Friday, September 11, 2020

In the slender crunch between work hours and the hours of uninterruptable relaxation (there was a football game last night, after all) I found myself frantically thumping at these keys, trying to pull whatever celebrations we’d mustered yesterday into the parking lot. I had dogs to walk, dinner to cook, and a whole lotta not-this to be doing yesterday. But hey – how could we turn our backs on all the fun?

National School Picture Day

Lifetouch, the company that makes its mint off of school pictures, felt there should be a national day for itself. They established this last year. And I get it – where once the school picture could be a document for one’s growth through the years, Lifetouch has to be feeling the sting of the modern era just a little. My dad was a photographer so there are heaps of pictures of me in my younger, dorkier days. But I have talked to several people whose school pictures are, apart from some birthday party and Christmas pics, the only way they’d know how they looked back then.

But that was back then. Now we all have cameras in our pockets, and kids especially take scads of pictures. I don’t know how much a set of school pics from Lifetouch (or Jostens, or whoever else) are going for now, but we simply don’t need these overly-posed, looking-off-to-the-left snapshots anymore.

So they suggest pulling out your old school photos and reminiscing. I don’t need to do that. We had Jodie simply snap a pic of her school – a literal ‘school picture’. That will have to do. She took three.

And it cost us nothing.

National Swap Ideas Day

This is another fairly generic day, but I decided we may as well use it to our advantage. I posted three Facebook status updates yesterday, asking for people’s ideas on different topics. I figured mining the social media hive might net me some solutions I can use in my every day life, or at least some concepts I can think about.

The first note I put out there has to do with the “wonderful weirdos” in yesterday’s article – specifically our three dogs. They have been waking us up for breakfast earlier and earlier. Like, to the point where 1:45 makes sense for them. If we tell them to “fuck off” or “go back to sleep”, they will, for about 15 or 20 minutes. Then they’re back in our faces, insisting it’s time for some grub. I put it to my friends and family to provide some ideas for how we can fix this behaviour.

Next I posited the question of what is the greatest headphone song or headphone album to listen to. I came up with this query when George Harrison’s “Wah-Wah” came on my headphones the other evening. The thunderous wall of sound built from electric guitars and manic saxophones is breathtaking. I wanted a few more ideas.

Lastly I put out a request for ideas of how to celebrate National Punctuation Day, which shows up in two weeks. I could have selected any number of weird, uncelebratable holidays on the books, but this one was the one my eyes landed upon.

For my first query, the best suggestion I got was an automatic dog food dispenser. Cool idea, but we’d still have to get up and let them outside or else we’d be stumbling into a mess in the morning. For the second, I had suggestions ranging from Roger Waters to Roxy Music to E.L.O. And for the last one… well, you’ll have to wait and see if I use any of the proposed ideas.

This was a good one, a productive celebration. We don’t get enough of those.

National TV Dinner Day

We actually already celebrated this one. It was back in March for National Frozen Food Day, and it was awful. I also researched the history of the TV dinner back then so there’s no need to repeat myself. But why, oh why did we have to repeat this one? It was grotesque the first time around.

And yet this time was surprisingly better. As you can see, Jodie sampled the ‘beer battered chicken’, while I tried the ‘backyard barbecue.’ We cooked them in the oven, 1950’s-style, just to see if it would make the chicken batter crispy. It did not. Mine was a flattened piece of something that approximated chicken, and what was described on the box as “bone-shaped pork”. It was like a McRib, but somehow worse.

They still have not mastered the TV dinner that actually tastes like something other than regret. But hey, we honoured the day. It was… special.

Blame It On The Large Hadron Collider Day

How’s this for a celebration? If you lose anything all day long, you can blame it on that big machine in Europe with an 18-mile circumference. If anything goes wrong you can simply say that the Hadron Collider caused a disruption in space-time and that’s why you dropped your assistant manager’s Sweet Onion Teriyaki 6” sandwich from Subway into the toilet.

Fortunately, very little went wrong in our lives yesterday. We motored through the day and found nothing we could reliably blame on the collider. Until the evening, of course. Then, as we were watching the game, I could blame every blown coverage, every pre-snap penalty, and every turnover (actually there may have only been one) on the Large Hadron Collider.

It was a deeply silly idea for a day.

Bonza Bottler Day

We’ve done nine of these now, downing a bottle of something new and/or interesting on the day of every month where the day number aligns with the month number. These are always a good time.

For this month’s entry, Jodie picked up two Safeway-brand bottles of sucralose-sweetened flavoured bubbly water. And a large bottle of vodka. Keep in mind, Jodie drinks maybe five times a year and might get tipsy only one of those times. She’s not an alcohol fan. But this week, only five days into teaching students under the new twisted conditions of 2020, she proactively grabbed some vodka.

This has been the most necessary Bonza Bottler day ever.

International Creepy Boston Dynamics Robot Horse Day

I’m not going to pull any punches on this. This horse is fucking creepy. It lopes along sort of like how a horse might gallop if described by someone whose only encounters with the animal kingdom was an epileptic gerbil. But it’s sort of life-like. At the very least I bet it could do some serious damage in a Battle-Bots competition.

It was on this day in 2012 when this thing was released unto the world. And by “released” I mean it was shown off – no one was lining up to buy one of these things. It was made for the U.S. Marines, with the supposed ability to travel wherever a Marine could go on foot, but to carry up to 400 pounds of gear. A great idea, in theory.

The problem was, the robot horse made a lot of noise, and Marines are kind of known for keeping things quiet as they move through their missions. The robot is also a pain in the ass to repair, which is not a surprise. The Marines couldn’t really figure out a use for the thing, so by 2015 the idea was shelved.

But it still exists on Youtube for us all to have a little shudder. And then there’s this day, which draws attention to the weirdness. I’m glad we could do our little part to ensure that people don’t forget about this thing.

World Suicide Prevention Day

This is a day we take quite seriously. If you’ve lived a life that has not been touched at all by suicide then count yourself immensely fortunate. There is no prescribed celebration for a day like this – it’s a day for us all to look at ourselves and the ones we love and hopefully to make a connection. Most people don’t know what to do if they suspect someone they know is contemplating punching that one-way ticket, so by default they often just do nothing. Then, if something happens, they inevitably wish that they hadn’t.

But what does that mean? How are we supposed to bridge such a deep and complicated chasm in someone else’s soul? The quick answer is that we’re not. But reaching out to those people and engaging with them, maybe finding a way to have some laughs and spend some time with them, might be enough. Or it might not be – quite often the issues leading up to a suicide are unshared by those who commit the act. No one outside of that person’s skin should take the blame for this ultimate escape act.

I’ve been down that dark alleyway before. I’ve seen the abyss in my own heart and I’ve spent my time in those inky shadows. Once it landed me in the hospital. Mostly it merely led to a parade of horrific thoughts, dancing their macabre little two-step across my mental stage. What pulled me back? Sometimes it was a song or a film, which poured some light that I couldn’t ignore into my heart. Ultimately it was a combination of medication, meditation, therapy, family and dogs that righted my ship.

Both of us will scream it to the hills that if anyone we know wants to talk or to hang out, we are there for you – hell, even if you’re a reader of this page and we’ve never met. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t have to be a talk about suicide or the pointlessness of existence; we can talk about falafel recipes, Civil War uniforms or creepy robotic horses. Just keep talking and keep moving forward. To quote the great Mavis Staples, you are not alone.

Great Egg Toss Day

Oh, how I hope this is a celebration that will allow me to toss some eggs haphazardly around my neighbourhood, or better still, off a bridge.

Actually, it kind of is. On September 6, 1981, a man named Risto Antikainen threw an egg 317 feet, 10 inches to his buddy, Jyrki Korhonen. It is believed that this could be the world record for a successful egg toss with no breakage. There’s also the thought that a 1978 toss from Johnny Dell Foley to Keith Thomas might have exceeded that at 323 feet, 2 inches, but Guinness removed the record from their book back in 2000, so if there have been any greater tosses of egg in the last 20 years, they remain a mystery.

But the Risto-to-Jyrki throw comes bundled with an exact date, and that date has leant itself to this celebration, so we’ll go with it. Yesterday Jodie and I tried our own egg toss, going back and forth, a little further with each throw, until finally the shell gave in and splattered Jodie’s hand. I don’t think we got much further than about 20 feet apart, but then we are not egg tossing professionals.

Maybe this is something we should work on. Or maybe, since Guinness has stopped caring about this feat, we should simply clean up and move on.

Hey cool – I finished writing before the big game kicked off! Now here’s how I’ll be spending my Friday:

  • National Make Your Bed Day. I like a celebration I can bang out in 30 seconds or so.
  • National Hot Cross Bun Day. Maybe we’ll hit a bakery for these. Or maybe I’ll just play that song on my piano.
  • National Dog Walker Appreciation Day. I am the resident dog walker in the house, so I’ll appreciate myself.
  • I Want To Start My Own Business Day. Do I? Well, we have contemplated it in the past, so we can talk about that.
  • National No News Is Good News Day. A day to not pay attention to the news at all. I’m not sure that’s even possible now.
  • National Emergency Responders Day. Yes, this is 9/11, and some call it Remember Freedom Day or Patriot Day. But this is the aspect I think we will be celebrating today.

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