Tuesday, October 27, 2020

The jackhammer of perpetual impatience whose rhythm rattles my inside-parts may simply be the result of my fingers, ever-tapping on the table, ever-hurrying the days along. With our days on this planet so frustratingly limited in number, it’s counter-intuitive, counter-productive and counter-good-sense to wish them to scurry along quickly. It’s a twisted paradox of humanity: on Monday we pray for a fast-forward button to get us to Friday, yet at the end of the journey we mourn that there wasn’t one more day to spread its hours before us. No matter – 2021 will be for switching to a slow-down savouring mindset; for now we’ve still got all this mess to unpack:

National Mule Day

This is a day for celebrating the mule, an animal I have no experience with (maybe at a petting zoo once?), and one which I will almost certainly never encounter in my daily goings-on. The mule is humankind’s first concrete attempt to fuck with the laws of nature. One day, some 5000+ years ago, possibly in ancient Egypt (where all the fun and weird stuff was going on), some guy thought it would be neat to see what happens when a male donkey boinks a female horse.

Mules were an instant hit. They were ideal for hauling people, weapons, and various other stuffs across tricky terrain. They were more docile and cooperative than donkeys, and much cheaper to maintain than a horse. Most mules are infertile (probably because they are man-made abominations and whatnot), so the horse/donkey copulation thing is still very much necessary. At least it’s necessary as much as mules are still necessary, which in the average urban environment isn’t much. But they still get put to work around the globe.

The strange thing about mules is that in some ways they actually exceed the abilities of their parent creatures. Some say that mules are more cognitively with-it than donkeys or horses. They’re taller than donkeys, that much is proven, and they seem to have better endurance than horses. They can withstand more weight on their backs than horses without kvetching, and their skin is less sensitive, meaning they are less bothered by weather. Their hooves are harder than horses’, and they seem to have a natural resistance to various diseases and insects.

So are mules better than horses for farm-work? You’d have to ask someone who does farm-work. I can’t even grow my own herbs without murdering the plants, so this will never come up in my life. But I do find it fascinating that early humans got a little funky with science. I’m sure the success of the mule led to those same early humans experimenting with other hybrid species (“How do we get this porcupine to copulate with this hawk to create the ultimate animal weapon?”), and the comedic possibilities are endless. Thanks, mules.

Worldwide Howl At The Moon Night

I was hoping this was simply an excuse to go outside last night and make an ass of myself by forcing a pitiful human howl into the night sky. Like that day back in February where I screamed “Hoodie-hoo” like a schmuck while my daughter filmed it for this project. Alas, this was not the case. This is another animal celebration, in particular one to bring attention to wolves and their precarious situation on this planet.

First we must address the question of conservancy, and how worried we should be that wolves will vanish from the globe like so many dolphins soaring into space and thanking us for the fish. Good news – that won’t happen. Wolves are not at all endangered, and unlike mules when they copulate with other canine species like coyotes or jackals, the offspring that gets produced is actually fertile. This suggests there are an untold number of ‘mutt’ creatures out there with multiple components of wild dog in their genes.

Wolves are fascinating creatures, in particular to those of us who own dogs. Wolves are basically dogs in the wild, but competent ones. Our dogs can’t make it through a two-hour period without an essential dose of scritches and love to remind them of their worth; I don’t see them scavenging and surviving on their own. And we all know coyotes are barely able to take care of themselves; they can’t even work a simple anvil-catapult on their own.

The wolf is intertwined with indigenous mythology, and there actually are a number of groups looking to conserve and protect them, in spite of their relatively abundant population. We support groups like Wolf Haven International, who are looking to keep that population bustling and healthy. And yes, I did let a little howl out last night at our moon that I couldn’t see due to clouds. There is no celebration so sacred and revered that we can’t debase ourselves to look a little bit foolish.

National Sarcastic Awareness Month

I don’t know who invented this celebration or whether or not anyone has actually celebrated it (it’s another victim of having only one source, and that source is a 404 Not Found page now), but here it is. A month in which we should be reminded that sarcasm exists and it’s ours to enjoy.

The most important thing to know about sarcasm is how poorly it translates to the written word. Unless your audience knows you, and knows your voice well, they won’t necessarily be able to discern whether or not you’re being sarcastic. The “/s” modifier at the end of a social media comment is always advised.

How did we celebrate? I mean, apart from just being sarcastic whenever we could (which we do anyway)? Just as the picture above indicates – Dorothy Zbornak was our guide. Amazon Prime has every season of Golden Girls and believe me, that show holds up. Maybe not the 3-camera laugh-track format, but Dorothy’s zingers are as funny as they ever were. A simple, and hilarious celebration.

World Pasta Day / National Pasta Month

National Pasta Day was October 17, so by all accounts this is the month in which we are truly meant to embrace pasta. Why October? I suppose it might be because October is the month when the temperatures drop and we shut down our barbecues (some of us – I don’t mind standing outside in January if it means having tastier steaks). Pasta is a warm comfort food for most, and I think most people are fairly confident in their favourite pasta dishes. For some it’s Kraft Mac & Cheese, for others Chef Boy-R-Dee’s canned noodle chemical baths. Jodie swoons over a good carbonara, while I’m realizing it has been decades since my last taste of manicotti, and that’s just tragic.

The etymology of the word ‘pasta’ is fun to trace. The English word “pasta” comes from the Italian word “pasta”, which comes from the Latin word “pasta”, which comes from the Greek word, which I believe is pronounced… “pasta.” In Greek that word meant “barley porridge.” So next time you want to amuse the waiter at your favourite Italian restaurant, ask them for some barley porridge with tomato squeezins. Actually, I recommend you do this at Olive Garden, that way if you get kicked out and banned for that joke it’s not a big loss.

Interesting factoid about pasta, before tomato sauce was introduced to Italian kitchens in the 1700s, pasta was traditionally eaten by hand. Once the gravy showed up, forks were necessary, as was learning the technique of swirling the noodles around the fork to avoid shirt-spillage.

Last night we enjoyed a rigatoni dish with pork meatballs and a creamy pesto sauce. It tasted like autumn and warmed our souls just a little, as good pasta tends to do.

Six years ago on this date I started a new job that eventually led to my proud position as a med-level government office drone. To celebrate that (because believe me, my jobs were worse before that), we’ve got all this to choose from:

  • National American Beer Day. Do I have any in my fridge? Possibly not, but don’t worry – this one will get celebrated this week.
  • World Day For AudioVisual Heritage. No idea what this means, but it means listening to old music or building our own phrenetoscope from scratch, we’re in.
  • Cranky Coworkers Day. Looks like another day to celebrate Trixie, our English bulldog canine research assistant.
  • Boxer Shorts Day. Even as a non-boxer, I still own boxer shorts. Is that weird?
  • National Potato Day. I didn’t know this one was coming up. Potatoes are great.

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