Thursday, May 21, 2020

While the spectrum of human celebrations continues to swish and swirl its miasma of colours around our kneecaps we find ourselves drawn in every direction to every variant of prescribed revelry. The religious themes fascinate us, the government-scripted days bore us (but often allow us time off from work), but most intriguing are the bizarre craftings of the human mind, intent on baffling us by paying tribute to the most curious of offerings. For example:

National Be A Millionaire Day

How does one celebrate this day (of no known origin) if one is not a millionaire? Let’s look at some of the “helpful” suggestions we found online:

  1. Start a savings account. Well, we already have a savings account. It’s the one without any money in it.
  2. Review your financial portfolio. I’m pretty convinced my investment back in 1991 in those US Gulf War Trading Cards is going to pay off soon, so we’re good here.
  3. Review your investments. These Blockbuster Video shares are going to be worth a mint as soon as they’re classified as antiques. That happens, right?
  4. Add to your 401k. I don’t have a 401k. I have a pension, but our current provincial government is taking care of that for me, mainly by dumping it into an investment that just lost $2.1 billion. So I’m A-OK.
  5. Pay off your credit card. I don’t have one anymore because I used it too often. Done!
  6. Review your spending habits. I have a habit of spending way too much on these celebrations.

This celebration is best honoured by imagining what it would be like to be a millionaire, according to one flimsy source. What’s the point of doing that? We took a much more proactive approach: we bought a lottery ticket. We hardly ever do this, but if the universe is guiding our hand this year, maybe this is the one day when doing so will result in a win. Could the stars all be lining up for such a display of karmic gratitude for injecting so much positivity and joy into this otherwise bleak and twisted year? Let me just check to see if we won…

…well, we aren’t millionaires but technically we didn’t lose. Two numbers means a free play, so we’ll try again on Saturday. The voyage continues.

National Pick Strawberries Day / National Strawberry Month

Strawberries, according to the world wide web device, start coming into season in May and June in Canada. I’d be willing to bet a hearty bushel that any growing around the Edmonton area are still sprouting their tasty, bulbous selves from their stems. Even the leaves on our trees have yet to squeeze their way to their full potential, so I highly doubt picking strawberries at one of the farms around the city would be possible.

We also have to account for the reality that strawberry farmers probably aren’t eager to welcome strangers onto their property to man-handle their product, given current viral circumstances. I’d add to that wager the likelihood that even if the berries were in full bloom and the farmers willing to wave us past the gates that they would only be willing to do so during normal daytime hours. Given that I’m at work until 4:30 I doubt I’d even make it.

So this is a lengthily-winded way of saying we couldn’t quite participate in this celebration to its full potential. Once again, the realities of 2020 are stacked against us. But fear not! We purchased some strawberries from the grocery store this past weekend, and yesterday we “picked” strawberries from that package. Not simply as an exercise in blind calendar obedience (though yeah, mostly that), but those berries we chose will be utilized in our tasty dessert of strawberries & cream tomorrow. Yes, for National Strawberries & Cream Day. Everything ties together eventually.

National Quiche Lorraine Day

I celebrated this the only way I possibly could: I did not eat quiche. I loathe quiche. If I were told that my final meal before execution would be quiche I’d hang myself in my cell. If quiche were a bodily function, it would be an embarrassing shart just before a job interview. If quiche were a movie it would be the Wayans Brothers’ White Chicks. Yes, I despise it that much.

My mother (hi, Mom!) is no doubt reading this whilst shaking her head slowly in disappointment. She used to make quiche as a regular entrée when I was growing up, but due to my father’s insistence on the bland and uninteresting she made it with no bacon, or really anything besides egg and cheese. The result was a single flavour, consistent from bite one to bite final, with no deviation. And there was never a side dish served with quiche, so it was just that. Just whipped-up eggs and cheese atop a pie crust. A single statement on loop.

Quiche Lorraine is named after the Lorraine region in northwest France, apparently where Joan of Arc was from. This does not make me wish to visit the area, though I’m sure it’s delightful and charming, much like the rest of France. But if this is their signature dish, I’ll just scoot right over Lorraine into Germany and down me some bratwurst.

My mom threatened to bring a quiche over yesterday, but thankfully she did not. Now if she brings one by it can go straight into the trash. Where it belongs. Fuck quiche.

World Meteorology Day

Apparently this day takes place either on March 23 or on May 20, depending on which site you believe. Given that we didn’t write about it on March 23, I suppose we are stuck with it now. I say “stuck with” because this is the third or fourth weather-related day this year, and we’re running out of ways to celebrate it. Again, the plan had been to meet up with one of our local TV weatherpeople, but that was derailed first by illness and then by quarantine. That latter excuse is still preventing us from doing this.

Last time we had a weather-related day we examined a few ways we can predict the weather in some amateur fashion. I have kept those little clues in mind, but our weather this year has been mostly undramatic – some warmer days, some cooler days, a tiny bit of rain. It’s so dull people aren’t even talking about the weather in small-talk anymore. Of course, that might be because we’re all living in bubbles that keep us isolated from small-talk now. Come to think of it, that could be the greatest side-effect of this virus. The death of idle space-filling chatter.

World Meteorology Day is defined as May 20 by worldmeteorologyday.org, so if there’s a more official source than that I don’t want to hear it. Screw that March 23 crap. I got online in a meeting yesterday and made sure I brought up the weather with my co-workers just this once. 18 different nations also put up webinars and virtual content for the day – not Canada, but I checked out the stuff from the US. Turns out I’d tuned into a webinar all about instrument calibration. It was riveting right up until it became astoundingly boring. But hey, I put in the effort. As it is, World Meteorology Day (the May one) is mostly about celebrating this next thing anyway:

Weights and Measures Day

On this date (well, on yesterday’s date, but I’m sure you’ve caught on to how this works by now) the world came together and agreed upon a specific set of weights and measures that everyone would use. This was also when the International Bureau of Weights and Measures was established. For anyone in the scientific field – or really any field – this was a huge deal.

The treaty document signed on that May 20 way back in 1875 was known as the Metre Convention. Keep in mind how messed up things used to be. A ‘foot’ was a unit of measure defined by the length of the king’s foot. An ‘acre’ was the amount of land a peasant could plow in a day. The metric system had just begun to ravage and confuse the world by proposing a measurement system steeped in logic and simple math. Someone needed to step in and make some sense of it all.

1875 was all about establishing the metre and kilogram. They actually came up with a physical representation of both, and built prototypes from those to spread around to all 59 member states to use as their standard. The metre standard stuck until 1960, when it was redefined as “the length of the path travelled by light in a vacuum during a time interval of 1/299 792 458 of a second”. Naturally, this was what we all learned in school. Right?

In addition to securing these measurements, the 1875 conference set up the International Bureau, which then proceeded to meet on a regular basis to expand the official designation of other measurements, and presumably to have fake sword fights with the prototype metre sticks, because why wouldn’t you? Happy Weights & Measures Day; hug your tape measure tonight and whisper sweet things to it.

World Bee Day

A big ol’ thanks to the United Nations for recognizing the importance of bees to our planet, and for designating this day as a reminder not to swat the little things. Save your wrath for the wasps and the murder hornets; the bees are just out there, struggling to improve this chunk of rock for everyone. Something like 90% of all flowers on the planet depend on bees. More than 75% of the food crops grown depend on bees. So when scientists tell us that bees are vanishing we should be worried.

Whether or not you believe in climate change (and if you don’t… come on), bee species are going extinct at a rate up to 1,000 higher than normal, all thanks to humans mucking up the joint. We are literally going to lose a bunch of fruit, nut and vegetable crops on a global scale if we don’t protect those little flying bugs. So, apart from donating some money to a cause (which is always suggested), what can we do?

We have friends who keep bees, and we’d keep a bunch ourselves if it wasn’t for the fact that our dogs would likely find a way to cause some sort of disaster to the colony. But running your own backyard bee operation is not a big deal, and it will definitely help the situation. Plant a diverse selection of plants that will flower at various times of the year, thus feeding bees over a longer stretch. Not really doable here in the tundra, but elsewhere that might work. Avoid using pesticides and herbicides. Don’t scowl at those dandelions in your yard; learn to live with them. Make a “bee water fountain” by leaving a bowl of water outside. Up here that would just attract mosquitoes, but hey, it’s an easy thing to try. Also, look into where you get your produce and where you get your honey – make sure you’re acquiring this stuff from sustainable producers.

We need those bees, lest we feel the sting of our own comeuppance. Feel free to put that on a shirt or a bumper sticker.

Eliza Doolittle Day

“One evening the king will say, ‘Oh, Liza, old thing – I want all of England your praises to sing. Next week on the twentieth of May, I proclaim Liza Doolittle Day.”

That’s a line from Act 1 of My Fair Lady, as I’m sure you are aware. That little lyric forms the basis of this day, which is not celebrated in any official capacity by anyone on the planet, except the true Eliza-heads, who are no doubt watching the Audrey Hepburn film today and singing along to every word. We did not do that. I did listen to some rockin’ “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” from the original Broadway soundtrack album though, and Julie Andrews never fails to delight.

I have never seen this musical performed on stage, but I enjoyed the hell out of the movie. And the story takes on a little extra significance in this weird age, as the effort to dumb down society seem to have become a movement of its own. With so many racing to the bottom, boasting about their lack of critical thinking, proper speaking and class online, it’s good to remember there was a time when speaking above one’s station and attempting to refine oneself was a noble pursuit. Well, at least we’ve still got the musical.

Turn Beauty Inside Out Day

This is a day to celebrate inner beauty, and to recognize that all of those images which bombard us with a standard of beauty almost none of us can attain, they’re all crap. If you’re dark and rotten inside, you’re just dark and rotten. No amount of beauty products are going to cover that up. Some may suggest we are more in tune with this notion because Jodie is a teacher, and more sensitive to the realities behind how kids react to these beauty expectations. Others may look at our dogs and say we are aware of this because bulldogs are ugly. Of course anyone who would say that are exactly what I meant by “dark and rotten inside.” I mean, just look at those dogs. They’re beautiful inside and out.

Jodie is certainly confronted with her kids’ obsessive concerns over their beauty on a regular basis, and she occasionally mourns the fact that she can never get Botox for her wrinkles because that would upset those kids who see her as an example of embracing one’s natural beauty. Such is the sacrifice required if you’re going to be the teacher that kids actually like and respect.

We honoured this day by contemplating the standards of beauty that helped to form us. Jodie grew up in the image-heavy 80s, and she put herself through an eating disorder to achieve the look she wanted. I grew up in the grunge era, which was admittedly much simpler. But present-day Marty looks back on those dark days when he’d have to wear pants that weren’t sweatpants and shudders. The horror!

Another fun-filled Thursday awaits us, with all this to dive into:

  • National Waitstaff Day. Love to all the waiters, waitresses, and accompanying workers who aren’t going to get enough hugs this year for all the work they do.
  • National Strawberries & Cream Day. We picked ‘em, now we’re going to eat ‘em.
  • National Memo Day. My coworkers can anticipate a memo, provided I can think of anything to say.
  • I Need A Patch For That Day. A day devoted to checking one’s software and drivers, and making sure everything is up to date. Not a bad idea for a celebration, actually.
  • Hummus Day. This is a glitch, as we just celebrated Hummus on the 13th. But we’ve got some left over, so why not?
  • National Apéritif Day. Some booze before dinner. I can get behind that.
  • National Notebook Day. A day for all the notebook fiends out there – we’ve got some old ones we might look through.

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