Saturday, June 13, 2020

Yesterday hardly matters, yet here I am on the precipice of penning yet another lengthy missive about another day. I say it hardly matters because I spent my lunch hour laying in my hammock, soaking in the hot sun. After that glorious hour of absolute serenity and tranquility, nothing else we did throughout the day could compare. And we did lots – it was a thick, hearty Friday, jam-packed with the likes of all this:

National Red Rose Day

Here I was, naively hoping this day was symbolic. The red rose could signify a charity, or some tribute we could indulge in. It could be an analogy for gratitude or understanding or reaching across the aisle and connecting with someone we’d normally disagree with. But no, it’s quite literally a day to celebrate the red rose. The flower. Maybe the tea if you’ve got some.

We have neither. A trip to a florist is still not in the cards right now, as we’re going to keep limiting our retail experiences until the COVID numbers go down; our city has effectively tripled its infected count in the last week. Now is not the time to head out and shop, at least not for the over-cautious among us.

For any non-Canadians who wonder what I meant by “the tea”, I’m speaking of Red Rose Tea, which has been one of the top tea brands in this country since it was launched in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1894. My grandmother loved the stuff, and in most places prior to the popularization of herbal and alternative teas in the 90s it was what you’d get if you ordered ‘tea’ in a restaurant. That said, we do not live in pre-90s Canada so we do not have any Red Rose laying around.

I celebrated this one in the most appealing way I could think of. As I wrote this article I listened through Wings’ 1973 album Red Rose Speedway. Some great tunes on that record. Made for a fine celebration.

National Jerky Day

Sure, this was a day started by Jack Link’s Beef Jerky and the Wisconsin Beef Council (which I imagine is staffed by cows wearing business suits because that’s the kind of stuff I like to imagine). But we don’t have to get all cynical about it – jerky deserves its own day. It’s a snack I used to dislike; I tried overly-tough beef jerky for the first time right around the same time I tried a Hot Rod. One was chewable, the other wasn’t.

Now that I’m older and (purportedly) wiser, I have tried better jerky and would take it above one of those nitrate tubes of pseudo-meat any day. Jerky is a wonderful snack.

Beef jerky is simply beef that has been sliced up, salted for preservation, and can be stored without refrigeration for months. It’s lean meat, since fat won’t dry and jerkify properly. The stuff you buy in a store will likely still have sodium nitrate added to it for shelf life, but you can also make the stuff yourself if you’re so inclined.

We were not. We celebrated jerky day not by making our own, but by simply enjoying the bounty nature has provided to us, in the form of a prepared batch from the grocery store. It was a great mid-afternoon snack, and very necessary given that I’d skipped lunch to lay in the sun. I regret nothing. Jerky was the hero yesterday.

National Peanut Butter Cookie Day

A day dedicated to what may be my favourite cookie. Screw it, for the purposes of this article it *is* my favourite cookie. And when our team baker (thanks, Mom!) incorporates chocolate chips into the cookies, they are otherworldly. These are top of the cookie hierarchy for 2020 so far, and that’s saying something. We have seriously eaten a ludicrous amount of cookies this year. And that’s just fine.

Like many of the great things we associate with the peanut, this one came to us courtesy of American peanutmaster George Washington Carver. His 1925 pro-peanut document included three recipes for cookies featuring crushed-up peanuts. The man contributed so damn much to our food culture.

The reason you’ll often see fork tine marks on the top of peanut butter cookies is because that’s in the actual recipe. It has been since 1932. It’s a very dense dough so if you want them to cook evenly you’ve got to squish them down a bit. You can also use something called a cookie shovel, which is just a glorified spatula. Hey, here’s something I didn’t know: if you use crunchy peanut butter instead of smooth, your cookies will have bits of crunchy peanut, which could be really great.

But why mess with perfection? These cookies are fucking perfection.

National Loving Day

I was relieved to learn this was not a day for people to simply express their love for their family, friends and pets. We seem to be getting those at the rate of 4 or 5 a week now. No, this is something much more special and much more wonderful.

Much like how German Chocolate Cake Day surprised us by being named for a guy named German, this day is named for Mildred and Richard Loving, who married in Virginia in 1958. They were literally on their way home from their wedding when they were arrested for interracial marriage. Think about that – we’re talking 62 years ago, well within the lifetime of my parents. This wasn’t simply discrimination or racism, this was the law. Richard and Mildred were charged and convicted, their sentence suspended only so long as they left Virginia and didn’t return together for 25 years.

So they packed up and moved to DC, where they pushed their fight right up to the Supreme Court. And on June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the anti-interracial marriage law was bullshit (probably their exact words), and the Lovings were allowed to go on Loving. Richard passed away in 1975, and Mildred lived until 2008. May of 2008, so unfortunately she never got to see the election of a black president. But she got redemption, and that’s what matters.

The Loving v. Virginia case was cited as a precedent in the fight to legalize same-sex marriage, with numerous courts taking different views on whether the comparison was appropriate. I suspect same-sex marriage will have its own day to celebrate so today let’s just fire off a salute at one of the many steps we’ve taken on the road to eliminating state-sponsored racism. Let’s keep up the fight!

Russia Day

This is not merely a tribute to the nation of Russia, but rather the official day that Russia celebrates its sovereignty. It has been celebrated ever since 1992 when the Soviet Union packed up and vacated the premises. Before that they celebrated October Revolution Day – this one is honouring something much less vibrant, and hopefully more cheery for the folks who live there.

We have passed on celebrating most national country days, as I believe that’s another project entirely, one that would necessitate more food exploration and travel than our budget and time allow for. But our son is dating a woman from Russia, and we’ve always been fascinated by the history of that country, so we’ve hopped on board this one. Besides, we have vodka at home, and what could be more Russian than toasting the country by downing a shot of vodka? I would argue literally nothing.

In 2005 only 15% of Russians actually considered this a holiday. Was this a holdover from elder communists who still felt October’s Revolution was the right thing to honour? Actually, it was more likely due to the fact that this day reminds folks of the really difficult time Russia went through in the 1990s after the fall of the USSR. It wasn’t pretty. That number of Russians who feel this is a holiday has increased to about 45% nowadays, though oddly the number of people who actually get the day off has decreased from 73% in 2005 to about 42% now. If I wasn’t getting the day off I don’t think I’d consider it a holiday. Except for this year – everything’s a damn holiday this year.

The celebrations in Russia are pretty much what you’d expect: parties, fireworks, concerts, lots of flag-waving and anthem-singing. And likely lots of vodka. We don’t know the anthem well enough to sing it and we own no fireworks, so we got by with the vodka. It was a great way to toast a nation.

Ghost In The Machine Day

I was originally going to skip this day entirely, as I could find no clear evidence that it has ever in fact been celebrated, or even a description of what it means. The phrase itself has to do with the duality of mind and body, and their relationship to one another. This has been posited in numerous sci-fi offerings, as well as The Concept of Mind by Gilbert Ryle (which I haven’t read) and even back in the writings of Descartes (which I have read).

So why is this day getting an entry? Because Jodie said so. She feels there is a ghost in every machine she operates, due to her confounding difficulty in navigating the complexities of technology. This makes sense – it couldn’t be her. It must be a ghost. We all know that when we die we are assigned to a piece of tech to haunt for eternity. I feel for those sad spirits who were placed inside of 8-track players or Laserdisc machines. How lonely must eternity be for them now?

So according to my wife’s theory, when I swoop in and fix whatever technical issues she may be having, that makes me a Ghostbuster. So that’s why this day is still being honoured in our little experiment, because it’s my only opportunity in life to be called a Ghostbuster by my wife. I regret nothing.

I also listened to the Ghost in the Machine album by the Police, just to add an extra element of wahoo to the whole affair. Great album. And I ain’t ‘fraid of no ghosts in no machines.

National Superman Day

This is really more of a one-day thing than an annual celebration, but what the hell. Superman Day was declared on June 12, 2013, as a tie-in to the Man of Steel movie. Remember that one? The one where Michael Shannon plays General Zod? I remember nothing about it myself… but that doesn’t matter. This day was orchestrated as a tie-in for comic book retailers and other establishments to give away some Supes swag to get people pumped up for the flick.

Superman’s actual birthday would be April 18. It was on that date in 1938 that Action Comics #1 went on sale – though it was labeled as the June 1938 issue – and changed the world. A number of superheroes were introduced in that issue, but a great image of Superman got the cover. In 2012 it was estimated that only 50 to 100 copies of this original issue still exist. I imagine that number is right around the same now, as everyone knew eight years ago how valuable it was. In 2014 a copy sold for $3.2 million. For a comic book.

Because of a few forgettable films (like the one referenced above) I think Superman has taken a big hit in his popularity lately. Part of that is due to Marvel having created a pile of cinema superheroes that drew flaws and complexities in its heroes from the comic book lore. Superman has always come across as uncomplicated and ideal. At least that’s what I got from the Christopher Reeve movies – his only potential weakness was his affection for Lois. I don’t know what kind of a complex dude he is in the comics.

Hopefully they’ll do a proper reboot of the character someday in a way that connects with the masses once again. Smallville seemed to have a pretty loyal following, but even that was ages ago. Still, the guy deserves his day.

Another wild Saturday in the thick of the thick humidity of June:

  • National Kitchen Klutzes of America Day. This does not define me. Maybe I’ll fake an accident involving flour and honey?
  • Random Acts of Light Day. This is meant for doing something kind for someone with cancer… social distancing guidelines might clip this one.
  • National Weed Your Garden Day. This sounds like a Jodie celebration. Yep.
  • National Sewing Machine Day. We don’t own one. But maybe we’ll get to play around with one.
  • National Rosé Day. I guess we’re drinking some rosé tonight. Cool.
  • International Axe Throwing Day. This hurts. We had plans for this day, but again, it was COVID-killed.
  • Worldwide Knit In Public Day. I may have to talk someone into doing this for me.
  • World Gin Day. Now we’re talking.
  • World Softball Day. Not likely we’ll be playing any. Nor can we make a softball bet. Does anyone bet on softball? I hope so.

One thought on “Saturday, June 13, 2020

  1. Many thanks to Jodie for the awesome explanation for why technology continues to aggravate and confound!! Ghost in the machines!! DUH. Why didn’t I see that. Thanks Jodie. I salute you.


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