Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The unabashed exploration of these 100+ flickers of light (so far) in our perceivable universe has led us down more than one quirky crooked lane since January 1. But it’s not much of a party without a little fun, right?

National Have Fun At Work Day

For Jodie, this might have meant a typical shift, as the immeasurable joy she experiences each day with her students is a consistent spigot of fun and fulfillment. (Did I write that down correctly, honey? Will your bosses have stopped reading by now? Good.)

Actually, she brought a slab of Monday’s chocolate cake in to work and held a comfy cake breakfast with a coworker. Rich chocolate first thing in the morning is a great cure for the Tuesday blues. For me, I had a prepared game of Family Feud in my holster o’ mirth, and I rolled it out for my coworkers to enjoy over lunch. Lots of laughs, sound effects, and that theme song played over and over again with each new round.

We both work in the public sector, so the pretense of ‘fun’ when tax dollars are oiling the machinery may seem superfluous, we accept that. Jodie uses fun to channel knowledge into brains that will open up just a bit more if the promise of enjoyment awaits them. I find that a government office running on low morale (and though I’ll stop short of bringing politics into the virginal bliss of this project, I will say that morale in government offices has been at a staggering low since last May) runs ineffectively. Apart from my monthly trivia games I have also led us through an elaborate Price is Right game.

I do it so my colleagues can walk away from a day having had just a few more smiles than they would have otherwise. But I also do it to live out my childhood dream job of game show host. Whatever – as long as we all have fun at work, mission accomplished.

National Kazoo Day

I had plans of an elaborate duet with Jodie last night, blending our kazoo prowess into a harmony that would have induced tears in the ducts of Don and Phil Everly. Alas, a trip to Dollarama – which has been my go-to kazoo emporium for most of my adult life – yielded no results. Little plastic flutes? Sure. Slide-whistles? Yep, and I almost bought one in anticipation of my next staff meeting. But no kazoos.

Alas, there is more than one way to skin a celebration, and Kazoo Day would not be lost. If we can’t make sweet, sweet music through a plastic tube and membrane device, we can listen to some of the great kazoo appearances in music. I made a playlist of 30 songs for us to “enjoy” throughout our evening repast. A sampling of our evening tuneage:

  • Pink Floyd – Corporal Clegg
  • Blind Melon – Skinned
  • Queen – Seaside Rendezvous
  • The Grateful Dead – Alligator
  • Frank Zappa – Jewish Princess
  • Ringo Starr – You’re Sixteen (which is a little creepy, Ringo – come on, you were in your thirties when you sang this one)

The kazoo is not the most delicate and euphonic aural treat. Most of the songs in which it appears (and I forgot, Weird Al’s “Smells Like Nirvana” is on that playlist too) offer it as a sounding cry of ironic jocularity. Because it makes use of a vibrating stretched-out membrane to create its sound, a kazoo is considered to be a membranophone, like long drums and kettle drums. It’s the musical calling card of the eternal goof, dependent not upon deft fingers but rather upon the humming skill of the player.

Until a kazoo solo can capture my gut-bits and twirl them into an emotional frenzy, it will remain a novelty instrument to my ears. And clearly one that will cost me more than one dollar in the future. Dammit.

National LEGO Day

Jodie had to attend an online class yesterday evening, which meant we were not shooting a video and I had some free time.

I steered myself downstairs to retrieve a batch of generic LEGO from our basement and aimed to build… something. With no directions to follow, and no desire to operate from any sort of prepared plan, I simply dug in. Would it be a clunky space vessel I’d construct? A blocky creature from some colourful plastic realm? No, I went with a rec centre. It didn’t need a lot of planning. I was happy with the end result, which included some decorative walls, a dance floor, a stripper pole, a pizza table, an indoor diving board, a DJ station, some chunky, uncomfortable furniture, and a wall covered in bubble wrap, to finally give life to the notion of 3D wallpaper we’d talked about yesterday. It was a blast.

Let’s look at some fun LEGO facts. The company, founded by Ole Kirk Christiansen in 1932, didn’t start making the plastic interlocking bricks until 1949. The term comes from the Danish words “leg” and “godt”, which means “play” and “well”. Ole just took the first two letters from each. The bricks were patented in 1958 and set to a specific standard, so that means if you have blocks sitting around from your grandfather’s childhood you can use them to add an illogical turret atop your brand new Millennium Falcon set.

More than 500 billion LEGO parts have been created, and the company remains the largest manufacturer of rubber wheels on the planet. In 2015 LEGO came up with their Sustainable Materials Center, which has been tasked with removing plastic from the ingredients list, and creating fully sustainable products by 2030. Will they succeed? It’s hard to imagine LEGO falling short.  

National Blueberry Pancakes Day

I’ll be honest – we had blueberry pancakes twice last week, completely unaware that this day was approaching. Let’s face it, when you’re trying to keep track of nearly 2,000 celebrations over the course of a year, little slips like this are bound to happen.

Fortunately, the glory that is blueberry pancakes was not a hassle to endure once more. Blueberries enhance the pancake-and-maple-syrup combo so brilliantly, showcasing just a smidge of tart and wholly complementing the rushing gush of heavenly sweetness. We fried up some bacon to accompany them (because bacon won’t take the back seat often, but it will bow down to the mastery of these beautiful flapped jacks), and enjoyed a perfect breakfast-dinner. It was the kind of celebration that made us exclaim, “I can’t believe we are getting paid to do this!”

Of course we’re not, so… well, the point still stands. This was a great celebration.

Data Privacy Day

This was one of the less dynamic, practically-devoid-of-cosmic-woohoo celebrations on the list. But I ran though my passwords and updated a few old ones. Fortunately I have a terrible memory, and find that I’m resetting my passwords on a fairly regular basis. Sometimes a person’s innate flakiness can work to their advantage.

It’s important to keep your passwords strong, and yet to pick something you’ll have a way of remembering. I’ve got my little tricks (which I won’t share here, because then I’d have to come up with something new and that just isn’t happening), but go with initials, mnemonics, and a few arbitrary numbers you’ll remember. And change them often – ID theft is a scary monster you don’t want to invite into your life.

Today features more food, more fun, and a celebration to channel our inner grump:

  • National Kansas Day. Somehow there are two National Kansas Days. I’ll look into why that is, and make some bierocks as a classic Kansas treat.
  • National Corn Chip Day. Fritos? Doritos? Tostitos? It’s all fair game today.
  • National Puzzle Day. I play puzzle games on my phone every day. We may even start a jigsaw puzzle tonight if time allows.
  • Curmudgeon’s Day. We’ve got a lot of complaints and today we can let them loose.
  • Bell’s Let’s Talk Day. One could be suspicious when a telecommunications corporation is behind a mental health campaign, but this one has its heart in the right place. Need to chat? Let’s chat.

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