Sunday, October 25, 2020

Yesterday my lone outing for the week consisted of a trip to Destination Doughnuts (of course), a stop at Safeway for a single necessary ingredient, and that was it. My hindquarters will remain tethered either to this office chair or our comfy mattress for the next seven days, as I continue to do my part to keep my virus-spreading innards off the streets and away from others. It’s a noble sacrifice, and one I’m happy to make. I have dogs. I have alcohol. I have food. I have celebrations up, down, and out the wazoo. In fact, you’d hardly recognize my wazoo at this point, with how overrun it is with celebrations. These are the ones that commanded our attention yesterday:

National Bologna Day

I don’t care if your bologna has a first name; I probably won’t want to eat it. I was not raised with bologna sandwiches, and I’m pretty sure the only grown-ups who enjoy the stuff do so in part because of the nostalgia. Once my mother bought that bologna-like stuff with the bits of pasta and cheese crammed into it, and I think we both still experience recurring nightmares from that garbage.

Bologna is a finely-ground pork sausage, seasoned with a variety of spices, as well as (and I had no idea about this) myrtle berries. It did originate in Bologna, Italy, but a fine-ground pork fat sausage has taken on various characteristics around the world. Ever hear of rag bologna? Unless you grew up in West Tennessee, probably not. This is a unique kind of bologna, usually wrapped in cloth, and containing more filler than most bolognas. They eat it on white bread with mustard and pickles, which makes me grateful that National Tennessee Day has passed already. I think. Might have to double-check that.

In Newfoundland they thick-cut some wax bologna and fry it, calling it a “Newfie Steak”. I’ll hand it to those folks on the Rock, they do give Canada some personality. England and other countries call it ‘polony’, and it features beef as well as pork. In New Zealand a miniature polony is known as a Cheerio. In southern Australia they call bologna ‘devon’. It’s like an entirely different language in that part of the world.

So why don’t I like bologna? For one thing, it’s often shiny, which is not an attractive look for a meat. It tastes processed, and I find the mouthfeel to be deeply unpleasant. There is nothing I like about it, but here we were, downing some to pay tribute to this little notch on our calendar. At least it’s better than haggis.

National Food Day

Is this the most purely generic celebration we’ve encountered thus far in 2020? I suspect it may be. This is literally a day for celebrating food. Yes, we already did that with bologna (which is a food of the lowest order, or so I feel) and again with candy (see below – some may also question how ‘food’ like that is), but this is for… just food.

Actually, this is the brain-child of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a group of so-called academics who are really only ‘so-called’ to the breed of ignorant humans who seem to have a vehement objection to science and reason lately. They devised this celebration back in 2011 as a way of drawing our attention to good, nutritious food. So no, our bologna and candy experiments yesterday would not have properly counted. Our dinner, which you can see above consisted of steak, potatoes and snap peas in a tasty onion-thyme gravy, was a much better choice.

We have drawn attention to proper nutrition and sensible eating numerous times this year, even as we ourselves have flouted these notions because the calendar has told us to. Also, we still get doughnuts every Saturday so really we aren’t paragons of nutritional virtue here. But at least when we eat poorly, we know we’re eating poorly. Isn’t the first step in recovery admitting you have a problem? I have a problem. A candy and sweets and salty snacks problem. And National Food Day didn’t help.

But we did eat healthily, at least for one little chunk of the day. And it was food, which was the point of the day, right? What we may or may not have had for dessert is another matter. But we’ll get to that.

Take Back Your Time Day

Here’s a delightful little snippet of irony for you. The lone responsibility dragging down my Saturday was the research and writing for this article. The point of this day is to focus on the notion of “me-time” – so that would mean any time in which you get to determine how those seconds tick by. I can think of no greater example than the fact that I’d rather be playing a video game right now than writing this paragraph.

Jodie and I are both fortunate to work at jobs where the work/life balance is semi-respected, at least. I’m only chained to my desk for 7.25 hours of my work-day (plus a little extra so I can get every fourth Monday off), and next year I will hit the mark where my vacation days increase from four weeks per year to five. We also get the period around Christmas off, though we suspect our union will sacrifice that in the upcoming talks. Jodie is a teacher, so she gets all those teacher days off. On the flip-side, she also has a tremendous amount of work to do on her own time.

Yesterday was an example of this. She had some tutoring to do, and some reading for her own Masters, as well as some marking to do for school. I did my best to encourage her to cut that last one short and take back some time for herself. Reading for her Masters degree, that is time she took back. The nap she had in the middle of the afternoon, that was her time too. And the fact that I dropped a few celebration contenders and limited this article to a mere four entries so that I could crank up a new game in Civilization VI, that was me taking back my time.

Time is our most precious resource. When choosing between a bonus that gives you more money or one that gives you more time, you should always choose the time. In the end, that’s the one thing we can never get back.

National Good & Plenty Day

Good & Plenty, which is not available in Canada unless you head to a specialty shop, is one of my favourite candies on the planet. When they’re fresh. Only when they’re fresh. Once they go stale they are unpleasant and even painful to the jaw after a few hearty chews. We could have ventured to Carol’s Quality Sweets (as we often do), but our budget was tight this weekend, and we didn’t want to risk losing control and blowing the last of our liquidity on a variety of candy treats. We’ve done that before, and believe me, it’s instant-regret. Followed by delicious sweetness.

Good & Plenty has been around since 1893, so it’s older than just about any other confectionary delight we can still buy today. The Quaker City Chocolate & Confectionary Company came up with the treat in Philadelphia, and some candy historians (another career trajectory I truly missed out on) recognize it as America’s oldest branded candy product. Through a series of corporate buyouts the candy fell under the Hershey umbrella in 1996, but the stuff hasn’t changed much. It’s black licorice surrounded by a candy shell. When they’re fresh, they are soft and chewy and perfectly perfect.

We opted for a bag of Goodies, the Canadian equivalent. The candy coating isn’t quite as sweet, but the blend of flavours is still pretty fantastic. And these were still fresh, so that was a delight. I enjoyed this little celebration. I might have to relive it next weekend with some actual Good & Plenty. You know, for science and whatnot.

Today is Sunday, and as with any Sunday it’s a day I’d rather sit on my tuchus and watch football than get into heavy celebrating. Here’s what we may or may not skip today:

  • National Mother-In-Law Day. While my mother-in-law is presently embroiled in a weird relationship with our household at the moment, Jodie’s is delightfully the third human in our 3-person cohort. We’ll certainly celebrate her.
  • National Greasy Food Day. The best foods are the greasy foods, right? That might run counter to National Food Day, but we’re past that now.
  • Sourest Day. Some sour candies will work, even though the story behind this has nothing to do with sour stuff.
  • Pumpkin Day. I don’t think anyone is surprised that this one lands exactly one week before Halloween.
  • National I Care About You Day. Another day of generic feel-goodery? Why yes, it appears to be.
  • Punk For A Day Day. Have you ever wanted to spend a day as a punk poseur? Today is just for you!
  • World Pasta Day. We may enjoy some actual pasta today to celebrate.
  • World Pizza Makers Day. So many options for delicious dining. And pizza can be greasy, so it might win.
  • Visit A Cemetery Day. This does not sound particularly fun at all.

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