Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Please note that the below article was written for publication yesterday, on June 2. Because we stand in solidarity with those who are being systemically persecuted in the country immediately to our south we respected the #blackoutTuesday request not to post our usual stuff. This is not an ideal time for celebration. We will soldier on – please stay safe out there, fellow mirth-makers.

This is far from the first day I’ve sat down at my computer and faced the daunting task of summing up a day that is overflowing with potential celebrations. Finding the motivation to propel my voice outward was not easy yesterday; I awoke feeling worn down, already defeated. During quarantine there was an optimism that we might all emerge from our cocoons and craft a better normal, the one toward which we have been inching ever-so-slightly for all my life. In the last few days that hope has fluttered from my heart like a drunken and discouraged moth. This presents a tremendous difficulty in facing a project so rich from the stench of positivity even the flatulence of our dogs couldn’t overpower it. So either this day’s writing gets dragged down by my withering spirit, or I raise myself up to confront all this head on like I’m supposed to:

National Go Barefoot Day

Sure, we could have celebrated this day by not wearing socks – and we totally did, since taking these things literally has worked out well for us so far – but there is a greater resonance to this little snippet of mirth. This day was created by Soles4Souls, a non-profit that collects gently-used footwear (or money for purchasing footwear) to benefit people in need. This began after the 2004 tsunami, and they’ve collected millions of pairs of shoes so far.

I’m almost 100% positive we have mentioned this organization for a previous celebration, but I can’t find it, nor do I feel like doing extensive research into this. A charity this important deserves multiple mentions throughout the year; shoes are items that often get overlooked when people are donating stuff, and even when they don’t it can still be tricky to match folks in need to the footwear that will fit them. Donate if you can.

As for taking this celebration literally, it wasn’t easy. On the most glorious of days in this part of the world wearing no socks is a welcome treat. Yesterday was adequate, but the breeze blowing through our house icicle-ized our tootsies in ridiculously short order. We decided to allow slippers to be worn, and to wear shoes when we took Liberty to her puppy classes in the evening. Going all bohemian and being barefoot in a public place is not our groove, especially when there’s a pandemic raging. But socks were banished, and even the slippers kicked under the table for as much of the day as possible.

After all, we’re here to bring awareness to causes and to have fun, not be tortured with frozen feet.

National Olive Day

Olives are the most intensely divisive foods on the planet. I have met folks who love them in the same manic way I love chicken wings or those great new jelly beans we found this spring. I have also met others who, much like Jodie and myself, find them to be retched globs of violently offensive squishiness. I have yet to meet anyone who lands in the middle, who doesn’t mind olives but doesn’t get too excited about them either.

This I find actually quite intriguing. This is a food which inspires consistent passion, to one extreme or the other, among everyone. Why do some love them and some despise them? Is it an acquired taste? Perhaps – our son, who now proclaims to love olives, also barfed them up during the eating challenge of the Survivor game we crafted for his 12th birthday.

There is no question that the olive is interwoven with human history, being a staple food of that cradle of civilization that spewed our ancestors out around the globe all those years ago. So what makes them so objectionable to some palettes, ours included? I found one article that claims olives off the tree are bitter and almost inedible until they are treated for human consumption. Often this treatment involves sodium hydroxide, also known as lye. Remember that scene in Fight Club when the protagonist poured lye on his own hand (so to speak) and it burned? Yeah, that stuff treats 99% of canned black olives.

Not that olives are lye delivery systems; the lye gets washed thoroughly off the things. But it changes the flavour and the texture. Whether or not it is the culprit in making us hate olives I can’t be sure. Nevertheless, this project isn’t about kvetching, it’s about celebrating. We hit the grocery store yesterday and procured just four olives – two green and two purple. Then we ate them.

As you can see, Jodie didn’t do too well. I stomached both and even didn’t mind one of them… but I’ll still pick them out of my Greek salads. Cheers to the olive for inspiring passion in pretty much everyone, but jeers to the olive for inspiring passionate disgust in us.

National Heimlich Maneuver Day

Smacking people hard on the back is still a legitimate way to help out a choking victim. Before Henry Heimlich showed up, it was considered the best way. Then Henry gave someone a hug from behind and changed the world. And he didn’t stop at choking victims – Henry was sure his maneuver would work for drowning victims and people suffering an asthma attack. That has been mostly discredited though, so please don’t try it.

Neither Jodie nor myself have ever had to perform the Heimlich maneuver, except in practice. If you’re not familiar with it, you should be. You should also have a chair picked out that you can use if you’re by yourself and you start to choke. Humans can Heimlich themselves with enough force to dislodge crammed foodstuffs most of the time, but doing it against the back of a chair will give you more oomph.

Henry Heimlich believes he may have saved as many as 50,000 people with this trick, which was introduced to the world in 1974. It certainly has more staying power than his later exploits into malariotherapy, the act of treating someone with cancer, Lyme disease or HIV by giving them malaria. This is a terrible idea, and has produced no known positive results. Heimlich may have peaked early. He did, however, get to use his maneuver once in a restaurant, so that must have been a treat.

To celebrate, we practiced the maneuver on each other. It’s good to know it, and hopefully we’ll never use it for real.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention, Henry Heimlich’s nephew was Anson Williams, who played Potsie on Happy Days. This doesn’t factor into his life’s work or into this celebration in any way, but goddamn, I just had to squeeze it in.

National Say Something Nice Day

Ah, another comfy dose of feel-goodery to spice up this day filled with choking and globes of olivey grotesqueness. This day is the product of positivity author Dr. Mitch Carnell, who made a decent living encouraging folks to be more positive and upbeat. Dr. Mitch sounds like he’d be a great person to sit down and chat with, especially during this weird time in history. Dr. Mitch looks like he’s still going strong too, popping out an uplifting blog entry just three days ago.

This day would be easy to rag on, to laugh at, and to dismiss as yet another generic positive “hooray for life” celebration in a year that sees these pop up a lot. But I was in the right mood for this yesterday. As I fielded weird xenophobic and racist comments from a friend of a friend on Facebook, I responded with my usual good-natured mockery, then followed it up by pointing out that this was National Say Something Nice Day, and wishing him a most pleasant afternoon. He didn’t come around or reply with anything friendly – people like that don’t want positivity messing up their plans.

But we made an effort to say as many nice things as possible yesterday. And to add to it, I’ll include the following:

When I was 20 years old, I was a weed-hungry, directionless schmuck who got lucky when his aunt begrudgingly gave him a job as a line cook in her nothing-over-5-bucks diner. I found out about the job at midnight, with a note my mom taped to my bedroom door, advising me I was expected at the restaurant at 8:00am. I considered blowing it off, as I was an expert in idiotic decisions at the time. Still am, really. But I went, and toward the end of my shift on that first day, I met the most spectacular human being I’m likely to ever meet on this spinning rock, someone who would rewrite my perception of the world and the magnificence within it. Sure, she was cold and downright jerk-ish to me on that first day. But she has made all of this <gestures at literally everything> worthwhile. That was June 1, 1995, 25 years ago. I couldn’t possibly be more grateful.

Isn’t that nice?

National Nail Polish Day

Yes, the plan was for both of us to slap on some nail polish yesterday and feel pretty. Unfortunately, and much to my surprise, Jodie does not possess a drop of the stuff. She used to get her nails done expertly by her talented sister-in-law on a regular basis, but since the lockdown she has allowed those fake nails to pop off and get tossed, and she has been sporting naked-looking hands ever since. She hasn’t applied her own nail polish in years.

So that left us learning about the stuff and not getting the opportunity to look all fancy in our digits. Such a shame.

Nail decoration goes far back in human history. It seems as soon as we were able to figure out the basics of building a society, we decided that people should have their fingertips decorated. The Chinese have been practicing this for 5000 years. They used beeswax, egg whites, gelatin and vegetable dyes to get the colours they were after, which were traditionally either gold and silver or red and black. Over in Egypt the lower classes would slap pale colours on their fingers while the elites used henna to create a reddish-brown hue. We didn’t get the stuff we know now until about the 1920s.

Nail polish is not a female-only endeavour, nor has it ever been. Those early societies, the Chinese and the Egyptians, featured nail colourings on men and women. It’s believed in Babylonia, the lighter your nail colour the lower class you were on the grand societal hierarchy. In modern times you can look to David Bowie, Lou Reed, Kurt Cobain, Keith Richards, Brad Pitt, Steven Tyler and Penn Jillette to find famous dudes who have sported various nail colours in the spotlight. I’ve never had any desire to apply any, as I remain firmly committed to doing the absolute minimum to present my outward self to the world.

And, it seems, I don’t really have any choice unless we go shopping for some.

National Pen Pal Day

I have never had a pen pal. I’ve had people with whom I’ve corresponded and never met in person, some of whom are among my closest friends. But as a kid a pen pal always seemed so mysterious and exotic to me. It was a smaller world back then, and the idea of meeting someone from a place on the other side of the planet and exchanging knowledge sounded fascinating. But I never looked into it, and the opportunity never presented itself.

Now to meet new people we have discussion forums. We have Twitter. We have Reddit. It’s not that hard. But the old-school pen pal concept is still going strong. Penpalworld.com boasts thousands of members, and encourages people to set up their profile – much like a dating app profile but without the lies and exaggerations – and meet someone new. I decided to give it a shot.

I created a profile, and set it so that I was willing to meet men or women, aged 18 to 99. I’d be willing to get to know a centenarian, but that option wasn’t on there. That’s okay. I used the above photo, since who wouldn’t want to swap letters with a guy who has a bulldog? Certainly no one I’d want to know.

I set up my profile and even reached out to some dude named Ed from Liverpool. Why not? Maybe this will be the beginning of my next project, as I juggle pen pals from all around the globe. Just what I need – another project with a huge heap o’ work. Woohoo!

World Milk Day

We celebrated National Milk Day back on January 11, which from what I can tell was seven or eight lifetimes ago. But this is the big one – the World one. There is no Galactic Milk Day or Universe Milk Day because cows have yet to travel into space. So this is the one which should get all of our attention.

This is the 20th World Milk Day, and the theme this year is “This is the 20th World Milk Day.” Right on. The UN initiated this day to draw attention to the nutritional values of milk. There are films and workshops all over the official website, all of which have no doubt concluded by the time you’ll read this. But that’s okay, there’s really only one proper way to celebrate World Milk Day, right?

Well, maybe two. Given that I have been afflicted with lactose intolerance (no condolences or financial donations necessary, but thanks), I’ll have to pop a couple of pills before I can chug back the milk. Jodie got to drink hers pill-free, and we both reflected on how much we like milk. Her: plenty. Me: not so much. I mean, it’s alright, and milk is certainly the key ingredient in some of my favourite foods, but on its own, it’s just a cold glass of something. Perhaps that’s my insides telling my taste buds what to think, I don’t know.

Happy World Milk Day to dairyphiles everywhere.

Global Day of Parents

The UN is really piling it on today, aren’t they? First they have us drinking milk, then they have us… appreciating parents. I suppose given the crises that the UN faces around the globe on a regular basis, the appreciation for parents who stick through the hell of their surroundings and raise their kids makes sense. We would, of course, not be the people we are without our parents. And Jodie and I make sure to appreciate them as often as we can. We also try to make our kids appreciate theirs, but that’s not always an easy sell.

I can get away with dropping truth-bombs like that, because our kids don’t read these articles. Hence my original statement.

The UN proclaimed this day of parental lauding back in 2012. It lands weirdly between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, where parents are showered in hurried brunches and overpriced cards and flowers, but those are North American holidays. The UN is looking to spread this love around the world, so sure, I get it.

We spread some joy and love to our parents yesterday as a tribute. This was easy for Jodie, given that it was also her dad’s birthday so a call was inevitable. There wasn’t much else to do; my mom had already gotten her moment of adoration on Mother’s Day, and I don’t want to send her too much, lest it go to her head. But yeah, our parents are awesome. We are grateful. Thanks, UN.

Flip a Coin Day

With no origin story, and with an appearance only on a handful of sites (none of which were part of my research for this project), this seems like an arbitrary entry into the year’s calendar. Perhaps it’s something someone came up with for Invent Your Own Holiday Day, then spread it mildly around the web. Sure, that’s fine.

Of course, a coin toss is not necessarily a 50/50 proposition. A study at Stanford demonstrated that the result is actually more of a 51/49 situation, biased toward whichever side was facing up at the start of the flip.

You’ve also got to account for the coin’s weight when parts of the metal are raised. An American penny (remember the penny, fellow Canadians?) weighs a bit more on the Abe Lincoln side so you’ll wind up flipping tails a bit more often. If it’s an older coin you’ll have to also account for which side has accumulated more dirt and oils over its years in circulation.

Of course Freud really put the coin toss in its place. He’s the one who figured out that if we’re considering using a coin flip to make some grand life decision, we absolutely should. Not to follow the result blindly, but to see how that result makes us feel, which should reveal how we truly perceive this decision. That makes sense.

That was a busy day. And it could have been busier, but a few of the celebrations on our list actually fall on other days later in the year. Some of these sites are wildly inaccurate, and of course here at Celebrate366 Industries we strive for absolute accuracy whenever possible. Sort of. Here’s today’s stuff:

  • National Rotisserie Chicken Day. Lunch, or possibly dinner will unsurprisingly feature a rotisserie chicken.
  • National Rocky Road Day. This flavour of ice cream was weirdly difficult to find this weekend. But alas, we succeeded, and we got the good stuff.
  • National Leave the Office Early Day. HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! I work from home so this will be a lot different than I’d anticipated.
  • Yell “Fudge” At The Cobras In North America Day. We will do our part to prevent a cobra takeover of our country.
  • National Bubba Day. How to celebrate? Bubba Kush? Hubba Bubba? Bubba the Love Sponge? What the hell is this day about?

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