Wednesday, November 4, 2020

At the time of this writing, we do not know who will be the president of the United States for the next four years. This project was launched in part because of this election, because we felt all of 2020 would be fixated on it (oh, how naïve we once were), and we wanted something else to draw our attention away. This was to be a politics-free zone, and though we’ve occasionally slipped and revealed our bias, we still don’t want to dwell in that world. We’re all about celebrating. We can only pray that our American friends and family, and all those millions of strangers we’ll never meet, will have done the right thing. Here’s how we spent election day:

National Housewife’s Day

Today (well, yesterday) is a day to honour the domestic workers who get zero health plan, zero fiscal compensation, and often work harder and longer hours than they would out in the workplace. I have a lot of respect for housewives, as I did that job myself for a few years. Abbey was younger than school age and we had a stack of foster kids living with us (not, as my wording might imply, in an actual ‘stack’).

I was also raised by a housewife, and I made sure it was plenty of work for her, despite me being the only kid on the premises. It’s harder than ever to be a housewife these days, mostly because making ends meet with only one working parent is nearly impossible unless that one parent has a kick-ass salary. There’s no question it benefits kids to have a parent stay home with them, it’s just not always possible. And there’s absolutely no reason that parent has to be the mother, obviously; in fact, many kids are being raised with no mother in the household now. The very name of this celebration dates its origin in a time gone by.

But if you’ve got a housewife (or househusband – or how about we drop the binary designation and just go with house-spouse? It rhymes!) in your life, give them some love. It’s an often thankless job, and one that can truly keep the family together. Thanks mom, for all that housewifin’ back in the day. You did good.

National Sandwich Day

I’ll be perfectly honest – I don’t feel like making a really big deal over National Sandwich Day. We have celebrated the grilled cheese, the cold cuts, and the ice cream sandwiches so far this year, and while I appreciate the generic tribute to a beloved leftover conduit and portable lunchtime solution, I’m just not feeling it today. Maybe it’s the election, maybe it’s the spectre of pandemic hanging over the world right now, but my passion is simply not blasted into a cosmic explosion over sandwiches.

That said, I did chow down on the above peanut butter & grape jelly sandwiches for lunch yesterday, and I enjoyed them deeply. The PB&J is a masterpiece of sandwich craftery, and it formed the gustatory soundtrack to my school lunches for much of my childhood. The thing I’ve found as an adult is that a PB&J that has been stewing in its own PB&J-ness for a few hours is not a great sandwich. These are best enjoyed fresh.

My favourite sandwich is without question a hot pastrami on rye from Katz’s deli. The way the mustard blends with the dripping pastrami grease is otherworldly. There is nothing local that can compare; in fact, nothing even comes close. For a sandwich in this city I’m a big fan of the subs (which we also celebrated) from the Italian Market. I’m not big on cold cuts, but when there’s some spice and zing to them, I’m on board.

We celebrated this one in spite of the day’s other stresses. We’ll call it a win.

Skeptics Day International

First of all, I’m skeptical that this is even a thing. Every source I can find calls International Skeptics Day (not the weird Yoda-ish phrasing above) on October 13. Then I found a site that claims this day falls on every Friday the 13th, and also on American election day. I guess that makes sense: the skeptics don’t believe there’s any bad luck associated with a Friday the 13th (there isn’t), and even the mildest of skeptics don’t think a lot of good will come from the election, no matter who wins.

So for this day I’ll run through a quick list of all the stuff I’m skeptical about at the moment:

  • My mental well-being. It has taken a few hits this year, but while I’m mostly optimistic on this front, as of this writing (still no election result) things are shaky.
  • Karma. There’s no such thing, unless you believe in reincarnation. Otherwise, how would you explain all these rich, evil, and elderly people?
  • Reincarnation. I’m just skeptical about this one overall.
  • Climate change. I’m not skeptical that it exists, I’m skeptical that humanity will step up and address it enough to prevent some really nasty crap from going down.
  • Government. Not every government. But sometimes every government. I think I’m just a little sour on the concept of government today.

I think that will suffice. I’m skeptical about a lot of other things, but rather than watch this section devolve into a kvetch-fest of stuff I’m not happy with, I’ll just leave it at those five entries. Is it tomorrow yet?

World Jellyfish Day

According to the NOAA (motto: The NASA of the sea!), yesterday was the day to go out and hug some jellyfish, at least in a virtual, non-contact capacity. Jellyfish are nature’s oceanic wow-factor. They move like art itself, with every ripple of their bodies evoking notions of poetry and modern dance. They are terrifying for children, at least for children who received warnings about them and knew they weren’t going out deep enough to have to worry about sharks. I’ve never suffered from a jellyfish sting, but I’ve heard horror stories.

Jellyfish have been around for more than 700 million years, which would make them the oldest multi-organ creature we’ve got. Some people just call them ‘jellies’ because a ‘fish’ implies a backbone. Also, if you’ve got a bunch of them together that’s called a smack. So you might be in the ocean and spot a smack of jellies, which is not a way of summarizing a small serving of candy.

They don’t have a respiratory system, or a circulatory system. These bastards don’t even have a central nervous system. Some of them don’t even move, they just drift in the water. The smallest jellyfish has a bell size of about 1 millimeter. The largest can have a bell height of about seven feet, and that’s not counting the tentacles trailing behind it. If you see one of those whilst scuba diving, I suggest you give up right away to the sweet release of death.

One species of jellyfish in particular intrigues me: the Turritopsis dohrnii. This little creature is fascinating. Jellyfish tend to pass through a ‘medusa’ phase in which they can reproduce, and then an asexual phase in which they tend to scootch on over to the afterlife. But Turritopsis dohrnii can bounce back into the medusa phase. It can actually bounce back and forth indefinitely, which kind of makes them potentially immortal. So we showed up to honour jellyfish and accidentally stumbled upon an oceanic Highlander. Very cool.

Today I hope to be a little less engulfed in stress and anxiety. Let’s see how we’ll be distracting ourselves:

  • National Chicken Lady Day. This is supposed to honour a woman who worked in the poultry dining industry, and has nothing to do with a certain Kids in the Hall sketch.
  • National Candy Day. And we’re already almost done with our Halloween leftovers.
  • National Stress Awareness Day. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA… okay.
  • National Easy Bake Oven Day. We don’t have one, but maybe we’ll hold some cupcake mix up to a light bulb and see what happens.
  • National Waiting For The Barbarians Day. Sounds like a valid thing to do on a Wednesday.
  • National Eating Healthy Day. On the same day as National Candy Day? Who planned this stuff?

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