Monday night. Great news on the personal front, or at least one side of it. The University of Toronto has completed my ECA (Education Credential Assessment) and sent me the PDF certificate stating that I do, in fact, have a valid university degree from the US. Normally, the process takes 2-3 months, not 3.5, but given the hand they were dealt, this turnaround time is nothing short of phenomenal. (They switched to online-only processing, with virtual transcripts instead of physical documents.)

I hadn’t expected them to process everything so quickly. Kudos, U of T. Now the last piece of the paperwork mountain is the FBI clearance: I mailed it in three days ago, so hopefully it’ll arrive in their West Virginia office sometime this week. Once they process it (about a week?) and send it back (another week, maybe?), my company’s lawyers will be able to submit my permanent residency at long last.

Given the horrific shitshow happening in the US, I really don’t feel like going back…

I took the third trip to the local Niagara Falls Walmart today to get some more fruit, veggies, cheese, and frozen pizzas – the essential supplies needed to spend the last two weeks here. Maybe it was the cold and gloomy weather (we’ve been hit with the polar vortex), or maybe it was something else, but for once there was no line to get inside the store at 6pm. Another big change is that this time, most shoppers wore masks. One thing that’s still the same is the disappearance of grapefruit juice. Something has gone very, very wrong with that supply chain. Maybe someday I’ll figure out what it was.

Back to the US, though: most states reopened on Sunday, Mother’s Day. Pictures and video footage online all show a disaster in the making: crowded restaurants, overcrowded parks, crowds everywhere. All the voluntary isolation, the disruption of every single activity, all the countless sacrifices of varying degrees – all for nothing. The second wave won’t come in the fall – it’ll start showing up a week from now. Journo twitter is hinting (but unofficially) that someone very high up in the White House tested positive. The White House staff will have to wear face masks, which is a classic example of “do as we say, not as we do.” My quick count of Trump’s yesterday’s tweets was off: he posted or shared over 100 of them. This is the genius who wore goggles (without a mask) during the 3M factory tour…

Like I said, I’m just glad I’m out of there, and it’s even less likely than ever that I’d return. (Even though I miss my Search&Rescue crew from Seattle…) I’d anticipated a colossal screw-up from Trump’s government for years – and I’d started trying to transfer abroad even before he was elected. Back in February 2016 (when he was a pretty clear Republican frontrunner), I applied for a work transfer to the UK. When that fell through, I tried Poland. Then Canada. Then Australia. Then Canada again. Fifth time is the charm, eh?.. I can’t imagine what kind of stressed-out mess I would’ve been by now if I’d stayed there.

More and more journos (and some officials) are pointing out that official death tolls for the pandemic are quite a bit off. There are far more other, apparently related deaths, compared to the baseline period of 2019. Some are undoubtedly because people can’t get their treatment or are too afraid to go to the hospital. Most of the extra deaths, though, are most likely covid-related. We won’t know the true death toll until later on, when everything is accounted for. Knowing what I know about politics and petty tyrants, the US government will most likely start calling the death counts fake, and claiming that even the official death toll (not including the above-baseline deaths) is inflated. They’ve already declared war on science, so why the hell not?

…that was a very long way of saying that I’ll probably stop posting death totals here, unless the official number crosses some particular threshold.

Stay safe out there, y’all.