Pandemic Diary, September 17th, 2021: COVID-19 Worry and NFT Insanity

Well, folks, it’s been a week.

I delivered no less than seven different training sessions (online and remotely, either from my office at the science library or from home) to various classes of agriculture students. I have been fighting with computer hardware and software problems all week, starting on Monday when I couldn’t get my microphone to work, to yesterday when I got unceremoniously booted out of the the online class I was teaching using Cisco WebEx—TWICE. I am exhausted.

To add to my overall bad mood, the most recent data on breakthrough COVID-19 cases here in Manitoba are somewhat worrying. According to this report from CTV News, while fully vaccinated people are not being affected nearly as much as the unvaccinated, breakthrough cases are happening. And even more worrying, 16 fully vaccinated Manitobans have died of COVID-19 so far. That is not good news.

Mark my words: COVID still has the ability to throw some curveballs at us. For the love of God, if you have not already done so, GET VACCINATED! And please do everything you can—handwashing, face masks, social distancing, etc.—to stay safe and healthy. You do not want to catch this virus if you can avoid it!


However, I can still laugh at the continued silliness in the hothouse of the NFT (Non-Fungible Token) market. Everybody seems to be leaping on the get-rich-quick bandwagon.

I am currently blocking and deleting spam direct messages on Discord (people shilling for one blockchain-based scheme after another), at the rate of about one per day now. It would appear everybody and their dog has come up with some sort of harebrained NFT project to try and part you from your hard-earned dollar.

Today, I got the following spam direct message via Discord (blurred to avoid giving you his name and link addresses):

Hi. A new project Mint will begin in 7-9 days. There will be 10000 Covid themed NFT’s in total. Don’t miss your chance to get in on the start of an incredible cool project. FUCK COVID

Clicking through to the website (and no, I am not going to bother to link to it), and behold!

OMG!!! There’s only ten thousand NFT facemasks, supplies are limited so act now and get that rare collectible!

NOT.

Which reminded me of the following message I received recently via the feedback form on my blog:

Hello there, I’m David from Next Earth – we are the only blockchain and Earth map based metaverse 🙂 We’ve launched in the end of July and now only a few hours left until the end of land pack presale.. By now, more than 150.000 Dollars worth of land tiles has been sold and it’s increasing day by day, just like our community, so we are really excited about our future. It would be awesome if you could help us with spreading the word, and since you have quite a lot followers I can easily offer you a referral code with a fair amount of commission.. I’d be extremely interested in what you think and how we could collaborate, so please get back to me and let’s discuss our opportunities! Best regards, David

Image taken from the Next Earth website (no, I am NOT giving you a link)

Dear David:

NOT!!!

I wrote about what I think about Next Earth, Earth 2, and all the other “buy a virtual piece of earth” scams here.

And I swear to God: the next person who tries to get me to buy into their harebrained, lame-ass NFT scheme is gonna get bitchslapped into next Thursday.

Pandemic Diary, August 3rd, 2021: Delta Blues

Well, it is now been a month and a half since my second vaccination, and I am heartened by reading recent research reports which show that the AstraZeneca/Pfizer combination is highly effective against the coronavirus!

I am happy to report that I have been able to visit my mother and stepfather in their seniors life-lease condo across town, give them big hugs, and even stay for supper! And last week, I finally went and got my hair cut, something I have not done since January of 2020! Yes, I am no longer rocking a ponytail!

Things are slowly, very slowly returning to something closer to normal. I’m still working from my apartment four out of five days of the week, however, and my library remains closed. My university is planning to offer a hybrid of remote and in-class learning come September (classes with fewer than 20 students will be held in person, with face masks and social distancing, while larger classes will continue to be held online and remotely).


Unlike Alberta and Saskatchewan to the west, which have already lifted their mask mandates and essentially all restrictions, Manitoba is still operating under a series of partial restrictions after a disastrous third wave of COVID-19 infections and deaths which, for a time, was the worst hotspot in all of North America.

However, the Manitoba government will begin to lift some restrictions starting next Saturday, given that our vaccination program is proceeding swiftly, indeed ahead of schedule! CBC News reported today:

As of Tuesday, 80 per cent of eligible Manitobans ages 12 and up had received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, the news release said. The province expects to reach 75 per cent with two doses within the next week.

Those numbers were set out in the province’s reopening plan as targets for the Labour Day long weekend in September.

Contrast Manitoba with the truly lamentable and avoidable situation in the U.S., where only half the population has been fully vaccinated, and the highly-contagious Delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has led to a surge of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths among the unvaccinated in places such as Florida.

It’s clear that COVID-19 still has the capacity to throw a few curve balls at us. Stay healthy, get fully vaccinated, stay home if you can, and stay safe!

Photo by Hakan Nural on Unsplash

Pandemic Diary, June 20th, 2021: Vaccinated, But Exhausted

Late yesterday afternoon, I drove downtown to the Winnipeg Convention Centre to receive my second COVID-19 vaccination (Pfizer). This morning, I am feeling tired and have some muscle aches (a sign that my body is responding to the shot), so I am taking it easy. I have to wait two weeks for the shot to take full effect, and then I can relax my hyper-vigilance somewhat. I just want my pre-pandemic life back!

You will note that I have not been blogging much lately. I have been struggling with severe anxiety and depression these past few weeks. Also, I have barely left my apartment, thinking that it would be tragic if I were to become infected so close to the finish line, with the goal in sight. My self-imposed isolation only fed into my low mood. Overall, I am utterly exhausted.

So, please bear with me. I hope to be back up to full speed soon!

Pandemic Diary, May 27th, 2021: “The Worst COVID Hot Spot in North American Now is Manitoba, Canada”

*sigh*

You know things are really bad when you make the headlines of the venerable New York Times newspaper—and it’s for all the wrong reasons.

The New York Times reporting on Manitoba’s COVID-19 surge (original; archived copy)

The article reports:

The coronavirus is now spreading faster in Manitoba than in any other province or state in Canada, the United States or Mexico, with Indigenous people and people of color hit disproportionately hard.

Figures released on Wednesday show that over the last two weeks, the prairie province in the middle of Canada reported an average of 35 new cases a day per 100,000 population. Canada as a whole is averaging about 10 a day per 100,000; the United States, 7 per 100,000; and Mexico, 2 per 100,000. The next highest states or provinces are Alberta at 16 and Colorado at 15.

Yes, things are that bad.

And yes, I know that most of my blogposts over the past two weeks have been Pandemic Diary entries, as opposed to “news and views on social VR, virtual worlds, and the metaverse”, as the tagline of my blog states. I do apologize for that, but this blog has also been a much-needed place to vent my frustrations at how Manitoba’s response to this pandemic has been largely bungled by Premier Brian Pallister and his Progressive Conservative provincial government.

I am sitting here, having had my first Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 shot, upset and angry because I still do not know when I will receive my second vaccine shot, or even what vaccine I will be getting! Will I get a second AstraZeneca shot? Pfizer? Moderna? Who knows??!? It’s enough to make me tear my hair out in frustration.

So please stay tuned…I will be returning to my regular coverage of the ever-evolving metaverse marketplace soon. It’s just that things are rather chaotic and a little uncertain at the moment, and this blog reflects that.

Hold tight! We will soon resume our regularly scheduled programming 😉 and in the meantime, thank you for your continued support of this blog.