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.

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