Saturday night.

I dreamed I was a kid in school again, and that I’d lost my mask. There were no spares: by the time I went home and back to school, I missed several classes, and that was a big deal. That sounds like a not particularly subtle reminder from my subconscious that losing over a year of my life to this pandemic is no bueno.

It’s still below freezing outside, and there’s no sun. No point in wandering about parks when it’s both gloomy and cold enough to make it uncomfortable, so this weekend’s big excursion (if only to keep the car battery alive) was to a different grocery store a mile away. Exciting, I know. It’s wild to see hermetically sealed baby carriages pushed by protective parents… A few years down the road, we’ll find out if little kids got affected at all by seeing so few faces during the first year of their life.

I spotted a homeless-looking man who digs through this building’s recycling bins in the backyard and picks out the beer cans and glass bottles. It’s not just him: there’s an entire urban ecosystem, with people scavenging for recycling materials. I hadn’t quite been aware of that when I got so excited about the recycling idea a couple of weeks ago. In light of what I know now, taking and capitalizing on things that could’ve gone to someone in actual need (as opposed to a very early midlife crisis) would be downright unethical. Well, that, and I don’t want to get shanked in a hobo knife-fight. (That is not a good way to go.) And besides… A few days ago, during a lunchtime walk, I spotted an actual stove left on the sidewalk, free for the taking. There it was: a large kitchen appliances, all metal and chrome, just waiting to be disassembled and recycled. (Or fixed and resold, I suppose.) It kind of felt like the universe was mocking me: giving the single biggest piece of metal one can find in one’s home and asking, “Well, what now?” There was nothing I could’ve done with it even if I wanted to. It was gone the next day, scavenged and recycled by someone who does that out of necessity, not out of lockdown-induced boredom.

My hair has gotten long enough that it conceals my ears.e

In covid news, yesterday the US senate passed a budget resolution for the $1.9 trillion covid stimulus package. (That’s a lot of dollars, y’all.) It would include things like grants for restaurants, as well as $1,400 checks (not the promised $2,000) that would go only to those whose pre-pandemic income was sufficiently low. The exact threshold hasn’t been agreed upon, but just the very fact that it’s being discussed… It’s madness. Even if someone were making $100,000 before the pandemic, if they lost their job they’d also be pretty broke and desperate for cash by now. The next election is still 21 whole months away: if Democrats actually fought for those promised $2,000 checks (monthly, not a one-off), that wouldn’t have hurt their re-election chances almost two years from now. It’s almost as if they’re trying hard to appear all conservative and frugal to avoid angering their Republican counterparts. (The same counterparts who helped set off the attempted coup and tried to get them all killed almost a month ago.) Ho hum. And for posterity’s sake, I just want to note that all 50 Republican senators voted against the covid resolution. The 50-50 tie had to be broken by vice president Harris.

In other news, it’s Superbowl tomorrow. It’ll be held live, but with a smaller crowd than usual: there’ll be 7,500 vaccinated healthcare workers who will attend for free, and 14,500 fans who paid for their tickets. There’s a fun legalese clause called “Fan Health Promise.” It amounts to fans promising that if they have any symptoms or if they’ve interacted with any covid-positive people in the last 14 days, they wouldn’t attend. Knowing human nature and how much people love their football, I doubt a lot of people would actually stay home under those circumstances… With that clause and other legalese in place, the NFL officially refuses to accept any responsibility if any of the fans get sick. That could potentially result in a huge case cluster, yes, but the bigger question is how many new clusters will appear after the inevitable Superbowl parties people will host for their friends… That’s how one of my coworkers caught covid – after watching a football game at his neighbour’s place. (Let’s be serious: no one will wear masks or abstain from drinking/eating at a Superbowl party.) Imagine the same thing, but in several million households… With luck, there won’t be a spike in cases, but luck has been quite unreliable of late.

Stay safe, y’all.