Friday, September 4, 2020

By day’s end yesterday we were both exhausted. Jodie, from actually having seen kids in a classroom for the first time in just about six months, and me from sitting on my ass and working my brain all day. We faced almost no celebrations on the menu – one food treat I can’t wait to enjoy but which we’ve decided to bump to the weekend, one that would have landed us in a bowling alley and wondering if that shoe spray stuff could kill Covid, and the one listed below. But then, like the yutz I am, I had to keep going. I may be festering a subdued loathing of this project, but dammit I’m pushing through. Some days it’s worth it. As for today, it was this:

National Skyscraper Day

A big ol’ happy 164th birthday to Louis H. Sullivan, the father of the skyscraper. He gets this day in his honour because he was the man who directed our world in an upward direction unlike anyone before him.

Louis was an overachiever. He was enrolled in MIT at 16. He quit after a year and began his architecture career. Then along came the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and the ensuing boom for construction. This was also right around when it was discovered that steel could be a lighter frame for a building, and could allow for a grander scale of imagination. You have to understand, this did for architecture what inventing the electric guitar did for music. Suddenly the limits on what a building could be were expanded beyond belief. And just as the early pioneers of the electric guitar (Les Paul, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley) defined the parameters of the medium, so Louis Sullivan established the grammar of the new architecture.

And up he went. Way up.

He didn’t define the skyscraper so much as ‘redefine’ it. A skyscraper used to mean a really tall horse. Then it meant a ship’s mast, a baseball hit high into the air, and even a guy wearing a tall hat. But in the 1880s the term was applied to tall buildings and we never looked back. The elevator not only let us build higher, but it flipped the value of the altitude; where once the expensive spots were near the ground without the burden of stairs, now they’d be up among the clouds.

Pictured above are my two favourite skyscrapers, the Chrysler Building and Empire State Building in New York. There are taller buildings, fancier buildings and more modern buildings, but none are – to me – more picturesque. And I’m reminded that even if our own Stantec Tower is the tallest building in western Canada, that little Chrysler Building would tower way above it. We fired off a proud salute to these ladies yesterday.

National Mushroom Month

I have had a contentious relationship with mushrooms throughout my life. First off, kudos to the calendar gods for the timing; I had made a dinner of mushrooms over steak last night and had the foresight to snap a picture of it, just in case a mushroom celebration was coming up. Then I learned I was in the middle of it already. Sometimes life is just that groovy.

As a kid, I hated mushrooms. The texture of cooked mushrooms is just a little rubbery, and if I could describe the predominant flavour spectrum of mushrooms I’d go with “dirt”. Then there was the fact that due to my father’s disdain for red meat, I only ever knew lasagna to contain mushrooms and zucchini as a child. That shit is scarring (sorry, Mom). Then there’s the fact that it’s a fungus. Fungus is something people buy cream to get rid of on their feet, it’s not something we should be eating.

But then there’s the flip-side. Mushrooms give Super Mario his super-ness, so that’s a positive. A grilled portobello mushroom can be absolutely mouth-wateringly perfect. The right strain of mushrooms can provide a delightful night of hallucinatory weirdness (or so I felt back in my younger days). And the flavour of mushrooms atop any steak is actually quite complementary.

So we celebrated this one by accident, but that still counts. And it was damn tasty.

Animal Pain Awareness Month

Meet Rosa.

Rosa knows what it’s like being in pain. She is most likely one of the most fortunate dogs on the planet, receiving an abundance of food, a ridiculous amount of love, getting to sleep in the center of a king-size bed, and even having a human in the house nearly all the time. But she has also been on pain medication twice over the summer. Why has she suffered so? What horrible ailment has befallen this sweet little one-floppy-eared beast and driven her to drugs?

Meet Liberty.

Liberty is a smart little dog, but she is also a profoundly dumb big dog at the same time. Liberty came to live with us when she was two months old; she is now nine months old. She has a puppy brain and a big ol’ gangly body that dwarfs that of her older sister, Rosa. When they wrestle and play, Liberty has a tendency to get a little carried away, and twice now has yanked on Rosa’s hind leg and hurt her. She didn’t mean to; she simply doesn’t know how big she is. And how dumb, at least when her puppy brain takes over the playing duties.

This month was launched by the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management, or IVAPM (which I pronounce EYE-va-pim). They encourage you to get your dog checked out if they seem to be slowing down or getting old – they might have chronic pain. In addition to meds, which are not always the answer, dogs can get rehab, they can get acupuncture (which Rosa has), laser therapy, and even therapeutic massage.

Take care of those little creatures and do what you can to keep them pain-free. Keep their environment safe, clean up after yourself, and watch out for big friendly dumb ol’ smart puppies.

It seems like I just started writing and yet I’m over 1,000 words already. I must truly love this. Either that or it’s simply a reflex and I’ve been napping this entire time. I won’t tell. Here’s what’s up today:

  • National Lazy Moms Day. My mom gets to be lazy today. Jodie (who is also a mom), not so much. She’ll be masked up and dealing with more students.
  • National Food Bank Day. We may bump this one until the weekend when we’ll be out and able to donate to the food bank.
  • National Macadamia Nut Day. Our team baker (hi, Mom! Sorry again about the mushroom bit!) concocted some delicious cookies for this one.
  • National College Colors Day. Green and Gold are my college’s colours. It’s a shame I don’t have an Edmonton Eskimos (or whatever they’ll be called next) or Green Bay Packers jersey around.
  • Bring Your Manners To Work Day. Don’t I always?
  • Eat An Extra Dessert Day. Don’t mind if I do. You see, these are the celebrations I look forward to.
  • National Wildlife Day. I’ll look into the meaning behind this and/or just post more pics of my dogs.
  • Wear Teal Day. Who the fuck owns something teal?