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…