Tuesday, December 8, 2020

While today might be a day to crank up some vintage John Lennon and mourn the fact that we have been without his genius for 40 years now, I’d rather keep the spotlight blaring upon brighter affairs. We celebrate life here at Celebrate366 Industries, not death. We celebrate the joyous, the momentous, the sprinkles of mirthful vibration upon the great sundae of metaphysical existence. Rather than focus on the solemn observances we instead promote the shameless embrace of indulgence and excess. We throw open our arms and open our mouths for the important stuff, like this:

National Cotton Candy Day

This one is another rerun. It’s no surprise that people around the world came up with different days to commemorate the same thing, only to have that jumble of crossed wires show up on the internet years later to confuse us all. That’s okay; we’ll forgive the chaos because it’s cotton candy. It deserves a second celebration. Besides, the first one was back on July 31; it feels like years have passed since then.

I may have written about the history of cotton candy back then, but since we can all agree that enough has happened since July to have rendered this celebration fresh once again, I’ll remind everyone that cotton candy was invented by a dentist. I mean… sort of. It may have existed among street vendors in England in the 1800s, and perhaps in Italy for centuries before that, but it really only counts when an American invents it and gives it a catchy name, right? In this case it was Dr. William Morrison, and it debuted as Fairy Floss at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis.

A few years later another machine was invented, and this one adopted the name Cotton Candy, which stuck. This happened in New Orleans, and it was the brainchild of Joseph Lascaux, another dentist. That’s right – this tooth-melting confection that I’m sure 4 out of 5 dentists would recommend you avoid in favour of sugar-free gum or something, was created by dentists. Those nutjobs who are claiming that Covid was created by pharmaceutical companies so that they can sell a virus might find some solace in this. Maybe nefarious industries do occasionally create products to harm the public, specifically so they can swoop in to save the day.

I’d rather not scrutinize this one too closely. We picked up some cherry flavoured cotton candy from Carol’s Quality Sweets, and it hit the spot nicely. No evil dentist conspiracies necessary.

Walt Disney Day

Disney parks are, from what I can see, open for business. So if you’re looking to ride some smooth, brilliantly-conceived rides in a meticulously-cleaned, cat-patrolled amusement park while you catch and/or transmit this virus in a crowded public setting, that might be the place for you. Am I being a bit cynical? Perhaps, but accurately so. I meant the rest of what I said too – Disney parks are heaps of fun, super clean, and cats patrol them.

There are apparently hundreds of feral cats who live in Disneyland. Rumor has it that at night those cats are released in order to make sure the rat population stays under control. So if you’ve always wanted to be a Disney cat-wrangler, that may be a career path that exists. The original cost to enter Disneyland was $1 back in 1955. It now costs $93. To be clear, that $1 only got you in the door – you’d have to purchase admission to each of the rides separately. But still, that is some impressive inflation.

There is an actual human skull on display in Disneyland. Back when they were building the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in 1967, fake skulls were, apparently, rather obviously fake. I guess the fake skull industry has taken leaps and bounds over the last few decades and I didn’t even notice. The medical school at UCLA helped out the Imagineers back in the day, and donated a few actual human skulls and skeletons to add a creepiness to the ride. Those have all been replaced, except for one actual human skull, which is mounted overtop the bed pictured above.

Walt Disney’s birthday is on December 5, but the Disney people felt he was as important as a Washington or Lincoln, so his birthday is instead celebrated specifically on a Monday, perhaps in anticipation of it becoming a national holiday. Walt created animation magic, and later theme park perfection. I’m sure he never imagined a world in which his company was the largest media corporation on the planet, but had someone suggested it to him, he probably would have been on board. It’s easy to be snarly over a media empire like this, but dammit, Walt brought us all a lot of joy. Happy 119th, Walt.

National Illinois Day

Sure, we could have put together another deep dish pizza to reflect the greatest food we sampled in our trip through Illinois nine and a half years ago. And we considered tracking down the zesty sport peppers needed to create a proper Chicago hot dog. But I was intrigued by the fact that poutine and doughnuts are also considered crucial components to dining in the Land of Lincoln, and those are frequently on our menu anyway. We sampled some terrific poutine over the weekend, and pictured above are doughnuts that would be huge hits in Illinois: a hot chocolate doughnut, and an After Eight doughnut. Both were out of this world.

So what do we know about Illinois, apart from the fact that the Blues Brothers spent a good deal of their film travelling around the state? When the state started acquiring its colonial displacer population (the white folk), the population boom was in the southern part of the state. Then along came the Erie Canal, which opened up the Great Lakes to New York and the eastern seaboard, and Chicago was established as the economic focus turned to the northeastern chunk of the state.

Illinois was at the heart of the Manhattan Project and the birth of the nuclear age, and they were the first state in the nation to lift the criminal ban on sodomy. This was in 1961. But the most interesting aspect of its history is how Chicago became the go-to place for brilliant black musicians to flee the Jim Crow south and gather together to build a fresh scene wherein some of the greatest music ever made was put to record. We can thank Leonard and Phil Chess for this, and for making names like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Little Walter household names. Well, in this household anyway.

A few of my favourite Illinois natives: Michael Madsen from Chicago, Mr. T from Chicago, Bill Murray from Evanston, Jane Lynch from Evergreen Park, Bob Odenkirk from Berwyn, Nick Offerman from Joliet, Harvey Korman from Chicago, Mandy Patinkin from Chicago, Richard Pryor from Peoria, Lou Rawls from Chicago, Cecily Strong from Springfield, Gillian Anderson from Chicago (wait… she’s not British?), and John Belushi from Chicago. There are many more – it’s an extremely extensive list – but that’s a good start. Happy day, Illinoisians – enjoy your doughnuts.

National Handwashing Awareness Week

The pandemic ain’t over, folks. Keep washing those hands. Sure, it’s probably an airborne virus, and maybe we won’t get sick from having dirty hands, but it’s a good rule to stick by whether or not there’s a virus ravaging the world at the moment. Just keep yourself clean. Also, it is remarkably difficult to take a quality hand-washing photograph by oneself. These are the helpful life tips I am learning this year, thanks to this project. Stay safe, everyone.

Today is another day to raise the torch high and see what fun we can kick out of these waking hours. Here’s what’s on the menu:

  • National Brownie Day. Had I been thinking ahead (and I really wasn’t last weekend) I’d have been ready for this day.
  • Pretend To Be A Time Traveller Day. We’re all time travellers though, aren’t we? We just happen to be travelling in the same direction at the same speed.
  • Day of Finnish Music. What great music has come from Finland, you might ask? I might also.
  • National Bartender Day. Last weekend we celebrated bartenders, and I guess we get to do it again. And for the second time, I’ll be the bartender that gives and receives thanks for the work.
  • National Lard Day. A great day for eating a handful of lard. Anyone?
  • National Christmas Tree Day. We have a couple of those set up at the moment. I guess we’ll celebrate them.
  • Take It In The Ear Day. No idea what this means. It sounds dirty and/or violent. But we’ll investigate, because that’s what we do.

Monday, December 7, 2020

While today might be historically known as a day that will go down in infamy, I’m not sure if our slate of celebrations are really set up to leave that kind of lasting impression. Yesterday we didn’t get up to much in the way of celebrations at all though, so I feel like we need to tap on the gas just a little to make up for it. We’ll see – we have surpassed our goal of 2,000 parties this year, and while we are committed to making it through all 366 days, we no longer feel obligated to do weird shit like learn what a sacher torte is and bake it. Here’s how we spent yesterday:

National Microwave Oven Day

Remember the World’s Fair? Once upon a time, gigantic leaps in technology were unveiled at these massive events, and journalists would carry stories of these futuristic doo-dads back home for folks to ruminate on just how bitchin’ the future might be. It was at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933 when Westinghouse demonstrated a device that cooked food between two metal plates attached to a shortwave transmitter. The world was impressed.

But it was eight years earlier when self-taught engineer Percy Spencer was working on an active radar set when he noticed the microwaves began to melt a chocolate bar in his pocket. Thus began the experiments. The first thing cooked in a microwave oven was popcorn. The second was an egg which exploded in the face of one of the experimenters. It took until 1945 for Raytheon to file a patent on this tech, and until the early 70s for them to find their way into homes.

Growing up, I always had a microwave. I’ve never known life in the era when you’d have to use an oven for all re-heating purposes, though I acknowledge I’m of the first generation of kids who can say that. Yesterday we used our microwave to heat up some leftovers, and we appreciated its presence in our kitchen. Some things, like pizza, fried chicken, or anything with a crunch to it, should still be heated up in the oven, and we absolutely will not cook with the microwave because we know better. But for what it does, we would not want to live without it.

Put On Your Own Shoes Day

This is another celebration for which we could find no origin. Perhaps it was created by a mother of a young child, hoping to encourage them to finally take that step and learn how to put on their own shoes. Maybe it was some drunkard over at Chase’s Calendar of Events, looking to prank his editor with a few entries that don’t actually exist.

That’s okay. We no longer really question where these weird days come from. The strangest ones were concocted by a couple in Pennsylvania just for the sake of concocting weird celebrations, so what’s to stop others from doing the same? At least this one is fairly easy to celebrate: I walked the dogs. In order to honour this celebration properly, not once did I enlist any help from anyone else in donning my own footwear. Nor did I attempt at any time to don the footwear of someone else – there are two ways one could read the title of this celebration.

So we celebrated this one properly, whatever the weird journey it might have taken from someone’s twisted brain to our list of December 6 activities. We are in to the very end, folks, even if it means we have to put on our own shoes.

Only two? Yes, only two celebrations yesterday. As I said, we might get up to more today, but then we might not. Here’s what we have to choose from:

  • National Illinois Day. Deep dish pizza was a consideration for this one, but we’ve already done that. Maybe something else will jump into our brains.
  • National Cotton Candy Day. There’s really only one way to celebrate this. Sure, we whiffed on picking up some rhubarb vodka the other day for that celebration, but we aren’t going to be missing this one.
  • National Letter Writing Day. It’s kind of weird to me how many days there are in the year to celebrate writing letters. Who writes letters anymore?
  • Walt Disney Day. To be clear, Walt’s birthday was on December 5, but whoever created this day felt it should be celebrated on the first Monday of the month. Weird? Not as weird as Put On Your Own Shoes Day.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

We have chalked up our virtual hands, tossed back our virtual golden locks and leapt off our virtual bluff into the wild, raging air of a remarkably busy Saturday. A Saturday of unrelenting sunshine and a necessary supply run or two. A Saturday packed with activity – so much so that our desire to try out disc golf had to be bumped – yet we still managed to squeeze in an afternoon nap. This is living life at its maximum, folks. This is the dream, emboldened to inspire us to tackle all of this madness:

National Mahjong Day

Back in the plucky, early days of this century, before my idle PC time had discovered addictinggames.com or Kongregate, I made do with the little solitaire games posted on Yahoo. Remember Yahoo? It was my first portal to the web, the first website I visited back in 1994 at the Compusmart internet kiosk. I think my first search was to figure out some of Syd Barrett’s mumbled lyrics from an early Pink Floyd song.

Anyhow, they had an online mahjong game, which was simply a solitary remove-matching-tiles game. It was fun, un-timed (so it leant itself to distraction), and fairly easy to win. Perfect for playing between calls when I worked in a call center, or just to kill some time. Yesterday I found a newer version of essentially the same game, though this one featured 3D cubes and was, in fact, timed. Not quite as fun, but it wasn’t bad.

Mahjong does not date back thousands of years, as some may suspect. I don’t know – maybe no one would suspect that. I’m making suppositions here. Anyhow, it stemmed from card and tile games that were popular in China in the 18th and 19th centuries, and some games scholars (another tragically missed career choice I’m just learning about) believe it may have stemmed from the same roots as rummy. The first mahjong sets sold in the United States were by Abercrombie & Fitch in 1920. For some reason that only a well-versed doctor of game history would know, the American version became a predominantly Jewish pastime.

It was a fun little bout of solitaire yesterday afternoon, but I had to finish up fast. This was not a day to linger on one celebration. We had work to do.

Respect For Parents Day

A lady named Marilyn Dalrymple of Lancaster, California must have been feeling a little salt from her children a few years ago, because she felt the need to create this day for children to drop their pretentions and pass some respect up the family tree. If you want a baffling trip into Marilyn’s psyche, you should check out the proclamation she posted for this day, which reads like a passionate plea for Washington to recognize this day and make it official. It also appears that her website, hosted by Tripod and looking a little late-90s-Geocities-ish, has been around for a while.

On this site she asks people to print out the proclamation and mail it back to her. One may scoff at this, but she alleges to have signed proclamations from LeVar Burton, Tim Conway, Alex Trebek, and a heap of far less famous people. So maybe we should print it out and join in.

We, of course, demonstrate our respect for our parents whenever we can. My mother is heading over for Sunday dinner later today, and we’ll be sure to treat her with the reverence she deserves. We are deeply fortunate to have only one of our four collective parents who has grown into a crochety right-winger as they’ve aged. My mom, thankfully, is just as much a hippie as she ever was. Much respect.

National Spider-Man Day

It was August of 1962. The new Amazing Fantasy #15 issue featured a brand new superhero who would go on to become a friendly neighbourhood classic. Spider-Man is one of the most beloved superheroes in the genre, and that is in part because of some fantastic cinematic timing.

A lot of people – and I mean a lot of people seem to be tiring of the superhero movies. I am, though I’ll still check them out because as a professional celebrator I feel I need to have my finger on the pulse of culture. But Spider-Man’s Tobey Maguire movies dropped before the market had been saturated. And it was terrific, as was the sequel. Putting aside the maligned Andrew Garfield movies, once Tom Holland stepped into the role the character hit another resurgence.

I can trace my love for the webslinger back to the astoundingly cheesy 80s cartoon, which can still be viewed on Disney+. I tried. I was disappointed. I suppose my standards have changed.

Spider-Man has been everywhere. He was a much-mocked disaster on Broadway. He was a recurring sketch character on The Electric Company in the mid-70s. In the comics he had no Tony Stark-type mentor – he simply had to learn himself. Even that beloved line, the one that may be the greatest quote of the Marvel universe – “With great power comes great responsibility” – was only later attributed to his uncle Ben. That line first appeared in a text box in the last panel of the very first Spider-Man story, some 58 years ago. It went on to become the ethos of the entire genre.

As a fan, I celebrated this one early, watching Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse once again earlier this week. This film is not only a feat of terrific story-telling and brilliant voice acting, but it is an achievement in the world of animation. Happy Day, Spidey.

National Mustard Day

Jodie had mustard on her burger yesterday, but I unwisely selected a chicken sandwich that was mustardless. This would not do. So I celebrated in the classic fashion: with a spoon full of mustard. It was as delightful as it looked.

Mustard is not only one of our most beloved condiments, it is likely the oldest. Archaeologists found evidence that mustard was cultivated in the Indus Valley in the Indian subcontinent by a culture that disappeared around 1800BC. The Romans mixed unfermented grape juice (known as ‘must’) with ground-up mustard seeds to create something they called “burning must”, or ‘mustum ardens’ in Latin. Hence the term ‘mustard’. Etymology is fun!

The best part about mustard – apart from its central, starring role upon a hot dog – is its versatility. In 1877 a mustard-maker named Maurice Grey developed a unique mustard blended with white wine. He partnered with Auguste Poupon, his financial backer, and made what I believed was the absolute epitome of high-class eating, based on TV commercials in the 1980s. Hot dogs were first introduced to their forever-mate mustard at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. It was a match made in heaven.

Mustard is glorious. I’m glad we had this day to celebrate it. I only wish I’d planned a bit more and saved myself the unpleasantness pictured above.

National Mead Day

I have never been a big mead guy. I have also never known a single human who would describe themselves as a “big mead guy”. In fact, I did a google search for that exact phrase, and all but one of the results on the first page consisted of people claiming they were “not a big mead guy.” So maybe they don’t exist.

Except they absolutely do. Whoever crafted the recipe for Maxwell spiced mead (from Australia) is 100% a big mead guy – assuming, that is, that they’re a guy to begin with. But this person deeply knows their mead, as they produced something that is far tastier than any I had tried before.

Mead is sweet – it’s a honey wine, which means that no matter what else is in the mix (and it can be grapes, spices and even hops), the sugar comes from honey. So yeah, it’s going to be sweet. That said, some places make a dry mead, which is most likely quite intriguing.

It took me a couple of liquor stores yesterday to track down some mead, and when I did I was fortunate that the fellow working at the register happened to be a huge fan of this stuff. A big mead guy, if you will. And he steered me wisely. I was not expecting to like this at all, and winced at the notion of purchasing a full bottle of it. But this stuff won’t go to waste. I needs me some mead. Now I just need to purchase a proper flagon for it.

Colorado Day

To be clear, this is not the National Colorado Day we celebrated back in April as part of our culinary journey around the United States. Those days were created by one of our research sources, National Day Calendar, presumably to pad their stash of holidays so that they can boast more than any other site. And that’s fine – we’ve made good use of those days, sampling food I’ve never even heard of and even experimenting with beverages (tune in tomorrow!).

But this is the actual birthday of the state, which entered the union 144 years ago yesterday. I’m sure there were cautious events happening all over the state, but I decided to celebrate by enjoying a reminder that Colorado was the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. We were fortunate to have been invited to vacation in Denver in August five years ago, shortly after the stores were in place and selling. And we got to see a preseason Broncos game to boot.

Last night’s cannon of Bubba Berry went out to the good people of Colorado. Thanks for being one of the hippest states of the bunch.

Rounds Resounding Day

This is a day to celebrate the round – not the shape, not the designated time of punching in a boxing match, and not the most recent cycle of drinks to be brought to the table. No, this is about the musical rounds. You know how much fun it was (and it was not) when we’d be instructed to sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” in school with everyone beginning on a different line? I always found that odd and messy. But some folks liked it.

Rounds aren’t just for kids’ songs. Beethoven composed them, as did Mozart, Haydn and Bach. But how popular are they today?

I did a Spotify search for ‘rounds’ and checked out a few playlists to see if they had any actual collections of modern rounds to listen to. Turns out a lot of people use the word ‘round’ in their playlist titles, but none seem to actually contain rounds. I did, however, enjoy the most notable round in pop music, and quite likely the most perfect song ever written, “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys, which features a glorious vocal round section.

That was a fine celebration.

International Child-Free Day

I wasn’t sure what the origin of this would be, and was impressed to see this day has existed since 1973. It was created by the National Alliance for Optional Parenthood, and it’s meant to celebrate the folks who have locked in their decision to not procreate. Nice.

But wait… the National Alliance for what now? Yes, it appears there was an organization created in Palo Alto back in the 70s that felt the need to promote not having children as an acceptable lifestyle choice. I understand, western culture has always had a pre-written expectation that kids are in everyone’s future, but do people who have opted not to have them really need a support group? Perhaps I’m approaching this through a narrow lens – I have never even remotely looked down upon people who decided not to have children, and I can’t imagine the mindset of anyone who would besmirch those fine people. It’s a lifestyle choice, and one that every parent has envied, at least for a moment.

So, to those of you who have decided to live your lives without having kids – and I know a few of you quite well – I congratulate your choice and thank you for not contributing to the population explosion. Even though some of you would be better candidates for passing on your DNA than most. I’m thinking here of the good friend I had drinks with on Friday night, and comparing him to the mother we witnessed in the grocery store yesterday, whose young (mask-less) child took a bite out of a carrot, handed the carrot to his mom. That mom then dropped the carrot back in the bin with the others. I deeply wish she had been an adherent of this day.

World Wide Web Day

The world-wide web was created by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989, working with his team to publish the first actual website on December 20, 1990. So why isn’t December 20 the day we honour this achievement? Ask someone else. I’m just here for the party.

I don’t need to explain what a significant development this was, or how it unlocked technology for the masses or gave us all the greatest possible access to the most deviant pornography ever conceived. If you’re reading these words, you’re doing so on the www, right?

The first website was posted at CERN, where Tim worked. Only Tim and his team had browsers that would display it, so while it was a big deal for them, it was less so for the rest of us. Also, the page simply described what the world-wide web was. The first photo ever posted to the web was the one pictured above, a shot of a singing group of female CERN employees. The notion of ‘surfing’ the internet was apparently coined by Jean Armour Polly, a librarian who published an article about it in the University Of Minnesota Wilson Library Bulletin in March of 1992 – clearly that journal was a cultural juggernaut at the time.

So thank you to Mr. Berners-Lee for giving us the world’s greatest resource and its greatest distraction, all in one shiny package.

National Cotton Candy Day

So it looks like National Cotton Candy Day is actually December 7, according to most sources. But I found one which credits July 31, and that prompted me to drop that into the list of celebrations for this week. It also led me to purchase some bubble-gum flavoured cotton candy from Carol’s Quality Sweets yesterday afternoon. I regret nothing.

And I’ll save it for December 7 to wax poetic about cotton candy and delve into its history. December 7 is a much lighter day than August 1 as far as celebrations go. Yesterday we paid tribute the best way we could: we ate some. It didn’t taste a thing like bubble gum (mostly just like sugar), but it was terrific.

Women Astronomers Day

Okay, we are flying into overtime now, and that means I’m going to have to blast through this incredibly important entry. Let’s have a quick look at some of history’s most awesome space-focused women:

Let’s start with Maria Mitchell, who not only studied astronomy but taught it at a University level in the mid-1800s, before women were thought of as actual humans. She discovered a comet in 1847, and her birthday happened to be on August 1, so she gets top billing in today’s entry.

But lets not leave out Thereza Dillwyn Llewelyn, who took some of the first great photographs of the moon. Or Henrietta Swan Leavitt, who worked as a ‘computer’ at Harvard – meaning she was a calculations expert. She came up with the technology that first allowed astronomers to measure how far away galaxies are. Or German astronomer Caroline Herschel, who discovered several comets, including one on August 1 (ha!), 1876, when she was only 16.

Then of course there’s Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Dorothy Vaughan, the “hidden figures” scientists who conquered not only the gender barrier but the race barrier to help send U.S. astronauts to the moon with their brilliant work in the 1960s. Women have had their footprints clearly stomping out the path of astronomy over the generations, and for that we are deeply thankful.

Jump For Jelly Beans Day

We have already handled National Jelly Bean Day, and we even re-worked at least one or two days that were designed to celebrate baked beans into jelly bean celebrations. So when another one dropped in our lap, we were very excited. Well, mildly excited maybe.

Pictured above is my attempt to encourage our canine research companion, Liberty, to jump up and sniff the bag of jelly beans I was holding. Perhaps seasoned by our prior devourings of these things, she likely knew there was no jelly bean in her future, even if she displayed enthusiasm. So I jumped instead. And I ate some jelly beans.

Liberty can be happy with her liver treats. Maybe on National Liver Treats Day she’ll get a few extra. But only if she jumps.

Could we be easing into a quieter day? Well, the first of every month is always a mess. Here’s what we’ve got to tackle:

  • National Georgia Day. Will we be eating peaches? Pigs’ feet? Something hopefully not pigs’ feet?
  • National Coloring Book Day. Jodie will enjoy some recreation time with her coloring book.
  • National Ice Cream Sandwich Day. Given the weather forecast, we may eat several of these.
  • Day Of Azerbaijani Cinema. This one might be a challenge.
  • National Friendship Day. It has been two whole days since we last paid tribute to friendship. Two.
  • National Sisters Day. Jodie will send some love to her one sister who still speaks to her. To her other sister I’ll simply say, “Put on a mask and quit being a schmuck.”
  • International Forgiveness Day. Another thing we have celebrated numerous times this year.
  • National Doll Day. Do we have any Barbies? No, I think we just have those creepy dolls downstairs with the actual human eyelashes.
  • Psychic Day. If you knew this day was coming, congratulations! This day might just be for you!

Friday, July 31, 2020

Chili Dogs and cheesecake – two delicious foodstuffs we were supposed to be celebrating yesterday. Alas, we were waylaid by apathy and an intense desire to do nothing productive, apart from mowing the lawn and prepping for next week’s folk fest. These warm summer days do little to nudge cravings for such indulgences. And yet the calendar can’t help but lob them our way, stacking them upon so many curious little curios, such as:

National Father-In-Law Day

My father-in-law is a fascinating human. He is so purposefully removed from anything internet that I won’t even speak his name here (though his anonymity among my three readers is questionable). He’s been a biker since back when no one knew anything about bikers, except perhaps for Hunter S. Thompson. Everything about him screams biker, though if you met him expecting that he’d slide snugly into a stereotype you’d be tremendously disappointed.

Yes, he likes beer. The crappy stuff that advertises during Super Bowls; he’ll scoff at anything craft-brewed. And when he drinks he does so with passion and aplomb. His other vehicle is a massive pick-up truck, and he’ll let loose a veritable spectrum of curse words toward other drivers, many of which do not conform to any measure of a “woke” society. He dresses in leathers and Harley gear, and has never had anything but long hair as long as I’ve known him.

But he’s also one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. He’s kind beyond belief, and never speaks ill of anyone behind their back (unless they’re in public office). He’ll grumble at our world’s perpetual state of activism, but if you have a problem with gay people he’ll shut you down completely. At his core is an unending stash of compassion and empathy; he would do anything for his kids and grandkids, but what’s more significant is that he actively wants to. When our kid moved to the west coast for school, he and his wife (another magnificent human who deserves her own celebration) were a rock for her. Our daughter never felt frightened and alone because she wasn’t.

I gladly said hello to my father-in-law yesterday and expressed my gratitude that he’s in my life. But I didn’t get all touchy-feely about it. That’s just one small step away from a frilly-ass umbrella in some girly drink. I won’t post the full text of his reply, but it did indicate he had been “overserved” that afternoon, and included the sentence, “What a bunch of badger spooge!” I think he made my point eloquently.

National Whistleblowers Day

I wasn’t going to toss this into the pile for yesterday, as I’m not feeling the research and learning vibe even a little. But we are living in what should be a golden age for whistleblowers. You’ve got a president hell-bent on corruption and greed down south, and little aspiring minions popping up all over the globe, including one such schmuck who runs the show in our province (and, is technically our employer). I suppose when a government takes control boasting no pretentions of integrity we shouldn’t be surprised when that’s what we get.

There are online petitions for our premier’s removal (which won’t work), but what we really need is another Mark Felt. He was the FBI dude who went by Deep Throat and helped to bring down Nixon. We need a Daniel Ellsberg, who dropped the Pentagon Papers into the Washington Post in 1971 and showed the citizens what was really happening in Vietnam. We need a Sylvie Therrien, who was suspended without pay when she exposed that Canadian Employment Insurance investigators were required to hit a quota, denying at least $500,000 in EI benefits to applicants every year.

More importantly, we need people to care. Don’t buy into the my team vs. their team dynamic, even though you may be suffering from sports withdrawal right now. When the masses are being betrayed for the benefit of the wealthy few, folks need to give a shit.

Please give a shit. And if you’ve got a whistle to blow on someone or something or some company or some government – blow it loud and long.

International Day of Friendship

Okay, United Nations. I’ll give you this one because that’s just the sort of gregarious motherfucker I am.

This day is meant to acknowledge that friendship bridges cultures and reveals to us our similarities, which matter far more than our differences. It’s a lovely sentiment, and while it won’t wash away the grimy layer of cynicism on my skin right now, it’s a fair start.

As for friendship, we have been remarkably estranged from any sort of social life this year, right along with almost everyone else. We aren’t the most social humans to begin with; literally any sort of party or event would be eclipsed in awesomeness by the magnificence of staying at home with the dogs and watching a couple episodes of The Wire. But once you get that perfect stay-in night on repeat for 150 days or so, you start to question what else is out there.

To that end we have opted to re-create one of our favourite social activities of the year, the annual Folk Music Festival, in our backyard. Invites went out, and all friends and family (except the yokels in our family we really don’t care for, of course) are invited to drop in for a set or two and hang. It will all take place in the back yard, well distanced, and with the expectation that we’re not going to have more than two or three people visiting at a time. It’s a weekend when we hope to cherish some friendship and maybe feel just a bit like things are normal for a brief while.

So, as a salute to the UN’s International Day of Friendship, I look forward to writing significantly less next weekend, as the music will take up all of my time. Happy day, friends.

National Support Public Education Day

Well this is going to steer me right back to the cynicism and curmudgeonliness that soured me a couple entries back. I don’t know what to say, other than school starts in just over a month, and schools in this part of the world will be fully in the classroom, with fewer employees to help keep the place clean and to help keep kids separated, and with less money for schools to try to fight the virus. People will literally die from this.

Public education should not be a death sentence. I’m just going to leave this topic now, and hopefully turn my attention to something sunnier.

Share A Hug Day

This is literally the thirteenth hugging day we have celebrated in this little bout of madness. I’m not joking. Have a look:

  • Girl Hug Boy Day: January 11
  • National Hugging Day: January 21
  • National Hug Your Puppy Day: also January 21
  • National Hug A Newsperson Day: April 4
  • National Hug Your Dog Day: April 10
  • National Hug A Plumber Day: April 25
  • Hug An Australian Day: April 26
  • Hug A Shed & Take A Selfie Day: May 5
  • National Hug Your Cat Day: June 4
  • Hug An Atheist Day: June 5
  • Hug Holiday: June 29
  • Virtually Hug A Virtual Assistant Day: July 6

We are so hug-heavy, it’s getting a bit silly. But if the calendar says we hug, then dammit, we hug. And actually there lies a sad little tale behind this particular celebration. On July 30, 2017 a man named Mike Brundritt of Windsor, Ontario lost his wife and child in a deadly highway collision. The following year he proposed Share A Hug Day because he’d spent the previous (undoubtedly hellish) year being comforted by hugs from loved ones. It was how he and his surviving son – both of whom were in the car on that fateful trip – have made it through.

So damn my cynicism. This is now the only hug day that matters. Big hugs to you, Mike, wherever you are.

World Embroidery Day

As commissioned by the Swedish Embroidery Guild (and you do NOT fuck with the Swedish Embroidery Guild), yesterday was officially World Embroidery Day. To be clear, we did not embroider, however we are fortunate enough to be related to my beloved auntie Kathy, whose talented fingers created all the beauty above.

And lest my mother be perplexed as to why her art was not featured (she is, after all, one of my three readers), National Cross-Stitch Day is coming up next month. I’m covering all the bases, don’t worry.

Embroidery is quite simply using a needle and thread (and sometimes other assorted doodads) to make a piece of fabric look fancy. Historically, while I’m sure there are ages in which certain trends dominated in the embroidery world, but no great technology or great artistic revelation really changed the art. You can look at embroidery dating back more than a thousand years and it is just as intricate and magnificent as anything a person could create today.

If you want to give credit to someone for inventing embroidery – and why would you? – look to the Goddess Athena, who, according to Greek mythology, passed down the gifts of embroidery and weaving to humanity. Sure, I’m good with that. Humanity, as evidenced by the beautiful work above, has done pretty well with embroidery ever since.

Is my motivation looking any better for today? Well, I’m motivated to catch up to National Chicken Wing Day from Wednesday. But the weather is still divine, so we’ll see:

  • National Talk In An Elevator Day. We shan’t be venturing into an elevator unnecessarily at this time. I trust you’ll all understand.
  • National Get Gnarly Day. We’d considered a zipline or something to be ‘gnarly’, but alas, those are closed.
  • National Avocado Day. Time to finally learn how to make avocado toast?
  • National Raspberry Cake Day. We have a plan for tackling this on the weekend.
  • National Mutt Day. It sounds a bit pretentious, but our dogs are all purebreds. We’ll find some mutts though, because they are just as lovely.
  • National Cotton Candy Day. Seriously? Awesome!
  • National Jump For Jelly Beans Day. Even more awesome!
  • Shredded Wheat Day. Not quite as awesome, but still tasty.
  • Uncommon Instrument Awareness Day. This one might be fun.
  • System Administrator Appreciation Day. This one, not so much. But kudos to system administrators everywhere.