Archive for August, 2020

Plague diaries, Day 171

Monday night. It’s getting dark significantly earlier now. Sweater weather during my 52-minute march around the backyard.

I’ve finally decided to fill in a shameful blank on my geek bingo card, and bought my first novel by William Gibson. (“The Peripheral.”) The price of admission is the incredibly dense introduction, but after that it’s just pure sci-fi goodness. Gibson is an interesting character, having moved from the US to Canada just like. In his case, though, it was mostly to avoid getting drafted to Vietnam, but in the end, he chose to stay here, in the Great White North. Fun guy.

In today’s culinary adventures: I’ve used up all of my old, no-brand olive oil and popped open a bottle of the fancy Tuscany stuff that seems to have its own serial number. (Or a fancy number, in any case.) This could’ve been the good ol’ placebo effect, but the fried eggs did taste significantly better. Ahh, the exciting and breathtaking life of self-imposed lockdown.

In covid news, there’s more online chatter about one Scott Atlas, aka Trump’s newest covid advisor. Atlas has no background in immunology or epidemiology, but that didn’t stop him from becoming a frequent guest on Fox News. His preferred strategy for fighting the pandemic is herd immunity, as in getting as many people infected as possible (with the exception of himself and his loved ones, of course) to end the whole thing as soon as possible. It doesn’t help that this has no scientific basis whatsoever – it’s just fancy frontier gibberish that sounds like it might work, so here we are again: a medical problem with political patchwork solutions.

It’s pretty hard to separate US-related news from the news that affects me directly. With the election getting closer, I have to skip entire podcasts on my Alexa flash briefing because once again, that no longer applies to me. (I can’t begin to tell you how great that realization feels.) So, in Canadian covid news – the Canadian government has just struck two more vaccine deals, one with Novamax and one with Johnson and Johnson. Combined with the previous deals, that translates into enough vaccines for every Canadian. The downside is the logistics, same as always. If all goes well, that means folks will get their shots sometime in the first quarter of 2021. That means, in the best of all possible worlds, over four months from this point on. Heh… There’s a significant chance that this blog (which I’ve vowed to update daily till I get vaccinated) will get all the way to Day 365 – and beyond. The world will be unimaginably different by then…

But hey, just 4-7 more months, eh? How hard can that be, right? *knocks on wood and crosses all the toes and fingers*

Plague diaries, Day 170

Sunday night. Ages ago, when I was just a warehouse grunt, I worked 4×10 and had 3-day weekends. I remember being young and naive and stupid, and being too bored with my long weekends. Heh. I had no idea how good I had it. Here comes another week, same as the week before it, and not too different from the week that will follow, with only two days in between. Huzzay.

I don’t go out much these days: once a week for groceries, usually less often than that. During today’s cider run, I saw that the fancy organic grocery store across the street had a closeout sale. Looks like it’s been in progress for quite a while: it was odd to see empty shelves for the first time since April. The only remaining bargain I could find was frozen lean ground beef patties. The entire frozen goods section was 40% off, and the only thing left in the freezer was gluten-free dairy-free pizza that was too expensive and unpopular for its own good.

Incidentally, quite a few cashiers at local stores don’t give a damn about masks anymore, wearing them under their nose. When I gesticulated wildly at the cider store cashier, she wasn’t too happy about masking all the way up. Mask fatigue? I feel like someday, someone will come up with fancy terminology for all this.

In covid news… I’m getting tempted to resume normal life again. Yesterday, Canada had 315 new cases of covid. On the same day, the US had 44,269 new cases – 140 times more. Leadership matters. Even accounting for the 1/10 population factor, the US still had 14 times more cases per capita than Canada – and that was them on a good day. I doubt we’d ever get to experience 100 consecutive days without covid, the way Vietnam and New Zealand did (well, technically just 99 days for Vietnam), but still – at what point would I be able to draw the line and very, very cautiously venture out? Should one’s precautions be the same when thousands are dying and when the numbers drop by 90%? Or is this just my brain trying to sabotage itself? Not gonna lie, it would suck a lot to catch the virus after spending nearly half a year in self-imposed lockdown. Back to steamed veggies, refrigerated ciders, and frozen beef patties, I suppose.

And yet… As long as we keep the border closed and block the riffraff from that barbaric, backward, scientifically illiterate, violent, plague-infested ungovernable country down south (no offense), we just might become covid-free sooner rather than later. Maybe not 100 days in a row, but 10 – after starting with just one. One can only hope, eh?

Plague diaries, Day 169

Saturday night. Salmon Saturday, to be precise. I can’t remember the last time I ate salmon – or even cooked fish. It feels like that was before I started this blog series. At least six months without salmon… I forgot how amazing it tastes – just melts in my mouth. For a little while, nothing else mattered.

Hung out with xgf again today. We went to the overcrowded hippie house where she used to live, and picked up some of her remaining things. It was odd to see ye olde hippies again, to see and smell the place where I once spent so much time. I have this strong intuition I’ll never see it again.

Xgf is moving back into her parents’ house next week. Her father thinks covid was created by Jews to depopulate the world. Her mother wouldn’t even offer to come help her move. I can’t even imagine having such a family… I’ll help her pack up and move because hey, that’s what friends are for. After she moves to that weird little town on the other side of Toronto, I most likely won’t be able to hang out with her again – and that’s when the isolation-fueled depersonalization is going to get really interesting.

Today was cold and windy. The T-shirt weather is over. I might have had a less exciting and more depressing summer at some point in the past, but if so, I can’t really recall it. An entire season, stolen. It’d be nice if at some point we could all just treat 2020 as a gap year and agree that it never truly happened. (Maybe that’s why those who lived through the 1918 pandemic mostly ignored it in their textbooks and memoirs?)

In covid news: not too long ago, there was a potential covid cluster at a Toronto strip club. Over 400 people may have been exposed to a sick employee over the course of four days. That establishment, like many others, had a sign-in list at the entrance in order to track and notify folks if someone tested positive. Well… Most of the names on that strip club’s sign-in list were fake, and so was their contact information. The policymakers really should’ve seen that one coming, eh? It’s a legal pickle, because the only way to know for sure is by scanning people’s IDs and holding that information in some database – and once you do that, that’ll open up a whole new can of worms. So now we have hundreds of potentially infected folks running around the city, and the best bad hope is that they watch the news, learned of the exposure risk, and got themselves tested. Fun times.

I’ve just downloaded the Canadian covid-tracking app, which relies on Bluetooth and honesty. (Mostly honesty.) If you test positive for covid, you’re expected to tell that to the app, and it’d notify everyone whose phones exchanged Bluetooth handshakes with you. Not a bad concept, though it’s got a couple of serious flaws. Still, better than nothing. Here is hoping I never get any notifications from the app, eh?

Plague diaries, Day 168

Friday night. I celebrated today’s French Friday (still doing the alliteration thing, remember?) by pacing in the backyard and taking alternating French and Spanish DuoLingo lessons nonstop for well over an hour. It’s fun to have an intellectual challenge again – and apparently, I remember a lot more Spanish than I thought I did. (I took one class in high school and then switched to Japanese because it seemed far too similar to Russian and thus far too easy.) My brain feels a little swollen, but in a good way. I wonder what I’ll dream of tonight…

Another week flew by, but at least now I’m sticking with my veggie-eating exercise routine, so that’s progress. (Not that I’m going vegetarian, mind you – still got Taco Tuesdays and Salmon Saturdays.) Yay fiber and getting in better shape.

It strikes me that for those of us who are still in lockdown, there are two sets of binary outcomes. You’ll either get more fit or more fat, and you’ll either shave your hair or grow it out. I’m hoping to be in the fit/long-haired camp if and when this mess ends.

The covid news ties somewhat in my personal business. There was a Wall Street report that two vaccine candidates made by VBI Vaccines (namely, VBI-2901 and VBI-2902) can produce neutralizing antibodies to fight covid. Presumably, that could be administered in a single-round vaccine, as opposed to two-round ones. The only downside? This was tested solely on mice, and not on humans. Nonetheless, VBI’s stock jumped 61%, and so did the tourism industry stocks. I’ve managed to sell one of mine for a small profit (I’d spent far too much time averaging down, else the gain would’ve been higher) and parked the proceeds in Wells Fargo (WFC) and Boeing (BA) because they’re just a little bit less risky, and both still trade at more than a 50% discount from their 52-week highs.

(Future Grigory, how long did it take WFC to double from $24.58 to $49.16? How long did it take for BA to double from $175.05 to $350.10? My bet is 16 months or less.)

I fully expect there to be some questionable vaccine to be hyped up and steamrolled into production in the US at some point before the 11/03 election. Now that should be interesting, and even more interesting if it actually works.

And in other, more disturbing news: there have been many anecdotal accounts of covid reinfection, but they’ve mostly been brushed aside by experts. I think that was partly because there was a possibility of the lingering virus, and partly because no one wants to be the party-pooper while everyone’s waiting for the vaccine. Well, now there’s the first officially confirmed reinfection in the US. A 25-year-old man in Nevada got sick again – and worse – after recovering from his first bout of covid a few months ago. The second infection was a different strain of covid. Frankly, that’s pretty horrifying, because that throws aside the experts’ insistence that immunity would last for at least a little while.

Worst-case scenario, that could end up being like the dengue virus, where getting infected again, with a different strain, is much worse than the first due to the antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE), a remarkably counter-intuitive and bizarre phenomenon.

This century is going to be a very interesting one… Here is hoping we don’t get antibiotic-resistant bubonic plague while we’re at it. Have a fun weekend, y’all.

Plague diaries, Day 167

Thursday night. I believe I’ve already used every single cliche about the swift passage of time (especially when your world is limited by just one room), but hey, that doesn’t make it any less true. I blinked, and it was Friday once again…

I’m cheating on my DuoLingo French lessons with DuoLingo Spanish. (My life really is filled with excitement, I know.)

I stumbled on very succinct instructions on growing your own sourdough starter, so I’m giving this another halfhearted try. Clint Yeastwood didn’t work out the first time around, but he shall rise again.

The news from the US is a little bit too depressing to describe – or enumerate, for that matter. More friends are asking me for advice on moving to Canada. Alas, they’re all saying they’d rather “wait until it gets too bad.” They don’t listen to my warnings that by then it might be too late. (Or they’ll be competing with hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of other Americans.) We’ll see how this plays out.

…I wish it were possible to remove my memories of the US, the way they did in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” Or rather, keep the best memories, but stop thinking of the US as my former country, and view it just like any other strange war-torn foreign country you encounter in the news: tragic and sad, but not something you’re personally connected to.

In covid news: a small tribe in a remote part of India has been exposed to the virus. Meanwhile, CDC director Robert Redfield tried to walk back the updated guidance (asymptomatic exposed people don’t need to get tested) without actually changing it. He said that testing “may be considered” and “everyone who wants a test does not necessarily need a test,” but the bizarre guidance on the CDC’s site remains unchanged. Just more political theater, though it’s really getting kind of ridiculous at this point, like a bunch of cartoonish mustache-twirling villains trying to fulfill their misdeed quota for the day.

Here is hoping the border stays closed until and well into 2021.

Plague diaries, Day 166

Wednesday evening. Earlier, I wrote about setting up Boredom-Reducing Enormously Alliterative Days (or BREAD, if you will), where Wednesdays would henceforth be known as Waffle Wednesdays. Small issue with that: I don’t own a waffle maker, and I don’t feel like buying novelty kitchen devices at this point in my life.

With waffles out of the way, I’ve discarded Wine Wednesdays (the whole bottle?!), Weed Wednesdays (meh), Wet Wednesdays (no, just no), and Wacky Wednesdays (my life is wacky enough as it is). The winner is Wiener Wednesdays. (No comments from the peanut gallery!) I picked up some smoked turkey sausage on my recent grocery run, which made for a fine lunch and an even better stir-fry for dinner. Nom nom.

In the US, a 17-year-old child from Illinois traveled to Wisconsin with his semi-automatic rifle. He then killed two protesters and permanently injured another one. He then walked past the Kenosha cops, who did not stop him. He then drove away, and got arrested later on by other, mildly more competent cops.

I’m currently giving my American friends the best advice I can provide on moving to Canada. Tomorrow’s Thirsty Thursday (free of exercise restrictions) can’t start soon enough…

In covid news: in lieu of absolutely nothing, the CDC took down its guidance to get tested if you’ve been in close contact with a covid-infected person. Earlier, the guidance was to get tested if you’re not sure. Now the guidance is to get tested only if you’re showing symptoms. That excludes asymptomatic carriers, and that’s frankly horrifying. No one at the CDC would own up to this change. Anonymous sources say this was due to the push from the White House.

…years ago, back in 2013, I lived in Fort Worth, Texas. I was a very low-ranked analyst at Amazon. (These days, I’m merely low-ranked.) I was a fanboy of the CDC: I’d read all the memoirs published by their Epidemiological Intelligence Service veterans. I even planned out my potential career trajectory and looked up which courses an which degrees I’d have to get at local colleges to convert my degree in Political Science into something more useful, something that would get me into not just the CDC but into the EIS itself. In one of the infinite alternate universes, that wish probably came true. I wonder how that Grigory is doing right now… The CDC has lost the reputation that had taken over 60 years to acquire. It’s hard to tell when – or whether – they’ll get it back. Thus falls another idol.

A few days ago, my best friend (who is sadly still in the US; whom I’m trying to help to move to Canada) said “No way any future history student is going to be told all of the insanity that happened. It’s going to be ‘oh, there was a bad flu and an eccentric leader.'” It’s sad, but he’s probably right. This, all of this, will likely be overlooked, and glossed over, and trivialized. This may end up like the historical accounts of Caligula, which many historians dismiss as political attacks that couldn’t possibly be real.

I wonder if this blog will survive: so much is lost to digital decay. If it survives, I wonder if anyone will read in the future. If it survives and if someone reads it in the future, I wonder if they’ll believe what I wrote. I cannot help but wonder…

Plague diaries, Day 165

Tuesday night. Today was Taco Tuesday: my taco-making skills are pretty bad, so the things I’ve wrapped together might, in fact, be burritos. They made for a tasty lunch anyhow.

I haven’t yet made peace with the fact that my second country, the US of A, is going to hell in a handbasket. (Multiple handbaskets, to be precise, traveling at different velocities.) It’s mildly less painful today than it was yesterday, though, so there’s that. After work, I dived into my preferred escapism – the “7 Days to Die” zombie video game. It’s a very ostrich-like maneuver, I know, but it keeps my mind away from all the pandemics, crumbling empires, and shouting landlords all around me. Helps pass the time, you know?

A few days ago, the game got a major update: better graphics, smarter enemies, more options. It became incompatible with the save files from the old version. I left my old character just where she was: riding through the deserted desert town on her homemade motorcycle, laden with assorted firepower, and surviving the zombie apocalypse like a pro. I’ll never access that save file again, so my character will continue her survival adventure all by herself. That may be as close to a retirement as a video game character can ever get. At least someone got a happy ending, eh?

In covid news: FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn has spent the last day or so eating crow. Everyone who knows anything about statistics, math, or science has been very busy ripping him a new one since his recent speech praising the plasma treatment. Last night, Hahn apologized on Twitter (“The criticism is entirely justified”) but apparently decided to stay on instead of quitting and letting someone else take over. His weird misguided praise (and the apparent misreading) of the plasma research wasn’t just a personal failure, it was also a huge hit to the FDA’s credibility. Every alphabet agency out there (the WHO, the CDC, the FDA) has made plenty of avoidable mistakes, and let politics get in the way of science. There are no good guys left.

And in Oxford, Mississippi, an entire fourth grade (over 200 kids) is in quarantine because one kid and more than half of their teachers tested positive for covid. I get that most people suck at strategic thinking, but really – what was the logic there? Reopen schools and pray to the deity of your choice that everyone will stay perfectly healthy for the duration of the school year? Now they (and pretty much all the other schools around the country) will have to improvise an online curriculum on the fly. Ho hum.

If and when a vaccine – an actual, tested vaccine, and not something rushed past the FDA – comes out, that should make things better. Hopefully, at least. Until then, the lockdown continues – and so does the flood of crazy news.

Plague diaries, Day 164

Monday evening. In the spirit of keeping things interesting, I went all in on veggies during today’s grocery run. (Incidentally, my growing dislike of Walmart has led me into Loblaws for what I believe is the first time. Go Loblaws!)

I decided to steam a few of them in a microwave for dinner: just random stuff like carrots, beats, peppers, cauliflower, etc. Five minutes later, I accidentally ended up with impromptu borscht. You know what they say: you can take a boy out of Russia… Heh.

I also tried dragonfruit for the first time. It was delicious, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was destroying something beautiful as I sliced it in half. The world would be a much more entertaining place if all the random fruit/veggie arrangements were replaced with dragonfruit and other tropical beauties.

…yesterday, white cops in Wisconsin shot Jacob Blake, a Black man, in the back after he broke up a fight and started walking back to his SUV. Miraculously, he survived. That happened just short of the three-month anniversary of George Floyd’s murder. Not a damn thing has changed. There are riots in Kenosha. No justice, no peace. Some countries go entire decades without engaging in horrifying police violence. The US can’t even make it three months. Not for the first time, I’m so, so glad I left. I feel sorry for those left behind, those who couldn’t or wouldn’t leave – “sorry” in the most fundamental sense of the word. Sorrow.

The fact that Blake survived is far less relevant than the fact that several white cops attempted to kill him in broad daylight. There will be the standard kabuki theater: they’ll be placed on leave, some hoity-toity task force will stretch out the investigation for months and years. Much, much later, there’ll be some official conclusion, followed by a non-apology apology. There will be no justice.

I remember the murder of Freddie Gray. The fact that those Baltimore cops stayed quiet and got away with it… That was horrifying – and just another in the series of many red flags. I was in Baltimore when that happened, launching Amazon’s newest warehouse. There were city-wide curfews, and we had to give our employees permission slips so they could get to work and back after dark. That was over five years ago. Not a damn thing has changed. Some place their hopes on Kamala Harris: if Biden wins the election, and if Trump lets go of the power peacefully (fat chance), and if Biden dies in office, and if Harris actually wants to enact change… That’s an awful lot of if’s, and that’s no way to run an alleged democracy.

In covid news: Trump has strong-armed the FDA into announcing emergency authorization for using convalescent plasma to treat covid. That’s largely meaningless, and most of the FDA’s personnel (and Fauci himself) were against it. There’s no way to scale up the production of plasma (humans are the only source), and the efficiency is overstated, in any case. Just more empty noise.

The Miami Dolphins will admit 13,000 fans into their stadium during the home opener on September 10th. There are highly idealistic plans that attempt to explain how 13,000 people will stay far away from each other, avoid close contact, and get into the stadium in a socially responsible way. And they say there’s no market for fairy tales anymore. Heh. This strikes me as just the latest in the ongoing battle of jocks vs nerds. Nerds wanted the country to go into lockdown, wanted masks to be made mandatory, etc. Jocks laughed and didn’t follow the rules. Now it’s the football season, and while countries like New Zealand can enjoy their public gatherings once again, the US jocks want something they haven’t earned. I wonder how many other states will do something similar. There’ll be some mighty depressing pictures of mobs of fans waving American flags and shouting nonsense in support of their beloved sportsball team.

…I get that my writing has become increasingly bitter and cynical. I’m aware of that. It’s just that the world at large, or at least my part of it, is going to hell in a handbasket. I worry about my friends, my family, and the people of the country I’d once loved. And there’s not a damn thing I can do to truly help them.

Plague diaries, Day 163

Sunday night. The beginning of yet another week, not too different from others, except that it’ll bring me another week closer to becoming a Canadian; to meeting my big goal; to getting vaccinated. (Whenever that may be.)

My body is very confused about the spike in physical activity yesterday: legs are sore and fine, but my left shoulder feels off. I guess 100 pushups out of nowhere will do that. (Normally, I’d do maybe 25 per day – assuming I remembered or felt like it.) Looks like I’ll have to set up leg/arms/whatever days.

My new (well, new to me) zoom lens will arrive soon, according to the FedEx tracker. It made it all the way from Japan to the US earlier this weekend. Then it spent a few hours in the state of quantum uncertainty, fluctuating between Memphis and Indianapolis, and finally made it to my Toronto suburb, Mississauga. Here is hoping nobody breathed/sneezed/coughed at it during the process. With luck, it’ll get delivered fairly soon.

Funny story about that shipment. That was the first time in years that I’ve used Fedex. Earlier today, some scammer called me at the very early hour of 10:30am (rude!) and woke me up with a pre-recorded message saying the delivery fee was $30 short, and I should enter my credit card info over the phone. Now, even when I’m rudely awakened at an unbelievably early hour such as that, I know a scam when I hear one, so I hung up. Here’s the question, though: is there a mole at Fedex who sold my shipment info to scammers? Or are the tracking cookies on my laptop becoming so intelligent that they send my shopping data to random scammers? Or was it both? How strange, this modern world…

In covid news: there was a stampede at a night club in Lima, Peru after the police raided an illegal party. There were about 120 people at the party. During the rush for the exit, 13 of them died. There’s no word on how many were injured but survived. By doing something this tactically stupid, Peru ensured a 10.8% mortality, worse than covid’s fatality rate by a huge margin. I suspect that won’t be the last incident of this sort.

In Massachusetts, there’s a large man who gives hugs to shoppers at Walmart and then tells them, “Just giving you a covid hug. You now have covid.” It’s unclear whether he actually has covid. The police are looking for him, though with a mask on, camera footage isn’t very useful.

And there are reports that Trump is planning to roll out the Oxford vaccine before the stage three trial ends, and before it secures the FDA approval – as long as it happens before the election. This could well turn out to be just another terribly shortsighted decision from the government that turned a medical crisis into a political blame game. The vaccine may or may not work, and that’s why there are testing procedures in place. If Trump forces it through, and if that gives him the popularity bump in the polls just before the election… Well, life in Canada will get mighty interesting in the first week of November, what with tens of millions of Americans googling how to claim refugee status. We’ll know for sure how this gambit (and the election) plays out in less than three months. The world will be so much more different by then…

Plague diaries, Day 162

Saturday evening. It feels so good to do absolutely nothing, with the option of doing a little bit of everything.

Last night, I made a leap of faith and signed up for a DuoLingo membership – an upgrade from their free version. It costs about $10 a month and has the potential of becoming an amazing investment. In the free version, you’re limited to making just five mistakes per day. Now, for the price of a few Tim Hortons breakfast sandwiches, my potential to make mistakes is limitless! (Mwahahaha.)

With this overabundance of linguistic freedom, I took a quick stroll across their non-French offerings. Arabic has a very unusual alphabet. Since that’s the fundamental part of learning the language, I’ll come back to it a bit later. Apparently, I remember a whole lot more Spanish than I’d thought. Finnish is beautiful and very clear in terms of both its grammar and pronunciation, but I probably won’t get to use it very much outside Finland. Curious about their Navajo module… Not for the first time, I wish DuoLingo had been more widespread when I was a perpetually under-stimulated warehouse grunt, about a decade ago. Oh well, the second-best time is right now, right?

My slowcooker love affair continues. I think I accidentally reinvented chili (or a sad version thereof) when I dumped everything I had together: beef, beans, onions, and spices. The result looks downright bizarre (seeing as I didn’t have any tomatoes), but it’s mighty scrumptious.

Since I still don’t trust my fancy gym enough to go back (and those pre-scheduled 75-minute blocks are incompatible with spontaneity), I’ve decided to gamify my current routine. No cider unless I complete 100 pushups and/or squat for the day. (The exchange rate is 100 exercises = 1 bottle of cider.) Who knows, I might actually emerge from this pandemic more buff than I’d entered it. And on the same note, I’m making a deliberate choice to switch from black coffee to black tea. The latter seems to be slightly better for metabolism. The former is apparently bad for cortisol, aka the primary stress hormone. (That explains so much about folks in Seattle…)

Lots of changes, but since I’m kind of stuck in self-imposed lockdown here, I might as well make the most of it.

In covid news: the Trump administration has declared that covid lab tests will no longer need to be approved by the FDA. This is a classic catch-22: people hate it when the FDA takes its time to study the full impact of promising tests and drugs. On the other hand, without that rigorous process, there’d be a lot more junk on the market – and that’s where we’re headed, it seems. This is unlikely to do much to stop the pandemic, and will likely result in confusion and inaccurate homebrewed tests produced by random entrepreneurs. (Incidentally, I’ve just found out that my step-nephew from New York has been selling bedazzled masks online. Heh.)

Evidently, a prison in Arizona told the inmates to decline covid tests in order to drive down the official numbers. That was less of a suggestion and more of a threat, with severe repercussions. The families of some of the inmates have gone public with this, as they rightfully should. And in some odd news, a major movie starring Ben Affleck is moving its production from the US to Canada due to covid-related reasons. I wonder if this will be the first of many such moves. If the pandemic never gets fully extinguished, it’ll be difficult to convince millionaire celebrities to risk their lives on a crowded movie set.

And now, as promised quite a while ago, some vacation pictures from my 2,500-mile roadtrip across Ontario just a month ago:
1. a cozy reading perch on the shore of Lake Superior;
2. mysterious and abandoned-looking industrial buildings in Thunder Bay, about 15 hours north of Toronto;
3. an amethyst mine-farm-thing in the same location, where you could find 4. and buy your own rocks, or just pay for the cheap ones on display;
the Sleeping Giant, an amazing mountain formation in northern Ontario.