Sunday, May 31, 2020

Yesterday many folks celebrated their first return to a restaurant, to a hair salon or maybe to a retail establishment in months. Our most sacred celebration came with a return to our optimal summer serenity: Jodie’s lounge chair and my hammock, basting beneath an assertive sun. And we’ve been waiting a lot longer than two months for this; I believe I snagged only three visits to my hammock last year, as the majority of the paltry number of pleasant days seemed to land on a weekday. This year that won’t matter. I’ll devote my lunch hours to the sun if I need to. With a little luck, we shan’t want for warmth and summer this year. And no matter what the weather serves up, we’ll still have this stuff to deal with:

National Creativity Day

This day was created by ScreenwritingU, a company which delivers online courses on how to write a screenplay. The point is to encourage folks to poke and prod their creative side regularly until something spews out. It’s a great idea, though this year we are constantly in a state of oozing creativity. So how could we stretch our brains in new ways?

My hope was that we could take part in some sort of creative exercise that is outside our comfort zone. Fortunately, because we’d been putting off National Paper Airplane Day since Tuesday, we got to dabble in a bit of aerodynamic origami. We also added a bit of artistic colorful flair since drawing is most certainly outside the skill set of both of us. Jodie opted for colourful flourishes while I recreated the plane from 1980’s Airplane! instead. It looks like a big Tylenol!

We could have danced. We could have jammed with some of the instruments we have laying about the house which we cannot play. We could have tried to sing the harmonies of “Helplessly Hoping” by Crosby Stills & Nash but we’d have failed miserably and probably annoyed the hell out of our dogs. We could have sculpted, but the only material we have here we could sculpt with is potatoes, and we’d have to boil and mash them first. That seems like a lot of wasted tubers when we could just pick up a marker and draw.

So we stretched our creative muscles a little yesterday. That’s a good thing for everyone to find the time for, lockdown or no lockdown.

National Water a Flower Day

This is at least the fourth or fifth gardening-related day this year, which makes sense given the season. But this one doesn’t even feature nudity (World Naked Gardening Day flew past us on May 2), so right away it’s less fun.

We aren’t doing a lot of gardening, but we do have a few plants milling about, puffing out oxygen and generally photosynthesizing like a boss. I tried to insist to Jodie that this day – which has no verifiable origin from what my research could tell – was about watering only a single flower. It’s not National Water the Flowers Day, is it? Still, she insisted on watering all of our plants. I helped out by practicing some mime for the plants, still tapping into the National Creativity Day spirit. I think they appreciated the gesture.

It’s important not to over-water your flower (or “flowers” if you prefer). This is what I’ve been told, and given that I can’t even keep a pot plant alive for more than a month I’ll simply believe what I’m told and not question it. Of course, had we waited a day nature would have supplied plenty of sky-originated water for our modest crop, but where’s the fun in that?

This was a weird day with a weird name. I’m looking forward to Hug One of Your Children Day.

National Paper Airplane Day

We missed this one by a few days, but dammit we weren’t going to let it pass us by. A couple years back we attended a Vancouver performance by Ben Folds in which fans were encouraged to scribble their song requests on a paper airplane, then launch that airplane onto the stage in hopes Mr. Folds would pick up their crashed craft and plunk out their desired tune. That was our last attempt at crafting a paper airplane. It’s a skill that comes up surprisingly infrequently in adult life.

But that all changed yesterday. We thought it would be fun to indulge in a competition of sorts, to see who could pilot the most formidable paper-based vehicle of flight. I won’t boast about my victory so much as say that we each put in a solid effort, and neither my wife nor I will be fielding any scouting calls from Boeing anytime soon.

Paper became widely produced in China around 500BC, and origami became fashionable not long afterward. It’s not unreasonable to suspect that folks had some fun with aerodynamics around this time too, though clearly nothing they built sparked any inspiration for human-sized aircraft. The folks who eventually devoted their careers to pioneering flight and figuring out the physics regularly attributed their passion to the building of paper crafts.

When it comes to fabricating a model plane, you might think using balsa wood would make for a more realistic simulation of real-life physics, and in some ways (in particular where drag and the aerodynamics of wings are concerned) you’d be right. But paper has a higher strength-to-thickness ratio, so a card-stock plane will be a better equivalent to how steel would perform on an actual plane. So these things aren’t just for killing time in class or requesting favourite songs anymore.

National Hole In My Bucket Day

For some reason, and I could not locate an origin story for this thing anywhere, someone decided that one of the most inane children’s songs in the history of melodies deserved its own special day. Fuck.

I’m not a fan of most children’s songs, and I wasn’t back then either. That one about the dog named Bingo doesn’t go anywhere. Old McDonald has a bunch of animals – there, I saved you from listening to the same melody on repeat for five minutes. The one about rowing your boat isn’t bad, and with enough people singing it as a round it can turn into a nonsensical spew of overlapping musical psychedelia, and that’s great. Plus it draws from the same theme as Christopher Cross’s “Sailing”, a song which I quite enjoyed as a child.

This silly tune is about a guy named Henry who has a leaky bucket and can’t figure out how to fix it on his own. Read a book, Henry. Jesus. So the guy asks this clueless Liza person, and she ends up telling him through a lengthy run-on explanation that he needs a working bucket in order to fix his defective bucket. At no time does she offer her own bucket to help out – no, we just get this simplistic melody and a meandering solution. Thanks for nothing, Liza.

The roots of this song trace back to Germany in the 1700s, which is pretty impressive. Not a lot of songs from that era have oozed forward through generations. Do kids still sing this tune? Does anyone actually like this tune? And is it just me, or is Christopher Cross’s “Sailing” not the greatest song of the Yacht Rock era?

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Loomis Day

Mahlon Loomis was probably a blast to hang out with. The guy spouted off crazy pseudo-scientific ideas that probably earned him many an eye-roll by his contemporaries, then when it came time to put them to the test, he nailed it. I mean, he didn’t really prove anything, but he sure as hell changed the world.

Loomis was a dentist who bounced around with his family, practicing all over the place. He patented a set of porcelain dentures in 1857, and his fellow dentists derided him as unprofessional. He then took out an ad in the local papers defending his patent, slamming his fellow dentists, and offering $500 to anyone who could “produce a similar work of art to equal in purity, beauty, durability or artistic excellence” as his artificial teeth. The guy had chutzpah. He also invented a style of teeth that ultimately wasn’t ideal due to issues with the material, but hey – Loomis wasn’t afraid to put his balls on the line to defend his work.

Then he started thinking about how to harness the electricity in the air. He was on board with the relatively recent assertion that there were multiple layers of atmosphere above us, but he felt he could use that to bring electricity down to earth, or to transmit wireless communication around the world.

Crazy, right? Except he proved himself right. He demonstrated to a group of scientists and Congressmen a successful wireless communication between two stations on two hilltops 14 miles apart. In fact, it’s believed that he may have inadvertently sent out the world’s first radio signals, though they weren’t known as such. Mahlon Loomis was a dreamer who put his life behind his dreams and pushed to create. I don’t know why his Day falls on May 30, as the date doesn’t line up with his birth, death, or any of his major experiments. But it lands on National Creativity Day this year, and I think that’s entirely appropriate. Creativity can do incredible things.

Are we actually finishing off our fifth month of this weirdness? Looks that way. Here’s what’s up today:

  • National Save Your Hearing Day. I guess we crank the music back down from 11 today.
  • National Speak in Complete Sentences Day. Yeah. Sure – cool.
  • National Utah Day. The food I found for this one looks gross. But we’re not above dipping into the gross.
  • National Macaroon Day. More yummy dessertness.
  • National Smile Day. We will smile at each other and our dogs a lot. I’ll also probably put on the Brian Wilson Smile album because it’s goddamn brilliant.
  • National Autonomous Vehicle Day. We were actually going to try to ride in one of these, then the damn COVID happened.

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