Saturday night. Another lockdown weekend, wooooo!

Lots happened today. My adjacent high-level boss called me this morning. He’s not in my chain of command but he’s in charge of the facility that I support. He said he’d drop by my place in 15 minutes and just like I expected, it was an early Christmas present. He dropped off a bottle of wine and a giant gift basket. I guess from now on I’ll be the sort of bachelor who owns a set of cheese knives. In my 11 years with Amazon, that was the single nicest present I’ve ever received. Thanks, eh.

The math book I mentioned a few days ago has just arrived: it’s educational, thought-provoking, bound to be frustratingly difficult at times, and has some humour sprinkled here and there. I spent a significant part of the day working on an interesting math problem myself. It’s… not exciting, per se, but refreshing and invigorating to concentrate ye olde braincicle on a brand new problem where the solution will deliver immediate and tangible impact. Life is good.

In other news, my Reddit browsing has paid off: I’ve stumbled on a highly detailed account of a random person (and fellow early-retirement enthusiast) who lives fairly comfortably in Vietnam on just $300 USD per month. A quick fact-check with my Vietnamese landlords confirmed that Vietnam is, in fact, dirt cheap and has plenty of access to beautiful beaches. Given that my initial early retirement budget was $1,000 USD per month, this is a helluva deal.

In lieu of that, and since I have nothing better to do over the next five months (see yesterday’s blog), I’ve decided to cheat on my French lessons and start Vietnamese instead. It’ll be a fun challenge, since it has zero relation to European languages, save for the alphabet. The romanized alphabet is helpful, since that was my main obstacle with studying Japanese years ago. (Way, waaaaay too many kanji.) Thus far, I’ve learned how to say “I am human” in Vietnamese. With my luck, it’ll come in really useful when I wrestle my not-quite-human doppelganger in front of a native Vietnamese speaker with a gun, Star Trek-style.

There’s little else to do while being stuck here in the pre-vaccine limbo, waiting for my turn… Five months is plenty enough time to learn a new language, brush up on my math skillz, and daydream, since the reality leaves a lot to be desired here and now. I’ve always been a fine strategist and a passable tactician. Today’s daydreams are tomorrow’s strategy.

In covid news, the FDA in the US approved the Pfizer vaccine on Friday night. That came after the White House chief of staff Mark Meadows allegedly threatened the FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn to approve the vaccine by end-of-day on Friday or to submit his resignation. (Trump “helped” by comparing the FDA to a turtle on Twitter.) The original timeline was allegedly to approve the vaccine on Saturday: whether it got moved up by 12 hours because of the threats is unknown. This is, however, a textbook example and perfect proof of the White House screwing with scientists. Methinks that was at least partly an attempt to prop up the falling stock market on Friday. Turns out, there was a last-minute stop-gap measure yesterday to postpone the US government shutdown by a week, but that still doesn’t inspire confidence, speaking as an investor.

Enjoy the second half of your weekend, y’all.