Tuesday, September 8, 2020

2020 will no doubt go down in history as the year in which we all realized we bitched way too much about 2016, just because David Bowie and Prince died. We have all come face to face with mortality this year, even if only from a slightly lesser distance. I will praise this year for being one its survivors will not refer to as ‘dull’ or ‘mundane’. I will also praise this year for realigning our perception on just about everything, from art to family to basic human rights. This is also the year I ran out of free time. Why? I’m glad you asked:

Labour Day

The proper way to celebrate Labour Day is, of course, to not do any labour. This day is meant for labourers to bite deep into their fruits (so to speak) and enjoy themselves. As card-carrying members of unions (to be honest, I have no card; it’s just an expression), we happily indulged in a pure day off. Minus the effort of mounting our TV on the wall. But that will pay off when football kicks off in a few days.

The labour movement put an end to child labour, gave us a reasonable number of hours to be at work – at least reasonable compared to what was expected before – it gave us weekends, maternity leave, vacations, sick leave, and so on and so on. The topic of unions can, however, be a point of contention for some, so we’ll just flash our upward thumbs at the concept and move on. This isn’t a day for fighting, it’s a day for smiles.

Labour Day is also known as the unofficial end of summer. Summer itself dances into the sunset when the equinox hits, but this is viewed as the last hurrah for gathering with family for a big ol’ barbecue. And I hope it is, since people gathering with their families has consistently kept this virus healthy and strong over the summer. We could do with less of that.

Of course, the fashion-conscious among my readers will also know that this is the last day in which you can wear white pants or white shoes. If I had either, I’d wear them both today, just to rebel. That’s the edge of insanity upon which I live my life every single damn day.

National Beer Lovers Day

As a tribute to Big Rock beer, the company that once employed me to wax nonsensically about their brewing experiments, I will present the words that they used for the copy when they debuted Rhinestone Cowboy back in 2014. Someone actually paid me money for this:

“Kolsch. The name itself implies a sonorous and whimsical splash into revitalizing waters, a hypnagogic reprieve from convention and pedantry. And revitalizing it is – Big Rock’s beguiling new brew is a true Kolsch, a traditional German libation crafted beneath the delicate tones of subtlety and mastery. When the British laid the Pale Ale upon the table, the Germans concocted the Kolsch to match the bet. A celebrated laureate of Cologne, the flavorful flag of a Kolsch flutters most nobly to the lips in a stange, a skinny narrow glass that ushers the enticing bubbles up to the palette upon an effervescent carpet of thirst-silencing satisfaction. Rhine Stone Cowboy combines the winking swagger of German Hallertau hops with the cool-jazz slide of sumptuous home-grown pale and Vienna malts – a righteous ale to its soul but mellowed to near freezing like a lager. This is the beer that will stare down the summer sun with its bedazzling golden hue and the jewel-encrusted sizzle of its mischievous carbonation. The Rhine Stone Cowboy struts proudly along the banks of salubrious refreshment, tipping the shimmering brim of his hat at the horizon with a hint of fruit in his wake and a confident straw-gold smirk. He’s the glittery gaucho of summer, with the delectable Kolsch you won’t soon forget.”

Does that sound tasty? This is what they put on the label:

“Each scrumptious sip of this heavenly delicacy from the cradle of Cologne will flummox you with its refreshing slap. A Kolsch is a florid ale suffused with the wit and wisdom of a lager after having been mellowed to near-freezing at the vertex of its creation. Enjoy with a smile.”

I enjoyed that job. And I enjoyed this beer.

National Neither Snow Nor Rain Day

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. Or so it promises on the inscription over the entrance of the James A. Farley post office, pictured above. That is the postal hub of New York City, the place where all the magic happens. And that building opened up its doors for the first time on September 7, 1914 – hence this day.

Since the only suggestion of how to observe this day is to “learn about mail delivery”, and since that sounds dreadfully tedious, I thought I’d learn a bit more about this building. New York City buildings and history are a bit of a hobby of mine, and since this is my project, my rules will allow for this.

James Farley was the 53rd US Postmaster General, serving under FDR from 1933 through to 1940. And he earned that spot in Roosevelt’s heart, having managed both FDR presidential campaigns in 1932 and 1936. He got the labour movement on board with the New Deal, which helped to drag America out of the Depression. He headed up Coca-Cola International for three decades, ensuring the spread of the product on a global scale, including US-funded Coke factories in Europe to help rebuild economies after the war. The dude was a king-maker.

His building is located on 8th Avenue, between 31st and 33rd streets. It’s a massive structure, designed to be all regal and column-heavy to match the gorgeous Penn Station, which was right across the street. That saying, by the way, the one that gives this celebration its name, has nothing to do with the USPS. It has never been the official motto of the postal service – it was actually installed at the suggestion of one of the building’s architects, who pinched it from Herodotus’s Histories, referring to the postal service that existed under Xerxes I of Persia. But it’s so damn catchy, people just think it’s the USPS credo.

So we learned a little, laughed a little, and once again went down a bit of rabbit hole of New York architecture. Not a bad celebration.

National Pet Rock Day

Most people are aware that the Pet Rock was a phenomenon of the late 70s. It was unique in that it was a fad for people old enough to take a joke, but also not wanting something they can play with or interact with in any way. It was a bold statement of disconnect, that one would show off one’s disinterest in caring for an actual creature by displaying the little piece of earth they’d opted for instead. I really can’t think of anything quite like it before – though the Chia-Pet did show up in the following decade with a similar philosophy.

Gary Dahl, an advertising executive from Los Gatos, California, came up with this one. He joked to his friends about having come up with the ‘perfect pet’, and he wrote a clever instruction pamphlet to go with the idea. The rocks were gathered from Rosarito Beach in Mexico, and Gary’s biggest expense with this venture was the little cardboard boxes the rocks came in. He tossed in some straw and had himself a brilliant little product.

The rocks were a fun little fad, so we adopted our own yesterday. It didn’t come from Mexico, but rather from my evening stroll with Liberty. We named her “Penelope”, which we pronounce “PEEN-elope.” She’s lovely, don’t you think?

National Salami Day

If that picture looks familiar to you, then congratulations! You’re probably a regular reader. Why exactly you’d choose to be that, I can only imagine. But yes, this is the same photo used yesterday for National Cheese Pizza Day, which, as we discussed (and as you already know!) consisted of a New York Style cheese pizza ordered from Tony’s Pizza Palace, with the addition of some toppings. Those toppings were prosciutto and, of course, salami.

That’s called astute planning by a celebrations professional. And I should be one by now – by my count we will be surpassing 1,600 celebrations today. I should know what I’m doing by now.

The word ‘salami’ comes from the Italian: ‘sale’, meaning salted, and the suffix ‘ame’, which is a collective noun. This is because ‘salami’ used to refer to all sorts of salted meats. Nowadays the meat in salami tends to be pork, and it’s usually dried and sometimes smoked. There are different ways to brew up a salami depending on your ethnic fancy, but we have always felt the Italians did it best. Honestly, I’m not picky – salami is delicious and I’m happy to celebrate the stuff.

Especially on pizza, which is the best way to honour pretty much anything.

National Grateful Patient Day

So I had this one down in my research as ‘grateful parent day’, and I wrote it off as yet another day for us to blather on about how great our kids are, and how we’re so happy they yadda yadda yadda – we’ve done this numerous times so far this year. But the good news is, my reading skills are apparently crap because this is a day for patients of healthcare workers to express their gratitude for the folks who helped them get well.

What a delightful epiphany, to know my brain can slip into Emily Litella territory just like that. Anyhow, I am certainly extremely grateful for both of my physicians: the one I see when anything goes askew, and whose care I have invested my full confidence in, and the one who prescribes the good drugs. He also writes the good hard-core doctor’s notes that can keep a government worker from having to return to the physical office in the height of a pandemic.

And this pandemic has really blasted a spotlight on our medical community, hasn’t it? Where firefighters and cops were the heroes of 2001, this year it’s all about the doctors and nurses who haven’t been able to isolate or quarantine and hide from the virus, but rather have been in its crosshairs since the moment it touched our shores. A huge thank-you to every doctor and nurse (and technician, and janitor, and candy striper, and really anyone who goes to work in a medical facility) for everything.

2020 has been a year of garbage, but you all have served honourably as the tenuous wall that has kept us from being buried by it.

National Feel The Love Day

This is literally another day to express one’s love for one’s loved ones. I’m going to admit it, as much as I’m tired of rerun celebrations, I really like how the last few words of the previous sentence turned out.

And I’m a big fan of the sentiment, even if it is one of the most generic and oft-repeated sentiments this year. We could shrug it off, but maybe there’s a reason so many celebrations are geared toward this very notion. Maybe celebrating those who mean the most to us should be flagged as something to remember to do properly every couple of weeks. I certainly have no problem expressing my affection for all the ladies (human and canine) in our home.

So we felt the love. We stopped short of listening to the soundtrack from The Lion King because that seemed superfluous. Anyhow, that’s Jodie and I up there, feeling the love as only we can.

Google Commemoration Day

Sure, we can commemorate this. Google is demonized by some who feel there is a political bias in its search results, but given that we here at Celebrate366 Industries are more likely to be searching “salami + etymology” or “Who was James A. Farley?”, we’re not running into too many problems pertaining to political bias. Google swept in and replaced every other search engine by being so perfectly awesome.

The company was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two PhD students at Stanford. Their idea was a search engine that didn’t simply count the number of times a search string appeared on a page, but instead based on an algorithm that determined the relative importance of the page. This is why if you were to create a webpage that said the word ‘Playstation’ on it 5 million times it would still not top the Playstation’s home page in Google’s results. I think. Someone should try that and let me know.

The project was initially called ‘Backrub’, but was changed to Google as a deliberate misspelling of ‘googol’, which refers to the number 1 followed by 100 zeros. According to Wikipedia, the Google domain was registered on September 15, 1997. The company itself was established on September 4, 1998. That would be a minor detail, except that the site that boasts Google Commemoration Day as a thing states that the company was in fact founded on September 7, 1998, hence the day landing on that date.

Whatever – either we were bang-on or a couple of days late. Happy birthday, Google. Thanks for kicking way more ass than Bing.

And another week rolls into being. As we pass 1,600 celebrations we can’t help but feeling particularly grateful at being closer to the end of this project than the beginning. Here’s today’s roster:

  • Telephone Tuesday. I guess this is a thing that the phone was used a lot on the day after this long weekend? Whatever, we’ll use our phones.
  • National Another Look Unlimited Day. A day to look around the house and find things we can give away to charity. We’ve got a few of those.
  • National Ampersand Day. There shall be no ‘and’ in today’s article. Only &s.
  • International Literacy Day. Hooray for literacy.
  • National Ants On A Log Day. Hate raisins? Check. Hate celery? Check. Peanut butter is great, can I just have that?
  • National Actors Day. I’m a big fan of National actors.
  • Star Trek Day. Now here’s a day that should be pretty easy to celebrate. We have no shortage of Trek content on streaming services.
  • Pardon Day. Pardon?

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