Sunday, December 13, 2020

Yesterday I did battle with the setting sun. With a wealth of tasks I needed to complete, including numerous celebrations and writing about them, the day slithered away from me in a rush. There was a bed to make, presents to wrap, a garage to tidy. I needed to stretch my writing frantically across two articles so that I could spend most of today either relaxing and watching football or picking up our daughter from the airport. There was little time to waste on a lengthy introductory paragraph, yet here I am, swimming right through the middle of one. Alas, the shore awaits me, as does a hearty list of goings-on for our Saturday. Here’s what we tackled:

Bonza Bottler Day

Just a recap for those who may have forgotten what this day was about. Back in 1985 a woman named Elaine Fremont felt we were lacking in special occasions to celebrate. This was before the internet opened up and showed us how many gazillions of celebrations are scattered about our calendar, most of them for this very reason. She lived in South Carolina, but somehow got the word out that she was looking for a name for her monthly celebrations, which were to take place every month when the month number and day number matched up.

A student in Australia came up with the winning idea: Bonza Bottler Day. Bonza is apparently something Aussies yell out to refer to something that is fantastic or top-notch. I don’t recall the word popping up in Crocodile Dundee or any of the popular Men At Work hits, so I’ll take this student’s word for it. My research into Australian culture and catchphrases is tragically shallow.

So the celebration simply involves cracking open a bottle of something special, something you wouldn’t normally drink, and enjoying it. We have not skipped any of these, sampling new sodas and beers with curiosity and (usually) appreciation. Yesterday it was 12/12, so we grabbed a couple bottles of Stewart’s Black Cherry soda and enjoyed them after dinner. Not a huge event, but I’ve enjoyed this little monthly ritual. Who knows? It might even carry into 2021, though I suspect I’ll skip January 1. The only repeat celebration I’ll be doing on that day is National Hangover Day.

Gingerbread House Day

The history of moulding gingerbread (or some sort of sweet bread) into a house shape goes back a lot further than I’d expected. You can find some stories from ancient Rome about this, but the most interesting to me is the story of the fourth wiseman. Apparently there was another dude who was too sick to make it to the big Jesus party. A rabbi took care of him, and told him about the prophecy of Jesus’s arrival in Bethlehem (which means “house of bread” in Hebrew – go figure). He then told the wiseguy – sorry, wiseman how he gets his students to build houses of bread to “nourish their hope” for the messiah dropping by.

As luck would have it, the gift that particular magnus (singular for magi) was hauling to the birth spot was ginger root. He gave it to the rabbi and encouraged his kids wo work it into their bread for a little extra flavour. So is the Christmas gingerbread house truly a derivation of a rabbi’s tradition? That all depends on how much you believe from those old stories.

We stopped short of building our own gingerbread house yesterday (see our intro paragraph for our flimsy excuse). But we happened upon a contest at our local Safeway. I snapped a few pics and I voted for my favourite. I enjoyed the one built out of pretzels – I don’t know if pretzel and gingerbread go well together, but they really gave it a quality, rustic appearance. And congrats to me for controlling myself and not taste-testing any of them. I have grown so much.

Festival of Unmentionable Thoughts

This, like the festival for dead whales’ souls we celebrated earlier this week, has no definitive origin, and may or may not have actually been celebrated by a single soul on this planet.

Until now.

The couple of websites that mention this offer no conclusive way to celebrate it. Do we just blurt out the thoughts we should not mention? Do we keep them to ourselves and sit quietly while thinking them? Do we write them down in an article that will be uploaded on a website that is visited by tens of people every month, like this one? No, that doesn’t seem smart. I have shared a lot of our lives and a lot of ourselves on this page, but believe me – y’all don’t want to know my unmentionable thoughts.

We all have them. You see someone kneeling down near a staircase and know you could launch them down those stairs with one well-placed boot. You grumble about that neighbour you don’t care for, and think how easy it would be to tuck a properly-sized turd up inside his car door handle so that his fingers sink into it when he tries to open the door. Maybe you’re in a grocery store and you see some un-masked dolt manhandling all the fruits and vegetables then putting them back, or see an idiot neighbour child take a bite of something then put it back under his mother’s watch – would anyone blame you for cramming a dragonfruit in their faces to muffle their screams?

Well, today is the day to accept that we have all had thoughts of this nature. They aren’t thoughts we’d follow through on, or even applaud if some stranger did it (except maybe for that neighbour kid – that actually happened, and this is the same kid who once threw rocks at my dogs). But we need to appreciate their presence in our fickle mind-machines, and not scold ourselves for the fact that they have danced upon our stage.

Feel free to share your unmentionable thoughts in the comments section. Or don’t – they shouldn’t really be mentioned, I suppose. Otherwise they’d be ‘mentionable’ thoughts, and those don’t get their own festival.

National Ding-A-Ling Day

The purpose of this day is to reconnect with people you haven’t spoken to in a while. The notion of ‘ding-a-ling’ referring, of course, to the sound a phone makes when it rings, at least inside the head of whomever concocted this bizarrely-monikered celebration. Did people used to say, “Give me a ding-a-ling tomorrow!”? Was that ever a thing?

I have, like so many folks who have been thrust even deeper into an already isolationist lifestyle choice this year, grown weary about talking on the phone. Last Saturday I connected with one of the greatest friends I have ever known. He moved down to Calgary ages ago, and we have only spoken sporadically online since then, but last week we went over two hours in sparkling phone conversation, just like the old days. Minus the marijuana and constantly-cranked Lenny Kravitz, anyhow. It was wonderful.

To add to the celebration, I also reached out to a couple of folks on Facebook who are on my friends list, but with whom I seldom if ever converse. We have had a few days like this throughout the year, but I always enjoy them.

But let’s talk about that song. “My Ding-A-Ling” was Chuck Berry’s only number one hit, and that’s a piece of trivia that never fails to astound me. It was a novelty song, written in the 50s by Louisiana legend Dave Bartholomew. How it managed to become a hit, when all it contains are lyrics that refer to bells, but which could easily be mistaken for Chuck singing about his penis, is one of the weirdest flukes of rock history. Apparently Boston DJ Jim Connors was the driving force in getting this song spread around the country. Why? I have no idea. But for a short while in 1972, everyone seemed to embrace this double-entendre.

This world is fucking weird.

Today our daughter Abbey rejoins us. She was here to film us diving into a wading pool on January 1, and she’ll be here to throw bread at the wall with us when the year comes to a close. Here’s what we have on tap:

  • National Cocoa Day. We could enjoy chocolate of any variety, but the hot liquid kind is probably best with the forecast high of -16.
  • National Violin Day. I guess I’ll listen to some violin music.
  • National Day of the Horse. Riding an actual horse was a consideration, before the virus. And let’s face it, the weather.
  • Pick A Pathologist Pal Day. From what I’ve read on Facebook lately, it’s easy to be a doctor. Just say words, and call it your professional medical opinion.
  • National Ice Cream Day. Why the hell???
  • Worldwide Candle-Lighting Day. The fact that this happened to land in the middle of Hanukkah makes it an absolutely joyous coincidence.

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.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

I would have happily cast all celebratory mishmash to the wind yesterday afternoon had I been able to secure a definitive afternoon nap. Sometimes that yearning rings louder than that of our daily project chores. Alas, circumstance kept me awake throughout yesterday’s PM, with my fingers pointed squarely at the fading symbols on my keyboard. And that brings up a question: why are the symbols on this keyboard fading? I have no trace of an ‘L’, a ‘C’ or an ‘S’ – they’re just blank keys. This keyboard is one year old. Am I veering onto a tangent that has nothing to do with our daily celebrations? Sort of. But then there’s this:

Loosen Up Lighten Up Day

This is absolutely a day to grab some perspective and to relax about the shit that’s been dragging your psyche down to a darkened cerebral basement filled with anxiety-monsters and fret-beasts. In the thick of a year that will someday be an entire chapter in various history books (political science books, medical books, sports history footnotes, etc.), we’re all taking stuff too seriously.

Yesterday we were instructed to just stop. Sure, the world appears to be full of science-denying kooks whose greatest personal infringement upon their freedoms is wearing a piece of cloth in front of their faces whilst they shop for Cheez-Its and arugula. Sure, American democracy is in a tumble-dryer of ridiculousness right now. And sure, there exists the unlikely (though possible) scenario in which you make a run to pick up some coffee and find yourself also picking up a virus that could kill half your family.

But all of this is temporary. Will it get worse? Sure! It might. We need to take a moment – and a relatively quiet Saturday seemed ideal for this – to find our center again. Put on the music that will ground you. Watch an old movie or a show you’ve seen before to get some laughs back into your life.

How did we celebrate? Video games, doughnuts, laughter and the laughably dated A View To A Kill. Dogs helped as well. It’s hard to feel the weight of the world when you’re ensconced in all that. And this is absolutely healthy; we don’t need to carry the weight of the world. We aren’t the world – let the rest of it deal with its own encumbrances. Even the weight of our own stresses need to take a back seat sometimes. Even when your new keyboard is hiding its characters from view.

National Block It Out Day

I was hoping to make a smooth segue into how we can all block out all the evil in the world, thereby loosening and lightening up our individual lives. But that’s not what this day is about. It’s actually our third (maybe fourth) day to combat bullying. Specifically, we are supposed to ‘block out’ the negativity of cyberbullies online.

We all have our own ways of dealing with those sub-human, possibly robotic shit-muckers online, and the best way is whatever causes you the least stress and/or anguish. Yesterday I changed my approach and blocked a few more of these schmucks. And while it didn’t deliver me the sadistic pleasure I get from mocking ill-informed handrail-lickers, it did clean up the joint quite wonderfully.

National Pickle Day

Some claim the pickle was initially invented for the workers who toiled their lives away building the Great Wall of China. Others disagree, but offer no story more interesting than that one, so we’ll just stick with that one. Pickles – and to be specific here we’re talking about pickled cucumbers, and not any of the scores of other things you can also pickle – are a multi-purpose food. Above you see Jodie using them as a condiment upon her burger. She enjoys that, while I always pick them off of my burger at restaurants. I find the flavour of pickles too strong to subtly blend in with the rest of the flavours in a hamburger, and I don’t need some vegetable taking center-stage in my burger.

Pickles can also be an effective side dish. When we go into a proper Jewish deli (and there are precisely zero of those in this city, but we used to travel when that was allowed), we will always dive into the pickles served before or with our meal. A juicy kosher dill is one of the most exquisite experiences into which one’s teeth can crunch. Sweet pickles are great for an appetizer. I suppose if one were to be so inclined, they could make pickles into a main course. I don’t know how that would work, but it didn’t matter; that wasn’t our intention.

Apparently Cleopatra was big into pickles, and Julius Caesar used to feed them (probably not by hand) to his troops, believing they would make them stronger. In Russia, and I have yet to confirm this, pickle juice works for a hangover.

Some people brine their pickles in Kool-Aid, which I will submit as further proof that our society has slipped into an irreversible era of perpetual culinary madness. Yesterday we enjoyed our pickles and even grabbed a new batch from the grocery store during our supply run. Pickles are life. Just keep them off my burger.

National Seat Belt Day

Hey, here’s a fun one. Seat belts are great. To celebrate this one, we both wore seat belts when we headed out on our supply / doughnut / brunch run yesterday afternoon. Was that enough? Can we call it after having done that? Hell no – let’s do some learnin’.

It’s estimated that seat belts reduce car fatalities by about half. That’s impressive. The first seat belt ever installed was plopped into a glider by English engineer George Cayley back in the 1800s. I’m assuming here that no one had invented a saddle seat belt, and I can’t believe that’s true. Cars certainly didn’t start out with seat belts. They didn’t go very fast, and also, ‘safety’ was not really as big a consideration back then. By the mid-1950s race car drivers had clued in, and were always wearing them. Dr. C. Hunter Sheldon in Pasadena, California, came up with the idea for a retractable seat belt. He’d seen enough blood and mayhem in emergency rooms that he knew something had to be done.

Saab was the first company to offer seat belts as a standard, rather than an option. This was in 1958. Seat belts were first made mandatory in Victoria, Australia in 1970. Back then, cars hadn’t yet figured out how to maximize their safety potential. My first vehicle was a 1969 Oldsmobile that featured lap belts only in the back, and a separate shoulder belt for the front passengers. The shoulder belt didn’t retract; you had to fold it over a couple of hooks above the door. Jesus.

We didn’t get our seat belt law until 1987, and you can rest assured that people railed against them as a violation of their personal freedoms back then. Sound familiar? People will always fight back against science, and claim that basic responsibility is an infringement upon their rights. It happens anywhere you find folks who have never really had their rights put into jeopardy, who see a mild inconvenience as a grotesque trampling of their liberties.

Bonza Bottler Day

On a more upbeat note, we both opted to try out the Lime Ricky flavour from the Pop Shoppe (which absolutely still exists) yesterday. We had never sampled this one before – or if we had, it had completely slipped our minds. It was nice, named for the cocktail that features a half lime squeezed into a glass, mixed with rye, bourbon or gin, then topped with sparkling water. Why so many options? Who knows? We mixed this Lime Ricky pre-made soda with vodka, and that worked well too.

Bonza Bottler Day drops every month when the month number aligns with the day number, so this is the eleventh we’ve celebrated so far (and yes, it was bumped from last Wednesday, we know). We’ve got one left, and we’ll be kind of sad to see these ones go. We’ve tried some interesting stuff this year, and it’s genuinely fun (and so wonderfully simple) to sample something new or unusual once a month.

Especially when you mix it with vodka. That’s an easy win.

Today is our day of rest, which is particularly noteworthy given that we didn’t get a nap yesterday. But we’ll also have all of this to tackle:

  • National Bundt Day. We have already celebrated with a Bundt cake this year – I know we did, because I remember researching its origins. But we can do it again.
  • National Philanthropy Day. A day to commemorate my dream job.
  • National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day. We do this every week, but I guess we can comb through our salad dressings and see what expired in 2016.
  • America Recycles Day. Well, good for America. We do too.
  • National Spicy Hermit Cookie Day. Perhaps I can coax our team baker (hi, Mom!) into making these for us.
  • National Drummer Day. Sounds like a fine day to thrash out to some great drumming.
  • George Spelvin Day. I guess this is the Alan Smithee of the theatre world. If you don’t know who Alan is, tune in tomorrow I guess.
  • I Love To Write Day. I damn well better.
  • National Raisin Bran Cereal Day. That’s pretty damn specific.
  • Steve Irwin Day. Who doesn’t love Steve?

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

I faced down our menu of celebrations with little enthusiasm yesterday. Work and other time assassins had my day in their sights, and honestly nothing looked as though it would conquer the greatness of the gumbo referenced in yesterday’s article. Vanilla cupcakes? Area codes? Accounting? None of it revved my engine much. I envied the dogs and their commitment to napping; it seems far more gratifying than diving down any of those gopher holes. Yet here I am, watching the calendar ooze its numbers toward the inevitable conclusion of this year, and I feel obligated to at least try:

(note: this intro paragraph sounded a lot less dreary and whiny before I read it over.)

National Vanilla Cupcake Day

Above is a photo of Liberty, our #3 canine research assistant, after having done some intensive work in our back yard, ensuring our snow is sufficiently snowy. She is remarkably thorough, and we appreciate her dedication to her hard work. What does this have to do with National Vanilla Cupcake Day, you may be asking?

Absolutely nothing. I think that’s quite obvious – we’re not going to try to forge some remote link between the two topics, as much as Liberty might hope we would. The reality is, we did enjoy a batch of tasty vanilla cupcakes last week, home-made from scratch (in that Jodie scratched the outside of the Betty Crocker box as she removed it from the pantry). They were fluffy and wonderful and covered in a delicious home-made (in that we ‘made’ the entry to buy the pre-created icing on our grocery list whilst sitting in our home) vanilla frosting.

They were magnificent. And I completely forgot to snap a photo of them. But we did absolutely celebrate this entry – even a few days early! And that’s the point. The dogs are here to fill in when we lack a photo sometimes. We did post a photo last month of National Chocolate Cupcake Day when we celebrated that, and folks who know us should know that we are not likely to skip over any sort of cupcake day.

It was tasty. And our snow is the appropriate amount of snowiness. All is right with the universe.

Area Code Day

There is no logical reason to celebrate Area Code Day on November 10. Let me be a bit more specific: there is no logical reason to celebrate Area Code Day. At all. To my knowledge no phone exchanges, communications conglomerates or cell phone kiosks are waving any banners to commemorate this celebration. To my knowledge, no other soul on the planet is celebrating this day. You know what? I’m going to get even specificker: There is no logical reason to celebrate area codes.

I mean, area codes are great, in that they are a part of the technology that initially allowed us to use the phone in a long-distance capacity. These days, with cell phone plans covering nationwide calling, we may forget that we used to have to wait until after 6:00PM or for Sundays to make long-distance calls even a city away, because they were slightly cheaper then. We also may forget that there was a time in the very recent past when dialing a phone number within one’s city was a seven-digit prospect, not a 10-digit chore.

The area code, which I wrote about in my last project (at least a little), is overseen by the North American Numbering Plan. And if you think I can make anything about the North American Numbering Plan sound remotely interesting then I’m afraid you’re about to be deeply disappointed. And you don’t have to worry about it; the NANP has assured us that we won’t run out of numbers until about 2049. And by then we’ll mostly be communicating from implanted chip to implanted chip anyway, so phone numbers themselves will be obsolete.

So there you have it. We learned a little about area codes, and there is absolutely nothing about them that merits learning any more. Huzzah.

Sesame Street Day

Fifty-one years ago today (actually, yesterday), television was transformed. It was the perfection of children’s programming, something that combined entertainment and education unlike anything before it. Of course I’m talking about Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo, who was born on that date.

I’m joking. Actually, half-joking: Ms. Pompeo was in fact born on the same day Sesame Street went on the air, so if you’re looking for a piece of mostly insignificant trivia (unless you know Ms. Pompeo personally), consider that my gift to you.

Fifty-one years is an impressive run, and from what I’ve seen – stretching from my childhood in the 70s and 80s through my daughter’s in the 90s and 00s – the quality hasn’t dipped. They know how to tap into the emotional and intellectual cores of kids, to teach reading and math at the same time as addressing issues like death and sadness. I figured we should do a quick run-down of some interesting facts from the Street.

  • It has won 189 Emmy awards and 11 Grammys. Clearly that’s tops among children’s shows.
  • It was the first educational program to base its format and its content on laboratory research. So science wins again.
  • The show still airs on PBS, but its federal funding was pulled in 1981, and the episodes on PBS are not first-run; HBO has been airing the episodes nine months earlier for the last five years.
  • Child psychologists initially advised they should keep the Muppets and the humans separate so as not to confuse the kids. Early test screenings showed kids were more engaged than expected in the human ‘street’ scenes, so they ignored the doctors and blended the gang. Science loses on this one.
  • The show absolutely addressed the events of September 11, 2001. I’d like to see Barney or the Teletubbies pull that shit off.
  • The kids on the Street are not child actors – they don’t use child actors. They are just regular kids.
  • Cookie Monster performed a rap in the 80s about healthy foods, which he later remade with Wyclef Jean. This actually happened.
  • Ernie’s “Rubber Duckie” was a hit. Seriously, it peaked at #16 on the Billboard hot 100. Curious about other songs that never charted that high? I was. Here are some hits that never made it to the top 20: ACDC’s “Highway To Hell” (#47), David Bowie’s “Changes” (#41), The Clash’s “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” (#45), Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” (#41), and the Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (#42). Well done, Ernie.

It wouldn’t surprise me to see Sesame Street make it another 51 years. Well, it would surprise me if *I* saw it, as I probably won’t be around then. But who knows? Maybe today is brought to us by the letter ‘L’ for ‘Longevity’.

International Accounting Day

First of all, there is a weirdly legitimate day that International Accounting Day is celebrated on November 10. Apparently it was on November 10, 1494 when Franciscan friar / mathematician published Summa de Arithmetica, Geometria, Proportioni et Proportionalita, that riveting tome that wound up birthing the method of double-entry bookkeeping that would come to define the profession of accounting.

As of 2018, there are 1,424,000 accounting jobs in the United States, which sounds like the kind of strangely round number that accountants would hate. Mick Jagger studied accounting. So did Bob Newhart. Probably not at the same time, though one wonders just what sort of messed-up accounting firm the two of them would have started together. I also studied a semester of accounting, during which I learned that red ink is a bad thing, and that I don’t love math nearly enough to be an accountant.

Yesterday was the day to give your accountant a present, or at least to wish them well. I did that, in that I told my wife to have a great day. She is the money-brains in this relationship, and even though she will freely state (quite openly and repeatedly) that she is bad at it, we both know I’d be worse. Yesterday we looked at our bank balance, shrugged, and spent no money. It was an accounting fiesta.

Today we’re both off work and doing our best to respect the solemnity of the day. But for some reason other celebrations still show up on this day:

  • Remembrance Day. Obviously this is the one we were expecting today.
  • Bonza Bottler Day. And this one we were not. We will celebrate this a bit late, partly out of respect, partly because we forgot it was coming and didn’t go shopping.
  • National Sundae Day. I don’t think it would be disrespectful to enjoy a sundae on this sacred day though.
  • National Metal Day. Not clear if this is referring to the substance used in manufacturing, or to the music genre.
  • Pocky & Pretz Day. A day to celebrate those little Japanese cookie-snacks? Kind of weird, but okay.
  • Origami Day. Maybe I’ll make a crane. Or watch a youtube clip of someone doing it.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Saturday, actually. Yesterday was so chill and blissful (downright chissful) that I didn’t even turn on my computer once. So this is the first of two tales.

Madness lies within these words. A fiendish madness that propels me to focus on minutia as though it held salvation, a myth long disproven before the virus knobbled this project to force it to rely on indoor games. A day without tangible, visceral celebrating is daunting in its blandness. On Saturday I did literally nothing to celebrate, apart from observe, research and fill in gaps. Oh, and I drank a beverage. That was special. This seems like an apt transition into our first topic:

World Mental Health Day / Mental Illness Awareness Week

The World Health Organization, a medical body that has been mercilessly mocked and chided this year for trying to protect us from the virus, launched this day several years ago to remind us that mental health is just as important to pay attention to as physical health. And it’s easy to forget that – we’ve spent much of the last seven months focussing on a physical health situation around the world, all while potentially forgetting that our mental health is taking a massive beating, virus or no.

For those of us who have been swimming in the waters of mental illness – a crowded, nauseating wavepool – for years, adjusting to the unknown is a familiar exercise. This year, however, has tossed us more curveballs than a truck-load of mangled scrota. Depression, anxiety, outright terror or hopelessness at the state of the world – these are all ingredients to that frothy stew that requires us to pay a little love to our mental well-being.

I’ve been dealing with depression since I was a kid. I didn’t know what it was back then. I couldn’t understand why everyone else seemed so damn happy. It all culminated in a very dark summer of 1992, which eventually gave way to a sliver of light. I tried coping by pouring drugs and alcohol into my insides, and while that gave me plenty of hilarious stories for later in life, it did nothing to alleviate my burden. Much later in life I found some happy-pills that helped to right the ship. I have also figured out how to regularly tend to my mental well-being, even if it has made me somewhat of an anti-social recluse.

But in 2020, that’s what happened to everyone. I was well-equipped for this isolation, including spending it with my best friend and three loyal hounds. I have slithered back toward the depths a few times, but I’m holding it together, and I feel strong enough to support those around me who might need some help. Pills are great if you need ‘em. Therapy is great too – I have yet to ever find a therapist with whom I click, and that’s probably the missing piece to my mental health. It’s good to have goals.

Stay healthy, everyone. And reach out if you need it. Good health isn’t just about tending to your wounds when you fall down the stairs like a schmuck – sometimes it’s just about getting through life.

National Hug A Drummer Day

Am I drummer? Technically, I’m not a drummer. And in another sense, technically I am a drummer. Once you’ve sat at a kit for a few hundred hours and learned how to master that intense beat-drop fill from “In The Air Tonight”, you’re a drummer for life. Right? Either way, my aunt actually does drum with some skill, and that’s her getting a hug for her efforts by a man I assume is my uncle, but who may be a look-alike she hired for this photo.

I don’t know how I talked my parents into letting me get a drum kit in high school. I guess the drugs they did back in the hippie days must have caused a fluctuation in their logic centres that happened to work to my advantage on that day. I demonstrated suitable desire first – I built my own kit out of cardboard boxes in my room, bought some sticks and jammed along with Ringo Starr – the perfect drummer to demonstrate the basics of rock drumming to an aspiring skinsmith.

So I got a set of Pearls that I played along with my stereo for hours on end. The only time I properly jammed was with my buddy Steve, and that was a 30-minute rendition of “Hey Joe”, with Steve strumming the necessary three chords while I tried not to fall too far off the beat. Eventually I let the drums go, something I have always regretted. I then owned a brilliant Roland electronic kit for a while as an adult, but the chronic pain in my arms would be fiery-mean after two songs, so those had to go too.

Now I’m just a drummer at heart. But a drummer whose dreams of drumming are vanquished is still a drummer. And that drummer may be in need of a hug more than most.

National Angel Food Cake Day

We have celebrated sponge cake and we have celebrated strawberry shortcake, all of which is intricately tied into this little celebration right here. Angel food cake achieves its monumental level of fluffiness thanks to whipped egg whites, and it contains no butter. You simply whip the egg whites until they’re stiff, add some cream of tartar to keep the mixture strong, then fold the other ingredients in. You just fold them in. Fold them.

Or, if you’re really thinking ahead, you simply go out and purchase an angel food cake from your local grocery store, bakery, or back-alley black-market cake connection (which is often less expensive, but at what cost?). There’s no need to make your kitchen all messy, especially when you need the space to bake some more magical THC gingersnaps (which we did). This was my suggestion to Jodie, but she insisted on making one at home instead. She remains truly devoted to this project, or at least to getting it the hell over with.

And strawberries are still our favourite go-to for a topping. Though we could be more creative, couldn’t we? If only there was something prompting us to try just a little bit harder to make this a special occasion…

National Cake Decorating Day

This may come as a shock both to people who know me, and to people who are simply admiring the above photograph: I have never taken a class on cake decorating in my life. I know, right? It’s like I have a natural affinity for dumping shit onto a cake to make it a much busier, possibly less-appetizing dessert. It’s a gift.

I have eaten cakes that have inspired guilt, due to their immaculate presentation. Some cakes look as though they were formed via some sort of otherworldly magic, and to the hungry diner we feel a sense of shame cutting into such a beautiful piece of hand-crafted art, only to eventually convert it into poop. But we do it, because that’s what cakes are for.

Jodie killed this one as well, first slicing the angel food cake in half, then cramming that space with whipped cream and strawberries, the same treatment she applied to the entire exterior. This was a test of my lactose-intolerance pills, but well worth it.

Bonza Bottler Day

Every month we have been toasting this one: an excuse to sample a bottle of something we don’t normally drink in order to add a little life to the month. A made-up celebration, as though we weren’t indulging in enough of them this year. Yesterday was 10/10, so we bonza bottled like champs. I enjoyed a Jones orange creamsicle soda, which was far too sweet for my tastes, while Jodie tried out a Stewart’s cherry cola.

What will we consume next month? Tune in on 11/11 (that’s Remembrance Day, so it will be something appropriately sombre) to find out!

National Porridge Day

Porridge! We didn’t expect to celebrate this day, but then Jodie went for coffee with a friend and had this delicious-looking bowl of immaculate porridge. She told me it tasted so good, I don’t have to write more than one tiny paragraph about it. She’s the boss. Porridge wins.

Today, which was yesterday, we hoped to spend the same was as we spend most of our Sundays: not doing much. But had we been feeling funky, we had all this to choose from:

  • National Sausage Pizza Day. A very specific one, and I believe our final pizza celebration of the year. Not our final pizza.
  • National Kimberly Day. A day literally for celebrating the Kimberlies we know. Is that right pluralization? Kimberlies?
  • World Obesity Day. There are a lot of days this month dealing with obesity. I guess come December no one will care anymore.
  • You Go, Girl Day. I won’t be saying that to anybody.
  • Kraken Day. A day to celebrate gigantic pretend cephalopods. Cool!
  • National It’s My Party Day. If it turns out Lesley Gore didn’t start this day to boost sales of her 1964 single, I’ll be very disappointed.
  • National Coming Out Day. This is the day to do it!
  • Southern Food Heritage Day. Boy, I hope sausage pizza is considered a ‘southern food’.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

With Remembrance Day falling on a Wednesday this year, we are entering our final “long weekend” of 2020 (until Christmas) with a voracious appetite for celebration and mirth. To be specific, our appetite is for rest and recreation – those are what we wish to celebrate. Jodie’s first six weeks of school have lasted about six months. My 2020 has been quite different than most 2020s out there in the world, and for that I’m grateful. But we are being rather choosy about the indulgences we select now, since we are well ahead of our target and able to bask in such comfort. Still, we were able to find time for this:

National Sneakers Day

As someone who cares almost not at all about fashion, the most interesting thing about sneakers to me is how many names they can go by. We call them running shoes or runners. In Australia (and also around here) they call them tennis shoes. The Brits go with trainers or training shoes. I guess that’s because you wear them while training for athletic events, but that’s a very specific application most of us don’t use them for. Then again, I don’t run either. I do sneak, but only when I’m trying to grab some food I don’t want the dogs to beg me for. Because I’ll fold every time.

In northeast England they’re known as sand shoes, gym boots, or joggers. Joggers makes sense, or at least as much sense as running shoes. Gym boots? These aren’t boots, but okay, we’ll let that one pass colloquially. But sand shoes? We have sandals for sand. Over in Wales they call them daps. No context for why. One theory is that it was because of the Dunlop Athletic Plimsoles factory, which was known as the DAP factory, but apparently the term predates the factory.

In South Africa, the term of choice is ‘takkies’. In the Philippines, English-speaking folks call them ‘rubber shoes’, because I guess the sole is the only part of the shoe that matters to them. Anglophiles in Singapore call them track shoes – again, a very specific purpose that almost none of us will use them for. In Greece they apparently call them ‘sportex’, which is a conference building here in Edmonton. I don’t get that one. In India they’re called ‘canvas shoes’, because the sole means nothing to English-speaking Indians.

In Ireland, because the Irish have to have a clever term for everything, you can call them gutties, rubber dollies, and in Armagh they call them Marcel Marceaus, because I suppose the shoes are ideal for miming. Big mime community in Armagh.

Jodie wore her sneakers/runners/tennis shoes/trainers/sand shoes/gym boots/joggers/daps/takkies/rubber shoes/track shoes/sportex/canvas shoes/gutties/rubber dollies/marcel marceaus yesterday, since I could not, thanks to this hearty air-cast on my foot. And she rocked them, as she always does. Happy National Gutties Day to everyone.

National Fire Prevention Week / Fire Prevention Month

Okay, this weekend we are actually going to do something about fire prevention in our home. We have been without a charged-up, working fire extinguisher for a few years now, which is a little bit scary given how often I like to light up matches and flick them across the room. We’ll also be dealing with the lone smoke detector, which is conveniently stationed upstairs outside of the bedrooms that nobody uses. We have purchased new detectors, and I’ll be slapping them up around the house.

We already ordered those window decals for Pet Fire Safety Day, indicating that we have three dogs on the premises that the fire department should rescue, ideally before rescuing the humans. Those dogs are very necessary on this planet. But we haven’t filled them out yet, so this weekend we’ll also be doing that.

If we owned a flamethrower, this would be the week we get rid of it, since those are not safe to have lying around the house where someone immature and often intoxicated (that’d be me) might want to play with it. But we don’t own one, so this is already crossed off our list.

We will also be raking up the fallen leaves in our back yard, which will make our lawn less flammable. Fire is fire, wherever it’s at. I believe they call this “the wisdom of raking the forest.” Of course, the real achievement would be getting rid of our fireplace entirely and replacing it with a natural gas one, which would be safer, less smelly, and more efficient, but that’s a few thousand bucks so it’ll have to wait for a while.

Don’t mess around with fire. Now is as good at time as any – better, actually, since the calendar is already directing us this way – to check things out and keep yourself safe.

Gourmet Adventures Month

This entire year has been one big gourmet adventure. We have sampled a number of foods we’d never tried before – including haggis – and I’m sure we’ll try a few more before 2020’s last sand-grain slips down into the grain heap of history. Mostly it has been this project which has steered us into gustatory experimentation, but sometimes we just get a little funky, just for fun. Last night it was beef Banh Mi-style bowls, courtesy of Hello Fresh. Hello Fresh is an ideal choice for cooking when you have a broken foot and want a lot of the prep work already done so you can get the hell back to a chair.

Life is far too short and Canadian cuisine far too dull to limit one’s taste buds to the predictable and unadventurous. Not everything has to be a mouth-searing spice-fest – though it’s okay by me when that happens. And not everything new has to be grotesque and weird, like the little baby octopodes I had considered buying to devour yesterday. But the routine of burgers and sandwiches and boring-ass casseroles must be shaken up. If you don’t eat with chopsticks at least a couple times a month, you’re simply missing out on some great food. Or you just don’t like using chopsticks but still eat that food – I won’t judge.

Unless you wholly embrace the boring. Then I’ll judge you as guilty of unoriginality. And is there anything worse than that? Well, guilty of murder, I guess. Dumb question. But my point still stands: take a chance, try something new. Last night’s foray into Korean-style dining was a perfect example of this.

If there’s one thing that 2020 is not, it’s boring. And in a lot of ways, it’s non-boring in the worst possible fashion. So you may as well pepper it up with something non-boring and delicious.

National Cookie Month

I should point out that this month contains more National Month designations than any other month of the year. I don’t know why October gets this tribute, but it makes my job a lot easier, especially when the daily slate of celebrations is fairly week and unimpressive. But cookies? There’s always time for cookies. And our team baker (hi, Mom!) has come through for us on nearly every single cookie celebration this year.

And she’ll still pop over with a new batch of something, even when the calendar doesn’t demand it. For example, the above delicious morsels are dark chocolate, cherry, pistachio cookies she baked simply because Jodie is having a rough start to her school year, and our team baker felt she could use a bump in spirits. That’s the kind of person we’ve got on our team. She’s as dependably awesome as any of our three canine assistants.

Those cookies, which have only lasted this long because Saturday is doughnut day and for some inane reason we bought a Costco thing of cinnamon rolls last weekend, were terrific. Another successful baked goods celebration.

National Popcorn Poppin’ Month

We celebrated National Popcorn Day all the way back on January 19, a date that may have actually occurred five years ago. It’s hard to say; 2020 has been very distorting. But on that day we enjoyed some popcorn, and now, nine months later we get to do it again for this weirdly-named month. Why not simply National Popcorn Month? Well, according to Jolly Time, the popcorn company, you can also simply go by that name for October too.

What else needs to be said? We popped some popcorn into our mouths, as instructed. Thanks, October, for being so damn busy.

National Pet CBD Month

We have mentioned before that we were in possession of CBD puppy treats. Now we get to mention it again, so congrats to all of you readers who were dying to know more about the contents of our puppy treat cupboard.

We bought the treats for Trixie, as her stress level during a road trip to Vancouver last year was unreasonably high. Trixie is simply the kind of dog who gets stressed easily. It’s part of her schtick. So even though the science wasn’t 100% in on CBD application for dogs, we gave them a shot. They didn’t seem to work at all.

But there is more science rolling in on cannabis and canine use. This is undoubtedly a consequence of our loosened laws, which allow scientists access to that evil devil-plant for their mad experiments. CBD has been shown to help dogs with osteoarthritis. Epilepsy as well. Also, just like with humans, it has been shown to help with the symptoms one acquires during chemotherapy. There is also preliminary research that suggests the stuff might help with puppy anxiety. Might. It didn’t work for Trixie, but maybe she’s either super-anxious or we didn’t give her a high enough dose.

We gave each of the dogs a CBD treat yesterday, and they appreciated the treat-ness of it, if not the medical benefits. I’d encourage folks to do as much research as possible if they’re considering this as a medical treatment, and please don’t smoke a joint and blast your second-hand exhalations into your dog’s face. That’s not medicinal, it’s just cruel. Dogs already live in that perpetual state of bliss that pot-smokers chase. Just be happy we can join them there.

Another Saturday, but one which features two solid days off before our return to whatever sort of ‘routine’ we can call this mess. Here’s today’s menu – and holy crap, it’s huge:

  • Bonza Bottler Day. Our tenth Bonza day of the year. Bottles are picked out and ready.
  • National Chess Day. Do we play chess yet again?
  • National Costume Swap Day. We were going to go shopping for Halloween costumes, but non-essential shopping isn’t happening.
  • National Motorcycle Ride Day. We had a plan for this one too. Fuck you, Covid.
  • National I Love Yarn Day. Maybe a couple of my readers, who love yarn more than I do, can help out.
  • National Curves Day. Curves in the road? Fun, sexy curves? Parabolic graphs? Tune in and find out!
  • National Angel Food Cake Day. I feel like we’ve already celebrate this. I also feel like I don’t care, we’ll do it again.
  • National Cake Decorating Day. And this time we’ll decorate it!
  • National Handbag Day. As in hell-in-a? Because 2020 is perfect for that.
  • World Mental Health Day. This is something we’re always paying attention to, so it should be easy to celebrate.
  • National Hug A Drummer Day. I’ve never been paid to drum, but I’ve owned a couple of kits. That’s close enough. I want a hug.
  • National Stage Management Day. No theatre this year. Fuck you, Covid.
  • International African Penguin Awareness Day. We’ve celebrated penguins twice this year, but this is more specific.
  • National Kids Bowl Free Day. No kids, so we can’t test this one out.
  • National Love Your Hair Day. Perhaps I’ll pen an ode to my arm hair. It’s no Robin Williams arm hair, but it gets me by.
  • National Tuxedo Day. I don’t own one, but wouldn’t this be fun?
  • National Shift10 Day. No idea what this means, and the website that hosted it is gone. It’s not a keyboard shortcut, unless someone out there has a ‘10’ button.
  • Universal Music Day. Another day to listen to music!
  • World Porridge Day. I’ll let Jodie field this one.

Friday, September 11, 2020

In the slender crunch between work hours and the hours of uninterruptable relaxation (there was a football game last night, after all) I found myself frantically thumping at these keys, trying to pull whatever celebrations we’d mustered yesterday into the parking lot. I had dogs to walk, dinner to cook, and a whole lotta not-this to be doing yesterday. But hey – how could we turn our backs on all the fun?

National School Picture Day

Lifetouch, the company that makes its mint off of school pictures, felt there should be a national day for itself. They established this last year. And I get it – where once the school picture could be a document for one’s growth through the years, Lifetouch has to be feeling the sting of the modern era just a little. My dad was a photographer so there are heaps of pictures of me in my younger, dorkier days. But I have talked to several people whose school pictures are, apart from some birthday party and Christmas pics, the only way they’d know how they looked back then.

But that was back then. Now we all have cameras in our pockets, and kids especially take scads of pictures. I don’t know how much a set of school pics from Lifetouch (or Jostens, or whoever else) are going for now, but we simply don’t need these overly-posed, looking-off-to-the-left snapshots anymore.

So they suggest pulling out your old school photos and reminiscing. I don’t need to do that. We had Jodie simply snap a pic of her school – a literal ‘school picture’. That will have to do. She took three.

And it cost us nothing.

National Swap Ideas Day

This is another fairly generic day, but I decided we may as well use it to our advantage. I posted three Facebook status updates yesterday, asking for people’s ideas on different topics. I figured mining the social media hive might net me some solutions I can use in my every day life, or at least some concepts I can think about.

The first note I put out there has to do with the “wonderful weirdos” in yesterday’s article – specifically our three dogs. They have been waking us up for breakfast earlier and earlier. Like, to the point where 1:45 makes sense for them. If we tell them to “fuck off” or “go back to sleep”, they will, for about 15 or 20 minutes. Then they’re back in our faces, insisting it’s time for some grub. I put it to my friends and family to provide some ideas for how we can fix this behaviour.

Next I posited the question of what is the greatest headphone song or headphone album to listen to. I came up with this query when George Harrison’s “Wah-Wah” came on my headphones the other evening. The thunderous wall of sound built from electric guitars and manic saxophones is breathtaking. I wanted a few more ideas.

Lastly I put out a request for ideas of how to celebrate National Punctuation Day, which shows up in two weeks. I could have selected any number of weird, uncelebratable holidays on the books, but this one was the one my eyes landed upon.

For my first query, the best suggestion I got was an automatic dog food dispenser. Cool idea, but we’d still have to get up and let them outside or else we’d be stumbling into a mess in the morning. For the second, I had suggestions ranging from Roger Waters to Roxy Music to E.L.O. And for the last one… well, you’ll have to wait and see if I use any of the proposed ideas.

This was a good one, a productive celebration. We don’t get enough of those.

National TV Dinner Day

We actually already celebrated this one. It was back in March for National Frozen Food Day, and it was awful. I also researched the history of the TV dinner back then so there’s no need to repeat myself. But why, oh why did we have to repeat this one? It was grotesque the first time around.

And yet this time was surprisingly better. As you can see, Jodie sampled the ‘beer battered chicken’, while I tried the ‘backyard barbecue.’ We cooked them in the oven, 1950’s-style, just to see if it would make the chicken batter crispy. It did not. Mine was a flattened piece of something that approximated chicken, and what was described on the box as “bone-shaped pork”. It was like a McRib, but somehow worse.

They still have not mastered the TV dinner that actually tastes like something other than regret. But hey, we honoured the day. It was… special.

Blame It On The Large Hadron Collider Day

How’s this for a celebration? If you lose anything all day long, you can blame it on that big machine in Europe with an 18-mile circumference. If anything goes wrong you can simply say that the Hadron Collider caused a disruption in space-time and that’s why you dropped your assistant manager’s Sweet Onion Teriyaki 6” sandwich from Subway into the toilet.

Fortunately, very little went wrong in our lives yesterday. We motored through the day and found nothing we could reliably blame on the collider. Until the evening, of course. Then, as we were watching the game, I could blame every blown coverage, every pre-snap penalty, and every turnover (actually there may have only been one) on the Large Hadron Collider.

It was a deeply silly idea for a day.

Bonza Bottler Day

We’ve done nine of these now, downing a bottle of something new and/or interesting on the day of every month where the day number aligns with the month number. These are always a good time.

For this month’s entry, Jodie picked up two Safeway-brand bottles of sucralose-sweetened flavoured bubbly water. And a large bottle of vodka. Keep in mind, Jodie drinks maybe five times a year and might get tipsy only one of those times. She’s not an alcohol fan. But this week, only five days into teaching students under the new twisted conditions of 2020, she proactively grabbed some vodka.

This has been the most necessary Bonza Bottler day ever.

International Creepy Boston Dynamics Robot Horse Day

I’m not going to pull any punches on this. This horse is fucking creepy. It lopes along sort of like how a horse might gallop if described by someone whose only encounters with the animal kingdom was an epileptic gerbil. But it’s sort of life-like. At the very least I bet it could do some serious damage in a Battle-Bots competition.

It was on this day in 2012 when this thing was released unto the world. And by “released” I mean it was shown off – no one was lining up to buy one of these things. It was made for the U.S. Marines, with the supposed ability to travel wherever a Marine could go on foot, but to carry up to 400 pounds of gear. A great idea, in theory.

The problem was, the robot horse made a lot of noise, and Marines are kind of known for keeping things quiet as they move through their missions. The robot is also a pain in the ass to repair, which is not a surprise. The Marines couldn’t really figure out a use for the thing, so by 2015 the idea was shelved.

But it still exists on Youtube for us all to have a little shudder. And then there’s this day, which draws attention to the weirdness. I’m glad we could do our little part to ensure that people don’t forget about this thing.

World Suicide Prevention Day

This is a day we take quite seriously. If you’ve lived a life that has not been touched at all by suicide then count yourself immensely fortunate. There is no prescribed celebration for a day like this – it’s a day for us all to look at ourselves and the ones we love and hopefully to make a connection. Most people don’t know what to do if they suspect someone they know is contemplating punching that one-way ticket, so by default they often just do nothing. Then, if something happens, they inevitably wish that they hadn’t.

But what does that mean? How are we supposed to bridge such a deep and complicated chasm in someone else’s soul? The quick answer is that we’re not. But reaching out to those people and engaging with them, maybe finding a way to have some laughs and spend some time with them, might be enough. Or it might not be – quite often the issues leading up to a suicide are unshared by those who commit the act. No one outside of that person’s skin should take the blame for this ultimate escape act.

I’ve been down that dark alleyway before. I’ve seen the abyss in my own heart and I’ve spent my time in those inky shadows. Once it landed me in the hospital. Mostly it merely led to a parade of horrific thoughts, dancing their macabre little two-step across my mental stage. What pulled me back? Sometimes it was a song or a film, which poured some light that I couldn’t ignore into my heart. Ultimately it was a combination of medication, meditation, therapy, family and dogs that righted my ship.

Both of us will scream it to the hills that if anyone we know wants to talk or to hang out, we are there for you – hell, even if you’re a reader of this page and we’ve never met. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t have to be a talk about suicide or the pointlessness of existence; we can talk about falafel recipes, Civil War uniforms or creepy robotic horses. Just keep talking and keep moving forward. To quote the great Mavis Staples, you are not alone.

Great Egg Toss Day

Oh, how I hope this is a celebration that will allow me to toss some eggs haphazardly around my neighbourhood, or better still, off a bridge.

Actually, it kind of is. On September 6, 1981, a man named Risto Antikainen threw an egg 317 feet, 10 inches to his buddy, Jyrki Korhonen. It is believed that this could be the world record for a successful egg toss with no breakage. There’s also the thought that a 1978 toss from Johnny Dell Foley to Keith Thomas might have exceeded that at 323 feet, 2 inches, but Guinness removed the record from their book back in 2000, so if there have been any greater tosses of egg in the last 20 years, they remain a mystery.

But the Risto-to-Jyrki throw comes bundled with an exact date, and that date has leant itself to this celebration, so we’ll go with it. Yesterday Jodie and I tried our own egg toss, going back and forth, a little further with each throw, until finally the shell gave in and splattered Jodie’s hand. I don’t think we got much further than about 20 feet apart, but then we are not egg tossing professionals.

Maybe this is something we should work on. Or maybe, since Guinness has stopped caring about this feat, we should simply clean up and move on.

Hey cool – I finished writing before the big game kicked off! Now here’s how I’ll be spending my Friday:

  • National Make Your Bed Day. I like a celebration I can bang out in 30 seconds or so.
  • National Hot Cross Bun Day. Maybe we’ll hit a bakery for these. Or maybe I’ll just play that song on my piano.
  • National Dog Walker Appreciation Day. I am the resident dog walker in the house, so I’ll appreciate myself.
  • I Want To Start My Own Business Day. Do I? Well, we have contemplated it in the past, so we can talk about that.
  • National No News Is Good News Day. A day to not pay attention to the news at all. I’m not sure that’s even possible now.
  • National Emergency Responders Day. Yes, this is 9/11, and some call it Remember Freedom Day or Patriot Day. But this is the aspect I think we will be celebrating today.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

The sun yawns loudest right before Magic Hour, casting sonorous shadows of cacophonic distortion & holding a mic to places that otherwise seldom get their fame: sides of houses, low-set windows & the lateral profile of cedar trees explode with intense light. It’s a fleeting moment of inspiration to propel us under the stars, & it serves as a tremendous distraction as I contemplate whether or not to abandon National Ants on a Log Day because I simply don’t want any. I feel that particular snack deserves the full light of day; it does not belong among the acoustic harmonics of dusk. So off it goes. & here’s to what managed to make the cut yesterday:

Telephone Tuesday

It could be that I’ve spent the bulk of my life in vocations & interpersonal relationships that have all been out of the ordinary, but I had absolutely zero idea that the Tuesday after Labour Day is one of the busiest days of the year for phone calls. This is, apparently, a thing.

A few possible explanations: school usually starts after Labour Day so you’ll get lots of parents calling their kids’ schools. Sure, I suppose. Support desks & company sales staff often take the long weekend off, so there’s a flood of those calls. Apparently organized people tend to tackle their to-do lists on this day, which tells me that I am not nearly as organized as I should be. People have to-do lists?

Anyhow, for whatever reason or reasons, Telephone Tuesday is apparently a legitimate cultural observance. & I observed the day by calling my boss & talking for about 20 minutes. Admittedly, this was an obligation, as this is how we have to have meetings now, but it still counts.

National Another Look Unlimited Day

A day for fall cleaning! I didn’t even know fall cleaning was something people undertook – we’ve already shat upon one of our four glorious seasons by insisting it has its own brand of extensive cleaning, now we’ve got to do that to another?

Okay, I’m sounding a little kvetchy for someone whose biggest event so far has been using the damn telephone nine hours ago. National Another Look Unlimited Day is a day for us to wander through our homes & have a look at something that could gain a second life with somebody else. As luck would have it, we have a stash of furniture & stuff that is earmarked for the Find Centre, which would make it available for folks who need it. I have no desire to have a garage sale, nor am I particularly interested in hawking my used goods through kijiji or anything else. I’d rather simply give it to someone who could use it.

I’m also notoriously bad with money – maybe this is a symptom. Maybe I should be prizing profit over everything else. Maybe I should rewire literally every wire in my instinct box (which is full of wires because I kind of dropped the ball mid-metaphor & I’m not backing out now). Or maybe that goes against the spirit of the day.

No, I will hold my weird, wiry instinct box close & do the right thing. Our TV just found a new home on the wall so this TV stand is in the donate pile, along with a number of other things. Don’t throw stuff out if someone else could use it. & unless it’s something that could actually bring in some good bucks on the used market, just give it away. It’s stuff.

Listen to your own wire-box.

National Ampersand Day

I am a huge fan of the ampersand. As far as punctuation goes, it has a flair that is simply unmatched. Sure, the ‘@’ has a gorgeous swoosh to it, & the asterisk can look dapper & trendy when it’s wearing the right font. Honourable mention to the schwa, which bears the appearance of a drunken lowercase-e, & to the pound-sign which has also excelled as the number sign, the hashtag & the tic-tac-toe board. But the ampersand is the only real artist in the punctuation bunch.

She (& I’m going with a she to emphasize her strength & agility) can offer all variants of swirl as her crown, & boasts a squiggle, a straight dash, or whatever one’s pen feels like adding on as the final embellishment on her right side. That appendage is the open hand, the inviting gesture that indicates that she is joining two things together: this & that, us & them, light & dark. The one constant is the stern & determined diagonal slash across her frame – her reminder to us to take her seriously.

As an artist she fits the form brilliantly. She offers addition without condition. She encourages teamwork, togetherness, true connection. Like the true greats, she is the fusion of styles: she is rock & roll. She was an outcast – once letter #27 in our alphabet before being relegated to the upper wing of the number seven on our keyboards. But make no mistake, she has roots as deep as any of those consonants & vowels, even deeper than the squiggly line that poses our questions or the straight, stabby line that exclaims our exclamations. She is ancient, modern, & eternal.

& that’s about all.

National Actors Day

Once again, a day I had no idea existed until this project. I suppose that would be the case for most of these 1,600 (so far) celebrations, but this is one you don’t even see pop up in the most obscure corners of social media. It was started by Helen McCready, who is a casting director. She’s a successful one too, with an actual IMDb resume. I’m not going to go so far as to say I’m familiar with much of her work, but she was on the casting team for Away We Go, that 2009 film with Maya Rudolph & John Krasinski. That was a great movie. Helen was part of that experience, so I’ll give her case a listen for National Actors Day.

She started this day in 2011 as a way of giving thanks to the great actors & actresses (really, we can just say ‘actors’) who have made so much brilliant art for us to enjoy.

& why shouldn’t actors get a day of love? Sure, they have awards for actors & that’s lovely, but there are roughly (& this is a complete estimate here) a gazillion actors who will never win one of those big awards we all pretend mean so much. Look at Peter Lorre, pictured above. The man was never nominated for an award for stage acting or screen acting. He just showed up & did the work. & he left behind a legacy that will live on for as long as humans care about movies.

This day is for the aspiring Peter Lorres out there. The guy who played the Falafel Delivery Man on an episode in season six of Law & Order: SVU. The lady in that commercial whom I believed really was satisfied once she switched her long-distance carrier. That guy who had a few lines in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest then went on to play the creepy mortician in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. This one’s for you, Vincent Schiavelli, & all the rest of you who put in the work. Thanks!

Star Trek Day

When I told my mother that it was 54 years ago yesterday that the first episode of Star Trek popped onto NBC, she made a face that I will never forget. It was a reckoning of time, of one’s space in the universe & one’s connection to dreams of the past. I had a similar feeling the night before when I watched an episode of Greatest American Hero on Amazon Prime & realized it had aired 39 years ago.

Star Trek is the ultimate underdog story. It started as a sci-fi prime-time show that achieved a modicum of success, then was cruelly axed by its parent network. It went into hiding, into the true underground of culture. An animated show tried to keep the fires going, but it took a decade for a legitimate cinematic appearance… & that film didn’t fare much better. It’s a fine movie, & the special effects no doubt melted a few cosmically-enhanced brains in the crowd, but the timing was off & the script was not the epic it should have been.

But Trek persevered. Geekdom knows no limitations when the content is worth pursuing. The movies improved & the second, third & fourth series were all big hits. Star Trek helped to normalize geekdom by bringing science fiction to the masses. It has hit some low points, but what hasn’t?

What has impressed me the most about Trek is its most recent cultural playbook. After lying dormant for a few years after Enterprise was cancelled, it followed the recipe for the Hollywood Reboot: younger cast, a few well-known faces, play up the old content for some laughs, & insert a Beastie Boys song for some reason. & it was great. But in the decade or so since that reboot, Trek made a return to where it belonged: television. Everyone has their series of choice, but I’m really digging the three active Trek shows right now – four if you count The Orville, which you absolutely shouldn’t, though it is the true spiritual successor of The Next Generation.

Some people believe “Star Trek or Star Wars” is a legitimate either/or. These are probably the same folks who believe one has to pick between the Beatles & the Rolling Stones. You don’t. It’s all great. Last night I enjoyed a classic first-season episode of Picard’s Trek (he is, after all, the greatest captain), as well as an episode of Lower Decks, which is absolutely worth the time investment for some laughs.

May Trek continue for another 54 years at least. & may we all live long & prosper.

What glorious adventures await me on this next leg of my journey into mirth-marbled madness?:

  • Bonza Bottler Day. & this is a fine time to remember that we didn’t do our necessary supply run last weekend.
  • National Teddy Bear Day. We have something that will work, & he’ll be joining me at my desk.
  • National Wiener Schnitzel Day. I love this stuff.
  • National Sudoku Day. Not my favourite puzzles – I’m never in the mood for too much math & numbers – but I’ll have some fun with this.
  • Chrysanthemum Day. Sure, those are lovely.
  • Wonderful Weirdos Day. What a terrific opportunity to spend the day studying my dogs.
  • International Buy A Priest A Beer Day. What do you want to bet this was started by a priest?
  • Testers Day. Let’s see if this will apply to our lives.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

This weekend prompted a reminder, as I slid right through a day without posting a thing to social media or to this site: this is not a writing project. Several years ago I had tasked myself with writing at minimum 1,000 words every day on a new topic, every day for 1,000 days. No day was skipped, be it Christmas Day, a day in the thick of illness, or a day in which we spent 13 hours driving home from Vancouver. But this is about the celebrations, and we can catch up on those. With that in mind, I allowed myself the opportunity to relax. We spent the weekend at a virtual Folk Fest, and we spent it well: with family and friends visiting, and a tremendous amount of down-time. All we managed to do was this:

Jodie’s Birthday

There was no bumping this one. I couldn’t have, even if I wanted to.

Jodie and I met at a very strange point in both of our lives. We were both clawing our way from different strains of sadness and dissatisfaction, though neither of us anticipated finding our path across a cluttered counter of grease-drenched breakfasts and $4.99 plates of liver and onions. We worked at the greasiest of spoons in a dirt mall that was teetering on the verge of collapse. And yet here was where I found a towering intellect, an unending source of compassion, and an unlikely purveyor of quality comedy, all bundled into a tiny, perfect human.

Jodie and I have been the best of friends for as long as we’ve known one another. We have grown closer over 2020 due to proximity, which we fully anticipated; we have a tendency to grow stronger the more time we can spend together. It happens every summer, and it has happened over the last 4.5 months. There is literally no other human with whom I’d want to be stranded.

If you have seen her smile, you have seen that unique tint of luminous magnificence that permeates the air around it. Her astute cerebral motor is powered by the unrelenting might of her heart, which reaches out instinctively to all who need it – even to those whose worthiness of such empathy falls short to the untrained observer. She has devoted her life to her students, to her art, and now to solving racism (which, mark my words, she will do), yet she has never allowed any of her passions to cast even the slightest shadow on her commitment to her family. We have never watched her successes from the back seat, instead we have shared them, aided and abetted them, and embraced them as part of her team.

I have read the scribblings of thanks and admiration from her students over the last two decades, and they all hum to the same tune: Jodie changes lives, and she does so through encouraging others to step forward and grow. I have observed countless stories of gregarious deeds and boundless generosity, but Jodie’s method is more subtle: she provides strength to those around her. In doing so, she creates stronger, kinder, more caring humans who feel boldly confident to channel their artistic energy out into the world in everything they do. The rippling effects of this Jodie would never acknowledge, and none of us will fully understand, but it is powerful and profoundly brilliant. She shines her light through all of our lenses, and in this she brightens the world in an unfathomably massive way.

And I’m the lucky schlub who gets to laugh with her, scritch dogs with her, celebrate 1,300 ridiculous things with her, and bask in that magnificent smile every day. Happy birthday, love.

Bonza Bottler Day

Yes, we did our eighth Bonza Bottler Day during our weekend of music. Jodie sampled the MASH grapefruit drink, which she described as “good” in a bold stroke of biting culinary criticism. I tried the Jarritos Pineapple soda, which was fine, albeit a bit sweeter than I’d have liked. Apart from a smidgen of water and lots of beer, it was all I drank over the weekend.

I’d write more about all this, but there’s really nothing to say.

International Cat Day

This occurred on Saturday, and once again my online friends helped out with some gorgeous feline specimens. Here you go:

Today I’ll be playing some serious catch-up, which means that today this *is* a writing project, and certainly a heavy one. Here’s what we have to get to, along with the other stuff I’ve missed over the past few days:

  • National Rice Pudding Day. Jodie’s favourite! And she’d have had some yesterday, but dammit, we did nothing yesterday. It was great.
  • National Veep Day. Do we watch an episode? It was a fine show – we’ll see how the day goes.
  • National Book Lovers Day. Actually, we did some reading yesterday so this one might be covered already.
  • National Singapore Day. I don’t see us making it to Singapore today.
  • National Spirit of 45 Day. Maybe we’ll break out some old records.
  • National Shapewear Day. There’s a day to celebrate stuff that makes us shaped like other stuff when we wear it? Cool.
  • National Lazy Day. I’d say we covered that over the weekend.
  • National S’mores Day. We actually covered this as well.
  • National Connecticut Day. In our continuing journey around the US kitchens, we’ll take a stab at lobster rolls for dinner.
  • National Spoil Your Dog Day. So, like any other day.
  • Gay Uncles Day. Also known as Guncles Day!
  • National Polka Day. Dammit. When is National Funk Day?
  • National Hand Holding Day. Within one’s reasonable cohort, of course.
  • National Coworking Day. This might be tough to squeeze into National Lazy Day, at least if we do that one right.
  • National Duran Duran Appreciation Day. Now we’re talking.
  • Smithsonian Day. I guess some love to that museum.
  • International Vlogging Day. We may put together another video, though it’s looking like a busy day already.
  • World Lion Day. I feel like we shouldn’t skip this one. Lions are awesome, and deserve a day.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

The thunderous clang of a long-awaited epiphany can resonate off the surface of the inside of one’s skull for months. If that clang hits just the right tone, it can be life-affirming. For me it was the realization that my true happiness exists when my home base is sacred and secure, intricately linked with my art, my work, and my joy. This weekend is all about the joy part, and it’s a time we have locked in for a more visceral present, with the prosaic waxing pushed into next week. Even a few of the more fun celebrations will be bumped for time. We’re all about music and recreation for a few days. Also, there was this:

National Lighthouse Day

What? He’s focused on staging a brilliant weekend of pretend live performances by people who will never actually enter his backyard and he’s going to take time out to write about lighthouses? Well, most of this article was written yesterday, and the show didn’t start until 6, so I had time. And lighthouses are really cool.

As far as I can remember, I have never seen a lighthouse in person. This makes sense – I haven’t spent a lot of time near a coast, and when I have it has been on a crowded beach, along the western rim of Santa Monica or along the edge of Upper New York Bay. You won’t find a lot of lighthouses there.

The original lighthouse wasn’t even a house – people would light fires on hilltops near the water to provide the best possible visibility to sea vessels. The lighthouse simply took that fire indoors, and blasted its light in a more concentrated beam to show where the rocks were at. Before electric light, the houses served more as beacons to welcome boats into a port, or to provide a look-out for the folks who lived on land.

Once commerce started spreading its long, gangly arms across the Atlantic in the late 1600s that’s when lighthouses started to become in fashion as guidance aids. I read up on the technology growth from coal embers to radioisotope thermoelectric generators, but I’ll save you the pains of having to read through a hastily-scrawled summary here. Needless to say, it’s interesting stuff. Lighthouses rock.

National Sea Serpent Day

This is the day during which people should be asking, “Are sea serpents real?” They should then be replying, “Nah, probably not,” and continuing about their day. But we’ll dig a little deeper, because dammit, we care about you, the reader.

On August 7, 1848, some 172 years ago yesterday, the HMS Daedalus was scooting through the waves down to Saint Helena in the South Atlantic. Wait – the South Atlantic? There’s something in the South Atlantic? Why, yes there is – Saint Helena is a volcanic island about as close to the middle of nowhere as you’ll find on this planet. It’s roughly 2/3 of the way across the Atlantic if you head out from Brazil toward Angola in Africa. It’s actually where Napoleon was imprisoned post-Waterloo until his death.

But enough about that – the HMS Daedalus was making its way through the ocean when it came across a 60-foot sea serpent whose massive maned head poked out of the water as if to say, “Hey, you should make note of this date so people can celebrate it someday in the distant future, perhaps whilst enjoying a root beer float.”

There’s no denying the men aboard the Daedalus saw something in the water that day. Was it a shark? An oarfish? A whale? Or are there still remnants of prehistoric sea life still swooshing about in the big blue deep? That’s the best part about the ocean – with all of our learning, with our ability to source any piece of practical knowledge with the push of a Google search, we still know almost nothing about what’s going on under the water. We can’t explore it all, nor can we fully explain everything we have explored.

So no, I’m not believing this was a genuine sea serpent, but it’s possible. I hope I never meet the thing in person, whatever it is. Then again, I’ll likely never be sailing out to the middle of nowhere, so it’s not likely.

Beach Party Day

Please, don’t have a beach party. Unless you have the ability to seriously limit attendants to people within your quarantine group, it’s just not a good idea. I know, you can breathe outside and not be too concerned about spreading anything, but still. Why not be over-safe?

That aside, above you can see our ‘beach’, such as it is. On warm days, I lay in the hammock while Jodie stretches out in the hot-tub, which has been cranked down to its lowest temperature. Sure, there are no waves, no smell of salt air, no sand. But it’s a refreshing escape from the heat, and that’s something. This weekend our beach is functioning as our festival grounds for our fake folk fest, and the weather will prevent us from wanting to really beach it up.

But a beach is as much a mental state of being as it is a physical location. You can build your own beach replica and have some fun with it, all while keeping yourself safe from grotesque strangers and their grotesque germs. Keep the party safe.

Pay no attention to the pile of wood and leaves – those have already been removed and replaced by lawn chairs and a cooler full of delicious beer (pictured below). The party will continue all through today and tomorrow. It may not be an actual beach, but it’s beach enough for 2020.

International Beer Day

This is not an ancient, sacred celebration. Some guy named Jesse Avshalomov came up with it in 2007, likely whilst downing a few beverages at his home in Santa Cruz. But there was no International Beer Day up to that point, so somehow Jesse’s little brainsplosion caused quite an effect around the globe. Within a decade it had spread to 207 cities in 80 countries, people all unified by their love of beer.

There are three principles upon which this day is founded: we should gather with friends and enjoy beer, celebrate those responsible for brewing and serving us beer, and to celebrate the beers of all nations. Well, we covered the first one easily, we have invited our bartender (and my barber) from Da-De-O to join us for some drinks, and while the beer we consumed was solely Canadian, it did feature a terrific Kolsch (German style) and a classic brown ale (English style). So I’m counting it.

No, this not our only foray into a beer-related celebration this year, but that’s okay. Beer is one of the greatest inventions humanity has ever spurted unto the world, and it deserves all of the accolades we can throw at it. Besides, what goes better with an outdoor music festival than beer? Okay, there is an answer to that, and it does involve a substance which is now legal to consume in Canada, but forget that stuff. I mean – enjoy that stuff (as we did), but this is the weekend we should concentrate on beer.

That’s pretty easy to do when the beer, the company, and the music are this good.

Today’s article will be scribbled hastily upon a laptop during the tiniest of windows when I won’t be paying attention to the music. Here’s what we could celebrate:

  • Bonza Bottler Day. I won’t write much about this, but yes, we did choose a couple of new drinks.
  • National CBD Day. Hey, speaking of that other substance…
  • National Happiness Happens Day. Celebrate the things that make you happy. Yes, this is another generic happiness celebration, but we’re happy so we’re in.
  • National Frozen Custard Day. We will be passing on this one, but dive in if you’re feeling it.
  • National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbour’s Porch Night. We are actually doing this. It’s too ridiculous to skip.
  • National Dollar Day. This day celebrates the founding of US currency. Up here we have loonies.
  • International Cat Day. We will be accepting pictures of cats once again, as we have none around here.
  • National Bowling Day. I was looking forward to doing this, but it is not likely in the cards, even next week.
  • National Garage Sale Day. We aren’t much for garage sales, as we don’t like accumulating too much stuff, but we would have gone were this not Covid year.
  • National Fried Chicken & Waffles Day. Jodie actually had this last weekend but we forgot to take a picture. Mostly because we don’t photograph our food unless it’s for this project.
  • Middle Children’s Day. Congrats to all of you. Jodie is an oldest and I’m an only, but we fully support all you messed-up middle kids.
  • Celebrate Your Lakes Day. If you’ve got ‘em, celebrate ‘em.
  • Odie Day. Yes, a day specifically to celebrate Garfield’s dog friend.
  • The Date To Create. Well, we do create a fresh article every day, though today’s does not promise a whole lot of freshness. I guess we’ll see.