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November & December, 2021

Welp, here we go again — in the span of two months, the world has once again been turned upside down, reversing most of the baby steps made back to normal made over the past year. Omicron is the new name in town and it came just in time to crash the Christmas season. Understandably, most people were in the mood to cancel Christmas for a second year in a row, and by all measure it looks like we’re in for a bumpy ride.

I did not take many pictures these past couple of months, so the pictures here are just assorted home cooking photos, most of them being from the Christmas dinner with the in-laws. This is going to be an extra-long covid-journal rant.

Spatchcocked roasted chicken

On a macro level, omicron is still putting enough people in hospital for this virus to be hugely disruptive to the healthcare that we’ve come to expect. Cancellation of surgeries and delays to medical care are not fun when you’re on the receiving end, so I do understand why the authorities are going so far as re-implementing restrictions to get a handle on the situation.

Shrimp gratin

But on an individual scale, the odds of becoming severely ill is even smaller than before, which was already a low risk for a large swath of the population. This discrepancy between individual and societal risk is what’s making the current wave so frustrating. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect everyone to be model citizens thinking of the big picture, especially when most people have kept with the program for almost two full years.

Further complicating things is the lack of the proverbial carrot on the stick. Earlier on in the pandemic, the vaccines were touted as the ticket back to a normal life. While this still seems to be true to a certain degree, the outlook for the future is a lot murkier. Omicron is ripping through populations of high vaccination rates like butter, and there is a lot of anecdotal evidence of boosted individuals getting infected all the same. The speedy rollout of third shots immediately after the discovery of omicron also did not inspire much confidence either — it’s hard to imagine detailed studies were on the effects of the third short on a newly identified variant.

Chinese pickled cabbage with pork and glass noodles

In recent days I have been entertaining the thought that it may be hubris to overcome the pandemic through human ingenuity. Covid has already demonstrated its ability to overcome natural and vaccine immunity within 2 years of its existence, and the logistics of updating existing vaccines and distributing them worldwide within a reasonable span of time seems far-fetched. I hope that there is some baseline protection from vaccines and prior infections even after the immune response has waned, because it really seems like everyone will catch covid sooner and later.

My niece-in-law. SUPER cute.

In closing. 2021 was not a great year for me. My mother passed away, and all the predictions of the pandemic’s end completely missed the mark. The visit to relatives in china remains in limbo for the foreseeable future. However, I am grateful to have had the two trips. Montreal & Vancouver ain’t Japan, but they were good memories nonetheless in a year of complicated feelings.

I don’t have much in the way of expectations for 2022, which is not meant to sound excessively depressing. There is just so much uncertainty about how the world will come to terms with covid as a permanent fixture. Will the world lurch back and forth on the rhythm dictated by a virus, or will there be a general consensus on acceptable risk? Will there be relevant breakthroughs of medical science that’s sufficiently accessible to make a difference, or will it be a year of daily statistics that we’ve all grown so sick of hearing? I wish I could know.

As we enter year three of covid, all I wish for is some semblance of certainty in horizon. A big ask, I know — but it’s hard to look forward to anything when everything changes on the fly.

But alas, if the future remains obscured, we can at least focus on the present. I wish you all good health and success in this coming year — may we all be pleasantly surprised by what 2022 will bring.

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