Monday night.

Got really bored and shaved off all my hair beneath the eyebrows. To clarify, there’s a site where people give each other dares – because what else is there to do in a pandemic? That dare seemed as good an idea as any. Downside: I feel like a plucked chicken now. Upside: hey, at least I’m feeling something new. There’s not a lot of novelty in this here year of plague.

Today was a double holiday: Presidents’ Day in the US; Family Day in Canada. (A family day right after Valentine’s. Get it? Heh.) A fancy three-day weekend: the Sunday first aid course split it in two, but even so, it’s a change from the routine. (I can’t describe the sheer horror of looking up and realizing that several weeks passed by without you noticing.) Two weeks from now, I’ll have my intro video call with the local search&rescue group, so there’s at least that to look forward to, eh.

An arctic blast swept across North America a few days ago: Canada is snowed in as always, but people all over the US have lost power. It’s especially bad in the south, where folks ain’t used to ice on the roads, and where infrastructure just can’t cope. Whole towns in Texas are without power. Frozen wind turbines can’t supply power to California. It’s a cascade failure. I can’t help wondering how much of that is due to our meddling with greenhouse gases. Would this have happened even if everyone followed the Kyoto treaty instead of treating it like a joke? With any luck, this is a one-off, and there won’t be other arctic blasts like this one for quite a while.

In covid news… I have this log (diary? manly journal?) that I update every three months. It’s my 5-year plan that I started in November 2016. (You can take a boy out of the Soviet Union…) I’m making really good progress toward my November 2021 goal, but the thing that shocked me as I updated it today and re-read the mid-November entry was the jump in the total covid death toll. I had to double-check to make sure it really was that bad. Three months ago, the official (and likely undercounted) covid death toll in the US was 265K. Today, it’s 486K. That’s an 83% increase. That’s 221,000 deaths in just three months. That is terrifying. The news has more or less stopped covering the fact that 3,000 or so Americans die each day. The total is growing higher and higher with all of us pretending not to notice… It’ll likely hit 500,000 by the end of the week. Will that even make the front pages of major newspapers, I wonder?..

And here in Canada, and specifically in Ontario, there’s a covid outbreak in a condo complex in Mississauga, one of Toronto’s suburbs. The condo tower has 1,800 people living and working there. They found a cluster of five cases of the South African variant, B1351. (The current leading mutant strain is the UK variant, B117: it’ll become #1 by the end of the month.) For now, the door-to-door testing is voluntary. If that cluster of five ended up infecting others, and if it’s really that much more contagious than the plain old strain we’ve been dealing with… That’ll be one very, very big cluster.

Stay warm, y’all.