Tag Archive: pandemic


Wednesday night. I’m an idiot: I completely forgot that you can deposit a check just by taking its picture with the bank app. On the upside, I got a lot of anti-covid vitamin D during my 2-hour walk yesterday, so it’s not all bad. …I guess I never got used to the concept of doing stuff with apps, being an elder Millennial and all. (I didn’t see my first iPhone till I was 21.) I’m officially old. Heh. I wonder, if anybody is reading this in the post-plague future, will anyone come up with a better term than “videotaping” to describe recording a video? It’s quite an anachronistic term (just like depositing checks in ATMs), but nobody can come up with a better one.

Strange day at work today: on the one hand, I definitely aced the high-level presentation I’ve been working on for the last three months. On the other hand, 90 minutes later I learned about a major reorg on my team. My job is safe, but that’s one weird rollercoaster.

Xgf is doing fine in her self-imposed basement isolation: today she baked brownies for her neighbours from upstairs. She and I still talk on the phone, and might hang out in a socially-isolated manner on Saturday. She mentioned that I sound much different now that I’m alone and with just my work to keep my company. The social “yes man” mask stays on even after the workday is over. It takes quite an effort to take it off…

In covid news, Nevada’s governor said casinos and other public places can reopen next Thursday, eight days from now. I suppose that’s one way to see who the most desperate gamblers are. There’ll be some wild pictures from casinos that try (and fail) to implement anti-covid measures like plexiglass barriers and gloves for players. Not sure how they aim to do that with card games and dice: literally burn the deck after each use and dunk the dice in ammonia after each player, I suppose. I miss Vegas dearly (having spent 10 years of my life in Nevada), but I don’t think I’ll be going anywhere until the vaccine is out. (Every country seems to be developing their own; it’ll be interesting to see who gets it done first.)

There are some reports that the states that reopened are seeing a huge spike in covid cases. Like the twitter joke goes, you can’t have the second wave if you never really finish the first wave. Being a hermit has its advantages…

Tuesday evening. It really is amazing how quickly things fall back into the old routine. This almost felt like any other pre-plague workday, aside from the fact that I kept working from home and didn’t go to my warehouse. I stopped by there very briefly yesterday to drop off my office key. (Since I’ll be out for the foreseeable future, they may as well use it for the folks who are still there.) I’ve been gone for 10 weeks and things have definitely changed… I didn’t recognize the place, even from my vantage point near the entrance. I wonder how much more will change the longer this goes on.

I tried to take a short walk to the local RBC ATM right after work: the weather is sunny and I could use more exercise. (Lost some weight and haven’t been to the gym since before this diary started.) The ATM 20 minutes away from me wouldn’t accept any deposits at all. The ATM 20 more minutes down the road took my cash deposit (cash is heavily frowned upon these days), but refused to take my check, spitting it out three times in a row. The funny part here is that the check (cheque?) is from the Canadian government itself – an income tax refund. It’s even funnier because RBC stands for “Royal Bank of Canada.” Heh. Gonna have to actually drive to the damn place tomorrow on my lunch break.

Speaking of surviving pandemics with a sardonic attitudes, behold – a real-life “please don’t loot us” sign I found at a nearby electronics store. It was right next to another store that covered all the windows with wood paneling and shut down indefinitely. Strange times…

Monday evening. The first day back in the GTA (Mississauga, specifically), the first day by myself…

Before we departed on this 10-week AirBnB adventure, I’d lived in this rental room for just six weeks. I lived in three different places since then. It was indescribably bizarre to turn the handle, walk into the room – undisturbed, just as I’d left it – and turn on the light switch to find that nothing at all had changed. My stacks of books, my gaming PC’s screen still blinking in the power-saving mode, my art collection… It’s as if nothing ever happened, as if I merely stepped out and had a remarkably vivid hallucination, as if the world didn’t forever change.

It’s a little bit funny: after three different AirBnB residences and more than 10 weeks away, I can’t recall where I’d kept my things. I’ll have to spend a few hours just to rediscover my own room and see what’s what, and where, and why. On the upside, I’ve discovered that I don’t really need art, or all that many books, or a gaming PC in order to relax, enjoy life, and make the most of it. That knowledge will be useful when I decide to start my lean-FIRE…

Yesterday was crazy but not chaotic. We’d packed on Saturday night. Sunday morning was spent double-checking everything, eating a quick breakfast, and packing the car. We reached xgf’s Toronto at 1pm, dropped off everything at xgf’s new basement apartment (to keep the car empty for moving the rest of her things), and went to her old house. Things have really gone to hell there. On a typical day, the house has between 6-10 roommates. Now it’s twice as many. They chose to disregard every social distancing guidelines and started inviting their partners, their partners’ roommates, random relatives, etc. In the five hours that xgf and I were there, packing and sorting through things, we saw at least a dozen people, and heard many more. The roommates are all genders, mostly in their 20s and 30s, though at least one is in his 40s. If even 20% of Canada’s population acts that way, this pandemic will take a long time to die down.

I bought xgf’s enough groceries to last a few weeks. We finished moving everything around 9pm. Her gal pal, the owner of the basement apartment, joined us for one last dinner in the backyard before I left for good. We ate some very basic thrown-together cuisine (think American cheese slices on toast, with some tomatoes on the side), we talked, we laughed, we talked some more. Afterwards, xgf and I had one last conversation before we parted ways and became very good friends instead of apocalypse survival partners… The conversation was deep, and touching, and lovely. It’s a shame we couldn’t make it work.

And so, back to the apocalypse, but this time by myself.

Sunday night. Much packing, lots of driving, a great deal of talking. It’s over between xgf and I, but it was beautiful while it lasted. More tomorrow…

Saturday night. This was our last full day together… It was eventful: one last drive to a park, a homecooked veggie&steak roast, a lot of packing for tomorrow, a laptop-lit bath (as one does in a cyber-age pandemic). We’re parting on very good terms: I’ve helped xgf improve her dating ad for her eventual return into the dating scene, we talked more about the things that didn’t work out, etc.

Big day tomorrow: driving 90 minutes back to Toronto, moving a lot of things to xgf’s new basement apartment from her old rental room, etc. I probably won’t make it back home to my own old rental till late in the evening. It will be so very strange to see my landlords again after more than 10 weeks away. (I’d only lived with them for six weeks before I departed on this covid odyssey.) It’ll be even stranger to find my room exactly as I found it – books, gaming PC, art-covered walls, and so on.

To quote Kurt Vonnegut, “So it goes…”

World news: the official guesstimate of the US deaths is about 100,000. New York Times published a long list of names, ages, and brief facts about the covid victims on their front page. A lot of people online are wondering why more of their fellow Americans aren’t taking the pandemic (and the incompetence-driven death toll) more seriously. The current consensus is that 100,000 is simply too large a number to visualize. Imagine 33 9/11’s… Not for the first time, I’m so extremely glad I moved to Canada.

Friday night. Ten full weeks since this adventure began. Hard to imagine that two days from now, I’ll be back in my giant rental room, back in the familiar surroundings but without the familiar presence near me…

Got an interesting proposition at work, but the timing was all wrong. My warehouse colleagues are wondering when I’ll return – the answer, of course, is when the official guidance calls for it. So far, the official line is that we can self-isolate through October. It’s been a bit of a reputation race between tech giants: Google, Facebook, and Amazon have been setting farther and farther dates for returning to work. (That process began in March.) Twitter threw down the gauntlet when they said their employees can work from home permanently if they’d like. Then Spotify followed the suit. A few days ago, Facebook said the same thing, but with an important caveat: the salary would be tied to the cost of living in the place where you’d actually reside. (Meaning their California employees wouldn’t keep their high salary if they worked remotely from rural Oregon.)

I’m curious to see what Amazon and Google will do. This whole mess is definitely affecting the way companies operate. My team has just onboarded five new hires, and they aren’t meeting any of us in person – it’s just a lot of remote training, making the process even tougher and stranger than it usually is.

…we spent our last Friday night together watching the sunset at a scenic overview, with the river fading into the darkness as we had yet another conversation about what would have been. Packed and strange day tomorrow as we’ll try to do a bit of everything and a whole lot of nothing.

World news: Brazil’s official death toll has crossed 20,000. The actual death toll won’t be known until much later, I’m sure. More insanity with the US politics, but what else is new?

Thursday night. Spectacularly bad day at work, but it was improved by a few other developments. Although it took my letter with fingerprints (FD-258) 12 days to go from Niagara Falls (the Canadian side, naturally) to West Virginia, the FBI processed my request in just one day. They sent me an email saying they’re pretty sure I haven’t committed any crimes – and that was the last piece of paperwork I needed to apply for permanent residency. The company’s lawyers said they got everything and will start on my application. That’ll take them up to four weeks to finish: up to six months for the application to go through, and then…

After the bad work day, xgf surprised me by making me a pizza and, unbeknownst to me, braving the outside world and going shopping a few blocks away. She got me my favourite cider at LCBO, as well as my favourite candy at the local convenience store. That was so damn brave of her, not to mention sweet… Just what I needed to lift my spirits. Afterwards, we took a drive to the same park we’d visited a few days earlier. There were a few more people now, but everyone stayed far enough apart. (Besides, we had masks.) On the way back up the hill, at sunset, we saw two deer hanging out in the woods. The night before, we also saw a very chill skunk and, on a different occasion, a wild fox: they were both just across the street from the waterfall. I wonder if it’s always like that in this quaint little town. If not, I hope the animals don’t get too shocked when all the humans get back to their usual routine.

The world news isn’t improving. Ohio said that starting June 1, weddings with 300 or fewer guests will be fine. (Talk about mega-clusters…) An American pastor who claimed he could heal covid with his faith died of covid. Brazil keeps getting hit hard. So, you know, more of the same old, same old.

…ye gods, just seven more months – or maybe even less – till I become a permanent Canadian.

Wednesday night. More packed schedules and deadlines at work, more walks and talks and making memories once I’m done with work for the day. The waterfall is lovely. Standing so close to it, watching the water change colors and plunge with such great force… I’m sure it’s possible to get use to that spectacle at some point, and that’s a point I never want to reach.

Yesterday, we went for a late-night stroll. There was a Tim Hortons that was open, but only with a drivethrough. A small crowd of people gathered outside their parked cars, eating and drinking soda and chitchatting. It was a bit sad to see such a desperate attempt to socialize, to find others. Needless to say, they weren’t following social distancing rules.

Despite what I wrote earlier, we decided to make one last trip to Walmart. (What good is life without tangerines and grapes?) I drove out, xgf stayed home. Social distancing has gone to hell. They still make people line up outside and let them in at ~15-second intervals, but the place was crowded. (As was the parking lot.) It was almost at pre-plague levels. This time around, hardly anyone wore masks. …I wonder how long I’ll be able to get away with wearing a mask + goggles + the face shield I plan on buying. Cyberpunk 2020, eh?

Bought myself a new pair of shoes – a steal at $25 CAD. Of course, if my previous pair of shoes (also purchased at Walmart) hadn’t literally fallen apart, I wouldn’t have had to get a replacement from the same store chain. It’s the circle of life! It’s funny, how many things fall apart so quickly if you have a very limited supply. Xgf’s compression tights (the only pair) are developing small holes; I’d brought only two pairs of jeans with me, and both are starting to develop holes; my big supply of pens is buried somewhere deep in our luggage (this condo isn’t big enough to unpack), so we’re down to the last two precious writing utensils.

World news: Brazil’s official death toll exceeds 1,000 per day now. Unofficially, who the hell knows. Global warming is hitting my native Siberia hard, with 105 degrees, and it’s only mid-May. (Putin once said that global warming would benefit Russia – cold weather and all. Be careful what you wish for.) In Michigan, two separate dams failed, and 10,000 locals had to be evacuated. Their little town will be 9′ underwater. It doesn’t help that one of the dams failed its most recent inspection and didn’t get any repairs afterwards. The cherry on top? There’s a chemical plant that’ll likely be flooded. There’ll be more news like this, I’m sure, and it’s interwoven so tightly with the pandemic’s developments. We’ve caused (or at the very least greatly accelerated) so many different disasters, and now they’re starting to overlap. This century will be so strange…

Tuesday evening. Xgf likes to dye her hair every now and then, and she’s had me join her. Either the hair dye finally wore off all at once, or some optical illusion passed some critical yet undefinable line, but I suddenly have far more grey hair on my temples I’d had before the plague. Oh well.

Xgf is still having bad dreams. We’ve run out of grapes, but with just five days left till we move apart, she said it’s not worth the risk to go to a grocery store just for this. She’s eaten all the candy – I had to bring out the emergency chocolate reserves. Heh. One hundred and twenty hours from now, I’ll be back in my bachelor routine of sitting in my oversized isolated rental room… I’ll miss her.

World news: more infections popping up in China, leading to more lockdowns. Georgia was caught cooking the numbers in the dumbest possible way, moving the dates around to change the growing trend into a diminishing one. Florida fired the woman who designed the covid dashboard after she refused to fake the numbers. In other words, more of the same old, same old.

Monday evening. How does one celebrate Victoria, anyway?

Today was good. We slept in, then took a drive to another local park, and went on a two-hour walk down to the river, then back up the steep slope. It was beautiful. As a bonus, there were no sprained ankles or butt landings into the mud, so it went rather well.

Back home, when making a very late lunch (early dinner?), I ended up steam-burning my hand when I removed plastic cover off a plate of microwaved rice. Ow. Ow ow owwww. Currently self-medicating with a bottle of cider, a tylenol, and some of xgf’s burn cream. Aside from a little tingling, it’s all good – at least for now. Could be worse: one of my favourite cartoonists burned off most of his arm when he added a bit too much oil to his frying pan. Here is a fun research project for anyone reading this in the future: what was the above-baseline increase in google searches for burns and other domestic accident injuries? I bet it was more than just a few.

Xgf is feeling better and less resentful after our conversations yesterday. She keeps a very tight lid on her emotions, so it’s never easy to tell what exactly is on her mind. She did say she had more dreams last night, same as every night for the past few weeks…

The world news is getting even wackier, breaking all the previous wacky records of wackiness. Trump has just announced that a) he’s been taking hydroxychloroquine for a while now, b) the inspector general he removed was an Obama appointee, as if that somehow makes it justified, and c) all the doctors who oppose Trump are Democrats and need to be disregarded. This is a whole new level of craziness… The stock market had a remarkable day, with Dow going up almost 4%. (Over the weekend, there had been some financial reassurances and news of successful stage-one trials of a potential vaccine.) After the big financial maneuver I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’ve put my money into a few carefully selected stocks. They’re already up 11.6%. They may well double if/when the economy recovers. The hardest part will be teaching myself patience. Heh.

I’m future-leaping hard. At some point, perhaps two months from now, I’ll take another vacation – I’m thinking of giving the nascent prospecting/rockhounding hobby a try by renting a van and going far, far away, perhaps to Thunder Bay, about 14 hours north of Toronto. I hear they have great amethysts…