Signs of the times (2020 global pandemic edition)

I went out on my TPQ (Toilet Paper Quest) again, since I had time at noon (today is the first day my department is working from home, which I will talk about in some other post). My TPQ ended with me once more empty-handed, left only with sadness. And jam. They had jam and it was on sale, so I bought some jam.

The empty toilet paper shelves have a new sign, though, so there is some small hope I might get some before the last three rolls get used:

Unless the sign means they only had two packages in total, which is also possible.

Those chili-style baked beans I posted about a few days ago were also gone. Desperate times, indeed.

And the meat section was nearly barren. Fittingly, a single, mask-clad woman was picking over what little was left.

Meatless in New West

I’m not really concerned yet, just annoyed and a little depressed at all the needless hoarding going on that is preventing others from getting anything at all. If the zombie apocalypse starts, I’m pointing the brain-eaters to the houses with all the toilet paper.

Society is doomed, but at least the last of us will have chili style beans

I went shopping at the local grocer today and sure enough, no toilet paper to be had. This is not a surprise as they have likely not gotten a new shipment in yet, but it is irksome when you want to buy (not hoard) it. I expect there will be plenty of toilet paper for the first day after the shipment, then the shelves will be stripped bare again.

This will probably go on for a few more weeks. By then all the panic-buyers will be well-stocked, though irrational behavior may compel them to buy even more. Who knows.

I noticed that other stuff was disappearing, too. Hand sanitizer, of course, but also an entire section of fresh meat, boxed pasta and a large variety of canned goods.

Admittedly, the baked beans were on sale, so it was a good time to buy, anyway. The whole shelf was picked clean except for this:

In the coming zombie apocalypse no one wants to eat Chili Style beans.

Including me, actually.

There was also a single forlorn can of British Style beans that may have been missed because it was pushed back from the front of the shelf. It is probably gone now, after I moved it forward. Hail Britannia.

I saw one woman buying paper towels and just something about it made me think she was getting it as toilet paper substitute. I guess in desperate times you take desperate choose-your-own-size-sheets measures.

I am hoping this temporary madness ends soon, but it is a flickering sort of hope.

A haiku to the fresh new COVID-19 pandemic

You Can't Have Pandemic Without Panic

It's not just the flu
Worldwide and spreading fast
Grab toilet paper

Okay, I couldn’t resist making another crack about the toilet paper hoarding, because really, what is up with people? Do they think toilet paper is some glorious all-purpose thing that will help families make it through global catastrophes? Do they know something about toilet paper that I don’t? I’m pretty sure the answer to that is no.

Not that I can go out and buy some to find out, since they’ve already bought the entire world’s supply in the last week.

Next: Going out and trying to buy toilet paper for real (we’re down to four rolls).

Welcome to the 2020 pandemic. Please bring your own toilet paper.

Today the World Health Organization officially declared the spread of the coronavirus, officially designated COVID-19, as a pandemic. Essentially this means it’s spreading all over the world and there ain’t no stopping it. We have in just the space of a few months gone from the initial reports of the virus in China to containment and now mitigation, to keep the medical systems around the world from being overloaded.

Italy has been quarantined. Yes, the entire country of 60 million people.

The U.S. response is being handled about as well as you’d expect with an orange-skinned narcissist sociopath leading the country.

But perhaps the most interesting aspect of all isn’t the cancellation of large events like car shows, professional sports matches and the like (which is logical if you are trying to slow the spread of the virus), but the one thing the general public is fixating on above all else.

Toilet paper.

Yes, for reasons still unclear to me, people are panicking over toilet paper running out. I mean, sure, it’s nice to not have to find toilet paper substitute if you do run out, but what is the actual train of thought here? Do people think toilet paper factories (TPFs) will suddenly close? Do they think trees harvested for paper, including toilet paper, will be placed under quarantine and no longer cut? Do they think the manufacture of everything else–except maybe hand sanitizer–will be unaffected somehow and that only toilet paper has the unique qualities that will see it go scarce?

Of course, due to panic buying, it is now scarce. Here’s a shot I took at the local Save On Foods this afternoon (March 11). Not a single roll of toilet paper to be had:

Good thing we still have a few rolls in the condo. We’ll have to ration them for the next six months, I guess.

People are weird.

Darwin Award candidate rides bike on SkyTrain

Today I was waiting for the Expo Line train to arrive at Lougheed Station. As I waited, a Millennium Line train pulled in. These are stubby li’l two-car trains because Translink simply doesn’t have enough cars to outfit the Millennium Line properly. They are working to fix this over the next year. The people smooshed into these cars during rush hour will be grateful.

These two-car trains are (works out math) twice as short as the usual four-car ones, so they stop in the center of the platform. Because Lougheed has an epic-length platform, you have to cover a surprising distance after ascending the stairs or escalator to get to these shorter train.

A man seeking to ride on the wee Millennium Line train approached from my right, dangerously skirting the yellow line along the platform’s edge. He doubled the danger by bringing a bike. And when I say bringing, I mean riding. Yes, he was riding a bike on the platform. He did not have the surest grip, so there was some wobbling. I expected him to just go straight into the track area, set off the track intrusion system and then possibly electrocute himself on the power rail as he tried to get out.

Instead he made it to the train, but as he zoomed up to the open doors, he got into a brief conversation with someone onboard. Shortly after, the doors closed and the train left. I assume this person was telling him there was no room, or perhaps that he felt morally obligated to refuse entry because what kind of a dope rides a bike on a SkyTrain platform, anyway? The final part of this pantomime occurred when the guy pedaled farther down the platform. I didn’t see what transpired after that due to the crowds, but I’m kind of hoping he rode straight toward a SkyTrain official standing there with their arms folded and a, “Oh no you di’int!” look on their face.

Anyway, people are weird.

Another awesome book review

On the book Fire and Fury, about the first year of Trump’s tenure as president, features this 1-star user review. Keep in mind that user reviews are held in a moderation queue before being posted.

Is the user’s name Ana Nomous or did they just stumble that badly when trying to spell “anonymous”? Whatever the case, it is both curious and interesting that someone took the time to post a 1-star review in which they forthrightly state they have never read the book and would never read the book because ewww.

This is a close cousin to the “I must answer every reader question about a product on Amazon even if I have no actual information to provide” posts featured on, well, Amazon.

People are weird.

I refuse to sink (to using logic, apparently)

This was pointed out to me yesterday–a lot of people have tattoos that bear the image of an anchor with the accompanying text “Refuse to sink” to some variation of the same.

Now, think about this while looking at a sample:

“Refuse to sink” is obviously meant as an affirmative phrase, so hooray for that. Affirmative phrases are good!

What is an anchor’s primary function? To anchor a water-going vessel–you know, a boat or ship. Perhaps a very fancy floating log. How does the anchor perform this function? By sinking to the bottom of the body of water and dragging/getting stuck in the muck/rocks along the bottom.

An anchor’s purpose is to sink. If an anchor did the opposite–float–it would be completely useless.

You see where this is going.

This is like the people using literally to mean figuratively.

“I literally just walked a million miles to get here.”

A “refuse to sink” anchor is as logical as a “refuse to fly” airplane. Perhaps the airplane secretly wants to be a truck. I don’t know. Who am I to judge? But really, this is kind of silly. I’m just wondering how this expression–which perhaps would be better-accompanied by an image of a buoy–becamse so popular, especially as a hard-to-remove tattoo.

The most generous take I have for now is people are weird.

Unclear on the concept, Parts 26 and 27

Two recent photos captured via my phone.

This first photo was taken from the Sapperton SkyTrain station. As you can see there is also a rail line that travels beside the SkyTrain at ground level. As you can also see there is a car carrier whose driver appears to be unclear on the concept of how gates at railway crossings work. This could have been messy with all that coal.

Unfortunately I could not discretely take the next photo so I had to use the phone camera’s zoom function and accidentally engaged out-of-focus mode. This is a woman standing directly beneath a SMOKING IS PROHIBITED sign outside of Wal-Mart. I say no more.

The tire(d) run

Today was the first time in awhile that I attempted a run with only a day off in-between.

Fortunately, it was a success!

The temperature was 19ºC but dropped a degree or two over the course — not that I noticed, because despite the sky being overcast, it still felt a bit warm. It began spitting partway through but didn’t turn to light rain until the run was over and I was heading back. The spitting did clear out most of the park by about the 6 km point, though.

The only discomfort I felt was some light cramps on my right side but they didn’t affect my pace.

After another slowish start (5:05) I again finished with a strong back half, though I could clearly feel the effect of only having a day off. The second half of the run left me feeling pretty tired, even as I worked to maintain my pace, but my consistency from 5 km to 10 km was probably the best ever — I only dropped my average pace by 7 seconds in that span (compared to 12 in the first half). I finished with an overall time of 54:03 — a full minute faster than Monday and an average of 5:23, my third best pace to date.

The titular tire (say that three times fast):

The top of the photo is the gravel of the kids play area, the bottom is the path I run on. I continue to be baffled at how things like this end up where they do. What is the story behind someone rolling a tire, complete with rim, into a public park? People are weird.

Chart (red denotes running in especially warm conditions, green denotes cramps during run):

km Sept 15 Sept 13 Sept 6 Sept 2
1 km 5:05 5:00 4:56 4:54
2 km 5:08 5:05 5:03 4:58
3 km 5:12 5:09 5:07 5:03
4 km 5:15 5:14 5:11 5:08
5 km 5:17 5:18 5:14 5:13
6 km 5:18 5:21 5:16 5:16
7 km 5:19 5:24 5:18 5:19
8 km 5:21 5:26 5:20 5:23
9 km 5:23 5:28 5:21 5:26
10 km 5:23 5:29 5:21 5:27