Hello, Possums, and welcome back to another episode of the Justin Trudeau Hour, coming to you live today from Rideau Cottage on the grounds of Rideau Hall, yet again. Just like old times, really. Will we have new porchscaping, Possums? An appearance from the family dog? Will we get the Sophie square? One is on tenterfuckinghooks, one is!
Today’s briefing is named after Napoleon, in accordance with our overarching nomenclature theme. Still no correct guesses in the comments section as to what that might be. But some plenty great visuals!
We shall see if either of my computers can make it through today’s #BriefingBingo alive. One can’t get on the internet, the other refuses to boot.
We’re running a bit behind, so today’s intro will be abbreviated in the interests of expeditiousness which, unusually for a Canadian political interest, has no money or votes at all to trade for influence, but where were we? Oh right, getting to the point.
Here’s the video:
Well, that was a right Royal or at least Imperial clusterfuck, wasn’t it?
So let’s for once use the CBC video and you’ll want to skip to 13:30 to avoid all the talking heads CBC has on salary and has to give airtime to. Well, for all I know they’re very good, but they’re just the warm-up for the actual bingo, right Possums?
Well, here we are again, Possums, doing another Covid Briefing Bingo just when we thought we’d never see another. With the continuously-imminent election uh, imminent, Justin Trudeau has an awful lot of other things on his plate, which is no doubt silver to match the spoons.
Oh, did I ever tell you my theory about why Boris Johnson hates boiled eggs? I did not, unless you were in the comments section of Boris’ blog about fifteen years ago, so here goes. We love a good digression around these parts, we surely do.
So, Boris Johnson, currently the Prime Minister of the Technically United But Actually Rapidly Disintegrating Kingdom, hates boiled eggs.
Now, you might not care, as I did not, as neither I nor you (in all probability) are egg farmers or egg restaurateurs. But there’s a delicious hook or two here: Schadenfreude and class war. And inorganic chemistry, which is always cool. We love a good inorganic chemistry digression, especially with lashings of class war and a dollop of Schadenfreude.
When you or I eat eggs, I bet you or I do so with a spoon made of steel. What happens when the steel meets the egg is…the egg gives, and we eat it. When a posh person such as Alexander Boris De Pfeffel Johnson (no really) eats an egg, he does it with a literally silver spoon. Or, if you’re just bougie, silver plate. And what happens when silver meets egg is, the silver reacts with the sulfur compounds in the egg and a really revolting gas is released.
So, the reason BoJo doesn’t like boiled eggs is, class privilege. I say we don’t tell him, and we keep all the nicely boiled and poached eggs to ourselves.
Dining privilege has its own pitfalls, Boris. Take note.
When you fly too close to the sun, you can get burned, as Canadian politicians routinely find out.
This is a Covid briefing post. It’s about a pandemic. Stick with me here.
Oh wait, speaking of tangents…
We are still in obedience to our arbitrarily though not randomly chosen naming convention of mystery. Today we are Sunburn, both in adherence to that convention (although we are 99% unconventional here normally ((but not conventionally))) and because we have been forgetting the sunscreen before heading out with Buddy to catch some Pokemon, and it takes better than an hour to hit all the Pokestops in the neighbourhood.
Let us begin in the accepted narrative fashion, with a flashback. For lo, I am nothing if not acceptably narrative and fashionable.
The year, it was many ago. The Place, it was Carleton, or rather a side road several miles outside of town. The occasion was an afternoon ride that my friend and I had taken, she on her rather awful hackney cross Colonel Blake (nicknamed Flakey), and me on a borrowed Quarter Horse hunter called Abby. She, my friend, turned off the road and popped over a jump, encouraging me to follow. I did, despite never having taken a jump that size. Abby had no trouble with it, having gone over that jump probably a dozen times with her owners that summer. I, also, got over the fence; the problem was that the horse and I parted company at some point, landing separately, her on four graceful hooves and me squarely on my butt, sitting straight up with perfect posture for once in my life.
My friends, this is not a good thing to do when falling from a horse.
It took me north of twenty minutes to get back on the horse, which did not surprise anyone later when I was X-rayed and discovered to have broken my back. But back on the horse I did get, because we were three miles from home and this was before cellphones, so we rode all the way back, me crumpled and resting my upper body’s full weight on the horse’s neck, much to her annoyance, but she was a Quarter horse so she just took it rather than dumping me, and we got home and me to the hospital and, after a few weeks of rest I was mostly healed up, but with some lingering nerve damage on my right leg which remains to this day from where the nerve connected with the spinal cord and got partially disconnected, and so it remains to this day. Weakness in the sensory nerves, but the muscle controlling nerves are just fine.
There’s a QAnon army metaphor to be made here, but I’m taking the high road today.
Flash forward to the 90’s, when I, like virtually everyone else in Vancouver, worked for Starbucks. An eight hour shift there will give you a great education in how to work hard (seriously, Starbucks gave me whatever work ethic I possess to this day, never had one before then), an appreciation for finely-prepared beverages, and almost certainly a collection of painful varicose veins if you stay long enough, and I stayed for seven years. The first hour after getting home from work was usually spent with my legs resting against the wall while the rest of my body formed the foot of the “L” configuration, draining my overtaxed blood vessels and trying to make the infernal pinching feeling go away. It took a good five years after leaving retail before my veins stopped bothering me on the reg.
Flash forward to four and a half years ago, when I took a tumble down a flight of stairs, landing on my head. Yet another experience I do not recommend to most people. A few, though. A few of them, they have it coming.
Once I was sufficiently recovered to hold short conversations and notice symptoms I noticed a creeping numbness in my right calf. It felt like a cross between my leg falling asleep, but only from the calf muscle on down to the ankle, and wearing an 80’s legwarmer slouched way down. Now, this was problematic enough, but over the next several weeks and months it crept upward, eventually affecting all of my right leg from the hip on down.
Saw a doctor. Doctor’s advice, as far as I can recall, was “Well, keep an eye on it and try not to fall down.” Sooper. So I kept an eye on it, tried not to fall down, and did my own research. Ended up more or less treating myself by cutting wayyyyyy back on alcohol, taking B vitamins, making sure to get enough Omega 3’s from my diet, and walking miles for exercise. The phenomenon, known in medical circles as “peripheral neuropathy,” began to recede, very slowly. First I got pins and needles in my thigh, then the feeling came back and pins and needles shifted south to my knee, then my knee was fine, and the pins and needles moved on to the calf, then the calf was fine and the ankle was tingling, and then everything seemed back to normal.
The de-tingling, de-neuropathizing, re-normalizing process took in excess of two years, by the way. It ain’t easy to normalize ol’ raincoaster. Ask anyone who’s tried it.
We are now two days out from the AstraZeneca Covid-19 jab, which I got on Thursday at 8:30am. Last night, I noticed that tap water was tasting different for me, and wondered what that meant. Happy to report it does, in fact and in actuality, mean something.
It means that this:
Tasted like this:
You know, once I had breakfast sitting one table over from Oprah Winfrey. I was in Santa Barbara for the film festival with some friends, and while I can never afford extravagant dinners when I travel I’ve long since realized it’s much easier to afford extravagant brunches pretty much anywhere, so my friends and I went for one.
Brunch was at the Bacara Resort which is now the Ritz-Carleton Santa Barbara, which is no doubt just as lovely now as it was back in the early 2000’s. Egrets in the herb garden, surfers on the beach, sea air and ocean views and peace and quiet and celebrities in neutral cashmere at the next table hoping to god you don’t bug them. I had, if memory serves (which for once it does because I’m back on the ginko biloba) the shrimp and mango salad and fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice. It cost $45 with tip, and it was absolutely worth every penny. It was both the most expensive and the tastiest brunch I’ve ever had.
These perfectly ordinary tacos I made for breakfast today tasted better. Frozen shrimp, leftover cut orange peppers, week-old hearts of romaine, WASP-made tortillas, and store brand peach and white balsamic salad dressing, and honestly one of the most intensely pleasurable things I’ve ever put inside me. Why is that?
From what GAVI says about the way the virus interferes with the way salts interact with scent sensors, it seems natural that the metallic/mineral flavours in the water were the first thing I noticed once the vaccine got a good foothold and started kicking viral ass. It took till today for me to notice a difference with the flavour of food, but I really do, and my sense of scent is keener than it’s been in more than a year for certain. Yesterday I put on a sweater I hadn’t worn in a couple of weeks, and I noticed the scent of perfume on it, loved the perfume, and was able to pick it out from my (maybe 18 or 20 bottles) collection.
And man, if I thought breakfast was good, lunch, Possums, lunch was fucking orgasmic.
Behold the most pleasurable single physical experience I have had since March, 2020.
That is leftover cold chicken on a toasted poppyseed bagel with mustard (the basic bitch kind), mayonnaise, and salt and pepper. And it was orgasmic. And about eight hours later I can still smell the chicken on my fingers, and I’ve washed my hands four times.
Before you ask, no, the chicken leftovers weren’t so old they were smelly. And I didn’t put them anywhere interesting with my hands. I’m just an extraordinarily great smeller right now.
As I mentioned yesterday, it’s possible this is psychosomatic (which is different from Not Real). And I know that the plural of anecdote is not data (even if nobody seems to know who said it first). But anecdotal evidence from medical and scientific professionals I’m in touch with has begun to show a pattern: if you had the virus, and you get the jab, your symptoms are very mild compared to the norm, and you may notice a return of smell and taste. And I’m pretty sure I had Covid-19 back in March of 2020, and possibly again in the fall, when I was sick for four straight months.
And I’m noticing that yes, there are flavours in my mouth even when I’m not eating, which is consistent with a return of long-lost senses.
Basically those flavours are always there; any lover will tell you that you have a particular taste. And the reason we don’t notice these flavours most of the time is, after a certain duration of a particular sensation, our brain goes, “okay, that’s enough,” and shuts down the receptors that are getting that message. It’s like if your ex constantly texts you with unproductive statements, you block the number. If the messages don’t come in for a year, you might unblock the number, and the ex can get through again and because you’ve been free of it for a year it seems THAT MUCH MORE intense.
So that’s what’s going on in my mouth right now.
As for other symptoms/side effects, I feel just fine today. The persistent post-nasal drip that I’ve been complaining about for literally more than a year is gone. GONE, possums. GONE.
My resting heart rate, which is normally between 59-62 beats per minute, spiked to 70 yesterday, but it’s at 69 today and on its way back down, and that might have been a response to the Tylenol and one beer I had. Had a slight headache when I woke up which dissipated over the day, and my jab arm feels a little bit bruised and stiff, but I have quite a burst of energy today. The Sister, who has a biology obviously very similar to my own, is a day farther out from her AZ jab and it hit her very hard. Today her injection site is a large red welt, whereas when I went to photograph mine and share it with her…
I couldn’t find it.
I also have a kind of mental clarity that is new to me, at least recently. Remember, I’m still recovering from a traumatic brain injury four and a half years ago, but I do feel particularly bright today. That’s the exact word, “bright.” Everything is a little lighter, everything is a little less effort, everything sparkles a little bit in comparison to three days ago. If that’s psychosomatic or not, I’ll take it. There’s writing to be done, Possums!
Quick drive-by blog post to say that two and a half days after getting the AZ jab, all of a sudden I noticed that the tap water didn’t taste very good.
It tasted, in fact, like licking rocks. Not that one has ever done that, you understand. But you know what I’m talking about.
Ottawa tap water used to smell like hard boiled eggs because of all the sulfur in it, but these days they’ve figured out how to get rid of that while leaving in a lot of the native minerals (this land is all dolomite and limestone and bits of granite imported on long-melted glaciers during the last Ice Age).
For roughly a year The Roommate has had a Brita water filter, which he regards as a Covid safety measure; this doesn’t remove bacteria, let alone viruses, but it does remove minerals including calcium and fluoride. Once he started using it, he was hooked on the taste, and frankly even the dog preferred the Brita water. If you give him tap water now he just looks at you and sighs, like you’re particularly stupid and he pities you.
I couldn’t tell the difference. Literally. Could. Not. Tell.
Today I got myself a glass of water from the tap, and almost spat it out. It tasted like licking rocks. So did the Sodastream water in the fridge I’d made from tap water (I’m actively trying to get more fluoride). The Brita water? Tasted like nothing, so no change there.
I haven’t had anything to eat since noticing the change, but if breakfast is particularly savoury tomorrow I will be sure to let you know.
As I said elsewhere, we are hyper-aware of our bodies right now, looking for symptoms and so on, so it’s quite possible this is all psychosomatic, but either something is going on in my water supply, or something is going on in my brain, or something is going on in my body.