Tag Archive: Canada

Wednesday night.

Suddenly closer to the weekend, for what it’s worth. (Spoiler alert: not a whole lot, really.)

I think my brain is officially digesting itself. I had the strangest dream… One of my stocks went up by 500% and I was running first through my old high school (rural Nevada) gym, then through the streets of New York, clutching my laptop and trying to find a wifi connection to log on and sell the stock. (One time, in real life, I really did lug my laptop around New York – my cellphone provider was too shoddy.) Then I was in a classroom with my old Russian classmates, but all the desks were American-style. We were staring at a blank wall. And then I realized the stock’s fundamentals wouldn’t have supported such a jump in price – and only then realized I was in a dream. So, yeah… My dreamscape is desperate for new experiences, so it’s just stringing along whatever it has handy in ye olde memory archive. Who knows, if I keep up this whole “normal amount of sleep” thing, I might actually learn lucid dreaming.

I’m devolving to the point of just wearing my bathrobe around my studio. When it’s time for a daily webcam call with my warehouse, I just put on a sweater on top and look extra official. Heh. I stopped putting product in my increasingly long hair a month or so ago: now I just put on a cap when it’s webcam time. Going a little bit feral, but I’m sure it’s not just me, eh.

My Internet addiction is becoming a superpower of sorts. While browsing Reddit, I found a very small post promoting an upcoming covid vaccine trial here in Canada. I literally had to go two layers deep to find a guy who gave me two email addresses: one of them replied right away and said he’d put me in touch with their local person here in Toronto. Their site doesn’t mention this particular clinical trial – a bit odd, but really, I’ll take what I can get at this point. A friend of mine in Omaha, Nebraska said that there are about 10 different vaccine trials happening at the same time there. Go figure. (I’m still quite sure I won’t be able to return to Canada if I fly to the US until I get my permanent residency. Best not to risk it.)

A cranberry radler seemed like a good idea when I bought it, and I’ll admit that the taste was quite novel, but that was the first time in almost 14 years that I had to pour my drink down the drain. (Tragic, I know.) The first time was right after my 21st birthday, when I decided to buy my first legal beer at the local store. I was a cheap bastard, so I went with the cheapest beer they had: Pabst Blue Ribbon. That was a huge mistake, and most of that 12-pack went unconsumed. Live and learn, I guess.

More Counter-Strike gaming… I’ve finally discovered my favourite mode and levels (Deathmatch Elimination) that are essentially a non-stop digital Valhalla. You don’t even have to wait for your team to win the round: you just run around, shoot people, and respawn right away as soon as someone else gets you. Dumb but fun, and those 10-minute matches really make the hours fly by. This is just like all the times in the past when I had nothing much going on and wanted to fast-forward through life…

Last night, I joined an online expat community and shared my big idea about contacting US officials about vaccinating expats. The reception was very mixed, to put it mildly. They did convey to me the idea that traditionally, US consulates don’t do much for expats. I guess I’ve still got a ways to go with my cynicism. (Presumably, the same consulate employees who replied to my email yesterday would get vaccinated somehow – but not their compatriots. Ho hum.) On the upside, I did some reading, and that community is filled with fascinating discussions about the peculiar difficulties of being an expat, trying to fit in, and living in multiple countries. I look forward to a very early and dirt-cheap retirement sometime in the near future, and I aspire to become a world traveler at long last, spending a month or two here and there. That community is full of people who already do that. They’re way ahead of me, and their perspectives are fascinating. That’s essentially applied anthropology, distilled to its purest form.

In covid news, a few days ago I wrote about the trivia pub outbreak in British Columbia. I was a bit off: it led to 300 covid exposures, not 300 cases. This infographic sums it up nicely: apparently, all of that happened because just one person at the pub had covid. Yeesh.

Here in Ontario, things are getting pretty funny, in that absurd sort of way. Now that the AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved, Canada will get several hundred thousand doses. (They supposedly arrived earlier today.) Ontario will get over 100,000 doses, but there are two caveats: they shouldn’t be given to folks over 65 (the efficiency in that age group is dubious), and they’ll expire on April 2. That means Ontario will have to scramble to find 100,000 young and middle-aged people and use up all those doses in less than a month. It’s quite telling that the top comment on social media is “Please don’t fuck this up. Please don’t fuck this up.” Heh. I think it’s quite likely that in order to avoid a PR disaster, they will just make it a free-for-all, especially toward the very end of their timeline, in late March or on April 1. That should be interesting. There’s the outside chance that they’ll a) fail to distribute the doses in time and b) have to throw them away, but that might set off actual riots on the streets of Toronto.

And lastly, NACI (National Advisory Committee on Immunization) has gone full YOLO with their official rationale for extending the gap between vaccine shots from three weeks to four months. (Or maybe longer, depending on how terrible the supply issues get.) They admit that the one-shot vaccination campaign is solely to cover as many people as possible. They also admit that “The duration of protection from one or two doses of COVID-19 vaccines is currently unknown.” Some prominent scientists on social media have already called them out for these risky lapses of logic…

If you’re reading this in the future, you probably already know how the four-month-gap approach played out: whether it worked fine or became an unmitigated disaster. Here and now, no one is really sure. We’re witnessing the scientific process – and, to be fair, a giant gamble – in real time, and it’s a hot mess. Should something go wrong, anti-vaxxers will gladly use that as a talking point forevermore. We’ll see. Here is hoping that vaccine trial reaches out to me, eh?

Good night, y’all. Stay safe.

Monday night.

Well, this was exciting. Today’s 90-minute orientation call with the local search&rescue group was probably the first even since August that really broke up the monotony of my new Groundhog-Day-like existence. They had my full and undivided attention, eh. Their team is small (just ~60 rescuers) and scrappy, and does only 8-12 missions per year. That’s quite different from my old crew in Seattle, who had over 600 members and did hundreds of missions per year. Still, that’s a great way to meet likeminded cool people – and I love their occasional missions to hard-hit foreign countries like Haiti or Cambodia (or Florida) to help with disaster relief.

One major downside: I’d have to become a permanent resident to actually join them. The same PR process that was supposed to come to fruition about a month ago. I can still sign up and hope the magic piece of paper makes its way through the bureaucratic maze by late May, but if it doesn’t… Well, I’d have to wait another year to join this quaint little band of badasses, but more importantly, that’ll be quite a blow to my big plan for this year. The only way to win is to keep playing, to wait until the very end of May, and then drop out if I don’t have my residency – but that’d also result in maximum disappointment. The only way is forward, I suppose.

Today is the first of March. Folks online are posting memes congratulating each other on the one-year anniversary of the two-week lockdown. Heh. Bitter humour is just about all folks got left these days.

In covid news… Damn it all to hell. There’s a lot of US/Canada news, and none of it is good. To start with, first British Columbia and then Ontario said they’ll increase the delay between the two shots of mRNA vaccines not just by weeks, but by months. Their new best bad idea is to make the gap four months long. Four goddamn months… The craziest part is that there is no clinical data to show that the first shot’s immunity stays high and strong for months. The only peer-reviewed paper I found was this one: it acknowledges there’s no hard data, but says that to vaccinate the most number of people, the gap should be increased to five weeks. Everyone is citing this paper without reading it as they argue for a gap that would be 12 weeks longer than that. Ye gods.

I’m not the only person that dislikes this proposal. Mona Nemer, Canada’s chief science adviser, reacted with “WTF? WTAF?!” Of course, she put it far more politely: “I think that it’s possible to do it. But it amounts right now to a basically population level experiment. And I think it needs to be done as we expect clinical trials to be carried out.” In other words, no bueno. One shot is better than no shots at all, but when there are pictures of happy-go-lucky Americans getting both shots three weeks apart at drivethrough centers… Technically, Trudeau’s promise that every Canadian would be able to get vaccinated by September would also work if they finished vaccinating you in January 2022. Heh. I don’t yet know how or when, but at some point this year I’ll engage in vaccine tourism to the US – or to any foreign country that has enough for its own people and would give the rest to tourists. I’ve given up a year of my life: even if I give four more months after the first shot (whenever that may be), there’ll be no guarantee it’d be as efficient as two shots three weeks apart. Getting a less-than-perfect result based on wishful thinking and zero clinical data is not my end goal.

One caveat, as always: there’s a chance Canada won’t let me in without my PR. The rules seem a bit ambiguous on whether you can fly back with mere work permit, and Canada is where I keep all my stuff… So much hinges on so little.

The Biden administration said neither Mexico nor Canada will get any vaccines until more Americans are vaccinated. Just as I figured. The really shady part of this, ethically speaking, is that the US also prohibits private companies from fulfilling previously placed orders: not a single dose is leaving the country. I wonder how much that’ll affect the US-Canadian relations in the future, or if people will even remember that far back. (If/when the US decides to start sharing, that might erase all the old memories.) And Canada’s Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is not recommending the AstraZeneca vaccine to folks over 65, citing insufficient data. It’ll be up to the provinces what to do with it, but this is another complication.

In non-US/Canadian news, there’s a bit of a scandal. Frontier Airlines Miami-NYC flight got cancelled because a group of passengers (who happened to be Hasidic Jews) allegedly refused to put on masks. The airline claims that was multiple adults. The adults in question claim it was just a few little children. There are no videos of the actual incident – only of the aftermath. Unless there’s a video recording from the plane’s cameras (and I don’t think those exist), this will turn into a very ugly he-said-she-said incident. The Anti-Defamation league is already calling for an investigation. This probably won’t be the last incident of its kind…

Good night, y’all. Save a couple vaccines for me, would ya?