Saturday, December 12, 2020

Spent and sleepy. That was how my yesterday began. My alarm told me it was 8:00 but I spent at least two minutes with my eyes closed, not believing it. Surely if it was already 8:00 I would have made it to the Chrysler Building by now to fight the orange minotaur. Anyway, it was a weird dream and it ended without resolution. And there I was, with a very limited slate of potential celebrations. Which is fine, as I had a virtually unlimited amount of actual work to tackle. Still, I crammed some stuff between the cracks, and wound up getting around to this:

National App Day

My plan was to use this day to try out a few new apps. I really don’t need anything new for productivity or music production or photo effects, so I thought I’d try a couple of games. It was not the thriving success I’d hoped for. I tried a maze app called “Maze” that was clunky, uninteresting and full of ads. I tried something called Word Pearls that looked interesting, but crashed my phone. So, instead I thought I’d share a few of my own favourites.

I’ve been using Google Calendar for keeping track of these celebrations, and it has been fantastic. It syncs up with the browser app, so it was the best way to trace my way through more than 2,000 celebrations and hundreds of album anniversaries that I never wound up using for this project. With that in mind, happy 50th birthday to John Lennon’s brilliant Plastic Ono Band album.

For reference all I need is the IMDb app and the Wikipedia app. Between those two brilliant sources you’ll never have to remember who that guy was who was in that thing, that movie with the dude and the explosions. Weather Office is my preferred meteorology stopover, and the Transit app was extremely reliable back in those dark days when I needed to take public transit to work.

For games I can’t praise the Bart Bonté puzzle games enough. He’s got a number of them: Red, Blue, Yellow, Black… probably other colours. They are clever and inventive little puzzles. For fun I still play the Wordscapes daily puzzle, the pictogram puzzles in Picture Cross, and I actually pay to play Puzzle Page, which I’ve plugged on here before. I’m always up for a new suggestion, so if you’ve got one, fire it my way. Let’s make National App Day the special and wondrous beast it was always meant to be.

International Mountain Day

The United Nations created this day to help remind us that mountains are… well, they’re pretty neat. Big ol’ pointy rocks. Planet Earth’s natural accordion landscape. So crank up that “Mississippi Queen” and let’s learn a little something interesting about mountains, shall we?

I’m told that, before we had GPS and altimeters, people used to measure the height of mountains using triangulation from other mountain peaks. This does nothing to explain the process to me, but hey, it’s out there. On average six people die every year trying to climb Mt. Everest, and their bodies are littering the mountainside. This is why my bucket list is more about beating people at Mario Kart than scaling a giant rock.

Five of the ten tallest mountains in our solar system are located on Mars. There were about 80,000 troops stationed in the Alps in Austria during World War I. More than half the deaths there came from avalanches, not bullets. Mountain goats, those impressive wall-walking beasts, are technically a type of antelope.

People still venture out to track down the Yeti in the Himalayas. Mount Everest was named for Sir George Everest, the guy who first identified it, then said “nope” and turned around without climbing it. The longest mountain name is located in New Zealand, with the impressive summit of Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu. And yes, I copy-pasted that; I did not type it out.

Mountains are great. We had planned to visit the mountains this month, but then we’ve made a lot of plans that Covid has cancelled. Such is the nature of this year.

Official Lost And Found Day

On this day, which has been celebrated (no doubt with wild, reckless abandon) since 2012, we are supposed to put a little extra effort into finding something we’d lost. Okay. Some time this fall one of my cannabis grinders went mysteriously missing. This particularly odd because I would have only taken it to the garage, never out of the house. There was no explanation, and while I was disappointed, I had a backup.

You should always have a backup.

So I dug around in some jacket pockets, and under a few things in our garage in an attempt to track it down. I even got down on my knees to see if it may have rolled under the shelf. I didn’t have much hope of spotting it, and I was right. I still have no idea where on this planet that thing could have gone. No one was here to steal it, and it never left the house. I think I’ll chalk it up to some Toy Story type of situation, in which it came to life and left on some grand adventure. Hopefully it makes it home one day.

The first public lost and found office was set up by the Paris police in 1805 at Napoleon’s behest. This is a weirdly positive contribution to the world by Napoleon, though it should be pointed out that the police never actually made an effort to track down the owners of these objects until a new policy was enacted in 1893. Still, I’m sure the office workers in that Paris office had a few interesting laughs in the course of their work.

Today is our weekly supply run. That, along with prepping the spare bedroom (which was our master bedroom not long ago) for the kid, will take up most of the day. But we also have this:

  • Bonza Bottler Day. It’s our final Bonza Bottler Day, unless we decide to get a special something to drink on January 1.
  • National Ambrosia Day. I doubt Jodie wants to make a 60’s-style ambrosia salad, so we might listen to some of the 70’s-style soft rock group by that name.
  • National Ding-A-Ling Day. It’s a day to call people you haven’t talked to in a while. But we’ll all be playing that Chuck Berry song, won’t we?
  • Poinsettia Day. A day to celebrate those plants that will allegedly kill our dogs if they ate them. So we won’t be bringing any inside the house.
  • Gingerbread House Day. That might be fun.
  • Kanji Day. This is a Japanese celebration I might check in on.
  • Festival of Unmentionable Thoughts. Oooooh, I have lots of these!
  • International Shareware Day. I guess that’s something to celebrate.
  • National 12-Hour Fresh Breath Day. Just twelve? Okay.

Friday, December 11, 2020

If this project is meant to serve as a document of my mental health (and physical goings-on) throughout this astoundingly weird year, then let it be noted in the record that by December 10 I had finally had enough. Enough of the pandemic, enough of arguing with people about the pandemic, and enough of this trudge-heavy routine. I find myself staring at this page with no real desire to fill it. I know, craving a day off from a project with only three weeks remaining, it sounds silly. But my spirit has been lying prone on the floor since the moment the day began. Forced celebrations will not raise them. Still, here’s what we forced anyway:


Yes, we indulged in the religious ritual of Hanukkah, despite my Judaism existing solely as a designation of my hereditary roots. I was never raised to possess the faith, and the faith never found me. I’m happy to have Jewish roots, don’t get me wrong; we’re an interesting people with a tremendous history for coping with global bullshit by leaning on intellect and humour. I dig that. I simply don’t have any desire to subscribe to any religion. I don’t see the point, at least for me.

But when we had kids, I knew I wanted them to see the best of all holidays in their ancestry. Hanukkah is pretty low on the Jewish ladder in terms of holiday importance, but it shows up right around Christmas, and we Jews want something to celebrate. If only my ancestors had known about National Bartender Day.

The best parts of Hanukkah are, without question, the candles and the story. The story is great, whether coming from a history book or from the Holiday Armadillo telling it on a sitcom. And the candles are a beautiful symbol of that story. My kids watched me light the candles, and we’ve kept up the tradition even in their absence. It’s a simple tradition – you don’t even have to remember the candles are there, provided you set up your menorah in a safe location and you bought the correct ones which burn out within an hour.

Hanukkah rang somewhat shallow last night. Maybe it was my flattened spirit, knowing we won’t be getting both our kids home for the holidays thanks to this virus. Maybe it’s just the sour air in a sour world. A deep devotion to optimism and positivity is a tricky beast to maintain. But we lit up, and we did toast the fact that Abbey will be joining us before the menorah is filled up. That’s pretty awesome. This year, I’d say it’s a damn miracle.

Festival For The Souls Of Dead Whales

Rumoured to have been an aspect of Inuit culture, a reporter from National Geographic looked into this one and found nothing. Yes, the whales are celebrated in many Inuit communities in many different ways all throughout the year. But no one can source a genuine annual December commemoration to whales who have died. Or really any commemoration for whales who have died – whales? Sure. But dead ones? Well, we’re going to celebrate them here.

In fairness, I celebrated this one by listening to a few moments of whale sounds. Aside from taking a couple hours and re-watching Star Trek IV, I didn’t see much else I could do for these lost souls. I never read Moby Dick, but I did watch that youtube video of the whale exploding on the beach, so I kind of get their plight. Whales are amazing creatures, and we celebrated their amazingness already this year. Yesterday we took a moment of silence for the ones who didn’t make it through 2020.

This was a rough year all over the animal kingdom, not only down our little branch of taxonomy.

Dewey Decimal System Day

Well goddamn, we may not feel prompted to flail about in wild, manic revelry but how could we overlook this one? This system was the my first foray into research, learning how non-fiction was categorized identically in libraries everywhere. I thought it was fascinating. I also thought, there’s nothing interesting about this guy or his system, is there? I mean, apart from its existence?

Well, let’s start with the guy. Melvil Dewey, who would have turned 169 years old yesterday – hence the celebration – was a bit of a weasel. In one Alaskan cruise with his fellow library people, Dewey was accused of sexually harassing four different women. This would have been well over a century before such accusations were commonplace. He wound up booted from the American Library Association for being such a creep.

He founded a school for aspiring librarians at Columbia in New York City, which is great! 90% of his students were female, so he was helping a lot of women who wanted to enter the workplace. Cool! Except he insisted upon seeing a photo of the women before admitting them. There was a rumour he asked for bust sizes too, but that was proven false. It was probably a product of his time, but the original Dewey Decimal System classifications put any LGBTQ material under ‘Abnormal Psychology’, ‘Perversion’ and ‘Derangement’. The system was also rather racist in its earliest incarnation.

So there are a few little bits of info my elementary school librarian neglected to tell me. What else were you hiding, Mr. Gibson? Next I’ll find out the guy *didn’t* win the 1948 presidential election.

Today I hope to find greater oomph in my oomphiness, or a more focussed yearning to tackle the hours with fervor and enthusiasm. If I don’t… meh. It’s a day. Here’s what’s on the menu:

  • National App Day. I’ll try out a new app or two, because this is a celebration tailor-made for quarantine.
  • National Noodle Ring Day. These look kind of grotesque. I’m not sure I’m in the mood for eating something grotesque today.
  • International Mountain Day. We aren’t going to see any mountains in person, but we can learn about them. Maybe drink some Mountain Dew.
  • National Tango Day. We can try faking the tango, since neither of us knows how to do it properly. Also, it takes two to fake a tango, or so I’ve heard.
  • National Have A Bagel Day. I wish I had one. Were I at my office I’d pick one up for breakfast. But I’m not.
  • Official Lost And Found Day. Oh, so this is the official one. And here we were, celebrating all those knock-off Lost and Found Days.
  • National Salespersons Day. I used to be one. I guess I’ll celebrate me of the past.