Friday, November 13, 2020

In the great Pringles can of time, wherein each day rests like a near-identical chip to the ones beside it, we have endeavoured to sprinkle some fresh seasoning onto every day this year. Yet, just like Pringles, each crunch tends to have the same general aftertaste. Also just like Pringles, some find their days objectionable in their monotony while others are addicted to them. I’d like to think I’m in the latter camp, though lately I’ve simply been marvelling at that daily sameness (in spite of our seasonings), and mindlessly crunching into the next one with ever-reducing fervor. Yesterday delivered us the following flavours:

Elizabeth Cady Stanton Day

Is this a celebration or merely an acknowledgement? Honestly, I have no idea. I would assert that, due to its inclusion in this project and the fact that I’d found it referenced as a ‘Day’ in at least one location online, it’s a celebration. And Ms. Stanton is absolutely someone who deserves to be celebrated.

What did she do? If Susan B. Anthony is the Chuck Berry of women’s rights (and I honestly don’t know if she is – I just made up that analogy now), then Elizabeth Cady Stanton would be its Elvis. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Regardless, it’s a weak analogy to begin with so let’s drop it and move on. I’ll fix this in editing.

During the Civil War, Elizabeth and Susan started the Women’s Loyal National League, which had nothing to do with baseball, but wound up being a strong national voice for the abolition of slavery. She opposed the 15th Amendment, which granted black males the right to vote, because she felt it should include black women. And white women. And all grownups. She and Susan created the National Woman Suffrage Association. Women’s rights was pushed out of the garage by these two women. Not much of a better analogy than the rock ‘n roll one, but it’ll do.

Elizabeth fought for property rights for women in an age when men automatically assumed all of their spouse’s possessions upon marriage. She fought for women to be able to wear bloomers (women in pants were scandalous back then). She pushed for the right for women to divorce their drunken, abusive husbands. She wrote books, she published newspapers, she made it her life’s work and it truly engulfed her adult life. And don’t go looking for the “man behind the powerful woman”, because her husband Harry wasn’t a big proponent of women’s rights. I’m sure he didn’t stand in her way, but while they worked together as a team to fight slavery, when it came to women’s rights Elizabeth was on her own. And she was strong enough to stand on her own.

She was even going to get her face on the $10 bill, along with Lucrecia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Alice Paul and Susan B. Anthony. That was, of course, pushed back when the current president didn’t find them sexy enough (I assume). This year she did, however, receive the honour of becoming a statue in Central Park (along with Ms. Truth and Ms. Anthony), the first woman (apart from Alice from Alice in Wonderland) to be depicted in a statue in the Park. That’s pretty damn special.

So to celebrate this absolutely celebrate-y occasion, we learned a little about women’s rights and the journey they took. I’m sure Ms. Stanton would be thrilled by women winning the right to vote in 1920 (she died in 1902), and even more so by the election of a female vice-president a century later. And she’d acknowledge that the fight isn’t over.

World Quality Day

Allow me to preface this entry by pointing out that there is no interesting backstory to World Quality Day. There is no deeper meaning to World Quality Day. It is a day to celebrate… quality. The Chartered Quality Institute made it up. They are a UK-based organization that has been around for more than a century, dedicated to being experts in improving product, service or project quality around the world.

Quality. Could any celebration be more vague? Don’t we all love quality? Don’t we strive for it, in our food and our clothing and our television viewing? How the hell am I supposed to celebrate this day? By watching the 4:35 video on the website?

I did. I watched it. From what I can tell, these folks are consultants for businesses and organizations that are sucking ass in returns and want to know how to improve. Quality leads to customer value, that’s the gist here. Okay. Neat.

We tend to lean toward quality in most of our purchases. We read reviews on products. We may be tempted by sales or lower-priced versions of the stuff we love, but we won’t be buying store-brand cola over Coke, or McDonalds doughnuts over the gourmet ones we get every weekend. We are proud proponents of quality and pursue it whenever possible.

Still can’t fathom why it gets its own day though.

Sweet Potato Awareness Month

I’ll be honest, I don’t think about sweet potatoes very often. I used to enjoy them when my grandmother would bake them as a side dish for Sunday dinner, but they never filled me with enough passion to learn how to cook with them on my own. I don’t even like them as fries (though our favourite Cajun diner does serve the exception to this). But that said, I am willing to learn about them.

The first thing we need to know is that sweet potatoes are not very closely related to our regular potatoes. The orange ones are called ‘yams’ in parts of our continent, but yams are actually completely different. So right away we learn that most people know about as much about sweet potatoes as I do. Sweet potatoes were first tasted by white folks when Columbus and his initial gang made their 1492 voyage. Some researchers, upset by the fact that these aren’t the same thing as potatoes, have suggested to call them sweetpotatoes as a single word instead. I’m not sure how this helps.

On a list of the healthiest foods, the sweet potato would score really highly. And when you bake the suckers the vitamin C content actually increases somehow. Science is cool. You can, if you feel so motivated, eat the above-ground leaves of the sweet potato as well. You can even plop a sweet potato vine into your fish tank to remove ammonia and nitrate from the water and improve the lives of your fish friends. The sweet potato is pretty fucking versatile.

Excuse my language in that last sentence – I got a little more passionate about sweet potatoes than I’d anticipated. But the last time I ate the stuff it was in the pie pictured above. We’d never tried sweet potato pie before, but Da-De-O served some up as a special over the first weekend of the month. Did they know it was Sweet Potato Awareness Month? Yes. I’m going to say they did. And the pie tasted like a pumpkin pie, but somehow better. This food just keeps on impressing me.

National Happy Hour Day

Happy Hour dates back to the early 20th century, when people were looking for an excuse to sneak some cocktails in before dinner. This was a frequently busy time for speakeasies during prohibition. There is debate over who started using it first to attract customers to bars, but we don’t care about that. Ours is not to research the origin, but to celebrate. And how does one celebrate happy hour? With booze, of course.

Happy hours in Alberta must end by 8:00pm. That’s actually the law. Bar owners in Ontario are not allowed to advertise a happy hour at all. Ireland and Scotland have outlawed happy hour in a (likely futile) attempt to stop binge drinking. Eleven US states have a happy hour ban as well, though it should be noted that Pennsylvania has recently increased its happy hour designations from two to four hours, and Kansas overturned their ban on the promotional event in 2012. Illinois did the same in 2015.

I can’t speak to the effects of happy hour on alcoholism. I have not done any research in this field, and I’m fortunate to not have succumbed to the condition myself (so far, though this project has pushed me). Happy hour is, for me, simply a period of time to enjoy some drinks at a lower price. In the case of yesterday, I enjoyed my drinks for free. I had some delicious rum that was gifted to me by my kind sister-in-law, sipped from a rum glass gifted to me by my son. And while we weren’t at a bar, we did bar stuff, like watch football and hit on chicks. Well, I hit on my wife, so just the one chick.

This is one that should be celebrated every year. I don’t know if any of these weird obscure celebrations will make it into our regular rotation after this year, but if anything has a shot, it’d be Happy Hour Day.

This Friday stretches before us like a hungry lizard, poised to strike and devour its prey (which, in this clumsy comparison, would be the celebrations I guess). Here’s what’s up:

  • National Indian Pudding Day. This was to be an excuse to venture to an Indian restaurant tonight. Not sure that will happen.
  • World Kindness Day. “It’s nice to be nice to the nice.” – Maj. Frank Burns, US Army.
  • Sadie Hawkins Day. Does this mean my wife has to hit on me today? That would be great.
  • Actor’s Day. I’ll tell my daughter right now, this doesn’t mean she gets a present.
  • National Moms And Dads Day. Okay, maybe we should get the presents then.
  • Symphonic Metal Day. Really?
  • Start A Rumor Day. This I can absolutely do.

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