Wednesday, September 30, 2020

As we breach the threshold of 75% of this project in the can, we can confidently begin plotting how we’re going to drive this thing home. It won’t be with a frantic reach toward quantity; yes, we may see another day with 10 or 12 celebrations, but that will only happen when those celebrations are particularly interesting, or else if I feel a quirky penchant for listening to my fingers tap senselessly on my keyboard while I write about nothing. That won’t be often. We still want to embrace the delicious, but my hope is that in the last three months we can embrace a bit more of the weird. There wasn’t much weird happening today, but we stumbled through a few celebrations with wit and aplomb, and the calm grin of folks who know we’re fewer than 100 days from the finish line.

National Coffee Day

Apparently International Coffee Day (which makes more sense, since we never partake in Canadian-grown coffee beans) is on Thursday. Do we celebrate both? I mean, we’ll both be drinking coffee on Thursday, so why not? Tim Hortons was giving away coffees yesterday for this event, but since their swill barely counts as coffee anymore, we’ll ignore that and simply enjoy the stuff we brewed ourselves.

We are not coffee snobs, but we can tell a half-decent brew from heated gutter water. Jodie would pick Credo as her favourite in town. I’d lean more toward this guy we call “Mr. Wizard” who sells $10 bags of delicious beans from a storefront on the south side. Usually we fall back on Starbucks from the grocery store during the week because it’s easier. This also makes our Saturday coffee adventures to get coffee from somewhere outside the house that much more special.

Coffee is an invention of the Arabic world, and it may be the greatest they have gifted to humanity (though hummus is also quite awesome). I still believe coffee is best enjoyed without any cream or sugar to muck up the beans’ original intent, but I have accepted that not everyone will agree. Some people will insist on being wrong. That’s cool – it’s part of the glorious tapestry of humanity.

Coffee is a massive spectrum of possibilities. Some prefer espresso, though I feel weird sipping from a cup that small. The latte or cappuccino is a great alternative go-to, and I’ve got a friend who tried that coffee whose beans had been pooped out by a cat (a civet, to be exact). Having a palette that can appreciate flavours but which falls short of super-taster status, I’m okay with the regular stuff. Which brings us neatly to:

National Starbucks Day

I can find absolutely nothing to indicate why this is National Starbucks Day. The first Starbucks store opened in March of 1971. Starbucks itself is advertising that they’ve got deals in place for National Coffee Day. If they aren’t even boasting about this day, does it count? Can I rightfully include this in my grand 2020 tally?

Of course I can. The entry clearly shows up on one of the National Days resources I used for my research, so someone somewhere must have celebrated it. And given that March is long gone and Starbucks itself isn’t boasting of any day by this title, I’m giving it to them.

Starbucks coffee is not the greatest coffee on the planet. But I find them to be the tastiest coffee of all the major chains. When they first arrived in Edmonton (much later than they’d arrived everywhere else, it seemed), their lattes were magnificent. And they first set up shop inside a bookstore, which added to the vibe.

The story of Starbucks, which I shan’t repeat here, is an interesting one, and worth a read. Of note, the original owners sold the company in 1987 to Howard Schultz, a former manager. They had six stores in Seattle at the time, that’s it. Howard then turned them into a global corporate monster, but seemingly the good kind of monster, as they do make an effort to be ethical in their global dealings. Or at least that’s what they’re telling us. I’m sure some grumpy soul has a damning dossier on them somewhere.

But for our purposes, they make fine coffee. We enjoyed some yesterday morning as we usually do.

World Heart Day

In association with Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and other companies who want to make billions of dollars as we take care of our tickers, we’ve got World Heart Day. According to the official World Heart Federation website, we’re supposed to pay attention to heart health today, as we join the WHF in trying to reduce mortality from cardiovascular disease.

I’ve got a slightly bumped-up blood pressure situation these days, I’m sure totally unrelated to this mandate of celebrating a bunch of stuff every day and writing about it. So I can appreciate the importance of taking care of this crucial part of my anatomy. I have started exercising regularly, and though I have also stopped doing this over the past week, I have the good sense to miss it tremendously. It will take everything I’ve got not to rush this broken foot along so I can get out there and trek through the neighbourhood with the puppies again.

I don’t always eat what’s best for my heart health, but I tend not to add too much salt to my meals, and I try to make a good choice every now and then. We’re not at the turkey-bacon level of deprivation yet, and I hope we never get there. But instead of having French Fries with a meal, we’ll occasionally have poutine. That’s healthier because of… of the gravy… right?

Okay, we might need to do some more research on what makes a good healthy heart choice. I have heard that flossing regularly is actually very good for the heart so maybe that’s the habit to focus on?

Cardiovascular disease claims 17.9 million lives every year, so it’s getting its job done in culling the population. The least we can do is try to slow that fucker down. Yesterday I furthered my resolve to do so, all from the comfort of sitting on my ass because my broken foot won’t let me do much else. But hey, I can floss.

Broadway Musicals Day

This… this isn’t a thing. The concept of Broadway Musicals Day only popped up on that one website I missed in my extensive research for this year, and the only link it provides as evidence of the day’s existence is to a blog that is giving me a 404 error. So no, there is no Broadway Musicals Day.

But Broadway has had  a rough year. I’m reviving the day myself because I can’t believe the thunderous toll this year has taken on the theatre industry. The theatres have been dark since March, and they will be through the end of the year. At least. This isn’t about a dozen folks on stage having to find other jobs – this is thousands upon thousands of people whose industry has collapsed. Lighting people, sound people, ticket takers, liquor sellers, propmasters, set painters, ushers, techs, theatre ghost-wranglers… and you can add a few thousand directors, producers and musicians to the mix. There has been a race to open up pretty much every other industry, but not theatre.

Theatre is not the cultural beast with the widest reach. Our culture connects over TV and movies, and even music on a grander scale. But there’s a reason the Tonys are still a much-viewed award broadcast, despite relatively few people in the audience having been to New York to see the nominated plays. Theatre is essential art. And its somewhat less broad reach means it doesn’t have to pander to fit the parameters of mass popularity. It simply has to be great. And ideally, it will be great art, with something worthwhile to say.

One of the highlights of this crap-ridden year has been the appearance of Hamilton on Disney+ over the summer. This is the most popular musical in decades, and it became a phenomenon long before it ever played outside of the Richard Rogers Theatre on West 46th Street. It speaks to so much that’s going on now, and so much that has unfolded since Lin-Manuel Miranda popped it onto the stage five years ago.

For this day, we ask that you reach out to support local theatre, even if they aren’t providing anything in return at the moment. The Fringe, Catalyst, and the Freewill Shakespeare Festival will all accept donations to help keep them afloat until things get back to normal. Art is essential to making life tolerable, and art needs our help right now. If you know someone who is unemployed due to the shuttering of theatre, take them out to lunch or buy their father a Playstation. Every little bit helps.

And if you’re looking for something glorious to watch, you could do a lot worse than Hamilton.

We’ll wrap up September in style, or at the very least, in pants. Can we ask much more of ourselves in this year of perpetual weirdness? I think not. Here’s our menu:

  • National Women’s Health & Fitness Day. Jodie can do some exercise. She’ll be thrilled. This is sarcasm. But seriously, Liberty is a dog-woman, and she has her final heeling class tonight, so that’s all about fitness.
  • Maple Leaf Day. This is about planting trees. Trees are nice.
  • National Mud Pack Day. A chance for us to smear dirt on our faces?
  • National Hot Mulled Cider Day. It’s still a little warm outside to make this logical.
  • National Love People Day. Ew. Gross. People are the worst.
  • International Podcast Day. I’ve been looking for an excuse to listen to a podcast. Maybe this will be it.
  • Orange Shirt Day. This is for reconciliation, a cause we care about quite deeply. Unfortunately I don’t own much orange…
  • International Translation Day. The entirety of this section will be written, then translated into a few languages and back to English. Let’s see how Google does.
  • Ask A Stupid Question Day. I’m good at that.
  • Chewing Gum Day. I’m also good at that.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil Day. Okay, a day for a fine ingredient.
  • International Thunderbirds Day. A day to celebrate the British TV show, or I could mention that my high school mascot was the Thunderbird. Whatever the hell that is.

Tuesday, September 30, 2020

The mental calisthenics I have to do each morning before first glancing at my calendar are rather impressive. It takes more chutzpah than I’d care to stir up to face down this daily report sometimes, and it’s not from a lack of imagination so much as a lack of time. Once I subtract my daily goings-on and my job, I find I have little time to do more than write these reflections on how much I enjoyed chocolate milk the day before. This has propelled me to want to do a re-organization of how we will be approaching the last three months of this project. Do we need to dive into every food, every animal, every little wear-this-piece-of-clothing celebration we’re told to? Or can we become more choosy? I think we’ve earned our choosiness. Here’s what we chose for yesterday:

National Drink Beer Day

Keep in mind that National Drink Beer Day in Sweden lands on December 3. We may end up celebrating on that day too, as I don’t want our scores of Swedish readers to feel that we’re neglecting them.

This may be the easiest celebration since National Napping Day – I cracked open a beer and drank it. There’s nothing else to say, except that I’m worried I didn’t do it right. I’ll have to keep practicing this one so that I’m in top form when December 3 rolls around. I’ve got to keep it up for the Swedes.

Freedom From Hunger Day / Hunger Action Month

There are two ways we could have approached this one. First, the funny way: take a photo of our dinner and point out that it freed us from our pre-dinner hunger. Problem is, that’s not very funny. We have standards here at Celebrate366 Industries which state that a joke is allowed to be woefully unfunny if either I or one of my three canine companions find it to be humorous. Even Rosa wanted nothing to do with that flat-ass gag.

So we’re going to lay down a little seriousness here instead. Because hunger is actually a serious concern for a disturbing amount of humanity. Southeast Asia is bursting with human beings, but a whopping 281 million people there are malnourished. 66 million primary school kids in Africa show up to school hungry. That’s almost double the population of Canada, and that’s just the hungry African kids.

This day’s official website is worth a visit, not just for depressing facts and statistics like the ones in the previous paragraph, but also for providing a number of donation opportunities for folks who want to do some real good. You’ve got to be wary about charities and check them out to ensure they’re on the level, of course. Another option is to donate to the local food bank, because you don’t have to travel to far-off lands to find folks who go to bed hungry every night. Jodie and I discussed bringing some food down to the homeless camp in town known as Pekiwewin. We’ve got to watch out for one another.

You see? There’s so much more we can do when we all pitch in and stay away from the quick one-off non-funny jokes.

Fish Tank Floor Show Night

With so many puppy and kitty days peppering the calendar, what about the poor fish tank fanatics? When do they get instructed to give a little love to their scaly friends? The answer is… well, never. You don’t give love and affection to your fish. I’ve had dozens of fish in tanks throughout my life, and sure, you can talk to them and say encouraging and complimentary things to them, and no one will see you as ridiculous. But if you start picking them up and petting them, you may be unwittingly torturing them. Just stop.

So given that fish are a pet that require no love, we do not have a day in which we are instructed to give them love. Instead we acknowledge what fish are really about: they’re something for us to look at, and to give us the feeling we aren’t completely alone in the universe. It’s a noble calling, and I salute the tetras, the angelfish, the Plecostomuses and so on who do it for us. They provide a show, and we watch the show.

That’s all this day is about. Simply tuning into our fish and enjoying the ballet of their swishing and swooshing about the weird-coloured gravel and the cheap plastic treasure chests we’ve decided should be their environment. Enjoy the floor show.

For those of us who are not fortunate to have fish about, there’s always a virtual alternative. I found this website, which provides lengthy videos of various fish tanks. It gives you the experience of having an aquarium without having to deal with the expense of food, filters, and medicine. It wasn’t quite the same, but it was a fish tank floor show, so I’m saying it counts.

National Honey Month

Honey is wonderful. It’s the throat-soother in a hot rum toddy, it’s the splash of sweet joy that can liven up a tea, and it’s even good on pizza. I know, that sounds stupid, but I swear, it works.

This month is an annual celebration of American beekeeping. While we are not beekeepers ourselves, we are big bee fans. And I’m a big honey fan. Honey is so thick and viscous, microorganisms can generally not grow within it. That means honey will not spoil, even over the course of centuries.

Just so we’re clear on the honey production process, bees fly out of the hive and suck back some of that sweet, sweet nectar from a flower. They store it in a “stomach” that sits beside their actual food stomach, then puke it out for the hive bees to ingest. Those bees pass it along, affecting the nectar’s content with their enzymes and such, until it gets spewed into the honeycomb storage system. If humans created anything this way, I pity the species that sees the end result as food.

But when bees do it, the end result is this awesome stuff. I enjoyed a bit of honey straight-up yesterday, and thanked the bees for hooking us up.

And hey, don’t forget about the medicinal properties of honey. It may do nothing for a cough, but you can use it on a burn or a post-operative infection. It can be used to treat the side effects of radiation therapy. Apparently if someone swallows a button-style battery, honey is used to ensure the esophagus isn’t damaged when they try to extract it. Hopefully this never comes up for you or anyone you know.

Thanks, bees. Honey is the best.

Off we go into another wild yonder of miscellany. What glories await us on our Tuesday battlefield this week? Will I emerge damaged and broken like I did last week? Here’s what’s up:

  • National Coffee Day. Drink coffee? Yes, I think I can squeeze this into my day somehow.
  • National Starbucks Day. The coffee we make at home right now happens to be of the Starbucks variety, so that works out well.
  • National Biscotti Day. I’m not sure if we have any lying about, but if we don’t… to Starbucks perhaps?
  • World Heart Day. A good day to do something good for the heart.
  • Broadway Musicals Day. As Broadway rolls through yet another night of being dark, this will be accompanied by a pang of pain.
  • Goose Day. “Geese are assholes,” Jodie would say. But, as our old friend Wayne from Letterkenny might reply, “If you’ve got a problem with Canada Gooses then you’ve got a problem with me, and you’d better let that marinate.”
  • National Mocha Day. How many hot beverages can we celebrate in one day?
  • National Attend Your Grandchild’s Birthday Day. This is weirdly specifically for people who have grandchildren, and whose grandchildren are having a birthday party on this day. None of this applies to us, even a little.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Well, I hope y’all had a magnificent Sunday. I certainly did, and you’ll read about almost none of it here. The first entry should adequately explain why – I had other things to do besides celebrate a bunch of prescribed weirdness yesterday. I had me to celebrate yesterday, and that took up pretty much the entire day. A huge hug for the ladies in my immediate world, who filled my day with heaps and scads of joy. I have a magnificent wife, a godsend of a mom, and three canine assistants who assist with more than they can possibly understand. The kids also called, and that brightened my day as well. So did football. So did not celebrating much of anything else:

My Birthday

Happy birthday to me. I’ve had some good ones over the years. My parents allowed me to throw a party every year, the highlight probably being the year I got a roulette wheel and a felt table-topper with a craps game on it. My friends and I played casino (I think we were 11 or 12), not for real money of course, and had a blast.

When I was 30, we took a hot air balloon ride that went straight up and down. We rescheduled for a few weeks later and actually got to travel around the city. When I was 40 my wife threw me a wonderful party, and I got to celebrate the fact that I had completed a 1,000-day writing project that was far more inspiring than this one, at least to me.

Three years ago she surprised me with a trip to Vancouver to visit our kid and to see Ben Folds perform live. It was an incredible weekend. Yesterday’s celebration was far more tame, partly due to a vastly different world around us, and partly due to the puffed-up boot cast on my foot. But I did what I love to do on a Sunday, which is sit on my ass and watch football.

Sure, I’m older. But I’m okay with that. Hell, I got an excuse to keep the article short. That’s a big ol’ win right there.

National Chocolate Milk Day

Chocolate milk is a scourge on childhood obesity, but as someone who is no longer vulnerable to child obesity, I simply don’t care. It’s a great drink. Even with my lactose intolerance, I’m willing to pop a few pills so I can enjoy a glass of this now and then. It’s not something I seek out, but it appears it sought me yesterday because the calendar told it to. I understand.

Not much else to say – I had a cold glass of chocolate milk, nodded my head in approval, and went on with my day. How else does one celebrate such an occasion?

National Crush A Can Day

This is a day to teach folks about the wonders of recycling. So here we go:

Recycling is good. Please recycle. You can actually get money back for these things. That’s all – I drank a can and crushed it, and now my educational crusade has completed the celebration. Happy day, everyone.

National Scarf Day

My wife loves scarves. It’s her favourite winter clothing item. Mine would probably be my winter coat, because it’s the only time of the year when I have sufficient pocket space for my phone, my wallet, my keys, and an overfilled packet of Big League Chew.

But it’s not Winter Jacket Day or Big League Chew Day (which should really be a thing). It’s Scarf Day, and above is my wife in a scarf.

Yeah, we’re really racing through these. This is my birthday present to myself – finally an article that clocks in at under 1,000 words for the first time in ages. (note: we actually finished at over 1,300 words. Another birthday ruined!!!)

Classical Music Month

In 1994 President Bill Clinton, who was not burdened with the pressures of the perpetual social media spotlight on his every actions, could still do fun things like designate September as classical music month.

Look, you’re not going to find a lot of people passionate about classical music these days when compared to the other genres that keep people’s attention glued to a backbeat. But when you break down the very concept of ‘good music’, you’ll find so many elements of classical in the stuff being written today. Classical music told stories through lengthy instrumentals. The way we read music is defined by classical. And it features its own brand of renegade superstars, from Wolfie Mozart to the atonal avant-garde stuff that rose up in the last century.

I’ll admit, I rarely listen to the stuff. My tastes cover most genres, but I don’t have a deep connection to any classical piece, outside of John Williams’ Star Wars oeuvre. But, in order to properly designate this as a celebration I have listened to a few choice selections from Brahms, Chopin, Mozart, and Rachmaninoff, who always delights me with some twisted-up dark shit. We used to go to the symphony, and we loved it. In fact, we downright long for it these days. Just to sit in a room and be wowed by beauty on a stage would be a delight.

Until then, I’ll crank up a few more classical tunes before September is up, but only in small doses. I can only  hold out so long before I need to hear some funk hitting the one, y’know?

Daughter’s Day

Okay, I can take a bit of time and pour some thought into this one. After all, the notion of ‘daughter’ kind of defined the lines of my life’s path, didn’t it? I became a dad when I was 22. I knew from the second I saw that screaming little face I was hooked. There was no turning back. I knew I could twist and squish that kid into something special.

Abbey was not a normal kid. Honestly, I don’t know what a ‘normal’ kid is, except that they’re probably rather boring. Abbey was not boring. She kept a steady rhythm at a young age. Maybe that’s something all kids can do, and all parents feel theirs is special for it, but she was good at it. And she loved music and art and make-believe. None of that has changed. She grew exactly as I felt she would: headstrong and stubborn, tossed and tormented by her emotions, and smart enough to be self-aware to the point where it hurts.

Sure, her teenage years were fraught with angst and frustration, and yes, she drove us both to the point of anger that could – in theory, of course – drive a person to murder. But she was never quite the pain in the ass that I’d been advised teenage daughters could be. She didn’t go through a phase of openly hating us (secretly hating us? Don’t know – ask her), and she never lost her spark. She became a performer… actually, that started within her first week of life and simply hasn’t stopped.

Now I’ve got an adult daughter who makes me laugh more than pretty much any other human. Her humour can still be a bit meme-y and over-reliant on whatever catchphrase she happens to be in to at the time, but she’s brilliant and funny, and she continues to inspire me every day. I still want to be a better father to her. I still get excited and start counting down the days once we book her flight for a trip home.

She is one of four humans in my life who enrich my every moment, and I am deeply grateful for the privilege of being a part of this ride with her. Now enough about her – it was my birthday yesterday, dammit. It’s supposed to be all about me.

Here’s what we’ve got for a Monday morning post-birthday hangover type of day:

  • National Drink Beer Day. We have had several beer days so far this year. That does not mean we’ll be skipping any that are left.
  • National Strawberry Cream Pie Day. I don’t see one of these in our future today, but we’ll wish.
  • National North Carolina Day. We got caught up on our state-to-state travels. We’ll see what awaits us tonight.
  • National Bunny Day. Bunnies are awesome.
  • Freedom From Hunger Day. I suspect this is more of a global famine awareness thing than a just-eat-stuff thing.
  • Fish Tank Floorshow Night. This is a day to watch fish in an aquarium. We might have to find a virtual one online.
  • International Right To Know Day. Sounds like fun.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

There were eighteen possible celebrations sitting on the fence yesterday, waiting to see which ones I’d pick off my with my celebration-rifle and write about in today’s article. But almost none of them held any appeal for me. We are ahead of schedule in this little dance of mayhem, and I feel I’m entitled to a weekend off. Or at least mostly off. I’m no hunter or fisherman, I’m not going ghost-hunting with a busted hoof, and I wasn’t craving dumplings for dinner last night. So I kept things wildly light, and had a glorious afternoon nap. Note to celebration-creators: we need more napping days. Here’s what made the cut:

National Pancake Day

Yes, we enjoyed National Pancake Day back on March 4, but that was the one created by IHOP to entice people through their doors in order to sell them pancakes. This one is the authentic one, celebrated by our ancestors for centuries, dating back to little-known Holy Roman Empire general Ludwigulus the Insipid, who felt that September 26 should be a day for devouring discs of syrupy delight.

Actually, this one started out as Lumberjack Day, created by someone who felt that a week after Talk Like A Pirate Day we should honour another noble profession. Since lumberjacks don’t have a characteristic way of talking (French-Canadian accent stereotypes aside), that meant dressing in plaid and eating a hearty lumberjack-ish breakfast. Eventually someone thought better of it and just made it into Pancake Day.

Jodie and I visited Barb & Ernie’s Olde Country Inn yesterday for a sampling of the best brunch in the city. She enjoyed the German pancakes, which feature bacon built right into the pancake for easy access. I had their potato pancakes, which are more pancake-ish and less latka-ish than the ones I make at home. Both were exemplary, but then we’ve never eaten a meal there that wasn’t.

On a day when I felt almost no motivation to celebrate, we celebrated this one right.

Sea Otter Awareness Week

Yes, that’s right. I discarded all other seventeen possible celebrations for yesterday in favour of bringing some attention to the noble sea otter. Good ol’ Enhydra lutris is on the endangered list, and it’s so much more interesting to read about their little lives than to pretend my broken-footed self is going to care about Family Fitness Day USA. So let’s give a little written hug to the sea otter.

They’re not just weasels, but they’re the heaviest of the weasel family, both in terms of weight and in terms of however Marty McFly kept using the word. These little creatures use rocks to bust open shells and dig out food, making them one of the only mammal species to use tools. In most of the swath of territory it inhabits, the sea otter is goddamn crucial to the area. They feed on a sea urchin population that would, if left undigested by sea otters, devastate the kelp forest ecosystem. So hooray for the sea otter.

And holy crap for the sea otter while we’re at it. It’s estimated there used to be as many as 300,000 of them roaming about, but humans were so in love with wearing them as clothing, we decimated the species down to about 1,000 to 2,000. Since we realized that way back in 1911, we have altered how we treat them, and they have actually regained a lot of their numbers.

Sea otters spend a lot of their time grooming, and they also only forage and feed at certain times of day, preferring to take an afternoon nap whenever possible. So we honoured the sea otter with our own nap yesterday. I mean, we didn’t know it at the time, but maybe on some cosmic-consciousness level we did. Let’s go with that.

Now the biggest threat to sea otters is oil spills. So the lesson here is that humans will find a way to mess up nature, even when we try not to. Sorry, sea otters.

Cable TV Month

A small tribute to cable TV.

My third parent.

As I grew up a sad and lonely (well, mostly happy and imaginative, but whatever) child, you were a constant companion. Back then you were choosy – only 12 channels you offered, and through that tiny lens you invited me to see the world. Where I was raised by a man with a somewhat misogynistic view of the world, you taught me to praise and exalt women, and to take their side prior to the inevitable sitcom comeuppance for those who do not. You taught me all the races can coexist harmoniously – even a crusty old bigot in Queens and his pre-movin’-on-up black neighbour.

When I needed the comfort of a sensitive and gentle father, you gave me Steven Keaton, Howard Cunningham and Mork from Ork (Jonathan Winters was, as a large man-baby, and quite a handful). When I became curious about the nature of love and romance, you showed me Maddie and David – yet somehow I overcame that and found a normal, stable relationship.

You taught me to laugh, and to want to make others laugh. You taught me that all major issues can be resolved before the closing credits, apart from cliff-hangers. That was wrong, but hey, they can’t all be winners. You taught me patience; when Harry and the gang signed off for the week, I had to wait seven days for the next episode of Night Court. And that was fine. I could balance my life and never know the dangers of the binge.

Now I only tend to visit you on Saturday nights when Lorne Michaels’ show is new, on Sunday mornings for CBS’s old-person news show, and to watch football. Just the nighttime games; I have an app for Sunday afternoons. We don’t see each other much anymore, but please know that I’ll always value the richness you poured into my life, one laugh-track button at a time.

Thanks, cable.

Today I may get up to even less. Why? Well, let’s start with this:

  • My Birthday. Yes, in a year in which I’m celebrating everything under the damn sun I am still celebrating my birthday. I’ll be watching football and not writing much.
  • National Chocolate Milk Day. Well, I might celebrate this too.
  • National Crush A Can Day. Okay, this is on the table as well. It’ll take all of, what, fifteen or twenty seconds to muster up the strength for this?
  • German Sandwich Day. Any sandwich can be German if you try hard enough.
  • National Corned Beef Hash Day. I’m a fan of the stuff, but good corned beef is tough to find around here. Also, I’m not cooking.
  • National Scarf Day. A little later in the year would be nice for this one.
  • Daughter’s Day. Hey, I have one of these! But she doesn’t get the presents, I do.
  • Morning Show Hosts Day. I don’t think so.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Another glorious sunny day in a September that hasn’t received the memo that 2020 is a dumpster-fire, and a frost-filled September would totally fit that groove. Too late, evil weather gods – you slipped up on this one. Of course we can always taste the irony that walking outside to enjoy this weather would be difficult, due to my still being employed and needing to sit at a desk. Also, with a busted foot excess walking is discouraged. But I’ve got all this wonderful celebrating to do! Today’s list (see yesterday’s article) is immense. I opted to pick and choose, and to try to keep the writing relatively brief. Let’s see what goofiness ensued:

National One-Hit Wonder Day

A one-hit wonder is simply defined as a song that became the only hit by a band or artist. Not everyone gets this right. Even the playlist I found on Spotify to fill my day with these golden oldies is inaccurate. Frankie Goes To Hollywood, for example. Sure, “Relax” was a #1 hit, but “Two Tribes” was #1 in England for nine weeks. This is the problem – people have to look at a single country to accurately dub some of these songs with that title. A-ha only kicked the Billboard charts in the ass with “Take On Me”, but they were massive in their native Norway.

Sometimes a one-hit wonder is a good band’s only breakout hit in our part of the world, like the ones above. Sometimes they are simply the one time a band managed to achieve greatness, like with Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ “Come On Eileen” or Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit In The Sky.” Other times, the songs are insipid trash that happened to catch the public’s attention because sometimes the public wants stupid shit on their radios. Examples of this would be Gerardo’s “Rico Suave” or Los del Rio’s “Macarena.”

I’ll toss in a few others that deserve mentions. Nena’s “99 Luftballoons” is catchy and timeless. The Knack’s “My Sharona” is epic, especially the album version with some killer guitar work. The Buggles’ “Video Killed The Radio Star” is not only a hooky song, it happened to capture a pivotal moment in the evolution of the music industry. Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love” will always be an icon of its era. Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” isn’t a great tune, but it opened us up to the brilliance of Bobby McFerrin.

Crank up your favourites. It’s their day!

National Tune-Up Day

Some topics don’t require a lot of research, and I think those may be my favourites. This is one of them – it’s a day for folks to start tuning up their home to be ready for winter. This can mean inspecting and/or cleaning out one’s vents, ensuring one’s fuel jets are working properly (that’s a furnace thing, though if you own actual jets you should probably winterize them too), and checking one’s intake vents for blockages.

I did none of that. I had planned to tune my guitar but the thought of walking all the way down to the basement to grab it with this stupid cast on my foot doesn’t appeal to me. So I opted to celebrate this one according to the spirit of the day.

Every year we call ATCO, our natural gas provider, and ask them to come and provide a free cleaning of our furnace’s sensor. When we forget to do this, our furnace conks out and provides only cool air. This inevitably happens when the temperature drops below -20, meaning we spend the day wearing parkas in our house until the tech arrives. Yesterday I made the call to book this service so we can avoid that unpleasantness.

Thanks, calendar!

Math Storytelling Day

We’re supposed to tell a story with math today. I can do that.

This is the story of my shattered (well, ‘broken’) bone. I was descending the six stairs to the kitchen. I was carrying one plate plus one bowl plus two stale pizza crusts, which clearly equalled more than I could handle because I fell to the floor at a rate of 9.8m/s2. I was advised it would take 4-6 weeks (times seven that’s 28 to 42 days, times twenty-four means 672 to 1,008 hours) to heal. Given that I fell to the ground on Tuesday, we can add six weeks to that date and we’ll land on November 3. So my recovery will wrap up on election day.

I’m hoping the healing energy pouring into me over that time, plus the amount of time for American voters to come to their senses, will equal a result to that election that is not objectively stupid. I guess we’ll see how the math shakes out on that one.

It’s a sad story, but now it’s a sad story with math. I guess that makes it… better?

Better Breakfast Day / Better Breakfast Month

Yesterday we were supposed to be having a better than average breakfast. Given that our workday breakfasts have been either cereal or a protein bar for me, and a smoothie for Jodie, I think we upped the ante sufficiently by having avocado toast and some fruit. It’s all part of this nutritious breakfast.

That’s all. We ate well. Have we eaten better breakfasts all month? Well, no. Better than nothing breakfasts, I suppose. But yesterday’s was a weekday treat.

National Cooking Day

In a sense, we have celebrated this one almost every day of the year so far. This is as generic as it gets, given that there’s no National Food Day or National Stuff Day. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t cook anything yesterday unless you count avocado toast. And you shouldn’t – you prepare or throw together avocado toast, you don’t cook it.

But I enjoyed some of my leftover shrimp fried rice from earlier in the week, and I cooked the fuck out of that stuff. Cooking is a joy. It combines the security of following specific directions and the chaos of being able to improvise. It’s a joy to see a gaggle of ingredients come together in order to form something great. And it’s not for everybody – which is also a bonus. I cook and Jodie cleans, and given how much I dislike cleaning, everybody wins. Jodie can’t stand cooking but she loves a home-cooked meal. We’ve got a system.

Cooking over the next few weeks will be difficult, as I have been instructed to remain off my feet as much as humanly possible. But as soon as I’m able, I’ll be back in that kitchen, hopefully putting together something that tastes palatable. We’ll see what the calendar tells me to do.

Binge Day

To celebrate this day we are supposed to pick a show and binge-watch a few episodes. It’s hard to find a lot of time to do that, but we did toss on a couple eps of Community and Parks & Rec last night, as Jodie continues to gradually make her first journey through that show.

The age of binge-watching is a bit on the double-edged side. On the one hand, it’s great to be fully immersed in a show, and to follow its story without having to pause and wait through an agonizing cliffhanger. We first experienced this phenomenon together when we rented the first couple of seasons of 24 from Blockbuster. That’s a hard show to stop watching if you have the entire season in front of you. In another sense, my first binge-watching would have been Saturday Night Live, as I plowed through my parents’ Betamax tapes full of sketches from the first few seasons.

But I find when binge-watching comedy the laughs tend to lose their edge after the first couple of episodes. To truly enjoy a comedy show it’s best to limit yourself to two per day. Keep things fresh and move on.

Yesterday was a day to ignore that advice. So we did.

Sport Purple For Platelets Day

(her pants are purple – it was 7:00am and our lighting skills hadn’t woken up yet)

Hey, you might not know someone suffering from Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura, but chances are you know someone who knows someone who has heard of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura. ITP is a nasty little disease that leaves people bruised and bleeding and utterly fatigued, all because they don’t have enough platelets in their blood. For those who missed out on that science lesson, platelets are the little dudes in our bloodstream that create clotting so that we don’t die from a papercut.

It’s not usually a terminal condition, but it can be quite debilitating. And yesterday was the day we were supposed to wear purple to bring attention to those who are suffering. Why purple? I don’t know, maybe because the disease has ‘purpura’ in the name and that shares the first four letters?

Anyhow, it’s also a good day to remind us to go give blood, and in general to watch out for one another. It’s also a good day to note how great my wife looks in purple. Me, I wore a purple T-shirt. Kind of boring. But at least we’re down with ITP.

Today promises to be a very busy Saturday, one which we may skip almost entirely because we covered so many topics today. Here’s what’s up:

  • National Singles Day. We already did this one, or one just like it, by eating single-serve food items for the day. This might be too much of a rerun.
  • National Seat Check Saturday. To check the baby seats in our car. We don’t have a baby seat, for obvious reasons.
  • National Hunting & Fishing Day. Given my immobility, I may just go for some hunting and fishing in a video game.
  • National Family Health & Fitness Day USA. We’re not in the USA, and again, health and fitness ain’t happening today.
  • National Ghost Hunting Day. What about ghost fishing?
  • National Public Lands Day. We could go to a park. That would count.
  • National Dumpling Day. Dumplings are yummy. Will we eat any? Tune in tomorrow for the exciting result. (spoiler: probably not)
  • National Pancake Day. We have had pancakes a few times this year for various celebrations, but this seems like the important one.
  • National Situational Awareness Day. In case you were wondering if literally every idea on the planet has its own day.
  • National Good Neighbour Day. Will our neighbours get cookies? Probably not. Maybe a smile and a wave?
  • Astronomy Day. Oi. This is another one of those packed days.
  • Fish Amnesty Day. I didn’t know fish asked for amnesty.
  • International Rabbit Day. A day to celebrate all international rabbits.
  • International Lace Day. A good tribute to RBG and her famous neckwear.
  • Lumberjack Day. Another thing I might have done if (a) I wasn’t wounded, and (b) we weren’t in a pandemic. Go out and swing an ax.
  • Museum Day. No, we’re not going to watch me hobble around the museum.
  • The Last Of Us Day. This sounds a little dark.
  • Wildlife Ecology Day. Yeah, I don’t feel like doing 20 celebrations today. But hooray for wildlife and whatnot.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Forty-six years minus five days – this is the amount of my life which was allowed to transpire with not a single act of damage to my skeletal structure. Then gravity had its laugh and I find myself sitting with a puffed-up air cast on my foot and instructed to move around as little as possible, as though that were not already my life’s philosophy. The temptation to avoid celebrating these little madnesses continues to thrive, but my ambition to get the hell through this year without allowing this project to falter and fail will push through once again. Here’s what I was up to yesterday:

National Punctuation Day

I was at a loss about how to celebrate this day, so for National Swap Ideas Day back on September 10 I reached out on social media to ask folks what they thought. There were some creative ideas, but one in particular jumped out at me: look into the campaign to eliminate the apostrophe.

Eliminate the apostrophe? Everyone favourite flying comma? Okay. I’m curious enough to do some digging.

One autumn day back in 2018, Tiger Webb of ABC News (an Australian ABC, not the network that used to air Perfect Strangers) decided to pen an opinion piece in which he makes his case for the eradication of the apostrophe. Mr. Webb appeared vexed by the regular trickle of grammar-police emails questioning why ABC News reporters seem to struggle with the correct use of the apostrophe.

First off, he goes after contractions. Maybe “can’t” and “won’t” really dont need them but wouldnt they look weird without them? And if were going to leave contractions apostropheless, then were and were are going to look mighty similar. Even the possessive use is derided by Mr. Webb. I guess differentiating between the boy’s Skittles and the boys’ Skittles isn’t important to him. Maybe they don’t have Skittles in Australia, I don’t know.

I wouldn’t be sad if we decided to yank the apostrophe from contractions – though it would take away some good, easy hints for contestants on Wheel of Fortune. But it’s (or its) important for indicating possession and differentiating it from the plural. I vote thumbs-down on the mighty apostrophe’s demise, and encourage folks – in particular the journalists at Aussie ABC – to simply learn how to use it properly. It’s not that hard.

Lash Stylists Day

I thought it might be fun to become a lash stylist for this day, then I realized that this would be completely insane, and no one should ever allow my fingers that close to their eyeballs. Even I don’t know all the places these fingers have been.

Besides, we already have a lash stylist in the family, my sister-in-law Niki. And she’s fantastic at what she does – Jodie sported false lashes for months on end, loving the fact that she needed no makeup to go out, as the lashes did everything eyeliner would do and then some. Alas, an allergy to the glue developed and she had to go back to her plain ol’ awesome eyelashes, but we’ve still been steering people toward Niki whenever possible.

Eyelashes are something I pay almost no attention to on my own head, except when there’s some crusty gunk I need to evict from my own. But they do frame the eyes quite magnificently, and a good set of lashes can, from what I’ve been told, do wonders for a person’s look.

If you need your lashes done, make sure you’re getting them done by someone who knows their stuff. And if you’re in this part of the world and looking for someone, I can steer you in the right direction. Tell her I sent you. Also, tell her I’ll accept homemade cheesecake as a finder’s fee.

National Recovery Month

I know, this is not a month to celebrate recovery from falling down the stairs like a schmuck and breaking one’s toe. But that’s what I’m recovering from right now, okay? Just let me suffer in peace.

This is actually a month for drug and alcohol recovery (duh). I can also speak to this one. I enjoyed a solid 7-year run popping pain pills like they were Pez. I also took two Pez candies every four-to-six hours when needed, just like they were pain pills. I felt it balanced things. I knew I had a problem, but I felt I was functional. I had suspicions that the other issues I was battling (depression, sleep apnea, narcolepsy) might be related to the pills, but my doctor assured me that was not the case.

Long story short, I have a new doctor now. I didn’t go the traditional route of hitting rock bottom then entering a treatment program to set me straight. I accidentally went cold-turkey for five days in another country (I’d forgotten my pills at home somehow) and came back never wanting to touch the stuff again. I was extremely lucky in that the mental break from the addiction was remarkably simple. I’ve even had a Percocet prescription since, when I had my wisdom teeth yanked out, and when the pills were done I didn’t ask the doctor for more.

Like I said, I was lucky. If you or anyone you know needs some help getting drugs or alcohol out of your life, there is no time like the present. It’s 2020. The world is a fiery ball of weevil-poop soaring around the sun at this point. While some may say this means we should drink and smoke ourselves into a stupor to break away from all the stress, that’s actually the opposite for someone dealing with addiction. Now is the time to flush away those vices and dive into a new obsession. You’ve got time to learn to paint, build a shit-ton of LEGO or sketch out elaborate maps to the locales in your favourite children’s stories. What, you’re going to a movie? To a nightclub? No you’re not – there’s a pandemic out there. You’ve got the space in front of you to step forward. And you can do it – drugs and alcohol will not make 2020 any more tolerable if they’re already derailing your life.

And so ends my Recovery tirade for the month. But you can bet I’m celebrating my own every day. The depression may have needed some extra meds to kick it to the curb, but the sleep apnea and narcolepsy – I know, it sounds like I made that up, but I didn’t – went away immediately. It was all the pills.

And my life now is infinitely better, broken foot or no.

Kiss Day

Yes, this is the fourth or fifth generic kissing day of the year. And yes, we celebrated this one just like all the rest: by kissing.

Thanks for paying attention.

A delightfully brief day yesterday, which left me plenty of time to be pissed off at my new foe, gravity. Here’s today’s lineup:

  • National One-Hit Wonder Day. I’m sure I can find a great playlist of these. And by ‘great’ I mean it will contain “Come On, Eileen”
  • National Comic Book Day. I’ll have to see if we have one. Maybe I’ll write and draw one in my free time.
  • National Lobster Day. No, we didn’t have lobster planned. The stuff we bought last time was $20 worth of utterly unforgettable seafood.
  • National Tune-Up Day. We’re not going to tune up our car, but I can tune up a guitar. Will that count?
  • Math Storytelling Day. We’ll have to see how creative I’m feeling for this one.
  • Better Breakfast Day. A great breakfast is as good as eating gets. And it’s even better if someone else makes it for you.
  • National Cooking Day. Wonderfully generic for a change!
  • Binge Day. I’m not sure if my bosses would appreciate me breaking into this one too early.
  • Hug A Vegetarian Day. No… don’t hug anyone, unless they’re in your cohort.
  • Love Note Day. Well that just spoiled the surprise.
  • National Bakery Day. Does it count that we’re going for doughnuts tomorrow? Yes, that always counts.
  • National BRAVE Day. A day for honouring women who lift other women up. But, not like cheerleaders.
  • National Crab Meat Newberg Day. Oh just fuck off already; I’ve got a broken foot.
  • National Quesadilla Day. This is turning into a weirdly busy little Friday.
  • National Food Service Employees Day. Tomorrow’s article may end up being 30-40,000 words.
  • Save The Koala Day. Can they save themselves? I’m a little busy over here.
  • World Dream Day. Maybe if I dream I did all the rest of this stuff we can count that for all of them?
  • Sport Purple for Platelets Day. I can choose a purple shirt. At least I know I can do that.
  • World Pharmacist Day. We’ve already shown love to pharmacists this year, but aren’t they awesome enough to deserve more? I say hell yes.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

It appears I can add gravity to the list of institutions that are turning against me in 2020. I was carrying an empty plate and bowl downstairs on Tuesday afternoon when gravity felt I should take a more interesting route to the floor. That has left me with either a broken or deeply disturbed pinkie toe, and a bulldog who keeps attacking my crutch. It has been an interesting series of events, and it didn’t leave me in an overly celebratory mood yesterday. Fortunately, we’re ahead of our target so we’re okay if we keep things light:

Innergize Day

It’s to ‘energize’ your ‘innards’. Get it? Very cute.

Laughably obvious puns aside, this is a day we’re supposed to set aside to shift gears from the fast-paced days of summer. Which is a little weird, because August is supposed to be the ‘lazy, hazy days’ of summer, and I don’t think anyone finds their September to be particularly overflowing with summer activity. How many waterparks have you been to this month?

So we’re supposed to let stress flow out our pores and allow ourselves to be steered to a higher plane of peace and tranquility. We’re supposed to meditate. To rest. To dance around the house, which is ill-advised with a broken-ass toe. I suppose I embraced that by remaining as stationary as possible yesterday. But it was also a work day, so I had to take care of that.

And you know what would really give my innards a boost? Not having to celebrate for a day. I’ve nudged my honesty back from the front lines as much as possible, but I’m told it’s still seeping through that I’m rather displeased with this project. We have found our most exciting celebrations sidelined by the virus, and this has simply become an expression of what we’ve eaten and what I’ve researched to write about. The inherent fun is hard to find. Or perhaps I’m just venting.

Well, maybe venting will innergize me.

National Teal Talk Day

On September 4 we wore teal in order to express our solidarity in raising awareness for ovarian cancer. It’s also National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. So why is there another day for the same colour, for the same cause? Is it solely because it’s a really important cause?

Yes, to both. Almost a quarter-million women are diagnosed with this horrific disease every year, and as we discussed a few weeks ago it’s a particularly insidious disease. Most women who are diagnosed are already in stage 3 or 4 because the early symptoms of this particular brand of cancer are relatively mild and will often get diagnosed as something else. So what’s the answer? Get a biopsy every time you get a tummy-ache? Probably not, but if you’ve got a run of minor arbitrary symptoms you may want to ask your doctor if it’s worth looking into.

So take good care of yourselves. Stay in tune with your body. And be careful walking down stairs – I can’t stress that enough.

National Temperature Control Day

It’s the day after the autumnal equinox, which not only means we’re supposed to “gear down” from our super-busy summer (which it wasn’t for anyone), but we’re also supposed to acknowledge it’s going to get colder. So today is the day we look at our household thermostat and remember how it works, and that we are the guardians over the dominion of degrees Celsius one permits into their domicile.

So we can control the temperature. And we did, by tweaking the thermostat just a little. We’re not exactly in what Edmontonians call “the shit” yet (meaning winter weather), but it’s good to be reminded that we aren’t slaves to the bitter winds outdoors. I guess. I mean, who forgets that?

Celebrate Bisexuality Day

To celebrate this day (which conveniently has ‘celebrate’ in the title – I like that), let’s look at a few definitions. This may seem banal and unnecessary to some of my readers, but I also know that at least 80% of you may be slightly out of touch with all the different types of ‘sexual’ one can be. It’s not that people have changed, we’ve just expanded our vocabulary to try to understand one another a little better.

GLAAD, along with a number of other folks, want to call this Bisexuality+ Day, with the plus sign meant to be more inclusive for the various types of bisexuality on the market. Which one is right for you? Well, here’s the menu:

Bisexuality, which we have all been aware of for decades, is sexual or romantic (or both!) attraction to people of both genders. That’s easy. Growing up, I always thought there were two options: heterosexuality, homosexuality, or this one which encompasses both. Oh, how naïve I was.

Pansexuality, which is different from a fetish for cookware, is an attraction to all gender identities, or at least the potential for such attraction. That’s the bit that bisexuality leaves out; we’re not working with a binary dynamic of he and she anymore. Polysexuality is similar to pansexuality, except there are certain gender designations you just aren’t into. Omnisexuality… that seems to be just another way of saying pansexuality. Then you’ve got the fluid sexuality people, who may pop from hetero to bi to pan throughout their lifetime.

The point is, yesterday was a day to celebrate any and all of the above. And we did. Love is awesome.

National Snack Stick Day

Will it surprise anyone that Klement’s Sausage Company came up with the idea for this one? Well, they don’t sell their particular meat-tubes in our part of the world, but we found something remarkably similar.

I like these things. They make a great snack. Everyone within reach of a place that sells Klement sausages, go buy some as a way of saying thanks for making a kick-ass celebration that requires zero research and almost no writing. Just delicious eating.

Oh, and I forgot to take a picture of the damn snack stick. We have another one downstairs, but I am in no condition to be negotiating stairs right now, so please enjoy the stock photo instead.

On we go, into another day with a sore foot and a battered heart. Did that sound bad-ass? No? Okay, never mind then. Here’s today:

  • National Cherries Jubilee Day. This would have made more sense back when cherries were still in season in this part of the world, n’est-ce pas?
  • National Punctuation Day. I put out a request to my beloved companions for ideas on how to celebrate this one. I might have found one.
  • Festival of Latest Novelties. I didn’t have this one in my original research, so I have no idea what to expect when I dig into it.
  • Kiss Day. We’ve kissed for several celebrations so far this year. Is this the day we rock and roll all night and party every… nah, probably not.
  • Lash Stylists Day. I know one of those! I’ll give her a plug tomorrow.
  • National Bluebird of Happiness Day. Well that’s a joyous little entry.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

I plunged into yesterday like it was a churning vat of cold, unforgiving water. I did everything in my power to keep my positivity up, but it was destined to be a day of convoluted misanthropy, with a haircut tacked on to its end like an unfortunate afterthought. My heart wasn’t in it, and neither were the rest of my internal organs. I faced yesterday’s list of celebrations with a renewed sense of futility and frustration, not even remotely interested in engaging. Apologies to both of my regular readers; sometimes the juice simply doesn’t flow through the… rest of a metaphor. Yesterday also saw me tumbling to the ground and either breaking or maiming my pinkie toe. It was a day. Anyway, here’s what was up:

World Car Free Day

World Car Free Day tells us, “Hey world, how about you put away your car and choose another way to get around today?” To that we say, “Great idea in theory, but in practice it ain’t happening.”

I don’t take a car to work. During darker times – and yes, I’m considering pre-virus times as ‘darker’, at least in this context – I would take a bus to work. Now I take the stairs to my upstairs office to get the same job done remotely. It’s great. But yesterday was not a normal day. First of all, Jodie had an appointment after school which meant she’d be home just in time for me to race across town for my haircut, which I’d cram in just quickly enough so I can race back home to meet my cousin. It’s a day with tight timelines, and we cannot rely on public transit in this city if we’ve got tight timelines.

So I’ll say we celebrated this a couple days early. On Sunday we had no need to use a vehicle. In fact, we tend to use our vehicle so little lately we have downgraded from two cars to one this year.

The first Car Free Day took place in Indonesia in 2007, and they actually closed down a bunch of major roads to vehicular traffic to encourage people to bike, walk, or bus. When Israel shuts down their car operations for Yom Kippur (this coming weekend), their air pollution drops by about 99% on that day. So it’s a good thing to do, early, late or on time. Take a day and leave the car behind.

National Ice Cream Cone Day

Here’s where brevity takes over and I start blasting through these celebrations. Do I really need to know much about the ice cream cone? It was invented some time around the dawn of the 20th century, and as with any delicious foodstuff from the time there are numerous folks who claim to have been the brains behind it. There were two patents issued in 1902 and 1903 for ice cream cones, one in England and one in Italy. So either way you look at it, this is some fancy foreign import cuisine.

The ice cream cone is a thing of beauty. It’s a completely self-contained snack. You eat the entire unit, packaging and all. Unless they wrap a stupid piece of paper around it, or stick you with a napkin as though it’s part of the thing itself.

We indulged in some Drumsticks, which are a terrific all-in-one ice cream sundae in a sugar cone. It was fantastic – the best way to enjoy ice cream, really.

National Girls’ Night In Day

Launched by a company that produces alcohol in 2018, this one is pretty much on-point. Well, almost. I don’t understand why celebrations that are meant to promote a party vibe are allowed to show up mid-week. Come on, Ketel One Botanicals – how about the third Saturday in September instead of September 22 for this one?

That said, it’s not my party to complain about. And no alcohol was imbibed in the celebration of this particular event. Above are our girls, Trixie, Rosa and Libby. Jodie spent the evening yesterday in their company, while I hung out with my cousin Sam outside where we could safely socially distance and discuss manly things, like football and fuel-injection and… I don’t know, gladiators? I don’t know what men talk about. Most of my friends growing up talked with me about either Star Wars or music. Come to think of it, Sam and I talked about both of those things last night too.

Happy girls’ night, whether you go out or stay in (and really, stay in – there’s a pandemic), and if all of your girlfriends happen to be of the canine variety, then you’re clearly doing something right.

Autumnal Equinox

A big ol’ happy first day of spring to those living in the southern hemisphere! It’s been, as they say, a long, cold, lonely winter. Up here it’s been a long, cold, lonely summer, jam-packed with no festivals, no concerts, no live theatre and no cinematic blockbusters. We’ve had some decent weather, which is great, but nowhere to go and no outdoor events to take part in. But we had the hammock. And this year, I got to use my hammock for the first time in years. It was great.

But now we’re rolling into the shortest season of the year for Edmonton. The leaves are about three or four days from peak autumn colours, and within two weeks they’ll be starting to shed their happy homes for the awaiting grass. Winter may be along any time after that.

There are a few rituals associated with this day from pagan tradition and various other cultures. The Far East in particular, they seem to really get in on this. You’ve got the Korean festival of Chuseok, which features heaps of food and wine, as well as paying tribute to the fallen folks laying in the cemetery. In Japan it’s a national holiday. The Mid-Autumn Festival, which features mooncakes and various courtship rituals, is tied in with the onset of this season.

Here? Here we eat ice cream cones, and that’s just because it’s Ice Cream Cone Day. We really need to get on board with equinox parties in North America.

National White Chocolate Day

“White chocolate isn’t chocolate,” my wife tells me whenever I express my love for the stuff.

“Neither is caramel, and that stuff is fucking awesome,” I reply, and happily devour all the white chocolate for myself.

But white chocolate is made from cocoa butter, so it’s close enough. There are no cocoa solids involved, and you won’t get much in the way of a caffeine kick from the white stuff. There is also little or no health benefit from eating white chocolate, apart from maybe holding back starvation. Dark chocolate is much better for you, and as far as flavor goes, it offers a much more textured and interesting array of tastes. White chocolate is just candy.

But we here at Celebrate366 will not disparage quality candy. Even though it was invented by Nestle, one of the evil corporations we get warned about on social media. At least it was invented in Switzerland, allowing it to assume a chocolatey posture on the world stage.

We could have once again opted for a candy bar made with processed white chocolate, but the proprietor of Carole’s Quality Sweets (the single greatest candy store in this city, and I’ll battle with anyone who says otherwise) advised us she makes some great homemade stuff. And she was right – it was creamy and utterly fantastic.

Even if it wasn’t “chocolate”.

It’s Wednesday! Can we find more reasons to celebrate than the fact that this week is already halfway over? How about this:

  • Innergize Day. A day to relax and rejuvenate. We just had one of these two days ago, but what the hell. We’re on board.
  • National Great American Pot Pie Day. Sounds tasty. We don’t have the ingredients for this one, but it sounds tasty.
  • National Snack Stick Day. This one we do have on hand. Not a Hot Rod per se, but something close enough.
  • National Teal Talk Day. We wore teal just a few days ago, and I think that was also for Ovarian Cancer. Could be a misprint?
  • National Temperature Control Day. Today I will unleash my weather control device and conquer the world!!!! Or at least I’ll tweak the thermostat.
  • Celebrate Bisexuality Day. Our bisexual friends should have a wonderful day today. But they’re our friends, so they should have a wonderful day every day.
  • National Checkers Day. Is this a day for the game or for Nixon’s dog? Tune in tomorrow to find out!
  • National Dogs In Politics Day. Never trust a politician who doesn’t have a dog.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Glory be to the slow yawn of a morning off, when a twitch of desire to pop a Star Wars movie on the screen during my morning coffee is met with nothing but a snort of approval from our canine companions. Yesterday was a day carved from hot tar and turkey gravy, drizzled in breaths beneath a tea-kettle sky. The dogs were more playful, the breeze more cleansing than an average day. Some days land above the curve, and this was one of them. Here’s what was up:

National Virginia Day

Welcome to Virginia, a state so noble and cromulent it isn’t known as “The Something State” – its nickname is simply “Old Dominion.” Virginia was the first colony of England’s brash footprint in North America. It remains the only state to get so disgusted with itself, it split in two. Its General Assembly, which set up shop 401 years ago, is the oldest continuous law-making gaggle on the continent. 62% of the state is blanketed in forest. It’s a ludicrously attractive succession of landscapes.

Virginia is deeply intertwined with American history, from George Washington’s birth right up to the present. It’s where you’ll find Arlington Cemetery and the C.I.A. headquarters. The two highest-income counties in the nation are located in northern Virginia. There’s more defense spending per capita in Virginia than anywhere else in the country, no doubt because the Pentagon is located there. They also have the highest speed internet in the country, and the third-highest in the world. I’m willing to bet even the residents of Virginia didn’t know that. Also, I’ll credit the presence of the Pentagon.

It’s a smart state too, consistently in the top 5 states for academic achievement. In contemplating what to enjoy for this beloved state, Jodie asked a friend of hers who was raised there. She claimed that crabcakes were the way to go for a true Virginia feast, so crabcakes we had. We could taste the history.

How about a few great humans from Old Dominion? Well, there’s Shirley MacLaine from Richmond, Jason Mraz from Mechanicsville, Wayne Newton from Norfolk, Rob Lowe from Charlottesville, Patton Oswalt from Portsmouth, Tim “Venus Flytrap” Reid from Norfolk, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson from Richmond, Bruce Hornsby from Williamsburg, Willard Scott (the O.G. Ronald McDonald) from Alexandria, Vince “Break My Heart With Another Goddamn Cliffhanger” Gilligan from Richmond, Gene Vincent from Norfolk, D’Angelo from Richmond, Clarence Clemons from Norfolk County, Patsy Cline from Winchester, and Ella Fitzgerald from Newport News.

Sounds like a great state to visit, if we ever get to visit states again. Meanwhile, there’s also:

National New York Day

Another state to be celebrated on the same day? Well, sort of. National Virginia Day was last week, we just put off the celebration until we could come up with a suitable food. New York Day was yesterday, and yes – it looks like National Pepperoni Pizza Day from last weekend. But there were leftovers, and as any student at Columbia or NYU would attest, cold leftover thin-crust pizza is a New York staple. Let’s not dig too deeply here.

The Empire State has given us so much. All the cuisine, culture and innovation that has come from its most populous city, and still the rest of the state had the good sense to create stuff like Finger Lakes Chicken and Buffalo Wings. Four of the world’s top ten tourist attractions are in the state (remember, they have the lesser version of Niagara Falls there too). New York is where stuff happens. It’s the heart of American culture, diversity, and LGBT rights.

Pizza was an easy choice for New York Day, but there were so many other options. Most of the great bastions of American Jewish cuisine – thick-cut pastrami, bagels & lox – were born in New York. At least one of the claims to the invention of the hamburger is from New York. Westernized Chinese food sees a lot of its roots in New York.

In short, New York is the state we yearn to return to the most. Jodie in particular – she was scheduled to take off with her school on a trip to the Big City next month. Instead she’ll be stuck here with me. Such is 2020.

A list of cool humans to have come from New York would take several pages, so I’ll just pick a few: Humphrey DeForest Bogart from NYC, Matthew Broderick from NYC, Chevy Chase from NYC, Rodney Dangerfield from Babylon, Steve Buscemi from NYC, Peter Falk from NYC, Scarlett Johansson from NYC, Al Pacino from NYC…. I mean, the list is really too long. We will forever heart New York.

National Pecan Cookie Day

There isn’t much to say about this one. Our team baker is astoundingly adept at crafting pecan cookies, and she has already done so for Pecan Sandy Day. She made a very similar batch for this very similar celebration, and they were goddamn fantastic. They aren’t my favourite cookies on the planet, but they’re easily somewhere in the top 20. Far better than any pecan-featured store-bought cookie would have been.

Thanks, mom. And thanks, calendar gods for giving us another batch of pecan cookies to devour. We’ll never go hungry in 2020.

National Chai Day

I’ll be honest… we would have loved to slurp back some masala chai yesterday, but we remained housebound. The real stuff – in case you’ve somehow avoided sampling it in all your years – is delightful. Black tea flavoured with aromatic herbs and spices, and often brewing in a pot for an entire day. It used to be an herbal medicine, and it’s obvious there’s some magic in those delicious drops. But today it’s just top-notch tea for most.

For us, we adopted the “other” meaning. Chai literally translates as ‘tea’, so Jodie simply had some blueberry tea that we had on-hand. I know, this is a subdued celebration, but it’s about all we had in the tank yesterday. We do what we can.

Pause The World Day

A day to hit pause on the craziness of the world. We did that. We will be doing that every Sunday for the remainder of 2020, because failure to do so may threaten to overthrow our sanity and drive us into an inescapable conniption. Honestly, the stress of the world is beating a tympani drum roll outside our door right now, and when Jodie is at school that drum roll is downright deafening.

So Sunday we will pause the world every week. If football lasts for the entire season that’s great. If not, we’ll fill those days with movies, with music, or with the blissful magnificence of silence. At this point, hitting ‘pause’ on the world is the only sane thing to do, given that the world doesn’t come with an option to stop, eject, and load a different tape.

This ties in with Self-Care Awareness Month, which we discussed a couple days ago. Everyone needs to find out how to get through this madness in a way that works for them, with as little fall-out to others as possible. Sunday pauses are ours.

National Sponge Toffee Day

Sponge toffee is just a clever way of twisting brown sugar and corn syrup or molasses into something fantastically chewy and wonderfully tasty. I have a friend who has made the stuff at home, and it’s apparently quite simple to do. We might have tried, except for the fact that we really didn’t want to. We could just pop over to the convenience store and grab a Crunchie bar; why go to all the trouble and mess of making it ourselves?

Actually, we opted instead to head to Carol’s Quality Sweets, the greatest (without exception) candy store in town. They make their own, and they do it perfectly. There was no need to welcome a mess into our lives or to cheap out by buying a candy bar. We crunched, we chewed, we tried our best to pry the sticky stuff off of our teeth, and it was wonderful. Exactly what a celebration should be.

For those who may be interested (and who knows? It might be you!), sponge toffee is also known as cinder toffee in England, hokey pokey in New Zealand, honeycomb in South Africa, dalgona in Korea, gulali in Indonesia, and in various parts of the United States they call it sea foam, sponge candy, angel food candy, fairy food candy, and puff candy. Doesn’t matter – it’s all good stuff.

National Fried Rice Day

One day late, but we made some delicious home-made shrimp fried rice last night to go with our Virginia Day crab cakes. I’d write more, but honestly what else do I need to say? Fried rice is delicious.

Today is a work-filled, busy-type day, but we will try to cram what celebrations we can before the curtain closes:

  • Autumnal Equinox. In China they gaze at the moon on the equinox. Is that enough to celebrate? Can we just look at the moon?
  • National Ice Cream Cone Day. We will definitely celebrate this one. I mean, come on. It’s an easy one.
  • Car Free Day. This does not mean we get a free car, which was disappointing to learn. But I didn’t use a car at all today. Jodie drove our Rav4, but that’s technically a truck…?
  • National Legwear Day. I call them pants. I wore pants.
  • National White Chocolate Day. Carole’s Quality Sweets will come through for us again with more homemade goodness.
  • National Girls’ Night In Day. We can’t invite friends over, but our girls will spend the night in.
  • Dear Diary Day. I shan’t be starting a diary.
  • Chainmail Day. It’d be a great day to dress up in our chainmail armor, but we haven’t stumbled upon any in the dungeon yet.
  • National Elephant Appreciation Day. We have already appreciated the elephant this year – no need to let their heads swell.
  • World Rhino Day. Fine and noble beasts. Do they like ice cream?

Monday, September 21, 2020

As promised, yesterday saw very little in the way of actual celebrating, apart from the immeasurable glory of having the privilege of laying in bed for an entire day, watching a bunch of grown men play a game. There was food to be prepared, laundry to be laundered, and dogs to be hoisted about the neighbourhood for exercise. But there was not a lot of time for writing. In short, here’s what we did:

National Pepperoni Pizza Day

Have you ever paused in your daily goings-on and wondered, what the hell is the deal with pepperoni? It’s a sausage that is found almost exclusively on pizza. You don’t use it in an omelet, it doesn’t show up in a salad, and it’s rarely sandwich meat, unless you’re making  a pizza sub. No one is laying out pepperoni on a charcuterie board, are they? I mean, you could, but not if you’re going to charge $24 for it at a restaurant. Is it just a low-end sausage?

Far be it from me to disparage the pepperoni. Sure, its only connection to the “old world” is because Italian-Americans invented around 1919. And sure, it’s a super-fine-grain salami, so you don’t get those big chunks of peppercorn or other spices like in a top-notch Genoa. And yeah, it’s mass-produced in an artificial sausage casing, which dilutes its authenticity rating.

But on a pizza, it outright bangs. It’s usually a mix of pork and beef, and while paprika and chili peppers may be involved in the curing, it’s often the nitrates and other such stuff that gives it its distinctive red colour. According to Convenience Store Decisions, a publication I really want to get my hands on, if only to learn what they put in that liquid nacho cheese sauce to make it so damn addictive, 36% of all pizzas produced in America – and presumably also in Canada – contain pepperoni.

Also good to know: in Nova Scotia deep-fried pepperoni with a honey mustard dipping sauce is a popular pub snack. Now I’ve got another reason to look forward to the return of recreational travel.

National Punch Day

There were a few ways we could have approached this one.

First of all, the traditional ‘punch’, which dates back to some time in the early 17th century, referred to an alcoholic beverage. The word comes from the Hindi word for ‘five’ (or at least it might – this one doesn’t have a crystal clear etymology, possibly because too many folks were knackered on punch to write it down correctly). This was because there were five ingredients: booze, sugar, water, juice from a lemon or lime, and some spices.

Alcoholic punch – which in my mind is best made with rum – tends to have a lower alcohol level than other mixed drinks, as it is created in large quantities to quench an entire party. It wouldn’t have made sense for us to brew up an alcoholic punch when it would have just been me drinking it. I mean, sure – I don’t have to work today, so a bit of indulgence was allowed last night, but it still seemed somewhat excessive.

So we compromised. I made a non-alcoholic fruit punch and enjoyed that instead. I was more about the vodka-soda thing last night anyway, so why not enjoy both?

If ever there was an alcoholic punch I’d like to try though, it’s the infamous Australian treat, the Blow My Skull Off. For that you need one pint of rum, one pint of porter, a half-pint of brandy, some boiling water, lime or lemon juice, sugar to taste, and absolutely no concrete plans the next day.

The old version switches out wine for porter, and includes Turkish opium. That one might be a bit trickier to source at the local pub, but I’m sure you can track it down somewhere.

National Gibberish Day

Skluum var igboni, wohidjit mofane skapmackerson. Splumb splorta? Iffivium notvill theweigh. Flickitty wanjeeb hoomitz verblantisquim, affava nob nobbay, zimm von jinkallay. Forballskat, nobbity noowagor forhibbitz forjojo heem hovaka norvlayism.

Quab covecula. Mickk vigawongwong, shbutzivoo inhaglish. Menta morgiskiska, envol ribijiwayway. Nob nobbay? Nob no way! Voon gickatszjulain, florbetz. Kwabbika von halmug shwetzenblaggart, infalva voorhavenly iz ztuttin mohamoschmitty. Pseck psoramalamadingdong vohaama. Keetar? Keenar. Pleppenz fo vujrefeet, fitzwelgomadt, infol fomizubot izbotutubbo wargn. Laffin po slamma jamma iz clakkity boonswagg, mo riggu? Flont florshigginwiggin zubot.


Self-Care Awareness Month

For the love of all that’s good for you, I hope you’re taking this one seriously. I have been actively self-caring ever since this project threatened to overwhelm my sanity and send me off the deep end – this was sometime around late-morning on January 2nd, while our personal trainer was beating us up.

For everyone, self-care looks a little differently. We spent most of our Sunday in bed, watching football. After a week of high-stress new-normal teaching, Jodie needed that. She needed the nap she took. She needed to get lost in the silly storylines of sweaty millionaires and forget about her students, the schoolwork she needs to do for her Masters, and the current state of the world. We both needed that.

Some people need to get some exercise to hit their reset button. Others may need to see that special human who grounds them. Perhaps you need a drink or a smoke to settle back to normal; so long as that need isn’t calling the shots and/or messing up the rest of your life, that’s cool too.

The best thing I did for myself yesterday was to stay completely off of social media until 8:30 at night, when I dropped my article. The news lately is either stress-inducing or outright depressing. My friends and family are often too caught up in the news, and that’s what they share. The virus numbers are rising, as are the voices of the moronic, who claim it’s all a plot by baby-blood-drinking celebrities – a list that may or may not include Steve Buscemi. I’ve had it, to be honest. I can understand how someone can look at the world as it is and not want to be in it anymore.

Is that an astoundingly dark thought for a mostly fluff-and-comedy project? Perhaps, but it’s true. And I don’t mean that to sound dreary and suicidal – I’m not even close to that branch of the tree right now. Mentally speaking, I’m in a pretty damn good place, at least for me. But I get it. I get the pain of existence, and the loss of hope. I don’t share it, at least not these days, but I totally understand it. And that’s why self-care is everything. If you need medication and therapy to help out, if you need meditation, whatever works to keep you chugging through this planet with something resembling a smile either on your face or on quick-access stand-by, do it.

Take care, because your voice in this world is absolutely necessary.

On that dubiously happy note, we’ll look to the future at the magnificence awaiting us today:

  • National Chai Day. I’m not leaving the house, and I’m not sure Jodie will be anywhere Chai is being served, but maybe we’ll luck out.
  • National Pecan Cookie Day. Our team baker has advised us that she will be coming through once again. She’s this team’s Tyreek Hill, if you’re a Chiefs fan.
  • National New York Day. Heads up – this will look remarkably similar to National Pepperoni Pizza Day.
  • Batman Day. Really? Is this the day I get to be Batman?
  • National Sponge Toffee Day. Hooray! We got some homemade sponge toffee for this one, because this one deserves to be done right.
  • Escapology Day. A day to celebrate those who can wriggle out of straightjackets and squeeze magically out of chains.
  • Miniature Golf Day. I’m really going to wish we could play this, but neither of us wants to go to the nearby mall to stand around for any length of time.
  • Pause the World Day. Sounds like a plan.
  • World Gratitude Day. Oh, I hope this is a day for us to be thankful for the people and stuff in our lives because it’s been like six days since we’ve had one of these.