Tuesday, November 3, 2020

The high point of the weekend was not donning a horse-head (through which I couldn’t see a thing) and handing out candy to children. No, the high point was unquestionably Zero-Task Day, in which we did essentially nothing but enjoy our time for a few hours on Sunday. I feel the lesson that is hammering on our skulls this year is that laboured projects crammed with mandatory tasks over an extended period of time may not be in my future. Had this one propelled my writing into distant vibrations of unexplored depths of prose, I may count it among my proudest accomplishments. Instead, it will likely be filed under ‘weird shit I did once’. And here is the shit I did yesterday:

Fill Our Staplers Day

Twice every year, conveniently on the Monday after a daylight savings time shift, we are instructed by the calendar to refill our staplers. I suppose this is to avoid the agony of going to punch a staple into a stack of paper and coming up dry. This is a fairly mild agony as far as agonies go though. I’m not sure why it merits two checks per year, where checking smoke detectors to make sure you don’t burn alive only gets one.

But we are not masters of the calendar; we are but subservient minions to its wicked bidding. And yesterday it bid us (bade us?) to refill our staplers. Jodie did so at work; I don’t actually use a stapler with my work-from-home situation, so there was nothing to fill. Sadly, I didn’t get to enjoy all the fun associated with the replenishment of office supplies.

Maybe next spring.

Practice Being Psychic Day

I could find only one source for this day, and that source specified that they couldn’t find a source for the day, but apparently it exists. Talk about powering down to the raw truth on the history of a celebration.

But this celebration doesn’t take any preparation, nor does it contain much in the way of substance to it. We all practice our psychic abilities here and there, whether it’s when we place a bet on a sports team we’re pretty sure will win, or when we close our eyes and fly through a stop sign because hey, what are the odds? It’s a pretty quiet street. We all do that sometimes, right?

So I tossed a few predictions out there. I predicted that Tampa Bay would beat the New York Giants last night because I wanted an easy positive result. I predicted that I’d install my new window blinds without once swearing at them, and that one actually materialized. Then I threw in a prediction for today’s presidential election, but I’ll hold back on revealing what I predicted. I think we’re all clinging to our superstitions and talismans (talismen?) today.

Go out and vote, if you can. And do it intelligently. Please.

Broadcast Traffic Professionals Day

For those of us who listen to satellite radio, podcasts or streaming music playlists in the car, we never hear the glorious traffic reporter giving updates. This doesn’t matter much to Jodie, as she takes the same route to and from work no matter what, and it matters even less to me, given that I never run into traffic between my bedroom and my office, which is located directly upstairs.

But the world of traffic reporting is not what it used to be. When we were growing up there might have been a helicopter or two for some of the larger broadcasts, but generally radio stations relied on phoned-in tips to give us a heads-up. About 20 years ago our city installed a few stationary cameras on busy routes so that we could see what the roads looked like, but now things are crazy advanced. Google Traffic (and other similar services) use the GPS info on our phones to detect jammed-up traffic. There are crowd-sourced apps that can provide updated info as well.

But let’s not forget those brave pioneers who took to the skies all around the world, advising us which routes to avoid, and where the worst accidents were at. Most importantly, let’s remember Jane Dornacker. Jane toured with The Tubes as a backup singer and dancer for a couple years, and had a brief acting career, including a role in The Right Stuff. She moved to New York and became a stand-up comedian and a traffic reporter. Her helicopter crashed in 1985, but she survived. Then another helicopter she was in crashed in 1986. She didn’t make it out of the Hudson River alive that time. She perished, just so local New Yorkers could be aware that the FDR was running a little slowly that day.

So send out some love to your local traffic reporter if you’d like. Or, if like us you don’t actually listen to any… report on your own traffic situation. For example, the road outside my house is clear and devoid of moving vehicles at the moment, so if you happen to be driving by on your way somewhere, you probably won’t be late. You’re welcome.

Cookie Monster Day

Cookie Monster, a beloved creature built upon the notions of gluttony and excess, gets his special day today and I have no idea why. He first appeared on Sesame Street on November 10, 1969, in the first episode of the series. Before that, he had been conceived by Jim Henson as the ‘Wheel-Stealer’ for a General Foods commercial that never aired. In that one his gluttony was focused upon ‘wheels’, a cheese-type snack that General Foods clearly didn’t have a lot of faith in, as it didn’t last.

He was used next in an IBM training film (because IBM felt puppets would be the best way to on-board their new employees – the 60s were a wild fucking ride). In that film he devours all of the components of a coffee machine, then explodes. Then, because clearly companies felt the notion of a monster devouring their product with zero restraint or control was their way of tapping into the zeitgeist of modern culture, a Lay’s commercial featured our favourite blue beast (now named Arnold) downing some Munchos.

After a few seasons, Frank Oz was getting some criticism from PBS parents over the monster’s use of grammar, specifically using “Me” instead of “I”. Oz’s response was that no kid was going to grow up and become a lawyer who says “Me want to represent you”. He had a point.

To celebrate this day, I ate some cookies and learned of Mr. Monster’s unusual origin story. Not how I was expecting to spend part of my Monday, but such is the nature of this mission of weirdness.

Dynamic Harmlessness Day

This was not, as I’d hoped, another excuse to sit on my ass and do nothing for the day. Alas, two of those in a row would be… actually, that would be great. But it’s not in the cards, at least not yet. I see you, January 1 and 2. I’m coming for you.

Today would be Hom Jay Dinshah’s 87th birthday. He was the founder of the American Vegan Society, and it’s likely not a coincidence that World Vegan Day happened to drop yesterday. I suppose the best way to celebrate this day would be to go vegan for a day, but Sunday would have made even more sense for that and we didn’t do it then either. The truth is, we are hesitant to take on the vegan lifestyle, even for a meal.

I know, there are ways to prepare delicious meals and down stupid amounts of snacks while remaining vegan. It simply is not a leap we are ready to take. But I wanted to acknowledge this day, as it offers the best argument for veganism I’ve ever heard.

Dynamic harmlessness. Hom Jay Dinshah was born in New Jersey, and after a visit to a slaughterhouse at age 23 (don’t we all pop in for a slaughterhouse tour around that age?), he vowed to pursue a life of veganism. He taught veganism, not simply to save the animals, but as part of a philosophical approach to life which he called dynamic harmlessness. It tied in with an overall peaceful approach to the world, a devotion to truth, integrity, and service, and a mastery over materialism. He championed his cause for his entire life.

I’d like to venture deeper into his philosophy, the inspiration for which Mr. Dinshah credited Gandhi and Albert Schweitzer, but I really love meat products. I simply haven’t reached that level of consciousness enlightenment that will forever steer me away from chicken wings. But I’ll try to incorporate that approach to my thinking. This sort of selfless consideration is all that might save us from kicking this world in the proverbial nuts until those proverbial nuts are gone.

National Cook For Your Pet Day

We didn’t cook for our pets specifically, but we did cook a delicious salmon dinner on Sunday night, some of which was passed on to our three canine research assistants. They work hard. They deserve some good stuff. And though they do not pursue a true life of dynamic harmlessness (they eat meat, after all), they deliver a whole heap of peace unto this household. They deserve all the treats.

Today we face down an election unlike any other in America, the results of which will resonate strongly in our provincial politics up here. Please go out and vote, my American friends. And please do it right! Here’s what we’ll be up to:

  • National Housewife’s Day. I guess I’m kind of the housewife of the house, given that I don’t go out much. Maybe.
  • National Sandwich Day. So many sandwich options. Which one to choose?
  • Cliché Day. As one of the few words in the English language to proudly boast an accent-aigu, this one certainly should be celebrated.
  • Give Someone A Dollar Today Day. Jodie will have to take care of that. Maybe it’ll bring us good luck.
  • World Jellyfish Day. A day to celebrate those boneless sea-stingers, or perhaps to groove to some early 90s power-pop.
  • Skeptics Day International. This definitely fits.

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