Friday, May 22, 2020

Beneath a blanket of thick, boisterous raindrops yesterday crawled along in familiar fashion. The single most baffling twist to these days is just how similar they are to one another. The only flavour to make a Thursday stand out from three Mondays ago is the sprinkling dashed atop it thanks to this little project. The comical online references to Groundhog Day have given way to a sort of pleading desperation for things to be shaken up, which may lead to tragic results should folks embed themselves in crowds too quickly. But not for us. There is no desperation, for we have this:

National Strawberries & Cream Day

Strawberries and cream (be it whipped or au naturel) is an excellent source of folic acid and potassium, which may be why it’s so praise-worthy. More likely it’s just the decadent flavour combination. We opted not to whip our cream but rather to follow this recipe, and simply enjoy the natural taste of strawberries soaking in cream. With sugar, because no one wants to gamble with potentially tart strawberries.

On Wednesday we’d “picked” strawberries from the batch we bought last weekend, but in actual fact we simply used the rest of our strawberries. In hindsight, maybe saving some to plop onto our devil’s food cake might have been a plan. We still have an entire cake, minus a couple of pieces, sitting in our kitchen, staring us down from the counter as though daring us to devour it all. But it will have to wait – the strawberries & cream treat is just day one of three straight days with dessert celebrations.

When people ask us how we manage to do all of these celebrations, I simply point them to strings of days like this, when delicious desserts are on the menu. Perhaps the better question is how can anyone not indulge in all this?

National Waitstaff Day

While a few restaurants have opened their doors to space out a small batch of customers, we have opted not to become the Phase 1 guinea pigs. If our town is going to see an uptick in infections due to the partial reopening of businesses, we have no reason to become part of the statistics. We’re comfy at home, and we’re comfy doing take-out and delivery until things level off to normal once more. That said, it was a joy to see one of our two favourite waiters from Da-De-O and our favourite waitress from The Next Act are still handing out the to-go orders and thus receiving a paycheque.

It’s been said that watching how someone treats the waitstaff is a good indicator of what kind of person they are. I think that’s fair. If you’re dismissive and snippy with your waiter or waitress, you probably view them as beneath your station. If you crack jokes with them, as my grandfather used to do, you probably see yourself as an entertaining person. If you scream at them for getting an inadequate number of fries with your olive sandwich then you’re dangerous and unstable, and shouldn’t be out in public.

Anyone who has worked in a restaurant should know to treat the waitstaff well. It’s not an easy job, and you have to deal with the most selfish and dehumanizing schmucks on the planet. From the women I’ve spoken to – and as a former waitress, my wife can confirm this – being a waitress is considerably more difficult than being a waiter. As a woman you have to navigate blatant sexism, including possible advances and groping, with an attitude that won’t cause a stir and prompt the creep to complain. Restaurant owners and managers are much more aware of this stuff now than they were even 20 years ago, but that doesn’t mean the creeps have stopped creepin’.

When the time comes when we can all venture back to bars and restaurants, don’t forget that most waitstaff struggles to earn a living wage, and they deserve your respect. And your tip. If you tip less than 15% for decent service, change your ways. 20% is a solid standard, and you should be willing to bump that up if the service is stellar.

For now we’ll continue to admire these folks from afar. Thanks for the great work y’all do.

National Memo Day

If you guessed that National Memo Day was the creation of an adult-contemporary radio station in Denver back in 1989, then either you are extremely well-versed on holiday history or else you’ve been reading ahead. It seems that, in between gentle hits by Michael Bolton and Luther Vandross, KMJI Majic Radio 100 thought it would be a good idea to pay tribute to the mountain of memos circulating in office environments. I guess someone was listening, as here we are, some 31 years later, carrying on the tradition.

Jodie receives an official memo every morning from her principal, advising staff of the plan for that day, and how they will work together to try to somehow impart knowledge to their students in this weird learning environment. She finds those memos to be very helpful, not just in disseminating info but in connecting her to the workplace and some sense of normalcy in the midst of all this.

I don’t get memos. I get emails which act as memos, but they aren’t actually labeled as such. But given that a memo is defined as a document recording notes or observations, I suppose I get a bunch of them every day. Back in 1989, when the morning drive-time jocks put a pause on playing “Silhouette” by Kenny G for the ninth time to establish this holiday, memos were written or typed on little slips of paper. So the notion of them ‘piling up’ on a desk was a very literal situation.

Yesterday I celebrated National Memo Day by sending out a memo to my entire staff. I didn’t really have anything to say, except to let them all know it was National Memo Day. There were no complaints; with most folks working from home, a moderately uninteresting email memo such as this was likely not much more than a quick click on the Delete button. But my mission was accomplished.

I Need A Patch For That Day

I have no idea from whence this celebration comes, and the only site I can find detailing its purpose rattles off a list of what ‘patches’ can mean. Do you need one for your tire? For your ripped pants? For your software? For quitting smoking? For a bunch of pumpkins you’d like to grow? For a lost eye or a pirate costume? For the elbows of your sweater so you look more professor-ish? All of the above? You’re really too busy if it’s all of the above. Maybe take it down a few notches.

I took this to mean updating software patches, because none of the other ones really make sense to schedule into a specific day. Ripped pants or a busted tire require patch fixes right away, but how often do we check our drivers or our software to see if they need an upgrade? Actually, most of us use Windows Update or the specific software itself to do that automatically, which pushes this day slightly into the obsolete column. But I did a check anyway, because obeying blindly this bustling calendar of events is my lot in 2020.

It turns out, Windows Update was not doing its job. An update was sitting in the queue, waiting to download. Waiting for what? Who knows? Possibly for this particular celebration to prompt me to check and see if there’s anything waiting to download. My drivers and other software were all humming along as they should, so Windows is the culprit who really dropped the ball on this one. Well, that was a successful, if somewhat unexciting celebration.

National Hummus Day

According to the Sabra Dipping Company, makers of fine hummus (including the stuff we bought just last week), National Hummus Day takes place on the third Thursday of May, which landed squarely on yesterday’s little calendar square.

“But wait,” my astute readers will no doubt say, probably out loud to their computer, phone or tablet screens as though expecting me to reply, “we just did National Hummus Day last week on May 13. What gives, asshole?”

First of all, there’s no need for that kind of language. Second, the “official” website (www.hummusday.com for you curious folks) states the day falls on the 13th. They featured a live hummus-making Instagram broadcast, a number of tie-ins with hummus makers and restaurants around the globe, and they were featured on Ellen. So that one wins, I suppose.

But wait – that one was International Hummus Day. This one is more localized. Sounds good – we don’t wish to offend the good people at Sabra any more than we wish to allow our leftover hummus (which we still haven’t gotten to) go to waste. So yesterday we celebrated our second Hummus Day in May.

The stuff was still delicious. We regret nothing.

National Apéritif Day

An apéritif is quite simply an alcoholic beverage consumed prior to a meal in order to stimulate one’s appetite. It’s totally not just an excuse for alcoholics to consume more booze before sitting down to dinner. Nope. Not that.

I’m going to quote 5th century Christian ascetic and all-around interesting guy Diadochos of Photiki: “People who wish to discipline the sexual organs should avoid drinking those artificial concoctions which are called ‘aperitifs’ – presumably because they open a way to the stomach for the vast meal which is to follow.” So don’t be drinking before dinner or you’ll eat so much you won’t be able to screw? I guess that’s one theory. We here at Celebrate366 Industries have no intention of disciplining our sexual organs. So a drinkin’ we shall go.

But what to slurp back? There is no prescribed beverage that serves as an aperitif, only the assumption that it should be a relatively low-alcohol beverage. Some use wine, though sparkling wine is not recommended. Ouzo works in Greece. In Italy you might get some Campari or vermouth. In Britain sherry is a popular choice. In France they often use a simple glass of red wine. That fit the bill yesterday, and the pre-meal drink was much enjoyed. In fact, I may make this a tradition. A healthy, tempered, no-intervention-needed sort of tradition.

National Notebook Day

Some people are crazy-passionate about their notebooks. I used to be one of those people, scribbling ideas for song lyrics, for stories, and for enemies to smite in a coil notebook which I brought with me everywhere. I wrote at coffee shops, believing I was channeling some sort of magical elixir of inspiration from a blend of caffeine and staring into space like an idiot. At one point, when I was working a good 60-minute bus commute from home, I scribbled out an idea for an elaborate Die Hard-like film within our local giant shopping mall. Until the point where my chronic arm pain rendered freehand writing too painful to pursue, it was a brilliant escape.

Jodie still uses a notebook regularly to write down everything from casting ideas for her musical to sketched-out set concepts to budget calculations. The notebook has become a prestige item and a popular gift idea. The leather-bound and/or artistically-embellished notebook is a blank canvas for ideas. It’s a personal document that chronicles the artistic process, and can be hidden away from view until something truly remarkable and publish-worthy has emerged. It’s an artist’s brain, and a writer’s idea-bath.

The official website for this day, www.nationalnotebookday.com (of course) has a contest going on with their partners for a grand prize of $500 worth of stationary and notebooks. It’s a terrific prize package that… oh shit, open only to US residents. Well, we’ll celebrate the day then, not this exclusionary site.

I had a look through a couple of my old embarrassingly gibberish-heavy notebooks from back in the day, but Jodie wins the prize for celebrating this day in the most genuine way – by writing in her notebooks (pictured above). Was she writing down some elaborate plot against me? Possibly; I’d never betray her trust by snooping. The notebook is sacred. One must respect and honour the notebook.

Today we find a few more items that may or may not get our full attention:

  • National Craft Distillery Day. We were going to take a tour of a local craft distillery today, but of course we cannot. Instead we’ll simply be picking up some of their product – and alas we’ll be waiting until payday next week to celebrate this one.
  • World Paloma Day. A beverage featuring tequila and grapefruit juice. This one will not wait.
  • National Solitaire Day. A fun distraction. I’m sure we can pencil this in.
  • National Vanilla Pudding Day. Yay! I mean, not really, but sure, we’ll have some.
  • National Don’t Fry Day. I guess our food is supposed to remain un-fried. That’s doable.
  • National Road Trip Day. We’re not leaving town (though if we were in the US and beginning our long weekend… in any other year… we might), but a road trip is a road trip, wherever you go.
  • National Cooler Day. We’ve got these gin coolers that neither of us are particularly fond of. I suppose we’ll drink some of those.
  • World Goth Day. I was going to get all done up by our goth-friendly friend, but it doesn’t look like this will happen. We’ll celebrate the lifestyle though.
  • Canadian Immigrants Day. A shout-out to some of our favourite newbie-Canucks.
  • National Death Busters Day. This sounds more bad-ass than it is. It’s just a day to remind everyone not to drink and drive.
  • National Buy a Musical Instrument Day. That’s weirdly specific.
  • Sherlock Holmes Day. It’s Artie Conan Doyle’s birthday, so we’ll bust out some love for the world’s greatest detective.

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