Thursday night.

I got two packages today. One contained the potassium ferricyanide I ordered for growing a shiny crystal. (Funny: it feels like it was just last week, but apparently it was 11 days ago. One’s perception of time is one of the casualties of boring lockdowns, apparently.) The other package had potassium iodide tablets in case of radiation exposure.

Maybe this pandemic is making me even more of a pessimist and cynic than I had been before. Or maybe it’s just opening my eyes to how well and truly inept and selfish people can be, from your neighbours all the way up to elected officials. There is a nuclear power plant in Pickering, Ontario – less than an hour drive from where I am. In January 2020, they sent out a false alert to every single phone in Ontario (about 15 million people, give or take). The alert said there was an unspecified incident but there was nothing to worry about. That obviously sent people panicking. It turned out the alert got sent by a negligent employee who thought they were using the test version of the software – and no one knew how to retract the message.

That particular incident was a nothing-burger, but if something did happen… Happy thoughts and positive thinking don’t help with radiation exposure. I should know: when I was six, an aging nuclear power plant a few miles away had an explosion and released a lot of radioactive material into the local environment. The cover-up was pretty good, but Time magazine still called it one of the world’s 10 worst nuclear disasters. There were an awful lot of cancer cases and miscarriages in my city of 500,000 in the years to follow… So nah, not taking any chances. It’s actually pretty amusing that I hadn’t realized there was a nuclear power plant so close to Toronto until the alert went out: that’s just not something that comes up in a casual conversation.

The upside is that now my stash of survival goodies is good enough to protect against just about everything: burns, cuts, pains, dirty drinking water, radiation… The iodine tablets cost a bit more than I was comfortable spending, but a) it’s not like I’m going out and spending money on anything much, and b) it’s better to have them and not need them than need them and not have them.

A bit too stressed from work (more Q2 prep) to commit to watching a 90-minute movie, so I figure I’ll just fall asleep reading my new library download, The End of Everything: (Astrophysically Speaking) by Katie Mack. I rather like astronomy, and Dr.Mack is an excellent storyteller. This should be an interesting diversion, if only for a bit.

In covid news, my mom got her first shot! She’s 67 and lives near Seattle: they’re rolling out the vaccinations by age, and just now got to the 65+ category. That is excellent news: she’s fairly cautious, but her favourite Russian food store is always filled to the brim with anti-maskers. Just knowing that she will be unlikely to catch it now, or that it’ll almost certainly be a mild case… I’m happy for her, eh.

In other covid news, just thinking out loud here… Canada’s vaccination campaign appears to be screwed: even if the AstraZeneca and/or Johnson&Johnson vaccines get approved, there’ll once again be an issue with logistics. (Pfizer and Moderna have finally come through with their promised shipments for Q1 and there’ll be many more vaccines coming, but the provinces haven’t had a chance to learn best practices in terms of mass vaccination, so they’ll have to learn on the fly, making expensive and avoidable mistakes. That’ll get messy.) Meanwhile, the US is vaccinating left and right. Some claim that the US could finally reach herd immunity by late spring: a combination of sacrificing over half a million of their own people by letting the virus sweep across the country, and vaccinating a good chunk of the survivors.

If and when that happens, there’ll be a lot more political pressure to reopen the land border (you can still fly back and forth, but most folks drive), and it’ll be an odd reversal. Instead of being statistically likely to be plague bearers, American visitors will be far more likely to have some measure of immunity. Heh. Canada’s economy will boom when the border reopens, but the real question is whether the US will finally share the vaccine. (Under Trump’s 2020 orders, there are no exports until the US decides to do so.) There’s a Pfizer manufacturing facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan. (I’ll never believe that’s a real place.) If the US gets better, and if they reopen the borders, and if they decide to share, then maybe Canadians will get to partake in that humanitarian aid and turbo-charge the vaccination effort here. And if not… If the US border is reopened and if the US doesn’t share but if there are doses available for absolutely everyone there by, say, June, maybe I’ll be able to drive south, get my shot, head back north, and repeat the process again three weeks later. Dreams and aspirations, eh? I already skipped one summer last year. I want to be able to enjoy this summer if at all possible. Hope everlasting…

Good night, y’all.