Saturday, October 31, 2020

A glorious Halloween to all you guys and ghouls out there – hey, see how easy it is to sound like a low-budget radio DJ? – but fear not… we shan’t be putting all of our haunted eggs in one basket… or, pillowcase, or whatever. We’ve got plenty to celebrate today that isn’t Halloween, though how important are those things, really? Tonight we’ll have kids coming to our door, and Jodie and I will work out whether we’ll be using barbecue tongs to dispense candy or simply throwing them at children. I’m rooting for the latter. But enough about today – here’s what went down on our All Hallows Eve Eve yesterday:

National Checklist Day

I came up with a pretty quick checklist to hammer through yesterday:

  • Buy my Halloween mask
  • Transfer money between accounts for our mortgage payment
  • Create my bi-weekly spreadsheet report for work
  • Call the doctor to renew my prescription
  • Make fun of at least 3 anti-mask conspiracy nuts and/or racists on social media
  • Watch the first episode of The Mandalorian’s new season

Not a tricky list to cover, and I’d blasted through all but the last one by the end of my workday. I suppose “write this article” should be included, but that’s almost reflexive now. I don’t need the reminder.

This date is not some arbitrary “hey, let’s remember checklists are cool” day. 85 years ago, a man named Major Ployer P. Hill took a fateful flight that changed air travel forever. He was representing Boeing in a pitch to the US military to show off the B-17 Flying Fortress. Boeing needed this to go well, as they were looking to secure the contract that would make them gazillions of dollars. Shortly after takeoff, Ployer stalled and crashed into the field. Everyone on board died, leaving us to forever ponder what kind of a name ‘Ployer’ is.

The ground crew had forgotten to release the flight control gust locks. How do you even forget that? You don’t want your gust locks all… unreleased and stuff. I mean, come on. Anyhow, this led to the development of thorough checklists that must be followed before any aircraft takes off. Who knows? Maybe it was the invention of that checklist that saved Boeing from being shunned by the military for this blundered demonstration. They made their gazillions and we all got safer air travel as a result of Ployer’s sacrifice.

All thanks to the mighty checklist.

Sugar Addiction Awareness Day

Okay, fine. My name is Marty and I’m a sugarholic. I love sugar. Not on its own, of course – that’s socially unacceptable and too sticky. But I embrace my sweet tooth, fully aware that it may someday be my demise. This was encouraged when I was a kid, not by my parents (whom I feel struck a fine balance between indulgence and restraint) but by my genetics. I had zero cavities while I was growing up. I’d eat a large bag of chips and down a 500ml Coke every Tuesday night during Moonlighting and while I was never a scrawny kid, I didn’t gain weight either.

I thought I was invincible.

Then along came adulthood, and its forays into obesity and dental fillings. My appetite for massive snacks abated somewhat, but I still craved that sweet, sweet release of a sugar rush after a meal. Eating a piece of fruit as a snack still seems bland and uninspiring. Every year around this time I pick out the Halloween candy I’d want to eat, and hope against hope we get as few kids as possible in order to maximize leftovers. If there’s sugar in the house, I’ll eat it.

And this year has been particularly bad, with baked goods and candies getting celebrated at the whim of the calendar multiple times every week. Somehow I have lost weight over the course of the year, but I don’t expect that will continue through the winter unless I make a few tweaks to my habits. But those tweaks won’t be happening this weekend. This is the greatest candy holiday of the year. Valentine’s Day is all about chocolate hearts and Easter about chocolate eggs, but Halloween is about Crispy Crunch, Kit Kat, Snickers and all of my other old friends.

Yes, I’m a sugarholic. I accept that, and I will try to get help someday. Just not today.

World Lemur Day

The only thing I knew about lemurs prior to writing this piece was that they have cool tails, they swing with those tails, and… I don’t know, Zaboomafoo? He was the lemur of notoriety back when my daughter was young, and watching those two zoologist brothers talk to their lemur friend on PBS was a much better use of our TV-watching time together than, say, Barney the Assholosaurus.

Lemurs are really cool little creatures, even the ones who don’t communicate with humans to deliver nature-positive messages on public television. For example, they only exist on the island of Madagascar, which sits like a punctuation symbol beside the continent of Africa. Humans didn’t show up on that island until about 2,000 years ago, and back then lemurs were the size of adult gorillas. Some species of lemurs (and there are more than a dozen, just on that one island) can share space with other species due a different diet. I like that. Coexistence.

If you have the ability to throw some support behind this species, you’d best hurry up. A 2013 report suggested that up to 90% of all lemur species might be wiped out in the next two decades without some intervention. The local humans on Madagascar have made many efforts to preserve the lemurs, but they also have to contend with poverty, political instability, and other human-threatening factors.

Lemurs have a small brain-to-body ratio, but let’s not hold that against them. They still do awesome stuff, like wiping their long tails under their armpits and waving them at one another in “stink fights.” Seriously. These things are hilarious. Many species of lemur are also female-dominant, so hooray for the matriarchy. Dwarf lemurs, the only species of primate who hibernate for extended periods, take snoozes of 6 to 8 months at a stretch. I’m a little jealous. All I’m asking for is a couple months of straight sleep.

Lemurs are awesome. I hope they appreciate this day, and I hope they get plenty of candy to celebrate like the rest of us.

National Speak Up For Service Day

Here’s a sweet entry (no sugar pun intended, I promise), courtesy of the Lions Club in Fargo, North Dakota. They decided back in 2003 that there should be some sort of day to acknowledge young people who have stepped up and tried to make the world a better place. We see this every so often in the news, like David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez, who have been actively petitioning for gun control ever since a wacko shot up their school in Florida a few years ago. The other day I gave a shout-out to a kid trying to hand out 100,000 meals, or that kick-ass girl who turned her artificial arm into a glitter-gun.

Young people are often overlooked as game-changers because they often don’t have the power or the voice. When they do find the spotlight – and here I’m thinking of Greta Thunberg, the climate activist from Sweden – they end up in the crosshairs of heartless ass-faces on social media. I’m actually glad Greta isn’t in the news lately; it’s downright heart-crushing reading what some people will write about a passionate young woman with a cause. People suck. But not young people.

Young folks have an easier time tapping into that activist yearning for a few reasons. For one, they don’t have an awareness of all the impediments to change, which allows them to see the world as they feel it should be. And they’re usually right – even with unreasonable steps to reach the ideal, they can shine a light on some very stepable steps we can take to make things a little bit better. They also haven’t yet been crushed by the unfathomable greed that dictates a lot of our society. Unfortunately, that crushing often rolls in by the time they reach voting age, so we lose a strong portion of the progressive vote to shattered dreams and betrayed ideals. This year that may be different, who knows?

Jodie drew attention to a couple of her students whom she felt embodied this day. We had a good talk about these kids, and either she has an unusual excess of empowered, dedicated kids or else we as a society need to shut up and listen more to that generation.

The future is looking bright with the next batch of future grown-ups. Let’s not tell them that their worst peers will probably fuck it up.

National Bandana Day

Actually, this is National Bandanna Day, because apparently Australians spell that word with an extra ‘n’, and they invented this day so they get dibs on its title. Celebrate it with whatever spelling suits you.

This day was created to raise money for cancer research. The official site behind it was selling bandanas (or bandannas) by the box-load for folks to sell as a fund-raiser. Specifically the money is meant to go to young people battling cancer, or to a charity that battles the cancer that affects the young. They have raised over $33 million Australian dollars (which I believe they call dollaridoos) so far with this campaign, and it’s mostly young people who are doing the fund-raising, which ties in neatly with our last entry.

It’s too late to get on board the bandana (or bandanna, or bananarama, or Antonio Banderas) train this year, but we can still toss some funds toward the cause through their website if we feel so inspired.

Liberty did her part by showing off her stunningly attractive bandana when we hit the town (or, more accurately, our block) for our daily stroll.

Oh yes, it’s candy day, it’s spooky day, and it’s all that fun stuff. Plus a full moon and an extra hour as we change our clocks over. So much fun! But there’s also all this:

  • Halloween. Well, of course. We’ll be handing out candy and I’ll be dressing up since Jodie doesn’t want to. I’ll be dressing up and so will Liberty.
  • National Caramel Apple Day. My teeth may not be up for this one, but it’s a holiday tradition.
  • National Doorbell Day. I guess this makes sense, since our doorbell will see more use tonight than the rest of the year combined, probably.
  • National Magic Day. Don’t forget, the great Harry Houdini died on Halloween. Let’s make some magic!
  • National Knock-Knock Joke Day. For those who don’t celebrate this ‘Satanic’ Halloween shit, you can just tell one another crappy jokes.
  • Carve A Pumpkin Day. I don’t know if we are pumpkin carving this year. Neither of us are particularly good at it.
  • Hug A Sheep Day. According to several strangers and robots on social media, I’m a ‘sheep’ for believing that Covid-19 exists, so maybe I’ll get a hug!
  • National Increase Your Psychic Powers Day. I predict that this won’t work at all. And if that comes true then does that mean that… that it did work? I’m confused.
  • Sneak Some Of The Candy Yourself Before The Kids Start Knocking Day. Well this will be an easy one to celebrate.
  • Scare A Friend Day. Of course!

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