Friday, October 23, 2020

Apart from the rattling snores from dog-town on the couch behind me, the air in this room is thick enough to cut with a putty knife. Inspiration hides under the bed, but doesn’t shy away when I finally blast some light upon it. Today’s celebrations are mostly effortless and quick, which blended sweetly with my desire to poke that inspiration with a jagged stick to see what else might pop out. This project is staring down its glorious finale, and my otherwise idle fingers must remain in motion somehow. When that time rolls up, I’ve got the inklings of a plan. But for now, here’s where the action is:

National Nut Day

A big thanks to a company called Liberation Foods for this one. If you guessed that they sell nuts, then you have clearly been paying attention this year to how these celebrations work. They aren’t simply shameless shills for Big Nut though – they are partnered with nut cooperatives and small-scale producers around the world in an effort to promote fair trade nuts. We’ve heard this term applied to coffee, but given that nuts are produced in most of the same regions as coffee, it only makes sense that a lot of those farms would be exploited as well. Liberation Foods is looking to end that.

So it’s a noble little company, and they created this day to draw attention to the fine work they are doing. Of course, most folks who feel the need to celebrate stuff (who are these insane people???) would see this as National Nut Day and simply down some nuts. Those people should be deeply ashamed; I know I am – that’s all I planned to do. I’m glad I looked a little deeper into the day’s origins. Had I really been planning ahead I’d have ordered some nuts from Liberation Foods and eaten them with a smug, do-goodery pride.

But alas, I only have store-brand peanuts, which were no doubt harvested by the feeble hands of exploited workers who were subsequently caned to death by their sadistic nut overlords. So I felt a pang of guilt as I ate my snack. I suppose I should have known there was something more interesting behind this celebration, as we have already celebrated pecans, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts this year. These generic-sounding all-encompassing celebrations probably all have interesting and socially conscious stories behind them.

It would do me well to remember that, given that National Food Day is coming up on Saturday.

National Color Day

And just like that, my suspicions are proven to be wrong. National Color Day is not a UN celebration meant to draw our attention to the natural beauty of the world or its citizens or its rich textile history or anything so noble. It’s just a day to celebrate color, and how different colors can reflect or affect our moods and feelings.

Color has certainly played into this year’s festivities; even today we find ourselves donning a certain colour (and here I’m consciously switching to the Canadian spelling, just because) for a certain cause. But how do we celebrate colour on its own?

My beloved auntie and our team baker (thanks, Mom!) took care of this one for us. They both spent a chunk of yesterday colouring in an effort to bring some more beauty into the world. Pictured above are a couple of my mother’s creations. I’m still a little fascinated by the recent concept of the adult colouring book. I think it’s wonderful that the notion of colouring is being recognized as a calming exercise, rather than as a children’s pastime. The chronic pain in my hands makes holding a writing (or colouring) implement rather painful after a short while, so I’ve passed on this activity, but I have enjoyed a paint-by-numbers app on my iPad. Not a lot of skill needed for that, but hey, it’s adding colour to something so it counts.

Sometimes the most generic celebrations are hiding something deeper. Sometimes they simply are what they are. Happy Color Day.

Smart Is Cool Day

No really, the point of this day is to put an end to smart kids being called nerds by jocks, thus leading to the nerds plotting some elaborate revenge (which played out as a vulgar rape fantasy in that 80s movie, but we won’t delve any deeper into that mess). I honestly wasn’t aware this was still a thing. When I was a kid (back when that movie was relevant), those of us who used computers were considered to be nerds. Then the 90s happened and everyone started using computers.

Even by the time I got to high school, smart was not necessarily far out of fashion. Kids who openly pursued purely intellectual activities (like the chess club, for example) may have still been teased, but I suspect that was more due to the perceived dullness of those specific activities. No one I knew felt any shame at getting a high grade, or being smart, and I hung out with a swath of characters all over the spectrum of typical high school cliques. Maybe I’m wrong; maybe they were mocking me that entire time.

So yes, Smart is Cool and it’s Hip to be Square and all that. In 2020, you can almost trace a line down the political sand for an easy metaphor to find the smart, but that one might ruffle some primitive feathers and we’re trying to keep politics out of this mirth-fest. Let’s just call it enough to say that anti-intellectualism, which partners with anti-science and anti-academia, is a threat to this world. We need the smart people to be in charge. I want my leaders to be smarter than I am. I’ll sleep better at night in that world. The only trait more crucial than intelligence in power is empathy, and quite often those two go hand in hand.

To celebrate this one we put out a plea to our American friends: don’t vote for dumb in twelve days. Vote for smart. It’s cool. Trust the nerds; they’ll lead us out of this mess.

Wear Purple For Domestic Violence Awareness Day / National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Not even a little bit aware that this day was coming up, I stupidly donned my purple shirt on Wednesday, which you would have seen yesterday in my National Suspenders Day post. But here we are, and I was happy to throw the shirt on once more for this noble cause. Alas, I wasn’t happy with the ensuing photo, so instead you get the above pic, in case you’d forgotten what purple looks like.

All I can really say about this issue is… what the fuck, people? How hard is it to simply not become violent toward a person in your household? Maybe I’m coming from a place of privilege on this one, as my bouts of rage tend to be limited to yelling and/or taking out my fury on inanimate objects, but I simply don’t understand it. I guess I’m not a violent enough person to wrap my head around the motivation behind this. I should count myself lucky.

Domestic violence isn’t just men hitting women or women hitting men or parents hitting children. LGBTQ issues factor in as well, as does teen dating violence. I know some would consider mental abuse to be in a different category, but really it isn’t. It’s all part of the same root problem, and it affects way too many people. Half of all Canadian women have experienced it. A woman is killed by her partner in this country roughly once every six days. And that’s Canada, not that gun-happy game-show-host-electing country down south. We’re supposed to be the sensible ones.

Children who witness violence in their homes wind up with twice as many psychiatric disorders as those who don’t. Keep that in mind the next time someone gets on an anti-video-game rant – this is a much more real and impactful issue. If you know someone who is in an abusive situation, call 911 if you feel they are in imminent danger. If not, just listen without judgment, and don’t try to intervene and be the hero who smites the abuser. That shit won’t work. Build that person’s confidence and remind them they don’t deserve the abuse. Read up on local shelters and other resources, and know your stuff.

And for chrissakes people, this is a fully preventable situation. Just don’t be an asshole, please.

International Caps Lock Day

WHY ARE WE CELEBRATING THE CAPS LOCK? I’M GLAD I ASKED. THE SIMPLE ANSWER IS THAT THE CALENDAR TOLD US TO, AND IT’S A REALLY EASY CELEBRATION TO BASH OUT IN ORDER TO MAKE SURE OCTOBER’S NUMBERS AREN’T DREADFULLY LOW. THE MORE COMPLEX ANSWER IS… WELL, THERE ISN’T ONE. THERE’S ONLY THE SIMPLE ANSWER.

BACK IN THE WILD DAYS OF TYPEWRITERS, THIS WAS CALLED THE SHIFT LOCK KEY. THOSE OF US ANCIENT ENOUGH TO REMEMBER MANUAL TYPEWRITERS WILL KNOW THAT HITTING SHIFT LITERALLY SHIFTED THE POSITION OF THE HAMMERS SO THAT THE CAPITAL LETTER WOULD HIT THE RIBBON AND NOT THE LOWERCASE LETTER. SO SHIFT LOCK MEANT LOCKING THE MECHANISM IN THE SHIFT POSITION.

YES, THIS IS ANNOYING. IT LOOKS LIKE I’M SHOUTING THIS ENTRY EVEN TO ME, AND I’M THE ONE SITTING HERE SILENTLY TYPING IT OUT. THERE IS A MOVEMENT IN THE WORLD TO ELIMINATE THE CAPS LOCK, AND APPARENTLY GOOGLE HAS YANKED IT FROM THEIR CHROMEBOOK KEYBOARDS. I’M NOT LENDING MY SUPPORT TO THIS MOVEMENT FOR TWO REASONS: FIRST, IT’S OCCASIONALLY USEFUL, CERTAINLY MORE SO THAN SCROLL LOCK OR THE PAUSE/BREAK BUTTON, WHICH I NEVER USE. SECOND, THERE ARE MORE IMPORTANT CAUSES IN THE WORLD RIGHT NOW.

THERE ARE TWO CAPS LOCK CELEBRATIONS IN THE YEAR – THIS ONE, AND ONE BACK IN JUNE WHICH WAS CREATED TO COMMEMORATE OXY-CLEAN PITCHMAN BILLY MAYS, WHO WAS KNOWN FOR ALWAYS SHOUTING. PUTTING MY READERS THROUGH THIS OBNOXIOUS ALL-CAPS ENTRY IS ENOUGH OF A CELEBRATION FOR ME.

Wombat Day

I have, I am almost certain, never seen a wombat in the flesh. I honestly had no idea what they looked like until I started writing this entry, and I have to say, they look like quite the charmers. Look at that little critter up there – don’t you just want to pick him or her up and cuddle? Well, if you want to find one to cuddle in the wild (wild cuddles are always the best cuddles), you’ll have to head down to Australia. Yes, the place where it literally rains spiders and everything around you wants to kill you. But not the wombat. They’re too cute for that kind of devious attitude.

Wombats are marsupials, but because they are burrowers their pouch is backwards, thus preventing them from raining dirt upon their offspring in there. They are nocturnal and are rarely seen by anyone. One sign they’ve been in the area are their cube-shaped feces, something for which I am grateful humans have been spared. Can you imagine trying to crap out a pair of oversized fuzzy dice after a big meal? Damn, wombats. You’ve got it rough.

Let’s dig a little deeper into wombat poop, because that’s how we celebrate now. Wombats use their feces to mark off their territory – I’d like to think that means they build little forts out of it, but I can’t be sure. They’ll poop out between 80 and 100 of these poo-cubes every night, which leaves me to wonder where they find time to eat, copulate and roam around. Their feces can also be used to attract a mate, and I’m not sure I really want to know how or why that happens.

Wombats aren’t endangered, and they aren’t much of a threat to humans (though a 59-year-old man claimed to have been mauled by one right before he murdered it with an ax). They do have their own special day though, so we’ll wish a happy one to all the cute little cube-poopers down under.

Eat A Pretzel Day

For those who are wondering if this is different from National Pretzel Day, of course it is. And it totally isn’t. It’s a paradox of celebratory carbs in our calendar this year. And we celebrated this day in precisely the same way we celebrated National Chocolate Covered Pretzel Day back on October 7: by enjoying the new candy bar from Oh Henry, the Level Up, which features peanut butter, peanuts, caramel, nougat and chocolate, all wrapped around a pretzel. This is my new favourite candy bar.

And that’s all there is to say about this day. We’ve examined the history of the pretzel; what’s left? Do we get into the cultural significance of the pretzel? Apart from its prominence in that one episode of Seinfeld, I’m really not sure what else there is to say.

It’s Eat A Pretzel Day. We ate pretzels.

National Make A Dog’s Day Day

To be honest, this is a day to encourage folks to head out to their local shelter and adopt a dog, thus giving that dog the greatest day of its life. That’s assuming, of course, that the dog hasn’t already had a day better than that, which for a dog could include a chance meeting with some quality-smelling butts.

We weren’t about to celebrate in this particular fashion, as we have reached our full complement of doggage in our home. My wife might disagree, but I’m going with the law on that one. But we will encourage anyone and everyone to go out and find a best friend at a local shelter. Hasn’t 2020 been crap enough? Do you really need to spend the next two months dogless as well? Just go out and make a dog’s day; it’ll make yours also. Except for the parts of the day where you’re cleaning up after them – most dogs don’t get trained overnight. And last I checked, their poops aren’t all cute and cube-like.

So we went with our old standby for this one, and that means we spoiled our dogs with heaps of scritches, some nice adventurous walks through the encroaching tundra, and of course plenty of treats. Every day is our dogs’ day. Why not this one as well?

Yesterday was a weirdly busy day full of mostly simple celebrations, plus wombats. Today I’m not sure what we’ll dig into, but we’ll have all this to choose from:

  • National Boston Cream Pie Day. We looked for one and didn’t find it. Do we go to Tim Hortons for this kind of doughnut? Probably not.
  • National TV Talk Show Host Day. I guess we’ll celebrate all the Sally Jesse Raphaels out there.
  • iPod Day. Can it still count if we use our phones for the same thing we used to use iPods for? I doubt we still have an old school iPod lying around.
  • Slap Your Annoying Coworker Day. A great sentiment, but since I work at home with three totally not annoying dogs, that would mean I’d be slapping me.
  • National Croc Day. Not about the animals, just the weird rubber footwear.
  • National Canning Day. I have a good friend who cans. Maybe this means I don’t have to.
  • National Pharmacy Buyer Day. I’ve never bought a pharmacy in my life, so this doesn’t apply to me.
  • National Mole Day. Once again, not the animal. This one is all about chemistry, which is far less interesting to me than the animal.

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