Cover photo by JR P, used under Creative Commons license

Outdoor space. Thank the maker.

We’ve reached an exciting time of the year. I’ve always loved spring, both the maple-ness of it when I was a kid, but also the transition into warmth after long grey winters. I don’t know that I clinically suffer from S.A.D., but by March I’m usually pretty desperate for sun & warmth.

Luckily, we now have a house with a backyard. We’ve gotten furniture delivered, and have set up the table and 2 of the chairs — just enough to sit outside if it’s nice, which it has been on exactly ( *checks notes* ) ONE day so far this year.

Still…we’re excited.


Cover photo by JR P, used under Creative Commons license

From worry, to frustration, to despair

Yesterday was hard. It was hard to see the premier and other politicians elected to represent and protect Ontario’s citizens, presented the opportunity to finally — if far too late — do the right thing in the face of skyrocketing (but entirely predictable) COVID case numbers…and then bungle it so spectacularly. Instead of reinstating paid sick days, or any other protection of Ontario’s most vulnerable workers, Doug Ford chose to ignore science-based medical advice, and impose largely unhelpful restrictions on Ontarians. He denied them outdoor spaces, like playgrounds or campsites, even though the risk of outdoor transmission is very low and a generally-agreed-to-be-worthwhile risk given the physical and mental health benefits. He gave the police more power — likely unconstitutional power, mind you — to stop and question anyone they see on the street. Many municipal police forces have said they won’t use it, but if I were a Black person in this province, I would be very afraid indeed.

The Toronto Star’s front page today neatly sums up the frustration, shock, and rage at these latest moves. Not from people on the street, or on Twitter, but from medical and civil liberties experts.

Also yesterday, in an overtly political move, Ford declined an offer of Red Cross support from the federal government, saying “We do not have a capacity issue, we have a supply issue.” Both parts of that statement are false; on the same day his office issued that statement, Ford asked other provinces for help with capacity, equipment, and expertise. Meanwhile, vaccine doses go unused and appointments remain bafflingly difficult to book. Further: questions continue to swirl about why some postal codes were declared hotspots over others, when the data did not bear out such prioritization, and the aberrant data has some damning correlations to Tory minister ridings.

The province’s haphazard response a year ago could be blamed on confusion, the initial scramble of COVID panic and uncharted waters. Now, a year later, the premier and cabinet’s response can only be seen as inept and petty at best, dangerous and negligent at worst. Or, put another way:

To be clear, I feel all this frustration and rage out of empathy for my fellow Ontarians. I interact with this clusterfuck of an administration from the privileged vantage point of an affluent white man. I own my own house, with my own backyard, in a nice neighbourhood. I am not an essential worker, and I can work effectively from home 100% of the time. (Also, my employer provides paid sick days.) I have no kids climbing the walls, or other dependents. I have no pre-existing health conditions and, now that I’ve had COVID, I probably have some antibodies stored up. In the unlikely event that some cop stops me on my way to the pharmacy, my skin color will almost certainly keep anything bad from happening to me.

So if I feel all this, and I’m in quite possibly the most privileged state possible for an Ontarian, imagine how a front-line worker living in a poor or racialized neighbourhood feels. Imagine living at Jane & Finch, where you’re 9x more likely to be hospitalized but 4x less likely to be vaccinated than someone living in wealthy Moor Park (source) and FAR more likely to be targeted by police for the colour of your skin. Imagine the terror, and helplessness, felt by the most vulnerable Ontarians, as this doctor eloquently describes.

Of course, everyone I know with a brain in their head and a shred of empathy is already sickened by this, and feels something must be done. Unfortunately, both brains and empathy seem to be in short supply at Queen’s Park. Our outmatched premier has unnecessarily consigned hundreds of Ontarians to death at the hands of this virus, deaths which could have been avoided but for his incompetence and indifference.


In Macleans yesterday, Justin Ling got at why this is happening not just in Ontario, but effectively everywhere west of New Brunswick:

Scaremongering about outdoor transmission, and instituting curfews is a feat of social engineering. This an effort to ignore the data, withhold information, and twist the facts to scare us.

The conspiracy-minded will see that as an exercise in population control: Politicians getting their jollies off by playing dictator. 

The reality is more mundane—governments are doing this because they are frozen with indecision. Actually acknowledging the reality of the data means acknowledging this catastrophe was caused by governments’ idiotic reopening plans: Plans that were warned against by public officials at the time. Doing that means taking action that will hurt employment numbers, which could hurt our politicians fragile egos. Confronting this data and science also means admitting that all of our advice about washing your hands and not touching your face has been useless. And accepting that reality means provinces requiring sick leave, so people can go home if they’re ill.

Governments are loath to do any of that. They would rather shower us in meaningless pablum about how we, as citizens, need to do our part. The implication, of course, is that we are to blame for this crisis. That it’s us wayward youth who are driving this pandemic. Our lack of personal responsibility means they have to ground us to our rooms. Stay home, for god’s sake!

If our politicians stop blaming us for outbreaks, we may start blaming them.

Transitioning out of quarantine

I ended my 10-day quarantine period yesterday. I seem to have followed a pretty standard track for symptoms — it got bad earlier this week, but I worked Tuesday morning, then rested up all day Wednesday and Thursday. By Friday I felt well enough to work a half day. I’m still pretty out of energy, and my throat is sore when I wake up in the mornings. But I rarely need to cough now, and my senses of smell and taste are recovering. Last night I made dinner and drank some wine, and for the first time in a week didn’t need Neo-Citran to sleep. Lindsay is a few days behind me still, but seems to be on the same path.

The advice I got from public health is that these lingering symptoms could hold on for weeks, which I’m not looking forward to. But all in all, I’m very thankful it was as mild as it was. Clearly it could have been much, much worse. I guess the trick will be to not push myself too hard, as I’m wont to do at the end of a cold or typical flu. This bug doesn’t seem to react well to it.

Still, it’ll be hard — I’m super-behind on work, as I really just forced myself to lie around and watch huge amounts of TV. I watched all of The Spy (imdb | rotten tomatoes) and finished Lovecraft Country (imdb | rotten tomatoes) and numerous episodes of Clone Wars. Together we watched all six episodes of Q: Into The Storm (imdb | rotten tomatoes) and finished Retribution aka One Of Us (imdb | rotten tomatoes).

Well, shit.

We were careful. We stayed inside. We masked up.

But we still got COVID-19.

Last Tuesday I started feeling sick, with a sore throat and a headache. By Tuesday afternoon I’d canceled my meetings and went to lie down. It wasn’t severe or anything, I just felt tired. I took Wednesday off as well, thinking rest should take care of it, but just to be on the safe side made an appointment to get a COVID test the next day. By Thursday morning I actually felt pretty okay. I did a full (and long) day of work, then went for my test at St. Mike’s even though I barely felt sick anymore.

By Friday I felt mostly better. I actually considered firing up the Peloton to do a low impact ride. I was sure it couldn’t have been COVID; it never felt much worse than a medium cold, or a mild flu. But then I checked my results, and saw this:


By this time Lindsay had started feeling symptoms too, about three days behind my own. We made dinner, and wallowed in grump for a few hours before dosing ourselves with Neo-Citran and going to bed.

Yesterday I woke up feeling a little worse again, but got better as the day went on. I received the promised call from a doctor at Public Health, and he told us to isolate for ten full days from the onset of symptoms. He also explained that the symptoms can come in waves, and he was right: by the evening I felt like garbage again, with a slew of sinus symptoms. Today — Sunday — we both feel pretty wiped out. It won’t be hard to stay isolated; we can barely get out of bed.

Frankly, though, isolation means very little change for us. We already had 100% of our groceries and 95% of our food delivered to our front door. We both work from home 100% of the time. We hadn’t gone to anyone’s house. We hadn’t visited any patios when they were reopened a week or so ago. Frankly, it felt pretty unfair that there are yahoos out there visiting gyms and going to house parties and shopping and all manner of shit without getting sick, and with our practically-monastic lifestyle we catch COVID. So how did it happen?

Without getting into too much detail, we had one — one — short, socially-distanced hangout with our neighbours in the back laneway, four days before my symptoms kicked in. We were careful, but because we were outside and 2-3 metres apart, we didn’t wear masks. That one 20-minute window was all it took. Months and months of isolation, discipline, and missing people, and boom. But hey, we live in Ontario, and our provincial government’s response to COVID has been a collection of blunderfucks from the get-go — pulling emergency brakes after they’d already driven into the tree, and so on — so who knows? Maybe it was silly to think we wouldn’t get it.

Anyway. We’re not in particularly problematic age ranges, and we have no pre-existing health conditions which should complicate this. We’re not experiencing any of the severe symptoms. Nobody’s going to lose their job, we don’t have kids to worry about, and we have plenty of supplies and gourmet restaurants who’ll bring us food. We’re not taking this lightly, but the odds are certainly in our favour. So now we just hunker down, try to get better, and…stay indoors until our fucking vaccination appointments, I guess.

Wish us luck.

[UPDATE: we survived.]