Archive for September, 2020

Plague diaries, Day 195

Thursday night. I wonder how many of my coworkers have no idea what I mean by “Happy Thor’s Day!” but are too afraid to ask.

I’m going to have to seriously modify my rules for Thirsty Thursdays because wow, just two glasses of that boxed wine actually made me fall asleep. My sleep deprivation is catching up to me, the way it always does, the way I always think it won’t. It always starts out simple: cutting an hour of sleep here and there, staying up late to watch just another episode of my TV show or read through yet another part of the Internet… And then you realize you have to wake up in five hours. And then you do it again. And again. There’s a fascinating new term for it now: RBP – Revenge Bedtime Procrastination. Heh.

At work, strange news and stranger tidings…

In culinary adventures, you can make a pretty neat carb-protein two-punch combo by making a large plate of pasta with some boneless chicken breast. This might sound completely obvious, but nonetheless – it’s still a great nutritional shortcut, and one that doesn’t require me to bake beets in the oven. (That right there might have been one of my strangest kitchen experiments.)

In covid news, the official worldwide death toll stands at 980,000. Unofficially, the world most likely crossed one million deaths a while ago. If you include excess deaths, we passed that number even earlier. Even so… We’ll likely cross that lowest of all official death totals within a week. Will it change anyone’s mind?

Good news from Helsinki: they’ve trained sniffer dogs to detect covid at airports. The only thing passengers need to do is dab their skin with a wipe, and the pupper in a separate signal if it smells the virus on the wipe. Apparently, the results are almost 100% accurate, and dogs can detect the virus even before there are symptoms. I blogged earlier (feels like much earlier) about Germans using sniffer dogs as well, but either they didn’t scale that up to airports, or they did, and the Finns are doing the same exact thing, but the world is just that starved for good news.

If other countries can do the same, it’d really make things easier: fewer clusters, and hopefully less community spread if there’s anti-covid paw patrol out in public as well. I do find it ironic, though, that for all our technology, supercomputers, high-tech microscopes, and other fancy toys, we’re reverting to the most ancient technology we have: letting dogs do their thing. A nice serving on humility to go with our hubris, eh? Good dogs.

Plague diaries, Day 194

Wednesday night. Life must be very strange for people who don’t know what “hump day” means.

I’ve written this so often that even I realize how much of a cliche this is – but wow, days really become indistinguishable after a while. It doesn’t help that the nature of my work is very repetitive: it’s my job to preserve the status quo, with an occasional well-researched improvement. That results in nearly identical workdays and nearly identical weeks…

Let’s see – today was mildly different because I saw two bluejays while I was eating my usual lunch (fried egg sandwiches with tea) in the backyard, enjoying the sunshine. I don’t recall ever seeing birds here before, this being a high-traffic suburb and all. I wonder if this is their migration season. Dinner was steak with mushrooms and steamed broccoli, and it was delicious.

And aside from that… Well, there’s more horrific news from the US, but that feels like an everyday item now, huh?

In covid news, Missouri governor Mike Parson and his wife Teresa both tested positive for covid. Earlier, Parson opposed mandatory mask mandates, claiming it should be up to everyone whether they want to wear one or not. He also appeared without a mask at multiple social and official functions, though not always. I hope he and his wife recover. But if the worst does happen… Will that be a wakeup call for the rest of the Republican governors who seemingly try to one-up each other when it comes to sabotaging health efforts? Or will they continue their macabre game as if nothing happened, as if one of their own didn’t fall?

Meanwhile, in Indiana, their governor (Eric Holcomb) announced the final stage of reopening scheduled for this Saturday. All the social businesses (restaurants, gyms, stores, bars, etc) will be able to operate at full capacity, but folks inside would be expected to practice social distancing and wear masks unless they’re eating or drinking. Good luck with that one… Indiana’s numbers aren’t looking so great, so this denial-fueled reopening will probably backfire. I feel bad for all the regular people who don’t follow the news and who will view this as an explicit permission and encouragement to get back to business as usual… Not for the first time, here is hoping I’m wrong. (Except I’m usually not.)

Plague diaries, Day 193

Tuesday night. If I skip too many Taco Tuesdays in a row, can I declare one week to be nothing but Taco Time?

I made a quick run to the grocery store and LCBO today – the remaining bananas had gone completely bad, even in the fridge. LCBO was fine, but the grocery store had some glaring examples of ignoring the mask rules. Most shoppers and staff were okay, but some wore their mask under their nose or even under their chin. The two-meter distancing rule has also completely disappeared: either that, or the people reaching directly past me to grab some tomatoes had a distinct death wish. (I can’t imagine that I look particularly healthy as I stumble around in all my protective gear.)

The dinner was a scrumptious affair: salmon filet fried with freshly acquired mushrooms and onions, accompanied by red wine and a croissant. (I don’t have a wine glass per se, so I used a multifaceted glass goblet I’d picked up at a thrift store ages ago.)

Speaking of wine: in yet another attempt to get more classy (classy AF!), I’ve decided to try to switch from drinking cider to enjoying wine. Boxed wine, to be precise. It’s a better deal, I can’t taste the difference anyway, it lasts for weeks (I always feel under pressure when I open a bottle and know I must finish it within days or it’ll get sour), and a four-liter box generates waaaay less waste than the equivalent cans/bottles of cider. (I know, I know – I’m classy and eco-friendly!)

One minor problem (aside from me not having any self-respect, that is) – the actual mechanism for pouring the wine out of the damn thing is hilariously undignified. In terms of classiness, that’s the polar opposite of popping open and pouring a bottle of champagne. Oh well. Tastes great, though, and makes for one amazingly classy dinner. (Isn’t lockdown life fun?)

In covid news, the flu season is just about here. The Ontario government is starting the flu vaccination campaign because it’s fairly clear that the flu/covid overlap would be a very bad thing indeed. This will be Ontario’s largest flu shot campaign ever.

In the US, Trump told his audience at yet another rally that “it affects virtually nobody. It’s an amazing thing.” The most charitable possible interpretation is that he was talking about those under 18. (Which means, once again, that a random dude on the Internet – yours truly – is better informed than the goddamn president of the United States of America. If that’s not existentially horrifying, I don’t know what is.) He also appeared to downplay the virus by saying it mostly kills the elderly. Unbelievable. As even the most conservative death toll trackers have crossed 200,000 – such callousness is unimaginable.

Elsewhere – Boris Johnson said there may have to be a second lockdown in England, though it’s not yet certain. Good luck to them. Good luck to all of us.

Plague diaries, Day 192

Monday night. Saying “Happy Monday” should be a federal crime.

Another day, another XXX loonies. (This just prompted me to start doing mental math and adjusting for currencies. I have concluded that I am, in fact, making more than when I was a low-level warehouse grunt in the US.) I’m trying to differentiate the passage of days any which way I can. This week, I’m treating myself to an episode of “Black Summer” (a Netflix horror show) each day before bed. Most of Netflix’s selection is frankly unremarkable (especially if you get past the top-25 in each category), but hey – it is, for all intents and purposes, an infinite archive, and who knows how much longer the lockdown will last, eh?

One tiny success story – today was my 100th consecutive day of learning French on DuoLingo! To be perfectly fair, I haven’t been putting in as much effort as I should (considering my 2021 goals and all), but that’s still better than where I had been 100 days ago. It’s nice to know that I’m objectively better in at least some quantifiable way after spending so much time in the lockdown mode. And hey, seriously, give DuoLingo a try: it’s corny and a bit childish, but it works. And it’s free! Pick a language, any language, and go for it, eh.

In covid news: the CDC is being weirder than usual. First they updated their covid guidance and confirmed the long-suspected aerosol transmission: it can spread through the air, and not just on droplets. (That’s the best way to explain the infamous choir cluster a few months ago: either that, or that person had deliberately licked every doorknob.) And now that guidance has been taken down from their site again. They released a memo stating that the initial update was an accident.

The social media consensus is that politicians (and/or the apparatchiks at the HHS) have control of the CDC’s site, and they’re just blatantly manipulating the facts for their own bizarre purposes. It’s really hard to gauge why exactly someone would actively take down valuable guidance. My best bad guess (and remember, I’m just a random guy on the Internet) is that the chasm between the scientific evidence and the White House’s “everything is awesome 🙂 ” view is growing so wide that the only way to keep up the charade is by destroying all evidence to the contrary with extreme prejudice.

Either way, the CDC’s reputation is damaged even more. With each back-and-forth update, with each blatant political intervention, they lose more and more trust that they’d earned since their inception in 1946.

…in more positive covid news – Nova Scotia hasn’t had any new cases for 13 days in a row. That is huge. That proves that it’s possible to beat the pandemic in North America – not just in Vietnam or New Zealand. Part of their success is demanding that anyone visiting from outside the Atlantic region self-quarantine for 14 days. (I doubt that can be successfully implemented in different states in the US.) One downside: I don’t live in Nova Scotia. One upside: if they could do it, that means eventually we’ll all be able to. (Though, needless to say, some sooner than others. Sorry, yanks…)

Plague diaries, Day 191

Sunday evening. If civilization collapses in a way that permanently eliminates the power grid, ice cream will become a strange and coveted memory.

A nice and quiet day filled with gaming, reading, and now some binge-watching before bed.

In today’s culinary adventures – to quote Arrested Development, I’ve made a huge mistake. I tried to pre-plan today’s meals by throwing a lot of chicken and beans into the slow cooker last night. Well, the end result was some highly nutritious yet completely tasteless goo that almost certainly broke the Geneva Convention. It took three separate attempts to eat the damn thing: it was so very, very tempting to just throw it all away, but hey, frugality. Lessons learned: even the slowcooker magic can only take you so far.

Today was a relaxy cardio day: just 20 minutes of stomping around in circles (in rectangles?) in the backyard. The end of my first week of trying to eat healthy (at least in terms of eating enough calories and protein) and doing compound exercises daily. I kind of sort of maybe feel like I can possibly some impact already, but that’s almost certainly placebo effect. I’m mighty curious how I’ll look a month or six months later, as long as I don’t give up on this project.

In covid news: depending on whose counter you trust, the official US death toll has either crossed 200,000 or will do some tomorrow. (It really is absurd: the excess deaths crossed 250,000 over a month ago. One counter says it’s 204,000 total; another says it’s 199,000.) Regardless, it’s bizarre how normalized this ongoing tragedy has become… The ongoing death toll means the US gets as many casualties from covid every three days as it got during 9/11. Is this indifference driven by the lack of larger-than-life visuals (it’s hard to ignore collapsing skyscrapers…) or by the existential fatigue? Or maybe by the media not reporting more on the runaway pandemic taking place in its own backyard?

I remember starting this blog and seeing the cumulative – not daily – US death toll go up to two thousand, then four, then more. That was a lot back then. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it reached 500,000 or more. When numbers get this high, you become numbed to them. Most of this was so easily avoidable…

Plague diaries, Day 190

Saturday night. A century ago, car ownership was a rare and luxurious privilege. Will private space shuttles be as commonplace in 2120 as cars are today?

Today was unusual: I spent most of the day hanging out with xgf, first at a local park and then playing video games on her parents’ tiny prehistoric TV. (The parents were both gone for the day, which is a rare occurrence.) Her little town is as safe as it gets these days: 1-5 new cases per day lately. The downside, of course, is that her parents are conspiracy theorists who go out thrift-store shopping every single day. Her dad has switched from “Jews are doing this to us” to “Bill Gates has created the virus,” and he’s a huge fan of Trump. I wore a mask and a face shield the entire time I was inside, and took a long shower when I got home… Fun distraction from the usual routine, though, and good to see that xgf is feeling better.

Before the pandemic, I used to walk to the nearest Tim Hortons every Saturday and treat myself to two egg&bacon sandwiches, a black coffee, and a doughnut. I grabbed the same order at the drivethrough before I left for xgf’s place earlier today – and was shocked to realize the meal took up almost my entire dietary fat allowance for the day. (I’m sticking to the 55%/25%/20% carb/protein/fat breakdown.) To be fair, the type of calories doesn’t matter as much as the total number of calories, but it’s still jarring to realize how much nutrition I was completely overlooking. When I made it back home at 9pm, I had to catch up by forcefeeding myself a pound of boiled chicken, as well as some bread and veggies. Lockdown life is exciting, isn’t it?

In covid news: Doug Ford, Ontario’s premier, took a seemingly decisive action against the virus. We’re getting more than 400 new cases per day now – the last time new cases were that high was in June. Public gatherings in the entire province will be limited for the next 28 days. You can’t have more than 10 people indoors or more than 25 people outdoors. Sounds great and smart, right? Well, wait till you hear about the exceptions: “The new limits do not apply to gatherings in staffed businesses and other facilities, such as bars, restaurants, cinemas, convention centres, banquet hall, gyms, places of worship, sporting or performing arts events.”

In other words, you’re not allowed to host a house party for your, say, 30 closest friends. However, y’all can meet up at the local gym first thing in the morning, go to a diner for brunch, then go bowling, then head over to a movie theatre, maybe drop by the local church if you feel like it, then go to another diner for dinner, and then party till you drop at the nearest bar. All of that will be within the rule framework. Oh, and of course this doesn’t mean school classes will be limited to nine kids each. (The teacher would make the 10th.) Nope, I guess we’re still going with the “kids are immune and magical” hypothesis in lieu of absolutely nothing.

I’m sorry, but this is simply garbage. The only good thing that might come of this is the elimination of house parties. All the elephant-sized exceptions for local businesses and places of worship will result in continued transmission at those venues. This is headline fodder. This is GIGO – Garbage In, Garbage Out. This is gonna be a long winter…

To end this on a slightly lighter note, here’s a picture of the Garbasaurus, an awesome giant garbage statue at a park near Toronto.

Plague diaries, Day 189

Friday night. This French Friday, the word of the day is “merde.”

Another week gone and done with… Literally the only way I can even mark the passage of time anymore is by the weekly releases of new episodes of The Boys, an Amazon TV show. (It’s jarring but interesting, and the casting is perfect. The comic book was just as good.) Well, I guess at least I can savour the new episode after getting through yet another set of five workdays.

The pandemic is rough on us regular people… My landlords got into a giant shouting match with their 16-year-old son today. It was in Vietnamese. I don’t know what they were yelling about, and I don’t feel like it’s my place to intervene. (There’s also a rather large language barrier between us.) As far as I can tell, it’s a typical teenager/parents argument, which would’ve happened even without the pandemic. Even so, I doubt the lockdown is helping… At work, nerves are getting more frayed. I’m fine – I’m a professional survivor with the durability of the proverbial cockroach in the midst of a nuclear war. Just doing my job and waiting…

There was some much-needed levity earlier today as I tried to install my newly purchased pullup bar just about anywhere in this house. The design is relatively modern, so there aren’t a lot of doorways in common area, no arches or corridors. The only suitable area had two walls that were a little too far apart for the pullup bar. In the end, I ended up securing it against my room’s doorframe. (It’s the adjustable kind that doesn’t need screws – like a very sturdy shower curtain rod.) I haven’t done any pullups in very many years: the upside is that I’ve figured out how to do them again; the downside is that I already know that’s gonna hurt tomorrow. Heh. The price of progress, right?

In covid news, Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei and one of his ministers have tested positive for covid. Giammattei is 64. It’s strange how relatively rare it is to hear about major politicians catching the virus. There was Boris Johnson and his 50-50 diagnosis, of course – and there was Herman Cain, who wasn’t as lucky. The former had insisted on going to hospitals and hanging out with covid-positive people; the latter went to a Trump rally without a mask. But aside from that… I guess the 1% really do get better healthcare than the rest of us. Interestingly, though, a couple of days ago there was a report about multiple White House staffers testing positive, just one day after the big accord ceremony between Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain. I hope everyone gets better, and learns the importance of taking this seriously.

In non-covid but very much political news… (Hey, I was a political science major – I’m one of the few people who are actually authorized to opine on that stuff.) Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died of cancer. She was 87, and had multiple health scares throughout the year. Her death is tragic. She had the opportunity to step down during Obama’s two terms, but she didn’t: at the time, everyone assumed Trump would lose. He didn’t, and RBG ended up keeping that Supreme Court seat warm just so he wouldn’t appoint a replacement.

Her death is tragic. Her inability to spend her final years in well-deserved retirement was partly due to her own actions, but no less tragic. The fact that the US will likely get a conservative Supreme Court justice to replace her even though the election is a few weeks away – that’s not tragic, that’s karma. A once-prosperous democracy has gotten so frail and fragile that all of its hopes depended on a single 87-year-old cancer survivor staying alive just a little bit longer. That’s the opposite of stability – that’s a gamble. Just like relying on John McCain’s decency when he voted against the Obamacare repeal was a gamble.

The McCain gamble paid off. Maybe the RBG gamble would’ve paid off too, had Ginsburg survived. But then there’d be another gamble. And another. Go all in often enough, and eventually your streak will end. If you do manage to win a few times in a row, that’s likely due to luck, not skill – and luck always runs out, just like it did here and now. This will get very ugly. I hope there will be mass protests, and enough Republican senators (like Mitt Romney just did) will vow not to vote for RBG’s replacement until the new administration gets sworn in. Realistically, though, I fully expect Republicans to bite into this sudden opportunity with all the amoral tenacity of a hungry alligator. This will get very ugly indeed.

Good luck, my American compadres. Y’all are going to need it.

Plague diaries, Day 188

Thursday night. Is there a greater tragedy than not being thirsty on a Thirsty Thursday?

An interesting development today: the company that’s helping me apply for PR in Canada has emailed me about biometrics. Apparently, Canada stopped taking the applicants’ biometric data when the pandemic began, all the way back in March. They’ve just reopened them – and hopefully won’t close them again if new cases keep rising. They’ve got one hell of a backlog, but that means at some point I’ll get a call from my friendly neighbourhood government official, inviting me to come in and give them my retinas and what not. That will likely be the only social interaction I’ll have that month, so I guess I’ll have to keep my phone’s volume set on high just in case. (The “do not disturb” mode is so much more peaceful.)

The body is still aching all over from daily workouts, but in a good way. Yay variety!

In the ESO game I’ve resumed playing, I’ve discovered the concept of player guilds – as well as guild-only markets. Now my character specializes in buying random food ingredients in bulk, cooking hundreds of servings, and destroying that fantasy world’s economy by dumping them all on the market. The mad chef! …hey, there’s no wrong way to roleplay, okay?

In covid news, the updates coming out of the US are getting wilder every single day. It took months for this story to see the light of day, but evidently there had been a program proposal to send five masks to every address and PO Box in the US, all the way back in April. The White House shut it down, presumably because Trump didn’t want to cause panic. (One assumes he didn’t want to panic Wall Street, because his random tweet-storms sure as hell cause panic domestically.) It’s hard to tell how many lives would’ve been saved…

On a brighter note, the Navajo Nation has crushed covid. They had a fraction of the US resources, and far less personnel, but they followed all the CDC guidelines, enacted strict lockdowns, mandated masks, organized a PR campaign equating wearing masks with showing respect, etc. The end result is that earlier this month, they had one day with no new recorded cases. (Even though they had four new deaths…) They recorded one new case the following day, so there was no winning streak per se, but that’s still great news. In May, the Navajo Nation was a major covid hot spot. Now they’re the envy of everyone around. The US could’ve been in the same exact boat if it just followed its own damn guidelines… Anyway, good for the Navajo Nation.

From an anecdotal perspective: now that the west coast wildfires no longer threaten them, my brother tried getting a covid test just in case before visiting our mom. (They both live in Seattle’s suburbs; she’s in her 60s.) The local clinic told him that tests are reserved only for those who are showing symptoms or were exposed. In other words, the whole “if you want to get tested, you can get tested” thing the US politicians have been promoting is still a lie. Even now, in mid-September, after all these months… Whoever reads about this pandemic in the future, without having experienced it (lucky bastards), will not be able to understand the sheer insanity of it all. Hell, I’m here and now, and even I can’t wrap my mind around it. This is gonna be a long winter…

Plague diaries, Day 187

Wednesday night. I have this dark suspicion that for the next 20+ years, job interviewers will always ask “how did you productively utilize your free time during the pandemic?”

I’m trying to make the most of my lockdown: taking DuoLingo French lessons in between my workout sets after cooking a homemade dinner, with a homemade protein smoothie once I’m done. Hopefully this will keep up. For the record: I’m not expecting anyone to do anything productive at all, mind you: merely staying safe and sane is good enough. Your mileage may vary: Susan Orlean (the author of author of “The Orchid Thief” and “The Library Book”) has fully embraced her love of wine. A couple of months ago, there was a hilarious series of tweets where she had a little bit too much, and ended up sending typo-ridden messages to her family as they tried to take the wine away. She’s Internet’s patron saint of lockdown drinking – and hey, in her defense, it’s a freaking pandemic. Pre-pandemic rules don’t apply, eh.

While looking up different nutrition facts about my usual food, I discovered something pretty horrifying: the beef&cheddar sausages I’ve been eating on Wiener Wednesdays are 80% fat. No more of those things, I suppose. I don’t want to retroactively analyze my earlier food consumption, but I’m guessing about 40% of the calories (if not more) must’ve come from fat. It has its place, mind you, but I think I was overdoing it. Ho hum. On the upside, the pleasant pain means my workouts are working and ye olde muscles are growing. What I wouldn’t give to have a picture of myself six months from now – hairier, with a bigger beard, and hopefully in much better shape.

In covid news: cases are on the rise in Canada in general and in Ontario in particular. It’s hard to say what specifically is driving them: could be crowded weddings, could be the asinine decision to send kids back to schools, could be all of the above. Compared to the US with its 30,000+ new cases per day, Canada’s count looks much better. Even so, we’ve gone from just 172 new daily cases in June to 1,479 a week ago. Ontario – or at the very least Toronto – will likely switch back to stage 2, or at least severely limit public gatherings.

India has just set the world record with 97,000 new cases. Per capita, they’re still not the worst in the world, but the sheer numbers…

There was something about Trump promising a safe and working vaccine next month, followed by the CDC issuing a statement supporting that, followed (within an hour) by the CDC issuing a statement to retract the first statement – but I didn’t bother looking into that too closely. At this point, US headlines might as well be from The Onion: strange and hilarious in a twisted, macabre way. When the only choices are to laugh or to cry, I know which one I pick. Sorry for the mess you’re in, my American compadres…

Plague diaries, Day 186

Tuesday night. If the Spanish word for “Tuesday” is “martes,” should we combine Taco Tuesday and Margarita martes just to be on the safe side?

Well, eating five servings of beans to catch up on ye olde protein intake definitely seemed like a good idea last night. Not so much this morning – but hey, lesson learned, right?

To keep this latest lockdown project going, I made a quick run to Costco to stock up on frozen chicken breast. It was my first time there in over six months… Either it’s a lot more hectic these days than it had been in the past, or I’m no longer used to having so many people around me anymore. Might be both, to be honest.

Upside: I’ve acquired plenty of chicken, and will be able to keep munching on it for quite a while. Downside: I had no idea I’d have to eat so much (not just protein, but everything) to get to my caloric target. The 55%/25%/20% split between carbs/protein/fat is interesting in that you have to balance the ratio as well as the total calories. A fascinating game of multidimensional tetris, that. (That’s also how I ended up baking three lonely beets next to my perfectly measured 250g of chicken. Heh.) The upside, though, is that with all the exercising, I actually get sleepy around the traditional bedtime. I’m going to miss running on fumes and staying up late… Here is to better sleep, though.

At Costco, I parked next to a car with New York license plates. I wonder who that was, where they’re from, and how soon they intend to skedaddle back in that general direction.

I don’t often write about the US news, but this was noteworthy: a whistleblower nurse said an ICE detention center in Georgia performed involuntary hysterectomies (in other words, forced sterilization) on women in its custody. They described it “like an experimental concentration camp.” The gynecologist has been identified as Mahendra Amin. He himself is an immigrant, and a doctor with 43 years of experience, which adds just another layer to this horror. How long until even this is normalized? That was, without exaggeration, exactly what Nazis used to do to their prisoners. The only remaining step is gas chambers – and seeing how so many folks in the US have normalized the existence of concentration camps for children, I honestly wouldn’t bet against that. How many more crimes against humanity are taking place right now, without conscientious whistle blowers to report them? How many more are just around the corner?

Not for the first time, nor for the last – I’m so incredibly glad I left the US for Canada…

In covid news: two days ago, Michael Caputo (a top official at the Health and Human Services) had a public meltdown in a video he posted on his Facebook page. It was rather impressive, really: he allegedly ranted about an anti-Trump “resistance unit” in the CDC and accused scientists of “sedition.” He also described “shadows on the ceiling in my apartment, there alone, shadows are so long.” If we live in a TV show, the writers are really mailing it in. All of this came after the media reported on Caputo’s attempts to interfere with the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports. It’s been two days: Caputo has deactivated his Facebook account, issued something that’s supposed to be an apology (addressed to his boss, not to the CDC), and said he might take a leave of absence. I hope he gets the help he needs, but I’m also disturbed that someone like that has a government job. Then again, it’s possible everyone involved in sweeping the covid numbers under the rug is just like him…

In more positive news, there’s a promising report from the University of Pittsburgh: their scientists isolated an antibody component (10 times smaller than a regular antibody) that neutralizes the virus, and created a drug they’re calling Ab8. So far, it’s been successfully tested on mice and hamsters. (Reader, if you’re a mouse and/or hamster, I’m incredibly happy for you.) There’s no timeline for human testing yet, and this could well end up being another amazing cure that doesn’t really pan out, but hey – this is still good news. A lot of brainiacs all over the world are working on the same problem, and they’re making progress, and eventually they’ll win. We just have to stay patient…