Friday night.

I wrote a few times that I measure my life in vitamin bottles: a preordained length of time encapsulating within it a slice of chaotic uncertainty. I also wrote that when several key things happen, everything will move fast. And here we are: now everything is measure in mere weeks, not months.

Two weeks from today, I’ll get my second shot of Pfizer in Ohio. Four weeks from now, the second hit of the mRNA goodness will finish its highly specialized work, and I’ll be as covid-proof as anyone possibly can be. That’s also when my second post-travel quarantine will end. (Heh: 28 days later.) Five weeks from now will be my last day at Amazon, and the beginning of my lean-FIRE journey…

Almost eleven months ago, I liquidated all my company stock and moved it into a handpicked portfolio of companies that had been particularly hard by covid: banks, oil, retail, cruise ships. I’d researched them for quite a while, using everything I’d learned about investing by reading and listening to every last word Warren Buffett ever said. (I went so far as to write an e-book analyzing his biggest blunders.) Now, 10 months and 26 days later, my portfolio is up by 199.5%. No, that’s not an arithmetic error, and no, my Gamestop windfall in January wasn’t responsible for most of that. (Though it certainly helped.) Some of the stocks I bought recently aren’t doing so great, but they’ll straighten out before the year is done. (Fairly sure Blackberry will hit $13, if not higher, by the end of the year, and likely much sooner.) What I did wasn’t impossible, but it required a bit of luck (Amazon’s stock was up while everything else was down), a lot of research, and very high stress tolerance: there were five months between June and November when my stocks fell from their early-June peak and took five months to recover. (They rallied 19% the day Pfizer’s trial results got announced.)

The point of all this isn’t to brag – just to explain what happens next, especially since this blog series will end a fortnight from today, when I receive my second shot… My five-year plan will end six months ahead of schedule: I’ll be a permanent Canadian, and with enough money in the bank to live forever on a grad student budget – or for quite a bit as a normal person until I have to get another job to fill the piggy bank back up. It’s… indescribably bizarre and strange to sit here, typing all of this up, summarizing the end result of the wild and audacious plan I first put in writing on November 15th, 2016, right after that disastrous election, and when all seemed so glum. It’s morbidly ironic that it took a worldwide pandemic for my investments to get to the point that used to be just an out-of-reach fantasy. How strange, this world we live in…

And meanwhile, I’m just sitting here and plotting, here in my Studio of Solitude, halfway through my first two-week quarantine. It’s tempting – so very, very tempting – to run to the grocery store a few blocks away and load up on fresh fruit or salmon, or drop by Tim Hortons (which is even closer) and treat myself to something delicious. And yet… First of all, there’s still a microscopic chance that maybe I did get infected during my roadtrip, and maybe it has a longer-than-average incubation period, and maybe I’m actually covid-positive and contagious, and would start a super-cluster that would wipe out all of downtown Toronto. Highly unlikely, to put it mildly, but not impossible. But secondly, I feel like being a good Canadian and following this quarantine, even though I suspect quite a few people break theirs. Not just because of the threat of large fines and/or jail time, but because, well, I’m not a dick. I’d known the price when I made the trip: the two weeks of house arrest without ever going outside. It was well worth it. The upside is that I’m halfway done. Hooray… It’ll be pretty intolerable to stay inside for my second quarantine starting two weeks from now, though, after my second shot and with all that beautiful May late-April weather outside. That’ll make me plan my summer trip to the US even harder, I suppose.

In covid news, there’s more and more spotlight on the giant pile of AstraZeneca vaccines just sitting there looking pretty in the US. They have 20 million doses now, and the grand total will be at least 80 million doses when all is said and done. AZ hasn’t even requested the FDA’s authorization yet, so it’ll be weeks if not months before Americans can even use that two-shot vaccine. Trumps’s “America First” policy resulted in rather flawed contracts signed with all the major pharmaceutical companies last year: the agreements prohibited any exports outside the United States. The only possible loophole, one which allowed the export of 4 million doses to Mexico and Canada, was that the vaccines could be loaned, with some hypothetical expectation of repayment later on. (Words like “gift” and “donation” were deliberately not mentioned.) That happened once, and that can happen again – if not to America’s neighbours, then to literally any country out there that would agree not to hold the vaccine manufacturers responsible should anything go wrong. (Keeping everything within the US is a great way to avoid legal liability.)

I haven’t been keeping up with the barrage of AZ news – who is approving or banning or shrugging about it, etc. It seems, though, that the EU’s drug regulator found a “strong association” between AZ and blood clots in folks under 30. With everything that’s happened, it seems unlikely that AZ would get approved in the US – not impossible, but unlikely. For all its flaws, it still protects against covid (though maybe not against every variant), and there are lots of countries who could use those millions of doses… Bureaucracy in the time of plague, eh?

Good night, y’all. May your weekend be sunny and free of self-imposed house arrests.