The purest kind of love

I’m a firm believer in the power of the universe. I believe that the people, the places, the things we have in our lives are a part of our lives for a reason. Pets are no exception to this. They come into our lives and teach us the purest meaning of unconditional love, what it is like to truly see the best side of every day, and that even the little victories are always worth acknowledging. They rescue us. They make us better. Calmer. They fill a void that we didn’t even know we had.

You know what they say… “sometimes the smallest things take up the most space in your heart”. Yeah, ain’t that the dang truth.

The Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020

All credit to this post goes to Will Oremus and his story ‘What everyone’s getting wrong about the toilet paper shortage’.

Am I really going to talk about toilet paper? YES. Yes, I am. As mentioned on this blog last week, Economics is a passion of mine. And this, having a lot to do with economics, is something I find interesting.


If you’ve been living on planet earth at all during the past month, you’ll likely have noticed a distinct lack of toilet paper… everywhere. First it was being written off as panic buying. Photos circulated the web of people purchasing hundreds of rolls of toilet paper at a time, and bragging about it to their social media profiles. Others got caught in viral videos fighting over it in grocery store aisles. If you weren’t quick to run to the store, you might not have even found it at all.

Leaders and celebrities, people of influence and grocery store owners encouraged everyone to calm down, stop panic buying and start thinking rationally. Store after store after store promised there was no issue with the supply chain and there wasn’t a shortage, ‘we just weren’t prepared for the entire country to go out and panic buy hundreds of rolls at a time’.

This didn’t just happen here in Canada, it seemed to be happening across the world. For weeks jokes have been flying that ‘corona virus doesn’t give you diarrhea’ and though the large-scale panic buying mania has largely subsided, the toilet paper aisle is still bare.

Why?

The other aisles have been restocked. And, in a lot of cases other aisles have been restocked two or three times over at this point. But somehow, even with limits of how much someone can purchase, the toilet paper aisle is still empty.

The fact of the matter is, panic buying aside, COVID-19 has created an increase in demand for toilet paper. It is… somewhat of an essential in most homes in 2020 around the world. Could we live without it? Probably. Do we want to live without it? No.

Think back to a pre-COVID world. Times were calm. Large chunks of the population were in school or at work for 6-12 hours (or more) a day. And even after they returned home, they might opt to go out for dinner. Take their kids to hockey practice, or have some sort of an event that would keep them out of their home for even longer during the day.

The ‘residential’ toilet paper supply chain is built to work 24 hours a day, 7 days per week to produce precisely what was needed pre-COVID. The residential toilet paper supply chain is not built to function for the high demand of most of the world staying home 24 hours a day, 7 days of the week.

People aren’t going to the bathroom more now than pre-COVID. What has changed is that people are going to the bathroom more at home.

In his piece, Oremus explains that there are two distinct supply chains for toilet paper. Manufacturing plants that make the toilet paper that winds up in our grocery stores are not the same manufacturing plants that create the toilet paper that winds up in schools, in office washrooms, in the mall washrooms, and so on and so forth. For instance, Charmin is making toilet paper for the home but they are not in the business of making the large scale, industrial style single-ply toilet paper you find in public washrooms. They’re different products, made from different materials in different assembly lines in different manufacturing plants.

So, as we around the world are seeing empty shelves, still, when we wander the toilet paper aisle in our local grocery stores, there’s a large subsection of the economy that could very well have a surplus of toilet paper sitting around in storage closets and warehouses. This is because the ‘commercial’ toilet paper supply chain doesn’t need to supply commercial businesses and public facilities with toilet paper when these businesses and facilities aren’t open and people are staying home.

As of today, April 7th 2020, the residential supply chain for toilet paper is not meeting demand the commercial supply chain for toilet paper doesn’t seem to have a demand.

What’s the answer?

There isn’t really one.

Toilet paper is a relatively value-less product from a manufacturing standpoint. From the manufacturing perspective you make it, you ship it to the grocery store and then you make more. You don’t make heaps of it at a time to create massive stockpiles for times of higher demand because firstly, it is not going to bring any extra value to your company, and secondly it has a shelf life.

I know that’s a weird concept to think about, toilet paper having a shelf life, but overtime toilet paper does break down.

Essentially, if you’re Charmin or Royale or any of the big players… or even the small players, it’s not going to serve the company well to create more than what demand requires.

Are Charmin or Royale or any of the players in the toilet paper manufacturing industry going to up their game or double production for the foreseeable future? Maybe. Some might try. But there is a possibility that they don’t bother. COVID-19 doesn’t come with a ‘this is how long you have’ notification. From a business perspective, there are countries already ready and trying to open back up their schools, economies and lives. It’s a very real possibility that a lot of these companies continue producing for the demand they’ve always been producing for, forcing society to adjust.

If any company does try to adjust to meet this new demand in grocery stores then in two, three or four months time they could be out a considerable loss when the world rebounds and starts going back to work and school and hockey practice. They’ll have a hyper productive assembly line to create for demands that are no longer there. Which is taking a massive gamble on a relatively worthless product in a very unstable world.

Are the commercial manufacturers going to switch their production to create the stuff sold in grocery stores? No. Bottom line, they don’t have the infrastructure, the machinery, or the supply chain opportunities to do so. They also don’t have the relationships with grocery stores to sell their products and put their products on shelves.

Could you get your hands on some of the commercial product for your home? Possibly. If you’re savvy or have business connections. If you’re a regular joe like the most of us, it might be difficult. You might have better luck just phoning the store before you go to ask when their toilet paper is being restocked.

Bottom line, Oremus summed up pretty nicely nearing the end of his piece:

If there’s any good news, it’s that we can stop blaming these shortages on the alleged idiocy of our fellow consumers. 

Will Oremus, Marker

This shortage of toilet paper could go on for months. While panic buying might have started the shortage, increase in demand is what has kept this shortage going.

You will see shelves restocked and new product making it through the supply chain during that time. But, there is a very real possibility the shelves will be restocked only to be emptied again and again and again. The increase in demand will be difficult to meet in the current COVID world.

What a year it’s been so far. Had you told me three months ago that toilet paper would simultaneously be one of the most worthless and most valuable products available on the market, I’d have probably laughed in your face.

I just know this shortage is going to wind up in a textbook eventually. Economic professors everywhere are already planning it.


If anyone has read this, I strongly recommend reading What Everyone’s Getting Wrong About the Toilet Paper Shortage by Will Oremus. Not only does he explain it a lot more professionally than I do, he mentions some other supply chains that will likely see disruptions over the next few months.

Feeling lonely when you’re surrounded by people.

I’m lonely.

There are six other people in this house and I am lonely.

And the more I read that I should be thankful that I have anyone around at all, the more I think that people equate having a family with having a cohesive family unit.

I’m eternally grateful for my family, but I think it’s important to note that just because they’re my family does not mean that we get along. It doesn’t mean that we act, think or feel the same way. It definitely doesn’t mean that we see eye to eye. I reckon a lot of families are the same. Just because you’re related to someone doesn’t mean that being with them 24 hours a day seven days per week is going to be easy.

I was watching Dr. Phil earlier and he said that, in China where quarantine policies have been in place since January, there’s been a spike in divorce applications. This made me feel a little less awful for how I feel. Because I’m not alone in finding it tough to be at home.

I love my family. I help them when they’re sick, I comfort them when they cry, heck… they go to the store for me when I don’t want to share germs. But, truth be told, this is hard. We’re inherently different in about every category except our genetics. When we each have our own lives, our differences strengthen us. It brings outside perspectives, thoughts, laughs. When we’re each stuck inside together for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, things get tough.

On the good days, I spend the majority of the time biting my tongue. On the regular days, our vastly different beliefs are causing spats, arguments or passive aggressive behaviours that really weigh on one’s mood. And, on the bad days, well let’s not go there. The point is, it’s not easy.

Just because you love someone doesn’t mean that you agree with everything they do. Just because you’re related to someone doesn’t mean that being quarantined with them is going to be easy. Conversations don’t just spontaneously pop up and last for six hours to pass the time in a day. Sometimes, even if they’re family, you really have to work at it. And sometimes you really have to work at it to make sure certain conversations don’t happen.

Why aren’t you married yet?

When you are you going to give me grandbabies?

Why must you always provoke me?

Yeah, I’m sure that you know the typea of conversations I’m talking about. I’m all too sure you’ve had conversations of your own, much like these, in the past few weeks.

Bottom line is, if you’re struggling right now, you’re not alone. I see you and I understand you. Don’t hate yourself for how you feel. We’re all scared and we’re all struggling. Even the people who are driving us crazy.

And yes, it is possible that it can be extremely lonely being in a house filled with six other people. Even if it’s only one other person in your house… sometimes being close together for long periods of time, for events such as home quarantine, well it makes people feel farther apart than ever before. You don’t have to be alone to be lonely. But, if you are alone and lonely, I see you too.

What day is it?

I sent my brother to the store for me this morning.

I have a cold. It’s just a cold. I’ve been through it 15,000 times in my life and I know that it’s just a cold. But, knowing how many people are on edge about germs at the moment, I decided the last thing I needed to do was make anyone in a store worry about me.

So I sent my brother to the store.

I asked him to purchase me cough syrup, cough drops and neocitron… all over the counter items that can help someone fight a cough/cold. Did I need them all this morning? No. But, in limiting the amount of times we visit a store, and in thinking that it’d be smarter to have these things at home for fighting this cold, I asked for each of these items.

While he was standing six feet behind the woman who was already paying at the register, two other women in the store berated my brother for what he was purchasing. One of the women went so far as to yell ‘You’re going to kill us all’, at him.

These women were assuming he was sick because of what he was purchasing. In trying to calm them down, he tried to explain ‘I’m purchasing these things for someone that I know. I’m completely healthy and I’m standing away from everyone. Please do not worry’.

The women then decided to berate him for being inconsiderate to the general public by associating with someone who is sick. Then they told him to go home because he’s a carrier and if he keeps on he’s going to make everyone in town sick.

I’ve largely been held up in my bedroom since my cold symptoms started. Why? Because, while it is just a cold, something that goes around each spring… I didn’t feel like spreading germs to anyone in my home given what’s going on in this world.

No one should be shamed for purchasing medication at the pharmacy right now. I know, the world is stressed out. I know that people are on edge about anyone who sneezes or coughs in public. That’s precisely why I sent my healthy brother and I didn’t go to the store myself. People need to remember that it’s both allergy season while still being cold and flu season. Allergy pills, cough syrups, cough drops, neocitron, nasal sprays, these are all things people still need to purchase right now.

I count myself lucky that I could send my brother to purchase those things for me. I was really disheartened when I heard what happened to him at the store. My brother is such a docile person that when two women started yelling at him all he wanted to do was leave. But, he wanted to make sure that he got me what I had asked for so he just had to stay and listen to them. He was so frustrated that he called to tell me what happened on his way back.

I know people are anxious, but berating someone for buying cough syrup is not going to fix anything. Furthermore, berating someone for picking up goods for someone else is not productive. I thought we were supposed to only send one family member to the store. I thought we were supposed to ask neighbours, friends and family and so on… if they needed anything before going to the store so it could all be bought in one trip. What do I know though?

I’ve been laying pretty low… not leaving my room a whole bunch. And I’ll continue to do so until this passes.

When you know enough to know that you just don’t know.

The key to true wisdom is acknowledging how little you know. I knew a lot more about everything at the age of eighteen than I do now. Is that true? Not really. But I thought that I knew more and no one could have told me otherwise. Now I’m able to acknowledge the extent of the world that I simply don’t understand, can’t understand or have yet to learn.

It’s important to note that there’s nothing wrong with not knowing. Sometimes people treat lack of knowledge as though shameful thing. I think it takes a certain amount of confidence and strength to be willing to acknowledge that you don’t know something. You also need to be willing to learn though. Perhaps the shame in not knowing is actually a shame in being unwilling to know and people merely miscalculate reaction timing? I know enough to know that I just don’t know.

I forgot about most of these photos.

Last June when I got that job offer that fell through, I ended up switching from an iPhone to a Samsung. I was going to need a new phone for the job, and when I went to replace my phone, I decided to take a leap and make the switch.

I still have the iPhone, mainly because I never took the photos off of it. Well, now that I have all this time on my hands… why not?

I am no photographer, just a girl who likes to remember moments. I tend to save my favourite photos for Instagram, so if you want to see my favourites, follow me on Instagram (shameless self promotion).

*These are in no particular order. Just some random photos that documented my days. There’s also no identifiable people in these photos, for the sake of the privacy of my family and friends. Any people you might see are strangers. Hopefully I don’t upload any photos of identifiable people though. I hate it when I wind up in the back of other’s photos so I never want to do that to someone else.

Sunrise from the balcony of my old apartment.
Watching the Calgary Stampeders. Yeah, yeah, I know what people say about the CFL. I don’t know a ton about football but the Stampeders are a fun team to watch.
Golfing in Calgary on one of the few days of the year there isn’t snow.
The view from the top of the Zip Line at Canada Olympic Park. This was the Ski Jump for the 1988 Olympics. 1988… also the year I was born.
Watching the end of summer at Lake Louise, Alberta
One time the road flooded and this is how the neighbours got around for a few days.
This is at Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver, BC
The top of the Westin Hotel in Edmonton, Alberta
This is from Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton. I am still not sure why they let us into the Stadium that day… in the middle of football season, but it was a fun afternoon.
This is Nyhavn Canal in Copenhagen, Denmark. It’s a very… ‘instafamous’ stop on the Copenhagen crawl. We didn’t really get there until the sun was already setting so it made for a very dark photo. Oh well, still a nice photo!
I haven’t the foggiest idea what this hotel was called. I remember, though, that it was in Whistler, BC. It was a perfect mountain escape.
This is the penthouse of the Westin Hotel in Downtown Calgary. I remember thinking that my entire apartment could fit into one room of the penthouse suite.
An epic display of rainbows on a top secret weekend away.
When the locals cause a brief interruption of your golf game. Canmore, Alberta.
I cannot remember the name of this place but it sure is beautiful, California.
Shopping District in Copenhagen, Denmark
Watching hockey with the Danes in… Vojens (Voyens? Sorry if any Danes read this and I butcher the spelling), Denmark.
This was at one of those UPICK farms in Chilliwack/Abbottsford, BC.
This is what $85 Canadian gets you at Hells Kitchen on the Las Vegas Strip.
New York New York Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas Strip. I am proud to say that I never got drunk enough to risk that roller coaster.
That time I snuck away for a rainy day in the city…
That time that I snuck away for a rainy day in the middle of nowhere. Well, nowhere now. This was the primary route used for British Columbia’s Gold Rush.
The Driveway. It’s just a driveway, I know. I just thought it looked… majestic with the sun poking through like that.
Springtime in Niagara Falls, Ontario
The Ice Magic Festival at Lake Louise, Alberta

Alright, that’s enough of a photo spam for now. Next time: Germany, England, New York, Alaska and… probably a lot more of BC and Alberta. Let’s face it, the majority of my days are spent in BC and Alberta. This place is heaven on earth. What’s not to like? Well, there’s a lot not to like right now… but that’s a story for another day.


Thank you to each and every one of the #MillennialLifeCrisis Patreon supporters.

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay home.

We can save our adventures for later.

XOX
Vee

Quarantine Day 8,781

Dear Patrice,

The local pharmacist has said that we should each be documenting everything happening to us during this time. As I stood behind the plexi-glass screen watching him prepare my father’s prescription, I listened to him explain about how we’re living through what will one day be one of the most historical events of life as humans know it.

As much as the introvert in me does not like talking to strangers, I know he’s right.

The sheer physical, emotional, economical impacts this will have on this world will last decades. And, if I’m being totally honest, I don’t know how to deal with that yet.

The human race has seemingly become expendable. Those who get television time are the ones who are proclaiming that economies should open back up because senior citizens and those who are immunocompromised would gladly give up their lives for the sake of the American Dream. Companies left, right and centre are firing employees not because they have to, but because they’d rather ‘cut their losses’ and sail off into the sunset. And those that haven’t fired their employees are billionaires who are asking the general public for donations.

We’re living in a time when going to to the store to get some milk for your fridge could literally mean putting your life at risk. And there are adult brats on the internet licking toilet seats proclaiming that this is all a hilarious manifestation of government control. To anyone who’s taking part in the licking toilet seats challenge, that’s not going to age well, even if by some grace of the universe you don’t get sick.

I am hurting and I know I am not alone. Billions of people (yes I said billions) are going through this with me.

And it all started with one wet market in a country a half world away.

If nothing else, this year has officially validated the fact that we are all connected and that when something affects one of us, it affects all of us.

Nearly a million people have been diagnosed with a mystery illness across our world. Nearly 50,000 of those have passed away. And, with everything that is known, or isn’t known, at this stage, there are still (somehow) women and men standing out front of the grocery store trying to hand out pamphlets about how vaccines are the real issue… WHILE, NO LESS… wearing a mask on their face and asking people to not come too close.

Preachers are preaching that we brought this on ourselves and that god is using corona virus to punish us for our sins.

Health care workers, who on a normal day have some of the hardest jobs on earth, have now had to take on the task of convincing us all to take their word as the word whilst fighting a predatory, deadly illness that has been described as an invisible zombie apocalypse.

Years from now, when I look back on this, I want to remember this feeling. I want to remember the things that people said, the things that people did or didn’t do. Though they’re too small to know what’s happening right now, I want to be able to teach my nieces and nephews about this.

Canada is closed.

What used to be a cordial, friendly nation where people held open doors, helped you carry your things, shook your hand just because or gave you a hug if you looked like you needed it, we’re only going out if we need said milk from the store. The aforementioned men and women handing out anti-vaccination pamphlets were arrested for endangering the public, but promptly returned the next day after they were only given a citation and told to stay home. It’s an ugly wheel we’re spinning when the police are trying to protect the very people they’re arresting by not putting them in a holding cell. Court is postponed indefinitely so it’s not like there’s anything else they can do except standing in front of the store themselves, telling these people to leave.

A choir decided to go ahead with their practice, despite all of the warnings to not hold such events at this time. Now, 45 of the 60 choir members have tested positive for COVID-19 and 2 have actually passed away.

Stay home.

Seriously, go home and stay home. I say this because future me wants to remember the importance and significance of these simple instructions.

Where do we go from here? I don’t know. I do know that I’ve developed a fear of watching the news, going to the store and hearing someone cough or sneeze.

My debts are mounting, whilst people are bragging about spending $600 on video game systems… just because. Wow, it’d be nice to have $600 right now. But I’m sure that a lot of people would like to have an extra $600 right now, so as much as I’m inclined too, I’m trying really hard to not judge them for their choice of purchase. They had the money, I guess that’s that.

Finding a job right now is going to be next to impossible.

And yes, I know that I’m saying ‘I’ a lot with respect to something that is about everyone and not just me, it’s just hard. When tragedy strikes, the first thing you should do is ensure that yourself and your close family/friends are okay. Well, I’m not okay. I’m trying to be, but I’m freaking out.

There’s still a lot of snow on the ground here. At least a foot on lawns. Probably several feet in the bush. The roads, since they were plowed last week, have only a couple inches on them. Spring still seems as though it’ll be a long way away and I can honestly say that this has been the longest winter ever.

There are several aisles of the grocery store that are still empty. There is still no toilet paper. There is no pasta, very minimal canned goods, and no frozen foods. We also haven’t had eggs in this town for a very long time. I reckon in the supply chain we rank rather lowly compared to the larger city centres which is probably why. Regardless, I am hoping that one of these days there will be some sort of a restock.

I’ve been anxious, a lot. All the time, actually. It hasn’t shut off since my dad’s surgery. We learned that we lost my uncle so quickly after my dad’s surgery that things in this family really have not calmed down. As much as my parents and I absolutely do not get along, I do not wish for them to be in harms way, or sad, or any form of ill. He’s had a long and slow recovery. His follow up appointments were cancelled as they were deemed not a necessity. So he’s largely been wingin’ it. My mom did take him to the hospital one day to have him checked because he was coughing blood. It was an infection and the prescribed him antibiotics, with refills so that he wouldn’t have to come to back.

My parents… oh my parents. I know everyone reacts to stressful situations in different ways, but their reactions have been to… seemingly not care? I’m sure that in some way, deep down, they are in fact worried. They’re not showing it though.

All that being said, there’s still stuff going on that is scaring me so much that I can’t even bring myself to speak it. No, because if I speak it into fruition, I have to face it.

I’m scared. We’re all scared. There’s a definite sense of urgency in living right now. Everyone is carrying a weight on their shoulders and most are trying to hide it. I have noticed the very polarizing shift in the way society functions.

10 years from now, 20 years from now, 50 years from now… this year, this time in history will be one that’s marked in textbooks and research journals, historical records and televisions/movies across the world.

We’re living in history… right now. This moment hasn’t even passed and it’s already history. How’s that for a thought? Grab hold for dear life. I wonder if that’s how they felt during the World Wars or the Great Depression or the Plague. I wonder if they had time to feel, or if they just bared it and kept going, hoping luck would favour them enough to survive. My grandfather was born shortly after the first world war, and he would never talk to me about the second. The only thing he said was that he wished for a world in which we would never have to experience what he’d been through in his life. So I really don’t have any frame of reference from personal perspective… only what I’ve read in history books. Which, could very well be what people do with respect to this year, this pandemic, this… invisible apocalypse in several decades time.

My biggest hope in all of this is that people favour kindness. Be kind. Be thoughtful. Be mindful. It’s affecting everyone so I hope that very fact is remembered. Not that it’ll fix anything right now… but it might lessen the blow.

Oh and lastly, stay the fuck home.

Sincerely,
Me