Sunday night. The beginning of the last full week of this strange year.

Today was filled with random acts of self-care: half an apple pie for brunch, champagne with cheese and crackers for dinner (fancy, I know), and nothing but gaming all day long. Just about done with Red Dead Redemption – it feels satisfying to finish something I’d started eight years ago. The third act, which takes place back in the US (circa 1910, I think) is, once again, more than a little racist, this time against Native Americans. The game tries to put a positive spin on it, showing the white scientist as a buffoon, but all it really did was convince me that I would not enjoy time travel. I’ll finally finish the damn thing tomorrow: as accomplishments go, it’s absolutely meaningless, but any progress, even if it’s completely virtual, is a welcome distraction while the pandemic rages on.

To be fair, it was pretty hilarious to try and complete a challenge that required me to stab a grizzly bear to the death with a simple knife. (If you found this page because you’re stuck on that challenge as well, the trick is to keep chasing the bear until you corner it against some water, trees, or mountains. Then shank it at will.)

My landlords surprised me with an early Christmas present: a giant jar of cookies. I’ve yet to wrap my present for them: a gold-panning kit, a set of cheese knives (I really have no use for them), and a starter collection of Ontario’s minerals. What can I say – being my friend has unusual side effects.

In covid news, more and more countries are banning flights from the UK due to the new strain of covid that originated there. At first, it was just the Netherlands. A lot more countries set up their own bans in the past 24 hours: France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Portugal, Belgium, Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, Romania, Croatia, and Canada. The bans vary in length, but the sheer speed of these developments makes it look like a lot of high-level people are panicking. As far as I know, all these countries have already failed with regular covid containment. I doubt they’ll be able to come up with a groundbreaking new way to stop this new strain, especially if it is indeed capable of spreading faster. We’ll learn more in the next few weeks. The thing I’m really curious about is whether the new strain will be affected by the vaccines that are being rolled out. If not, then 2021 will be a whole lot sadder…

In somewhat positive news, the US Congress has finally agreed on a $900 billion stimulus deal. (It only took them most of the year.) The agreed-upon deal includes a $600 direct payment and $300 in enhanced unemployment benefits for the next 10 weeks. That’s better than nothing, but not much better, especially since several months passed without any financial help at all. The cynical consensus is that the only reason this stimulus passed is because Republicans want to get some good publicity ahead of the runoff race for two senate seats in Georgia. That election is in about two weeks, and it will decide which party controls the senate. Yay politics.

Hang in there, amigos.