Thursday, June 4, 2020

The sun coughed boldly through our windows on this, our 156th pirouette of this perpetual-motion mirth-making machine. It was a day to regroup, re-focus, but not to relax as the drums of this sixth month continue to snap along in a Krupa-esque frenzy. Yesterday’s buffet was a quirky assortment of quisling emotions, tempered by food, fun and the usual assorted mayhem. What stench preoccupies these coordinates of our solar loop? What cosmic spray will anoint us with another clock-cycle of wisdom and understanding? And can I power through this meandering introduction and finally get to the meat of yesterday already? I think I can:

National Egg Day

Well, National Rotisserie Chicken Day was yesterday, so I guess this proves which came first. Then again, Fried Chicken Day is next month so maybe it’s all a mysterious celestial cycle.

There are so many ways we could approach this. Do we look into snake eggs, dinosaur eggs and other interesting and obscure egg things? Do we contemplate the ups and downs of caviar? Do a two-month throwback to Easter and paint some eggs? See if we can dig up the pilot episode of Mork & Mindy in which Mork traveled to Earth in an egg? Or do we just eat some damn eggs? We just ate some damn eggs.

People domesticated chickens for their eggs as far back as 10,000 years ago. But Canada can take credit for one embellishment: the egg carton. Back in 1911 there was an argument between a farmer and a hotel owner in Aldermere, British Columbia. It seems the farmer’s regular delivery of eggs to the hotel often resulted in a number of broken shells, which the hotel owner didn’t want to pay for. Joseph Coyle, a newspaper editor in nearby Smithers, solved the problem by inventing the precursor to the egg cartons we know today.

Of course, it’s not just chickens who get to see their unborn offspring sizzling in a pan. Duck and goose eggs are popular, and quail eggs often land atop steak tartare. Gull eggs are big in England, but I’ve never seen them on a menu here. Ostrich and emu eggs are considered a delicacy, but I don’t think I’ve ever wanted that much egg in one sitting. We didn’t get fancy. Our lovely friend Nicole brought over some fresh farm eggs a couple days ago so those found their way to our stovetop at lunch. Over easy and dunked by toast, the way nature and human history intended.

National Repeat Day

We were a bit hesitant about celebrating this one. What does it mean? Of course there was no origin story that I could find, so that leaves it up to that fickle and feisty mistress: interpretation.

The page I found in my research suggests saying thank you twice. Playing a song on repeat. Calling your mother twice with the same information. We considered two showers, two walks with the dogs, getting all Jacob Two-Two in this bitch. But where’s the celebration in repeating tasks and chores?

I felt one approach would be to embrace the word’s meaning as I knew it in my childhood: summer repeats. Yesterday would be a day for no new entertainment content, only watching stuff we’d seen before. This was not the most mighty and thunderous of celebrations, but it wasn’t bad. Nothing wrong with revisiting classic episodes of Community or The Simpsons.

In a more esoteric sense, we have been living some form of a repeat for the last couple of months, with our lockdown keeping us securely in place at home almost every day. But then in a more esoteric (and grim) sense, haven’t I been experiencing repeats for much of my adult life? I wake up, I go to work, I do stuff, I come home, I eat, the day ends. With a substantive budget (and no need for an actual day job) this project could have shattered the repeat cycle, as we’d have travelled the world celebrating in a more dynamic and immersive fashion. But alas, even with that boost we’d still have been locked down. These celebrations have been our only respite from repeat.

And now even they are on repeat. What a weird damn year.

National Chocolate Macaroons Day

We went over the details of the various macaroon varieties in Sunday’s roster of celebrations. However, in the spirit of National Repeat Day, here it is again:

So what is a macaroon anyway? It might be a crunchy little coconut cookie that looks a little like a mini twice-baked potato. It might also be a no-bake chocolate and oats cookie, like the ones pictured above. It can also be a small chocolate candy. It may even be a crunchy almond cookie. It is not a macaron, those little puffy treats made at upscale bakeries, nor is it Emmanuel Macron, the president of France. So many options for this day.

We opted for the no-bake cookies. They turned out a bit runny for some reason, but they were still fantastic. It’s a mix of chocolate and oats, how could we go wrong? We celebrated this as our dessert #1, with the green Jell-O reserved for later in the evening. It’s always good to have a few drinks before settling into some Jell-O, isn’t it?

The little chocolate macaroon candies are what confused me. I used to love those things as a kid, and I still don’t understand how three or four distinctly different dessert items all have the same name. And to make things even more confusing we’ve got National Chocolate Macaroon Day coming up later this week. For that one we picked up some of the candies, for this one we made the version of macaroons we’re most used to. The coconut ones are great too, but we can only fill our home with so many cookies before we run the risk of exploding. That wouldn’t be fun.

RETURN TO NEW CONTENT: We still have most of those macaroons, which never fully hardened, sitting in a delicious globby mess on our counter. But yesterday we dug into the candies. They were great, just as delightful as they were when we were kids. And we still haven’t exploded. Yet.

National Running Day

Is there any way we can do a repeat of the day before by not running? Would that still count?

We are not runners. I’ll run if I have to – to catch a bus, to chase the ice cream guy, to… well, that’s really about it, and I haven’t actually ran to chase the ice cream guy in years. Anyone who has followed our lives in the most remote and disinterested way knows that we are not big on running, and apart from Jodie’s yoga and my football (played exclusively on Xbox) we aren’t big on any athletic activities.

Jodie got a pass on this day because of her knee, which has been giving her tremendous pain lately, and not simply because of our lack of athletic endeavours. So that left it to me. Do I go for a run and jiggle my sweaty carcass all over the neighbourhood? No, instead I opted to stick around home and subject the population of our basement (which is zero, at least in human population) to my suffering. We have a treadmill, so I hauled myself upon that. And then I sweated.

So why don’t we jog? Apart from the general unpleasantness of it – and yes, we know some folks thrive on the activity, but some folks also like olives and yesterday’s video showed that to be non-universal as well – there are risks. First of all, jogging can lower your level of testosterone. I’m not much of a manly-man type, so that could have catastrophic results on my withering masculinity. Jogging may lower your immune system, and right now that can be fatal. Runner’s knee is a nasty side-effect, as is Jogger’s Testicle, which comes as a result of excessive chafing.

Luckily the only nasty fallout from yesterday’s exercise was a grotesque amount of sweat and a not-appropriate-for-prime-time level of swearing. Hooray for running, and for Running Day happening only once per year.

Chimborazo Day

This is another exercise-focussed celebration, however it’s one we’ll only be celebrating in spirit. Thank goodness. Actually no, we’d love to do this one. This is named for a mountain in Ecuador – an inactive volcano, actually – which is a beloved hiking destination. Chimborazo is inside a massive national park. Upon investigating a little deeper, I think this may be beyond our hiking skills (meaning we may be too out of shape for this), but I’m not ruling it out of our someday-travel plans.

Chimborazo clocks in at over 20,000 feet, but it’s only the 39th tallest peak in the Cordillera Occidental range of the Andes mountains. So what makes it so special? Location, location, location. Chimborazo is just over one degree south of the equator. That means that, thanks to the bulge of the earth the summit of Chimborazo is closer to the moon and further from the Earth’s core than the summit of Mount Everest. It’s the closest you can physically get to the moon whilst standing on our planet. That’s kind of cool.

We took part in this day by taking a lovely long hike with our canine research assistants, and contemplating whether or not a trip to South America was in our future. We’d both love to go, but I think scaling to the peak of Chimborazo (which would actually require some mountaineering skills we will probably never have) might not come through.

I mean, just running on a treadmill for 20 minutes was unpleasant enough. We can only do so much.

National Juice Slush Day

This was a last-Wednesday celebration, but we got around to it eventually. A company that makes juice slushes created this day to celebrate juice slushes. I’ll pause while the impact of that shocking revelation sinks in. Has it sunk in yet? No? I’ll wait a bit longer; it’s okay, I understand. I’ll be over here readi- oh, you’re good? Okay, let’s proceed.

A juice slush is quite simply a slush made with fruit juice. Cool Tropics is the company behind this day, and when I googled them to learn more about them, then clicked on the link to their About Us page, I was redirected to a site that informed me I’d just won a Samsung Galaxy phone. I tried again, and got the same thing. So that leg of the mission has been aborted – clearly Cool Tropics are not equipped to handle my curiosity.

Instead I relied on this recipe, which is simply orange juice and some milk, blended up with some ice to be a slush. I was hoping it would taste more like an orange creamsicle, but I guess it was close enough. It was a pleasant after-dinner beverage, though in retrospect a splash of vodka might have elevated it to become something more stupendous. Oh well, no regrets. It was tasty, and this weird celebration was a genuine joy.

Impersonate Authority Day

This was another day without an origin story and with questionable potential for being a dynamic celebration. I have three bosses in my office up the ladder of boss-itude (yes, I’m a lowly rung, but that allows for less stress and more celebrating), and not one of them has a goofy affect my coworkers and I could use to craft a credible impression. Jodie’s principal is a gem of a lady, and also without any goofy mannerisms that would work as fodder for her staff’s aspiring Rich Little, whoever that might be.

So do we dress up as police and – no, not today. That idea is not going to fly right now. Moving on.

I celebrated the day by indulging in the first notion of authority impersonation I remember seeing in popular culture: Saturday Night Live. Since their videos are locked on Youtube so that Canadians can’t get a peek at them without a VPN, and since my VPN subscription expired a while back, I instead checked out this video from Funny Or Die, which reunites many of the great SNL presidential impressions in one hilarious scene. Not a bad way to hold a celebration, with a few minutes of chuckling.

National Itch Day / National Insect Repellent Day / Fight the Filthy Fly Month

This is the day to scratch that itch you’ve been ignoring.

Oh for the sweet love of all things fuck, are you kidding me? What a lame way to package this as yet another Reach-For-The-Moon type inspirational days. We seem to get one or two of those every week. I’ve reached for the moon and I got it. I can work from home in a low-stress, semi-interesting job that allows me regular periodic breaks with puppies. My life is without exaggeration at its absolute high point right now. My itches are scratched. So are my puppies. I’ve always got scritches for my bitches when they itches.

I did find one source that claimed this was a short-form for National Insect Repellant Awareness Day, which ties in somewhat with Fight The Filthy Fly Month (though most flies don’t lead to itching). Other sources leave out the connection but do pinpoint today as Insect Repellant Day, so let’s tackle all three at once:

First off, the itching. Itches can originate in the skin, or in the central nervous system. When there’s no visible cause for an itch, it’s known as essential pruritus. This has led me to decide that Marty & The Essential Pruritus would be great for the name of my next alt-prog ambient-funk band. If you’re experiencing a lot of sourceless itches you’ll want to get that checked out, as it could mean there has been damage to your nervous system, it could mean a brain tumor or MS, or perhaps you just have cooties. Itches may be a drag, but I think we can all agree that there’s nothing quite so maddening (at least itch-wise) as the tickle deep in the eustachian tube between your ear and your throat. Goddamn I hate those. And just writing about it gave me one of those itches, so… well, it’s still better than jogging.

On to the bug spray. It was once suggested that ingesting massive doses of B-1 would keep the insects away. That’s false. You can shmush some lemon grass or lemon thyme into your skin, but it won’t last long. For some natural cures you could also try peppermint, lavender, tea tree oil, garlic, basil or castor oil. I suggest all of these at once, as it will not only repel mosquitos but also most other people. We don’t use a lot of bug spray, but we have one of those little boxes in our backyard that zaps the mosquitos. It works quite well, and no, it didn’t zap a single bee last year. I sifted through the carcasses to be sure. Anyway, spray safe – check the contents of your insect repellent and try to avoid anything that could leave you ill or make you grow a third nipple or something.

And lastly, Fight the Filthy Fly month is a way to educate folks who own businesses or restaurants on how to get those pesky critters to stop bothering their customers without insisting everyone lathers up with Off spray. Step one is of course to seal off garbages and wipe down prep surfaces. Lavender, basil and mint will actually work as a deterrent if you scatter the plants around the place – live plants, not out of a spice jar. One site I found recommends using a few Venus flytraps scattered about your establishment. Because there’s nothing a restaurant diner wants to see more than an insect being slowly and methodically devoured by a potted plant.

Good luck flies – the world is armed with knowledge now.

National Mint Julep Day

I completely forgot about this one, which we were supposed to celebrate last Saturday. Not like me to skip over a boozy celebration – it took me two weeks to get around to juice slushes, but there’s really no fun in that. So yesterday I made my first mint julep. It was an experience.

The mint julep is made with bourbon, powdered sugar, water, and of course mint leaves. I was relieved to learn that it didn’t require the purchase of Crème de Menthe, as I don’t see myself drinking a lot of that stuff. Besides, that gets its own day in September. I can wait. These drinks are ‘smashed’ in much the same way you muddle the ingredients of a mojito before mixing it all together. It wasn’t hard to make. Wasn’t hard to drink either.

A julep is a sort of sweet drink, and can be traced back the Persian word for rosewater. Americans, ever the boozy chaps, invented this version some time in the 1700s. In fact a 1784 medical document shows that it was prescribed to help a patient with stomach sickness, frequent retching and difficulty in swallowing. Not what I’d suspect as an effective remedy, but I’m not a doctor. The mint julep evolved through rum and gin versions to the one we know and love today, which is touted as the official drink of the Kentucky Derby.

The julep is traditionally served in a pewter or silver cup, with folks being careful to only touch the rim or the bottom of the cup so that a nice layer of frost forms around the outside. We have no such paraphernalia around the house so a regular glass had to do. And it did just fine. Sure, the first half of it tasted mostly like bourbon, but in the end it was yummy.

Love Conquers All Day

I found no source for this day, but I’m not willing to write it off as a non-holiday. Yes, this falls into the category of feel-goodery celebrations, which are at least as popular as Reach-For-The-Moon celebrations this year. But right now, the world could use this day.

Love is the only hope we’ve got, really. The cliché that love is not the opposite of hate is absolutely true: both are passionate emotions that can be difficult to contain and are often hard to suppress. There is enough hate floating around the world to fill a few Wembley Stadia, and yes, we can hope that love will conquer that too. But let’s concentrate on the real enemy, the true antithesis of love.

Indifference.

Yesterday we were pleased to learn that the protests on Tuesday night were, for the most part, peaceful and strong. The looting and the damage, while understandable given the circumstances, was disheartening to see. But my first thought was not relief, it was worry. Peaceful, quiet demonstrations carrying on after riotous rage has happened before, on this exact issue. That has led to a few lives being changed and tuned to fight the good fight, while many more tune into Dancing With the Stars or get caught up in the next rage-cycle in the news.

This can’t go away. The majority cannot allow indifference to take the helm and steer us away from this cause. Systemic racism can only be conquered by love for our fellow humans, and a desire to lift everyone up to have the same opportunities, and to wipe out as much as possible the fears and anxieties some people have to face daily because of their skin colour. Racism can’t be fixed, at least not until humanity embraces absolute Roddenberryism and we evolve past it, but the system can be repaired. All four of those Minneapolis cops are in custody now, with the killer facing an actual murder charge. That’s a start. Things need to keep moving forward, keep moving upward. And love is going to get us there.

Whether this holiday is legit or just something someone scribbled on their timeline one year we don’t know. But the sentiment behind it is fantastic.

Thursdays seem to contain a consistent batch of weirdness, I’m not sure why. Here’s what’s up today:

  • National Old Maids Day. I vaguely remember this game from my childhood. Perhaps we’ll jog our memories.
  • National Cheese Day. Cheeeeeeeeese!
  • National Cognac Day. Neither of us are a fan, but we didn’t like olives and we ate those – no way I was not going to do the same with an alcoholic beverage.
  • National Hug Your Cat Day. I might need some help from my cat people for this one.
  • Mom’s Equal Pay Day. In this household, the mom actually makes more than the dad, so I’d rather not equalize her pay.
  • Shopping Cart Day. Shopping cart races might be fun, but we’re both probably a bit too old and decrepit for that. I did jog yesterday, after all. I need to rest.

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