Monday night. Just 73.5 more hours until this godforsaken year is gone for good.

I’m starting to get the hang of this whole “rest and digest” thing. It felt utterly alien at first to just stay inside and sleep and consume entertainment, but it’s starting to grow on me, eh. Normally, whenever I have a week or more off, I fly off someplace fun (usually Nevada, alternating between Reno and Vegas) or go on a roadtrip. This is my first staycation in years. Weird, but not unpleasant.

The hunt for Red October my new rental is on. At last, my oversized head will finally do something actually useful. (Let’s be honest, it’s not like I get to practice all that French and Spanish I’m trying to learn.) Toronto’s rental scene has changed a lot since I last looked at it in May. We’d tried and failed to find something in xgf’s price range, which is why she had to move back in with her parents. Has it really been eight months?.. Holy shit – the 72 days of us hiding together ended 218 days ago. That part of the plague year is officially less than 25% of the total experience up to this point. How did all that time fly by?..

Aaaaanyway, back in May, Toronto’s landlords were still being greedy: back then, a good deal on a human-sized apartment (600 sq ft or more, as opposed to those 150 sq ft death traps) in Toronto was around $1,700 CAD ($1,325 USD). Now there’s an overabundance of options in the $1,000-$1,300 CAD range. ($780-$1,013 USD.) It’s probably driven by several things at once… No one wants to live in the middle of a plague-ridden city where all the fun places are perpetually locked down. The ever-expanding work-from-home options mean people don’t need to stay close to the business areas. Travel restrictions mean there’s a whole lot AirBnB business. The unemployment situation (8.5% in Canada; 9.1% in Ontario as of November 2020) means a lot of folks just can’t afford high rent.

Looking at the pictures on some of the local listings, you can just tell that some of them are former AirBnB properties being rented out by month out of what must be sheer desperation. A lot of the apartments are basement units: they vary by size, ceiling height (important when you’re 6’2″), etc. I’m looking for a place I wouldn’t have to share with anyone at all. (Mine! All mine!! mwahaha!!!) My own kitchenette and bathroom and entrance and parking spot. Preferably within walking distance of a subway station: I’ve tried this suburban life, and it just ain’t for me. (And it’ll make things easier when I inevitably sell my car to simplify my life.) My budget is quite flexible and I have just over a month to find a place. My steady job is once again a privilege that gives me an unfair advantage over the rest of my fellow pandemic participants. So far, I’ve sent four emails asking to arrange a viewing. Not a bad start…

My Skyrim orc has discovered a new city and embraced the life of crime. The local Thieves Guild sent him out to shake down local merchants for protection money. That’s not something heroes generally do, but such is life when you want to complete every quest in the game.

My self-improvement quest for classy music that I’d actually enjoy led me to Amazon Music, where I put together a list of classy music scores. I figure playing them all on my Alexa first thing in the morning would be more relaxing than listening to news podcasts. Alas, I’m still just pretending to be into good music, so most of the stuff on my list is just instrumental covers of pop culture soundtracks. (That said, the “Paint it black” theme from Westworld is absolutely breathtaking.) The search for classic compositions that I can actually stomach is still ongoing… Meanwhile, here is the playlist itself – and if it gets hit by digital decay sometime in the future, it currently consists of:

  1. Westworld (Paint It Black) Theme, Rogue One – Out Of This World Movie Themes, Voidoid
  2. Westworld, The Theme System
  3. The Heart Asks Pleasure First, The Composer’s Cut Series, Vol. III: The Piano, The Michael Nyman Band
  4. Indiana Jones Theme, Classics at the Movies: Adventure
  5. Con te partirò (Arr. Shearman for Orchestra), Classical Chillout
  6. Dragonborn, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: Original Game Soundtrack, Jeremy Soule
  7. The Avengers (From “Avengers Assemble”), Avengers Assemble Theme, London Music Works
  8. Liberi Fatali (Final Fantasy VIII), Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy, Nobuo Uematsu
  9. The Man with the Machine Gun (Final Fantasy VIII), Distant Worlds II: More Music from Final Fantasy, Nobuo Uematsu
  10. Don’t Be Afraid (Final Fantasy VIII), Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy, Nobuo Uematsu
  11. Badinerie, Wow-Classics Feat. Mozart & Handel

In covid news, even with the low-ball official CDC count, there have been 332,246 covid deaths in the US. We’ve officially crossed the “1 in 1,000” threshold. Early on, the case fatality rate (CFR) was assumed to be 0.1%. Seeing as not everyone in the US has been infected, and more than 0.1% of population have died of covid, that CFR estimate is gonna have to be adjusted upwards.

Imagine a large concert or a football game. Imagine 15,000 people cheering with you. Imagine most, but not all of them, heading for the exit once it’s done. Imagine 15 dead bodies left behind: they might have been perfect strangers, or your friends, or even yourself. Imagine hundreds more who get to go home but end up with severe lifelong damage. That is where the US is right now. With all the Christmas gatherings a few days ago, we’re in for yet another spike in cases, in deaths, in oh-so-predictable news stories about people who started clusters within their families but feign ignorance and accept no responsibility. Systems have momentum. The vaccination campaign is protecting more people with every passing day, but there will be so much more misery…

Stay inside, damn it. Stay masked. Stay safe.