Deep Purple on a grey day

It’s a gloomy, grey day but the temperature is expected to reach into the 60s. I don’t know how to behave when the weather is like this. Should I celebrate the warmth? Mope because it’s murky?

One thing I’ll say is it’s good “reading weather” so I read a little this morning from Barack Obama’s book A Promised Land, including the chapter where he visited Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president after and before Vladimir Putin. At their dinner, Medvedev revealed his appreciation for the hard rock band Deep Purple.

Most everyone’s familiar with the song “Smoke on the Water.” The riff is instantly recognizable. My conservative high school band used to play it at pep rallies so even erstwhile Catholic girls such as myself know it. But I never knew the lyrics until today.

We were at the best place around

But some stupid with a flare gun

Burned the place to the ground

Smoke on the water

A fire in the sky

-Deep Purple

The song is about a fire that happened at a casino where Frank Zappa was performing. During the concert, a fan shot a flare gun and it caught the wooden roof on fire. The flames quickly spread throughout the venue. Everyone, including the members of Deep Purple, were forced out of the building. The band was moved across the lake where they watched the casino burn, hence the lyrics “smoke on the water, a fire in the sky.”

I find the lyrics to “Smoke on the Water” chilling and relevant today as Russian forces continue to invade Ukraine.

And I wonder: How many fires has Medvedev observed…or started? Now the former president and prime minister serves Russia as the deputy chairman of security council. I’m not sure the Purple fan is the original firestarter, but I doubt he’s put many out.

Medvedev has been referred to as “Putin’s puppet” by Reuters and “the Robin to Putin’s Batman” in The Guardian. In Obama’s book, the former U.S. President said Medvedev seemed like a man who didn’t say what he meant.

With that, I’ll just say what I mean: I think Medvedev is disgusting. Ditto for Putin.

With the news updating news every minute with information about cease-fires, evacuations, humanitarian corridors, convoys, train stations filling up with refugees, attacks on nuclear plants and broadcast towers, I remain consistent in my message which comes from a song I learned at the same school that introduced me to Deep Purple:

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

Thanks for reading. -Connie

Signs of spring

Barbara’s virtue sniffing again…

When I was walking my dog, I saw a Ukrainian flag flying in a yard a few blocks from our house. It pleased me to see it so I kept walking in that direction. I find it heartening to see signs of solidarity for Ukraine so I walked closer to the house that promotes peace.

“Come on, Barbara,” I said. “This way.”

Upon closer inspection, I noticed their yard sign. It said This Is Me Virtue Signaling. I went from feeling warm-hearted to annoyed. Who put that sign there, and why?

If it’s a longstanding sign and is an expression of the homeowner’s sense of irony and humor, fine. I have never noticed the sign before, but it’s entirely possible it’s been there for months or longer.

The sign could mean any number of things and I should probably just let it go. But what if vandals placed the sign there as a way to mock the folks who are flying the Ukrainian flag?

Virtue signaling, according to cynics, is when a person publicly aligns with a (usually progressive) cause not because they believe in said cause, but because they want to be seen as righteous. Virtue signalers, they say, use the hashtags but don’t do any of the real work.

Barbara pretends she’s about to pee but only sniffs and stares. #virtuesniffing

I find the term judgmental, divisive and obnoxious. If someone wants to align with a cause, even if it’s just with a hashtag, great! I don’t think it’s fair or healthy to undermine the efforts of people who are finding or expressing their voice, including folks who align with different political ideologies.

It’s the first day of March which means I’ll start seeing signs of spring, natural and political, pop up all over the neighborhood. Maybe I’ll see the Ukrainian flag-wavers in their yard one of these days. If they seem approachable, I’ll ask them about their sign. Until then, if you want to interpret the coupling of the flag and yard sign, please let me know what you think it could mean.

Thank you for reading my blog. Hope to see you tomorrow. -Connie

Today’s blog is brought to you by the letter Z

Moments before I moved our car.

We got our two to four inches. I got up a little earlier than usual, retrieved our newspaper, shoveled our sidewalks and moved our car off the street. I took a moment to appreciate the sun rising in the east. Further in that direction, it was still the middle of the night in Ukraine.

Any minute, the City of Rockford’s snow plows will be clearing the boulevard.

Last fall, the City acquired five new trucks and for reasons I don’t understand, named them Snowtorious B.I.G., Sled Zeppelin, Plowzilla, Darth Blader and Plowabunga. Cute names for heavy, massive machines designed to wreak havoc on snowflakes that have every right to be here.

Halfway across the world, there is snow in Russia and Ukraine. But Russia isn’t plowing their streets. The Russian military tanks, each curiously emblazoned with an enormous white Z (or more), are plowing through Ukraine; a country that has every right to be there.

The Zs, I’ve read, are a signal among Russian tank operators. When a tank operator sees another tank with a Z, it’s a quick way of saying, “Don’t shoot.”

It’s OK to shoot their neighbors though.

Why did the Russian military name their tanks “Z?” There is no Z in the Russian alphabet. They have a ж, which has a “zhe” sound and a З, which is like the z in zebra.

Time to crack open the old books.

In case you’re wondering why I know this, I studied Russian in college at the time Ukraine and several other countries were breaking away from Russia. Seeing the Zs on the Russian tanks caught my attention.

Why wouldn’t Russia mark their tanks in their own language or with their own symbol? Why did they use modern English? I can’t imagine the U.S. government ever allowing a Russian symbol or alphabet character on one of our tanks.

I understand the letter Z isn’t owned by the United States of America, or anyone, but I can’t stand seeing it on the Russian tanks. I’ll admit that military language is fascinating, but it does little to soothe my soul. Wherever you are, whatever language you speak, I hope you are fluent in peace. Thank you for reading. -Connie