Thursday, March 12, 2020

Here in perpetual-party city, each sunrise brings a newly-deepened breath of something. Anticipation? Self-doubt? The need for ascertaining some higher answer to an unasked question before setting feet to floor? In the end it’s irrelevant: the rest of the day will clump and thud into place regardless of what billows in the sunrise’s wake. And with each day comes, yes, another reason to celebrate:

National Johnny Appleseed Day

Who? As a child of the Canadian educational curricula, I was never privy to the story of Johnny Appleseed. I’m sure the tale was unspooled in some Saturday morning animated environment, but I have no recollection of this tale whatsoever, let alone why the eleventh day of March has been sequestered for his tribute. He was a real human, not a character from a fable, that was already a surprise to me. And he literally introduced apple trees to chunks of six states in the early 1800s. And upon learning that, I was disappointed to see that his real last name wasn’t Appleseed.

The stories that twist and wind around Mr. Appleseed’s daily doings are remarkable. He was a missionary, so he preached while he wandered the land, spreading his applish joy. He’d plant an orchard, put up a fence to keep the beasts out, then had neighbors take care of the trees (and presumably make a living off them).

Apparently Mr. Appleseed was admired by the Native populations, who felt he’d been touched by the Great Spirit and left him alone. He also proudly converted several of those Natives to Christianity. This is where the balanced, possibly racist truth of events takes a back seat to Americana Legend – we all know how that goes. But if we can believe just a fraction of this guy’s legend, it sounds like he committed to poverty and a nomadic lifestyle, preaching away and building the nation’s love of fruit.

As for his day, it looks like it’s officially September 26 (Johnny’s birthday), but it also gets observed on March 11 because it’s better for planting season. That’s bizarre. Why not March 26, his half-birthday? Whatever – I won’t pretend I understand most of what we’re doing this year. Happy day, Mr. Seed.

National Worship of Tools Day

A day for organizing, cleaning, and sorting your tools. A day for building a tool pegboard for your garage, including little outlines of the tools indicating where they’re supposed to hang. It’s a day to sharpen your saw, check the alignment on your needle-nose pliers, and make sure your level is working – presumably by using another level. It’s a day to charge your power tools, stack your sandpaper by coarseness, and buff that crescent wrench to a Canadian Tire shine.

I did none of that.

I’m about as handy around the house as a taxidermized raccoon. If a thing can be fixed by tightening a screw, or wrapping something in duct tape I’m usually okay, but as soon as wires must be stripped I’m backing out. This was a difficult side of my me-ness to accept; I come from an age where traditional gender expectations were still standard-issue. But my dad taught me how to wind a reel-to-reel machine, and basic video editing techniques – even he was clueless when it came to installing a light fixture or small engine repair. Great stuff, dad… I’m now a whiz with outdated technology.

I did charge up my drill though (which, I assume, still works). I checked that we have screwdrivers placed strategically around the house, in particular those little ones I use on my glasses. Really though, is not this keyboard a tool to spew thoughts out my finger-parts? Is this phone beside me not merely a tool for communication, for listening to music, for playing Wordscapes and nearly missing my bus stop? Is not my tablet simply a tool I use to watch Curb Your Enthusiasm?

It’s all how you look at it. Maybe I did worship some tools yesterday.

National Oatmeal Nut Waffles Day

What more can I say? I found a terrific recipe that not only created some goddamn near perfect waffles, but also did not feature a lengthy meandering narrative about the author’s childhood love of oatmeal and nuts, and that special sun-kissed summer morning when his/her mom, who was both an airline pilot and an award-winning botanist, invented this recipe as a special treat for the author’s older brother, who was shipping out to Vietnam later that day – it was Billy’s last meal on American soil, as the jungle near Nha Trang claimed him one fateful Wednesday three weeks later…

No, it’s just the recipe, no scrolling. This was also the first time I’ve ever made waffles from scratch so the nudge outside my comfort zone was a welcome nudge indeed. This breakfast-for-dinner theme we keep returning to for this project is sweet.

And oh look – National Waffle Day is just two weeks away, on the 25th. Fun!

National Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day

We have a tremendous amount of respect for this particular profession. Jodie and Abbey have both consulted with a nutritionist, and it affected their perception of food and their relation to it. I opted out of this, as my preferred diet is whatever, altered slightly in 2020 to be whatever the calendar says I can eat. It’s an effective system, if the effect you’re going for is lumpy.

Here are a few interesting facts about these people:

  • They prefer the spelling ‘dietitian’, but ‘dietician’ is also acceptable, and I have just observed that Microsoft Word will count both as correct.
  • Food service dietitians will plan food service in health care facilities, prisons, restaurants and schools. This sounds like the major leagues of the dietitian world.
  • Business dietitians are used as professional resources. These are the folks you’ll see writing columns, or popping up on TV.
  • The science used by dietitians is called dietetics, which has nothing to do with L. Ron Hubbard.
  • In Canada you can’t just call yourself a dietitian unless you have the proper training. So, be wary of someone trying to work around this rule by calling themselves Food Wizards or Munch-Masters.
  • The International Confederation of Dietetic Associations (ICDA, which I’m sure they call the “ick-da”) is the network that links the world together and maintains the global standard.
  • Likely 0 out of 10 dietitians would look at what we’re doing with this project – especially when the ice cream months really kick in – and say it’s a good idea. Fortunately, I don’t care.

Debunking Day

This is a good day to look up that weird relative you stopped following on Facebook because they post wildly inaccurate phony news stories from sites that lean with such a bias they fall over. See if they’ve been posting anything recently, maybe about how Joe Biden is secretly Hillary Clinton in convincing drag, or how Donald Trump eats ferret fetuses for breakfast to maintain his healthy orange glow. Gather up your sources from reputable academic research, and debunk that shit.

I am, of course, forbidden to engage in such activities as a result of Panic Day (see Monday the 9th), but I do encourage others to do this. If you’re looking for some ammo, check out allsides.com, which will advise you where on the spectrum of political perspective a news source has planted its flag.

Perhaps you’re more interested in debunking urban legends. Was 9/11 an inside job? Did Elvis live well into the 90s, possibly wandering through Pennsylvania, planting apples and preaching the gospel? If you pop a couple Mentos back and wash it down with Diet Coke will you explode? Might be a good day for a Mythbusters marathon. I did my part by spotting a few questionable claims (related to the COVID-19 virus, because that’s all anyone talks about now), and looking them up from a reputable site. I simply stopped short of commenting on it.

The truth matters, even if it isn’t worth an online squabble.

Dream Day

Scientists still haven’t landed on whether dreams are projections of the circuits of flickering chaos, or if they encompass some sort of wish fulfillment or fear trigger. Thousands of books have been written with interpretations of dreams – I can’t imagine these are accurate, but they make for interesting conversation.

Jodie used to have a recurring dream of having swollen hands. I did some research on Psychologist World (which sounds legit), and apparently if you see your hands enlarged, it means a “quick advancement in your affairs.” That means Young Jodie was getting shit done. That sounds about right. She also used to dream of her teeth falling out. Apparently this means she will have burdens which will crush her pride and demolish her affairs. So I guess her affairs got a lot more complicated as she got older.

I’ve never had a recurring dream. A few locales, distorted and convoluted, have made return appearances, and there are the themes of racing to get somewhere (and never making it), but no repeating storylines. I tried looking up a few items I know have popped into my dreams, but Psychologist World wants me to pay to learn about anything beyond fat hands and falling teeth. No thanks, I’ll leave the dreams as a mystery.

And really, isn’t it better if we remove any tangential connection to our conscious lives? We have to wallow in the mire of our existences for most of the day; why can’t our nightly sojourns simply be immersive entertainment? Every so often I catch myself dreaming, and my brain clues into the possibilities of this alternate world. I usually opt to fly (because why wouldn’t I?), and it’s an exhilarating few seconds before the cusp of wakefulness appears and rattles me back to earth. I wish I could do that every night.

That can be done. You can allegedly train yourself to lucid dream, to engage with your subconscious reveries and interact with them with an actual sense of control. One method for doing this is reality testing – checking with your environment several times a day to find a way to confirm you aren’t dreaming: check yourself in a mirror, pinch your nose and take a few breaths, look at a clock – just stick with one thing and do it every time. Eventually you’ll try it in a dream and get a different result, or so the theory goes. Might be worth trying out.

No Smoking Day (UK)

We’ve got a few days this year dedicated to cutting one’s ties with tobacco. For me, the day I celebrate is July 20, the day I smoked my last cigarette in 1995. This year will mark 25 years of tobacco abstinence, so I’ll be celebrating a lot more on that day. But, if folks in the UK are thinking about quitting, I’ll put in a few thoughts on the matter.

First of all, no one has a sure-fire method to quit. Cold turkey worked for me, but it was the seventh or eighth time I tried it, and it only worked because it was time. I didn’t use gum, didn’t use a patch, didn’t vape (that wasn’t an option). I did, however, smoke a copious amount of pot in the weeks immediately following my positive lifestyle choice. I was young and mostly devoid of responsibility at the time, so this was achievable. Your results may vary.

Second of all, some people actually do look pretty cool with a cigarette. But not many. And probably not you.

Third of all, you call cigarettes ‘fags’. That ain’t woke, m’bloke. Time to ditch this insensitively-named habit.

Fourth of all, the mess from cigarettes is grotesque. The smell is fetid. And if you have any place of loathing in your heart for monolithic corporations making a profit off of poisoning the masses, you may want to quit from an ethical standpoint.

Fifth of all… who the hell gets to ‘fifth of all’? That’s ridiculous. All the stats are there, all the risks are known, and smoking just ain’t as bad-ass as it used to be. Just quit. You’ll be happier and probably have a more lucrative sex life.

A simple and achievable day today:

  • National Girl Scout Day. We’ll learn a little something about this organization. If we had some of their cookies about, we’d eat them… but we don’t.
  • National Plant A Flower Day. Might be tricky, as we’re still in the depths of winter up here.
  • National Baked Scallops Day. Guess I know what’s for dinner. Lots of seafood this week.

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