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Reid Main

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April 2021 Retrospective

April turned out to be a pretty boring month because the Ontario government made good on their threat and we entered our third lockdown on Saturday April 3rd. While it was suppose to last for 28 days, only 13 days into the lockdown it was extended for two more weeks. But let's be honest. Anyone who thinks this lockdown is ending on May 20th has not been paying attention.

At the end of April, Ontario's rolling 7-day average of daily new cases is 3800. That is still above the peak that we reached during our second lockdown. From that peak it took six weeks before those numbers plateaued and eight weeks before we finally exited lockdown. Even if we match that decline (which doesn't look like it will happen), that means we won't be coming out of this third lockdown until the end of June.

I'll talk more about vaccination numbers below, but they have continued to be pretty abysmal. The Canadian government has given up on being completely vaccinated and is trying to distract the country by saying that everyone who wants a first dose will get it by the end of June. Whoop dee frikkin doo. While the first doses will do an excellent job at preventing needless death, they aren't going to make a massive difference in our daily lives. Until we reach herd immunity these vaccinations are just empty promises for a better future for the majority of us. They need to be getting these things out faster and unfortunately our inept government just can't do this.

But enough melodrama. Let's look at some of the good stuff that happened this month.

The Good

Filed my taxes

April means tax deadlines and even though some financial institutions dragged their feet I still managed to file with plenty of time to spare.

This is the second time I have changed my country of residence and the tax situation was even more painful than last time. You'd think that you'd learn a thing or two to make the process go smoother but all I have learned is that random bullshit will pop-up when you least expect it.

The only advice I can give is find a tax accountant who has offices in both countries so they know how to take advantage of all the loopholes. I've spent literally tens of thousands of dollars on accountants at this point but they have easily saved me many times that.

Built Lego Ecto-1

This took me about 10 hours to complete over four nights. Check out my Instagram story if you want to see snippets of the entire process.

https://www.instagram.com/p/COT4mW0HNKW

The Big Short Novel

The Big Short is easily one of my favourite films of all-time. The way it covered such a bland topic so deftly with such an eclectic group of characters, I just assumed Hollywood had made most of it up. A book about a financial crisis had to be all about the technical details and all of the bankers were just boring desk jockeys right? It turns out I could not have been more wrong.

If you have seen The Big Short I highly recommend you read the novel and vice-versa. The material was adapted so well that I honestly can't find anything wrong with it. The only real "discrepancies" are that the film simplified or combined a couple of the tertiary characters so we weren't being overloaded.

The Bad

Season 5 of The Expanse

Season 5 of The Expanse adapts the fifth and sixth books of the novels which are unfortunately the ones I dislike the most. What is worse is that the things I hated the most about those books, the TV show is adapting almost directly so I don't even think I'm going to be able to finish watching this season.

The fifth season exists only because the idiot ball is constantly being passed around. Almost none of the actions being taken make sense and exist just to move the plot forward.

Since the sixth season is going to be the last there is absolutely no way that the final three books can be adapted. This gives me hope that the writers will be able to rebound and come up with a new ending which is more in line with the earlier seasons.

Chess still sucks

I played 62 games of rapid chess this month and ended with a record of 28 wins, 28 losses, and 6 draws. Throughout all of 2021 I have played 148 games with 51 wins, 81 losses, and 16 draws. So empirically I am improving but perhaps a better way to phrase it would be that I seem to have found my proper ELO rating. I started the month at 592 and finished at 598. My low was 575 and my high was 619.

What concerns me most is that almost none of these games were fun. They weren't challenging or tense and I didn't feel like I was learning anything. At this low of a rating (I'm in the bottom 25% according to Chess.com's leaderboard) the games are essentially slap fights between children who don't know any better. I am not convinced that just grinding out more games will improve my skills. It seems like studying openings and endgames or taking proper lessons are the only ways that I will be able to grow. I don't seem to have the ability to analyze games and understand what I am doing right and what I am doing wrong.

It's funny but playing Chess is starting to mirror my feelings about playing Dota 2. There is a disconnect between playing the game and getting better at the game. I naively believed that the former caused the later but that is far from the truth. This really shouldn't be a surprise when you think about other competitive sports like hockey. Players practice what can happen in a regular game but do so in a controlled environment so when a similar scenario presents itself they can execute. Why am I surprised that I fail at endgames when I never practice them?

To give myself a teeny bit of credit, I have actually been trying to train using Chess.com's puzzles. I started the month with a rating of 952 and ended at 1127. But whatever these puzzles appear to be training me to do it does not seem to be helping during rapid games.

I have to play 217 more games to satisfy my New Year's resolution of 365 rapid games in 2021. I am aiming to complete at least 50 in May so I can contrast them to how I played in April. If I end the month around 600 ELO again then I definitely need to make some changes.

Ontario's COVID-19 Vaccination Rollout

The numbers for Ontario's COVID-19 vaccination rollout definitely improved in April but we're nowhere near where we need to be if we wanted to salvage the summer.

The Ontario government has given up on complete vaccinations (meaning two doses) and is focusing instead on getting as many first doses into people as possible. At the end of March only 3% of Ontario adults were completely vaccinated and that number has not changed at all. 2 million Ontario adults had received at least one dose of a vaccine by the end of March and at the end of April that number is 4.5 million, or approximately 41% of the adult population.

The single day record for doses administered in March was only 90,000. In April we hit a high of 135,000 which is nothing to sneeze at. That's a 50% increase. The bigger issue is that we haven't really been able to sustain that record. If you look at the rolling 7-day average, we ended March administering 74,000 doses a day and we are ending April only doing 105,000. While that is an almost 50% increase you need to look at what this means if we sustained it for all of May.

The Ontario government has said that anyone who wants a vaccine will get one by the end of June. That means they need to administer 7.1 million doses in 61 days, or 116,000 doses per day. That sounds very doable so let's assume everyone who wants a vaccination will get one by the end of June. That is right around the time we should be coming out of lockdown. The next question is, will only having 3% of our population completely vaccinated be enough? Or are we essentially going to be in a perpetual state of pseudo-lockdown grey zones until we reach herd immunity which could take until the end of September.

I have my fingers crossed that somehow doses are going to skyrocket and we'll end May with a rolling 7-day average of 200,000+ doses. But honestly my biggest fear now isn't not having enough doses, it's having enough people who want them. May is probably going to be the month where we realize what percentage of Canadians fear the vaccine and are in no rush to get it. That will determine not only if this summer is a write-off but the rest of 2021 as well.

Honourable Mentions

Monster Hunter Rise

I managed to "beat" Monster Hunter Rise in April and by that I mean complete essentially every quest that was given to me. I have not technically seen the end of the game because Capcom has straight-up said they are going to be releasing the ending in May.

I have only played 80 hours of Monster Hunter Rise and more or less feel like I am done. Sure I could go back and try other weapons just like any other game in the franchise. But usually when I get to this point where I feel as if I've seen every monster and there is no real hurdle for me to jump over, I've played 150-200 hours. It was like that for Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate all the way up through Monster Hunter: World.

It truly does feel that Capcom rushed Monster Hunter Rise out the door to meet their March 2021 release date. But that is not necessarily a bad thing because the game still is a ton of fun and very high quality. It's just not what I am used to getting from Monster Hunter right out of the gate. Knowing what I know now I would have probably tried to convince past-me to just wait six months and pick-up Monster Hunter Rise when Capcom has released all the major patches and the game is "finished".

Watched Zack Synder's Justice League

First things first, the original Justice League was complete shit. Any hopes of a DC Cinematic Universe died with it. So I came to Zack Synder's Justice League not expecting much and was pleasantly surprised. I even watched all four hours of it non-stop and did not find myself checking my watch at all. It was genuinely engaging throughout.

I was expecting it to be the stereotypical stoic and dark film that Zack Synder loves to make but it was actually fairly reserved when compared to his previous work. That tone really worked for the tale that the film wanted to tell. It made Joss Whedon's slapstick comedy edit of the original Justice League look even worse because the Synder Cut lays bare how ham-fisted all that comedy was.

The biggest praise I can give Zack Synder's Justice League is that it actually makes me wish that we would see a sequel. Zack Synder genuinely made me care about what could possible happen to those characters which is the exact opposite that Joss Whedon made me feel.

Fixing this blog's Atom/RSS feed

https://twitter.com/statuses/1378456448628355079

I fucking hate dealing with XML. Reeder app was just silently failing to parse this blog's Atom feed and I could not figure out for the life of me why. I got the W3C Feed Validation Service to validate my feed and still Reeder app just gave me the middle finger.

I couldn't figure out what was wrong until I realized that feeds for my tags were working just fine. It turns out unescaped ampersand (&) characters in my article titles or descriptions were causing Reeder to lose its fucking mind. Rather than figure out exactly what Reeder wanted those ampersands to look like, I just changed them all to the word "and". Problem solved!

Slime Rancher

Slime Rancher is very much a tale of two games. The first 10 hours were a lot of fun. It's your prototypical life simulation game where you're going out and doing rather mundane tasks but they slowly build upon each other and you are able to do more complex things. It's got that dopamine drip going where you always have a task to complete and something new to build or unlock.

The problem is that there is a tipping point where your farm has gotten so big and complicated that your daily chores have become monotonous and take up most of your day. It was at this point in time I figured that there had to be some way to automate this aspect of your farm so you could move onto something else. Unfortunately I was only half right. There is a way to automate your farm. But I would probably need to to another 10 hours of monotonous grinding to get everything I needed to do this automation.

It was at this point in time I put Slime Rancher down for good because even though I am in lockdown I still have more respect for my time than that.

Review April Goals

May Goals

#MonthlyRetrospective

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