Saturday, September 5, 2020

One of my beloved aunties sent me a link yesterday for the annual CBC short story writing contest. I haven’t written a lot of fiction lately, but I’ve got a few ideas kicking around in my brain. What I don’t have is the time. My time for creative pursuits is booked solid for the next four months. And that booking will ride with us into a long weekend that is thankfully not overly dense with celebrations; every other weekend this month is a veritable madhouse by comparison. But I’m still discovering new celebrations every day, due to one pesky site that escaped my research radar last year. So perhaps I will be overburdened this weekend. Here’s how our Friday shaped up:

National Lazy Moms Day

Actually the title of this one in at least two sources I found lists it as ‘National Lazy Mom’s Day’. I don’t agree with the apostrophe; it sounds as though it’s a day for just one lazy mom. But let’s pick these nits just a little deeper than punctuation.

The first Friday of September is a day when ‘everyday mom jobs’ are delegated to someone other than the mom, possibly so that she can have a relaxing day now that the kids are all back in school. Okay, cool. I mean, if we assume that all moms are homemakers then this should be the bang-up neat-o celebration of September, 1957. Next I’d like to know what are ‘everyday mom jobs’? Cooking? I usually do the cooking, and I did so yesterday. Cleaning? We both do that, but I did the bulk yesterday. Laundry? Well, all of our bedding saw the inside of our magic laundry machines, and I was the one who guided them.

I didn’t do any of this because of a specific celebration so much as I’m the one who works from home and Jodie’s the one who spends her days in the infestation-pit of a school. Oh, and I’m almost always the one who cooks, mainly because I’m the only one who enjoys it. But sure, let’s say I did all that yesterday to celebrate this day.

And let’s give a little love to the real lazy moms in our house, pictured above. Both Trixie and Rosa have spewed out a litter of pups in their day, and they were fully entitled to snooze away the day in the most lazy way possible. Which they did, because they are trained professionals and know their jobs well. Happy day, girls.

Bring Your Manners To Work Day

The Protocol School of Washington (Go, Fighting Etiquettes!) developed this day as a way for us to remember that we work among other humans, and that we should treat those other humans with the same courtesy and respect as we’d hope they treat us. Even if your expectations are low, or if you find some sort of sick enjoyment from being treated like crap around the office photocopier, you should still carry yourself in a considerate and thoughtful way. As pictured above, I wished my colleague a happy long weekend in the most polite way possible.

This celebration might warrant some extra attention if there are folks who have recently returned to an office or workplace environment after an extended time of either working from home or being Covid-unemployed. If you’ve spent time with no one but your pets and possibly your significant other for the  last six months, you may be out of practice dealing with other people. Or maybe the very notion of forgetting how to not be a dick is preposterous and I’m just freestyle thinking in order to take up space.

It’s entirely possible. I do that a lot.

The reality is, the people who don’t behave with any semblance of manners during their regular workdays are not going to see the title of this day and behave any differently. But rather than get all cynical about this day, I’ll just point out that I celebrated it, and that’s enough. We all know the Golden Rule, but let’s face it – the real Golden Rule is “don’t be a dick.” If we all followed that, we’d be a much happier population.

National College Colors Day

The Friday before Labor Day (or ‘Labour Day’ to us north-o-49ers) is also the day we are supposed to don the proud colours of whichever post-secondary institution we drank our way through in order to obtain a degree. If you don’t have a degree, I assume it’s acceptable to wear the colours of whichever NCAA team you happen to support, possibly because you like their colours the best, I don’t know.

Jodie and I both attended the University of Alberta, and as such green and gold were the colours we needed to feature. Jodie also had the option of adopting the black-gold-red combo of the University of Calgary, where she is presently doing her Masters. Come to think of it, I did part of my degree at Grant Macewan, so I could have gone black and maroon. I could have also gone blue and orange for the University of Athabasca, through which I took several correspondence courses. Lots of options here.

Yes, this was started by a company that manufactures clothing for various colleges and universities around America. And yes, they started this day no doubt to earn an extra profit off of kids who are enthusiastically returning to their campuses (or, in 2020, to their online connections) in September. But it’s a small ask to slap on some colours and represent. I like my school. I didn’t participate in much other than my classes – being in one’s late 30s doesn’t allow for a lot of frat parties and phone-booth-stuffings, or whatever kids are doing now – but I enjoyed the campus, and had a great experience.

I like clothes-wearing celebrations. They are easy to tackle, and not much needs to be said about them. And with that in mind…

Wear Teal Day / National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

Let’s face it, I’m not at risk for ovarian cancer. I can confidently cross this one off the books of shit I’m afraid of dying from – and yes, there is enough shit to fill several books. But this is a sadistic killer of women, and I’m happy to bring some awareness to it.

“Bringing attention” to various kinds of cancer doesn’t simply mean making sure people know they exist. But let’s have a look at some of the early symptoms of this one. The bad news is that ovarian cancer symptoms are often pretty subtle and might not even be considered as ‘symptoms’ by some. It gets misdiagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The creeping culprits manifest as abdominal pain, bloating, back pain, bleeding (you know where from), loss of appetite, fatigue, indigestion, heartburn, nausea, and possibly peeing a little too often. None of these are going to raise alarm bells in most people, given that many of these symptoms could also come from a poor fast-food meal experience.

If the pain gets intense, or if there’s a feeling of excessive pressure in one’s innard places, it might be ovarian cancer. If you’ve never popped out a kid, you are twice as likely to catch this one, as the more you ovulate, the more at risk you become. It’s passed through the genes too, so your DNA might kick your ass with this one. Diet, in particular dairy and red meat, have been suggested as possible dangers for increasing your risk, but those links aren’t 100% proven yet, so don’t panic. Enjoy your cheeseburger.

The real bad news here is that the prognosis isn’t great if you get the ovarian cancer diagnosis, most likely because the early symptoms don’t prompt doctors to test for it. More than 60% of women diagnosed with it are already stage III or IV by the time they hear the bad news. The five-year survival rate is only 46%.

But let’s not dwell on that. Let’s dwell on our own insides, and on paying attention to what they’re telling us. Keep your eye out for this vicious disease and if you think there’s a possibility it might be mucking about with your insides, get checked. Soon.

National Wildlife Day

I wasn’t going to tackle this one, as it’s something I’d be celebrating by writing about only – my dogs don’t count as wildlife, and it’s not easy to run into wildlife here in the suburbs. But this day was created to honour Steve Irwin, and I’m not about to pass up an opportunity to send the Crocodile Hunter a little love. So let’s have a look at some of the most endangered animals out there:

  • You’ve got the Javan Rhinoceros from Asia. There are only about 58-68 still alive in the wild, and none in captivity. We can blame poachers, but also the Vietnam War for almost wiping them out.
  • There’s the vaquita, a little porpoise that lives in the Gulf of California. They’re down to about 10.
  • The mountain gorillas were on their way out a few decades ago, but they have almost doubled in population in the last 40 years, so that’s a bit of good news. The bad news is that there are still only about a thousand left.
  • There were over 100,000 tigers in the wild back around 1900. Now there are fewer than 4,000. We can partly thank nutjobs like the Tiger King who buy them and mistreat them, but it’s really the spreading of humankind into their habitat that dropped their numbers.
  • Orangutans, who are so cute it’s almost creepy, are also endangered. We’ve dropped from about 230,000 a hundred years ago to half that amount today.
  • Herders tend to kill off snow leopards before the leopards can kill their flock, and I get that. But we’re down to between 4 and 6 thousand left, and those cats are cool as hell.
  • Bluefin tuna is a sushi/sashimi delicacy, and as such we’ve seen between a 72 and 82% decline in their numbers over the last 40 years. So order the salmon.

So if you’ve got a favourite wildlife charity to donate to, please do it. We’re partial to the World Wildlife Fund, partly because the Beatles recorded a song for them, and partly because they forced the wrestling people to change their initials. Let’s keep these creatures around!

National Macadamia Nut Day

Macadamia nuts have never been my favourite, but I have adored some of the foods into which they have crept. Case in point: macadamia white chocolate cookies, which are nothing short of divine. A big thanks to my mom (who was somewhat crestfallen that I spurted out my traumatic childhood lasagna experience in yesterday’s article) for baking these magnificent little cookies for us. They were perfect, though as always I enjoyed the white chocolate more than the nuts. Jodie, not a fan of white chocolate, went the other way.

What can we learn about macadamia nuts? Well first off, don’t EVER feed them to a dog. Macadamia toxicity could give them indigestion and paralyze their hind limbs. I’m glad I learned this little factoid, as our dogs have a habit of begging from us on a regular basis. Luckily these cookies are so damn good we weren’t about to share anyway.

A serving of macadamia nuts will give you more than your daily requirement of thiamine, a.k.a. vitamin B. They’re relatively low in protein but make up for it by delivering various other nutrients, including iron and magnesium. Then there’s the manganese, which supports bone development, free radical defense, and metabolism. A serving of macadamia nuts will give you nearly 200% of the manganese you need in a day. Not bad for a little nut.

And I’ll happily get my serving through cookies. What could go wrong with that?

Eat An Extra Dessert Day

We have no idea who came up with this celebration, but it really needs no explanation, does it? We did this thing. It was a good thing. Happy long weekend to all, and to all a full belly.

Today we roll into yet another bushel of weirdness and mirth, as exemplified by the following (or at least some of it):

  • World Beard Day. I will treat my beard well today. Jodie will try to grow one. I doubt she will succeed.
  • National Cheese Pizza Day. Easy enough to celebrate, assuming we’re strong enough to resist the urge to add toppings.
  • National Be Late For Something Day. I should be able to pull this off. Failing to get somewhere on time can’t be that hard, can it?
  • International Day of Charity. Looks like we’re giving to charity once again.
  • International Vulture Awareness Day. It seems that if we’re aware of vultures nearby that’s not a good thing, right?
  • International Bacon Day. Didn’t we just do this one? Shut up, me. Let’s not fight the inevitable.
  • National Hummingbird Day. A day to celebrate these delightful little wing-flappers.
  • National Tailgating Day. Well this isn’t going to happen anywhere this year.
  • World Samosa Day. I didn’t have this one planned so I’m not sure if we’ll end up celebrating it. Which would be a shame.