Monday, November 30, 2020

Hey, look at that! Our eleventh month of this project is rolling to a close and we’re still here, showing our resolve and our commitment to utter madness and seeing it to the very end. Do we love this project? On some level, maybe. Mostly we’re looking forward to seeing how much free time we’ll get in January. Mostly me – Jodie’s focus is on her teaching, her studying, her tutoring, and all of that fun stuff. I’m the one writing about French toast and hip hop and finding a way to squeeze a few commemorations in before noon so I can get some real work done. Yesterday was all about relaxing and resetting our brains for the week ahead, so there wasn’t much celebrating. But there was this:

National Lemon Cream Pie Day

No, we did not go out and purchase a lemon cream pie. We did not harass our team baker (hi, Mom!) to craft one for us. And we sure as hell weren’t going to bake one ourselves. How much time and energy do we have left at this point?

But we do have a habit of going out every weekend for doughnuts from Destination Doughnuts, where we have yet to be disappointed by a single ring of doughy bliss. And pictured above is their Ode to Sunshine doughnut, which I enjoyed yesterday whilst watching some kid no one has ever heard of get a chance to start for the Denver Broncos because all of their quarterbacks were out on Covid-watch. It’s their take on lemon meringue – which I understand is different from lemon cream pie, but it’s close enough.

Lemon is not my #1 flavour for a doughnut or pie filling, but with the creamy meringue (or, I assume, with the plain ol’ cream) it’s delicious. And, as the calendar told us yesterday, it was mandatory eating.

Historic Bridge Awareness Month

Really? Yes, really. We are going to take a moment for this one because I actually am fascinated by some of the great bridges out there. The physics involved in designing and constructing a bridge are so far beyond my understanding it might as well be magic. For the life of me, I don’t know how they went about slapping some of these up, even back in the 1800s with their limited technology. I know, the answer to that is that many people died, but I’m still impressed. Here are a few fun facts I found:

  • The first man to die in the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge was designer John A. Roebling. He was taking some compass readings when his foot was crushed between some pilings and a boat, which led to the amputation of his toes and his death from tetanus not long afterward. The last person to die in the construction of this bridge was his son, who suffered from a deadly case of the bends.
  • The Manhattan Bridge, which I believe is the prettier New York bridge, was tilting badly to one side by the 1950s because of the subway that cruised through on its busy side. Extensive renovations were required to fix this.
  • The Golden Gate Bridge was estimated by the city engineer for San Francisco to cost $100 million at the time, roughly $2.3 billion today. The project would have been turfed were it not for engineer/poet Joseph Strauss, who said he could do it for 1/6th the price.
  • Our High Level Bridge in Edmonton still has the pipes in place to turn on the world’s largest man-made waterfall if they feel so inclined. It’s kind of a silly attraction, but the audacity of it is impressive and I hope it makes a comeback some day.
  • The Quesnell Bridge, which Jodie drives across every day to and from work, used to contain an accessible walkway underneath it. The walkway has (I believe) been closed off, but it was a great place to check out some of our city’s most impressive graffiti, and to do stupid teenage stuff like smoke weed and throw stuff into the river.

My next project – which, and I can’t state this often or emphatically enough, will not be an everyday project like this one – may have something to do with local history, as that has really been sparking my imagination lately. Bridges are an important component to any area’s history, and they probably deserve more attention than they get.

Small Brewery Sunday

Yes, we only managed to cover three celebrations yesterday. That’s three more than we would have on pretty much any other November 29 though, so that’s saying something. And one of them involved a doughnut while the other involved beer, so I’d say it’s a solid win for a lazy Sunday.

For this day I opted for something from Analog Brewing in south Edmonton, a brewery I’ve been dying to try because they are clearly marketing directly to my type of people: they use 8-bit video game artwork that almost seems in danger of a lawsuit. They specialize in ‘sessionable’ beers, which is a term I’d never heard before. It means you can drink more than one without being overwhelmed by an overpowering flavour or too much booze to keep you vertical. That’s fair.

The beer I sampled is their Power-Up Porter, which has a lovely vanilla tone to it, and will satisfy anyone who has fallen in love with the annual Lion’s Winter Ale from Granville Island Brewing in Vancouver. It’s a creamy little porter and it was fantastic.

I also picked up some of the Unity Brew, which is pictured above. This is a collaborative effort released by the Alberta Small Brewers Association, and it’s brewed by five different Alberta breweries, all using ingredients donated by local suppliers. Each brewery did their own take on a Scotch Ale (which I love), and they put it into stores together. The breweries participating this year include O.T. Brewing, Village Brewery and Railyard Brewing from Calgary, Canmore Brewing from Canmore, and SYC Brewing from Edmonton. I’m not familiar with any of these companies, but this united effort is a great way to promote them.

Small breweries are still producing the most interesting stuff in the beer world. I encourage everyone to get out there and get adventurous.

Today we gear up to our final month of celebrating. Despite its big banner holidays, December is actually the quietest month of the year, according to my preliminary research. Today we’ve actually got a lot to choose from though:

  • National Personal Space Day. This has, of course, become every day during this pandemic.
  • National Mason Jar Day. It’s the most famous jar out there, apart from Jar Jar Binks, and very much more deserving of a celebration.
  • National Mississippi Day. They love shrimp in Mississippi. I’ll make something involving shrimp.
  • National Mousse Day. We don’t have any for our hair, or any chocolate stuff for our bellies, unfortunately.
  • Computer Security Day. I guess it’s time to update the ol’ virus software.
  • Stay Home Because You’re Well Day. Initially this was supposed to be a day for everyone to slag off work and stay home, but since I’ve been working from home for more than 8 months now, this is just another every day thing.
  • Cyber Monday. Yes, it’s the day to shop online.
  • National Methamphetamine Awareness Day. Good day to catch up on an old episode of Breaking Bad perhaps.
  • Perpetual Youth Day. Now we’re talkin’.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Our spiritual froth was in full fluffy fervor yesterday as we executed our weekly supply run and returned home to help our #3 canine research assistant (Liberty) celebrate her first birthday. The day gave way to evening, and the only laborious chore on my radar was the act of sitting down and writing an article about whichever celebrations happened to pique my interest for the day. There weren’t many. We presently crave the moment, not the documentation of the moment. But we signed up for a year, and we shall serve out our sentence. The best way to do this is to mine it for the positive. Here’s a great example:

Small Business Saturday

Black Friday saw people cramming into malls and into lineups outside of stores for great bargains and a complimentary exposure to the Covid virus. Cyber Monday, showing up tomorrow, will send scores of folks to help buy Jeff Bezos’s next meal, which I believe is slated to be roast unicorn with a side of that most dangerous game: man. Crammed between these two days, which aim to separate as much of our money from us as possible, we have Small Business Saturday.

Buying local isn’t just a catchy hashtag in 2020; it’s a lifeline to independent businesses in a fractured economy. I get that none of us want to leave the house right now, and Amazon has made it so damn easy to have purchases sent to our homes with a single click of the mouse, but every city and town needs its local economy to thrive. That’s where the magic is.

On Friday we dined at Dadeo, our favourite restaurant and one of Edmonton’s most beloved small businesses. For our Saturday outing we stopped at Destination Doughnuts (of course – we have now been there every Saturday we’ve been in town without fail for the last three years). Then we wandered over to the small but swanky High Street shopping centre and popped into The Heart of the Home, a brilliant kitchen shop. This isn’t one of those shops where everything is stupidly overpriced – their stuff is reasonable and really nice. A great spot for gift shopping. From there we went across the parking lot to Zack & Finnigan, which features everything I’d want to decorate my home. Then we went next door to Carol’s Quality Sweets, where we loaded up on stocking stuffers, supplies for an upcoming celebration or two, and candy for us because we love candy. Our last stop was Callingwood Flowers, probably the grooviest store in Edmonton’s west end.

We won’t make it through this year’s mandated shopping season without throwing some money Bezos’s way. But as much as possible we’ll be trying to funnel our cash toward local entrepreneurs. They deserve to be celebrated.

International Aura Awareness Day

I’m only including this one because I once had my aura photographed. I don’t believe in auras any more than I believe in astrology, teacup readings, the Cleveland Browns or the Easter Bunny, but I do find it interesting to speak with people who do believe in them. My dad, who moved to Los Angeles in the early 90s and hooked up with all sorts of weird people, was behind this photograph, and I wish I could have tracked it down for inclusion in this article. You’d see a 16-year-old me looking like a doofus with a pale orange glow around my head.

Why orange? I’m glad I asked. Your aura, according to those who can see it (or who have purchased magical cameras that can reveal it), will reveal what kind of person you are. While I’d like to think if this were accurate that orange meant I’m a neurotic weirdo who likes self-indulgent, seemingly-eternal writing projects, it simply means I’m creative and full of emotion. Well, that’s not untrue.

And while one can cram themselves into whichever astrological sign they’d like, with their vague ‘traits’ and personality types that could really be extrapolated to almost anyone, these auras are a bit more limited. Had I revealed a purple aura, for example, it would have meant I was charismatic with a powerful personality. That ain’t me. Still, blue would have meant I’m caring and nurturing, and pink would have said I’m sensitive and gentle, so really those would have fit me too.

I don’t believe in auras, but I can appreciate the awesomeness of the mythology. And if I find that photo, even if it’s after this project is done, I will vow to share it. It’d be good for a laugh.

Hip Hop History Month

A wise man once said, “I said a hip hop, the hippie to the hippie, the hip hip a hop, and you don’t stop, a-rock it to the bang-bang boogie, say up jump the boogie to the rhythm of the boogie, the beat. A-skiddlee-bebop, we rock, scooby doo, and guess what America, we love you.” He was, in retrospect, so right.

Hip hop is one of the most fascinating cultural movements of the last 100 years. Where rock ‘n roll fused r&b, blues and country together for the masses, those masses were, for the most part, white. The only true movements in western black music culture have been blues, jazz and hip hop. And while the first two are essential listening and powerful influences, neither has come close to be quite the cultural juggernaut of hip hop. White folks have joined in – as we did with jazz and blues – but this is the realm of black expression and it likely always will be.

Fans of classic hip hop (and, I suppose, of the movie The Wedding Singer) will recognize those lyrics up there as belonging to the Sugarhill Gang, from their 1979 hit “Rapper’s Delight”, which most consider to be the first time hip hop hit the world on record. It had been bubbling up in the underground scene before that, of course, primarily in the Bronx where DJs would spin their records and improvise their skills in neighbourhood block parties and house parties. Hip hop was a fresh form of expression, and it’s fascinating to peruse the genre’s history to see how that expression has evolved.

Often that expression is self-inflating, with lyrics (even in “Rapper’s Delight”) extolling how awesome the rapper is, how well he does with the ladies, and how much money he has. Whether or not it’s true is irrelevant – the nature of these expressions of bravado and success are the key to the message of early hip hop, and it demonstrates the genre to be a positive and powerful means of restructuring one’s perception of the world. Hip hop got political and topical early on, and it has reflected much of the black experience in America over the last 40 years.

I’ve often tuned in to LL Cool J’s station on Sirius/XM (which used to simply be a retro-hip hop station called ‘Backspin’, with no celebrity affiliation). I love the stuff, whether it’s Run DMC boasting of their Adidas shoe collection, Salt-n-Pepa flipping the tables on boastful sexuality, or N.W.A. advising us that the po-lice are not necessarily the most upstanding humans in their world. It’s great music, and it speaks to an ever-evolving rich culture. I love it.

National French Toast Day

French toast has been around since the 4th or 5th century. Back then it was not known by that name (obviously), and honey was the topping of choice. It’s a simple recipe that has popped up in various cultures all over the place because, well, it’s just that simple of a recipe. It also goes by the name Eggy Toast, Gypsy Toast, Bombay Toast, and Poor Knights of Windsor (seriously).

Apparently an early variation of this dish involved dipping the bread only in milk, not in egg. Other variations involve dunking the bread in wine, rosewater or orange juice before or after cooking it, which suggests to me that people will try pretty much anything, at least once. In the United States it was a popular railroad dish, being served on fancy train dining cars in the early 1900s. New Orleans cuisine, of course, raises the bar by including spirits in their egg mixture.

We love French toast, and often make it with some bacon when we have leftover French bread from a night of pasta or some other such revelry. Yesterday we bought the French break specifically so we could enjoy breakfast for dinner and celebrate this properly. We may have surpassed our goal for this year, but dammit we are still committed.

It’s another Sunday of football and relaxing, and not leaving our bed for most of the day. Here’s what we could get up to if we feel so inspired:

  • Electronic Greetings Day. We just had an electronic greeting card day last week, so I don’t see the need to revisit this.
  • National Lemon Cream Pie Day. You know what works in place of buying or preparing an entire pie? A doughnut!
  • Customer Is Wrong Day. I was wondering what retail concept would get shoved in the middle of this shopping weekend. This works for me.
  • Small Brewery Sunday. Yep. We will be celebrating this one. I let stout day go by without celebrating so we don’t want to miss another beer party.
  • National Square Dance Day. Oh hell no.
  • Throw Out Your Leftovers Day. A day to dispose of those unwanted Thanksgiving holdouts. We don’t have any – or really any leftovers sitting around.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Now that we have skated past our goal of 2,000 celebrations with an almost certainty that we’ll hit our more ‘cute’ goal of 2,020 celebrations this year, I feel my foot should be up off the gas pedal and we should coast calmly toward the end. I’m also aware that I can accomplish a great deal over the next month or so by dedicating more time to literally anything other than these articles. Yesterday I poured myself into my work, then launched right into weekend mode. And still, we were able to hammer down another quartet of fun. Here’s what speckled our day:

Black Friday

The only way I want to celebrate this is by cranking up the Steely Dan and/or Kendrick Lamar song with this title. I don’t like shopping at the best of times. And I don’t do lineups for deals.

Jodie, of course, is a far more seasoned retail indulgence expert than I. Yesterday she fell short of heading to a mall to shop in person, but she did hit the online sales and picked up more Christmas presents. To be fair, I don’t know if she took advantage of sales or simply bought not-on-sale items because they were the ones she wanted to buy. I can’t inquire about these things, as some of them may be for me. Also, I probably don’t want to know.

There are 22 individual days throughout history that are known as Black Friday. In every case, it’s a lousy thing: On May 13, 1960 it was the day of a riot to protest the House Un-American Activities Committee. On October 14, 1881, it was a huge windstorm off the southeastern coast of Scotland that killed 189 fishermen, mostly from one small village. On June 26, 2015 it was a series of terrorist attacks in France, Kuwait, Somalia, Syria and Tunisia. On July 30, 1987, Black Friday was a tornado here in Edmonton that killed 27 people.

So Black Friday is a bad thing, except when it’s used as a shopping day after American Thanksgiving, or as the last Friday before Christmas in the UK, where it’s an excuse to party. The day after Thanksgiving has been the start of the holiday shopping season since at least 1952. That’s the first recorded use of ‘Black Friday’ to describe it, and it referred to the danger of numerous employees calling in sick the day after the holiday in order to go shopping. Around the beginning of the 80s it was known nation-wide as Black Friday, most likely because folks whose businesses would be in the red could count on that day to put some black ink in their ledger.

I, unfortunately, was no help this year. Why?

Buy Nothing Day

This is, and has been for the last 28 years since Canadian artist Ted Dave invented it, a protest against consumerism. It’s the anti-Black-Friday, and all you have to do in order to celebrate it is to not buy anything. I will not hesitate to leap at any celebration that involves not doing something – they are the easiest to tackle. See yesterday’s Turkey-Free Thanksgiving, for example.

I didn’t buy anything. I looked into some ideas, but I didn’t spend a dime. Well, I went for some beers yesterday evening, but that’s just grabbing essentials for survival, right? They shan’t be gifted to anyone, and even Jodie won’t have any, since she isn’t a fan.

But as far as gifts go, as far as sales go, I resisted. It was easy. I had beer.

Flossing Day

This one is pretty clear-cut. It’s the day after Thanksgiving, you’ve probably devoured a feast and will do so once again with leftovers. Good time to remember that you need to practice proper oral hygiene by brushing and flossing. Specifically flossing, which I think most people tend not to do until they get some sort of reminder.

So I flossed. I celebrated the fact that humankind figured out that brushing alone isn’t enough, and that someone in the last few decades invented a quality floss that’s smooth and tough and doesn’t snap apart. It was far from the high point of my day (remember, I had beer), but it was a point.

Fur-Free Friday

The above photo is apparently a bear without fur. I hope it gives you all nightmares as it did to me.

I’m going to count this one because it falls under the same heading as Buy Nothing Day: it’s a day to celebrate the fact that we did not do something, in this case, wear fur. I don’t own any fur, at least I don’t think I do. I may still have some fur coat my dad had from back in the 80s when he thought he was a Jewish gangster, I don’t know. Jodie may own some non-faux fur because she has been a fan of the stuff since back in the 80s before activists started throwing red paint at people.

But we held true to this day. It was, of course, over freezing yesterday so there was really no need to bundle up in anything, let alone fur, but hey – we stayed true to the day.

Now that we’re past 2,000 celebrations this year I don’t see us diving into quite as many, but when they present themselves as this simple – just don’t do something we wouldn’t have done anyway – I can’t not add them to the list. It was a perfect little celebration, in that it took no time or energy to do.

I am hopeful we get a few more don’t-do-this celebrations over the next month or so. As much as we are loving this project (and to be truthful, we really aren’t anymore), we have other things to focus on. But for today, here’s what’s up:

  • Small Business Saturday. I absolutely support this one, in that small businesses are suffering this year, both from Covid and from being priced out by big chains. We will support a few good ones.
  • National French Toast Day. Well damn, French toast is the best!
  • National Family Health History Day. A day to study our families’ health histories and… wow, this is considered a celebration?
  • Make Your Own Head Day. This is a day to fashion a replica of your own head out of some sort of crafting material. I find this freakish and weird, and will not likely be participating.
  • International Aura Awareness Day. I had my aura photographed once. It was in Los Angeles, if that explains anything.
  • Turkey Leftover Day. Weird that this pops up two days after Thanksgiving, but what do I know? I’m just some Canadian.
  • It’s Letter Writing Day. Not sure why there’s an ‘It’s’ in this day’s name. Kind of suspicious, really.
  • Red Planet Day. Hooray for Mars.

Friday, November 27, 2020

I trust that below the 49th parallel there are scads of folks sleeping in, waking up late and being grateful they only have to see their family through Zoom or Facetime today. Turkey sales are probably slumping this year, which doesn’t so much mean there are fields of jubilant turkeys, frolicking and celebrating that they get to live at least until Christmas. It probably only means that the Butterball corporation is going to be tossing a lot of product into the dumpster. Or the recycle bin. What do they do with unsold turkeys? Maybe that will be the basis for my next project. For now, let’s tackle all of this:

National Cake Day

To those of us who spend a chunk of our down-time on Reddit, our ‘cake day’ is the anniversary of the creation of our account. There’s no real celebration, just a little icon of a cake slice beside your comments for the duration of that day. But this is the real thing: the one day of the year meant to celebrate cake. I mean, except for those other days that specify black forest cake or bundt cake or what have you. But this is the big one.

The word ‘cake’ comes to us from the Viking word ‘kaka’, which has induced such a chuckle in my inside parts, I don’t know if I even want to do any more research after that. The Ancient Greeks had cake. So did the Romans, but they called it placenta, which makes me really want to look into the etymology of that word. But that would get me off track. We’re here to celebrate cake.

The cake vs. pie debate is one that should absolutely be brought up over Thanksgiving dinner, if only to replace politics and amateur virology as divisive issues. While I feel the winner of that particular battle royale should be obvious (pie, 100%), a great cake is a wonderful thing. It’s cake that signifies birthdays, graduations, weddings and other successes. It’s cake that Marie Antoinette said they could eat. Something may be “easy as pie”, but it can be both a “piece of cake” and if it’s good, it can even “take the cake”.

Last week Jodie whipped up a magnificent cherry cake, which I adorned with cherries because I’m a grownup and get to make fun snacks like that. What we didn’t do was save any of the cake for National Cake Day, because when a cake is made you eat it. You don’t save it. That’s how I’ve lived my life all these years and I’m not about to change now.

Forget the pumpkin pie. Let them all eat cake today.

Un-Thanksgiving Day

In 1969, a group of Native Americans occupied Alcatraz Island. This lasted from November 20 that year until June of 1971. The Civil Rights movement was making headlines as black people, LGBTQ people and women marched and protested for their rights, but these folks didn’t get quite the same lasting legacy. I’d be willing to wager that most folks I know haven’t even heard of this lengthy occupation. It was, in case you were curious, terminated with force by the US government, because why wouldn’t it be?

Every year on Thanksgiving (and as always, we’re not sure if Covid is derailing it this year), a group of indigenous Americans trek out to Alcatraz to commemorate the protest. Indigenous folks were, for the most part, slaughtered in the European takeover of America. We slaughtered our share up here too, but we weren’t quite as dedicated to that practice. Instead we found other ways of mucking up their culture and their lives, like Residential Schools.

The point is, while Thanksgiving is a great time for folks to look back and celebrate America, it also acts as a marker for the end of autonomous existence for the indigenous folks. If nothing else, this celebration is meant for us to think of them, to think of what happened to them, and to contemplate how we can do better. Jodie, whose own schooling has her addressing this notion every day she picks up a book, is handling this celebration for us.

Good Grief Day

A big ol’ happy 98th birthday to Mr. Charles M. Schultz, creator of the Peanuts comics and popularizer of the phrase ‘good grief’. Did he invent the phrase? I have no idea, nor do I have the time and energy to look it up. Let’s just say he did because who’s going to argue with a guy who has celebrated… <checks the numbers> 1,999 celebrations so far in 2020?

Schultz’s childhood puppy was not named Snoopy, but Spike. Astute Peanut-heads will note that this is also the name of Snoopy’s brother, who makes the occasional appearance. He (Charles, not his dog) was drafted to serve in WWII, and was assigned to one of those big .50 caliber machine guns. It was toward the end of the conflict, and he only had the opportunity to fire his gun once. That’s when he noticed he’d forgotten to load it. No worries, the guy he was going to shoot surrendered. Charlie made it through with zero kills.

The Peanuts strip was, for whatever reason, a big part of my childhood. I somehow inherited a big pile of books that I read and re-read a lot. It was my favourite comic until the likes of The Far Side, Bloom County and Calvin & Hobbes showed up and delivered bigger, more cerebral laughs. But I never lost my love for Charlie and his buddies, even if I wasn’t a big fan of the TV specials.

But I was happy to spend a few minutes reading some classic Peanuts yesterday, because the legacy of Mr. Schultz is something we should be celebrating forever.


What’s to say? I love American Thanksgiving. For all 14 of my Thanksgivings I’ve spent with the government, I have found a way to stream the football games at my work. For the first several years I had to track down an illegal stream, usually hosted by a weird contingent of British blokes who seem just a little miffed that they’re relegated to covering this fake “football” sport. For the last few years I’ve had DAZN, a weirdly-named fully legal service that allows me to watch the games in my browser.

I find I get at least as much work done on these Thanksgivings as I do on any other day of the year. Just how much that is, I may or may not say.

We also took some time to give thanks for the good stuff in our lives right now: our family, our dogs, our good health, and our ability to work from home during this crisis. But mostly football. Mostly I was thankful for football. I was also thankful that, with this celebration we can state with pride (and a little bit of shock) that we are at 2,000 celebrations throughout 2020. Two grand. Damn. Happy super-long weekend to everybody who gets one.

Turkey-Free Thanksgiving

The point of this is, of course, for vegetarians to make a point of not eating turkey on this traditional turkey day. Well, we did not stick to a veggie-only diet. We also did not eat turkey yesterday at all, so I’d say we absolutely celebrated the true nature of this day. Is this a loophole? Or just careful understanding of what is expected of us? Whatever – we’re past 2k now, so we’re just having fun at this point.

And what could be more fun than another day of celebrations? Here’s what’s on tap for anyone who wants to play along4:

  • National Day of Listening. This is a day to hear people’s stories. So, for a change, I’ll listen to people.
  • Black Friday. We will not be contributing to the shopping mayhem, except for online today.
  • Buy Nothing Day. Not sure how to celebrate this as well as Black Friday, but if anyone can figure it out, we can.
  • Flossing Day. I guess this is the one day of the year when we are all supposed to floss.
  • Maize Day. Will we eat corn today? Tune in for the exciting answer to this question.
  • National Craft Jerky Day. We have some craft jerky on its way to us, but I doubt it will arrive today. But we won’t forget this one.
  • You’re Welcome Day. The day after Thanksgiving. Ha. Get it?
  • National Bavarian Cream Pie Day. Not so easy to track down, especially when you don’t leave the house. We’ll probably skip this one.
  • Dine Over Your Kitchen Sink Day. I guess some people actually do this?
  • Fur-Free Friday. We will not wear fur. I’m not likely to leave the house, nor do I own any fur products, so this is an easy one.
  • National Electric Guitar Day. I promise to enjoy this one a lot more than National Kazoo Day or National Bagpipes Day.
  • Pie In The Face Day. We already had a pie fight earlier this year. Should we have another one?
  • Turtle Adoption Day. Looks like our dogs are getting a new sibling.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

For my American friends, yesterday was the final weekday before a glorious four-day weekend. The folks who invented Thanksgiving definitely know how to do it right. For us in Alberta, yesterday was a time to soak in the new emergency measures being put into place, and hopefully for our fellow citizens to avoid gathering in large crowds as one would for an American Thanksgiving celebration. For me it was a day to test my new snowblower, and to once again tackle the chore of chipping away at our celebration roster. We are nine away from our goal going into the day. Here’s what we conquered:

National Jukebox Day

Back in the day, people marvelled at coin-operated player pianos. They thought this was the pinnacle of music technology: drop a coin in the slot, and the piano will play whatever scroll has been mounted into its innards. How cool! Then in 1890 a guy named Louis Glass teamed up with William S. Arnold to create the first coin-operated phonograph, complete with four “listening tubes”. By 1918 we had a device that could choose between multiple records, not just whichever one was plopped onto the device.

For the name of the device you’d have to look into the fascinating linguistic history of Gullah, a creole language spoken in the southern US by descendants of folks who were forcibly relocated from their African homes a few generations earlier. The word ‘juke’ referred to disorderly, rowdy and wicked behavior, and a juke joint was where that sort of behavior went down: nightclubs with crazy, soul-stirring music. In 1940 the term jukebox came to be attached to the multi-record machine.

Growing up, I always dreamed of having a jukebox. My parents’ best friends had one in their basement and when we’d go over there I’d retreat to that room to listen to Hall & Oates and Foreigner, and play pinball or video games. It was a glorious time. I was, however, somewhat disappointed to learn that my pounding on the glass failed to make the records start playing. I was no Fonzie.

But now I own my own jukebox, which is just a pretty iPod speaker. In fact, the interface is meant to connect with an old iPod, the ones with the outdated, wide plugs. But it also has an aux-in input, so I can still use it with my phone. I own wireless Bluetooth speakers now, so this doesn’t get much use. But yesterday I used the jukebox to crank up Bill Haley’s cover of “Rock Around The Clock” because it seemed the most appropriate song for this celebration. It rocked.

What Do You Love About America Day

The only source I found for this one – and I looked diligently for one entire click of my mouse – is this one. It’s a 2006 blog entry that (a) claims this was invented by “ecard people”, and (b) features an inset photo of a carton of what looks to be organic Christmas milk. The author states she loves the variety in America, and also is looking forward to the upcoming Brigham Young / Utah football game. If BYU doesn’t win by at least ten points, she loses a bet. It’s 14 years later and I can report that BYU did win, but only by two points. So for not covering the spread, BYU may have ruined this particular author’s love of America, I don’t know. There is no follow-up.

I’m going to quickly fly through what I love about America:

  • America the nation just went through four years of being governed by a con-man/man-baby and voted his administration a dismal failure. I love that.
  • I have American familial roots and a deep love for the country’s potential, if not always its execution.
  • As I mentioned yesterday, the band America is terrific. “Ventura Highway” and “Sister Golden Hair” are classics, as are “Tin Man” and even “A Horse With No Name”, despite its dumb-ass lyrics.
  • America Ferrera, the star of NBC’s Superstore, is a tremendously hilarious comedic actor, perfect as the star of that show. I’m a big fan.
  • “America” by Simon & Garfunkel is one of the few songs that can give me physical chills and discernible goosebumps whenever I hear it.
  • America, as in the North kind, is a delightful continent to live on. I wish it wasn’t so damn cold though.
  • “America” by Simon & Garfunkel, as covered by Yes early in their career, is not chill-inducing, but a tremendous feat of prog-rock mastery, and well worth the investment of time.
  • America (back to the country again) closes up shop for Thanksgiving and gives us three football games, two of which I have found a way to watch at work every year for the last 14 years. Today will be no exception. Well, except they bumped the evening game to Sunday so there are only two.

Thanks, America. All of you Americas.

National Blasé Day

One day I’m going to send a greeting card out to Pennsylvania couple Thomas and Ruth Roy and thank them for making parts of this project particularly weird and/or memorable. This one I’ll classify as weird, but by its very nature it will not be memorable. This is just like it sounds: a day to feel blasé and meh about everything in our lives. I did not work with furor or passion. I shoveled the snow and felt no excitement. I even phoned in my efforts with today’s article. What can I say? I’m feeling blasé.

The expression ‘meh’ could be of Yiddish origin, but no one has traced it back to a specific source. It’s the sound of shrugging shoulders, of wilting indifference. The Simpsons may have popularized it, and led to its inclusion in the Oxford English Dictionary, but ‘meh’ has been around as an identifiable expression of disinterest for as long as humans have been communicating their disinterest.

Yesterday was a perfect fit for Blasé Day. Nothing really sparked my interest, from sun-up to sun-down and beyond. And I kept it that way on purpose. In a relatively dull day-to-day life, coordinating the blasé is second-nature. It makes me think maybe my life should be more interesting and dynamic, and that I should look into why my life is as dull as it is. But that’s a task for another day. For now, we remain steadfastly blasé and proud of it.

Shopping Reminder Day

We are one month away from Christmas, which means only a paycheque or two left to order gifts online, since there is no chance I’ll be visiting a local mall next month. I’ll be honest – I can’t stand Christmas shopping. I don’t need any stuff, and I don’t like the obligation to buy a bunch of stuff for others. For a birthday? Sure. But because our capitalist overlords say this is something we all must buy into in December? I’m not interested.

But I do it. Admittedly, Jodie does the heavy lifting for the rest of the family, primarily for the reasons I outlined in my last paragraph. But I do love shopping for Jodie… in theory. Every so often we enter a December in relatively good financial shape, and shopping isn’t so much a burden as a fun romp through the reaches of possibility. But when the bank account is groaning at us to ease up, hunting for bargains isn’t fun.

That said, I bought into this day. I went shopping for a few ideas for Jodie’s gifts – ideas I won’t share here since she is one of my three or so devoted readers. But this is a reminder that we must do our capitalist duty and spend heaps of money in the next few weeks. Ideally folks will shop local as much as possible. Something good needs to come from this pandemic, and a surge of support for small local businesses would be a great something good.

Happy almost-holidays everyone!

Blackout Wednesday

Other names for this one: Drinksgiving, Whiskey Wednesday, and Wacky Wednesday. The concept is simple. Many people in America have a four-day weekend starting today. Yesterday saw a lot of college kids returning home for the holiday, and the night before the big family feast is the perfect night to head out and catch up with old friends and drink the night away. It’s also the perfect night to brace oneself for a long day with relatives they might wish to avoid. Though I can’t see how enduring Thanksgiving with a hangover will make it any more tolerable.

In some places, Drinksgiving is the worst drinking-and-driving night of the year – and it’s true, more drunk driving accidents happen around Thanksgiving than around Christmas down south. It’s a little scary, though tempered somewhat by the knowledge that a lot of people are staying home and skipping the big get-togethers this year. Drinksgiving may happen for the most part over Zoom calls. I hope.

Here in Canada, we don’t have a four-day weekend, and even when we do celebrate Thanksgiving we are cheated by having it land on a Monday. So getting ‘blackout’ last night would have been a silly choice. Jodie and I are both reporting to work this morning. But we did indulge in a beverage or two, because to not do so would be to shun this celebration. And now that we have blasted through five in our Wednesday, we now find ourselves only four celebrations shy of 2,000 on the year. That calls for another drink!

Today we’ll smell the tryptophan wafting across the border, and dedicate one of our monitors to tracking the football games. We’ll also have all this to choose from:

  • Thanksgiving (American). As stated above, we will be actively celebrating the football aspect of this holiday. We might also be thankful for stuff if we have time.
  • Turkey-Free Thanksgiving. We shan’t be eating turkey today, so I guess this is an easy one to cross off the list.
  • National Cake Day. We celebrated this one a bit early. Hooray for Cake! Maybe we’ll listen to some of that band’s music today too.
  • Good Grief Day. It’s Charles Schultz’s birthday. Maybe I’ll see if Jodie will hold a football while I run up and kick it.
  • Un-Thanksgiving Day. For indigenous folks who might not feel that the first Thanksgiving was particularly great for their people.
  • National Day of Mourning. Not exactly a celebration, but it counts.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Thirteen celebrations away from our (second) goal in this project – that’s how we sauntered into an overcast Tuesday. We can reach out and taste that achievement, but what does it really mean? Not a thing. This party will keep rocking until last call, and last call will sound when the bread hits the wall on New Year’s Eve. That sounds like a catchy colloquialism but as folks who have been around since the beginning will note, it is not. I remain tethered to my home-office all day every day; what else can I do to maintain my sanity but celebrate? Or is this what is eroding my sanity? I suppose if I can’t tell anymore that’s probably not a good thing. Or is it? So many questions, so few words left in this paragraph to answer them. Let’s skip to the yesterday stuff:

Celebrate Your Unique Talent Day

I’ve got to admit, this one had me a bit stumped. My beloved auntie pointed out on social media that I have a talent for writing, but I can’t make a claim to being a brilliant writer. Even if I was – which I am not – that isn’t a unique talent.

Jodie has a tremendous talent for guiding and mentoring kids, teaching them boring crap like grammar and good speling, while at the same time fostering the growth of their spirits and dreams. She’s not the only teacher in the world who can do this, but they are a rare bunch, and I’d argue that each great teacher’s approach to their greatness is unique to who they are. So yes, Jodie has a unique talent and I will absolutely celebrate that.

I have a unique talent for creating weird and immersive writing projects that occupy way too much of my time and appeal to a remarkably small and specific crowd. That’s not the worst unique talent on the planet, but it doesn’t bring in the big bucks either. Or the big rewards, in any way other than personal fulfillment. So to that end, what comes next? I ran a nearly three-year project between 2012 and 2014, and soon I’ll be wrapping up a year-long seemingly-counterintuitive celebration project.

The short answer: I’m not sure yet. It won’t be a big novel, or a plain ol’ non-fiction book. Nor will it be an endeavour that forces me to dedicate at least two hours of every single day to the task. But it will be somewhere in between, and I suspect it might have something to do with local history, one of my lesser (but still present) passions. Mostly I’m looking forward to having the time to contemplate a next project. That will be something to celebrate.

Brownielocks Day

According to the official website for this celebration – which is Comic Sans heavy, looks like it was designed to appear on a geocities page back in the late 90s, and is probably otherwise absolutely definitive – this is the day to celebrate folks with brown hair.

I don’t believe brunettes are discriminated against, or that anyone is out there proclaiming they aren’t attractive.

My wife is a brunette. She’s attractive. I don’t think she’s proud of her brown hair, because why would she be? She did nothing to achieve that hair. Actually, her hairstylist might disagree with me on that one…

In the end, there’s really not much to celebrate here, except to remind brunettes that they can have more fun than blondes, and that they even have their own special day. We’ve had a day for redheads, and while I don’t think we’ve had a blonde (or black hair) celebration, we have even had a Bald is Beautiful day. I don’t think I celebrated that one because I couldn’t talk Jodie into shaving her head. But maybe next year.

National Family Week

Canadians may be baffled by this one, but I must remind you all that it is Thanksgiving week, when most Americans are forced to put up with their families for the duration of at least a dinner, sometimes a full weekend. It’s a tough time for many. Covid will keep a lot of families from gathering, and politics will keep a lot more from having an enjoyable feast. This isn’t new.

I propose – and I have yet to be tapped to make any proclamations for how Americans behave, but it could happen – that people take advantage of this pandemic situation and avoid any and all family members they don’t want to see this year. You’ll never have an easier excuse! Just fake the sniffles! No one will want you around, except for your most wack-job Covid deniers. And chances are if you have to put up with people like that in your family gatherings you’ve already got a few good excuses brewed up to deal with them.

For us, we are celebrating family by prepping for a Christmas season that will bring ours together. In this era of lockdowns we are, of course, avoiding large gatherings. But our son and daughter (and son’s girlfriend) are all coming to stay, and on Monday night we picked up a new bed so we’ll have room for everyone. We have a colorful and interesting family, and we wish we could see… well, most of them this year. But we will make do with celebrating our more immediate family members, and sticking to pandemic protocols to have a glorious holiday.

One with no racist older relatives mucking everything up.

Peanut Butter Lovers Month

We have celebrated peanut butter at least four or five times this year. I’ve looked into the history of peanut butter, paired it with jelly, downed more than my share of Reese cups (actually no, I think my share should include several more this year), and constantly praised the life-giving properties of everyone’s favourite spread.

So once more, just for fun, here we go. I have been enjoying PB&J as my standard go-to effort-free lunch for a large part of this year. I have proven myself to be a profound lover of creamy, peanuty goodness. And that hasn’t changed. I even crammed some into a toy for Liberty to feast upon for a while yesterday, because that’s the kind of party that happens around here on a regular basis.

The fun never stops. And peanut butter absolutely rocks.

And our countdown to 2,000 reaches 9 going into today. How many of the items below will we cross off our list?:

  • Tie One On Day. Unfortunately this is not a day to go out and get drunk. We’re supposed to bake something, then “tie one” ribbon “on” to those baked goods and deliver them to someone.
  • National Jukebox Day. I (sort of) own one of these!
  • National Parfait Day. I guess it’s up to us if we want a healthy yogurt and fresh fruit parfait, or a Peanut Buster Parfait today.
  • National Blasé Day. Meh.
  • Shopping Reminder Day. If you don’t have a Christmas shopping list made up yet, this is the day to do it.
  • Blackout Wednesday. This one actually is about getting drunk. Neat.
  • What Do You Love About America Day. I’m going to start by saying their single “Ventura Highway” contains some of the greatest acoustic guitar work of its time.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Seventeen. We are seventeen celebrations away from our goal of 2,000. Even if we got cute and said we’d do 2,020 this year, we’d only need another 37 before the end of the year. Our original goal was 1,000 but I knew we could top it. Now I’m half-tempted to hit those last 37 and shut ‘er down. But this was to be a year-long ordeal, and backing out at this point would go against my obsessive nature. Besides, some of our indulgences were repeats and very vague approximations of a celebration; I want to make sure we hit 2,020 legit, indisputable promotions of revelry. To that end, we roll on:

National Espresso Day

The hope for this one was that Jodie would talk her assistant principal into brewing her an Americano to enjoy during her day at school yesterday. In fact, she arrived at work to discover that 10 of her fellow teachers were in isolation, meaning she had to literally race between three different classrooms to teach three groups of students at once. There wasn’t much time for distraction. So we’ll just acknowledge that we celebrated this last Saturday with our lattes, but neglected to snap a photo.

The first time I ordered an espresso I was 18 years old and trying to sound all fancy and European. I didn’t expect to receive a tiny little shot glass of powerful-tasting coffee. I was confused. Do I sip it? Let it cool down then shoot it? Do I lick salt off my hand first, like with tequila? Or do I substitute non-dairy creamer?

We can thank a man named Angelo Moriondo for developing the first steam-driven machine to cram hot water through coffee back in 1884. That was the start of the espresso phenomenon, and it’s probably why so many coffee beverages have an Italian sounding name (including ‘espresso’). My aged palette has now learned to love a great espresso, though I still feel silly holding one of those little cups.

But I do appreciate the effects. Espresso has saved me from dozing off in many a meeting over the years. Very worthy of celebrating that.


One of the more fun aspects of this weird year of celebratory indulgence has been learning the back-story to holidays that I’d had no idea existed. Most of them are vague, many are profit-driven, and some are just folks who felt we needed to pay attention to something. But every so often you get a really goofy one with a good backstory.

Woolfenoot was created by a 7-year-old kid in New Zealand. He wrote a story about it, and decided the 23rd of November should be the commemoration of the Great Wolf’s Death, and that dogs and dog lovers everywhere should be treated extra-special on this day. His father supported his kid’s story and put it out into the world of social media, where apparently it gained enough traction to show up on my radar, a half-world away. It also led to a children’s book being published. A book which donates a percentage of its proceeds to animal charities because this is apparently a top-quality dad at work here.

If you’d like to support the cause, please follow the link.

The tradition here is to give a gift to a dog lover, or to a dog. I have already done my once-per-week outing, and Jodie will get inundated with gifts at the mandatory time next month, as will the other dog-lovers I know. But the dogs can get bonus treats – making animals happy is the true Woolfenoot spirit.

This was a tiny blip in this year, but one of the most satisfying and smile-inducing blips. Happy Woolfenoot to all.

Fibonacci Day

For those of you who may have slept through the two Tom Hanks long-hair art-adventure movies a few years back, the Fibonacci sequence is a sequence of numbers in which the next number is the sum of the previous two. The first in the sequence are 0, 1, 1, 2, 3. Someone felt that 11-23 would thusly be the correct day to celebrate Fibonacci and his sequence. But why does it even need celebrating?

Something tells me if I’d asked that question about every one of these celebrations I’d still be hoping to hit my initial goal of 1,000 celebrations this year.

This sequence of numbers actually pops up in a lot of weird places. It shows up in the golden ratio, that mystical mathematic that calculates beauty and perfection in our minds. It can be applied to music. It shows up in the inside of a pineapple, or in the arrangement of leaves on a stem. It shows up in honeybee reproduction. It’s everywhere. I recommend viewing this TED talk about the topic, which is how we celebrated the day yesterday. Well, it’s how I celebrated the day. Jodie was busy running around and plugging gaps in her school’s staffing yesterday. Besides, she already exudes the golden ratio of perfect beauty anyway, so why should she have to celebrate?

Math is not our favourite topic, but sometimes it can be inarguably neato. This is one of those times.

National Cashew Day

We all know that cashews are the prized nut in any mixed nut variety. The cruel and selfish pluck them all first, leaving the rest of us with grizzled pecans and flavourless filberts. The savvy among us will simply buy the Costco thing of cashews, because who needs any other nut? I’ll proudly proclaim myself a fan of almonds, pistachios and even peanuts, but if there are cashews to be had, all other nuts can step aside.

And what else can the cashew do for us? In Cambodia they use the bark of the cashew tree to build boats. The cashew apple – the fruit from the tree – is actually edible and, by some accounts, delicious. More importantly, it can be used to create feni, a double-distilled liquor brewed from cashew apples, with an impressive 40% alcohol content punch. The oil from cashews is used in folk medicine. Cashew shells have been used to create lubricants, paint, and even weaponry. You can also use the oil to create a resin for carbon composite products if you’re so inclined.

We are not. We simply ate cashews and celebrated their spot at the top of the nut hierarchy. They were great.

Today we find ourselves only 13 celebrations from our goal – or 33, depending on which goal we’re talking about. Here’s what we have to choose from:

  • National Sardines Day. I think we’ll pass on this one.
  • Celebrate Your Unique Talent Day. I’m starting to reach the conclusion that celebrating *is* my unique talent.
  • Brownielocks Day. This is just a silly way of saying we’re celebrating brunettes, apparently.
  • D.B. Cooper Day. One of the greatest mysteries of modern times celebrates its anniversary today.
  • National Use Even If The Seal Is Broken Day. I don’t know if our sense of adventure runs quite this hot, but we’ll see.

Monday, November 23, 2020

We found ourselves with a short list of celebrations yesterday, which suited our short attention span for celebrations perfectly. I did commit to doing a count of how far we’ve come since January 1, and I’m proud (and a little weirded out) to say that we have achieved 1,983 celebrations so far this year. In a year when most folks are bemoaning the cruel pathway of fate, when a virus, racial violence and ugly politics have conspired to create an ugly stew of widespread disgruntlement, we have found a way to pack that many celebrations into our days. And are we happy and giddy as a result? Well, kind of. We’re still here, and we’re still plowing away. And while most of our yesterday was spent in the warm glow of watching football, we still managed to catch up on these:

National Peanut Butter Fudge Day

This one rolled in a few days late, but honestly we’d expected we’d end up skipping it entirely. We aren’t fudge-makers, and our team baker was hesitant to create something like this without a proper candy thermometer. Alas, this project would have sunk into the depths of futility months ago were it not for her resolve. Every project like this – and I don’t think there has ever been another project like this, but still – needs a solid team, and we couldn’t have done it without her. Thanks, Mom.

She also insisted the fudge was profoundly mediocre, and would have been much better with some crunchy peanuts to break up the texture a bit. Being a passionate fan of creamy fudge with no crunchy interruptions, I disagreed. This stuff is perfect.

There is no history here; we have rocked fudge celebrations going back to the days when I’d bring leftovers into the office because no one feared a deadly virus in the air. Unfortunately for my coworkers, the leftover peanut butter fudge will stay right here in my grasp. These are the sacrifices we must make.

Start Your Own Country Day

When glancing at our limited options for celebrating today, I did not suspect this would be one of the oldest celebrations in which we will have indulged in 2020. Start Your Own Country Day was concocted at the 1939 World’s Fair, and was meant to encourage folks to declare whatever land as their own. I don’t know if that particular pavilion envisioned a world wherein everyone would be their own autonomous nation – a ridiculous and preposterous concept – or if they were simply looking for someone to get it right.

Starting your own country is not easy. First you need land. Simply claiming your home is your land, and that you are seceding from whichever country you’re a part of now, that won’t work. Canada isn’t about to relinquish mineral rights, air rights, and the general ownership of this slab of earth underneath me. But if you can overcome this tricky step, you’re on your way to having your own country. The next step is to develop a government. I don’t know what that means beyond saying, “I am president!” and maybe making up your own stationary, but it’s necessary. You need a permanent population. Our country’s population would be five, because our dogs would be recognized as equal citizens. Lastly you need a means for interacting with other nation-states. We have phones. We have email. That’s easy.

Some folks have actually done this. I wrote about one man’s mission in my last project, an ocean-locked former floating naval base he called Sealand. It’s a bizarre and fascinating story, and it ultimately teaches us that the effort required to start your own country is probably not worth the end result.

That said, I hereby declare this land beneath my feet to be the independent republic of Rufustan, named for Rufus, our first (and still our smelliest) bulldog. All those who visit will have the option to declare themselves citizens. We use no currency, our flag is a photo of Rufus, and our government is a monarchy, with King and Queen ruling equally. Our royal subjects – our dogs – handle our international relations. They do this primarily by barking at anyone who walks by our border. It’s a happy land, and we encourage folks to come and check it out. Once the pandemic is over; for now our borders remain closed. As they should be.

National Sleep Comfort Month

November is the month for us to reflect on our sleeping habits, and if there is something we can do to refine them, to create a more comfy and effective sleeping situation. We have one change we could implement: the removal of dogs from our bed. This would likely improve our lives in multiple ways, but it will never happen. It would likely break Rosa’s heart to not be able to sleep between us, and we’re just not about doing that.

But we have contributed significantly to our sleep comfort in recent weeks. Most significantly we upgraded from a queen to a king-size mattress. When three companion dogs are part of the situation the significance of this cannot be stated enough. We now have – on most nights – enough room to stretch and contort ourselves however we need to in order to achieve an ideal level of comfort.

Next we invested in new bedding (of course) and blankets. Jodie found some $30 duvets online that fit our bed perfectly, and she bought three of them. We have two on the bed at the moment, along with various other blankets that provide a warmth so intense, I find myself waking up in a sweat every night that I don’t kick the majority of them off my body. I’m not complaining though – this has clearly only increased our comfort. And it has somehow ensured that my dreams every night are more vivid and intense, which provides a modicum of entertainment while I sleep. It’s a small contribution, but it’s great.

Along with our new pillows, we have achieved the optimum level of sleep comfort. And we’ll give full credit to the importance of National Sleep Comfort Month in our lives, even if we just learned about it today, after we’d made all those improvements. I’m sure it was sitting in our subconscious this entire time, guiding us toward nocturnal bliss. Thanks, celebrations.

National Pumpkin Pie Day

Folks, I present to you the pumpkin pie doughnut. This was sitting on display at Destination Doughnuts, calling out to us as the perfect way of celebrating this classic Thanksgiving pie. We had dined on sweet potato pie at the beginning of the month, which tasted exactly like pumpkin pie but better. We weren’t craving an actual pumpkin pie even a little, but this was the ideal solution.

And it was fantastic, filled with pumpkin magnificence. And when it was done, there were no leftovers. There was no getting weary of the flavour. We could simply move on to our peanut butter fudge for our next dessert. Life is good. Doughnuts are life.

Today as we slide into another week, poised to celebrate like insane humans (as usual), we glance at our menu. Could November really be almost over already? We hope so. We only have to do 17 more celebrations to hit our target. Will we do more? Maybe. Here’s today’s stuff:

  • National Cashew Day. The pinnacle of all nut-related days this year. We will be dining on cashews.
  • National Eat A Cranberry Day. We… we don’t have any cranberries lying around. Maybe that will change in the next few hours, who knows?
  • National Espresso Day. Damn, I wish we had one of these machines in our house. Jodie might have to tackle this one.
  • Doctor Who Day. I won’t pretend to be a fan of the show, though I’m amazed at its longevity.
  • Fibonacci Day. A day to get all up in numbers. That’s fun.
  • Wolfenoot. It’s a dog thing. I’ll explain in tomorrow’s article.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Yesterday unearthed in me a downturn in my outlook on humanity. It happens from time to time and often flitters by, but I still must acknowledge it. Maybe this occurred because I went out into the world for the first time in seven days, but more likely it was brewing before that. This year has been the strangest spiral into hermit-dom I could have imagined. The pandemic forced me to spend most of my days indoors, and then listening to people on social media has increased my desire to follow the isolation rules. People who can’t even follow arrows in a supermarket think they have cornered the market on scientific comprehension. It’s a weird world. Fortunately, we have plenty of distractions:

National Red Mittens Day

For more than a decade, our nation’s founder – better known now as a country-wide retail outlet we simply call “The Bay” – has been promoting this day to raise money for our national athletes. We hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and in hopes that we could put together a decent performance (which we absolutely did), the Hudson’s Bay Company came up with this promotional idea. Sell the mittens, give the proceeds to our athletes, win some medals.

We bought a couple pairs back when this was a thing, because when a fad has some altruistic motivation behind it, we’re more likely to jump on board. I suppose the real way to celebrate this would have been to buy more mittens, but we simply don’t need them. We have mittens. And I never wear the damn things; I’ll wear gloves to shovel the walks and otherwise I stay inside.

But we believe in the cause. The Olympics, assuming everything goes to plan and nothing gets pushed further back, will be a back-to-back affair next year. We’ll get the Summer Games in August and the Winter Games the following February – the first time they have been that close together since they were split to alternating two-year schedules in the early 90s. And as much as national pride grinds our gears for the most part, we love the games. They’re fun to watch, and they’re a time when the headlines are swallowed up by pole vaulting and snowboard cross instead of politics and economics.

Go Canada. We’ll be wearing our mittens.

World Television Day

I know for a fact that we have celebrated television a few times this year. I also know that I have taken time to celebrate it literally every day. Even if it’s only to watch a half-hour sitcom or a pre-recorded, skip-the-commercials football game, we tend to watch some sort of television every day.

This celebration is one of those United Nations observances, where we are supposed to reflect upon the greater impact of the technology on the world as a whole. So it’s not simply an entry to ramble on about The Mandalorian and how brilliant it is that TV now provides us with blockbuster-level production values to go along with its Platinum Age story-telling abilities. We should look at what TV has done everywhere.

There are not a lot of folks in developing nations debating the merits and failings of the eighth season of Game of Thrones. But there are a lot of folks in those countries who have TV in their homes, and who use that as their source of news and information. America just suffered through an election cycle where social media misinformation was a key tool to manipulate the masses. To counter that, we had comments sections, better news sources, and friends and family who could try to reach out to those who have wandered down the false-info path and try to drag them back. TV viewers in developing nations do not have those benefits. They absorb what they see, and must make sense of it themselves.

This is the danger of TV in the modern age. It is a device that can influence and manipulate millions, and a nefarious regime can do wonders to tilt it in their favour. That said, I’m not here to speak ill of television. We have a long intertwined history, and while it may not be the healthiest influence in a struggling nation, it is a trusted member of the family here. We celebrated the glory of TV yesterday by watching some. And it was grand.

False Confession Day

I eat ice cream for breakfast twice every week. At a party in high school I vomited eggnog into a potted plant and abruptly left the house without telling anyone. In the last federal election I spoiled my ballot by drawing a Metallica logo in each circle. I’ve never actually seen Citizen Kane, and have based all of my opinions on the film on that episode of The Simpsons where Mr. Burns is looking for his childhood bear.

I believe that waterskiing was invented by communists to undermine our way of life. I talk a big game about loving music, but for me it doesn’t get any better than the extended 12” remix of “Axel F”. When receiving acupuncture, I pass gas as often as possible, just so the person poking me with needles thinks it’s my blood-stank seeping out. I believe (and plan to prove) that if you were to pluck a pigeon completely of its feathers, it would be hilarious to draw nipples on them and release them back into the wild.

I once had sex inside of a hollowed-out arcade game in an alley. I think it was a Mappy, but it might have been a Joust. I am deeply afraid of marching bands. I think The Love Boat is the greatest television show in history. If I spill some food on the floor, I won’t pick it up and eat it, but I will yell at it for a good five minutes. All of my underwear is made from the fur of animals I’ve run over and then salvaged.

This was fun. It’s a shame this day only comes once a year.

Alascattalo Day

I’m only including this one because of its brazen non-celebratory nature, which I find refreshing. A writer from Anchorage, Alaska named Steven C. Levi created this creature back in the early 90s, plucked from a weird corner of his imagination that felt that the Alaskan wilderness required a half moose / half walrus beast injected into its mythology. Obviously this one doesn’t exist, nor does anyone even pretend it might be real. It’s a gag, and Anchorage residents are in on it.

There is a parade held every year. Is it happening in 2020? There’s no way of knowing. One of the most important facets of the Alascattalo Day parade is that it is not to be promoted in any way, and residents are specifically discouraged from attending. As such, people show up in disguises ranging from Groucho Marx glasses to full-on costumes. The parade route runs for one block in an alley behind a comedy club.

This is such an anti-celebration I just want to reach out and hug it. If we were afforded an unlimited budget for this project (and if Covid had never happened) we would absolutely be in Alaska to celebrate this one. They give out a prize for the smallest and ugliest float every year.

This is everything I want in a celebration right now. After about 2,000 celebrations this year, I’ve finally found one that fits my groove perfectly.

World Hello Day

Is this merely a stupid day in which we’re supposed to reflect upon the nature of ‘hello’ and how it fits in with society? No, that’s just my jaded, over-celebrated cynicism talking. The motivation behind this one is weirdly sweet.

Say hello to ten people.

That’s it. That’s the celebration. After the war between Egypt and Israel in 1973, people around the world have been using this day to push pleasant greetings to others in an effort to foster peace. 31 Nobel Peace Prize winners have endorsed this day. In fact, a weird number of celebrated humans have submitted letters to lend their support.

Jacques Cousteau wrote a World Hello Day letter in 1993. Ravi Shankar’s letter is undated, but he also believes in a ‘hello’ to foster peace. Brian Wilson, writing on official Beach Boys stationary (this was back in 1981 before Mike Love’s insipid coup), supports this day. Former presidents Carter, Ford, Reagan, Clinton, and… well, Barbara Bush have also written letters. Looking for cooler people to be on board? How about Desmond Tutu? Elie Wiesel? Linus Pauling?

Gene Roddenberry, whose official letterhead was so cool I had to use it as the photo for this celebration, supports this day. Whoopi Goldberg signed on in 1992. Lawrence Welk wrote a longer letter, even using a fancy cursive typewriter in 1981. The Dalai Lama is on board. Stevie Wonder’s lawyer even vouched for Stevie’s support in 1987.

So we did our part. Between the people at the doughnut place, the grocery store and the A&W where we dined yesterday, we said hello to at least 10 people. It’s a small word and a small gesture, but it’s nice to think of how important that tiny effort is to encourage peace and togetherness.

National Gingerbread Cookie Day

Okay, technically these are ginger snaps, but they are pretty similar in flavour, and close enough to count. Besides, they contain the delightful secret ingredient of cannabis, so they made the evening truly an event of celebration. Thumbs-up for this one.

Like we have for the previous ten Sundays, we shall be spending this one mostly horizontal, fixated on football and on resetting our insides for another long week. Here’s what’s up:

  • National Cranberry Relish Day. Once we might have had the gumption to create this. Not so much at this point.
  • Go For A Ride Day. Our original plans for the day involved going to our nearby indoor amusement park for some rides. Thanks, virus.
  • Start Your Own Country Day. Sounds like a lot of paperwork, but it’s tempting.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

One of the high points of the week was watching a clearly inebriated and/or mentally ill man enter our neighbourhood, only to pause and marvel at my neighbour’s giant inflatable yard display for about 45 minutes, all while talking to himself and ignoring any passing pedestrians. One of the low points occurred shortly thereafter, when four police trucks showed up to haul the man away, which included a couple of the officers walking up and down our street with machine guns at the ready. That was unnecessary and a sincere bummer. This has nothing to do with our celebrations, but it’s been guiding my mood lately so there it is. Here’s what we got up to yesterday:

National Absurdity Day

And what, might I ask, is more absurd than the fact that we have been celebrating constantly and reporting on said celebrations for 325 consecutive days? Is it any more absurd that we plan to continue doing this for the next 41? We are now less than six weeks from the end of this project, and the only real absurdity is that it even exists to begin with.

But how do we translate that realization into a celebration? Do we even want to? Is there not enough absurdity in our world already? For example:

  • In the midst of a pandemic, our government advised people should be working from home whenever possible. Meanwhile, my employer (the same government) is trying to get all of its staff back in the office. Why? No reason, just absurdity.
  • People are legitimately complaining that the fact they have to wear masks while they shop for Twinkies and arugula is a violation of their freedoms. People who were alive during apartheid and watched footage of a man being choked out by police earlier this year truly believe this. Absurdity.
  • The presidential race in America has presently nearly 6 million votes separating the winner from the loser, and the loser still claims he won. That people are still following this guy is pure absurdity.
  • Next year we are looking at getting new Star Wars and Star Trek series to match the ones that are ongoing. This is absurdly wonderful.
  • My dogs. My dogs are constant examples of absurdity.

There is absurdity everywhere, and much of it is clogging the headlines and dragging our society through one hell of a mess. I’d welcome some banality for a change, honestly. When is National Banality Day?


Name Your PC Day

This is easy to do, folks. In Windows 10, simply go to your Settings, click on ‘System’, then find ‘About’ down the left-hand side. From there you can rename your PC to anything you want, which is great for identifying it on your network. I am also aware that I may periodically connect to my PC with my Bluetooth headphones, so I went with something I’d hear whenever they linked together. “I-C-U-R-A-0” (the last one is a zero, not an ‘O’) when spoken out loud is a bit of an insult, but it sounds funny in the Bose lady’s voice.

That’s all. There is nothing deeper to this day, no great origin story. I would also advise any and all of you to rename your wifi network with something clever, because that would be seen by folks who live near you, and you can really mess with them.

Globally Organized Hug A Runner Day

Organized by a group called Run The Edge – really a company dispensing running advice – this is a good excuse to create a fundraising run for charity. And this has been done from their website in the past, raising money for deaf children, for folks without shoes, and other assorted charities. I don’t know if anyone is organizing a big running event this year for brutally obvious reasons, but I do appreciate the commitment to doing good in the world.

Naturally, neither Jodie nor myself are runners. We would have to be motivated by genuine danger in order to justify running, and even then we might just turn around and deal with the danger. Not because we’re badass, but because we really hate running. So why on earth is this day showing up in our roster of celebrations for November 20? Why didn’t we just skip it?

Liberty. Not the notion of freedom or the statue in New York Harbor, but our #3 canine research assistant, the golden retriever who joined our celebrate-a-thon earlier this year. The girl loves to run. And given that she can’t run along beside us she instead saves her energy for the end of our walks when I let go of her leash and allow her to gallop wildly into our backyard. She’ll run like a crazed fiend around that yard, in particular when doing so includes the opportunity for her to frolic in the deep snow.

She is our runner. And we hugged her. Not the purpose of the day as it was originally intended, but it follows the spirit of the day. Oh, and if you’re wondering about the celebration’s odd name, it’s an acronym. GO HARD. That’s a term used both in the running world and on porn sets everywhere. Neat.

Beautiful Day

With no specific origin, this is simply the next “appreciate the beauty in the world” celebration in a lengthy succession of similar festivities throughout 2020. I’m going to revert back to the bullet-point format for this one, as I glance around my immediate surroundings and report on the beauty:

  • My dogs, of course. My wife isn’t here at the moment, but my dogs are, and they are plenty beautiful.
  • The snow outside. Winter hasn’t yet been overtaken by dirt and grime, so it still looks pretty pristine out there, especially with a blue sky to break up the monotony of grey.
  • My daughter’s baby picture, which you can see above. She was a gorgeous kid. And since our dogs tried to use that little flower picture frame as a chew toy a few weeks ago, I am now keeping a closer eye on it every day.
  • The art on my office walls. We’ve got a great impressionist skyline above my computer, a beautifully cross-stitched Chrysler Building to my right, made by our project’s official craftsperson (hi, Mom!), and paintings depicting our two bulldogs as Tupac and Biggie, courtesy of our daughter.
  • My ratty Bose headphones. They are charging beside me, and while I need to swap out the foam pads for new ones (which have been purchased, we just lost the little plastic tool that came with it), the sound that comes through them is still phenomenally beautiful.
  • It’s the weekend. That in itself is beautiful.

There is no shortage of beauty, and a focus on it every so often may appear repetitive (and this year it certainly is, with us acknowledging all of these similarly-themed days), but it’s good for the soul.

Geography Awareness Week

What? Geography? Where’s the fun in that?

I went to and did a few quizzes. Why? So I could test my awareness, of course. First off, I named all 13 Canadian provinces and territories accurately. I figured that if I failed that one, I should probably just give up. How about naming all 50 US states? Well, I messed up on identifying six of them. Those southern states and New England states get a bit confusing when you haven’t spent any time in either location.

Moving on to state capitals. I knew I’d bungle this one quite badly. This quiz gives you a four-choice multiple choice for each state. But they aren’t as difficult as I’d expected. The first question is pictured above. Had they included four places that were actually in Tennessee it might have been a bit of a challenge. For Florida, for example, was anyone going to guess Honolulu? I got five wrong. I should have gotten many more wrong.

Lastly, just to make things nice and difficult, I played the world nation identification game. It was only 25 questions, but all countries were in play. I felt particularly smart when I correctly identified Lesotho for question #1. Then it all fell apart when I had no idea where Sudan is located. I wound up finding 17 of the 25 countries. Not bad. It made me more aware of geography and now I’ve found a new place to perfect my knowledge of where the hell places are on the planet. I’d say that’s a victorious celebration.

Today we hope to acquire a snowblower, which should lead to less griping about the weather over the next 41 days. Maybe. I make no promises. Here’s our celebrations for the day:

  • National Gingerbread Cookie Day. We have ginger cookies and they are packed with a delightful secret ingredient!
  • National Stuffing Day. Do we make Stove-top tonight? Probably not.
  • National Red Mitten Day. There is a charitable component to this as well, but we could just wear our red mittens.
  • World Television Day. A day to appreciate my third parent, the one who taught me so much about the world.
  • International Survivors of Suicide Day. How dark do we want to get with this one? We could get pretty damn dark.
  • Alascattalo Day. A day for… something. It’s Alaskan and some sort of fictional creature.
  • False Confession Day. Ah, a day to lie. I like those.
  • World Hello Day. Anyong.
  • Pumpkin Pie Day: I doubt we’ll eat one of these – shouldn’t this be a Thanksgiving Day celebration?