Tuesday, September 1, 2020

With the closing credits of summer rolling by, I have to pitch in a big ol’ special thanks to the folks who made it special. Those folks include our friends Stephen and Jones, who inspired us to build our own Faux-Fest a few weeks back, the friends and family who made the effort to come and hang with us in our safe back yard, and the glorious people who have continued to follow along with this project of utter mayhem. Mostly I’d like to thank my kids, my puppies, and my partner in crime for sticking it out. There are days I don’t know how I’ll continue soldiering on. Those days tend to end with me begrudgingly complying with the calendar, all while wishing for a  premature 2021 somehow. Yesterday was one of those days. Also, there was this:

National Matchmaker Day

I have never in my life claimed to have talent as a matchmaker, nor have I ever attempted to manifest such a talent. I have never believed I possessed the insight into human relationships to adequately figure out which people I know could make something last with which other people I know. I myself have been match-made by friends on two occasions, and while both were lovely girls with decent taste in music (this was important – I was a teenager), there was no magic.

Jodie, on the other hand, might have this talent. We’ve never run clinical trials, with control groups and fancy white smocks or anything, but we do have one example of her success. It seems a student teacher she’d taught recently was rather hung up on a girl – at Jodie’s prompting (and she provided reasons), he asked her out. Just recently they moved in together.

Does this mean Jodie is a natural-born matchmaker? No, not at all. Technically she didn’t make the match, she only encouraged it. But it means she’s had one successful foray into that world, and that’s what we celebrated last night. How? With a drink of course. Nothing says hooray for love like a few more dead braincells.

This day was officially launched by ArtCarved Bridal, a company that makes custom jewelry (so, like, really expensive jewelry) for brides. I guess this is a way to drum up business, by encouraging others to encourage their friends into getting busy. It makes sense. But I’m still not going to do it. I made my own match, and that will do just fine.

National Trail Mix Day

This is one of those celebrations that really test the true definition of ‘celebration’, at least in my eyes. Jodie had zero interest in participating, so this was really just a me party. But was it a party? Does anybody get that excited over trail mix? I don’t mind the stuff, in fact I quite like it. But it’s more of an “oh, okay” kind of food. Maybe I need to spend more time actually walking on trails.

Another word for ‘trail mix’ is scroggin. If I take away nothing else from this entire year of (hopefully) more than 2,000 celebrations, it’s that I will now and forever refer to trail mix as ‘scroggin’.

That’s a New Zealand term. They also call it ‘schmogle’, which makes me want to walk away from my computer, go downstairs, quietly pack my possessions into a bag and move to New Zealand. In Germany, Poland, and various other European countries the stuff is referred to as ‘student fodder’, though I wonder what non-students would use for their hiking expeditions.

Horace Kephart, a noted American writer and outdoorsman, was the first to recommend the combination of nuts, raisins and chocolate as a good walking food. And he’s right – it gives you protein, some carbs, and a blast of sugar to keep you motivated and moving. The stuff I had on hand – which did not exactly get me moving, but filled some hunger space – is from Costco. It contains no chocolate, but instead some yummy yogurt chips. It also forsakes the raisins for dried cranberries and blueberries. I highly recommend this one.

And I enjoyed it yesterday. It didn’t make me dance, it didn’t make me twirl with gleeful, girlish delight, but it was fine.

Motorist Consideration Monday

This is a continuation of Be Kind To Humankind Week, which appears to stretch over a weekend. For this day you’re supposed to be a courteous motorist, which Jodie absolutely was as we drove toward home yesterday afternoon. She let a jag-off (hey, it’s still considerate if we didn’t yell it out the window, right?) cut her off very dangerously as she (women can be jag-offs too!) pulled from a turning lane into the going-straight lane we were in, nearly causing a collision.

But Jodie didn’t honk, she didn’t extend a finger, nor did she go home and orchestrate a mystical spell that would cause that woman to go bald before the next full moon. So I’m calling that some damn fine consideration.

This world could learn a little from this day. The zipper merge – the undisputed king method for merging two lanes into one, is rarely used unless a sign is posted to specifically remind people to use it. We often enter the freeway and struggle to find someone who will allow us space to merge, even though we’re cruising at freeway speed. I’ve heard numerous claims that Edmonton (or at least Alberta) is the worst in the country, but then I have also heard several other cities make that claim.

And it’s always drivers from those cities who claim it, though they wouldn’t count themselves among the bad drivers. It’s all those other assholes. But is Edmonton that bad? There are a few pages about this online, but the most recent I found is a study done by Allstate, from an article dated January 2020. Halifax is apparently the most dangerous place to drive in this country. But then Allstate acknowledges that this may have been because the last winter was quite fierce in the Maritimes. This is really going to remain in the eye of the beholder.

But then we have kfzteile24, which is somehow a European online retailer of car parts and not some random Brony’s Tumblr handle. They did an extensive study, not to find out where the worst drivers were, but to find out which cities have the worst driving conditions in the world. This is based on congestion levels, public transport options, air pollution, the cost of gas and parking, road quality, road rage, road fatalities and the average speed between the city centre and the airport. Five Canadian cities landed on their list of the 100 cities with the most traffic data to report.

Vancouver was #48, which is not particularly good, and the worst place to drive in the country. Ottawa was #22, Toronto #14, Montreal #13 and Calgary #10. Those four are actually among the best places to drive in the world, at least among the busiest of cities. Edmonton didn’t make the list at all, probably because we simply don’t have that much congestion. Still, we make up for it with a lot of jag-offs.

We Love Memoirs Day

This day was launched by two memoir writers (which makes sense) back in 2013. They started a Facebook group to encourage discussion and sharing of great memoirs. Alan Parks and Victoria Twead, both of whom have several published memoirs under their belts, did not create the space for memoir writers to push their goods onto new readers, but rather to build a community of likeminded lovers of the chronicles of folks’ lives.

We are both fans of the memoir genre, so this day was a nice fit. As luck would have it, neither of us are presently engrossed in a memoir; Jodie is busy with anti-racism non-fiction, while I’m doing a deep dive into the possible Satanic cult implications hidden between the lines of the Berenstain Bears franchise. But we have both enjoyed a number of great memoirs.

I asked Jodie for her three favourites. Right away she brought up The Long Walk To Freedom, which is the harrowing saga of Nelson Mandela’s life. She was also very much taken with Michelle Obama’s Becoming. I haven’t read either of those yet, but I’ll agree wholeheartedly on Sydney Poitier’s The Measure of a Man. The bonus with that one is that you’ll hear Sydney Poitier’s voice in your head as you read it. I mean, you might find an audiobook read by him too, which would be better, but either way you can’t lose.

I’ll also throw in a vote for Michelle’s husband’s first book, Dreams From My Father. I read that before his presidential run, and doing so certainly stoked my fire when 2008 rolled around. I’ll also throw in a solid thumbs-up to Alan Alda’s Never Have Your Dog Stuffed, which I actually did hear in Alda’s voice, as I went audiobook for that one. Audiobooks are great for memoirs if they are read by the author, as you’re just hearing someone tell you the story of their (hopefully interesting) life. Steve Martin’s Born Standing Up is another favourite, and with him you really get the timing of the comedy as he intended it.

So grab a memoir and go crazy. The ones pictured above were at a coffee shop we visited yesterday – they’re blind-date books, so you won’t know what you get until you buy ‘em. We didn’t, but that’s only because those damn Berenstain (or was it Berenstein?) Bears are fucking evil.

National Diatomaceous Earth Day

How about a little love for the diatom? Anyone?

Diatomaceous Earth is a type of rock. Specifically it’s a soft sedimentary rock, mostly silica-based. And its coolest feature is that it contains the fossilized remains of diatoms, which are a type of micro-algae. So it’s rock, but it’s actually dead creatures. Neat.

There are big deposits of the stuff in BC, in Germany, in Colorado and in Clark County, Nevada. There was a batch discovered in the Czech Republic too, but a lot of deposits have been unearthed in North America – that seems to be the motherlode. And it’s remarkably useful stuff too.

Alfred Nobel used it in his creation of dynamite. It can be used for its filtering properties in swimming pools and fish tanks, but also in treatment of water to make it drinkable. It can be used as an insecticide. It can provide a quality barrier to keep the flames out in a fire-resistant safe. It shows up as an abrasive in toothpaste. It’s used as an anticaking agent in grain storage. You don’t want your grain to turn into cake prematurely, at least not until it reaches a qualified baker.

It’s a pretty phenomenal natural occurrence in our planet’s makeup. So here’s to diatomaceous earth. To celebrate we drank some filtered water, admired our fire-resistant safe (which may or may not contain diatomaceous earth – it doesn’t exactly have an ingredients list on the side so we have no idea), and we learned what the hell diatomaceous earth is.

Today we begin our ninth month of madness and get all down and funky with the following list of mirth-making:

  • National No Rhyme (Nor Reason) Day. A day to commemorate words that have no rhyme. Seriously.
  • American Chess Day. What’s the difference between American chess and regular chess? I believe there are four downs and 100 yards in American chess.
  • Chicken Boy’s Day. I am finding this day is becoming more and more confusing and weird. That’s good.
  • Emma M. Nutt Day. We’ll raise a glass to the first female telephone operator.
  • Ginger Cat Appreciation Day. Do ginger cats have souls? Probably.
  • Pink Cadillac Day. We don’t have one to drive or know of one to ride in. Looks like we’re listening to some Springsteen.
  • World Letter Writing Day. Should we write an actual letter? Maybe.