Saturday, July 18, 2020

I spent much of yesterday weighted down by a hearty funk, and not the good kind with Bootsy Collins and such. Yesterday I was advised, as many already have been, that my workplace values my life and well-being so little that I am being ordered to return to the office in a short time, all for the reason of… well, there is no reason. They are consistently getting more work and better work out of me working remotely, with no detrimental impacts from me not being there. So it’s “just because”. Coupled with a few other things, even our roster of celebrations couldn’t shake loose my blues. Here is what we did to try to ignite a little spark yesterday:

National Lottery Day

The Massachusetts State Lottery founded this day a couple years back, likely because they weren’t selling enough lottery tickets. This was intended to be tied in with promotions to encourage more lottery ticket sales, but I know for a fact that up here in Alberta that wouldn’t fly. There are no ‘deals’ on lottery tickets, no discount for buying in bulk. The best we’ll get are a few bonus jackpots.

Puritanical notions regarding gambling get brushed away when it comes to the lottery, given that the “house” that will clean up due to the overwhelming odds in its favour tends to be the government. The Han Dynasty in China ran a government lottery some time around 200BC to fund a few projects, including the Great Wall. Augustus Caesar used a lottery to fund repairs in Rome. Nowadays lottery funds tend to find their way to supporting education, the arts, and whatever else is in the to-spend column of a government’s budget.

Our lottery options up here don’t hit Powerball numbers. While down south it is somehow logical for people to be able to haul in hundreds of millions of dollars off a single ticket, I think the highest ours ever reaches is $60 million. Still a substantial sum. I’d personally rather see 60 people benefit from the windfall of winning a million, but then I have no say in it. I am, however, glad that lottery winnings are tax-free up here, so if you win $10 million, that’s what you get.

We aren’t big lotto players. We won a free play for Be A Millionaire Day a few weeks back, and were planning on exchanging that for a (hopefully) winning ticket yesterday. Then we hit the snag that we didn’t leave the house at all yesterday. But that is in our plans over the next week, and if we haul in a jackpot you can be sure we will broadcast it here. In fact, that would mean our rousing conclusion to this project, which is presently planned to be us drinking sadly alone in our home on New Year’s Eve, will be a lot more exciting. We’re talking Hogmanay in Scotland, complete with swinging fireballs over our heads.

Here’s hoping for some luck!

National Yellow Pigs Day

While I was excited to learn about a new breed of porcine wonder, or perhaps to discover that there is a variety of bacon I have yet to experience, this celebration came out to be a bit of a disappointment. It’s a math celebration. We here at Celebrate366 Industries are not really big on the math celebrations.

It’s apparently a chance to show off how much you know about the number 17. This all traces back to David Kelly – not the guy who invented Ally McBeal, but the guy who founded the Hampshire College Studies in Mathematics program in 1970. This is a six-week program for high school students who believe math is fun. From what I can gather from the 1982 article in the Harvard Crimson, this day exists as an inside joke for math-lovers, meaning it will likely be completely non-funny by anyone else’s standards.

Even worse, Kelly won’t disclose what the secret to the Yellow Pig is, or why it is associated with this day and the number 17. So it’s an inside joke by a bunch of academics who refuse to share the joke with anyone else. These are the kind of people who give intellectuals a bad name. If you have some great level of knowledge and aren’t willing to share it to others who are eager to learn, then you’re just an asshole.

To that end, here is everything I’d like to share about the number 17. It’s the title of a 1925 play by Joseph Jefferson Farjeon, that was adapted into a movie three times, including once by Alfred Hitchcock. Unfortunately it’s one of the few Hitch movies I’ve never seen. It’s the title of a popular streaming app in the Far East. It’s the name of a South Korean boy band that I will likely never listen to. It’s the title of a teen-pop-culture magazine I have never actually read. Welsh rock band The Alarm used be called 17. 17 was Marty McFly’s age when he went time-travelling. The year 17 began on a Friday.

There you go, that’s my seventeen knowledge. And I shared it, rather than keep it a secret because I’m not a math dick.

World Emoji Day

I have to say, I have almost zero enthusiasm about this particular celebration. I sent a couple of texts using emojis as a lark, and it nearly elevated my spirits to a mild chuckle, but not quite. Emojis are, for the most part, unnecessary to me. I prefer to bottle my expression into words, even if it leads me to ramble on and on. Regular readers of these articles will attest to that. I’m not “too good for emojis”, I simply find that I’d rather stretch my write-muscle by spewing my thoughts out in words.

One notable exception: the smiling or winking emoji can come in very handy when one is trying to convey sarcasm or smartassery in general. Written text lacks the punch of inflection, the guiding nuances of body language, or the linguistic mastery of well-executed finger-guns. Rather than have my Dorothy-Zbornak-type zingers fall flat or misunderstood, I’ll toss a little “hey, I’m joking” emoji for clarity.

Like many, I grew up with the emoticon, the text-based precursor to the emoji. Back then we learned the emotive potential of parentheses and colons, each choosing a side as to whether or not a hyphen was required for a nose. Then came the capital D, lots of equals signs and a number 8. ASCII presented us with so many ways to express ourselves visually.

Of course, no one knows who made the first emoji that knocked over the dominoes that led to Sir Patrick Stewart voicing a mound of poop in a film, but the concept can be loosely traced back to Vladimir Nabokov, who said in the 60s that he’d like to see a character that represents a smile visually. Well, Vlad got his wish, and now our communications are full of color and smiles and the occasional facial expression that makes little to no sense.

But I’ll stick with my finger-guns.

International Firgun Day

Firgun, much like chutzpah, is a Hebrew term that really needs to be used more in day-to-day speech. Where chutzpah means balls, cojones, and an eagerness of spirit, firgun refers to a sense of genuine, unselfish delight in the accomplishment of someone else. It’s an act – or more accurately, a sentiment that stems solely from one person but is directed completely toward another.

This isn’t about giving compliments; we have gone through a number of celebrations this year which involve praising others, or telling them how great they are. This is more about pride over someone else’s achievements. It’s a selfless act, in that you aren’t sucking up or kissing ass or setting up for a return delivery of praise. You simply recognize that someone else is about to achieve something deeply awesome, and that you are happy for them.

A non-profit group called Made In JLM created this day in 2014 in order to encourage us to express this firgun pride toward others on social media. Since we are all about encouraging positivity in the drek-pit of social media, we are 100% behind this day. I have nothing but pride at Abbey being less than a year away from her degree, at Jodie for powering through some deeply dark material to further her education to help vulnerable youths, and at a close friend who has boldly committed to raising his kids on his own, now that their mother has decided to crawl inside a bottle.

This is a great sentiment for a celebration.

Wrong Way Corrigan Day

A little love, if you please, for Douglas Corrigan. He was a fine pilot, if not so great a navigator. Here’s his story.

Doug wanted to fly from New York to Ireland in 1935, when doing so required permission from the government. He was told no, his plane wasn’t up for it, so he made some modifications. Two years later he was denied again. On July 9, 1938, he took off from California, bound for Brooklyn. He was scheduled to return on July 17. He took off from Brooklyn, but he flew east instead of west.

Those who know American geography are probably aware that travelling east of Brooklyn will steer you toward all that blue stuff. He was flying with a fuel leak, and he claims to have not noticed he was over the ocean until 26 hours into the flight. This doesn’t seem likely, but it was the story he gave. He landed in Dublin on July 18. The result? He was punished with a 14-day suspension, which timed perfectly by expiring upon his return to New York via an ocean liner.

Corrigan’s plane should not have made that trip. Apart from the leaking fuel, there were patches all over the nose of the plane, the plane’s door only remained closed because of some wire holding it shut, and the reserve fuel tanks he’d installed himself kept him hunched forward in his seat, barely able to see the ground through the window. But this act of madness earned him some serious celebrity. The ticker-tape parade he received upon his return was attended by more people than the parade for Charles Lindbergh after his solo flight. He had another parade in Chicago, and was invited to the White House.

This has to be one of the greatest examples of ignoring directions (either through obstinance or sheer cluelessness) and getting rewarded for it. Congrats, Wrong-Way. We raise a glass to you. Here’s hoping we tip it in the right direction.

Another crazy Saturday, though one we can only enjoy so much:

  • National Sour Candy Day. It’s a safe bet that if ‘candy’ is in the title, we will be celebrating that day.
  • National Woodie Wagon Day. A loving throwback to a time when people felt it was logical to construct motor vehicles out of wood.
  • World Listening Day. Listen to some music? Sure!
  • Perfect Family Day. Ours is far from perfect, but we’ll pretend it isn’t.
  • Toss Away The Should-Haves And Could-Haves Day. A day to stand up to regret, something we have done multiple times throughout this weirdness.
  • National Caviar Day. We do not have access to caviar, and if we did Jodie would  not indulge. She’s not as adventurous as I.
  • National Strawberry Rhubarb Wine Day. I doubt anyone has access to this unless they made it themselves. We did not.

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