Slipped in the clippings

Many years ago, while living in Ottawa for a summer work term, brother #1 and I each bought electric hair clippers. We both shaved our heads at the time, and thought we could save money by doing it ourselves. (And checking the back of each others’ heads.)

I kept it up for probably a few years after graduating, but eventually starting going to proper barbershops. (I’ve always kept my hair short.) The clippers just got stuck in a drawer, but followed me around through each move.

When the pandemic hit and everything closed, I dug the clippers out of whatever drawer they were in. They still worked, and thank goodness, because they were the only thing that’s kept my hair reasonably tame since.

Yesterday, for the first time in over two years, I had an appointment with a barber. It’s just up the street (my old place was across the street from St. Lawrence Market, which was convenient when I lived around there, or still went to the market for groceries every other week, but not so much anymore), it was a very chill vibe, and I accepted the up-sell of a hot towel + face/head/neck/shoulder massage. This is NOT something I’d normally go for, but goddamn…I just about fell asleep in the chair. Now I don’t think I can go back to shaving my own head.

After, I picked up sandwiches, some sourdough, and a peach & pistachio tart from the nearby Petite Thuet (so that’s gonna become a regular thing too, I think) and managed to get home just before a violent thunderstorm blasted through.

DriveTime

Since I’ve been driving to work a few times a week, I’ve managed to resume some podcast-listening, which used to be my TTC commute activity. Some favourites of late:

  • Scamfluencers, in which Scaachi Koul and Sarah Hagi tell stores of true (mostly white-collar) crime carried out by people with some combination of gumption and psychopathy.
  • The new season of Against The Rules by Michael Lewis.
  • Will Be Wild, about the Jan 6 US Capitol riot.
  • I’m just about to start a podcast about Nova Scotian winery Avondale Sky. Their site says “If you love wine, business and the thrill of new ventures. Then Avondale Sky Winery Podcast is the show for you.” and I was like…yup.

Two years

Yesterday, March 18, marked exactly two years since my last day at the office (at my previous company), and, for all intents and purposes, the start of the lockdown for Lindsay and I.

No point rehashing the last two years, but it does feel like we’re now — for better or worse, and perhaps only temporarily — tentatively re-entering the world, at least in Toronto. Last Friday we went to see a (very excellent) Jacqueline Novak comedy show; last night I met up with some old Delano colleagues, one of whom I hadn’t seen in 21 years, at Craft Beer Market, which was pretty much full. On Monday, I start working in the office again, a few days a week.

I hope we can keep things under control. I hope we can restart our social lives in some way without endangering the most vulnerable. Even I, Captain Introvert, crave interaction and dinners out and travel experiences. But not at all costs, so…fingers crossed for safe re-entry.

That only took 46 years

For the first time in my life I’ve bought a car. I managed without one for a very long time — always living downtown, usually near wherever I worked, taking transit and ubers and using autoshare and otherwise walking everywhere. But now I have a job that will take me to Mississauga (!) a couple times a week starting in January, and to the Niagara Peninsula every so often, so it was time.

I settled on a BMW X3 plug-in hybrid, and I’m picking it up today. We did test-drive it, and it barely fits in the garage, so parking could be a pain. I guess I should get used to parking generally being a pain from here on out.

It was a valiant effort, I guess.

Happy 3rd gotcha day anniversary, Kramer

Three years ago, give or take, we adopted Kramer. Year by year we’ve seen him progress in terms of how much he trusts us, and how affectionate he becomes. This is how I described his progress last year:

In the past year, and especially in the five months since COVID hit here, he’s continued to warm up to us. He now lets us pet him all the time, and in fact demands it. He half-meows outside our bedroom in the morning until we come play with him. He sleeps near us most of the time. He purrs, occasionally. He’s even jumped up on the bed or couch with us, if we lure him with treats.

It’s hard to even imagine, given what he was like two years ago.

If we thought that was hard to imagine, his progress since moving into the house ten months ago has blown us away. He routinely demands pets, scratches, and now belly rubs, to the point where he’s become a bit insatiable. Each morning when we get up he runs to greet us and flops at our feet to get scratches, or rubs against our legs. He sleeps on the stairs between floors to maximize the amount of affection he gets per day. He even slept on the bed all night with us a few times in the winter, when it was colder. He still gets freaked out easily and scratches us sometimes, but then is right back looking for more love.

But really, it’s the belly rubs that are the most significant development. It’s a sign of trust, of vulnerability, for a cat to expose his belly like that. Guess he loves us. And he’s soooooooooooo soft.

Cover photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Second pandy birthday

Yesterday was my birthday. I celebrated by having a pretty good day at work, doing a tiny bit of travel planning, watching some Bad Batch, playing a game of Exploding Kittens with Lindsay, drinking a bottle of Armand de Brignac (!) Champagne, opening a couple of very thoughtful gifts, and going out to dinner — for the first time in a year — to Gare de L’est.

Dinner was simple, but also felt wonderful. We sat on the patio and listened to live jazz like the world was normal again. We had oysters, steak tartare, duck (me) and mussels (Linds), wine, and more champagne. They rushed us out before we could get dessert but we went full dirty and got a McCain deep n’ delicious chocolate cake from the convenience store that Lindsay jammed a few candles in, and watched trash TV until we got sleepy.

Not the most glamorous birthday I’ve ever had, but I’ll take it.

.:.

Cover photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

A busy, lazy week

This week was supposed to be quiet, but has ended up rather eventful.

On Sunday we, along with ~26,000 other people, got vaccinated at Scotiabank Arena. That was our second shot, and we celebrated with drinks on the patio at Chez Nous. I spent most of Monday knocked out by side effects.

On Tuesday I returned to my office for (basically) the first time since March 2020, to collect the things from my office and say goodbye to some colleagues. Later that day we got a gorgeous vintage daybed delivered, and it now graces our office upstairs.

Wednesday was technically my last day at the bank. We celebrated with a bottle of 1996 Penfolds Bin 707 Cab Sauv that I recently won in a charity auction. It was simply stellar.

Thursday was Canada Day. But given where we are as a country there was obviously no celebrating. Lindsay did have a friend over that evening; we ordered Tabule and discovered a burger that might well be the best kept secret in the city.

Friday was my lone day of unemployment. We didn’t do much except marvel at torrential rain and a freak hailstorm, before Maeg and Immony came over for backyard drinks on a perfect evening. Montreal meanwhile, was losing their third game to Tampa Bay in the Stanley Cup Finals, so things don’t look good.

Today I just feel run down. I’m trying to rally, but right now all I can seem to manage is to type this whilst watching England play Ukraine in the Euros.

Cover photo by Chris Blonk on Unsplash

Shot #1

On Tuesday, thanks to VaxHunters, I saw a tweet saying people in our postal code could get vaccinated. I quickly moved some meetings around, grabbed Lindsay, and walked over. From the time we left until we were back at home, Pfizer jabs in-arm, it was ~35 minutes. Easy peasy!

Well, not quite easy-peasy; our arms hurt a lot that night, and I felt like shit the next day. I’d heard it was the second Pfizer shot that gets you, but since I probably still had antibodies from early April, maybe it was like the second shot? Anyway, it faded after ~24 hours, and luckily Lindsay never really had a reaction.

So that’s vax #1 in. And it coincided roughly with (a) nice weather, and (b) the Federal government’s easy-to-understand framework for where we’re headed. So for the first time in a while, I’m feeling not just resolved, but optimistic.

.:.

Cover photo by Chris Blonk on Unsplash

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.