Thursday, August 6, 2020

With so many celebrations staring us down this weekend, one might wonder if we’ll actually even thrust our flailing arms in their direction in an attempt to tackle them. Some, yes. Others may get bumped, particularly if they involve some complex food (Chicken & Waffles Day) or elaborate schemes (Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbour’s Porch Day). And still others (Garage Sale Day) will probably be left on the shelf for someone else performing a ridiculous project like this to celebrate. We have the closest thing to an actual vacation beginning tonight at 6:00 – the annual Edmonton Folk Fest, as reconstructed in our back yard with our own dream lineup. I’m looking forward to seeing Dylan headline in a few hours. Meanwhile, this is our yesterday lineup:

National Oyster Day

It is no understatement to say that Jodie got off easy yesterday. She is not a fan of eating oysters at all, and I could only barely sway her into downing a single Oysters Rockefeller back on National Oysters Rockefeller Day on January 10. The only way I talked her into that was because this project was still new and she hadn’t yet tired of the routine. By yesterday, she was plumb tired of the routine.

But it was not in the cards for us to eat oyster one yesterday. They are extremely difficult to source in this part of the planet at the moment, to the point where our beloved Cajun diner had to remove them from the menu until distribution arrangements are settled. So to honour our un-shucked friends, we will look at oysters the creatures instead of oysters the food.

Some oysters are sought for their food, while others are captured for their pearls. Almost all shell-dwelling molluscs can spew out a pearl, but not all of those pearls are worth much. But the ones that get yanked from within pearl oysters are necklace-ready. But how does this miracle happen?

It could be a rock, a bit of sand, any irritant that sneaks inside the oyster’s shell. The oyster then covers it with nacre (literally known to us as ‘mother-of-pearl’) – that’s the magic. Over the course of years the nacre coats the object with enough layers to turn it into a pearl. That’s something to think about next time you crack one open to devour the sneeze-like substance inside.

National Underwear Day

Full confession: the bulk of this article was written in my underwear. This worked out well weather-wise, as I was looking to cool down after an intense meeting with my hammock, and the breeze felt nice. But that’s celebrating in a way I never could have had I been called into the office. For the moment, this is my bliss.

Humans have been indulging in underwear ever since the emergence of body shame and the realization that until a proper toilet paper gets invented, some poop residue is bound to land on the inside of one’s finest clothing. The loincloth is the origin of underwear, and the Roman strophium (breastcloth) would be the pre-underwire precursor to the bra. By the time we hit the Middle Ages, free-flowing cloth was replaced by proper garments with leg-holes and such. Men would wear a codpiece that could plop open for a quick whizz, eliminating the need to disrobe fully. It’s said that Henry VIII padded his codpiece, though history isn’t clear on whether he was trying to look well-endowed, or simply suffering from syphilis and cramming some medicated rags down there to ease his discomfort. Gross.

Once the good ol’ industrial age showed up, cotton underwear became easy to mass-produce and people could buy their underwear in a store, rather than make it at home. Then along came the ‘ideal’ of feminine beauty and the pain-dispensing corset. The only significant development in men’s underwear around that time was the creation of the jockstrap, which was built so that ‘bicycle jockeys’ who were riding upon the cobble streets of Boston didn’t end the day with their testicles reduced to a fine rubble.

Underwear has gone through a lot of changes since, from the camisole to the girdle to the g-string to the unfortunate banana-hammock. We keep our underwear game pretty straightforward around here, but there’s always room for experimentation I suppose.

Maybe when things cool down and we’re thoroughly covered up.

National Work Like A Dog Day

I present the above photo as evidence of what ‘working like a dog’ means in our household. Sure, Liberty possesses the energy of ten to twelve Rosas and at least 37 Trixies, but having become used to bulldogs over the last two decades we are accustomed to the state of being represented above.

That’s not to say we spent yesterday flat on our backs, unmoving. I mean, that was a significant portion of yesterday, given the relentless heat and the hammock canvas hungry for sweat and slothfulness. But we also did some work on our garage to get it ready for our weekend’s Folk Fest simulation. The weather is calling for rain on Friday and we wanted our garage to be ready to host guests, to serve beer, and to reverberate with great music. We hadn’t tidied up the garage properly in a few years, so it was a chunk of work.

This is another celebration with no verifiable origin story, simply someone who felt August 5 would be a great day to motivate people to work hard. These days it seems that simply reading the latest headlines should qualify as ‘hard work’, which prompts us to embrace the meaning of the term that Trixie is espousing above. With all the madness vortexing around us, some good quality sedentary lounging is very much in order.

International Traffic Light Day

106 years ago yesterday, the first electric traffic control system was installed at the corner of east 105 street and Euclid Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio. It is considered to be the dawn of the traffic control era, though it was not the first attempt at traffic lights. Traffic control by police officer had been a thing in London since 1722. They installed gas-powered traffic lights in 1869, which worked fine until the gas tank exploded, injuring the police officer who was controlling them.

But we’ll pay our tribute to the electric style, since that’s what’s in use today. It should be noted that even the electric lights on that intersection in Cleveland had to be controlled manually. We wouldn’t get an automatic system in place until Houston in the 20s. The intersection in question, in case you were wondering, is the one pictured above. I’m not particularly familiar with the layout of Cleveland, but there’s no way that’s anywhere near the bustling hub of the city.

I’m still a bit flummoxed by the notion of every single traffic light requiring manual operation – and this was done by police officers. The NYPD had 6,000 police officers on its traffic squad, and they were able to save $12.5 million (that’s 1920s money) when they reassigned most of them thanks to the installation of automatic lights.

We celebrated this day simply by learning a bit about traffic lights – not something we’d normally devote any of our Wednesday to doing. We also drove across town to drop off some crap at the eco station, which entailed us stopping at numerous traffic lights along the way there and back. It’s a weird premise for a celebration, but hey, we’re on board.

Green Peppers Day

What can we learn about green peppers today? I already know of their importance in Cajun cuisine – I worked in a Cajun restaurant long before we began frequenting one in town, and I have probably chopped thousands of green peppers in my lifetime. Here’s something: we refer to the spectrum of peppers in the US and Canada as ‘bell peppers’. This is also the term used in the Philippines. Over in the UK and Ireland, they’re known as ‘sweet peppers’, which differentiates them from the spicy kind nicely. In Australia, New Zealand and India they’re known as capsicum, which is scientifically correct, but really strange.

If that isn’t confusing enough, if you head to the Midwest United States and purchase stuffed and pickled peppers, the label might read ‘mangoes’. Why? The internet is holding this secret close to its chest. If you down 3.5 ounces of raw red pepper, you have ingested 97% of your daily vitamin C needs. For green peppers that number is a little lower.

Jodie isn’t a fan of green peppers, though I could eat them like candy – and I have. I never liked the things until I worked in that Cajun kitchen – before long they became my go-to snack. We had some skewers we’d purchased for the barbecue this week, and as luck would have it there were green peppers speared right between the meat. So we enjoyed some green peppers and kept our vitamin C levels high. Yum.

Today we party. And that means fewer celebrations to be toasted. Here’s what we might get to:

  • National IPA Day. There is no party without beer, and we are fully prepared for this one with a brand new IPA I’ve never tried.
  • National Root Beer Float Day. This certainly won’t be skipped either. I mean, come on.
  • National Fresh Breath Day. A celebration in which we can indulge simply through some basic human hygiene. Hooray!
  • National Wiggle Your Toes Day. Okay, these are all pretty easy so far. We’ll get stuff done.
  • Balloons To Heaven Day. We will not be releasing balloons into the atmosphere today, as that is really bad for the planet.
  • Cycle To Work Day. We don’t own a bicycle, but good news! We aren’t going to work today either.
  • National Gossip Day. I’m sure we’ll yenta it up with our friends.
  • Corporate Baby Name Day. A day to contemplate renaming our children ‘Exxon’ or ‘Starbucks’. I mean, if the money is good…

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