Friday evening.

At work today, my department tried to do something different. Since meeting up in person for a long monthly munch is not an option in this here pandemic, they sent each of us an Uber Eats giftcard instead. We munched on our delivered food in front of webcams and spent an hour talking about absolutely nothing. That was fun. I don’t generally use food delivery service because of bad experiences in the past and because that’s unnecessary up-close contact with another human being, but hey – free food is free food, and I needed a little pick-me-up after this week. I ordered pad thai from a random local restaurant, and made sure to tip both the establishment and the bicycle courier guy. That was the first restaurant-cooked meal I’ve had in almost a year… The delivery was late, the food was lukewarm, the dish wasn’t at all spicy, and it was dry after I microwaved it – but it was nonetheless delicious. Once I adjusted my old expectations to the new reality, it was… not a blast from the past, but an unexpected gust of wind carrying an old, not-quite-forgotten scent evoking memories of yore. It was a lukewarm dry mass-produced pile of noodles with some meat in it, but it was also a small and welcome sign of normalcy, of the way things had been, of the way they someday will be again.

If you’re one of the five poor schmucks reading this blog on regular basis, or if you are by some chance binge-reading through it in the future – I know, this stuff is mighty depressing. (What’s the male version of Debbie Downer?) I know that. I know. Mental states grow like sediment layers: slow and gradual but eventually thick enough that what had been beneath them is long gone. I remember happiness, and not entirely too long ago. After I moved to Canada. Before she killed herself. Before the world as we know it ended. Before we fled. Before this year of solitude. I am aware of my current state and know what could begin to change it. (“Skin hunger,” as we aces put it, or just the simple magic of a human touch.) Once folks get vaccinated, however long that takes. Purely mathematically, I know that this is an equation that can and will be solved. I don’t have to be a prophet to know that at some point in the future I will be free, and immunized, and someplace beautiful and sunny, and sufficiently happy – or close enough to disregard the difference. This here is just the dreadful in-between.

…my sole window faces east. Each day is slightly longer now, with earlier sunrises. It’s almost to the point now where I can watch the full cycle, from the dark sky to the light blue in the background of this cityscape when my alarm goes off at 7 every morning. That’s a very small pleasure, but it’s something. I don’t think I’ve ever had this kind of lazy arrangement where I could simply watch the sunrise while lounging in bed. A whole new experience, eh.

It took me a bit to make the connection, but I think my general lack of enthusiasm this week is caused in part by my Sunday decision to roll back to just one cup of black tea with breakfast instead of several cups of coffee throughout the day. I passed out while reading at 9pm last night, woke up at 2am, and (to be frank) wasted five hours of my life browsing social media. Heh.

In covid news, Health Canada has just approved the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. It’s a traditional, non-mRNA vaccine that requires two shots and doesn’t need to be stored in a freezer. It’s more efficient than 50%, which is a good start – and if you jab into enough people, it’ll go a long way. There are some doubts whether it’s efficient for folks over 65 since for whatever reason the vaccine hadn’t been tested extensively on that most vulnerable age group. Because of that, France and other countries are not giving the Oxford vaccine to those over 65. The WHO swears that it’s both safe and efficient, but after all of their shenanigans last year, it’s hard not to instinctively do the exact opposite of their suggestions. (Just like selling the stocks that cable news parrots on CNBC tell you to buy, and vice versa.)

Canada has ordered 22 million doses of this vaccine, enough for 11 million people. They will arrive between April and September, but the first shipment of 500,000 doses will arrive on Wednesday, just five days from now. After that, it’ll be up to the provinces and the local health units to distribute them. (And Ontario is not very good at logistics.) The Oxford vaccine may not be quite as effective as Moderna or Pfizer, but it’s a lot better than nothing, and it does prevent serious covid cases: I would take it in a heartbeat, provided I could also load up on that sweet, sweet mRNA goodness in the weeks or months to come.

One interesting caveat: this vaccine is coming from India. Not the EU, not the US, but all the way from India. That is geopolitically fascinating. After the US blocked all exports, after the EU did some frankly shady stuff with shipment scheduling, India just might become Canada’s new BFF. What strange fun new alliances will emerge in this post-covid world…

Online, some are floating an interesting concept: vaccine tourism. Canadian snowbirds are already getting vaccinated en masse in Florida. (After successfully dodging the coughing and infected maskless hordes, I assume.) If some American town that’s hard up for cash but has plenty of mRNA vaccines offered a vacation package consisting of fun in the sun and “shots, shots, shots-shots-shots!” (everybody!), I would be among the first in that line. Sure, hanging out in the same place for three whole weeks to get the second dose would be fairly boring, but why the hell not, eh?

The Germans have a similar idea, apparently. I haven’t been following the German situation closely, but somehow, some way, they are in even worse boat than Canada, with some Germans being told they won’t get theirs until 2022 due to a remarkable series of procurement screw-ups. If I’m going stir-crazy due to waiting all the way till September, I can’t even begin to imagine what it must feel like to know for a fact that your lockdown would last two whole years. Ye gods… Germany’s largest airline, Lufthansa, is planning to launch a special “Corona Lounge” in a Moscow airport where rich Germans and other foreigners could land, get their jab of the Sputnik V vaccine, and fly home, to return again a few weeks later for the second shot. Sputnik V still sounds incredibly sketchy to me: despite their positive endorsement by Lancet, there has been limited testing and (as far as I know) they never shared their data from phase 3 clinical trials. (Vlad Putin doth protest too much.) But hey, if folks want to pay €1,000 to fly back and forth and improve their chances – shady vaccine or not – more power to them.

And finally, there’s more corruption in Florida’s vaccine rollout. Either there’s a very improbable series of glitches, or The Powers That Be are deliberately setting up pop-up vaccination clinics right where they wealthy buddies and donors live. Remember, this is the state that jailed a woman (after pointing guns in her family’s faces) for the terrible crime of reporting accurate covid numbers on her dashboard. (Remember Rebekah Jones, the rogue data analyst and the Millennial hero.) None of the things this pandemic is revealing are brand new or shocking, but it’s still quite something to see the old suspicions and stereotypes not merely confirmed but reinforced time and again. They aren’t even trying to be subtle about that.

…and with that, time to sign off, continue to digest my pad thai, and see what those crazy kids on r/wallstreetbets are up to after keeping Gamestop above $100 for two days in a row. Have yourselves a fine weekend, y’all.