Friday, July 31, 2020

Chili Dogs and cheesecake – two delicious foodstuffs we were supposed to be celebrating yesterday. Alas, we were waylaid by apathy and an intense desire to do nothing productive, apart from mowing the lawn and prepping for next week’s folk fest. These warm summer days do little to nudge cravings for such indulgences. And yet the calendar can’t help but lob them our way, stacking them upon so many curious little curios, such as:

National Father-In-Law Day

My father-in-law is a fascinating human. He is so purposefully removed from anything internet that I won’t even speak his name here (though his anonymity among my three readers is questionable). He’s been a biker since back when no one knew anything about bikers, except perhaps for Hunter S. Thompson. Everything about him screams biker, though if you met him expecting that he’d slide snugly into a stereotype you’d be tremendously disappointed.

Yes, he likes beer. The crappy stuff that advertises during Super Bowls; he’ll scoff at anything craft-brewed. And when he drinks he does so with passion and aplomb. His other vehicle is a massive pick-up truck, and he’ll let loose a veritable spectrum of curse words toward other drivers, many of which do not conform to any measure of a “woke” society. He dresses in leathers and Harley gear, and has never had anything but long hair as long as I’ve known him.

But he’s also one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. He’s kind beyond belief, and never speaks ill of anyone behind their back (unless they’re in public office). He’ll grumble at our world’s perpetual state of activism, but if you have a problem with gay people he’ll shut you down completely. At his core is an unending stash of compassion and empathy; he would do anything for his kids and grandkids, but what’s more significant is that he actively wants to. When our kid moved to the west coast for school, he and his wife (another magnificent human who deserves her own celebration) were a rock for her. Our daughter never felt frightened and alone because she wasn’t.

I gladly said hello to my father-in-law yesterday and expressed my gratitude that he’s in my life. But I didn’t get all touchy-feely about it. That’s just one small step away from a frilly-ass umbrella in some girly drink. I won’t post the full text of his reply, but it did indicate he had been “overserved” that afternoon, and included the sentence, “What a bunch of badger spooge!” I think he made my point eloquently.

National Whistleblowers Day

I wasn’t going to toss this into the pile for yesterday, as I’m not feeling the research and learning vibe even a little. But we are living in what should be a golden age for whistleblowers. You’ve got a president hell-bent on corruption and greed down south, and little aspiring minions popping up all over the globe, including one such schmuck who runs the show in our province (and, is technically our employer). I suppose when a government takes control boasting no pretentions of integrity we shouldn’t be surprised when that’s what we get.

There are online petitions for our premier’s removal (which won’t work), but what we really need is another Mark Felt. He was the FBI dude who went by Deep Throat and helped to bring down Nixon. We need a Daniel Ellsberg, who dropped the Pentagon Papers into the Washington Post in 1971 and showed the citizens what was really happening in Vietnam. We need a Sylvie Therrien, who was suspended without pay when she exposed that Canadian Employment Insurance investigators were required to hit a quota, denying at least $500,000 in EI benefits to applicants every year.

More importantly, we need people to care. Don’t buy into the my team vs. their team dynamic, even though you may be suffering from sports withdrawal right now. When the masses are being betrayed for the benefit of the wealthy few, folks need to give a shit.

Please give a shit. And if you’ve got a whistle to blow on someone or something or some company or some government – blow it loud and long.

International Day of Friendship

Okay, United Nations. I’ll give you this one because that’s just the sort of gregarious motherfucker I am.

This day is meant to acknowledge that friendship bridges cultures and reveals to us our similarities, which matter far more than our differences. It’s a lovely sentiment, and while it won’t wash away the grimy layer of cynicism on my skin right now, it’s a fair start.

As for friendship, we have been remarkably estranged from any sort of social life this year, right along with almost everyone else. We aren’t the most social humans to begin with; literally any sort of party or event would be eclipsed in awesomeness by the magnificence of staying at home with the dogs and watching a couple episodes of The Wire. But once you get that perfect stay-in night on repeat for 150 days or so, you start to question what else is out there.

To that end we have opted to re-create one of our favourite social activities of the year, the annual Folk Music Festival, in our backyard. Invites went out, and all friends and family (except the yokels in our family we really don’t care for, of course) are invited to drop in for a set or two and hang. It will all take place in the back yard, well distanced, and with the expectation that we’re not going to have more than two or three people visiting at a time. It’s a weekend when we hope to cherish some friendship and maybe feel just a bit like things are normal for a brief while.

So, as a salute to the UN’s International Day of Friendship, I look forward to writing significantly less next weekend, as the music will take up all of my time. Happy day, friends.

National Support Public Education Day

Well this is going to steer me right back to the cynicism and curmudgeonliness that soured me a couple entries back. I don’t know what to say, other than school starts in just over a month, and schools in this part of the world will be fully in the classroom, with fewer employees to help keep the place clean and to help keep kids separated, and with less money for schools to try to fight the virus. People will literally die from this.

Public education should not be a death sentence. I’m just going to leave this topic now, and hopefully turn my attention to something sunnier.

Share A Hug Day

This is literally the thirteenth hugging day we have celebrated in this little bout of madness. I’m not joking. Have a look:

  • Girl Hug Boy Day: January 11
  • National Hugging Day: January 21
  • National Hug Your Puppy Day: also January 21
  • National Hug A Newsperson Day: April 4
  • National Hug Your Dog Day: April 10
  • National Hug A Plumber Day: April 25
  • Hug An Australian Day: April 26
  • Hug A Shed & Take A Selfie Day: May 5
  • National Hug Your Cat Day: June 4
  • Hug An Atheist Day: June 5
  • Hug Holiday: June 29
  • Virtually Hug A Virtual Assistant Day: July 6

We are so hug-heavy, it’s getting a bit silly. But if the calendar says we hug, then dammit, we hug. And actually there lies a sad little tale behind this particular celebration. On July 30, 2017 a man named Mike Brundritt of Windsor, Ontario lost his wife and child in a deadly highway collision. The following year he proposed Share A Hug Day because he’d spent the previous (undoubtedly hellish) year being comforted by hugs from loved ones. It was how he and his surviving son – both of whom were in the car on that fateful trip – have made it through.

So damn my cynicism. This is now the only hug day that matters. Big hugs to you, Mike, wherever you are.

World Embroidery Day

As commissioned by the Swedish Embroidery Guild (and you do NOT fuck with the Swedish Embroidery Guild), yesterday was officially World Embroidery Day. To be clear, we did not embroider, however we are fortunate enough to be related to my beloved auntie Kathy, whose talented fingers created all the beauty above.

And lest my mother be perplexed as to why her art was not featured (she is, after all, one of my three readers), National Cross-Stitch Day is coming up next month. I’m covering all the bases, don’t worry.

Embroidery is quite simply using a needle and thread (and sometimes other assorted doodads) to make a piece of fabric look fancy. Historically, while I’m sure there are ages in which certain trends dominated in the embroidery world, but no great technology or great artistic revelation really changed the art. You can look at embroidery dating back more than a thousand years and it is just as intricate and magnificent as anything a person could create today.

If you want to give credit to someone for inventing embroidery – and why would you? – look to the Goddess Athena, who, according to Greek mythology, passed down the gifts of embroidery and weaving to humanity. Sure, I’m good with that. Humanity, as evidenced by the beautiful work above, has done pretty well with embroidery ever since.

Is my motivation looking any better for today? Well, I’m motivated to catch up to National Chicken Wing Day from Wednesday. But the weather is still divine, so we’ll see:

  • National Talk In An Elevator Day. We shan’t be venturing into an elevator unnecessarily at this time. I trust you’ll all understand.
  • National Get Gnarly Day. We’d considered a zipline or something to be ‘gnarly’, but alas, those are closed.
  • National Avocado Day. Time to finally learn how to make avocado toast?
  • National Raspberry Cake Day. We have a plan for tackling this on the weekend.
  • National Mutt Day. It sounds a bit pretentious, but our dogs are all purebreds. We’ll find some mutts though, because they are just as lovely.
  • National Cotton Candy Day. Seriously? Awesome!
  • National Jump For Jelly Beans Day. Even more awesome!
  • Shredded Wheat Day. Not quite as awesome, but still tasty.
  • Uncommon Instrument Awareness Day. This one might be fun.
  • System Administrator Appreciation Day. This one, not so much. But kudos to system administrators everywhere.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Perhaps it was the weather – no, I’m emphatically sure it was the weather – but we felt a little lazy yesterday. We’d immediately rejected National Lasagna Day in order to postpone it to a day more conducive to running the oven for a few hours. Chicken Wing Day should only be celebrated with magnificent chicken wings, so that was also bumped to the weekend when Da-De-O opens up. And to be honest, most of what was left was less than inspiring. So this article should be quick and to the point. My hammock’s call is far louder than that of my word processor. But still, there’s this:

National Lipstick Day

If I open with “National Lipstick Day is a day for lipstick manufacturers to make a little extra money during a slow season” would you think me too cynical? Perhaps after 1,300 celebrations jam-packed into less than seven months I am beginning to get a tad jaded. Or maybe I was always this way, and the purity and non-commercialized days like Take Your Houseplants For A Walk Day have yet to elevate me to a mental state of bliss and acceptance.

The ancient Sumerians are the ones to blame for lipstick, apparently using crushed gems for a more ornate look. Cleopatra used shmushed beetle guts to get those kissable lips. In Ancient Egypt lipstick wasn’t about feminization but rather a boast of one’s higher societal status. They even had a more common, less bug-filled recipe that included iodine and bromine. This dye also made a bunch of them sick, but dammit, those underlings knew where they stood so it was worth it.

The Chinese did it right – they used beeswax and treated lipstick more as a method of preserving the lips and taking care of them. Over in the western world lipstick first became a trend during the Elizabethan age, coupled with that pasty white skin look. Fast-forward to England in the 1800s and lipstick was used only by actors and whores. Of course, since actors and whores are known for having been cultural muses throughout the ages, it eventually caught on as a fashion statement.

Jodie, however, does not wear lipstick. She owns some, and she wasn’t above modeling it (though really, I think Trixie carries that colour brilliantly), but it’s not going to become a regular thing. Still, if you’re a lipstick lover I hope you took advantage of the deals yesterday. There are always deals when the celebration involves a shillable product. Happy Day!

International Tiger Day

This is the tenth anniversary of this day, and it’s safe to say that tigers have enjoyed more of the cultural spotlight this year than in any prior year since the golden age of Frosted Flakes and Tigger. Putting aside the weirdness of that Netflix show, it’s actually not a bad time for wild tigers as well, at least in comparison with how things began for them when a group of conservationists decided at the 2010 Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit that these kitties needed their own day.

Every four years India, which is where you’ll find ¾ of the world’s wild tigers, does a count. I can’t imagine how they do this; it could be they estimate, maybe they’ve got every wild tiger tagged with a GPS chip, or maybe it’s just magic. However you look at it, the news is promising: there were 1,411 wild tigers roaming the jungle in 2006, and that number has risen steadily to nearly 3,000 by their 2019 count (they skipped 2018 for some reason). So maybe this is a good day for tigers to raise a glass and toast their success.

An interesting note about tiger conservation: if you head to the Wikipedia page for ‘tiger conservation’ you will see a picture, not of a tiger, but of a tiger’s penis. I guess tiger wang is a big deal in Chinese herbal medicine, which has led to illegal hunting of the animals. I wonder what it cures.

So the news about tigers may be encouraging out of India, but they are still an endangered species. Tigers have lost an estimated 93% of their roaming territory since humankind nudged its little primate elbows into nature. And with India clocking 75% of the world’s wild tigers, that means there’s only about 4,000 out there, and that’s not counting those who live in zoos, wildlife parks and whatever the hell Carol Baskin is running. They need our support.

Since we weren’t in a position to save any tigers yesterday, we opted instead for adding tiger ice cream – that delicious blend of orange and black licorice – to our shopping list for this weekend. We’ll hold off on adding tiger-dink sprinkles until we’re certain it will cure what ails us.

National Cheese Sacrifice Purchase Day

My only sources for this weird day appear to be blogs from the 00’s, none of whom are 100% clear on how to celebrate it. The prevailing wisdom is that this day was created as a reminder that we should sacrifice some of our cheese to mousetraps so that we can live in a vermin-free home. I mean, I guess that’s logical, though in my experience peanut butter does a lot better in a mousetrap.

But that doesn’t matter. We don’t have mice <knocks on wood> and therefore don’t need to set any traps. There are mice which live in our garage and for whatever reason underneath our stand-alone basketball hoop, but they don’t get in our way and we don’t get in theirs. That’s not entirely true – Rosa, our middle-child canine research assistant, has been known for catching two mice in her life, biting them in half in a truly gruesome display that will likely continue to haunt our nightmares for the remainder of our days.

So how else to sacrifice cheese, if not for infestation-ridding? Those beloved canine research assistants held the answer to that one. It was a fine little snack for them – and we even shared the good stuff, not just the processed slices we save for stuffing with puppy medication. The dogs were grateful for our sacrifice; I’m pretty sure they understood what was going on. Probably.

Rain Day

As I gaze out into the brilliant, cloudless blue sky of a July 29, I can’t help but appreciate the irony of this one. Edmonton has been beset by relentless rain for much of spring and summer. We try not to complain, as rain is preferable to snow, which has also made at least a cameo appearance in every month of the calendar here, but a stretch of heat and sunshine is nice.

Apparently we can trace this one back to a farmer back in 1864, who observed (likely with a strong confirmation bias) that it always seemed to rain on July 29 in his town of Waynesburg, PA. Maybe it was his birthday, or the birthday of someone he cared about, otherwise I can’t imagine how anyone would recall the weather patterns of several July 29ths in a row. Whatever – local pharmacist William Allison started to keep track. After he died in the 1920s, his brother took over. Locals have since kept up the tradition.

And I suppose they hit a bit of success. In the 144 years leading up to 2018, 115 have featured at least a few drops of rain splashing down in Waynesburg. They have built an entire festival around this event, and that festival appears to be in full swing this year, which is great since Covid is just a gag and not at all real. Good luck, Waynesburgians!

You certainly won’t get any luck with the rain though; It topped out at 89 degrees yesterday with nary a drop of moisture to be found.

Maybe next year.

Air Conditioning Appreciation Days

I’m listing this as a monthly celebration, though Air Conditioning Appreciation Days are technically celebrated between July 3 and August 15th. I’m sure this was started by the air conditioning industry, but I’ve had enough with corporate cynicism. Yesterday, as we have for days prior and will for the remainder of this warm spell, we appreciated our little air conditioner.

Central air is not really a big thing in Edmonton homes. When it gets warm, it doesn’t often get humid and that makes the heat much more tolerable. It can usually be escaped by a well-placed fan. But those fans might not do the trick, especially at night when hot, sticky air tends to prevent a decent sleep. We picked up this little one-room A/C unit a few years ago, and even though sleeping while it operates sounds remarkably similar to the white noise you’d hear whilst sleeping on a plane, we wouldn’t want to be without it. Even the dogs love this little machine.

Snow, ice, and cold water were how people kept cool before fans and A/C. A number of hacks were created by necessity over the centuries, but we can thank Willis Carrier, the American inventor who discovered by accident that air passing over cooled coils filled with water would do the trick. That was back in 1902, and it was a massive game-changer.

Hospitals installed air conditioning as soon as they could, and it wound up saving lives. Offices became more tolerable in the summer months once A/C was a thing. And when they began to install air conditioning in movie theatres, it gave people a cool place to relax and led to the invention of summer blockbuster season.

This little unit has made this heatwave an absolute delight. Here’s hoping we can continue to appreciate it right through August 15 this year. We deserve it.

UV Safety Awareness Month

Well, of course this would land in July. It’s the one month in this town when we actually have to pay attention to UV rays.

In case you’re new to this planet (and if you are, welcome!), ultraviolet rays come in two distinctive brands: UV-A rays are long wavelengths, which will dig down to the middle layer of your skin, while UV-B rays are shorter, and more damaging to the epidermis. And it’s not just your skin you need to worry about; your eyes are at risk as well.

For this reason it’s important to find sunglasses that filter out both types of rays. It matters less if they look cool, but you can probably luck out and find shades that will cover both bases. Sunscreen is a must if you’re spending any amount of time in the sun, even though wearing it might mess up your plans of snaring that magical George Hamilton tan. But you don’t want skin cancer. You don’t want that leathery, wrinkly aged look that too much sun can bring. You don’t want eye damage from that fireball in the sky roasting your eye bits.

Mostly, you want to enjoy the summer sun without messing up your insides or outsides. This is the most glorious of seasons, and it’s all too brief. I know, Covid has mucked up a lot of the best parts of summer (except, apparently, in Waynesburg, PA, where anything goes), but the glory of the pounding heat is still here for us all to embrace. And that’s precisely what I’m going to do now – enough with this writing shit.

Safety first!

And so it goes, with another day packed full of stuff to do:

  • National Chili Dog Day. We may need to do a bit of traveling to find one of these.
  • National Cheesecake Day. This too – neither of us feels much like learning how to bake a proper cheesecake today.
  • National Father-In-Law Day. Jodie gets a pass on this one, but I have a father-in-law that I will absolutely say hi to today. And I’ll be the only child-in-law who does, making me the default favourite.
  • International Day of Friendship. Hi, friends! I guess it’s time to send out a few more weird “Hey, I like you!” messages to people.
  • National Whistle-Blower Day. I certainly hope our current provincial government grows some balls and produces some whistle-blowers soon.
  • Paperback Book Day. A fine day to start some vacation reading.
  • National Support Public Education Day. Given what’s happening in September this year, our public educators (and pupils) need our support.
  • Share a Hug Day. Another day for hugging! Yay!
  • World Snorkeling Day. We don’t own a snorkel, nor will we be borrowing one. We can’t do everything this year.
  • World Embroidery Day. I just learned about this about an hour ago. A little late to pick up the skill in time.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

With the white noise of an air conditioner keeping our bedroom hospitable for human life, we plowed into another day, one packed with weirdness and chocolate – the best ingredients for a quality Tuesday. Highlights included the arrival of our first king-size mattress for the bedroom we hope to create downstairs, and the inevitable screeching of Rosa, our canine research assistant and quirk-stocked French bulldog, while the movers scooted the mattress into place. My vacation began at 4:30 yesterday afternoon, as I seek to put off the government-mandated return to the petri dish of downtown. Which will leave me with way too much time to devote to stuff like this:

National Waterpark Day

With the sun relentlessly flexing its muscle above us all day yesterday, it would have been an ideal time to take a trip to a waterpark. That said, the only waterpark in this city is located indoors, a logical choice for financial reasons, though it renders the summer sun moot. We used to have a place called Wild Waters just west of the city (where my wife and I separately suffered the worst sunburns we’d ever experienced, years before we knew each other), but given that most years only present this city with a week or two of superlative summer heat, that business model was doomed from the start.

But back to our lone indoor waterpark. It’s closed due to Covid right now, so we can only celebrate this one from afar. Pictured above is our version of a ‘waterpark’, which features numerous jets, and the temperature cranked down to as chilled as it can get. I tend to alternate between roasting in the hammock and cooling off with a drink in the “pool”, while Jodie likes to spend most of her time in the water. We also have a miniature version for our dogs to enjoy.

The World Waterpark at West Edmonton Mall will be eclipsed in size (and dethroned from its reign as the largest in North America) when the Dreamworks Water Park opens in New Jersey. This one was also financed by Triple 5, the goofballs who built and operate our mall. It should have opened back in March, but… y’know.

Our Waterpark has a massive wave pool with eight panels spewing waves into the 12.5-million-litre pool. There are four more panels that have been unused for years, because with all twelve running there were wilder waves and more injuries. Kind of a shame it all closed before the age of Youtube, I guess.

So with no actual waterpark to go to, we made do with what we had.

Take Your Houseplants For A Walk Day

There’s really nothing to add here. The day is meant for people to interact with their neighbours and compare growing tips and various successes and failures with different houseplants. Or simply to celebrate the concept of houseplants, as though if we didn’t they might simply shrivel up and rot.

But this celebration comes with a very specific description, and it’s right in the title. We didn’t feel the need to explore the concept of houseplants any deeper; we simply took ours for a quick sojourn down the block and let our neighbours think of us what they will. And I’m sure they did.

Though I’m sure it paled in comparison to the next thing we did:

Take Your Pants For A Walk Day

Again, the subversive idea here is for people to get out and walk, assuming their pants will naturally come with them. Unfortunately, this was poorly-timed, as it topped out at 32 degrees yesterday. Not a day for wearing pants. So I popped on my shorts and wandered out to take my pants for a walk, along with my plant.

The source material on this one (National Day Calendar, who may or may not need to check the ventilation in their offices to ensure proper oxygen flow) says “There are many jokes and cartoon drawings about putting your pants on a leash and actually walking them as you would your pet…” They’re trying to be funny here, I get it. But there’s no way anyone has… actually, never mind. I found nine. That’s unusually impressive for a holiday I’d bet no one I’ve ever met has ever heard of until now.

I took my pants for a quick walk before taking our dogs around the block. It was also before my first alcoholic beverage of the day, so I was hoping the beverage would erase my memory of these weird experiences. Fortunately they are now enshrined forever on this page. Yay.

Buffalo Soldiers Day

My only experience learning about Buffalo Soldiers was in a partially-informative Bob Marley song. This was never taught in school – though honestly, very little if any American history was taught in school. Every year we learned the dull story about how a department store owned most of Canada in the 19th century, but nothing about the atrocities of American slavery.

The Buffalo Soldiers were America’s first peace-time all-black regiment, having been formed in 1866, primarily for helping out with those pesky Native Americans who were trying to spoil the whitening-up of the American land. These soldiers had either been plucked from Africa for slavery or were descended from folks who had suffered that fate, yet they still suited up and served for their country. They were a decorated bunch, building roads, escorting mail delivery, and taking up arms in the Spanish-American War.

These were some of the finest soldiers in the nation, but naturally they had to endure a bunch of shit from the rest of the armed forces. On multiple occasions the Buffalo Soldiers were attacked by their fellow military who objected to the melanin in their skin. And to be clear, even the higher-ups used them as pawns, for shock value when confronting Indian tribes or to take the brunt of wartime violence.

Today is a day to honour these troops, and to examine the systemic idiocy that kept them suppressed and confined to a little corner of military history. Also, if the mood strikes, to crank up some Bob Marley.

World Nature Conservation Day

So what did you do for nature conservation yesterday? We attempted to emit a zero carbon footprint, mostly by not leaving the house and therefore not using any fossil fuels. I suppose running this computer, our AC and a couple of fans probably negated this attempt, but hey, we made an attempt.

There are a number of days throughout the year meant to call attention to our fragile planet and to encourage us to make some effort to preserve it. Our efforts are ongoing: we plan on developing a garden in the back yard to grow our own veggies. We recycle already, but with Edmonton rolling out a new waste initiative including composting, we also plan on jumping on board that train as well. We turn off lights when we leave a room. We also support companies who make an effort to give a crap about the globe.

Climate change is a background story this year for the first time in a while, though it’s the same knuckleheads denying the need for masks who also yammer on about how climate change is a hoax. This has led to moronic views becoming espoused in political rhetoric, and to the online bullying of a 16-year-old girl whose only concern is the health of our planet.

Don’t listen to those pests, and if you happen to be one of those pests, don’t listen to yourself. Nature needs our help, and we don’t have the luxury of doing nothing just in case that Youtube video about how climate change is a George Soros-funded sham might be true. Listen to the science. Take care of this planet.

National Milk Chocolate Day

If you add milk to chocolate, it creates milk chocolate! I feel I’ve learned so much today!

There isn’t much to say about this day. It was a deliciously visceral celebration. The milk chocolate pictured above was brought immediately to our air-conditioned bedroom so that we could enjoy it without fear of it melting into a little puddle before reaching our mouths. Well, my mouth. Jodie is a fan of the dark chocolate, so she didn’t indulge in this one. That’s fine, more for me.

For some reason – and no one’s talking, as it’s an industry secret – Hershey’s milk chocolate has a flavour that makes it distinct from any other milk chocolate on the planet, and that particular flavour hits a winning chord with American taste buds. The stuff we had came from Cadbury, who is the leading milk chocolate producer in the UK. Since Canadian confectionary borrows from both titans of junk food, we grew up knowing both. And loving both.

It’s hard to lose on a chocolate day.

Vacation begins! And it begins with a few quick postponements:

  • National Lasagna Day. We’ve got a recipe we are dying to make, but it’s going to have to wait until the weather chills out a bit before we crank up the oven.
  • National Lipstick Day. Can Jodie celebrate this? Does she even own lipstick? Find out tomorrow!
  • National Chicken Wing Day. Our beloved Cajun diner makes the hugest, tastiest chicken wings in town, but they are closed on Wednesdays. We’ll get to this one, I promise.
  • International Tiger Day. A day to celebrate gorgeous cats, a weird reality show, and orange-and-licorice ice cream.
  • National Cheese Sacrifice Purchase Day. I guess we’re supposed to… sacrifice some cheese?
  • Rain Day. Probably not around here, but then you never know.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Our publication yesterday featured a total of ten celebrations – far from our record, but an ample summation of a busy Sunday. Today’s epistle will be far less ambitious. At the time of this paragraph’s writing it is 26 degrees outside, with a heat index making it feel like 31. This is simply not a day for combing the city in search of the best crème brulée. We are keeping that on our to-do list, but yesterday was for the sun. And, I suppose, for all of this:

National Scotch Day

We have celebrated scotch whisky on three separate occasions this year (at least). We indulged in Robbie Burns night in February, downed some for National Whiskey Day in March, and here we are once again.

So what makes a scotch a scotch? First off, it has to be made in Scotland. There are specific rules about what goes into a scotch (malted barley, whole grains of other cereals, water and plain colouring). It must be aged in oak casks for at least three years. It has to be at least 40% alcohol by volume, no less. And it must maintain the colour, smell and taste of the materials used in its creation. Also, it must say ‘whisky’ on the label, not ‘whiskey’, or (for whatever reason) ‘wiss-kee’.

Three years ago it was estimated that the production of scotch whisky accounted for about 40,000 jobs, with a contribution of over 5.5 billion pounds to the UK’s economy. This stuff is an essential global commodity, and I’m pretty sure almost no one enjoys their first sip. Most alcohol, apart from the fruity and sugary drinks, require a bit of palette conditioning in order to appreciate it. Scotch may be the most intricate and flavourful beverage on the hard liquor shelf. It might not be. I honestly don’t know, and I don’t care because scotch is tasty on ice, and that was the extent of what I needed to experience yesterday.

Sometimes learning about these items we should be celebrating squeezes out the romance. Scotch is meant to be tasted, not understood.

Norfolk Day

Norfolk is a lovely county on England’s eastern elbow, a land of exquisite beauty and bountiful history. That said, from what I can understand, the good folks of Norfolk are often the butt of jokes elsewhere in England, which sparks in me an empathetic comparison to New Jersey, which we celebrated the day before yesterday. Apparently folks from the region are known as ‘Norfolk Dumplings’ which references the flour dumplings they eat there. There are also tales of inbreeding and backwards-ness there, so maybe it’s more American-South than Garden State.

Whatever. Yesterday was the day for all Norfolk Dumplings to gather together (so to speak) and celebrate their Norfolkiness. The 5k and 10k runs were celebrated virtually. There were picnics and some outdoor activities, but people were advised to stay safe, and maybe watch a movie that was shot in Norfolk, like Out of Africa, Full Metal Jacket, or Avengers: Endgame. The website also suggests a paper hat one can make that features the Norfolk flag. So make a hat, run on a treadmill, eat some cold chicken in your backyard and watch a disturbing Stanley Kubrick movie. Sounds like a party.

Another option would be to celebrate the great humans that Norfolk has produced. I scanned the names and didn’t recognize a single one, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth celebrating. There’s Tracy Philipps (a man-Tracy, not a woman-Tracy), who spent some time as a secret agent before helping to create African national parks. Or Olive Custance, who was a notable poet of the aesthetic movement of the 1890s. Or how about Black Bart, who moved to America and became an outlaw on the wild frontier, notable for leaving little poetic messages behind after a robbery.

Norfolk is, I’m sure, a delightful place full of astute and groovy people. Even if your experience may vary, it doesn’t matter – yesterday was the day to celebrate those little Dumplings. Happy day, Norfolks.

Bagpipe Appreciation Day

I guess it makes sense to celebrate the bagpipes on the same day as we celebrate scotch. But it doesn’t make me any more excited about it. We already honoured International Bagpipe Day on March 10 – how many times this year am I expected to listen to this instrument?

At least twice, I suppose. I’ve already covered the history of the bagpipes so I’m just going to report on my listening experience. Because I did. As pictured above, I opted for a selection of songs by the Red Hot Chilli Pipers. I don’t know what to say. “Baba O’Riley” with bagpipes is not horrible. “Low Rider” was shockingly intriguing. Even “Radio Ga Ga”, which is no one’s favourite Queen song, was worth a listen.

Bagpipes don’t have to be all solemn and funeral-ish. They can also leave you longing for a teenage wasteland among the moors. I can appreciate that.

Cross-Atlantic Communication Day

On this date in 1866, the first sustained working cable was laid across the Atlantic Ocean, enabling a steady means for communication between North America and the UK. It wasn’t achieved on the first attempt: back in 1857 two ships set out on the dime of entrepreneur Cyrus Field. The USS Niagara and the HMS Agamemnon met up in the middle of the ocean, spliced their cables together, then scooted off in opposite directions, laying cable as they went. Which was great, except for all the times the cable broke, rendering the effort moot. Cyrus was successful in an attempt the following year, but after a few weeks the cable deteriorated and the signal was lost.

Cyrus wasn’t licked. He had to take a breather while the US went through a pesky Civil War, but in 1865 he set out again, this time with a single ship that would take care of all the work. The Great Eastern set out from Ireland, en route to Newfoundland with a massive length of cable. They made it about 1,000 miles, then the cable snapped. I can imagine the feeling of the folks aboard the Great Eastern as they watched that length of cable gently drift into the dark ether, destined for an ocean floor no human would ever reach.

The next year, Cyrus gave it another shot. He used the same ship, but they improved the strength of the cable this time. And on July 27, 1866, it was done. It was an absolute game-changer in bridging the world together, and it led to a huge increase in trade. That little cable is no longer used, but it’s most likely still sitting there, watching the sea life float by, satisfied that its place in history was pretty awesome.

I sent a note to my buddy Josh in Israel yesterday, using no cables at all, apart from the one that connects my modem to the wall. The future is kick-ass.

National Coffee Milkshake Day

We get to celebrate vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and coffee milkshakes this year. I mean, we can celebrate any damn milkshake we want, but the calendar specifies these flavours, which I suppose presents the surprise that coffee is actually a popular flavour of milkshake. Indeed, the thing tasted like a Coffee Crisp, which, for my American friends, is a delicious type of candy bar you would be fortunate to find at a local import shop, and grateful if you purchased it.

We made these for dessert – actually Jodie did all the heavy lifting, though I did read her out the directions. It’s simply a quarter-cup of cold brewed coffee, a half-cup of milk, three scoops of ice cream and a tablespoon of chocolate syrup, blended into a blissfully chilly dessert beverage.

It was excellent. We’d pushed this one back from Sunday (which already featured the hot fudge sundaes we’d bumped from Saturday) and it was very much worth the wait. I can’t wait to see what desserts we’ll get to dive into next.

Today is my one day at work this week, albeit from my cozy remote office just a few feet from where I sleep off all these food celebrations. Here’s what’s on the menu:

  • National Milk Chocolate Day. We’ve got some delicious Dairy Milk to savour for this one.
  • National Waterpark Day. We couldn’t even if we wanted to – and with the weather outside we absolutely want to. So we’ll make our own with our hot tub.
  • National Hamburger Day. We… we already did this on May 28. How many National Hamburger Days can there be?
  • Buffalo Soldiers Day. A bit of a history lesson for today.
  • World Nature Conservation Day. We will do what little we can without leaving the house, because we really hate leaving the house right now.

Monday, July 27, 2020

To thunderous applause summer has finally arrived, clad in its finest Raybans and a too-revealing Speedo. Yesterday, as with today and all ensuing days in the upcoming forecast, I raised the banner of July 22 high above my back yard, as that was National Hammock Day. While I was able to sneak about 20 minutes of semi-quality hammock time in on that auspicious day, I will be roasting my epidermis to a crispy umber over the next week, squeezing in what celebrations present themselves and are willing to fit into a day whose focus will absolutely be the sun. We have been waiting for this. Also, we have been waiting for this:

National Bagel-Fest Day

So what’s the difference between National Bagel Day and National Bagels & Cream Cheese Day and National Bagel-Fest Day? Absolutely nothing. All three are meant to honour the same beloved ring o’ bread, and all three we have celebrated with lox and cream cheese, the way that nature intended.

This one was founded by a guy named Murray Lender, who apparently ran (or possibly still runs) the largest bagel factory in the world, located in Mattoon, Illinois. If you’ve never been aware of the majesty of the bagels from Mattoon, you’re not alone. I guess Lenders Bagels are big in American grocery stores, but I’ve never seen them up here. That said, I do tend to grab most of my bagels from a bakery (Bon-Ton for yesterday’s festivities) and not from the bread section of the supermarket. His bagels look fine – there’s plain, egg dough and onion which all sound tasty. Then you’ve got blueberry, French toast, and cinnamon raisin swirl. I draw the line there.

Bagels don’t need sweetness incorporated into their dough. I can’t imagine plopping a stack of smoked salmon slices atop a cinnamon raisin bagel. I’m all about the plain, the poppyseed, the sesame seed, and even the “everything” bagel, but keep fruit off to the side. Sure, I’m picky. But I also understand that everyone should be celebrating Bagel-Fest in their own way, and since Murray launched this one, I won’t besmirch his product selection.

But we enjoyed bagels the way they were supposed to be enjoyed. Schmeared and loxed up.

National Aunt & Uncles Day

Every day seems to be another excuse to write to a few members of the family and let them know we’re thinking of them. I have a bevy of aunts and uncles who mean the world to me, specifically my mom’s three sisters and their spouses. They were my window into a realm of art, music and culture, not to mention a non-judgmental openness and curiosity about the world. My dad was a blast in some ways, but he had a very narrow view when it came to art and life – one which broadened as he grew older, but which was rather stagnant for my childhood.

My aunts and uncles gave me my first beer. They introduced me to reggae music, ska music, and showed me art can permeate through a house and reflect its residents in an utterly magical fashion. They carried themselves with an unspoken and indirect coolness which I recognized was the “right” sort of coolness: laced with compassion and empathy, and always with humour.

I took a moment yesterday and sent them a message of appreciation, and it felt good. I’ll also give a shout-out to my aunt Bonnie, no longer on this mortal coil, who single-handedly crafted the details of every one of my childhood Christmases. And also to my uncle Rick, who gifted me with my first guitar and all his old Bob Dylan records (which I wore down in a big way). They were all a massive part of forming who I am. The aunts and uncles on my father’s side? Not so much. They couldn’t be bothered. And I’m probably better for it.

This was a great reminder to let the people you appreciate know about it. Each of us has a ticking clock, and those thank-yous need to be spoken before that clock runs out. Much love to all the great aunts & uncles out there.

National Parents Day

So we did a Global Day of Parents on June 1. This one is essentially the same thing, but rather than span the globe it was signed into being by President Clinton back in 1994 for the U.S. of A. Interesting note: it was a bill that was introduced by Republican Trent Lott, so it wasn’t that long ago that a bill could get support from both sides of the aisle. Huh.

To celebrate this day we simply had my mom come by for Sunday dinner – one of the last Sunday dinners we’ll get to enjoy together, as both Jodie and I are set to return to the fetid petri dishes of office buildings and school next month. But we had a delightful time, as always. And she was the only parent who got an invite: my dad passed away years ago, Jodie’s dad lives on the west coast, and her mom… well, her mom also lives far away. We’ll leave it at that.

It wasn’t a dynamic celebration, just a nice few hours of spending time with someone who is an essential component to our family dynamic. Thanks, President Bill, for coming up with an excuse for us to gather and toast this awesome human.

National Wine & Cheese Day

Wine and cheese. What a perfect blend of flavours, even if we celebrated this one a day late. I picked out a nice Chilean cabernet sauvignon for dinner, because I’ve never had a bad experience with Chilean wines and I know almost nothing about picking out a great one. There was no trying to appease Jodie, as I knew she had no interest in sampling the wine. I guess I lucked out; it was tasty.

Oh, but the cheese. The prima donna has been one of our favourites for years. Apparently it was created by a Dutch cheese-lover who had travelled throughout Italy, and who then returned home and tried to funnel all he learned into an Italian-style cheese. It’s aged to perfection and delivers a puckish bite followed by a fulsome flavour. Then of course we had to snag some more of the Wookey Hole aged cheddar because that is the cheese that reflects who I am: aged, evoking images of hairy beasts, and overall quite delightful. Or so I tell myself.

Our plan was to devour this for dinner, but it made for a much more appetizing appetizer. Much better than pork rinds. Sure, we celebrated this one a day late, but our Saturday didn’t really start until about 6:00PM so it was tough to squeak in on time. We were okay with that.

Esperanto Day

A big thanks to L.L. Zamenhof, who got the idea that humanity required a single language to unite it. He wasn’t wrong, and his efforts to create that language from scratch were noble, if not entirely successful.

Let’s have a look at that pair of sentences once more, this time in Esperanto:

Grandan dankon al L.L. Zamenhof, kiu ekhavis la ideon, ke la homaro postulas unu lingvon kunigi ĝin. Li ne malpravis, kaj liaj klopodoj krei tiun lingvon de nulo estis noblaj, se ne tute sukcesaj.

Did you get all that? Probably not, because Esperanto is extremely far removed from English. The internet and social media have shown us that most English-speakers can’t be bothered to learn the proper rules for their own language; asking us all to drop it and learn a new one was never in the cards.

That’s not to say it’s a dead language. If anything, the internet has opened it up even more, allowing people to learn it and speak it with others around the globe. It’s estimated around 100,000 people use the language regularly, and it pops up in over 100 countries. So maybe there’s hope we’ll all drift that way someday. The French Academy of Sciences recommended it for official scientific communication – and some scientists actually bought in. Bill Shatner, the year before he was stationed aboard the Enterprise, acted in an Esperanto film called Incubus.

We won’t be taking any night courses anytime soon to pick up this language, but I’m glad it’s still making waves among some folks. Zamenhof’s goals to unite humanity were noble, if not likely to come to fruition in my lifetime. It was 133 years ago yesterday when Unua Libro, the first Esperanto book, was published by Zamenhof. I look forward to reading it someday, possibly a few lifetimes from now.

National All Or Nothing Day

This is another one of those generic grab-life-by-the-pubes-and-hang-on type of days. We get so many of these, encouraging us to throw caution to the wind and take a big ol’ bite out of the apple of existence. We have so many of these they are actually becoming tiresome.

What did we do yesterday that was “all or nothing”? Well, we celebrated nearly “all” of the days we had on our schedule, with National Coffee Milkshake Day being bumped and World Tofu Day being wiped off the calendar. I suppose we could have gone with “nothing” and just taken it easy, but we had our dinner plans already set, not to mention our bagel brunch plans. That wasn’t happening.

I suppose we went “all-in” on summer yesterday, spending a few hours in the sun, either in our chilled hot tub or Jodie in her patio chair and me in my hammock. It was a magnificent day, and I think we definitely milked it for “all” we could. Not enough? I listened to the Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers song “All Or Nothin’” from their brilliant Into The Great Wide Open album. Satisfied now?

For me, that’s good enough. I’m sure we’ll be told to embrace life again in the next couple of weeks.

Reek Sunday

On the last Sunday of July, folks in Ireland tend to take a little trip. I don’t know if it’s happening in this virus-laden year, but it might be. It’s a journey to Croagh Patrick, a 764-meter mountain that is considered to be the holiest in all of Ireland. There is a chapel on the mountain, and certainly masses are held, but it’s believed this tradition predates Christianity, possibly dating back more than 1,500 years.

Still, the pilgrimage is in honour of St. Patrick. Remember him? The guy whose honorary day is devoted to getting drunk and puking on the street in March? Apparently in the year 441, St. Patty spent 40 days fasting on this mountain. But this journey isn’t just about walking and praying.

The truly devout will make the trek barefoot, as penance for the wrongs they have done. They will walk seven times around the grave of Saint Benigus of Armagh. Then they’ll walk fifteen times around the summit. Another seven trips around Patrick’s Bed, and another seven around the ancient cairns known as Mary’s Cemetery.

Around 100,000 people make the trip up this mountain every year, and nearly a third of those people do it for this special Sunday. From the photos I’ve seen this looks like a crowd-heavy event, so not ideal for Covid conditions I’m sure. But there are always people whose devoutness outweighs their adherence to medical protocols. Best of luck, Irish pilgrims. Stay safe.

One Voice Day

At precisely 6:00PM UT (which is 1:00PM our time), people are called upon to read aloud the text of the Universal Peace Covenant. Yes, this is a day of metaphysics, of pooling one’s faith into the unknown and hoping that a bunch of people reading 577 words out loud might somehow bring about a more peaceful and prosperous world. Pure garbage, right?

Well, no. I refuse to dismiss this, especially after having read the Universal Peace Covenant. It’s a great little declaration, one that our world leaders would benefit from perusing – at least those world leaders whose capacity to read multi-syllabic words is not in question. (Man-Woman-Person-Camera-TV notwithstanding)

We should contemplate world peace every so often, if only to play out in our head some fantastical scenario in which it comes to be. We’d all imagine that in different ways, but the unifying concepts wouldn’t change: peace will be attained when we are connected in a way that cannot deny universal empathy. We need to see one another’s humanity and put into perspective one another’s differences – not erase them, but rather embrace them and weave them into the collective. It’s not likely to come to fruition in my lifetime, any more than we’re likely to see Esperanto bridging us all together linguistically.

But it’s worth thinking about and dreaming about. Which is exactly what we did.

National New Jersey Day

And off we go to the Garden State, as we continue to tour around the nation aboard a culinary ship, sampling the goodies that are popular in each state. A few weeks ago we had a day (or maybe it was a full week) devoted to being nice to New Jersey, which is often the butt of so many jokes. And I get it – the titans of American comedy tend to live in New York, and Jersey sits across the river as an easy target, albeit one that New Yorkers must journey into every time they want to see one of their professional football teams play.

I’ve only seen the smallest bit of New Jersey. One school trip we chaperoned had us staying in Newark and busing to the Holland Tunnel every day. It was about as glorious to look at as the opening credits of The Sopranos. But Jersey has some brilliant history.

The entire state, apart from one single county, falls into the statistical areas of either New York City or Philadelphia. Jersey was at the heart of the industrial revolution, meaning its towns and cities were industry towns and not cultural metropolises. There are more millionaires per capita there than in any other state, and the education system almost always clocks in near the top in the nation. In 1776 they gave the right to vote to all individuals. Well, not married women, since their husbands technically owned stuff. And not to poor people – you had to have a certain amount of wealth. But single women and black people, so long as they had a bit of bank, could cast a vote. That said, they were also the last northern state to abolish slavery. So maybe we’re right to make fun of them for that.

New Jersey’s greatest children are a who’s who of brilliance: you’ve got Kevin Smith from Red Bank, The Boss from Long Branch, ol’ Blue Eyes from Hoboken, Jason Alexander from Newark, Danny DeVito from Neptune Township, Peter Dinklage from Mendham Township, Jerry Lewis from Newark, Jack Nicholson from Neptune City, Marc Maron from Jersey City, Artie Lange from Livingston, Joe Pantoliano from Hoboken, Loretta Swit from Passaic, and that’s just a small sampling of the folks I’m a huge fan of.

For dinner we sampled something called Savoy Chicken. It was either that or a Fat Sandwich, which consists of roast beef, chicken tenders, fries, cheese and gravy on a sandwich, and that felt like just too much food. This was much simpler: just some chicken with a paste of pecorino cheese, garlic, oil, and some spices, with a dash of red wine vinegar. It was also – and this is strange to say – my first attempt at cooking chicken with the skin on. It was a huge success. Absolutely delicious, just like New Jersey.

National Hot Fudge Sundae Day

I have nothing to add here. This was simply the next entry in a long line of sundaes and ice cream days, and we did it right, with plenty of hot fudge, ice cream, sprinkles (newer ones, not the 1991 ones), whipped cream and a cherry. Have a look at the photo. It was a grand celebration.

And off we go into another week, albeit one where I will work only one day (remotely), and then begin my vacation. Here’s what’s up today:

  • National Scotch Day. Drink some scotch? I’m sure I can manage that.
  • National Crème Brulée Day. I see this as being a bit harder to come by. We don’t have those little dishes; might have to make a trip to find some.
  • Take Your Houseplants For A Walk Day. This is pretty self-explanatory.
  • Bagpipe Appreciation Day. Oh crap. Maybe I’ll just appreciate them visually.
  • Cross Atlantic Communication Day. I’ll send a note to a friend who lives on the other side of the ocean.
  • National Chicken Finger Day. I’m just finding out about this now. Not sure we’ll head out for some, but we have that option.
  • Norfolk Day. A very regional celebration. But we’ll send some love to Norfolk.
  • Take Your Pants For A Walk Day. Is this a misspelling of the plants one? I guess we’ll wear pants on our walk.
  • Walk On Stilts Day. I wish!

Sunday, July 26, 2020

I’ll be perfectly honest, I’m not entirely sure what became of our yesterday. I awoke after having the most brick-like, successful slumber of the year. We made our weekly trek for key supplies (doughnuts), grabbed some bagels and came home. We napped. I began my writing and posting tasks after 6:00PM, the day mostly lost in a calm dream-like state. That left little room for celebrating. Still, off we went:

National Merry-Go-Round Day

We tried. We sincerely tried to celebrate this one, and were even willing to glove up, mask up, and venture to a carousel to take a spin if we could. Alas, there are only two that we know of in this city: one in Galaxyland, the massive amusement park in our nearby shopping mall, but that’s closed; and one at our city zoo, which I haven’t visited in ages and was delighted to find is open during the pandemic. But the merry-go-round is not.

On the plus side, that gives me full permission to scrawl a little about these beloved rides without having to haul my sleep-heavy ass out of the house. The carousel emerged from jousting competitions. When they weren’t trying to impale one another, knights would gallop about in a circle on horseback (to be clear, the horses were doing the galloping, not the knights), while tossing a ball. A spirited game of horseback-circular-catch was actually a demonstration of tremendous skill, awareness, and probably balance whenever a toss stretched the reach of one’s fingertips.

It’s somewhat comforting to know that the middle ages featured sporting competitions that weren’t just about destroying other humans or maiming animals. These competitions changed over time, and by the 1600s there was no ball, but rings hanging overhead which the knights had to spear. This led to the kids’ version, made with wooden horses and with prize rings to be grabbed by hand.

Here’s a weird piece of carousel trivia. In the UK, it’s most common for carousels to spin in a clockwise direction. On mainland Europe and over here in the New World, they tend to spin counter-clockwise.

The photo above is of Jane’s Carousel in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn. It was built in 1922 by a toboggan company in Ohio, and was the first merry-go-round to receive historical designation in the US. I’ve only seen that one from afar, though once we are allowed to return to that magnificent city it’s on my list of things to do. For now, I sit here and dream.

National Day of the Cowboy

Let’s be honest, the life of the cowboy is not an enviable one. They did their work with honour and dedication, and they ultimately came to carve out the American civilization (albeit on the backs of the civilizations that were there before, but that’s a discussion for another day). Cowboys worked hard. They had little time for recreation, and little to do for recreation when they did have time. Think about it – put aside the cinematic tropes of drunk-heavy saloons and smoky houses of ill-repute, and contemplate what your average married homesteader could do with their free time.

Despite having grown up with a father who insisted that Dallas’s football team should be my favourite as well (I think he just liked the cheerleaders), I never dreamed of living on the frontier. The hats were cool (though not historically consistent with reality), but as I mentioned a few days ago, I’m not swayed by the so-called romanticism of travelling everywhere by horse.

But yesterday I did my part to explore the world of the cowboy a little deeper. I mean, it’s a tiny effort I suppose, especially compared to, say, building a time machine and scooting back to 1885 to hang with Marty and Doc Brown, but it’s something. I put Red Dead Redemption 2 on my Steam wishlist, for purchase on our next payday. I think I’ve earned some quality recreation.

Besides, it’s for the cowboys.

International Red Shoe Day

Sadly, this is not simply a day to salute crimson footwear. Seven years ago yesterday, Theda Myint passed away due to complications from Lyme Disease. The following year this day was put into place to bring attention to Lyme Disease and other invisible illnesses. I know a few folks who have been on the business end of a vicious tick and wound up with this illness. It isn’t pretty.

So while it was easy enough for me to slip on my fancy footwear pictured above, I did so without the intent of actually wearing them to walk the dogs (that would have been foolish and painful), but with the purpose of drawing attention to a silent killer.

Lyme Disease is real and from what I’ve read it’s quite scary. My solution is to stay clear of tall grassy areas, or really anything that could be defined as ‘nature’. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that the best way to avoid getting sick is to just stay the hell home and hide.

Be careful out there, if you’ve got to be out there.

National Drowning Prevention Day / Drowning Prevention Week

And in a similar vein, the best way to avoid drowning is once again to follow my example: don’t go anywhere. Avoid water. Sure, it may be “fun” to ride in a boat, and it may be “good exercise” to swim, and maybe you “actually enjoy” being in the water, but I’ll have a lot less chance of drowning if I stick to my bathtub and hot tub. Sure, there are risks involved in those, but that’s the edge of madness upon which I live, baby. It’s like I’m constantly dangling from an anticipatory 7th chord.

On a more serious note (that’s two mediocre music theory gags for my astute readers), over 400 Canadians perish every year in water-related incidents. Speaking as someone who is far better at sinking than at swimming, I will agree with the Life Saving Society that a life jacket should be necessary boating attire. Even if you’re a good swimmer, you might get knocked out falling overboard, or worse yet, dragged to the bottom of the lake by some mysterious sea creature. I mean, they probably don’t exist, but do you really want to find out they do as you plunge to your death?

Also, alcohol is involved in a full 41% of boating accidents. That makes sense; there’s not that much out there on the water to hit, but with a bit of booze in the bloodstream, it would be easy to miss what is. Have a designated driver who can get sufficiently high on the crisp, sea air, and let the passengers get tanked. Actually, that’s not great advice either, but what do I know? I’m a sinker.

Be safe, everyone. Don’t even look at a photo of a body of water unless you’re near someone who knows CPR. And steer yourself clear of the Black Lagoon. Some crazy shit going on down there.

Rolling into Sunday with the intent of catching up on our hot fudge sundae and wine & cheese obligations, as well as all of this:

  • National Bagel-Fest Day. I don’t know what this is, but we’ve got bagels, just in case.
  • National Aunt & Uncles Day. I am fortunate to be equipped with a great batch of these folks, so they’ll get some love.
  • National Coffee Milkshake Day. I doubt I’ll talk Jodie into this on the same day as a sundae, but who knows?
  • National Parents Day. Wow, parents sure get a lot of days every year, don’t they?
  • Esperanto Day. I guess I’ll learn some Esperanto. Fun.
  • National All Or Nothing Day. There’s a Tom Petty song by that name. I guess I’ll listen to that?
  • Reek Sunday. An Irish pilgrimage. Something to learn about, since the holy mountain they head to is kind of far away from here.
  • National New Jersey Day. We’ve got a delightful meal planned for this one.
  • World Tofu Day. I don’t think so.
  • One Voice Day. A day to read the Universal Peace Covenant out loud as one united voice. Sure, sounds like a blast.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

This rollicking succession of days, in which our treasured ability to duck and cover from this rampaging virus (not to mention the other agonies of daily life) is coming to an end. Yesterday I chanced upon an epiphany. It might be the only means by which I can stomach an unnecessary return to the cold ugliness of the world, and the festering petri dish of recycled air in a musty office tower. Write less, smile more. Our minutes of liberation are finite. The last four months have taught me that I can love my job in better surroundings. They revealed to me the value of time, puppies, and all this weird shit:

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Day

For the first time in nearly 1,300 celebrations we found ourselves successfully honouring a celebration on the correct day, and then forgetting to write about it. It simply plopped from my brain onto the floor beneath me yesterday. Fortunately, all that hit the floor was my brain-chunk, not the actual object of celebration itself.

It was 1923 when H.B. Reese, who had worked on a Hershey dairy farm, hit that fortuitous collision of Hershey chocolate and peanut butter. He started his own company and sold cupboards of those cups up until his death in 1956. That’s when his six sons started working toward the 1963 merger with Hershey’s that led to the beloved cups being Hershey’s top seller before the decade was out.

The Reese cups are without question our most beloved candy bar – even though it involves stretching the notion of the word ‘bar’. But there are also Reese Sticks and Reese’s Pieces and Reese Crunchers and so many more options. Above are what we picked out for the day, and even though we were also committed to a delicious sprinkle-topped bowl of vanilla ice cream on Thursday we somehow made this happen too.

We are very dedicated to the dessert celebrations. Our priorities are A-OK.

National Cousins Day

I guess every familial connection should get its own special celebration, right? I mean, it’s utterly silly but if it prompts us to reach out to one another and connect, however briefly, isn’t that a good thing? I avoided the cousins I don’t particularly care for (and I may have forgotten one or two I actually like – sorry!), but I reached out and said hi to a few beloved cousins.

That’s… really all there is to say about National Cousins Day, isn’t it? No one knows who invented the celebration, we only know it exists. I’m going to follow my “write less, smile more” self-advice and simply move on. Celebration celebrated.

National Drive-Thru Day

My source on this one indicates it was started by Jack-In-The-Box, the first drive-through burger service. I’m not 100% certain that is accurate, but I’m not a fast-food historian. I haven’t ruled that out as a possible profession when I grow up, but I’m not there yet.

It was a place called Kirby’s Pig Stand in Dallas that opened up the world of car culture and dining. In 1921 Kirby’s opened the first drive-in restaurant – you know, those parking lots with car-hops who serve you on a tray hanging off the driver’s side window. If you’re old enough to remember these places first-hand, you are likely at least as old as I am. Congratulations.

The first actual drive-thru was City Center Bank in 1928. The first one to serve food was a franchise of the Pig Stand out in California. McDonalds jumped on board in 1975 in Sierra Vista, AZ, which was close to a military base. The troops on duty often couldn’t leave their vehicles, so this McDonalds got clever by setting up a window where they could conduct the entire transaction. I can say with confidence that I have not been inside a fast food restaurant in 2020, because the drive-thru is more pandemic-friendly, and besides – I’m always on the go. Look at me, just going all the time. It’s really quite spectacular.

Last night we took a road trip to Spruce Grove (which is about a 15-minute road trip, but city limits are crossed so it counts). We drove through at Jack’s, an independent restaurant that has been providing tasty fast food to suburbanites for decades. The licorice milkshake was something special. It was a much better choice than another boring ol’ McMeal.

National Tell An Old Joke Day

I once again have no backstory to this celebration. I’m going to guess it was some guy whose method of entertaining friends and family involved setup-punchline jokes he’d memorized from a book written in the mid to late 1950s. When people began to tire of his repeated schtick, he simply offered the misdirection that hey, it’s National Tell An Old Joke Day so he’s allowed. If that isn’t how it happened then I’m sure the story is far more dull.

I’m not a big fan of standard jokes, but what the hell. Back in 2008 Reuters unearthed what may be the oldest recorded joke in history, dating back to about 1900 BC. The cut-ups here were the Sumerians, who lived in what we now call southern Iraq. Are you ready? Because this is almost Gilbert-Gottfried-level delivery right here… “Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a young woman did not fart in her husband’s lap.”

Whoa! I know – you could build an entire sitcom premise on that one. Fast-forward about 300 years and you’ve got this Egyptian classic zinger: How do you entertain a bored pharaoh? Sail a boatload of young women dressed only in fishing nets down the Nile and urge the pharaoh to go catch a fish.” Ha! Can you imagine?

So it seems dick and fart jokes are at the very origin of human humour. I find that to be strangely soothing. We haven’t come very far, but really… have we needed to?

Why mess with perfection?

National Tequila Day

There’s a good chance that pretty much every plant on earth has been experimented with in an effort to transform it into an intoxicant. What a day it must have been for the first person to squeeze the goodly innards from the agave plant. That wonderful person, lost to ancient pre-Columbian Mexican history, created pure magic on that day.

Tequila’s more modern origins come from a city actually called Tequila. The early brands came from family entrepreneurs, though of course those days are long gone. The beverage may have gone corporate, but it’s still overseen by the Mexican government. Here is where I would delve deep into the fermentation process and learn everything I can about a beverage I will likely never create from scratch. But not today.

Write less, smile more. That’s where my heart is at right now. And the most important thing I could do with this glorious celebration at my fingertips is to wrap those fingertips around a shot glass and guide a blast of tequila to a cozy home in my gut-parts. Tequila is one of the pinnacles of hard liquor. And after a brutal week such as this, a more apt celebration would have been impossible to create.

Happy day to all.

Saturdays tend to be pretty busy, but this one is quite manageable. At least that’s the hope.

  • National Merry-Go-Round Day. We have zero access to a merry-go-round, so that will make this difficult.
  • National Hot Fudge Sundae Day. Didn’t we just eat one of those? Like, two days ago? Ha! We did not – that was just chocolate syrup.
  • National Threading The Needle Day. We have a few ideas on how to take this one both literally and metaphorically.
  • National Wine & Cheese Day. Excellent.
  • National Day of the Cowboy. Should we watch an old western? Steal a horse? Relive the excitement of Super Bowl XXX?
  • International Red Shoe Day. I guess we wear red shoes. Do we own red shoes? We’ll find out.
  • National Drowning Prevention Day. We will honour this by not going in any water.
  • Health & Happiness With Hypnosis Day. We’ll see.

Friday, July 24, 2020

If this project only serves to document the arc of my mental health throughout this clusterfucked 2020, then so be it. Nearly seven months in, it’s clear we aren’t changing the face of human culture with this little experiment (not that we thought we would), nor are we any sort of a beacon of hope for the masses. We are the end result of our response to circumstance. Yesterday that result was a puddled mass of gooey anxiety and trepidation, fleeing shadows so dark I will spare you their descriptions. It wasn’t a day I’d care to repeat. Fortunately it was broken up by sufficient distraction:

Gorgeous Grandma Day

This is an odd one. We have Grandparents Day in September, and a handful of other celebrations which honour parents of parents this year. But this is the only one in which we are asked to make an aesthetic evaluation of the family matriarch. It’s a little weird.

Since neither Jodie nor myself have living grandmas of our own, we instead looked to our kids’ grandmas. My mother was decided to be the one honoured, as she is the one deeply linked to this project, and her actual concern over the creative output of her kids makes her more gorgeous, at least as far as this day is concerned. I wrote her a text and advised her of this, to which she responded, “Do I get presents?”

The answer, of course, is yes. One single present, and that present is an appearance in today’s article. It really couldn’t get much better than that, could it? I asked her to send over a selfie, but she requested we use a file photo instead. The above shot is from two years and a day ago. My mom is the one with the least amount of fur. Ain’t she gorgeous?

National Vanilla Ice Cream Day

We have celebrated ice cream numerous times so far. Here’s a quick summary:

Strawberry Ice Cream Day was on January 15. We had Ice Cream for Breakfast Day on February 1, the same day I made a Baked Alaska for Baked Alaska Day. Also all ice cream. We had Butterscotch Day on February 15, for which we ate ice cream. Rocky Road Day was June 2, Chocolate Ice Cream Day June 7, then there was Ice Cream Soda Day on the 20th. Pralines Day on the 24th? Ice cream, of course. There was National Creative Ice Cream Flavours Day on July 1, followed by Peach Ice Cream Day and National Ice Cream Day in the last week. And don’t forget Strawberry Sundae Day and Make Your Own Sunday Day earlier this month. And look, Hot Fudge Sundae Day is tomorrow.

In short, we are eating a lot of ice cream this year, probably more than any other year in my life. For most of these, we have been purchasing ice cream and keeping it at home, so there have been leftovers. Maybe our best bet is to start pursuing our ice cream from local vendors and eliminating all those leftovers. I fear all the exercise in the world isn’t going to be able to combat this gluttony.

But celebrate we must, and celebrate we did yesterday. More on this below, because of course it wouldn’t do for this day to be solely about the vanilla ice cream, would it?

Hot Enough For Ya Day

I’m pretty sure the purpose behind this day is pretty clear. With summer having been in full swing for a month now, it would be acceptable (if not overly original) to ask someone, “Hey, hot enough for ya?”

My answer yesterday would have been an emphatic no. We were under an overcast sky pretty much all day, with temperatures barely climbing above room temperature. This has been the story for much of the summer so far, though next week may offer some genuine hammock days, to borrow parlance from one of Wednesday’s celebrations.

I’m just going to leave this here then. I did ask Jodie if it was hot enough for her, and her response was the same as mine. Ask us again in a week.

National Refreshment Day

This celebration ties in with the last one, in that we are to savour a tall glass of refreshment in order to escape the incessant summer heat. Again, probably ideal for much of the United States and the less polar-adjacent parts of Canada, but not really in the cards this week. Still, we are meant to celebrate and celebrate we do.

Pictured above is my chosen beverage of utter refreshment for this humble event. It’s a mix of Pink Whitney, a shockingly delicious pink lemonade-flavoured vodka, with soda water. If this looks like something an alcohol newbie might drink in order to mask the taste of the booze, it absolutely is. But who cares? It’s delicious and refreshing, and that’s the point.

Refreshment, of course, does not require alcohol. We would be careless if we were to suggest otherwise. However, when one is not beleaguered by heat and/or humidity, but instead by ineptitude and utter disregard for one’s well-being by one’s employers, alcohol doesn’t hurt. In moderation, of course. Refreshing, delicious moderation.

Sprinkle Day

Tiny balls or rod-shaped bits of candy, that’s how sprinkles are defined in the dictionary. For most of us, sprinkles are the necessary crunch that elevates an ice cream sundae to the levels of exalted magnificence it deserves. A candy company in Brooklyn claims to have invented chocolate sprinkles, but some variety of sprinkles have been used in desserts for centuries.

So what can we learn about sprinkles? The name ‘jimmies’ to mean sprinkles was first documented in 1930, but that’s more of a regional northeast-US thing from what I can gather. In the Netherlands and Belgium, and also in Suriname and Indonesia, which the Netherlands used to control, it’s common to eat sprinkles as a sandwich topping. Just with butter mind you – I’m quite certain they aren’t just scattering chocolate sprinkles onto a BLT. But it’s considered a breakfast food. There’s something to ruminate on. Those little butter-sprinkle sandwiches are called Fairy Bread in Australia and New Zealand.

For some reason this is considered tremendously weird by our culinary standards in this part of the world. But we also consider Pop Tarts to be a breakfast food – well, some of us do. And I remember commercials for Hostess Breakfast Donuts while I was growing up. So weird is in the eye of the beholder.

We had sprinkles on our ice cream yesterday. Celebrating those two things separately wouldn’t have made sense. As evidenced above, our sprinkles hail from the George H.W. Bush presidential administration. It’s quite likely I was in the tenth grade when these were produced. Fortunately, they were still edible, with no lingering effects I can see. Yet.

I’ve been looking forward to this day all week, and not just for the onset of the weekend, but for this stuff:

  • National Tequila Day. It absolutely is. And it is necessary.
  • National Drive-Thru Day. I guess our dinner plans are secured.
  • National Cousins Day. I have several cousins I will reach out to today, plus two that I won’t for various moron-related reasons.
  • National Tell An Old Joke Day. So this family goes to see a talent agent, saying they have an incredible act…
  • Amelia Earhart Day. A day to toast one of history’s most awesome humans.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Yesterday we received a disturbing missive from our provincial government (motto: “Meh, fuck it.”), advising that Jodie will be returning to school as usual in September. Given that this may lead the virus into our home, thus preventing our abilities to adequately participate in these celebrations, it’s best we cram in as many as possible before then. So to that end we dove in deep to embrace the following yesterday:

National Hammock Day

Without question, every Father’s Day since 2008 has been a disappointment. This is no reflection on the efforts of my wife and kids, it’s just that they hit the pinnacle of Father’s Day potential twelve years ago when I was gifted with one of my childhood dream toys: my own hammock. It’s a self-contained unit with its own stand, requiring no trees. It’s built out of thick canvas, not twine. I can lay in it for hours – and I have – and while it’s not comfy enough for an extended sleep, it is exactly the right degree of pillowy to soothe away stress. Under a hot summer sun, there is no place on the planet I’d rather be.

There is no great inventor of the hammock; if there were, his name would ring through the halls of hallowed history with a sonorous chime. Some authors can trace hammock use back to at least 404BC in Greece, while Spanish explorers in the West Indies found that the natives were also making use of similar technology. It makes sense – it keeps you up off the ground and away from ground-level threats like snakes and scorpions, and while it’s not an ideal posture-supporting device it would be more comfortable than a makeshift earth-bed.

Since the 1500s the hammock has been the standard bed structure on ships. I’d imagine that would magnify rather than reduce the motion of the waves on the sleeping soul, but I’ve never laid down in a nautical hammock so I honestly have no idea. I did just learn that the best way to get maximum room and support is to lay diagonally in one.

And that’s what I did yesterday. I was unfortunately tethered to my desk for most of the work day, but the weather was pleasant enough for a late afternoon slumber beneath a quiet sky. I consider a hammock day to be among the most prized days of summer, and it pains me that we have had so few of them this year, when I happen to be working from home and am able to take lunch-time hammock breaks. There’s still August, I suppose.

Pi Approximation Day

Yes, we celebrated Pi Day on March 14 (the number pi is 3.14… in case there’s anyone left who doesn’t know this), and yes, this is another day in which we are expected to celebrate the exact same thing. 22/7, or 22 divided by 7, provides an approximation of pi. Let’s extrapolate this just a bit. I have never needed to know pi by more than the numbers 3.141592. That’s six decimals, and that’s as many of the gazillions of decimals as I’ve cared to memorize. In school we only needed 3.14, so I’d say I’ve done my extra work on this one.

But 22/7 comes out to 3.142857. So sure, it’s an approximation, but one that ballparks even wider than my initial base of knowledge. In short, I’m not impressed. The recommendations for this day are to celebrate just as we did back in March, by eating pie and making the really obvious observation that ‘pi’ sounds just like ‘pie’.

We did not eat pie. We have enough dessert celebrations on our proverbial plate right now (including two today) that we didn’t feel the need to add to it. Today was a day without a sweet treat (apart from Penuche Fudge Day, which we opted out of), and that’s just fine. But I did some math today, and isn’t that really the purpose of pi? Hell, I demonstrated that I still remember six decimal places of a number I have had no practical use for since high school.

I’d say that’s a win.

National Rat Catcher’s Day

Robert Browning’s poem about the Pied Piper of Hamelin cites July 22, 1376 as the day he lured the rats from the town of Hamelin with his majestic flute playing. It’s a piece of fiction, of course, but one which has somehow endured for centuries. Why this, of all stories, has such staying power I have no idea.

The story has its roots in glass. There was a church in Hamelin, Germany, with a stained glass window dating from the 1300s, depicting the Pied Piper’s work. The church was destroyed in 1660 but the story had worked its way into local folklore by then. The Grimm Brothers found it fit their brand perfectly so they spun their version. And like so many stories from this era, it’s a tale with a message.

Don’t fuck with contractors.

It’s a straightforward message. In the story, the people of the town of Hamelin are overwhelmed by a rat infestation – this explains the popularity of the story during the age of the Black Plague, when rats were literally killing people by the millions. They hired a guy in funky, colourful clothes (which were referred to as ‘pied’ apparently) to play his flute and lure the rats over to the Weser River where they would drown. There are numerous holes in this plot, but it’s folklore. Let’s just accept it and move on.

When the people of Hamelin informed the Piper that they couldn’t pay – a real dickbag move on their part – the Piper then played his flute and lured all the children of the town to follow him past city limits. What happens next depends on the version of the story: some say he led the kids into a cave and they were never seen again, others say he led them into the same river to die, and still other versions of the story have the town caving in and paying the Piper so they can get their kids back. But the message is the same: don’t hire a contractor and refuse to pay them.

We celebrated this by listening to that Pied Piper song by Del Shannon and watching an episode of HBO’s Silicon Valley. Beats dealing with actual rats.

Summer Leisure Day

To be perfectly clear, I strongly suspect this is not actually a thing. There are no verifiable sources, apart from a couple of blogs and Facebook pages who declare the day in order to sell their stuff. Also, I’m not entirely sure why an entire season devoted to leisure would have a single day within it designated as its leisure day. Nor am I sure why that day would be allowed to fall on a Wednesday instead of being the nth Saturday of the month or something.

Sometimes logic ambles so far away from our little calendar it’s a waste of energy to even ask about it. What could we do? We could indulge in some summer leisure.

For this I refer you to the entry a few sections up from here in which I leisurely enjoyed the glory of laying in my hammock beneath a benevolent sun. That’s all the summer leisure I need right there. I just need a lot more of it before the snow flies again.

Spoonerism Day

A spoonerism is a play on words, named for the Reverend William Archibald Spooner, who may or may not have had a tendency to create these little glitches by accident. The idea is simply to swap out the first letter or letters of a couple of words to create new words. So instead of lighting a fire, you’d be fighting a lyre. Or a liar. Either one works, since these are best when spoken out loud.

You wouldn’t score a touchdown, but rather a Dutch town. You could excuse yourself from a fancy cocktail party to “shake a tit”, but you’d really be dropping a deuce. The good ol’ ace of spaces would instead be referred to as the space of AIDS. Maybe you’ll want to settle in to watch a movie with a bucket of cop porn. You’re not sure if you want to hit the mall on a Saturday, as you might not get a sparking pot. And if all of this is utterly astounding to you, you may have just had your blind moan.

Laughing yet? Come on, if ‘shake a tit’ didn’t do it for you… okay, here are some more.

A foodie may prefer food that is more gay (a.k.a. gourmet). You may interpret 96 hours as being door phase. You might fancy making a burger out of some bean leaf. At a frat party you might suggest a game of peer bong. If you were bitten by a radioactive spider, you may wonder if it will give you poop or sours. You could play a B-chord on your keyboard. If you’re feeling filthy you may want to shake a tower. Also, you may find it interesting to note that, had the 2008 election gone a different way, the VP would have been parasailin’.

Bappy 176th Hearth-Day to Reverend Spooner. Thanks for the weirdness.

National Hot Dog Day / National Hot Dog Month

Here’s some good news: I did a quick search, asking our friend Google if there is any anus in hot dogs. It turns out the answer is no! Well, it’s no if you reject the response from PETA, which I clearly did. But I found another, more disturbing (possible) fact about our little wiener friends. Some of them may contain human parts.

This is from a study out of Clear Labs in Menlo Park, California, that is absolutely under scrutiny, so don’t toss your cookies over this quite yet. But this lab claims they analyzed 75 different brands, a total of 345 different types of hot dog, and found human DNA in 2% of the meat-tubes. Those odds are pretty good, I guess… but then aren’t most of us wearing a mask and social distancing because of a disease with a similar mortality rate? This is disturbing, to say the least.

Pork sausages similar to modern hot dogs were invented in – and this shouldn’t be a surprise – Frankfurt, Germany. They were treats handed out when a new ruler was coronated. One story (and of course there are multiple stories) tells of a man named Feuchtwanger, a German immigrant who began selling hot dogs from a street cart in St. Louis. He’d hand out gloves to his customers so they could eat the wieners without scalding their hands, but business was taking a hit when customers took off with the gloves instead of returning them. Mrs. Feuchtwanger, ever the crafty sort, suggested buns as an alternative.

“Dog” as a euphemism for “sausage” has been a thing since the 1800s. Eating dog meat in Germany was actually relatively common in the early 20th century, so the name may be justified. But lest your stomach clench up at the thought (and really, it should), remember that the next wiener you bite into might contain a little Soylent Green inside it.

Oh, and the same study revealed human DNA in roughly two thirds of the veggie burgers tested. So I’ll take my chances on PETA being right about the hog anus, thank you very much. We had hot dogs last night and they were wonderful. So wonderful in fact that I forgot to take a picture. Must have had too much leisure yesterday or something.

What wonders will today bring? Well, probably these ones:

  • Gorgeous Grandma Day. Okay, I guess we track down some racy shots of the Golden Girls?
  • National Vanilla Ice Cream Day. The ice cream party rolls on with another one.
  • Hot Enough For Ya Day. Judging by the weather forecast, no, it will not be hot enough for me.
  • National Refreshment Day. We’ll be keeping our thirsts quenched as much as humanly possible.
  • Peanut Butter & Chocolate Day. Celebrating the greatest collisions in 80s TV commercial history.
  • Sprinkle Day. This is literally a day to celebrate sprinkles. On the same day as we celebrate vanilla ice cream. Should we incorporate hot fudge or wait two more days for National Hot Fudge Sundae Day? So many options…

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

I felt myself drawn to the wind yesterday morning, gazing through my office window at the gentle swaying of the evergreen branches across the street, at the subtle quiver of the peony petals in our neighbour’s yard… then my eye drifted to my August calendar and I saw that the 3rd happens to be Grab Some Nuts Day, and I fell into a distracted giggle. The moment of serenity and natural communion had passed. This is a good thing – my articles are a lot more interesting when I stay away from organic bemusements and stick with the dick jokes. Seems like as good a time as any to dive in:

Take A Monkey To Lunch Day

Well this one is going to clock in as a disappointment. Obviously renting a monkey was not a viable option; most local monkey rental facilities are still shut down due to Covid, and the ones that aren’t… let’s just say you don’t want to put down a deposit on one of those monkeys. Then I thought, maybe I can just have lunch with my dogs and they can be the ones who celebrate, given my ancestral lineage down the ladder of primates. Cute, right?

It turns out that I was actually quite close in my second guess to the actual spirit of this celebration. Yesterday marked the 95th anniversary of the verdict in the Scopes Monkey Trial in the Criminal Court of Tennessee. This was an historic ruling in the argument of evolution vs. creationism in the education system. The details are many and nuanced, so naturally I’ll try to boil it down in the most simple of paragraphs. That’s what I do.

It’s important to note that the trial itself, in which John Scopes was charged by the state for teaching evolution in school, was a sham. The town of Dayton, TN wanted to get on the map. Scopes was happy to help out; he wasn’t sure if he’d actually taught evolution, but he was fine being charged in order to help with the publicity. Even the kids who testified were coached by Scopes on what to say in order to make him look guilty. This was the fundamentalists, who believed the Word of God overruled anything found by some yutz in a lab coat, standing up to the modernists, who wanted to teach actual science in school.

Despite Clarence Darrow lawyering for the defense, the ruling came in that Scopes was guilty, and would have to pay a fine of $100. The Butler Act, which had been passed in Tennessee earlier that year, stated that teachers were prohibited from denying the Bible’s humankind origin story, and technically Scopes would have violated that if he had taught evolution in class. It was a crushing defeat for the modernists, and it helped to ensure that the quality of education in states like Tennessee would be kept far below the bar set in most other modern nations. But then something weird happened… the state’s Supreme Court overturned the ruling on appeal. Why? Because the judge himself had issued that fine. Judges were not allowed to issue more than a $50 fine in Tennessee at the time; only the jury could have imposed double that amount. So on a technicality, the monkeys won the day.

And that’s what we celebrated, the triumph of science over ancient rhetoric. We celebrate that often in this house. Monkeys for the win.

National Be Someone Day

Technically we cannot celebrate the true spirit of this day. Well, we could, but only if the opportunity presented itself. So instead I offer only these thoughts of encouragement, because really this is a damn fine cause.

Project Harmony, which deals with children’s advocacy, promotes this day, encouraging us to spend just 10 seconds to change a child’s life. There are many ways to do this: tell them the truth about Santa, invite them outside to watch a bonfire of all their toys, or show them one of those animated clips of Bugs Bunny banging Mickey Mouse. But this is about changing their lives in a good way. We need to be specific about that.

This day encourages us to listen to kids, and in particular listen to their tales of abuse without dismissing them. Report these stories to the correct authorities and intervene however possible in order to get them out of that horrible situation. Jodie gets put in this position from time to time, as she’s one of the teachers kids will confide in about stuff like this. For me, I spent roughly 0% of my day communicating with kids, so it doesn’t come up. But I’m happy to spread the word: be someone truly awesome and help a kid. Today or any day.

Invite An Alien To Live With You Day

This would appear to be the day of insanely named celebrations, meant to honour exactly what you wouldn’t expect. For example, this particular bit of merriment is centered specifically on Mork & Mindy. No, I’m not joking. Someone felt that Robin Williams’ birthday (he would have turned 69 yesterday, and you just know he’d have had something hilarious to say about that) should be rigged up to pay tribute to the role that made him famous.

The story of Mork & Mindy is one that is deeply weird by TV standards. Spinoffs today tend to be very literal extensions of a TV universe: The Walking Dead fans got to see how the outbreak began in their spinoff. Fans of The Big Bang Theory got to see one of its characters as a small child. And all of those Chicago Fire / PD / Medical / Veterinary / Upholsterer’s shows are spin-offs of one another, tailor-made for crossover episodes.

Back in the 1970s, a TV spin-off was usually a way of cashing in on a popular character, like George Jefferson from All In The Family or Rhoda from Mary Tyler More. Then one day, Garry Marshall’s 8-year-old kid suggested that Happy Days, a show about a suburban Milwaukee family in the 1950s, should have a space alien on it. So Garry did what any sensible show-runner would do: he introduced a space alien. Robin was recommended by Garry’s sister Penny (of Laverne & Shirley fame), who had taken a class with him. He showed up to the audition and sat in the chair upside down, as he did in Mork & Mindy’s credits, pictured above. He was cast because he was, according to Garry Marshall, the only actual alien who auditioned.

So yesterday I listened to some of Robin Williams’ brilliant standup, and longed for the day when his show would get dropped onto a streaming service. There’s literally no way his comedy doesn’t hold up – we need this on Netflix. So, happy day to everyone. Nanu-Nanu.

Legal Drinking Age Day

It was on July 17, 1984 when the National Minimum Age Drinking Act was passed, banning the sale of alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of 21. It had been a state-by-state decision up to that point, and it even remained so afterwards, sort of. While it was illegal to sell to anyone 20 or younger thanks to this act, only seven states went on to fully ban the consumption of alcohol for any minor.

So why, the astute among you are probably asking, do we celebrate this day on July 21 and not on the 17th? In fact, why do we celebrate it at all? The best answer I can find to the first question is that yesterday would also have been Ernest Hemingway’s 121st birthday, and few historical figures exemplify the benefits of incorporating drinking into their lifestyle quite as well as Hemingway. He not only made drinking cool, but he made it a necessary accessory for any aspiring writer.

As for the second question… I have no idea. I still marvel at the drinking age being 21. In Canada it’s 19 in most provinces, 18 in three. Fortunately, Alberta is one of the three, which allowed me to get away with buying beer as young as 15. I had an old face. And that was before all the grey in my beard, or even my ability to properly grow a beard.

The correct way to celebrate this day would be for those of us 21 and over to enjoy a delicious alcoholic beverage, which I absolutely did. For my readers under 21, I hope you abstained. If you didn’t, I won’t tell.

National Tug-Of-War Tournament Day

Yes, we already had National Tug Of War Day back on February 9. And no, I don’t feel the tugging of war is an activity that is worthy of two days of our year, but here we are. In February I played a bit of tug-of-war with one of the puppies, but clearly I’d have to scale it up here. I mean, I don’t have to… but again, here we are.

The tournament format was simple. Each dog would grasp one end of our resident platypus toy, I’d grab the other. It would be a competition to see who would hang on the longest. Trixie was disqualified right away due to lack of interest. Tug-of-war is not really her game. She prefers wrestling for about 30 seconds before she rolls on her back and requests a belly-rub.

Rosa didn’t last very long either, mostly because Liberty was conspiring to throw off Rosa’s game by getting involved. She, of course, has a tenacious hold and won the tournament easily. She was rewarded with a cookie. Runner-up and even our disqualified competitor were issued a consolation prize, also a cookie.

It was a fine athletic performance on all sides.

National Junk Food Day

We don’t know the origins of National Junk Food Day. It seems as though every form of junk food, from the potato chip to the popsicle to a dozen different variations of ice cream, gets its own day. We eat an unhealthy amount of junk food, all for the love of this project. And for the fact that I really like junk food. But at least this year I have an excuse.

Well, yesterday I had all the excuses I’d ever need. A free-for-all junk-fest. It started at lunch with some chocolate pudding, followed up by munching on some sour candies during the afternoon. Some chips for a snack, and a trio of caramel chocolate cups for dessert. What a blast! And we don’t really have any particularly healthy celebrations all week, depending on how healthy you’d consider a hot dog to be.

We enjoyed this day as it was meant to be enjoyed: in a state of carefree gluttony. No guilt. It doesn’t count as calories when the calendar is dictating it. That’s why they both start with ‘cal’.

(my project, my logic. It’s allowed)

Wednesday settles down into a manageable affair, thankfully:

  • National Penuche Fudge Day. In the spirit of Junk Food Day, we’ll be taking a break from sweets and skipping this one. Unfortunately.
  • National Hammock Day. The forecast is mostly cloudy, but warm. If the rain stays away for the rest of the day I’ll celebrate this – if not, I’ll celebrate it as soon as I’m able. This summer has sucked, weather-wise.
  • National Hot Dog Day. I had this down for Thursday, but I’m happy to jump in on it a little early.
  • Pi Approximation Day. We celebrated 3/14; do we really need to also celebrate 22/7?
  • National Ratcatcher’s Day. Not a job I’ve ever wanted, but here it is.
  • Summer Leisure Day. Not ideal for a Wednesday, but we’ll try.
  • Spoonerism Day. Another day for wordplay. How fun.