Sunday, September 6, 2020

Beyond ambition there lies a void of longing, one that does regular battle with complacency and comfort. On the other side of ambition there is no palpable void at all, and hardly even the space for a deep and wholesome breath. It’s a tenuous thread that tethers us between those extremes, and sometimes the events of happenstance tug perilously at that thread. Last night my writing was delayed by technical difficulties, ones which almost sent me to retire into the ether with not a single word slapped into the record. But frustration breeds opportunity, so I simply pivoted my creeping ennui into a celebration:

National Be Late For Something Day

This day allegedly gives us permission to arrive tardy for something – pretty much anything – so long as we are the type who is habitually punctual. If you’re already the sort who will wander into a bris post-slice like it’s no big deal, you don’t get to celebrate this day. This is a reward for the diligent.

I am, I believe, one of the diligent. Though thankfully I don’t often have to be on time for much these days, apart from ensuring I’m poured into my upstairs office chair every morning when I’m supposed to be at work. Given that the preparation required for me to do this involves only waking up and walking upstairs, it’s fairly manageable. So I’ll allow it.

Except my boss probably wouldn’t be too happy about it. And yesterday was, technically, a Saturday so no one was expecting me anywhere at any time. The only option we’d had to show up late for something was if we’d arrived at our doughnut shop too late to grab any treats. They close sometime between 1 and 3 in the afternoon, so we’ve come close before. But that doesn’t count as a celebration, as we’d have ended up without doughnuts. That’s nothing to celebrate about.

Then fate, ever the kind and giving little prick, stepped in to help. After updating Windows yesterday evening, I found that my Microsoft Word had simply disappeared. This required an extensive repair process, and meant that at the time pictured above, 9:58pm, I was finally ready to sit down and write something.

So I showed up late to this article. And it wasn’t a celebration, because I was only late due to my computer software dicking me around. But hey, it counts.

World Beard Day

The webpage for this day is cute. It recommends flattening a friend’s tire so you can change it as a celebration of doing something manly. I did not do that. It suggests lighting a fire so you can “sit around the fire and enjoy having a beard and living in a golden age of beardedness”. I didn’t do that either, though I like the sentiment. Drink vodka (it mentions this twice). Nope, though I enjoyed some great gin. Burn an effigy of someone without a beard. That’s… that’s a bit much, I think.

According to one site, the Vikings of Denmark held a day to celebrate beards more than 1200 years ago. Apparently the Swedish town of Donskborg will exile their beardless men for 24 hours on this day, forcing them to spend the day in a nearby forest. That seems a bit extreme, but I bet the party back in town is beardly and hearty.

My beard needs a bit of a trim and clean-up, but I held off yesterday as I read that it is rude to bring any blade near your beard on this sacred day. Sure – I guess that will qualify as my celebration of World Beard Day. I let it fly free and long.

Though for the record, I don’t have a beard in order to exude any semblance of manliness. I do that through bench-pressing sides of beef in public shopping malls while cranking Foreigner’s “Hot Blooded” through a tinny speaker. Trust me, it works. No, this beard was grown first as part of a Halloween decoration (I was series-finale Walter White, minus the cancer-driven skinniness), and kept because it actually works for me.

So lots of love to the beard today. It’s a fine facial hair choice.

National Hummingbird Day

The hummingbird is, even to those who don’t particularly care for most birds (and I’m married to one of those folks), a pretty cool little creature. Some hummingbirds can flap their little wings at a rate of 80 times per second. They can dive at speeds equivalent to freeway driving speeds. They have the highest metabolic rate of any warm-blooded animal.

Females are the larger of the species, and they also have longer bills, which helps for digging out that sweet, sweet nectar from flowers. And size matters when it comes to picking a mate – in particular, smaller males are preferred because they conserve more energy, and they’re able to pour a little more oomph into their courting rituals. Those rituals are brilliant aerial displays. I don’t usually recommend folks look at pornography on the internet, but if you can spend a few minutes watching hummingbird courtship rituals on Youtube, you’ll be fascinated, I promise.

You’ve probably seen hummingbirds at a feeder: their wings appear to flap furiously to keep them aloft, while their heads stay perfectly still. This is one of nature’s most awesome displays of awesomeness right here. Even in a wind tunnel, with the wind blowing behind them or from the side, they can compensate and keep their head steady until their belly is full.

And boy can these creatures sleep. In their nighttime dormitory state their internal temperature will plummet from 40 degrees Celsius down to 18. Their heartrate, which tops out over 1,000 beats per minute when they’re in action, can drop down as low as 50bpm. They know how to pack their rest-hours in properly.

They probably don’t have pets that wake them up at 1:45am, asking for breakfast. I should be so lucky as to sleep like a hummingbird for just one night. Happy day, little birdies.

International Vulture Awareness Day

Did you know there was a need to raise awareness over the conservation of vultures? Me neither. I’d always assumed there was plenty of dead stuff for them to feast on, and that the only threat to their numbers would be from humans spreading out and building cities all over the place, in particular cities with hospitals so that our dead weren’t lining the streets like some eternal beef buffet for the vulture community.

Well, it turns out that actually is a serious problem. Of the 22 species of vultures on the planet, nine are listed as critically endangered, and only six are on the safe end of the spectrum. Vultures are on the outs in India and Nepal, mostly because of a drug called Diclofenac, which is used by vets. India clued into this and banned the drug, but it will be a long while before the vulture population is back up to what it was. And because vultures are pretty thorough little beasts, their relative absence means more rabid dogs running around India, having eaten the tainted meat that wouldn’t have upset a vulture’s tummy.

So that’s the drug that will get them. But if you’ve got a creature whose dead body is oozing with botulism or anthrax, that’s cool. Vultures have amazingly corrosive stomach acid, and will break that shit down like it was a Pop-Tart.

They may be a little creepy and the stuff of legend when it comes to wandering souls, fearing their demise to the elements. But vultures are cool birds. Not quite as cool as hummingbirds (who are extra cool because they share this day voluntarily with vultures), but I like ‘em.

International Bacon Day

We had Bacon Lovers Day and now this day, both of which negate the agony (okay, extremely relative agony) of having to wait for December 30 in order to celebrate National Bacon Day. In fact, that day will be downright anticlimactic now.

But who cares? We ate some bacon, and we did it at Barb & Ernie’s, who are known for making the greatest brunch food in this city. Possibly in the world, I really haven’t done a lot of research into it. But they have a way of doing their bacon (deep-frying it in oil, which makes it oh-so-crisp) that is truly delightful. And it goes really well with Eggs Benedict.

So a big thanks to this day for showing up and giving us a reason to eat some bacon. Like we needed one.

Today is Sunday, and one which I hope will not be quite as chilly as the forecast promises. We’d better not get snow before this month is up. You’ve done enough, 2020. Here’s today’s menu:

  • National Coffee Ice Cream Day. I may have these separately, rather than as one thing. Does that count?
  • National Read A Book Day. Well, I won’t read an entire one, but I’m sure I can put some time into this.
  • Fight Procrastination Day. If ever there was a holiday where we could say “Every day is this holiday”, this would be it.
  • Great Egg Toss Day. Could we be participating in some messy hijinks today?
  • Pet Rock Day. Should we adopt or look for a good breeder?
  • Barbie Doll Day. I don’t think I have one to play with, but maybe I should buy myself a treat.

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