Monday night.

First business day of the year. The first day back at work went about as expected: putting out giant fires, catching up with everyone, slowly getting back into the groove. During yet another daily call, one of the coworkers joked that he never saw me in person even though he’d joined our location nine months ago. When I pointed out that I’ve been gone for 297 days, there was a collective groan, followed by “I’d go insane!” Heh. Silly extroverts. If this continues, then at some point I’ll become their patron saint, a disembodied voice that gives them financial advice and guidance. The legend of Grigory Lukin, eh.

My hair is getting longer. It’s almost halfway down my neck, and I can pull together a very short and sad ponytail.

When I was killing time on social media today, a fellow Canadian wrote that Alberta’s phase 3 vaccination (for everyone who is not essential and not in a high-risk group) would begin in October at the earliest. I couldn’t believe it, but that person provided this link and yep, sure enough, their phase 3 wouldn’t launch till October. That’s a lot later than the original Canada-wide graph I saw a month ago, the one that claimed that mass vaccination for everyone will start in April. I googled a bit and found something disturbing. According to the most recent communication from Ontario’s vaccine distribution task force, phase 3 won’t launch until August. Phase 2 (essential workers and everyone in risk groups) will kick off in April.

This is… I try not to curse too much on this blog, and I won’t do so now, simply because that would require a whole lot of typing to adequately describe my thoughts on this topic. Bear in mind that that’s the most optimistic, best-case scenario they could come up with. Considering that those are the same geniuses that shut down the vaccination drive for several days over the holidays, I’m not quite filled with confidence. And even if they were on top of their game (they are not), then life and logistics would still get in the way, leading to unforeseen delays. I’m calling it now: under this new timeline, I most likely won’t get my first shot until late August/early September. If that’ll be a two-dose vaccine (as opposed to a single-dose that Johnson&Johnson is developing), then I won’t complete my vaccination until mid-September, if not later.

I’ve made a commitment to blog and chronicle this mess daily until it’s all over. (And to quote a movie, “When you break a promise to yourself, things can get a little dicey.”) Today is day 297. This will go well past 365 days. Past 500 days, even. Wild guesstimate: the last day of the Plague Diaries series, when I get my final shot, will be roughly day 540, give or take a dozen. If you round that up just a little, that won’t be just one year – that’ll be two stolen years of our lives. (And really, the winter months in Canada don’t really count as living.)

…that long podcast on the physics of time travel yesterday introduced me to the concept of eternalism. As opposed to Newtonian absolutism, eternalism assumes that no single moment is special, that your life doesn’t proceed from point A to point B but rather it is a series of snapshots, the sum total of all of you from beginning to the end. From the four-dimensional perspective, you can see the whole of your life, all the little trivialities and triumphs and disappointments. I’d originally encountered that concept in Kurt Vonnegut’s excellent book Slaughterhouse-Five. You may know it by its famous quote: “Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why.”

I wonder… Someday, after this blog series inevitably ends, if someone were to encounter it, and if that someone were stubborn enough to read the whole damn thing from start to finish, what would it feel like to flip through 19 months of my life in a matter of several days? Hey there, reader. I hope the future is awesome, though for all I know you’re probably battling bath salt zombies out there. I wish I could sneak a peak at the end of my own blog series, to see how everything plays out, when it ends, who makes it. If you were to print all 500-some blog posts and lay all of them out on the floor all around you, that right there would be as close to the concept of eternalism as one might get: 500-some fragments of life, 500-some days of the covid pandemic, arranged around you as if it really were that simple.

…I’m going to have to do some very serious thinking about all the different ways I’ll cope with this. The early retirement plan (hitherto scheduled for May or so) is probably going out of the window – even if I do pull it off, I’ll still be stuck in solitary misery, so might as well keep working remotely. Human contact: would recreational people-watching on the streets of Toronto suffice? (I know it probably will not.) Human interactions: yeah, no, that part will go away and I’ll definitely go full-on feral. Damn. Just… damn.

Just so this post isn’t a one-man pity party, here’s some covid news. The FDA is considering administering half-doses of the Moderna vaccine instead of the full dose. A whole lot of epidemiologists seem to think that might not be the best idea, if only because there were no stage 3 trials on half-doses. (As far as I can tell, all they have is stage 2 evidence.) That reeks of desperation, like a gambler going double or nothing. It might work and help twice as many people. It might fail, and give those people a false sense of security, which would lead them to go out, get sick, and spread4 the virus further. That’s not a great cost/benefit ratio they got there.

And elsewhere, in Indonesia, the vaccination order will be exactly the opposite of the western countries. Due to limited supplies, they’ll vaccinate young people and essential workers first, on the assumption that they’re more mobile and more likely to spread the virus if they don’t get their shots. That logic may seem brutal or counterintuitive to us, but you can see their logic, since the objective is to limit the spread of covid with limited supplies. I’m curious how it’ll work out for them.

And in Canada, a well-intentioned rule has backfired. The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit was supposed to provide $500 CAD per week to the Canadians who couldn’t work due to covid. One peculiar side effect is that it’d give $1,000 to vacationers spending two weeks in quarantine after returning home. (Provided they couldn’t work from home, or claimed so, anyhow.) Given how righteously pissed off people are about hypocritical politicians (redundant, I know) going on vacation when everyone else is locked in, the very idea that someone would get a thousand loonies as a bonus after flying someplace nice and warm and sunny… Well, folks are mad, eh. They’ll probably strike that provision from the law, and soon, but this is just another example of the growing unrest. 2021 is gonna be a long, looooooong year…