Thursday, April 23, 2020

So if lockdown persists into the manic summer months, and culture itself skids to a temporary pause, what will be the soundtrack of our warm months this year? What melodies will be reverberating off our walls, keeping our minds tapping in rhythm instead of spiralling into madness? Or while spiralling into madness if that’s more your path? I say let’s make 2020 the year we all crank up the Monkees once again. Why not? We’re already in scriptless crazy-land, we may as well hop aboard the last train to Clarksville and have some fun. On another note, here’s what we had to rock out to yesterday:

National Administrative Professionals Day / Administrative Professionals Week

This day carries with it the heft of history. The National Secretaries Association was put together 1942 to shine a spotlight on the profession, and to attract more people to it. World War II was presenting more urgent need for workers in non-secretary jobs like uniform-sewing, bullet-stuffing, and fedora-repair, so a group of executives, secretaries, and the president of the Dictaphone Corporation pitched in to make it happen.

This event first launched in June, 1952 as National Secretaries Week. Three years later it was moved to the end of April, perhaps so it didn’t interfere with Bed Bug Awareness Week festivities. It’s still a full week to celebrate these hard workers, but yesterday was the day bosses should be showering their admin professionals with gifts, flowers, free food, unlimited cocaine, circus peanuts, whatever traditions your office may follow. In 2000 the ‘Secretaries’ part was changed to Administrative Professionals, because that was the thing to do back then.

At our office, the term ‘administrative professionals’ refers to those who do secretarial work, plus front-line citizen-conversing and a number of office-ish jobs. Every year they get taken out for lunch, and every year a couple of them make a strong effort to enjoy that as much as possible by ordering appetizers, drinks and desserts. This year I’m afraid they may have been ignored, given that few of them are seeing the inside of our office. Jodie’s school receptionist is still reporting in every day though, and yesterday Jodie whipped a bouquet of flowers over to her as a thank-you for making her school continue to tick on a daily basis.

Appreciate the front-line and admin folks – without them it would be an ugly, disorganized chaos.

Earth Day

On the one hand, people may be forsaking Earth Day as a low priority this year. I get that. Obviously any major gathering or event is going to be cancelled, as the cross-over between gun-toting protestors who want to end the shut-down and folks who care about the environment is shockingly small. But let’s look at the sunny side of all this.

Earth Day has been a thing since 1970, which marks this as the big 50th anniversary since Senator Gaylord Nelson proposed an environmental ‘teach-in’ to mark the first Earth Day. It went international twenty years later, and I’m pretty sure that in the 50 year history of Earth Day, we have never seen such low levels of pollution on the planet. Sure, it’s because most of us are inside, away from our cars and away from our factories. But if we’re looking for a shiny silver lining, there it is. The planet is getting a lovely slow exhale from all the strain we put her through. That’s a great thing.

In 2016 on Earth Day 195 nations signed the Paris Agreement with the aim of hitting the brakes on climate change, which – despite the grumblings of your crochety old uncle at Thanksgiving – actually exists. The official Earth Day website, earthday.org, has a massive list of things that were happening yesterday, including online seminars, streaming songs written for Earth Day, and some in-person workshops that will hopefully get another shot next year.

We did a small amount of yard clean-up yesterday, just to make our little corner of the earth a little more tidy. It wasn’t a great stride for environmental elevation, but it’s all we can do right now. Happy day, little planet. Enjoy your deep, cleansing breaths now, because we’ll get back to polluting the shit out of you again before you know it.

National Beagle Day

The beagle is, according to people who know better than I, an intelligent breed. Just look at little Bentley up there, working from home, being just as productive as when he’s in the office.

The history of the beagle stretches back to William the Conqueror, who brought the Talbot hound to Britain in the 11th century. For a long time the word ‘beagle’ was used to refer to any smaller offshoot of the hound family. Edward II and Henry VII kept Glove Beagles, which were small enough to fit on a glove. Elizabeth I had a Pocket Beagle, which would have been no more than 9 inches high. It’s believed the modern beagle breed got its start courtesy of Reverend Phillip Honeywood in Essex back in the 1830s.

The breed nearly went extinct a half-century later. In 1887 there were only 18 packs of beagles in all of England. Not long after that scare they became incredibly popular, especially in North America. This was no doubt helped by Snoopy, who has become the most famous beagle on the planet. Their legacy is ultimately a blend of how damn cute they are and their incredible skills. Beagles have some of the best noses in the puppy game. Their ability to track a trail along the ground is amazing. They are friendly, gentle, great with kids, but very single-minded and stubborn which makes them hard to train. Given our experience with bulldogs, we can relate.

Unfortunately, beagles are also the breed of dog most commonly roped into product testing by unscrupulous and soulless corporations. That is not why they were put on this planet. They can sniff out explosives, track down termites, they were bred to be assistants in hunting, and they are ideal for pet therapy. Happy Beagle Day to those of you fortunate enough to have one in your lives.

National Jelly Bean Day

We have been looking forward to this one. On our Saturday supply run last weekend, we had planned to grab a hearty bag of assorted Jelly Bellies and devour as many as we could last night. Then we discovered Carole’s Sweets was still open and we asked if they have anything better. We were sold the ones above which look like little rocks. There isn’t quite the variety of flavours, but black licorice, cherry cola, cinnamon, pineapple and mint are fine when they are this good. Thick, and full of flavour, these are the best jelly beans we’ve ever tasted. We are lucky our self-control allowed them to last all the way to yesterday.

The history of the jelly bean, which may or may not be 100% true, states that William Schrafft, a Boston candy-maker, used to send jelly beans to front-line soldiers who were fighting for the Union in the Civil War. In the 1930s the candy beans became linked with Easter due to their sort-of egg-shape, and because they made for great fillings inside baskets or little toy eggs.

The term ‘jellybean’ took on a new colloquial meaning in the 1910s. A jellybean was a dude who dressed really well, but didn’t appear to have much else to offer to the world. This weird alternative meaning lasted for a few decades, then eventually fell out of fashion. These were the same guys who would have been called ‘fops’ or ‘dandies’ a few years earlier. I suppose now we’d just call them douchebags.

Jellybeans were in the news in the early 60s thanks to Beatle George Harrison. He foolishly mentioned in an interview that he loved the snack, and for months afterwards fans would hurl jellybeans at the stage when the Beatles played. I suppose these fans – who may or may not have been operating at full brain capacity at the moment – felt George would scoop up all the floor-beans and drop them into his pocket for a snack, later returning to track down the fans who threw them and pledge to them his undying love. I’m pretty positive that never happened. I’m also pretty sure it would have been incredibly difficult to play guitar and sing while getting thwacked with a hundred jelly beans to the face.

We threw none and ate a bunch yesterday. It was a great sweet celebration.

Today we ramp up again, with a heap of weird and interesting celebrations to help this Thursday go by.

  • National Cherry Cheesecake Day. We will eventually allow some of these dessert-oriented celebrations pass us by. But we ain’t gonna start with this one.
  • National Picnic Day. Our back yard is still quite full of poop and our front is full of snow-mold. Not sure if we will be picnicking today.
  • National Take A Chance Day. Crank up the ABBA and take a risk!
  • National Take Our Daughters and Sons To Work Day. I’m thinking a Facetime call will count, given that our son and daughter are both thousands of miles away.
  • Talk Like Shakespeare Day. Forsooth. And stuff.
  • National Poem In Your Pocket Day. Or are we just happy to see you?
  • Canada Book Day. We will read a Canada book.
  • International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day. A day for reading some top-quality science fiction online.
  • National English Muffin Day. Maybe we’ll try Eggs Benedict again?
  • International Nose Picking Day. Good, a day to celebrate the important stuff in life.
  • Movie Theatre Day. Well this is just cruel.

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