Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The midway chimes of 2020 have pulled back the hammer in preparation of their sonic strike next week. Many will cheer the eradication of 50% of this death-ridden, rage-ridden year, and we will be among them. But we are also cognizant of this year’s place in history, a potential pivot point for humankind in a myriad of ways. Do we emerge more enlightened, more tuned in to the systemic racism in our society so that we can dismantle it? Do we cross the threshold into 2021 with an enhance appreciation for caring for one another’s basic health and well-being? Will we pummel our way to more than 2,000 celebrations this year, and if so, will it matter? Matter or no, all we can do now is plow forward:

National Hydration Day

This day was created to honour football coach Victor Hawkins, who died on June 23, 2012, but became known in his field for inventing a mouthguard that somehow releases electrolytes to keep players hydrated. I don’t know the science behind this, and actually I prefer to think of it as some sort of dark magic, because any celebration becomes infinitely more fascinating when there’s dark magic involved.

The purpose of this day is to remind athletes to remain hydrated. Hey athletes: remain hydrated. Success!

As for how we celebrated, we consumed plenty of water all day. I mean, there was coffee in the morning and various other beverages here and there, but we drank plenty of water. We remained hydrated.

I was, however, a bit curious about how a mouthguard can keep someone hydrated. I’ve never played a sport that required me to wear a mouthguard (neither the Madden nor NHL videogame franchises state these as mandatory), but from what I understand they’re just globs of rubber athletes cram into their gullets. Turns out the product ships with 28 fruit-flavoured slow-release electrolyte tablets that you insert into the mouthguard.

The product is out of stock at amazon, with one review of one star. I can’t find it for sale anywhere else online. So maybe this isn’t the way to go – and that’s fine, 2020 is not a year for sports anyway. Just drink your fluids and bask in this tepid celebration, and look forward to next year when competitive sports will hopefully be back once again to inspire us.

National Pink Day

We have celebrated numerous days this year which call for us to wear a specific colour in order to bring attention to a cause, a plight, a disease, or some greater good. This day is meant to bring attention only to the colour itself – particularly odd, as this particular colour has no problem being attention-grabbing on its own. This is not a day to bring awareness to breast cancer, or to any other sort of ailment. It’s just about pink.

Pink is named for dianthus plumarius, also known as the common pink – it’s the flower that inspired the name of the colour. To pink is also an acceptable verb, meaning to decorate with a perforated or punched pattern. Never pinked before? That’s how we got the name ‘pinking shears’. Never heard of pinking shears? Can’t help you there – just trust me, they’re a thing.

Pink is the colour of femininity, and historically has also been the colour of masculinity, so go figure. Pink represents innocence, but also seduction. It became a huge trend in the 1700s when it was worn by King Louis XV’s mistress, Madame de Pompadour, and again in the mid-20th-century when it was worn by female street gangs led by Stockard Channing. The pink triangle is a symbol of the LGBTQ movement, which is a successful take-back of the shape, given that it was first used to identify homosexual prisoners in Nazi camps.

Some people hate pink. I don’t get that – how do you hate a colour on the spectrum? What did the colour ever do to you? Pink is a beautiful, boastful jab of light and radiance, the colour spectrum’s high-pitched long-held guitar note to bring a solo to a riveting climax. Pink is beauty personified, all dolled up and ready for a night out. Pink is the quick inhalation of surprise and wonder, the secret ingredient that brings life and vitality to the properties of light.

We celebrated by wearing a bit of pink, by listening to a bit of Pink and Pink Floyd, and even The Band’s brilliant album, Music From Big Pink. Happy pink to all.

National Pecan Sandies Day

Someone must have loved these cookies enough to have declared them worthy of a national day. And thank goodness for that – we were in danger of running out of cookies and treats, which would be nothing short of tragic. Fortunately our team baker (hi, Mom!) came through in a big way with her own twist on the sandie, pictured above.

A sandie is a sugar cookie, simple as that. Pecan sandies include… wait for it… pecans in the recipe. There’s no grand history to tell here, no stories of humanistic triumphs that feature the pecan sandie interwoven with key points in history… they’re just cookies. And they’re delicious cookies.

I’m going to wrap this up here. There’s really nothing more to say, and the essence of this celebration was in the flavourful munching of these little delights. If you didn’t have any yesterday – and why wouldn’t you? – I recommend mixing up a batch and baking some immediately. The sandie is a gift.

Let It Go Day

We have played this game before. Just as there are a heap of holidays meant to inspire us to embrace the people and things that are great in the world, there are also several that encourage us to let go of that which is weighing us down. If you’re unlucky, the title of this day has spawned that Frozen song in your head. If you’re more fortunate like I, you’re probably humming the far superior Luba song from the 80s, back when fusing bubblegum pop and reggae was a great idea.

Jodie and I both suffer from animosities and disgruntlements that weigh us down. Yesterday we both vowed to let one of these go, in hopes that this post-spring cleanup of our souls would lead to a positive impact on our mental well-being.

For me, the issue is football. It’s the only sport I follow, and while I accept that it makes no logical sense to run a season this year, whenever football does make its return I will have to deal with my loathing of the New England Patriots. To be clear, having no geographic ties to any city in the United States, I have never considered myself a devoted fan to any franchise. I find players on each team whom I enjoy watching, and I just love the game. Except for the goddamn Patriots. They kept Marino’s Dolphins out of Super Bowl XX, and they’ve been running the AFC table (spotted with controversy) for the last 19 years. I’ve had enough.

This year, if they play, they’ll be suiting up without their douchey quarterback, a man who personifies every dick villain in every 80s movie. As such, I will distance myself from loathing this team, and perhaps one day welcome them into the pack of 31 other teams that I’ll cheer on. We’ll see.

Jodie’s conundrum is a bit touchier. Her biggest loathing is for certain politicians and their supporters, and she’s not about to let that go. She did agree, however, that arguing such things with strangers on Facebook is a poor use of her time – even arguing with a certain friend of hers who refuses to engage in issues and only speaks in slogans and clichés. She agreed to let that stress go. If it works, she’ll be much happier for it. My personal improvement may not be felt for another year; we’ll see.

Runner’s Selfie Day

We don’t run.

We don’t like running, and we don’t see any need to incorporate running into our lives. Jodie does yoga and various other exercises – her knee won’t let her run. I still go for a brisk, heartrate-raising, sweat-inducing walk on the treadmill every morning. Running has never interested either of us.

All that aside, when the calendar says run, we run. Not for long. That is not an exercise-induced selfie up there. I ran for exactly as long as I had to in order to get that photo. That’s all that was required, and we aren’t about to risk injury or unpleasant bodily odours for a selfie-related celebration.

We took the pic.

But we don’t run.

Pink Flamingo Day

This ties in beautifully with National Pink Day… except that I’m not sure what specifically we are supposed to honour. I was expecting I’d learn a bit more about the animal, as we did for Giraffe Day a couple days back, or for Sea Turtles, Sharks, Whales, and other various creatures over the last six months. But many sites indicated we should be celebrating the lawn ornament instead.

Really? I don’t know – let’s learn a bit about both and see which is more interesting.

There are six species of flamingo in the world, and they’re all at least a little bit pink. Scientists aren’t quite in unison on why they stand on one leg with the other tucked underneath: some believe it’s for warmth while others maintain that they do this even in warm water or when not in water at all, so it’s for minimal muscular exertion. They stomp their feet in the watery mud to make their food rise to the surface, so you know they aren’t eating anything we’d be jealous of. They can form strong couple bonds with another flamingo, and that is not limited to heterosexual union. So they’re social, well-balanced, and progressive little birds.

Don Featherstone was the guy who crafted the plastic pink flamingo back in 1957. Don was an artist who sculpted products for Union Products – the flamingo was his most popular creation, and he was proud of it. Filmmaker John Waters helped to turn plastic flamingos into the ultimate in lawn kitsch, and the city of Madison, Wisconsin made the plastic pink flamingo the city’s official bird in 2009. Mr. Featherstone also passed away on June 23 five years ago, so I guess we can conclude that this day is, indeed, about the lawn ornaments.

I think we can give the coolness points to the actual flamingos here though. As much as we love kitsch, the birds themselves are quite magnificent to behold. We even used to have some stationed in our local shopping mall for a spell, shortly after they removed the fleet of submarines. Yep, the birds win out. For our lawn, we’ll stick with gnomes.

National Typewriter Day

Christopher Latham Sholes, along with a handful of other dudes in Milwaukee, patented their typewriter on June 23, 1868, making the device 152 years old yesterday. This was not the first such device, but it was the first to use the name ‘typewriter’. Sholes wasn’t impressed with the finished product, believing it looked like the end result of a sexual encounter between a kitchen table and a piano. He kept working on it though, and eventually sold his share of the patent for $12,000. Not bad. Then Remington started mass-producing them, and Sholes likely learned how much money he’d missed out on.

Like most people of my generation, I learned how to type on a typewriter. I owned a baby-blue manual typewriter, and got used to those lengthy pauses whilst waiting for the liquid paper to dry so I could fix my mistakes. And I made many of them. Still, I got to be rather speedy with three fingers on each hand doing all the work. Then I took one typing class in high school and learned how to do it properly. Around this time I had already upgraded through my dad’s old electric IBM Selectric (with correction tape! Which I used a lot of!) to own a computer.

But there is something magical about the sound of each letter being created with a typewriter. Something satisfying about hearing each character claim its importance upon the page. And something that is both blissfully nostalgic and intellectually gratifying about hearing that ding and slamming the carriage over to begin a new line.

Tom Hanks is a notorious collector of vintage typewriters, and if I was wealthy enough to start any sort of a collection, this might be the way I’d go. Typewriters will likely never make a full-on resurgence – even those of us who can live without autocorrect would have trouble getting by without that good ol’ backspace key now – but it should always be a technology that evokes warmth and simplicity. I wish we could have plunked upon an actual typewriter yesterday, but there were none around.

We had to settle for the memories.

Today we may have an even simpler menu of goodies to tackle:

  • National Pralines Day. If only we had some praline ice cream in our freezer. Oh wait, we totally do!
  • Celebration of the Senses Day. Hooray for senses!
  • National Energy Shopping Day. Today I could use a bit of energy. I guess I’ll shop for some.
  • National Parchment Day. A day to celebrate… parchment paper?
  • International Fairy Day. Well tinker our bells, I guess we’re learning about fairies today.
  • World UFO Day. Hopefully one will stop by and allow us to salute it.

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