Wednesday, May 20, 2020

After a blip of momentary silence, thunderous in its void yet hardly registering in the collective eardrum, we once again roll forward into the celebratosphere. Monday gifted us with a holiday from work, then followed up with a virtual slap across our mirth-laden tuchus. An ugly glob of celebrations we felt were unfit to be called such. Visit Your Relatives Day? Driving from house to house to wave through windows would have been a hollow waste of much of the day. Museum Day? I’ve already taken selfies outside of a couple local museums; right now we could get no further through the door. It was a disheartening day, and it left us somewhat shaken and detached from our perpetual revelry machine.

This is all to say that we are in a temporary respite, or as close to respite as we’ll allow this year. Even the most highly distracted mind will still be laden with mental health wobbles here and there. We strive to remain honest with this project, and taking most of Monday off may have spared us from an extended bout with morose funktitude. Alas, we approached yesterday with a fresher outlook, only to find the universe was insisting we take another day. Yesterday simply was not an event-packed day of celebrations. And one of the only items on the menu makes almost zero sense. See below:

National May Ray Day

What does this mean?

According to timeanddate.com, not one of the primary sources I used to gather celebrations, this is a day to get out there and enjoy the May sunshine. In the northern hemisphere it’s late enough in spring that even us tundra-dwellers run the chance of a summer-y day. In the southern hemisphere it’s late autumn so you might still be in luck. No idea who came up with the day.

According to daysoftheyear.com, which I did use last year in my research, “May Ray Day is your reminder to go outside and soak up some sun in the great outdoors, so get out there!” They also offer no specific origin story to the day, except that “The history of May Ray Day is as old as the wheel of the year, turning through season after season for time out of mind.” The fuck?

Then we check nationaldaycalendar.com, quite likely the best such resource on the web, and thusly the only one that merits a hyperlink, and we get a much different story. This celebration was launched in 1977 by a man named Richard Ankli, and he did it at the Broadway Fun Spot, which is apparently a nickname for someone’s residence in St. Joseph, Michigan. Okay, now we have a definitive (if somewhat weird) source. It also states that Mr. Ankli created the holiday for his brother, Ray, whose birthday is May 19. The purpose of the day has nothing to do with sunshine and nature, but rather it’s a day for folks named Ray (or ‘Rae’ – it’s a versatile holiday) to tell people to call them “Ray”. That’s it.

We celebrated this day honestly. Everyone in our home named Ray told numerous people to call them “Ray”. That’s zero people. Zero people in our home named Ray. Happy birthday, Ray.

National Devil’s Food Cake Day

Now we’re talking. A day of non-celebrations gets followed by cake. This is why we still love this project. So what makes a devil’s food cake different from a plain ol’ chocolate cake? It’s… more chocolate-y. Usually. There’s no strict rule for this. So it’s a bit of a vague celebration.

Some folks use a bit more baking soda in order to raise the pH level and achieve a darker hue. That’s all a bit more science that I’d planned on doing yesterday. We added some extra chocolate to a chocolate cake mix – there was no from-scratch goings-on; we still have day jobs. But it was a delicious dessert, and left us once again set for desserts all the way until our next dessert-themed celebration, which is tomorrow.

The angel food cake gained a reputation in the late 19th century as being a decadent, delicious fluff of sugary air, topped with strawberries and/or a sweet glaze. The earliest published recipe for its downstairs counterpart shows up in 1905, and it’s clearly someone aiming to make a much darker, but not torte-darker cake, while having fun with the name. As a chocolate fan I enjoyed yesterday’s cake, but I think I prefer the lighter, brighter version. As luck would have it, angel food gets its own day on October 10. This is also Cake Decorating Day, so clearly the more impressive potential of the angel food is on display here.

Until then, I’ll be quietly devouring this one all week. As you can see above, prior to Jodie applying the frosting, Satan himself sent a cavernous rupture from the bowels of hell, right up through our cake. Devil’s food indeed.

Mental Health Month

If ever we have ventured into celebrating this particular month it was yesterday and Monday, as we took a much-welcomed downturn to this project to focus on literally anything else. But more importantly I made a rather significant discovery about myself this month, and that ties in well with this celebration.

I have been working from my home office, remotely connecting to my work PC since March 23. I find I can perform roughly 95% of my duties from home, and that includes pretending to care during lengthy, dull meetings that could have been summarized in a quick email. I also find I am significantly more productive from home. Perhaps that’s a self-fulfilling achievement, as I strive to work extra-hard in order to demonstrate to my bosses that they should keep me here.

And wow, should they keep me here. I have a bright, sun-splashed window beside me. I have a bathroom of my own to use, rather than a stall shared potentially by the grimy ass-cheeks of the general public. And when I need a dog break (which occurs every hour at least), I’ve got dogs. Perhaps the most significant gain is time: I wake up at 8:00 to start work at 8:10, thus gaining two hours of sleep. I’m at home at 4:30 when I clock out, earning me back the 90 minute commute at the end of an in-office day. That’s three and a half more hours of life I get to experience every single workday. Recent blips aside, my mental health has never been stronger.

Everyone’s mental health got tossed about in the salad spinner of 2020, and I know for most folks it has been a rough ride. We count ourselves as deeply fortunate to have been able to continue with this madness throughout a very dark and weird year. I believe it has helped to keep us afloat, if only by keeping me productive. I hope you all take a moment this month and evaluate what’s feeding your mental health and what’s poisoning it. 2020 can still be saved.

National Pet Month

Have we mentioned our pets?

They get a mention nearly every day, I know. But dammit, they work hard and they deserve the recognition. Sure, Rosa may be fully grown and would still piss in the house rather than ask to go outside. And sure, Liberty may have snagged an uncooked steak off the counter last weekend and devoured it, thus granting us the privilege of cleaning up her vomit an hour or so later. And yeah, Trixie still snarls and kvetches about Liberty, but maybe Trixie simply knows the value of a dollar (and that steaks aren’t cheap).

But this is a month to celebrate all pets. Cats can be excellent companions. Some people prefer the hypnotic silence of a fish tank. A friend of mine growing up had a bird as a pet – this made for very anxious visits whenever that bird was out of its cage. I’ve seen cool pet lizards, hamsters, gerbils, even rats. I guess even a snake or spider can make a pet, but at that point maybe you just need to go out and meet a few interesting people. Also, don’t be that guy who brings his ferret to the mall. No one wants to hang out with that guy.

So if you’ve been dangling in an indefinite maybe over whether or not to invest in a pet, maybe this is the month to do it. Just be sure that you’re ready for the commitment when they aren’t cute and tiny, or when the novelty has worn off. And don’t get a pig or a monkey that’s going to grow out of being a house pet. Use some common sense. Adopt if you can. If you’ve got the love and patience (and red meat) to spare, get yourself a pet.

Today things get rolling once more with a quirky mix of celebrations:

  • National Be A Millionaire Day. I wish we could do this for a day. Hell, we can try: today we buy a lottery ticket, and try to become one.
  • National Pick Strawberries Day. Nowhere around here to do that, but we’ll pay tribute to National Strawberry month by picking some out of our fridge, and eating them.
  • National Quiche Lorraine Day. I despise quiche. Today I will try to expunge this ghosts from my closet.
  • World Meteorology Day. Nothing like talking about the weather to make for an interesting article.
  • National Juice Slush Day. This sounds intriguing.
  • Eliza Doolittle Day. I suppose we can address this with meteorology, provided the rain in Spain still falls roughly in the same spot.
  • Flower Day. Peace and love.
  • World Bee Day. Praise be to bees.
  • Weights and Measures Day. A day to celebrate every gram, cubit and fathom.
  • Turn Beauty Inside Out Day. A day to celebrate inner beauty. Maybe we’ll talk about our dogs some more.

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