Black Friday And The Rocket Man

rocket-1027577_1920Unless you live in a cave on the northern slopes of the Himalayas, you know that yesterday was American Thanksgiving and today is Black Friday.  Black Friday (for all you cave dwellers) is a strange American retail phenomenon that’s slowly circling the globe.  A number of different countries — including mine — are starting to cash in on Black Friday’s consumer spending frenzy.  Personally, I don’t see the attraction, but I don’t have a philosophical problem with people beating each other over the head once a year to save 50 bucks. (I kinda figure it’s like The Purge with credit cards.)  My point is nobody but Americans could a) think up something as silly as Black Friday and b) make it work.  Let me demonstrate.

There’s a guy in California who’s going to launch himself into the air on a homemade rocket to prove that — wait for it — the Earth is flat.  Wow!  Think of the irony!  And this isn’t some Star Wars wannabe, blogging from his parents’ basement.  Oddly enough, Mike Hughes, a 61-year-old limousine driver, has already “slipped the surly bonds of earth.”  Back in 2014, he managed to build a rocket, get it airborne (with him in it) and soared for a kilometre or so through the skies of Arizona.  Unfortunately, what goes up must come down, and when Hughes’ DIY project did, he ended up in the hospital.

Aside from the fact that this is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard of (and I’ve heard a lot of stupid stuff in my time) I do believe this is a quintessentially American story.  The thing is, Mr. Hughes, dumb as he might be, actually did built a rocket and actually did fire himself into the sky.  Now, question Mikey’s tenuous grasp on reality all you want, but any way you slice it, that’s a hell of an accomplishment.  And this simple tale of one idiot in California is a deep look into the American character.  They are a dynamic people.  They don’t really care what their government, science, mathematics, the natural laws of the universe and sometimes even common sense tell them, ordinary Americans truly believe that — if they work at it — they can do anything.  And then, incredibly, they frequently do.

So, while people all over the world are chasing the American Dream of a 50-inch-Big-Screen-TV, I’ll just say this: “Good luck, Mike Hughes — and Godspeed!”

Thanksgiving in Canada

Yesterday, in Canada, it was Thanksgiving (Americans have a different one.)  It’s a time when families get together and gossip about the cousins who didn’t show up.  We Canadians normally spend the day having a few adult beverages, yelling at the kids, bitching about the weather and arguing about hockey (or religion, as it is called in some parts of the country.)  Somewhere around the time we agree that Celine Dion is weird and Jason (Justin?) Bieber is a jackass, we have a big dinner.  After dinner, the slowest kids do the dishes and the older relatives play “Remember when” — a polite version of “Ain’t it awful?”  Finally, at some point in the lingering autumn evening, every Canadian, regardless of where he or she lives, what job they do, whether they are rich or poor, smart, beautiful or awesome, takes a small spiritual moment to connect with the deity of their choice and give thanks that they weren’t born American.

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And we love hockey

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is Thanksgiving in Canada.  It’s a day when families gather together and give thanks that extended family gatherings (a la Clark and Ellen Griswold) happen only two or three times a year.  However, somewhere between cousin Edna’s ugly kid feeding a box of Breton Originals™ to the dog and Uncle Benjamin passing out — before dinner — from the wine, take a minute and get serious.

This is a day of Thanksgiving and, despite all our whining and bellyaching, we Canadians have a lot to be thankful for.  Sometimes, we take those things for granted.  At the risk of being trite and just a little sugary, I still think Franklin Roosevelt said it best when he talked about Four Freedoms.  Just as a reminder to all of us, here are the Norman Rockwell paintings that depict them.

Freedom from Want

 

Freedom of Worship
Freedom of Speech
Freedom from Fear

Happy Thanksgiving!