Tag Archive: Trump

Plague diaries, Day 206

Monday night. Must Mondays be so morbidly mundane?..

The end-of-year shopping season is approaching, and that means things are getting busier at work. That’s one way to fast-forward through this pandemic: when there’s stuff to do and deadlines to meet, the workday mostly flies by.

I’m curious how this is affecting folks who lost their jobs but receive unemployment benefits. At least I have this work distraction: what about those who have enough money to pay their bills but no work in addition to not being able to go out and socialize? They must be having an entirely different experience… I’d like to get to that point in life myself, someday (infinite leisure!) but ideally without the world ending outside my window.

There are probably others out there who keep similar daily logs… A post on Reddit had inspired me to start this online diary, such as it is. There ought to be other chroniclers out there, if only a handful. I wonder if I’d be up to reliving this pandemic through someone else’s eyes, though: that would only highlight the sheer horror into which we’ve all slowly descended.

In covid news… Well, the absurdity continues. In the most basic terms: Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, tested positive for covid earlier today. She deliberately refused to wear a mask in the past, so there’s no telling how many journos she’s infected. (As far as I can tell, the White House strategy – such as it is – is to avoid masks and just do daily testing. That’s a reactive, not a proactive approach, and it’s no surprise that it failed.) Trump might have suffered the manic side effect from the steroid he’s taking: he posted a lot of ALL CAPS tweets in the morning, had his doctors lie for him some more (they refuse to tell when his last negative test was…), and then discharged himself from the hospital after just three days.

He then went back to the White House, dramatically removed his mask, and appeared to wheeze from that short walk. He really does seem to be on a mission to troll everyone as much as possible, because he posted a brief video where he implied he got covid on purpose, to be a leader, and told people not to be afraid of the virus. This is going to get people killed… Of course, he didn’t wear a mask, so he exposed everyone in the room as well.

Even though we don’t know when exactly he got infected, we do know that covid symptoms come and go: a bad stretch is followed by a good one and then a bad one again. He’s not out of the woods yet, and if he has to be rushed back to Walter Reed in a few days… Well, that’d be ironic, if nothing else.

And now I’m off to read the 17th book in Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series: I forgot that it got released last week, and it makes for a fine distraction from this horrific reality TV show taking place on every news outlet. Stay safe, folks.

Plague diaries, Day 205

Sunday evening. What a century this month has been.

Another uneventful day… But that’s another day where I learned a bit of French, another day of getting slightly closer to becoming a permanent resident here in Canada, another day of getting closer to all my goals, another day without having caught covid. So yay, here is to crossing yet another day off ye olde mental calendar.

Today was supposed to be open for hanging out with xgf and playing her favourite video game. (Borderlands-2 – she loves that turret special ability.) Alas, her parents stopped their Sunday trips to the local monastery, so hanging out with just her is no longer an option. Both of her parents practice hardly any covid precautions (and go shopping an awful lot), so merely being in the same house with them would increase my virus exposure risk by a huge percentage. Oh well, it was good while it lasted. She seems to be dating again, and good for her. I may try to find a likeminded penpal/romantic prospect here during the long winter, but then again, maybe not.

The weather was cold and shitty today. Winters here are long, and without so much as a chance to go to a random meetup and chat up some perfect strangers… Hobby inventory: I have dozens of books I’ve never actually read, three musical instruments I haven’t tried playing yet (ocarina, guitar, and harmonica), a zoom lens for my camera that I’ve yet to unpack, a “Cooking for dummies” book which has gotten mighty dusty over the past few years, a small (but incomplete) pile of art supplies in near-mint condition, and literal buckets of minerals I’ve yet to sort through and admire – leftovers from my July roadtrip vacation. Oh, and the exercise equipment, of course. And lots of video games I’ve bought on Steam over the years but haven’t played. And a DuoLingo subscription that will let me learn any language 24/7. Heh. So, yeah, I really shouldn’t be posting “boo hoo, poor me” updates if only because I’m fortunate enough to be safe from covid, economically stable, and in perfect health – and hell, all those hobbies will take years to master. It’s just the social isolation… Well, 205 days down (and 133 of those being all by myself), so what’s another couple hundred, am I right?

Random folks on social media are cheering each other up whenever someone asks “Please tell me I’m not the only one still staying in lockdown?” The frustration and fatigue I’m feeling is far from unique, but it helps to know that I am not alone.

In covid news, the shitshow is intensifying. Yesterday, the White House released two pictures of Trump supposedly working hard at Walter Reed Medical Center. He wore mildly different clothes in two different rooms, etc. One problem, though: the pictures were too high-tech. Online sleuths zoomed in and saw that he was literally signing blank pieces of paper in both pictures. The metadata on the pictures showed that they were taken just 10 minutes apart. That was literally a poorly staged photo opp. (And even a random Internet guy like me knows how to reset the metadata… Come on, people, you can do better than that.)

It got worse. This morning’s medical briefing mentioned that Trump is getting even more anti-covid drugs, and that his oxygen saturation levels dipped into the low 90s at least twice, which necessitated putting him on oxygen for several hours. The good doctor also waffled when journos asked why he lied the day before. When asked for specific results (such as Trump’s lung damage), he ran away. The only thing we know is that the official medical conferences cannot be trusted. There’s so much we don’t know – even the basic facts. It’s fairly obvious now that his first positive test was before Thursday, but when? No one even knows how long he’s been sick with covid, and that information is vital. Assuming his doctor told the truth about Trump’s treatment, he might be in fairly bad shape indeed. I won’t pretend to be any kind of medical expert – the details are way outside my competence level. This Politico article, however, has some great analysis of the press conference.

Later today, Trump went for a ride in his bulletproof, gas-proof SUV, waving at his supporters. He wore a mask for once, but an airproof SUV means all the Secret Service agents were likely exposed to his virus, even despite the protective gear they all wore. Like I wrote earlier, in the end this will be a binary choice: he’ll either die of covid or he won’t. But all this lying and obfuscation… This is what it must have felt like when JFK got shot, or when Reagan was in surgery after a failed assassination attempt. The one exception is that those events took days, not weeks. It’s hard to believe it’s been less than 72 hours since the news of Hope Hicks’s covid diagnosis. Folks online are making jokes about joining bears in their hibernation. (“I have some IPA and a can of cookie dough. Please vaccinate me while I’m asleep.” Heh.)

In non-self-inflicted-covid-news, Canada isn’t doing so well. In particular, Quebec has recorded over a thousand new cases. (1,107 to be precise.) A very basic google search suggested that maybe it’s because they have far more folks in retirement homes than any other place in the world. I have my own and selfish curiosity about Quebec, since I wouldn’t mind retiring there. (Ergo the French lessons.) I’d love to find out more about their situation. In other In non-self-inflicted-covid-news, there’s a spike in cases in Israel. Looks like the second lockdown (which, admittedly, had multiple loopholes) didn’t work after all…

Stay safe out there, folks. And hey, to make things a bit less gloomy, how about a 2020 meme, eh?

Plague diaries, Day 204

Saturday night. Do other planets ever get jealous that they don’t have a day named after them?

I finally ran out of bananas (the ones in the fridge started to look incredibly weird), so I risked another grocery-shopping expedition. Averaging about one every 10 days, and that ain’t bad. I took a fairly long drive on the permanently congested 401 highway to pick up extra weight plates for my dumbbell at a sporting goods store.

It’s so strange, experiencing the outside world in general and driving in particular after staying inside for so long. Watching fellow drivers stuck in traffic with you. Getting that old tingly sensation of controlling an entire automobile, a large construct of metal and rubber and glass that obeys your every move. (Do you remember your first time driving? It’s very much like that.) Even being trapped in traffic was a novel sensation because – for once – I was experiencing a tiny piece of the past, of life before the pandemic. Ye gods, I need to get out more often… But with the virus on the rise, nowhere is safe. Some places are objectively safer than others, and maybe I should try to go on a couple of hikes before the weather turns cold, but even so, there will be a long and boring winter shortly after. It doesn’t really get warm here till maybe April or May. Gotta keep popping that vitamin D, eh?

It says something about my life that the most exciting thing to happen this week was buying a new mask. Weeks ago, I bought 50 of those flimsy thin blue masks, but they’re really just the bare minimum. At the grocery store, I got something a bit more permanent, with an actual removable filter – and, dare I say, cooler-looking. (Scroll all the way down to see my pandemic business formal look.)

In covid news, things are getting decidedly Soviet in the US of A. Today’s updates: three Republican senators tested positive (Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Lee of Utah, and Thom Tillis of North Carolina); former New Jersey governor Chris Christie (an obese asthmatic) is in a hospital, allegedly just for observation; Trump is awfully quiet on Twitter; mixed messages coming from the White House. This morning, a team of Trump’s doctors arrived 43 minutes late to their own press conference. (That’s an awfully long time to agree on the best way to say “he’s a-okay!”) Dr. Sean Conley waffled for 13 minutes while dodging questions and accidentally mentioning that Trump had started treatment 48 hours prior and had been diagnosed 72 hours prior, i.e. on Wednesday morning, not on Thursday night.

Throughout the day, there were multiple conflicting reports and reports opposing prior reports. Either Trump is doing just fine or he was in critical condition. Either Dr. Conley meant to say “two days ago” instead of “72 hours” or he has no concept of time. Trump posted a four-minute video sitting in some office and thanking his medical team. It’s rather sad that it’s reasonable to ask whether this video had been pre-recorded earlier… There seems to be utter panic and self-inflicted information vacuum at the White House: even if they know what’s going on, after all their lies over the past four years, there’s no trustworthy person who can speak to the American people and be taken seriously.

There’s been no sign of life from Melania – is she finally getting some alone time, or is she out but not critical? The single saddest sign that something is up is the simple fact that the president of the United States has not spent the entire day bullying people on Twitter or live-tweeting Fox News. If there’s one thing he adores, it’s high ratings, and he’s been on everyone’s mind this whole weekend.

In the end, it’s a binary choice: he’ll either live or die. We’ll know for sure in a few weeks, likely sooner. The worst part is the uncertainty – the blatant misinformation and keeping people in the dark. In the Soviet Union, whenever the General Secretary had a health emergency and/or died, they’d put the Swan Lake ballet on every TV channel – it’d play on infinite loop. This is pretty much what’s going on right now, or at least what it feels like. Those of you reading this in the future, those of you who didn’t live through this, likely can’t imagine the sheer surreal sensation of having a Schrodinger’s president.

In other, non-US covid news: Ontario is stopping its contact-tracing program due to a two-day test backlog and a growing number of cases. (653 new ones yesterday.) That is not a good sign… That’s the equivalent of a shruggie emoji from the public health system: going from the precise and efficient targeting to, well, sending your thoughts and prayers to everyone around you, and reminding them to follow the same guidelines they’d started ignoring weeks ago. The new wave is here: the only question is how long it’ll last.

…and India has just crossed 100,000 deaths. That news story got buried by all the Trump news, yet it’s far more grave. As with every official death count, this one is understated. Given India’s 1.4 billion population, 100,000 deaths is proportionally about eight times lower than the US death toll, but it’s still just as tragic. I won’t pretend to know anything about India’s situation: I just hope they manage to minimize further deaths by taking rapid action.

Earlier today, I had to look up today’s date. It’s amazing how much has happened in just the first three days of October. There’s one month left until the US election. How different will the world be by then?..

Plague diaries, Day 203

Friday night. There ought to be a way to take all the unused Friday nights where you stayed home, put them in a savings account, and use them up when you get bored. Now that’s a tech start-up I’d invest in.

Things have gotten relatively normal at work – a simple, quiet day. Coworkers are still amazed by my hair, just like they are by the fact that I’m perfectly okay with working from home and staying in one room. Goddamn extroverts. Heh. Well, more WFH for me if they don’t want it.

I resumed my workouts two days ago: this is the third week, and the routine has already begun to suffer. Nonetheless, some exercise is better than none. I might have to brave the increasingly infection-infested city to get a few more weight plates for ye olde dumbbells.

In covid news… Holy shit, there’s a lot of covid news. Normally, I have to go on Reddit to find an interesting piece of news. (I never would’ve found out about, say, Turkey without Reddit.) Today is not one of those days.

It began late last night. Some intrepid reporter found out that Hope Hicks, Trump’s closest adviser, tested positive for covid. In a few hours, Trump tweeted that he and Melania also tested positive. I was up until 3am, refreshing the news feeds and speculating about the potential outcomes with everyone else. It must’ve been so weird for most east coast folks (at least those who go to bed at a reasonable hour) to learn about the news this morning…

Throughout the day today, the White House kept providing increasingly panicky announcements. At first, they said Trump had mild symptoms. Then they said the symptoms were moderate. They produced a doctor’s note that said he was “good-natured” (yeah, right) and received an experimental antibody cocktail. When you get to the point of giving the president untested drugs, that’s probably not good. Later in the day, a helicopter picked him up and took him to Walter Reed Medical Center, where he’ll allegedly work for the next few days. (Once again – yeah, right.) Most disturbingly, Trump didn’t tweet all day (an unprecedented occurrence in and of itself) except for an 18-second video where he appeared alone (without Melania) and said he was okay. It says something about the United States when people have reasonable doubts whether the video was real or pre-recorded just in case months ago. (And where was Melania?) Trump walked to the helicopter right outside on his own, so at least they didn’t wheel him out on a gurney. His administration leaks like a sieve: some aides said he was running a fever.

Pence and his wife allegedly tested negative. Ditto for Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, and Kamala Harris. On the other hand, quite a few Republicans who attended the Saturday ceremony in the Rose Garden said they tested positive. The ceremony was to celebrate Trump’s nomination of ACB, aka Amy Coney Barrett, to the Supreme Court. (Never mind the fact that Justice Ginsburg hadn’t even been buried yet.) Videos of the event show dozens of people walking around without masks, hugging, kissing, wiping their noses and then shaking hands, etc. That’s starting to look like a super-spreader event: two Republicans senators have already tested positive, as well as a few other VIPs. Some wealthy Republican donors were present as well: they went back to their home states, and likely started their own little clusters there.

I hope Trump doesn’t die. After all his petty thievery and not-so-petty corruption, that’d be too easy: a relatively fast exit without consequences. At the same time, I don’t feel sorry for him or his anti-science, pro-suffering entourage. No sympathy for Nazi sympathizers. They knew about the pandemic, they deliberately disregarded every rule, and there they are. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes – the pandemic edition, eh?

I still find it incredibly hard to believe that I, a compete nobody, had a more secure anti-covid system than the goddamn president of the United States. All I have is a healthy sense of paranoia, a bit of disposable income, and working knowledge of epidemiology. (I was into it before it was cool.) I stayed the hell inside, didn’t attend any social events aside from a fully-masked socially distanced backyard birthday party in August (there were a total of five people), and didn’t leave the house without a mask, wraparound glasses, and a face shield. Oh, and my summer vacation consisted of a 2,500-mile roadtrip with extremely little social interaction.

Anyone could do what I did, or at least try to. (I know that’s hard if you have kids.) But the president of the United States, the guy with the best scientists at his disposal, didn’t even try. Just about the only thing he hadn’t done to deliberately catch covid was hanging out with covid patients the way Boris Johnson had done before he got sick. Short of that, and maybe licking random doorknobs, Trump did every single risky thing in the book: shaking hands with dozens of people at events and rallies, not socially distancing, not wearing a mask, etc… If anything, I’m surprised it had taken him seven months to catch covid.

This weekend will likely have even more explosive revelations, even more insane headlines. The four hours of sleep last night are making themselves known: I’ll likely pass out very soon. I can’t even imagine what headlines I’ll see when I wake up some 10-12 hours later. There’s a possibility that Pence will assume presidential duties (if only temporarily) by Monday. There’s a possibility that Nancy Pelosi, the third in the succession line, will take over later this month. There are so many possibilities… Anything is fair game now. Stay safe out there, folks – and if you haven’t caught covid by now, then congratulations on being more responsible than the US president. Heh.

Plague diaries, Day 181

Thirsty Thursday evening. Alcohol might not be healthy, but what is these days?

The world is still on fire. My best friend, who had just recently bought a house in Oregon, is about to evacuate with his wife. They’re packing up. All their relatives live even closer to the fire than they do, so the destination is a big question mark. The fires are getting closer to my mom’s place and my little brother in Washington too. I don’t get the sense that this is getting covered on national media.

Today at work, I gave an hour-long video lecture on an important subject. Four people joined. Heh. It’s odd to think who will watch those video recordings later, when 2020 finally ends. Will they just fast-forward past all the parts where I call out the covid-specific planning precautions? Will they care?

I found a local journo on twitter. He was looking for Americans who moved to Toronto. I answered some questions. His publication is more of a booklet, but it’ll still be interesting to see my story – if not in print, then online. I’ll post a link here if and when that happens.

In covid news… Trump spent the day retweeting dozens of posts praising him, then attacked Woodward at the press conference (asking why he didn’t immediately go public if what he’d said was so bad) and, as always, refused to take any responsibility. A few hours ago, Trump flew to Michigan to host another rally. Big crowds, virtually no masks… This will almost certainly end up killing more people. How many?

A bunch of international scientists published an open letter questioning the data behind Russia’s “Sputnik V” covid vaccine. Evidently, the alleged antibodies levels in the study’s participants are almost identical, and that’s not quite how that works. Heh. This reminds me… Back in Russia, one of my classmates was the son of our physics teacher. We were all doing an experiment to see how fast boiling water can cool in room temperature. My classmate faked his numbers: according to him, the temperature didn’t fall at all, and the laws of physics didn’t apply to his test tube. His mom gave him an A. This strikes me as the same sort of uninspired forgery. I’ll be very happy to be wrong, but… The country that got caught cheating in the Olympics, and in foreign affairs, and in human rights, and just about everything else – they probably don’t deserve the usual benefit of the doubt, eh?

Tomorrow is the 19th anniversary of 9/11. Here is hoping that’ll be the only ordinary day of 2020, and not some kind of call to action to yet another sick mind.

Plague diaries, Day 180

Wednesday evening. Statistically speaking, some conspiracy theories must be true, but which ones?

I took most of today off: even though it doesn’t feel like it, the year is coming to an end, and I’ve got a giant pile of personal time to use up. After what happened yesterday, that seemed like a fine idea. (I still logged on for two hours to help, but that’s just some background workaholism.)

I’ve finally caught up on my laundry, even though it took three loads. It’s been at least 37 days, and even my reuse/reduce/recycle attitude could only take me so far. Funny thing about a self-imposed lockdown: when you don’t have to go outside, you end up using a lot less clothing – or put much less wear and tear on your work clothes, in any case. The mere act of putting on socks to leave the house is a bit of a special occasion, an unusual sensation that once was common, a Pavlovian trigger followed by setting out into the potentially infected populace.

During the big grocery run yesterday, I finally acquired a pair of 3-volt batteries for my smart scale: so rare and hard to find and, I suspect, overpriced. Weighed myself for the first time in months… I might have been too stingy with ye olde caloric intake, because I’m down to just 157 lbs, which is a bit below average for a 6’2″ guy. No wonder doing daily pushups brought about a small change: literally anything would. Well, at least now I know the “before” stats for when I finish reading that fitness book.

In covid news: Bob Woodward’s new book is coming out soon. He has tapes: Trump had agreed to be recorded, so what follows is not hearsay. As early as February 7th, Trump told Woodward that covid was dangerous and deadly. In March, Trump said he’s intentionally downplaying the severity of the virus. That was six months ago. Hundreds of thousands died while he insisted the virus would magically disappear, while he mocked masks, while he pontificated on the efficiency of injecting yourself with cleaning products.

Bob Woodward is no angel, either: he sat on those revelations for months, saving them for his book. It’s hard to say how much would’ve changed if he’d released those tapes right after recording them, but surely at least someone would’ve been convinced. At least one town would’ve enacted stricter measures, at least one family would’ve started wearing masks. At least one life would’ve been saved. No profit is worth that. If Trump’s criminal negligence and deliberate withholding of vital information resulted in all those deaths, then Woodward is at the very least an accomplice.

And so there we have it, folks. The president of the United States of America spent months deliberately lying about a deadly virus, killing (by the official count) 190,000 Americans, with just as many deaths expected by the end of the year. If you tried going back in time and warning people about this exact scenario (even just a year ago, when we’d already normalized the idea of Donald Trump as president), you would’ve been called mad – and likely would’ve gotten institutionalized for good measure. Maybe that’s why we never encounter time travelers from the future. Maybe they’ve always been here, but their disturbing shouted warnings about bizarre catastrophes have always been dismissed as random detritus of damaged minds.

This is somewhat covid-related: the US west coast is on fire. There are apocalyptic-looking pictures and videos of hellish red sky, of dense and ash-filled air. The wildfires aren’t everywhere, but it seems like every area from Arizona and all the way to Washington is affected. My mom lives just south of Seattle. Some small towns to the east of her have already been evacuated. That’s the new future, with bigger wildfires and hotter summers every single year. It certainly doesn’t help that all the displaced people will likely be stuck together, and there’s high potential for even more covid clusters…

These types of natural disasters were among several reasons I moved to Canada – and to the east coast of Canada, at that. I wonder how different my life would’ve been if my work transfer to Australia had gone through in early 2018. If I hadn’t done so poorly on my interview, I would’ve been there when the entire continent caught on fire in early 2020. (I know, it seems strange that all of that happened just a few months ago.) If not for my failed speech check, I would’ve lived in the country that’ll be hit the hardest by the global warming, as opposed to the Great White North, which will also get hit, but not as soon, and hopefully not as hard…

I’m still asking my US relatives if they’d like to move to Canada and join me here. Who knows, if I keep asking, maybe someday they’ll make that mental leap and join me after all. One can only hope, eh?

Plague diaries, Day 124

Wednesday night. Almost weekend. Almost vacation.

Drove down to xgf right after work today to drop off my digital thermometer and oximeter. She feels better but still has weird symptoms (primarily nausea) that she rarely experiences. It’s still possible that this is just a very strange food poisoning. It’s likely that this is the good day/bad day cycle described by some covid sufferers…

On the way back home, I encountered a very poorly managed Walmart: stopped by to buy some roadtrip supplies and beer, only to discover that their self-checkout doesn’t allow one to buy beer. Oh, technology… When I got home, there were five police cars blocking the way: looks like the neighbour from across the street had a very bad fight with her husband. He didn’t get hauled away, but she got plenty of advice from cops taking her statement. There’s been a spike in domestic abuse and assault cases worldwide ever since lockdowns began… I hope everything ends well for her.

Anecdotally, my California sister (not the Trump-supporting one – that one is in New York) mentioned that a friend of her narrowly avoided getting infected. There was a funeral, and even though the priest felt under the weather, he assumed it was just toothache. There was much hugging and kissing… He tested positive for covid two days later. It’s unclear how many people he managed to infect. (My sister’s friend didn’t attend the funeral, and might end up being the only uninfected person in that entire social circle.)

Moderna announced that their trial vaccine has triggered immune response in every person who participated in the trial. They still need to do more testing, but that was great news. The stock market overall went up by a percentage point before settling slightly in the red for the day. However, cruise companies’ stocks went up by 20% – not so much because of the vaccine news, but because they had been very badly hit by shortsellers. Burn in hell, shortselling scum. 🙂

My company has announced that the WFH (work from home) policy has been extended through January 8th. That may or may not apply to my strange little tribe of warehouse financial analysts: we’ll find out where exactly we stand in two days. Should be interesting, one way or another.

Oh, and the President of the United States of America just had his picture taken with a bunch of Goya food products – it was posted on his official Twitter and Instagram. (The company’s CEO had praised Trump, got some social media backlash, and things escalated from there.) If anyone is reading this in the distant future – please google this. (Do y’all still have google? Heh.) I know this sounds made up, but it really happened. Instead of encouraging his fellow Americans to wear masks or be excellent to each other, the POTUS decided to troll the libs by staging a photo-opp to promote his supporter’s products. All of this is in blatant violation of the ethics rules, but it’s like the old saying goes – “how many divisions do the ethics rules have?”

Not for the first time, and definitely not for the last one, I am so very, very glad I have escaped that strange and violent country.

It’s Monday night, and the United States as we know it is ending. Trump got mocked heavily for hiding out in the White House bunker on Friday. In response, he went outside, and had peaceful protesters assaulted with flashbangs in the background as he posed in front of a church, held a Bible upside down, and promised to send federal troops to fight protesters…

That right there is fascism, pure and simple, set in front of the staged production of police brutality against peaceful protesters who were not violating the curfew. His message was sent loud and clear to all his trigger-happy supporters – civilians as well as those in the uniform. The Illinois governor has already stated that he would not allow federal troops in his state. Others will follow soon.

It’s all moving so fast now… Last night, another black man was shot and killed by the police: he was the owner of a BBQ restaurant that would feed them for free. (If this were a work of fiction, any sane editor would’ve cut this part for being too on the nose.) Tonight, somebody will get an itchy trigger finger, and that’ll make the Kent State massacre seem quaint in comparison. As always, I hope I’m wrong.

I’d never set out to make these plague diaries so political… If you’re reading this at some point in the future, please understand this: you can’t have the story of the pandemic without the United States, and you can’t have the US side of the story without all the political unrest, violence, and rapid descent into fascism that took place at the same time. Someday, all of this will make for a very condensed and confusing chapter in history books – the way the entire Revolutionary War is taught in just two weeks in US high schools. Everything that’s happening here and now may not make sense in the future unless you fully immerse yourself in the news and social media of this period, reading it day by day, hour by hour. Even then, it might not make sense at all.

I’m going to bed now. I don’t want to think what will have transpired by the time I wake up. Good night and good luck to all the yanks who didn’t get out in time…

Wednesday night. Another day, another dollar. Things might be looking up at work, or not – it’s never easy to tell.

The University of Toronto is moving ahead with my educational credential assessment (ECA), the last big piece of paperwork I need for my Canadian permanent residency application. The last little piece of paperwork is the FBI background check. I got lucky: most of the local fingerprinting agencies have shut down due to covid, but one of them is still in business. If xgf feels up to it tomorrow, we’ll take an hour-long drive to Toronto to do my fingerprints, fill out the FBI form, and send it off.

There’s a hypothetical future where my PR application gets finalized within a month, and I become an official Canadian resident within seven months… A bit longer than my initial timeline, but hey, I’ll take what I can get.

The New York Times published a huge story about the White House’s shadow task force set up by Jared Kushner and staffed by “volunteers” (mostly because they were too damn unqualified to hold and official government job). Their merry band decided to reinvent the entire procurement process while also keeping a separate VIP spreadsheet and rerouting vital supplies to Trump’s friends and donors. One of the people involved finally had enough and blew the whistle. Makes one wonder how many more grifting affairs have been happening in the background, without any whistleblowers to bring them to light.

In other words, it’s just as I’d written before: the US response is being run by corrupt imbeciles, and boy-wonder Kushner (who was never elected to any position) keeps getting assigned to every initiative, overruling and replacing the actual experts who might be able to help. Meanwhile, Trump is getting bored of the pandemic (probably because he can’t bully the virus into submission), and is calling for the country to reopen. He’s explicitly stated that people will die but the “American warriors” (aka the working class) will get through it. If all of this sounds like unhinged madness from a cheap self-published novel – well, that’s just the world we live in now.

…I can’t wait to officially become a Canadian.

Cumulative death toll in the US as of right now: 74,687; in Canada, 4,232.

Sunday night. Earlier today, I found the only garage in Niagara Falls that did oil changes on Sundays, and finally got it done. (It had been at an alarmingly low level.) There’s this indescribable feeling of freedom, knowing that you have a full tank of gas and can drive anywhere; that your car is tuned up, has enough good oil, and won’t give you any trouble. The freedom to drive away…

Xgf and I went to the actual waterfall today. There were hundreds of people, and many weren’t practicing social distancing. They walked in big groups, stayed side by side waiting for the crosswalk light to change, etc. There were cop cars here and there, so it looks like the social distancing policy was simply being ignored. That’s counterproductive, to say the least.

Trump has officially gone off the deep end. Earlier today, he posted a truly bizarre tweet (“….And then came a Plague, a great and powerful Plague” etc, etc), followed by a barrage of retweets blaming Obama, the intelligence community, and just about everyone else. On the off chance someone is reading this from way in the future (hopefully, Twitter and Facebook are long gone by then), please know that none of the stories about Trump were false. It really was that bad, and you can’t imagine what it was like to live through this madness. The 25th Amendment is supposed to be implemented if the president becomes incapable of doing his duty, but human nature being what it is, no one wants to actually do that, even if the POTUS is senile. With any other person in the White House, the death toll would surely be smaller…

Cumulative death toll in the US as of right now:  68,390; in Canada: 3,795.