Thursday, August 27, 2020

In 2020 the laws of time appear perpetually incepted, folding in upon themselves in a clever celestial origami, leaving us in a state of constant bafflement and confusion. For more than five months we have surfed the wake of isolation, with the froth of relative security slapping our faces warmly. Next week the shift begins that dries the wave and pits us against the unpredictable yawn of fate. Will we get sick? Will we squeak by? I have been exceedingly apt at closing off this temporal wobble by remaining steadfastly focused on the immediate. Yesterday was yet another day of sun and serenity, and for the moment it was eternal. We may have had to bump a couple of items, but we’ll get caught up. Also, we tackled all of this:

National Dog Day

This is the official one. The big one. The one that presumably overshadows National Walking the Dog Day, National Dog Biscuit Day, National Hug Your Dog Day, National Hug Your Puppy Day, National Little Pampered Dog Day, Ugliest Dog Day, National Puppy Day, Take Your Dog To Work Day, National Spoil Your Dog Day, Responsible Dog Ownership Day, and National Make A Dog’s Day Day. This one even has its own website:

The purpose of this day, created by Colleen Paige, an animal welfare advocate, is to honour dogs, to appreciate the crucial role they play in our lives and in our society, and to bring attention to rescue dogs who need homes. We will happily amplify that last notion, however I will continue to remind Jodie that the legal limit on dog ownership in this city is three, and if we get another one she will be an official rule-shirker. She has never aimed to be a rule-shirker.

Dogs detect drugs and bombs. Dogs lead blind people through the world safely. Dogs provide therapeutic support to those who need it. And they approach the world through a lens of pure love and adoration. It’s no mystery that our lives without dogs would be frail and pale imitations of anything meaningful. They bring us joy and belonging like absolutely no one else could. Yesterday we did what we always do: we treasured our dogs, we walked our dogs, we fed our dogs treats, and we spoiled them to the point of allowing them to sleep in our bed.

Whatever the question, dogs are the answer. Oh, and if you’re wondering if I took a moment after the lunch hour to pause and observe it was “National Dog Day Afternoon”, I totally did. No banks were robbed, and no harm befell John Cazale.

Make Your Own Luck Day

According to the one source I found for this day, it was started by a guy named J. Richard Falls of Irving, Texas. He conveniently dropped this day onto his birthday, and declared that we should all wake up on this morning and believe something great is going to happen. Though if the sentiment here is that we are supposed to “make our own luck”, then believing won’t be enough. We have to get up and do something.

I have never been particularly fond of this phrase. Luck is, by definition, the element of chance and randomness landing in your favour. If you drop a casino chip onto a number at a roulette table, you will be lucky if the ball lands in that spot. Making your own luck would mean either gambling responsibly – placing a few bets on columns, or number groups, or one of the other options in order to mitigate your losses and keep you playing longer – or rigging the wheel so that it stops where you want it to. Option one is employing a strategy to lessen the impact of luck, while option two is simply cheating.

So that’s really what this day is imploring us to do. Shrink the danger of luck to give ourselves a better advantage, or to cheat. It sounds on the surface like it’s encouraging fate to gift us, but it’s about helping ourselves. So that’s what we did. We wanted a positive, restful day so we made decisions that brought that into being. It meant holding off on starting any massive projects, spending quality time celebrating National Dog Day, and both of us getting off social media for a while and out of endless debates over race and science. And as luck would have it, our mission was accomplished.

There’s probably a lesson in here somewhere, maybe one beyond the overtly obvious one, but I don’t care to dig for it. We had a lucky day. Hopefully you did too. Hopefully J. Richard Falls did as well. Happy birthday, J. Richard!

Women’s Equality Day

There is a lot of evidence to suggest that women do not have 100% equality in our society. We know they do on paper, but there’s a lot of work to be done to overcome crap like wage disparity and the relative dearth of women in positions of power. This is why feminism is still a thing, and why those of us who give a crap (which, honestly, should be all of us) continue to fight the fight. #metoo was a great wake-up, and a lot of thunderous good has been done in the last few years, but it ain’t over.

But all of that aside, it’s not a bad thing to take a look back at the accomplishments that have been made. And in America, perhaps the greatest achievement by the feminist cause was the adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution. One hundred years ago, women in America were granted the right to vote. Expanding access to the vote, just before a huge election; this is pretty much the opposite of what’s happening right now.

The Equal Rights Amendment, which was first introduced into Congress in 1923, would guarantee full rights to women, including in matters of divorce, employment, and property. I imagine when Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman brought this to Congress in the relatively immediate wake of the 19th Amendment, it was expected that the wave of progress would push the ERA right through. The House finally approved it in 1971, the Senate in 1972. This was in the midst of another wave of women’s rights. But 38 states needed to ratify it in order to make it a thing.

They didn’t. By 1977, 35 states had signed on. Nevada came around in 2017, Illinois in 2018, and Virginia earlier this year (before the pandemic mess). So the magic 38 was finally hit. Except that there had been a deadline for ratification back in 1982. And five states voted way back then to withdraw their ratification, which may or may not be legal. So the ERA remains in legislative limbo.

But that doesn’t negate the glorious achievement of 100 years ago. It never hurts to appreciate the silver linings, so long as they don’t blind us to the clouds we have yet to part.

Oh, that was good. Someone slap that on a T-shirt.

National Toilet Paper Day

Okay, I can understand why we need to celebrate toilet paper. Of all the products I perpetually restock in my home, this is the one I probably take for granted the most. Just look at the alternatives that were in common use before the glorious rolls of two-ply we enjoy today. If you were in Ancient Greece, you’d use clay. In Europe and the Middle East, the hand was the most common apparatus for self-hygiene. Fountains were also used, but they didn’t bring that scrubbing action.

Plants were big on the ass-wiping circuit, from grass and leaves to fruit skin and corn cobs. Up north they used snow, which sounds so unpleasant I don’t even want to think of it. Shells and stones have been used in some places as well, which sounds as thought it would be more effective than snow, but not at all pleasing to the hindquarters. The French figured out the bidet, and the Romans used either wool and rosewater or (for the poor folks) a sponge on a stick. The Chinese were the ones to come to humanity’s rescue, inventing the first toilet paper back in the 1300s.

Which brings us to now. At my place of work – the office tower I don’t actually go to anymore – they used a one-ply paper that you can practically see through. When I attended school at the University of Alberta, the toilet paper there was somehow even thinner. One should never underestimate the importance of a quality paper, which is one huge reason I’m thrilled to be working at home.

Above is a shot of the roll from the bathroom beside our bedroom. For whatever reason, this is the only place where Liberty, our #3 canine assistant, feels compelled to munch on TP. Yesterday she let up though, perhaps in honour of this day. I guess we all get what we can from a good roll of toilet paper, even if we’re just in it for the flavour.

As the sun insists upon another day, we plan to do our part by making it as full of revelry and weirdness as possible, thanks to all this:

  • National Pots de Crème Day. I don’t know what this is, and I shan’t respond to it.
  • National Just Because Day. This might be the weakest premise for a day all year, and that’s saying something.
  • International Lottery Day. This is the day when we snag enough money to add some class to the rest of this year’s parties.
  • National Banana Lovers Day. Fantastic! Bananas for everyone!
  • Movies Day (Russia). Do we watch a movie? Specifically, a Russian movie? Maybe Rocky IV?
  • The Duchess Who Wasn’t Day. Looks like we’re spending just a little time learning about history.
  • Kiss Me Day. A little bit on the nose, but I’ll take it.
  • National Burger Day (UK). We have had burgers a few times this week, so this has certainly been amply celebrated.
  • Tarzan Day. Should we watch the Disney movie or just listen to that crappy Phil Collins song?
  • National Petroleum Day. We will use some petroleum if we leave the house, I suppose.
  • Thoughtful Thursday. Fun!
  • World Rock Paper Scissors Day. Now we’re talking something important.

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