Have a Merry (Socially Distant) Christmas, this year

Hearkening back to the time when I was in school, during various history classes, I don’t honestly remember going over the period where the Spanish flu was raging through the country in particular and the world in general.  Certainly, there was some mention of it at some point, either in high school and/or in college, but I don’t recall seeing any pictures of people wearing masks, or at the time didn’t put any import to it had I seen them.  This makes sense, there wasn’t any current correlation to the practice, perhaps it was just something that happened at the time, and it was glossed over in my mind as just another picture of a time in history.  Not like pictures that are rooted in people’s minds of landmark events, like the attack on Pearl Harbor, the first atomic bomb test ‘Trinity‘, and the portrait of the three CSA soldiers outside of Gettysburg.

Battleship Row during 1941 attack
Trinity atomic bomb test, 1945 New Mexico
Three Confederate prisoners, outside Gettysburg, 1863

I wonder if in 60 years when kids are in school (or learning remotely still because of the precedent of what occurred this year) will they be seeing pictures (or holos?) of people in 2020 wearing masks, keeping a distance from one another, and attach any meaning to it all?  Will there be nostalgic shops online that sell overpriced vintage KN95 masks so people can recreate what happened back then, play ‘pandemic’ like they recreate battles of the Civil or Revolutionary Wars nowadays.  Will there be another pandemic in 2120?

Automating the house

Otherwise known as Electric Dreams, 2020.

My wife presented me with an early Christmas present this afternoon.   This is Friday, my new Amazon Echo 8.  I’ve been spending the afternoon and evening setting it up, connecting it to the different sections of the house that are ‘automated’, controlled by either smart light bulbs, or the cameras that monitor the outside and inside of the house, for our protection.  Too, I’ve been able to connect it to my Spotify for music purposes and I’ve been really pleased that it quite seamlessly interacts with it to play Christmas music as well as my other playlists.

I’ve installed it in the kitchen, where I think it’s going to be quite useful.  While it’s not a search engine type device, it does have the ability to access the Internet and seek out recipes, it can access news and sports scores, as well as give me information on things like the stock market, and keep me entertained while I’m cooking, baking, even cleaning the kitchen (yeah, well maybe).

It amuses me that a movie from 1984 so easily predicted what might happen with computers and ‘smart’ devices.  If we allow them to make things easier, we’re going to spend less time making the effort to better ourselves.

But right now, this thing is interesting.  Gonna play with it some more.

One Down, One to Go

Ah, Thanksgiving is finally here. Unlike the masses that shop in the store I work at, I’m thankful the holiday is here, rather than it’s still in the offing, so we can get past it and on to the last holiday of the year, and be done with 2020, as well as the ‘silly season’.

I suppose in a way it’s a symptom of getting older.  The more years I put on, the less I’m up for all the pomp and circumstances of the holidays, and more interested in getting them over and done with and behind me.  Christmas I suppose is pretty much the only holiday that I’m ok with tolerating, because it has elements that to me are enjoyable still and I can revel in, to some extent.  The music, some of the pagentry, the decorations (as long as they don’t get too ostentatious) and the memories things invoke, are more tolerable to me than the trappings of Thanksgiving.  To me, Thanksgiving reminds me of the year my mother died, and how that situation invariably ruined the holiday for me.

Too, the whole bastardization of the holiday is sort of off-putting, given how it was created in the first place.  Commercialization does have a way of making things less palatable, or perhaps dumbed down for the people that wish to have it simple, rather than understanding how it all began.  Thanksgiving was a holiday to allow people in the 19th century to be appreciative of what they had, to hearken back to a time when things were perhaps more dire and remember that there had been much progress in the 200 years since the pre-beginning of the US.  

Abraham Lincoln was the President that cemented the last Thursday of November as the ‘official’ Thanksgiving, in a time when there was a Civil War (hardly civil in many respects) raging in the southern part of the divided country.   There had been other days of ‘Thanksgiving’ or of memorializing the concept of being thankful for what the country had, or the citizenry of same possessed, or ‘had’ at that time.  With the unrest and armies mowing down each other en masse, it was necessary to refocus, or redirect the citizens into something peaceful, something to take away the horrors of the war that was tearing the country asunder.

Today, it’s all about retail.  Buying the right turkey at a reduced price, having to purchase the trappings to go along with it (gotta have that dressing, cranberry and pumpkin pie, right?) or if you’re less traditional, getting a ham or rib roast, and all the other sundries that go along with those menu choices.  Even this year, with people not traveling as much due to the pandemic, having to stay home unexpectedly, dragging out cookware that hasn’t been used in years, since they traditionally haven’t been home for the holiday.  I saw a lot of that this year, along with people asking about how to cook things that they like, but have no idea how to actually prepare it themselves. (I had a gentleman who stated he loved prime rib roast, he has it often, but when I got him the size he wanted for him and his wife, just before I turned away, he stopped me and asked how to cook it.  Fortunately, this wasn’t the first time this has happened, so I gave him a basic recipe that I’d seen on Foodwishes.com along with a handout that we have in the department for people that need a little assistance with cooking roasts and so on.)  Apparently not everyone either has an Internet connection or knows how to navigate it to find more than silly cat videos.

My wife and I, we’re celebrating subdued.  I have the day off from work (thank you!) so I don’t have to deal with the brouhaha there on the holiday.  Granted I’ll be working tomorrow for the aftermath, where we’ll be marking down the turkeys that we still have (the fresh ones, the frozen, or partially thawed ones go back in the freezer) and making the department look presentable after having been run from one end to the other for the past two days.  We’re getting a few holiday dinners from a place near us that does catering, the woman has been trying to make her business work with the pandemic, and people not needing catering for events that they cannot host due to restrictions on people gathering together.  You really have to feel for people who had planned for beginning businesses like that, and support them however possible.  So instead of cooking something ourselves, we’re picking up the dinners at 1 this afternoon, storing them in the fridge and having our holiday dinner this evening.  I’m roasting a butternut squash to go with the traditional meal we’re getting, just an addition that my wife and I both like.  Dessert is included, so we don’t have to worry about creating a huge mess in our galley kitchen.  No muss, no fuss and we can have a relaxed evening after.  

So, one holiday down, one to go.  If you made it this far, sorry (not sorry) for the rant.  I hope you and yours have a great holiday.  Enjoy the time you can spend together, if you can use Zoom, Skype or FaceTime (or Google Duo) to connect with your far flung off family, take time to do so.  Which reminds me, I need to FaceTime with my Mom. 

Happy Thanksgiving, 2020.