Hot times

It seems that, despite the gravity of pandemic and insurrection and everything else that gives us pause these days, people are looking for distraction. The veritable meme-palooza featuring Bernie Sanders in mittens proves to be evidence of that, and it goes even further. In true capitalist economy fashion, the mitten market is burgeoning – an Popular Mechanics article fascinated me, since I wasn’t quite seeing an obvious connection between Popular Mechanics and mittens, but one was made: (
Following the article discussion, there is a sampling of mittens for sale, with prices ranging from $50 to $115, which I found … amusing.

There is now a debate in the country, courtesy of Bernie’s mittens, about whether mittens or gloves are the best option for cold weather. The article above discusses fill material, shells, dexterity considerations, and hybrid 3-fngered options that allow use of the index finger and thumb. I suppose that would sanitize the time-honored tradition of “giving someone the finger”. A quick search on mittens, mittens vs gloves, gloves, and Bernie Sanders mittens yielded double-digits of pages with similar content, some way more technical than Popular Mechanics, some offering guides on how to make your own mittens, and more than one explaining how Bernie’s mittens were made and how he came to have them (the poor woman who gifted him with those has been besieged by potential customers…but she’s not in business and really wants to be left alone, thank you very much).

America, America…crown they good with brotherhood…and crown thy hands with…mittens. Or gloves. Or both, if you want to guarantee your hands will spontaneously combust. Your choice. Some of us don’t have access to either, so we do what people have been doing for eons – blow into your clenched hands, put your hands in your pockets or under your armpits, sit on your hands, whatever you have to do. If you’re in a situation where none of that works, and you need industrial strength mittens/gloves, you know what to do or you would have another job. I’m from Louisiana, and we don’t generally need to consider the subject of hand warming quite so seriously. Conversely, we spend quite a lot of time figuring out how to navigate 100% humidity and heat index of over 100 degrees, so if people need to know how to keep cool while still complying with laws requiring clothing of some kind, we can talk.

Anyway, we need distraction. We’re into crisis fatigue, and I would venture to guess people are finding ways to disconnect from the avalanche of information we’re getting lately. There are daily press conferences, often multiple, on the pandemic, the mechanics of the virus itself, the vaccine, how to get the vaccine, screwups with vaccine distribution, stories about people with the virus, people who have died from the virus, and most importantly, who said what about any of these subjects and who disagrees with that. If you want a break from the virus, there are other subject matter areas – the insurrection, the impeachment trial, people who have been arrested for the insurrection, who is to blame for the insurrection, participants, replay of videos from the insurrection. If your eyes are not rolling around inside their sockets yet (and making that little bongo sound from the cartoons), you can check out the really minor stuff, like the millions of people out of work, the overloaded systems for unemployment benefits, evictions, homelessness, other health care issues, school re-openings, hunger.

The President is signing executive orders so fast he’s likely to start a small fire on the Resolute Desk. He was sitting with nearly a foot-high stack of them on the corner of the desk, determinedly explaining each and every one, signed it, then reach up for the next one. He has not been playing golf. He has not been Tweeting. He’s been engaging in the time-honored tradition of work. He signs executive orders, which are the result of some consultation and planning, I would imagine, then gets on the phone with the Russian Prime Minister. I hope he has time to use the bathroom and maybe have a glass of water or something. If he’s trying to let people know that he’s working, I think it’s a successful effort.

I find it reassuring and comforting to see the President getting down to work. It feels as though he’s sure of what he’s doing, and providing as much transparency as is prudent, letting people know a lot about what’s going on in the White House. It’s nice to see, even though I know there are still a LOT of people who have nothing good to say about this new administration, and want to see everything revert to the previous chaos. I cannot understand that, but maybe that’s a good thing. I fear that if ever I do understand illogic of that calibre, I will have lost my hold on reality. So, no rush on that.

What I do understand, though, is why people are going slightly ballistic about their inability to have their hurrs cut or their nails did. When you feel like everything normal has been taken away, you’re going to rebel. Especially if you ain’t grown yet. Before this “lock-down” of the pandemic response, I was not someone constantly out of my domicile looking for new things to do. I spent a fair amount of time at home, accumulating more useless crap in my living space and reassuring the dog that she had enough treats for the apocalypse. What I am missing, however, is spontaneity. If I chose to stay home on a rainy day, or a sunny day, that was fine. But if I decided to call a friend for a late lunch at a favorite restaurant or watering hole, that was also fine. That’s what has become difficult, if not impossible. Some establishments are simply closed, but even if open, I need to plan a bit for the excursion. I need to make sure I have a mask handy, and my personal choice is outdoor dining, if possible. Most of the time, it’s easier to just have something delivered to my apartment or pick it up and bring it home. Many people are unwilling to make those changes in routine, and that drives me slightly cuckoo. So, I get it.

What I also get about this “new normal” is that I’m fortunate to be have choices like having food delivered or sprinting into a restaurant to get take out, as opposed to being food insecure or going hungry, as many do ordinarily but even more so these days. I’m just not willing to risk my health or someone else’s just to say the gummint can’t make me do something I don’t want to do. Arguing about rights in this context is just silly. To live in this country, there’s an implied contract of protecting the common good, so I’ve got news for all those unmasked rebels – the gummint makes us do stuff we don’t wanna do EVERY day. We have to wear clothes, we have to comply with traffic lights, we pay sales tax on stuff we buy (even the haircuts and the nail salons), we pay property tax on cars and houses, on the gas that makes the car go, the power that runs your computer so you can spew your hatred on Parler or Twitter or wherever else you go. Your gun wasn’t even free – if you bought it legally, there was probably sales tax; if you licensed it, like you’re supposed to, there was probably a licensing fee. Even if you stole it, somebody somewhere paid all that. We pay for practically everything we touch, even if it’s naturally occurring, like water. All of that is what makes it possible for the ambulance to show up when your drunk ass falls down the steps or crashes the car into something. So. Think on that for a minute, Ace.

I’m just trying to figure out why, with all of this gummint intrusion, people are choosing to die on the hill called a mask. It’s a piece of fabric a few inches wide, and this is the biggest issue in your life? I suppose I should understand and be tolerant of that, since thousands of people (some close enough for me to reach out and touch) are still willing to take a stand on a slightly larger piece of fabric that protects nothing but the memory of a failed domestic war effort of more than a century ago. But that’s another story. I suppose if you just need to be mad about something, anything will do. Anything. Black President in the White House? Be angry. Be very angry. And people are very, very angry. There are hilarious stories, fortunately not lately, where people assaulted fast food workers because they were out of chicken nuggets. A man was murdered in a Popeye’s drive-up line in a dispute with another driver over the chicken sandwich (which I found tasty but definitely not worth shooting someone). And of course, there are brawls and murders every football season over a score, a play, a penalty that should or should not have been called, who’s the better team. I will say that alcohol is frequently involved in these extreme situations, although I can’t vouch for the chicken nuggets altercation. People, people, people – calm the eff down, or up. Meditate, do yoga, go to the gym, punch a bag, lift weights, throw a ball, do something. If you really DO need to kill someone, please make it for something worth your while, like self defense or something. Not fast food. There won’t be any fast food in prison, so please hedge your bets; just some unsolicited advice. No charge.

I was telling some people earlier that I was still very unsettled about being out in the general population these days. Homeland Security issues a bulletin today, saying the threat of domestic terrorism was elevated. I could have told them that. There is a prickly feeling in the air, and it’s not a cold front. There are psycho Congresspeople who want to kill the Speaker of the House, the former Vice-President, or any Democrat who is not nailed down. They are open about this, loudly proclaiming their rabid opinions whenever there’s someone around to listen. It would be wiser if more rational people didn’t listen, but there’s a kind of morbid fascination to witnessing the zombies. I believe they really are dead people, no souls, no brains, fighting their own rigor mortis and decay. They are lost, but dangerous, so I suppose they will need our attention until they begin to literally fall apart, as zombies are wont to do. The rot smells even at this distance, so there’s another reason for me to keep my distance.

I’m hoping it snows tonight, although most predictions say it will only be for a minute. It’s been abnormally warm so far this winter, but I’m still hoping for a good snow. I hope it holds off for a bit, though – I am considering making an order for mittens and a folding chair so that I can enjoy a day like Bernie. Maybe I’ll wind up as a meme, too.

Published by annzimmerman

I am Louisiana born and bred, now living in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Fortunately for me, I was already living in NC before Hurricane Katrina decimated my beloved New Orleans. An only child, I now feel that I have no personal history since the hurricane destroyed the relics and artifacts of my childhood. As I have always heard, c'est la vie. My Louisiana roots show in my love of good coffee, good food, and good music. My soggy native soil has also shown me that resilience is hard-wired in my consciousness; when the chips are down (or drowned)...bring it on.

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