ideology, a preferred form of civilization.

A real collapse will be that people are afraid to get out of the house because bullets are flying. Food is hard to get, roads are blockaded, the power grid has fallen apart, the sick are left to die. As bad as things stand today, our civilization hasn’t decayed to this point. Praise the almighty god.

This is my big picture view. My faith in humanity has greatly shaken since the last few years. Yet I am not moving to the pessimist’s side still.



My 15 Minutes Of Fame

Today, January 14th 2021, I have received an email notifying me that a limit order I placed some weeks ago has partially filled. I have sold some employee Uber stock options at $60.03. I have made some money! Hurray! [more...]



Bike Tail Light

There is an annoy trend in bike tail light. The vendors are making super bright LED tail light. The idea is the brighter the light, the easier it is for drivers to see, and the safer it is for the riders. But there is diminishing return to the brightness. It is no more safe when the light is bright enough to see one mile away, v.s. a moderately bright light that you can see from half a mile away. Instead, a very bright tail light causes big problem to the rider behind you. It is blindingly bright to follow other with these super bright light. [more...]



Biden Elected President

In front of the stage filled with blue light, an exuberant crowd cheering and anticipating the speech from Joe Biden. First came Kamala Harris. She was beaming with her smile, congratulating the people for acting and standing by democracy. She introduced president-elect Joe Biden. In his speech, Biden declares he will govern as an American president, the president for all. “We are not enemies. It is time to unite. It is time to heal.” There is to be hope and possibility for all Americans. [more...]



Right Wing Media

This morning a newsletter from a right wing media landed in my inbox. Usually I don't waste time on them. But something caught my eyes today. Something about "Trump Responds to Junk Intel Report". I followed a link to read further. It was an interesting trip to the right wing media land. It should make quite a bit of interest to people interested in journalism and social media. The keywords you are going to see - complete BS complete joke ridiculous this nonsense. [more...]



Economy And Diseases

South China Morning Post is an excellent resource for international news coverage of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. They publish an up-to-date statistics of confirmed cases around the world. I have been following it for some time. [more...]



COVID-19 Has Arrived

For the most part, US was relatively removed from the coronavirus outbreak in China. Despite a small number of cases, most of them related to recent travel to China, officials assured people the risk of low epidemic here was low. When the case of Solano County patient was discovered, she has no history related to traveling and has been carry the disease undetected for days, it was a sign that our perceived immunity is over. Within two weeks, cases of virus inflections were reported all around Bay Area. Events, businesses and schools were scrambling with closures. Everything exploded. Now we are in full fledge pandemic. [more...]



The International Development of China

(Repost of my comment about the preface of The International Development of China by Yat-sen Sun as part of the course world of Creating Modern China on edX.) [more...]



Is it not a blessing

This afternoon I was laid off by Uber. After taking care of a few things, I went out for a walk. I wandered in Golden Gate Park and checked out shops on the 9th Ave. I walked into Green Apple bookstore to browse. A short book by Thich Nhat Hanh caught my attention. His writing is easy yet insightful. I found this story about "Good Luck or Bad Luck", a parable about fate is often not what it seems. A misfortune can well turn out to be a blessing. I was familiar with the original story 塞翁失馬,焉知非福, which has made it into a proverb in modern Chinese. How fitting it was to my apparent bad luck today. How lucky I would come across this when it was most relevant. I looked up the original story and shared it here. [more...]



Mock Suit Case Accident

Mock Suit Case Accident



Uber IPO

IPO Bell Ringing
IPO Bell Ringing

I was so excited to see Uber go public last Friday. On the NYSE podium were our CEO and longest serving executives. We were also joined by a few drivers and business partners. I felt quite sentimental of the moment. Many of us has gone through all the trials and tribulations for so long. Among the team is our CTO Thuan, whom through all these years have been the inspiration and driving force for the engineering team. Together we build the technology platform from the ragtag system that constantly fails into the much more stable and sophisticated platform we have today. [more...]



Transit News

This morning I have received three transit news update, one good news and two bad news. [more...]



Clear Sky

San Francisco Clear Sky
San Francisco Sky

The air was super clear on the New Year's day. From the mountain top, I saw Point Reyes, Farallon Islands, Mountain Diablo, San Jose. Everything was in clear view. [more...]



past articles »


BBC News


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NFL: Carl Nassib becomes first active player to come out as gay (22 Jun 2021)


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SF Gate


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Fired Boeing CEO is now working with Bay Area tractor startup (14 Dec 2020)


PG&E bills to rise over per year on average to fund wildfire risk reduction (5 Dec 2020)


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