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March 2021 Retrospective

I am really disappointed with the Canadian government and how they have handled the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. It has been infuriating to watch public servants, who are being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money, repeating over and over again "stay inside and wait for this to all blow over". They have shown absolutely no leadership or actionable data for basically six months and Canadian citizens (including myself) have just rolled over and showed our bellies.

Back in December we were seeing all these articles about how Canada had reserved more COVID-19 vaccines than anyone else. But three months into 2021 we have only received seven million doses while the US has managed to administer over 150 million. They are distributing three million doses a day! If you look at doses per 100 people Canada is being left in the dust by most of the G20 and Europe.

And then there is Canada's attempt at testing and contract tracing.

Canada's government discussing how to address COVID-19

It's been a year since the first lockdown started and for some reason Canada is still having problems rolling out rapid testing. According to federal data we have shipped 40 million tests nationwide and have only deployed 8 million of them. 20 fucking percent! It makes sense that Canada's COVID alert app is an absolute joke when it is so difficult for someone to confirm that they have the disease and get a one-time key that the damn app needs.

When you compare contract tracing in Canada to parts of Asia it's like we're kids pretending to be grown-ups.

I realize there is no silver bullet solution to this. But Canada has essentially been cutting off its nose to spite its face for a year now. None of the people who are appearing on TV through fucking Zoom calls are worrying about where their next pay cheque is coming from. They talk as if they empathize with brick-and-mortar stores and services but then make decisions which absolutely destroy these business and provide no guidance other than "just wait and see". It's going to be really interesting five years from now when we look back at the data and truly grasp the damage that we inflicted upon ourselves.

I realize this is coming off as a rant and I don't want anyone to come away from this thinking I'm some alt-right, anti-masker who wants to overthrow the government. I want to get the vaccine. I am going to continue to wear and mask and social distance as my default behaviour. I have no plans to go into enclosed areas with large groups. But it has been four fucking months since I have been in the same room as someone who was not my girlfriend. I haven't seen my father or sister or nieces and nephews since before Christmas. I probably haven't seen my Grandmother for at least eight months. And the Ontario government is threatening another lockdown saying "this time is going to be different"? How about ya get fucked eh?

The Good

Monster Hunter Rise

It's a Monster Hunter game so what were you expecting? Of course I love Monster Hunter Rise! Capcom continues to refine the core formula that makes the series great while adding tons of quality of life improvements. I hope the UX designers inside Capcom are getting the credit they deserve because the last few games have been making massive strives in the UI for managing your armor, weapons, items, etc. It's like going from your old Motorola flip-phone to iOS. The user experience is such a joy nowadays.

The only negative thing about the game is that it is currently exclusive to the Nintendo Switch. The hardware is absolutely atrocious and cannot be defended. The screen is dogshit quality and the colours are dim and muddy. The difference between handheld and docked mode running on a 4K OLED TV is flabbergasting. It is hard to believe it is the same game. Also the framerate drops during combat in handheld mode sometimes give the game a jittery feel which is not what you want from the Monster Hunter franchise.

I wonder if before the pandemic hit Nintendo was planning on releasing new more powerful Switch hardware with Monster Hunter Rise like they did with the New Nintendo 3DS and Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate back in 2014. I'm sure this game is going to look stunning on an OLED handheld screen that can push 60 fps even if it is only at 720p.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

I am still blown away that Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a Respawn game. We're talking about a studio that has only made first-person shooters before this. First Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, then Titanfall, and most recently Apex Legends. If you had told me Respawn was looking to do a Uncharted / Dark Souls type game in the Star Wars universe I would have thought you were crazy. This isn't a game of the year contender by any means but it is much better than it has any right to be.

The combat can be a bit clunky at times along with the traversal elements. You're going to find yourself jumping into pits more often than you'd like. But 70% of the game comes together amazingly well and it resulted in me having a great time.

I cannot wait to see the sequel to this because I have complete confidence that Respawn is going to be able to sand off all these rough edges and create an even better game.

Set up Synology NAS

It took me a couple weeks but I finally managed to finish setting up my Synology NAS. The biggest issue was that I couldn't find a single source of information as to what the "best practices" were. I was stitching everything together myself from disperate sources before I finally stumbled upon this guide from WunderTech.

But as of now I have everything of importance off random external hard drives and onto the NAS. I also have Time Machine set to backup to the NAS and I made use of Synology's Hyper Backup tool to ensure that my most important files and are encrypted and uploaded to the cloud.

Beat Persona 5 Strikers

After 37 hours I beat Persona 5 Strikers and I gotta say I am shocked at how much I enjoyed this game. Last month I wrote about how the story was pulling me through the bad combat. But as the game progressed not only did the story get even better but the combat actually smoothed out. While it didn't necessarily become enjoyable, it definitely wasn't as grating.

I was truly blown away by the story of Persona 5 Strikers. I was expecting this to be one of those spin-offs that you farm out to some random studio as a cash grab. But it really does feel like the Persona A team was working on this game. The love that goes into every Persona game seems to be here as well.

Read Beartown

Beartown is an absolutely fantastic novel. As someone who loves hockey this book really hit home with me. The way it describes how hockey can permeate the identity of a town and truly become part of it was something that resonated with me as Canadian. At the same time the book also puts forth this utter hatred for the sport and the toxic environment it could possibly cultivate.

I don't want to spoil anything about this book but I would recommend it to nearly everyone.

The Bad

The Wheel of Time

I really wanted to enjoy The Wheel of Time. I truly did. But after getting about 1/3 of the way through the fourth book, The Shadow Rising, I just could not take any more.

There was not a single character in that world who I was rooting for. Everyone acts like a complete asshole all the time and refuses to actually communicate openly. Every conversation is just full of snide remarks back and forth where no one wants to share information, and everyone just wants to call everyone else a dumbass. After reading nearly 2500 pages, almost 1 million words, I just could not find it in me to care any more. I was actually wishing for someone to die so there would finally be serious ramifications to dumb decisions but the plot armor was just too strong.

Essentially every woman in The Wheel of Time is a variant of "if you can't handle me at my worst you don't deserve me at my best". They all think men are idiots that can't be left alone or else they'll destroy something. Yet every woman falls in love at first sight and will stab any other women who tries to get in their way of jumping on that dick. Except for the chosen one who obviously gets a harem of women because reasons.

To be fair to the women, the men are fucking morons and act like they have been huffing glue and eating lead paint. But just like the women they also can't talk openly to anyone and just act like complete assholes as well.

Some people try to defend Robert Jordan with "That is the point of his books. Everyone is a selfish asshole." but my counter to that would be it is possible to make characters who are assholes but still enjoyable to read about. A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin is a prime example of that. Huge swaths of those characters are horrible people, way worse than anyone in The Wheel of Time, but they have so much more depth.

I decided to go and read the summaries for every book left in the series and that made me even happier that I chose to stop reading. I love the world that was being described and think it could be an amazing fertile setting for a skillful writer. But the ending that I read seemed very tropey and I'm glad that I did not read 7000 more pages to get to it.

Read The Three-Body Problem

I don't understand why The Three-Body Problem gets so much praise. The writing was so bad that I struggled to get through every page. No one in the book speaks like a real human being. They are all exposition machines that seem to say whatever comes to their mind. Combine that with some really sketchy "science" that is full of plot holes and there was absolutely nothing for me to grab onto with this book.

Some people have tried to defend it by saying it is a translation from Chinese but I don't buy that. I've read novels that have been translated from Japanese, Swedish, and Polish and they weren't nearly as wooden as The Three-Body Problem.

https://twitter.com/statuses/1366242267950960640

I find it hysterical that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are adapting this book for Netflix. They are also both horrible writers as the final seasons of Game of Thrones showcased. They coasted on George RR Martin's amazing writing for the first few seasons, so it's going to be amazing to watch how poorly they adapt The Three-Body Problem for the silver screen.

Honourable Mentions

Ontario's COVID-19 Vaccination Rollout

The numbers for Ontario's COVID-19 vaccination rollout continued to improve in March but we're still far from where we need to be.

Almost 3% of Ontario adults are completely vaccinated (meaning two doses). By the end of April it is only physically possible to reach approximately 1,800,000 vaccinated which is almost 16% of the adult population.

The single day dose record for March was still only 90,000. If we maintained that for 180 days that will get us to 70% of the adult population but that will also take us to the end of September. Hopefully in April we can start doing at least 120,000 doses a day and get the vast majority of the population vaccinated by the end of July. This Summer is now a write-off but maybe we can still save the Fall.

Duke's Belated Euology

Four years ago we put down our amazing cat Duke. I wrote something in the heat of the moment that I never published but on the anniversary of his death I felt that it was time to honour Duke properly.

I'm sorry I let you down buddy.

Duke in his favourite bed

Chess

I mostly played daily games this month which I actually won the majority of but then lost the majority of my rapid games. I really wish I hadn't set a New Year's resolution of 365 rapid games. At this point I feel that switching from 10 minute rapid games to 15+10 will probably have a better affect on my psyche so I'm going to try to do that in April.

Season 3 of Drive to Survive

I watched every race of the 2020 Formula One World Championship live. No matter how early it was I was there for each qualifying session and Grand Prix as it happened. I was really excited to get a behind the scenes view of everything in season 3 of Netflix's Formula 1: Drive to Survive but I was left wanting.

The editing of the first two seasons felt overly dramatic but it wasn't until I actually followed a season live that I could see how many straight up lies were being told. The races are stitched together in whatever random order the editors need to create the most amount of melodrama possible. And whenever they are falling short they can just smash cut to Christian Horner being asked any question so he can pause ominously before answering.

Limiting the season to 10 episodes where each one almost always focuses on a single driver means some of the most important storylines end up on the cutting room floor. For example,

Personally I would love to see each episode focus on a single grand prix and they are captured in order so you can relive the whole season. But I suspect this doesn't create enough melodrama for the casual Netflix crowd.

Just so I'm not completely negative there were two really good episodes. The ones that focused on Valtteri Bottas and Romain Grosjean had some excellent behind the scenes footage and really humanized the drivers.

Review March Goals

April Goals

#MonthlyRetrospective

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