Saturday, March 14, 2020

While doom-sayers and TP entrepreneurs crawl like termites through the headlines, we here at Celebrate366 industries seek an alternative. Perhaps a pre-ordained selection of instructions to busy our consciousness. Party like it’s 1999 and Y2K is real. It’s encouraging when the first thing on our list is a reminder to not screw over your neighbour – in fact to lift them up:

National Good Samaritan Day

There are presently about 800 actual Samaritans in the world. They consider themselves to be descendants of the tribe of Ephraim from the land of Ancient Samaria – right around where the West Bank is today. Back then, the Samaritans didn’t like the Jews (which makes sense, since it seems like everybody hated us at one time or another). But Jesus told the story of a Samaritan who found a Jew beaten and robbed at the side of the road, then took care of him.

A real story from history? That’s something I wouldn’t try to answer with a ten-foot keyboard cable – but it’s a valuable, if somewhat simplistic lesson. And while I aimed to steer our collective attention away from the headlines, this celebration actually plays right into the state of our society at the moment. People are hoarding toilet paper and hand sanitizer out of fear – I get that. The media (as well as certain public figures) want us to exist in a state of fear. And this virus is getting the job done.

There are also people who are re-selling the aforementioned supplies at a grotesque mark-up because capitalizing and profiting off of fear is relatively easy to do. This is the sort of behaviour that will ultimately doom us when shit really goes south. Having witnessed the actions and attitudes of our nurses and doctors, I have to believe that the Good Samaritans will vastly outnumber the lecherous ass-chunks, and those who are on the fence between hoarding and sharing will lean toward helping others.

That’s what keeps me sleeping soundly at night. Yesterday Jodie’s celebrating was cut short when she was once again sent home sick from work. I held some doors open and offered up my seat on the bus (which turned out to be unnecessary – a lot of people stayed home yesterday). It wasn’t a day packed with grand gestures, but I took it as a reminder to err on the side of being one of the good guys. We can all be one of the good guys.

National Open An Umbrella Indoors Day

This is a test – an experiment. Someone launched this little balloon of a celebration to see who is anti-superstitious enough to try it, and whether they end up with bad luck as a result.

First of all, causation of something deemed unlucky is impossible to prove. What is “bad luck”? I possess far too much affection for the chaos that dominates the workings of this universe to ascribe anything such as luck to what happens. Even that guy who survived the bombing in Hiroshima only to go home to Nagasaki and get bombed again… that wasn’t bad luck. That was chaos having a huge laugh.

Jodie was averse to this one. I convinced her to snap the pic, but I was the only one willing to tempt fate. This particular beast of fate was easy to tempt. Opening an umbrella indoors is unlucky because if it’s wet it will splatter water everywhere. Plus there’s the possibility of thwacking someone in the face with it. But it won’t affect whether your team wins, nor will it impact the amount of traffic you’ll face when you’re running late for that appointment next week. It’s an umbrella.

Chaos is the antithesis of rules, and superstitions are nothing but rules. I’ll wrap my arms around the chaos and proudly declare that my opening the umbrella caused no tragic luck to wipe clean my otherwise delightful evening. That said…

National Blame Someone Else Day

If things did go wrong, it couldn’t have been me, right? It wasn’t because I opened an umbrella inside, it was because… of someone else.

Here’s the origin of this day: back in 1982 the 13th of March also landed on a Friday. A lady named Anne Moeller from Clio, Michigan woke up late when her alarm clock failed on her. This was followed by a string of circumstances which she chalked up to “bad luck”. So she invented this day, designed to blame someone else for one’s misfortunes.

I’m not one to poo-poo one of our ascribed celebrations, but this one is complete poo. I will blame our bus driver for his less-than-assertive driving skills yesterday morning for landing me at work one minute late, and I’m sure I can watch the news and blame various governments for various transgressions, but for the events of my life I’ll take full responsibility, thanks. Buy a better alarm clock, Anne.

National Earmuffs Day

Good to know that we are getting down to celebrating individual items of clothing. I can’t wait for National Sweatsock Day.

As Canadians, you’d expect that we’d have earmuffs issued to us at birth, along with long underwear and ice shavers. You know, for sculpting our igloos. Alas, we don’t actually own a pair of earmuffs in this household. We’re both of the opinion that a full-on hat makes more sense. You lose a lot of heat out the top of the head.

Earmuffs can also be protective against loud noises, and I suppose my noise-cancelling headphones can count as low-grade earmuffs in that regard. They shut off the noisy bus engine, help me to ignore the blatherings of those around me, and they actually keep my ears nice and cozy, so I suppose they also work as low-grade thermal earmuffs.

Chester Greenwood is the man who – sorry, he’s the boy who invented earmuffs back in 1873 at age 15. He was out skating in Farmington, Maine, and came home asking his grandmother to sew some clumps of fur together with a wire. He later went on to invent a tea kettle, a steel-toothed rake, and a bunch of other stuff. He was born and he died in Farmington, and the state of Maine still celebrates Chester Greenwood Day every December. He’s an unsung hero of American invention, and now I feel somewhat guilty for not actually owning his greatest creation.

I have a steel-toothed rake and a tea kettle though, so maybe that’s good enough?

National Coconut Torte Day

A torte is a multi-layered cake filled with whatever magnificence the chef feels belongs inside it. It’s a glorious thing, and it’s also a lot of work. My mom, who has taken the helm on this project’s baking, thus eliminating the need for me to photoshop us eating baked goods that were in fact only images we downloaded, wanted to put her own spin on it.

The use of the bundt pan meant more frosting around the perimeter. She called this audible, and it produced a magnificent and downright addictive piece of cakery. There was coconut in the cake mix, coconut in the icing, and toasted coconut sprinkled on top – there was no shortage of tropic bliss in this dessert, and it was utterly scrumptious. I’m withholding that word – scrumptious – for things that truly deserve it this year. This torte adaptation was scrumptious as fuck.

The torte originates from Germany, which isn’t a surprise as ‘torte’ means ‘cake’ in German. The coconut torte most likely originated somewhere else, with some unknown chef using the medium of the torte as a canvas for introducing the joy of coconut to dessert. This one was a big win – Jodie’s colleagues also adored it, or at least they devoured most of the leftovers in the short spell between Jodie’s arrival at work and her dismissal by her principal for being too damn sick to teach. I hope this torte was a bit of a comfort.

National Jewel Day

I find it chuckle-worthy that my sources are unable to locate who originated this particular holiday, celebrating jewelers. I’m guessing it’s the same people looking to earn a living off selling us shiny rocks and such. I’m not ragging on jewelers – they add glimmers of refracted magic to the world, and I strongly suspect the majority of them are honest and reputable. Blood diamonds aside, of course.

The only “jewel” I own is a mysterious blue piece on a ring that no longer fits my fat fingers. Jodie has a diamond ring (I may be a hypocrite but I’m still a gentleman), and she wore that for her brief outing yesterday. Actually, it’s her wedding ring – her finger is pretty much its permanent residence. Having nothing to wear myself, I took a spin through Alaskan folk-rocker Jewel’s first album for the first time in a long while. It still holds up – she’s just brilliant.

I walked past a couple of jewelry stores yesterday and didn’t see any National Jewel Day sales, so the marketing potential of this celebration has yet to be fully tapped. That’s fine, we did our small part.

National Elephant Day

Our town boasts an elephant population of one: Lucy, the beloved pachyderm who has lived at our zoo for as long as I can remember. Activists – including Bob Barker – have targeted Lucy, saying she should be off in the wild somewhere and not planted behind a series of fences for public gawking. Her caretakers (and numerous other folks) have pointed out that after a life of living in this controlled environment, she wouldn’t do well in the wild. It’s a dead discussion now – Lucy is here to stay.

Unfortunately, she keeps business hours during the winter months, so we couldn’t pop in for a visit. Well, Jodie could have, but a person with the symptoms she’s currently exhibiting really shouldn’t be headed out to a public attraction right now. So we’ll pay tribute to her from afar.

An adult elephant can hold 2.2 gallons, or 8.5 liters of water in its trunk. Some handy info in case you’re writing some Flintstones fan-fiction and you need to know how long to make the shower scene. They lose their teeth not once, but up to six times throughout their lives. Just as humans are right or left handed, elephants tend to be right or left tusked. One is often a bit more worn down and rounded. Their hearts beat about 30 times per minute, but that actually rises when they’re lying down.

Ever hear the expression “hung like an elephant?” I’d hope not – elephants have meter-long schlongs, and they’re shaped like an S. Not something a human male should be boasting about. If you live in an Indian village, you may have a very legitimate fear that an elephant could wander over to your home at night and smash it. In the state of Jharkhand between 2000 and 2004 elephants were responsible for 300 human deaths. Some locals believe the attacking elephants were drunk, which strikes me as strangely irrelevant. All the same, don’t feed an elephant alcohol – that’s probably a good message to take away from this celebration.

We were meant to go on an adventure today, but Jodie’s symptoms are still pretty rough – it’s not THAT virus… most likely. We’re pretty sure it’s what I had, and that had me floored for over a week. So some of these will be postponed or nixed:

  • National Potato Chip Day. We can certainly power through this celebration.
  • White Day. No, this has nothing to do with Power or Pride… it’s apparently an eastern Asian tradition stating that if a woman gives a gift to a man on Valentine’s Day, he returns the favour today. We can’t skip this.
  • Pi Day. We have our eyes on a couple of incredible slices today.
  • National Learn About Butterflies Day. We had planned to hit up the John Jansen Nature Centre to do some hands-on learning, but we’ll have to learn from home.
  • Moth-er Day. Moths too – at least they get a cute day name.
  • National Write Down Your Story Day. Well… that’s writing the article, isn’t it?
  • National Children’s Craft Day. We’ll show off some crap our kids made.
  • International Fanny Pack Day. We don’t own one, nor will we purchase one.
  • National Steak & A B.J. Day. Heh heh.

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