Thursday night. Herman Cain died of covid. As I’d guessed several days earlier, the terse status update from his hospital meant he was in bad condition. I feel bad for his family and loved ones, but… What happened was entirely avoidable. He deliberately disregarded every rule of this pandemic in many, many ways.

If Cain hadn’t gone to a public event (Trump’s rally in Oklahoma), if he’d worn a mask, if he’d distanced instead of sitting in a crowded section, he still would’ve been alive and well. There’s a possibility that he got exposed to the virus elsewhere, but if not… How many people who attended that rally, and how many people in their immediate social circle have died because of that single event?

At some point, we may have to come up with a term for deliberately putting yourself in the path of danger and trying to get sick. Suicovid? Covicide? Neither one sounds right, but we’ll need some word to differentiate those who got sick and died due to bad luck, and those who had brought it upon themselves. Herman Cain’s official cause of death may have been covid, but in the grand scheme of things that may as well have been suicide.

…in non-covid news, today was an eventful day. I drove out to the Princess Sodalite Mine an hour west of here, and it was well worth it. Sodalite is a beautiful blue mineral found only in this part of Canada, as well as a couple of distant foreign countries. I found a nice chunk in the “rock farm” area, but the main beauty of that mine was their store. I’ve seen museums that had less selection than that store. Better yet, you could touch, ogle, and buy every single gem. I dropped $200 CAD (~$150 USD) on a few beautiful exhibits: a fairly large dark quartz crystal from Brazil, some beautiful connected crystals (the gem’s name escapes me) from China, a cute present for xgf, and a couple of small (yet amusing) pieces of bismuth grown in Germany. If you’ve never encountered bismuth, please take 10 seconds to google it. It’s a trippy metal that forms the most bizarre and colourful shapes after it gets melted. The store’s prices were far better than I could’ve expected elsewhere, and now I’m the proud owner of several shiny museum-quality gems.

After that, I explored a rock pile behind a grocery store – an odd location I’d overheard a few geologists mention the day before. Not much there, but it was fun to play in the dirt. The local Tim Hortons managed to make three mistakes when I ordered a total of four snacks and drinks, which is actually rather impressive. It had been a while since I encountered such hilarious and blatant disregard for customer service. Made me feel like I was back in Russia all over again. Heh.

And at the end of the day… I hope I’ll never forget this last experience. I walked around a pretty local park, waiting for the sunset, for the darkness. I drove down to the worst-kept local secret, the CN rock dump pile that’s open for everyone. It mostly has plain old biotite mica (think shiny coal), but if you visit it at night, armed with a UV flashlight, a mosquito spray, and enough patience, you’ll see true magic. Unremarkable-looking rocks would glow green and orange under the ultraviolet light, looking for all the world like ancient runes concealed in plain sight. It really was magical: dark sky, the pale blue UV light, the faint and foreign glow of secret rocks… I’m so extremely glad I’d chosen to do this on my vacation. I’d never done anything remotely like this before.

Tomorrow will be the last full day of my trip: I might drive out farther to some of the abandoned mines that are supposed to have quartz deposits. It’s highly unlikely I’ll find anything as beautiful as the dark quartz I bought earlier today, but hey – worth a shot, right?

Stay safe, survivors, and I hope your lockdown life is treating you well.