Friday, August 14, 2020

Ever astute and synched with the vibrations of my calendar’s energy, we dined in truly scrumptious serenity yesterday. A handful of other celebrations ambled across our path, but once you’ve munched down some tasty steak and weirdly-paired fast-food fries, what else matters? I joke, of course – it all matters, as we pile national day upon national day, ever clamouring for that coveted December 31 when we are free to fully embrace our slothful lifestyle. Speaking of which, I have been advised that my tenure as a work-from-homer has been extended into the fall, so you’ll see a lot less grumbling from me about my job, and hopefully even more joy in our daily endeavours. As for Jodie – the government still aims to lead her and her educational ilk to the slaughter next month, so we’ll see what happens. In the meantime, we did this:

National Filet Mignon Day

Okay, we kind of fudged this one, though only slightly. The tenderloin cut of beef, which is well-known as the greatest (and therefore priciest) cut, consists of the filet, which is closer to the middle of the cow, and the ‘tournedos’, or the steaks labeled as ‘tenderloin,’ which are generally from further back. This is not a weight-bearing muscle, and as such it has less connective tissue, which makes it more tender. Also, a single bovine only has about 500 grams of filet mignon to offer, so this stuff is rightfully expensive. It often lacks the rich flavour of other cuts though, which is why you’ll often dine on filet mignon wrapped in bacon, or covered in a Béarnaise sauce or some such fanciness.

The tenderloin steaks we enjoyed were from a bit further back in the cow, and they were so flavourful we had no need to wrap it or douse it with anything. I’d like to boast of how we hipsterishly purchased our steak from an artisan local butcher, but alas these came from Costco. Costco should not have exquisite steaks, but dammit it does. We seasoned them slightly with seasoning salt and grilled them to perfection, which for us means rare ‘n bloody.

Some butchers in America label every tenderloin steak as ‘filet mignon’, so by those standards we celebrated this one with 100% accuracy. In French, the term ‘filet mignon’ refers exclusively to pork tenderloin, while the term ‘filet de boeuf’ is what we ate last night.

Had we been particularly ravenous we might have gone for a T-bone steak, which includes the filet on the smaller side of the T. But we were happy with our selection. It was exactly the celebration called for on a day when I was celebrating my continued ability to stay the hell away from crowds next week. Yum.

International Left-Handers Day

This is the day when left-handed people speak out and raise awareness of how damn difficult it is to navigate an extremely right-handed world. Everything from using scissors to opening cans to not smudging ink as they write – we righties honestly have no concept of all the hurdles out there for those burdened with sinistrality.

Interesting word, that one. Sinistrality, which medically means ‘left-handed’, derives from the Latin word for left, which is sinister. The word for right is dexter, as in dextrous. I can’t say for certain, but given the hardships faced by lefties over time, and the way they were once seen as ‘wrong’ or ‘broken’, I think we can safely assume this was an anti-leftie bias at work here. So let’s flip that and take a look at some of the traits observed in left-handed people. Keep in mind, these are generalizations based on wide observation, and not applicable to everyone.

Lefties have been shown to be better at perceiving musical patterns and performing musical memory tasks. Lefties are also overrepresented among high achievers, in groups like MENSA, and with high SAT scores. That’s the good news. Lefties are also apparently more prone to autism, cerebral palsy, breast cancer, bone fractures, heart disease, immune disorders and schizophrenia. One study suggests that among college graduates, lefties earn 10-15% more than righties, but then another study offers numbers that point to less earnings among lefties overall.

We know that left-handed people are well-represented in the arts. Here are some of my favourites: Rashida Jones, Scarlett Johansson, Ben Stiller, Sylvester Stallone, Jason Alexander, Charlie Chaplin, Lisa Kudrow, Katharine Hepburn (from Connecticut!), Robert De Niro, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Cary Grant, Fred Astaire, Matthew Broderick, Mark Hammill, Hugh Jackman, Robert Redford, Keanu Reeves, Seth Rogen, Bruce Willis, M.C. Esher, Buzz Aldrin *and* Neil Armstrong, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg (not one of my favourites, but it’s interesting), Harpo Marx, Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Stewart, Spike Lee, Duane and Gregg Allman, David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Phil Collins, Elvis Costello, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Albert King, Mark Knopfler, Joan Jett, Annie Lennox, Sting, literally every American president going back to 1980 apart from George W. and the current one, Jim Henson, Isaac Newton, Alan Turing, Marie Curie, David Letterman, Franz Kafka, Lewis Carroll, Mark Twain, and of course Ned Flanders.

That’s one hell of a list. And my favourite person of all, she who indulges in my weird projects and quirky celebrations, is also a leftie. Happy day to all of you weirdos.

Black Women’s Equal Pay Day

I will absolutely admit to knowing a few men’s rights folks who will cite flimsy study after flimsy study that states there is no pay inequity between the genders, and that we should all shut up about it already and get on with planning our Straight Pride Parade. Those people are family, so I’m stuck knowing them.

For the rest of us who live in the actual world, there is absolutely a disparity between what men and women make. And black women make even less on average. According to the Equal Pay Today Campaign, black women had to work all through last year and seven and a half months into 2020 in order to make what white males made in 2019. This is why we see this day land in the middle of August – yesterday would mark the day that black women had finally earned what white men did last year.

Think about that. Think about how long ago last year was – it feels like roughly a decade since we were gathered together in large crowds, owning zero washable facemasks and having no earthly idea who Carol Baskin is, or whom she may or may not have murdered. The National Women’s Law Center estimates black women lose out on $1 million over their careers because of this disparity. These numbers don’t take into account educational differences and geographic locations, or the fact that black women are more likely to be unemployed or working part-time. Fortunately, the Economic Policy Institute did take those factors into consideration and re-tabulated the numbers. Still, black women only bring home about 66% of what white men bank.

And if you think this is bad, Hispanic Women’s Equal Pay Day doesn’t show up until October 29. I don’t have the answers to fix these issues; my job is simply to point them out when the calendar tells me to.

National Julienne Fries Day

The term ‘Julienne’ means to slice up a thing – usually a vegetable, but I suppose it could be a couch cushion – into skinny, matchstick-like strips. It’s a terrific way to serve carrots in a salad, or onions in a stirfry. When it comes to julienne fries, this would most likely refer to shoestring fries, which are about as skinny as fries can get. I’d argue that even regular fries are made with a julienne cut, unless you’re talking about steak fries or potato wedges.

As an example, I present the McDonalds fries above, which we had with dinner last night. They are not purely julienne, in that they could be cut even skinnier, but they are close enough. We were dining at home last night, so this was simply our attempt at raising the flag of this particular celebration while acquiring a simple and inexpensive side dish to accompany the meat we’d barbecued.

The first use of the term julienne goes back at least to the early 1700s and to François Massialot’s Le Cuisinier Royale et Bourgeois from 1722. I suppose had we been planning ahead, we could have obtained that book and made one of the recipes contained within that makes use of the original julienne concept, but it’s hard to stumble across 300-year-old cookbooks when one is sequestered in one’s home, barely even venturing into the actual world.

But we did our best, and we enjoyed our fries, even if they paired rather weirdly with a fine cut of steak.

Today is the final day of my vacation, and one I will savour greatly, thanks to all this fun we get to tackle:

  • National Creamsicle Day. Now this is this part of this project I just love. I HAVE to eat a creamsicle today.
  • Color Book Day. Not ‘coloring book’, this is about books that are printed in colour. Weird? Yes.
  • National Kool-Aid Day. We will drink the kool-aid, as in the actual stuff, not the metaphorical stuff.
  • National Financial Awareness Day. This one does not suit me well, as I generally have very little idea where our finances are at. This is how I sleep at night.
  • National Tattoo Removal Day. I’d have to have one to remove one.
  • National Navajo Code Talkers Day. An interesting story behind this one.
  • National Wiffle Ball Day. I don’t think I’ve ever wiffled a ball in my life.

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