Sunday, September 13, 2020

The jubilant miscellany that peppers our waking hours through this project does allow for a necessary variety in every day. And the chore of transcribing this all into a rambling essay subsequently dishes out a hefty dollop of monotony. So we find ourselves balanced between the new and the non-stop repeat. It seems almost every day includes a rerun, or a previously celebrated thing under a different name, and yesterday was no exception. But before we hit the reruns, I want to make sure we get caught up on some housekeeping:

National New Hampshire Day

Our initial plan for celebrating this one was to enjoy the delightful New Hampshire classic, steamed clams. Unfortunately we live in a place that marine biologists refer to as “a place no self-respecting marine biologist would ever live because there’s no damn marine to be found”. Clams are hard to come by here in a fresh capacity, and when you can find them, they’re expensive. So we put it off, and finally I looked up a few other options for New Hampshire cuisine. Apples. The apples in New Hampshire are supposedly fantastic. The ones we had on hand weren’t from the Granite State, but we simply imagined what they’d taste like if they… tasted better. Good enough.

Nearly a quarter of New Hampshire’s residents claim French ancestry, which is pretty damn high. The state is also relatively close to Boston – close enough to contain a few bedroom communities for folks who are willing to commute. It’s also close enough to New York to be a popular get-the-hell-out-of-New-York destination. Is there an Old Hampshire? Sure! Hampshire is a county in England, the place where Jane Austen and Charles Dickens were born.

New Hampshire is where the primary season kicks off, and it’s also one of the whitest states in the union, with only 1.1% of its residents being black or African American. It’s also the least religious state, according to a 2016 Gallup poll. Only 8.7% of New Hampshirians are below the poverty line, which is the best in the country. It’s the only state where you don’t have to wear a seatbelt, and only one of three where you don’t have to wear a helmet on a motorbike. Jodie spent a little time at a prep school in New Hampshire – very little; just a week-long course a couple years back. But she claims it is everything you’d expect from a New England small-town experience: quaint and cozy. And it was right around July 4 when she was there, so there was plenty o’ bunting.

Some famous folks from New Hampshire? It’s a pretty short list, but then it’s not a very populous state. You’ve got Sarah Silverman from Bedford, John Spencer (the Blues Explosion front-man) from Hanover, Ray LaMontagne from Nashua, Ronnie James Dio from Portsmouth, Jean Kasem from Portsmouth, Earl Silas Tupper (who specialized in plastic food storage containers) from Berlin, William E. Corbin (inventor of the paper towel) from Berlin, and of course Richard and Maurice McDonald, who went on to open a very influential fast-food restaurant under their last name.

It sounds like a lovely place. I’d love to visit someday, and try their apples.

National Day of Encouragement

Now we are into summer rerun territory. This one is meant to encourage us to encourage folks around us. Tell them they can do it. They can accomplish whatever they want, so long as it doesn’t violate the laws of physics or space-time. And even then, THEY CAN DO IT!

We have run through more than a few days like this. So many that we have run out of creative ways to bring these celebrations to life. I’ve been more positive and uplifting on social media, in small doses, so that’s been done. I’ve sent text messages of encouragement to my kids, so that’s been handled.

The formula that has kept this project going for nearly 9 and a half months is this: when all else fails, fall back on the dogs. So that’s what I did. Yesterday was all about encouraging Liberty in her studies – she’s currently enrolled in a class to learn to heel. We’re not there yet, but she’s learning to spin around on command, which is a step in the process, or so we’ve been told. So I grabbed some treats and did some encouragement work with her.

This day was founded by the Encouragement Foundation at Harding University in Arkansas, a fact that inspires more questions, like, What the hell is the Encouragement Foundation? I did a Google search and every result on the first page talked about this celebration, so either they don’t have a webpage or else they are keeping it hidden. I’d have looked deeper, but there was nobody encouraging me to do so. Even Liberty didn’t care.

Day of the Programmer

I had this down as ‘Programmers Day’, but apparently it also goes by this somewhat snootier title. I like it.

Neither Jodie nor myself are computer programmers, and that really shouldn’t be any sort of grand confession at this point. Jodie wants as little to do with learning the technical goings-on of a computer as possible, and my programming days are long behind me. Yes, I had programming days. Sort of.

When I was a kid, I wanted nothing more than an Apple II computer. They were cutting-edge technology, featured elaborate, interesting games, and it was fairly obvious that they were the future. The Apple II ran on BASIC, which is a simple programming language. I learned how many of the commands worked, and found myself inputting lengthy programs from magazines in order to create silly little games or simple displays of graphics. The problem was, I had to do this on friends’ computers, or on the school computers. My dad was… let’s just say he was not the most fiscally gregarious, and those computers cost thousands. He felt I wanted the thing to play on, which was true. But I also knew computers were going to be a part of society, and I wanted to keep up with the technology.

He bought me the computer console to the Intellivision II. It was utter garbage. It had its own version of BASIC which only understood limited commands. Those magazine programming instructions were useless. Eventually he bought me an IBM clone with MS-DOS, which was foreign to me. I never kept up with the hobby. But programmers have built this world we now inhabit. They deserve their own day.

And of course, because they’re programmers, there has to be a little laugh in it for them. The Day of the Programmer always falls on September 12 during a leap year, and the 13th during a normal year. Why? It’s the 256th day of the year, hexadecimal 100th, or 2 to the 8th power. This is an official holiday in Russia. In China, the Day of the Programmer lands on October 24, or 10/24, or 1,024, or 2 to the 10th power.

Programmers are awesome. And we’re 110 days from the end of this madness.

National Iguana Awareness Day

You know how this works: we look at a creature that the calendar states is celebrating its “day”, and we learn some new stuff about that creature, thus enhancing our appreciation of their presence on our planet. Well, iguanas happen to be creatures we already appreciate. They are lizards who somehow seem to exude a personality, though I will allow for the possibility that we are simply projecting this onto them. That’s okay. They don’t seem to mind.

Iguanas can regrow their tails if they need to. Well, not all of them, but the ones who can’t regrow them can still lose them if their tails get trapped in a predator’s mouth and they’ll be just fine. Mature male iguanas can turn orange when trying to attract a mate. This doesn’t work well for humans, but it will get you a weekend with a porn star while your third wife is at home with your newborn son. Yes, we just got political with that zinger. Woo!

Iguanas can leap from heights of 50 feet, possibly because they have a strong skull. They can also swim like beasts, thanks in part to their strong tails and in part to the fact that they can hold their breath for up to 30 minutes. They’re promiscuous little lizards, and the female is able to store sperm from several previous mates for several years. This way if she hits a dry spell, she can still reproduce. Imagine the possibilities.

We raise a glass to the mighty iguana, and wonder in passing why no professional sports team has adopted this beast to be their symbol. They look fierce, they’re tough as hell, and they’d make a delightful mascot. I’m looking at you, Edmonton and Washington football teams who are presently without a name. Let’s go, Iguanas!

German Language Day

To a non-speaker of German, the language is harsh and imposing. It’s a language forged in iron and soaked in liquid intensity. And while it is the language that was employed as a high-powered weapon by a certain national leader in Germany a few decades back, it is also the language of Brecht, Rilke, and so much fantastic cinema.

It’s also a very daunting language, as seen by looking at their street signs. But the main reason that German words can get so long is simply this: when we come up with something new in English, we tend to invent a new word for it. Germans are fond of compound words, so they’ll cram some words together to form a new idea. An example I found is the word ‘tank’. When tanks were invented in the 20th century, the English called them ‘tanks’. This could get confusing, as there were already water tanks, gas tanks, and various other tank things.

But that might have been the point. Call it a tank because it’s a lumbering, heavy-duty thing that holds stuff (stuff in this case being people and weaponry), but also to confuse anyone who might be listening in. But the Germans came up with Panzerkampfwagen for their word. ‘Panzer’ means ‘armored’, ‘kampf’ means ‘war’, and ‘wagen’ means wagon or car. So you end up with an armored war wagon, which is pretty close to accurate.

I listened to a little German music yesterday, specifically the Beatles’ “Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand”, which they recorded over the instrument track of “I Want To Hold Your Hand” for their screaming German audience. It’s a strong language, but it’s quite beautiful.

So, as they say in Berlin, “Genug mit diesem verdammten Schrieben. Ich möchte ein Nickerchen machen!”

National Video Games Day

I could write so much about the history of video games… and I have! My last project, which you can find right here, has numerous articles about banned video games, long-forgotten erotic video games, and even a piece on the mysterious landfill burial of thousands of Atari cartridges of the E.T. game, which have since been found.

But I’ve also written about them for National Video Game Day (singular), which fell on July 8. And guess what? I played video games for that day. This was the same thing I did yesterday. Sometimes it’s best just to celebrate these celebrations and not worry too much about explaining myself.

Jodie, not a fan of video games, nevertheless played the brick-breaker game (ages 4 and up!) that she enjoys on her phone as a distraction. So we both participated for yet another summer rerun.

National Chocolate Milkshake Day

Again, we just celebrated this one. It’s likely the last milkshake celebration of the year, after having honoured Vanilla Milkshake Day and Coffee Milkshake Day earlier in the summer. Chocolate is divine. We enjoyed the hell out of it.

And today we’ll do what we can, but with the possibility that the football season may not make it all the way to the end without some cancellations, we feel it’s important to enjoy it while we’ve got it. We’ll still try to get up to as much of this as possible:

  • National Pet Memorial Day. I’ve talked about our beloved lost pups a few times already. So we’ll talk about them again.
  • National Grandparents Day. We don’t have any grandparents, nor are we grandparents. But we’ll say hey to the ones we know.
  • National Kids Take Over The Kitchen Day. Let’s see what our kids are up to tonight in the kitchen.
  • National Peanut Day. We’ll munch on some peanuts. I like celebrations we can cover while watching TV.
  • Roald Dahl Day. Happy birthday, Mr. My Childhood.
  • Wife Appreciation Day. Finally, Jodie will see a sliver of appreciation from me. She’s only been waiting 25 years.
  • 9×13 Day. A day to enjoy something baked in a 9×13 pan. We’ll see if our team baker is up for it.
  • Fortune Cookie Day. I’m pretty sure I’ve celebrated this one before. Maybe I’m wrong.
  • Bald Is Beautiful Day. Will we both shave our heads? No, we fucking won’t.
  • International Chocolate Day. Now we’re talking.
  • National Defy Superstition Day. The 13th of the month is a good day to do this.
  • National Hug Your Hound Day. A day for hugging dogs? I mean – ANOTHER day for hugging dogs? Sure, we’re on board.
  • Snack A Pickle Day. A day, not to incorporate pickles into a meal, but simply to have them as a snack.
  • Positive Thinking Day. We’ll need some of this to think about covering all these topics on a football filled day.