Friday night. Thus ends the last full workweek.

Is there a word for online autograph collectors, or did I just invent a whole new hobby? It’s like the opposite of trolling: you follow famous people online, interact with their content, make insightful (or funny) comments, and get them to like or share what you wrote. Yesterday, it was my favourite archaeologist, Sarah Parcak, who liked one of my tweets. Today it was James S.A. Corey, the author duo behind the Expanse series, who retweeted me. I may or may not have a text file with links to those precious interactions. (I totally have that text file.) I fully realize how geeky and obsessed that is, but hey, there’s very little else to do in terms of entertainment now, and it’s supremely cool to know that a brilliant famous person paid attention to something you wrote, if only for a few seconds. No clue what to call this, though. A specter collector?..

Today’s distraction from boredom: a library e-book I’d placed a hold on months ago has just become available. Frugality rule #17: libraries can get almost any book you want for free, but you’ll have to wait. It’s interesting so far, and you gotta love the dedication: “For everyone who has wanted to want more.”

I miiiiight have to abandon my wild hopes of learning basic Vietnamese: the DuoLingo course can be politely described as “utter garbage” since it features extremely little pronunciation. For a multi-tonal language like that, I’d need either a perfect app or a very patient Vietnamese tutor. (And my landlords are busy enough as it is.) Back to French and Spanish, I suppose.

A random impulse led me to share my lean-FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) plan on a Canadian subreddit and ask for feedback. Most people seem to dig my idea of staying in Canada most of the year while spending five months per year backpacking the world and enjoying all the sights, beaches, and sunsets it has to offer. One person in particular was enthusiastic enough to message me with a ton of questions. As it turns out, he lives near Toronto as well: a college student, way younger, but with the same frugal mindset and dreams of early retirement. Sounds like the beginning of a beautiful friendship – after everyone gets their vaccines, of course.

In covid news, there’s a lot going on. The FDA has just approved the Moderna vaccine, which is just as efficient as the Pfizer vaccine, and doesn’t need to be stored in super-cold temperatures. That’ll make the logistics a lot easier. The logistical angle is strange: multiple states report that they’ll get fewer doses of the Pfizer vaccine than they’d been promised. This is different from Trump’s refusal to send PPE supplies to the states that voted against him in 2016. This time, states like Iowa and Idaho are affected alongside Maryland and Washington state. Of course, the government’s first reaction was to blame Pfizer for the delay. Heh. In my company, one of the core principles is Ownership: gotta own up to your own mistakes. I guess we’re more principled than the US government.

In Brazil, president Bolsonaro publicly criticized vaccines and suggested Pfizer won’t take responsibility for any side effects, even if “you become superhuman, if a woman starts to grow a beard or if a man starts to speak with an effeminate voice.” A lot to unpack here… Definitely some grade-A toxic masculinity, but also, if I had a 33% chance of becoming a superhero, I’d sign up for the vaccine in a heartbeat. Brazil is rolling out its vaccination campaign, but when their own president actively criticizes it and says he won’t get vaccinated… There’s no way to measure the direct impact, but if enough people follow his superstitious machismo, don’t get vaccinated, catch covid, and spread it to others – people will die.

Meanwhile, in the US, vice-president Mike Pence got his vaccine shot: it’s curious, since he never publicly stood up to Trump’s assertions that the virus is a hoax. He also used prayer to fight the virus a whole lot more than he recommended following the CDC’s advice. Don’t get me wrong: everyone is entitled to their own opinions (even when said opinions actively interfere with their alleged job), but people at least ought to be consistent. You stood by and did nothing when scientists got mocked, and then tried to pray away the coronavirus? Then go the full mile and skip the vaccine – but if you do volunteer to get vaccinated, at least have the decency to record a message saying you’re sorry for having been an anti-science zealot while leading the covid task force.

And in other, more personal news, my New York sister (as opposed to my Los Angeles sister or my Siberian sister) has decided to fly to Miami after all… It’ll be her, her husband, and their pre-teen son. Presumably for a couple of weeks. She claims they’ll be careful and already ordered a grocery delivery to make all their meals at their condo, but still: if they manage to go to that outbreak zone, have a good time, and not get infected, that would be highly statistically improbable. (There are three of them. It’ll only take one of them to make one mistake, and that’s it.) There’s nothing I can do now: apparently, they didn’t get swayed by my perfectly reasonable suggestion of just turning on some bright lights, cranking up the heater, and drinking beer and eating tacos in a bathtub with some ocean noises playing in the background. Heh. I won’t know if they got lucky or got sick until sometime in early January. I wish them luck because they’ll surely need it.

In more uplifting news, I’d forgotten just how many of my Facebook friends were nurses and physicians. Yesterday, they all posted pictures and videos of them getting their first vaccine shot. It’s hard to explain the boost of joy I felt when I saw that. Intellectually, I knew that vaccines were being distributed all over the place – but seeing my old friends and knowing that they’re safe, that at least some of the people I know and love are safe… This has been a good week.

To wrap up this wall of text, here is a pic of me in my full-on hermit mode, featuring roughly 230 days of uncontrolled (and likely uncontrollable) hair growth. That’s not bed hair – that’s what I typically look like around 7pm after pulling my hair out all day long. About five more months to go…