Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Seventeen. We are seventeen celebrations away from our goal of 2,000. Even if we got cute and said we’d do 2,020 this year, we’d only need another 37 before the end of the year. Our original goal was 1,000 but I knew we could top it. Now I’m half-tempted to hit those last 37 and shut ‘er down. But this was to be a year-long ordeal, and backing out at this point would go against my obsessive nature. Besides, some of our indulgences were repeats and very vague approximations of a celebration; I want to make sure we hit 2,020 legit, indisputable promotions of revelry. To that end, we roll on:

National Espresso Day

The hope for this one was that Jodie would talk her assistant principal into brewing her an Americano to enjoy during her day at school yesterday. In fact, she arrived at work to discover that 10 of her fellow teachers were in isolation, meaning she had to literally race between three different classrooms to teach three groups of students at once. There wasn’t much time for distraction. So we’ll just acknowledge that we celebrated this last Saturday with our lattes, but neglected to snap a photo.

The first time I ordered an espresso I was 18 years old and trying to sound all fancy and European. I didn’t expect to receive a tiny little shot glass of powerful-tasting coffee. I was confused. Do I sip it? Let it cool down then shoot it? Do I lick salt off my hand first, like with tequila? Or do I substitute non-dairy creamer?

We can thank a man named Angelo Moriondo for developing the first steam-driven machine to cram hot water through coffee back in 1884. That was the start of the espresso phenomenon, and it’s probably why so many coffee beverages have an Italian sounding name (including ‘espresso’). My aged palette has now learned to love a great espresso, though I still feel silly holding one of those little cups.

But I do appreciate the effects. Espresso has saved me from dozing off in many a meeting over the years. Very worthy of celebrating that.


One of the more fun aspects of this weird year of celebratory indulgence has been learning the back-story to holidays that I’d had no idea existed. Most of them are vague, many are profit-driven, and some are just folks who felt we needed to pay attention to something. But every so often you get a really goofy one with a good backstory.

Woolfenoot was created by a 7-year-old kid in New Zealand. He wrote a story about it, and decided the 23rd of November should be the commemoration of the Great Wolf’s Death, and that dogs and dog lovers everywhere should be treated extra-special on this day. His father supported his kid’s story and put it out into the world of social media, where apparently it gained enough traction to show up on my radar, a half-world away. It also led to a children’s book being published. A book which donates a percentage of its proceeds to animal charities because this is apparently a top-quality dad at work here.

If you’d like to support the cause, please follow the link.

The tradition here is to give a gift to a dog lover, or to a dog. I have already done my once-per-week outing, and Jodie will get inundated with gifts at the mandatory time next month, as will the other dog-lovers I know. But the dogs can get bonus treats – making animals happy is the true Woolfenoot spirit.

This was a tiny blip in this year, but one of the most satisfying and smile-inducing blips. Happy Woolfenoot to all.

Fibonacci Day

For those of you who may have slept through the two Tom Hanks long-hair art-adventure movies a few years back, the Fibonacci sequence is a sequence of numbers in which the next number is the sum of the previous two. The first in the sequence are 0, 1, 1, 2, 3. Someone felt that 11-23 would thusly be the correct day to celebrate Fibonacci and his sequence. But why does it even need celebrating?

Something tells me if I’d asked that question about every one of these celebrations I’d still be hoping to hit my initial goal of 1,000 celebrations this year.

This sequence of numbers actually pops up in a lot of weird places. It shows up in the golden ratio, that mystical mathematic that calculates beauty and perfection in our minds. It can be applied to music. It shows up in the inside of a pineapple, or in the arrangement of leaves on a stem. It shows up in honeybee reproduction. It’s everywhere. I recommend viewing this TED talk about the topic, which is how we celebrated the day yesterday. Well, it’s how I celebrated the day. Jodie was busy running around and plugging gaps in her school’s staffing yesterday. Besides, she already exudes the golden ratio of perfect beauty anyway, so why should she have to celebrate?

Math is not our favourite topic, but sometimes it can be inarguably neato. This is one of those times.

National Cashew Day

We all know that cashews are the prized nut in any mixed nut variety. The cruel and selfish pluck them all first, leaving the rest of us with grizzled pecans and flavourless filberts. The savvy among us will simply buy the Costco thing of cashews, because who needs any other nut? I’ll proudly proclaim myself a fan of almonds, pistachios and even peanuts, but if there are cashews to be had, all other nuts can step aside.

And what else can the cashew do for us? In Cambodia they use the bark of the cashew tree to build boats. The cashew apple – the fruit from the tree – is actually edible and, by some accounts, delicious. More importantly, it can be used to create feni, a double-distilled liquor brewed from cashew apples, with an impressive 40% alcohol content punch. The oil from cashews is used in folk medicine. Cashew shells have been used to create lubricants, paint, and even weaponry. You can also use the oil to create a resin for carbon composite products if you’re so inclined.

We are not. We simply ate cashews and celebrated their spot at the top of the nut hierarchy. They were great.

Today we find ourselves only 13 celebrations from our goal – or 33, depending on which goal we’re talking about. Here’s what we have to choose from:

  • National Sardines Day. I think we’ll pass on this one.
  • Celebrate Your Unique Talent Day. I’m starting to reach the conclusion that celebrating *is* my unique talent.
  • Brownielocks Day. This is just a silly way of saying we’re celebrating brunettes, apparently.
  • D.B. Cooper Day. One of the greatest mysteries of modern times celebrates its anniversary today.
  • National Use Even If The Seal Is Broken Day. I don’t know if our sense of adventure runs quite this hot, but we’ll see.

Monday, November 23, 2020

We found ourselves with a short list of celebrations yesterday, which suited our short attention span for celebrations perfectly. I did commit to doing a count of how far we’ve come since January 1, and I’m proud (and a little weirded out) to say that we have achieved 1,983 celebrations so far this year. In a year when most folks are bemoaning the cruel pathway of fate, when a virus, racial violence and ugly politics have conspired to create an ugly stew of widespread disgruntlement, we have found a way to pack that many celebrations into our days. And are we happy and giddy as a result? Well, kind of. We’re still here, and we’re still plowing away. And while most of our yesterday was spent in the warm glow of watching football, we still managed to catch up on these:

National Peanut Butter Fudge Day

This one rolled in a few days late, but honestly we’d expected we’d end up skipping it entirely. We aren’t fudge-makers, and our team baker was hesitant to create something like this without a proper candy thermometer. Alas, this project would have sunk into the depths of futility months ago were it not for her resolve. Every project like this – and I don’t think there has ever been another project like this, but still – needs a solid team, and we couldn’t have done it without her. Thanks, Mom.

She also insisted the fudge was profoundly mediocre, and would have been much better with some crunchy peanuts to break up the texture a bit. Being a passionate fan of creamy fudge with no crunchy interruptions, I disagreed. This stuff is perfect.

There is no history here; we have rocked fudge celebrations going back to the days when I’d bring leftovers into the office because no one feared a deadly virus in the air. Unfortunately for my coworkers, the leftover peanut butter fudge will stay right here in my grasp. These are the sacrifices we must make.

Start Your Own Country Day

When glancing at our limited options for celebrating today, I did not suspect this would be one of the oldest celebrations in which we will have indulged in 2020. Start Your Own Country Day was concocted at the 1939 World’s Fair, and was meant to encourage folks to declare whatever land as their own. I don’t know if that particular pavilion envisioned a world wherein everyone would be their own autonomous nation – a ridiculous and preposterous concept – or if they were simply looking for someone to get it right.

Starting your own country is not easy. First you need land. Simply claiming your home is your land, and that you are seceding from whichever country you’re a part of now, that won’t work. Canada isn’t about to relinquish mineral rights, air rights, and the general ownership of this slab of earth underneath me. But if you can overcome this tricky step, you’re on your way to having your own country. The next step is to develop a government. I don’t know what that means beyond saying, “I am president!” and maybe making up your own stationary, but it’s necessary. You need a permanent population. Our country’s population would be five, because our dogs would be recognized as equal citizens. Lastly you need a means for interacting with other nation-states. We have phones. We have email. That’s easy.

Some folks have actually done this. I wrote about one man’s mission in my last project, an ocean-locked former floating naval base he called Sealand. It’s a bizarre and fascinating story, and it ultimately teaches us that the effort required to start your own country is probably not worth the end result.

That said, I hereby declare this land beneath my feet to be the independent republic of Rufustan, named for Rufus, our first (and still our smelliest) bulldog. All those who visit will have the option to declare themselves citizens. We use no currency, our flag is a photo of Rufus, and our government is a monarchy, with King and Queen ruling equally. Our royal subjects – our dogs – handle our international relations. They do this primarily by barking at anyone who walks by our border. It’s a happy land, and we encourage folks to come and check it out. Once the pandemic is over; for now our borders remain closed. As they should be.

National Sleep Comfort Month

November is the month for us to reflect on our sleeping habits, and if there is something we can do to refine them, to create a more comfy and effective sleeping situation. We have one change we could implement: the removal of dogs from our bed. This would likely improve our lives in multiple ways, but it will never happen. It would likely break Rosa’s heart to not be able to sleep between us, and we’re just not about doing that.

But we have contributed significantly to our sleep comfort in recent weeks. Most significantly we upgraded from a queen to a king-size mattress. When three companion dogs are part of the situation the significance of this cannot be stated enough. We now have – on most nights – enough room to stretch and contort ourselves however we need to in order to achieve an ideal level of comfort.

Next we invested in new bedding (of course) and blankets. Jodie found some $30 duvets online that fit our bed perfectly, and she bought three of them. We have two on the bed at the moment, along with various other blankets that provide a warmth so intense, I find myself waking up in a sweat every night that I don’t kick the majority of them off my body. I’m not complaining though – this has clearly only increased our comfort. And it has somehow ensured that my dreams every night are more vivid and intense, which provides a modicum of entertainment while I sleep. It’s a small contribution, but it’s great.

Along with our new pillows, we have achieved the optimum level of sleep comfort. And we’ll give full credit to the importance of National Sleep Comfort Month in our lives, even if we just learned about it today, after we’d made all those improvements. I’m sure it was sitting in our subconscious this entire time, guiding us toward nocturnal bliss. Thanks, celebrations.

National Pumpkin Pie Day

Folks, I present to you the pumpkin pie doughnut. This was sitting on display at Destination Doughnuts, calling out to us as the perfect way of celebrating this classic Thanksgiving pie. We had dined on sweet potato pie at the beginning of the month, which tasted exactly like pumpkin pie but better. We weren’t craving an actual pumpkin pie even a little, but this was the ideal solution.

And it was fantastic, filled with pumpkin magnificence. And when it was done, there were no leftovers. There was no getting weary of the flavour. We could simply move on to our peanut butter fudge for our next dessert. Life is good. Doughnuts are life.

Today as we slide into another week, poised to celebrate like insane humans (as usual), we glance at our menu. Could November really be almost over already? We hope so. We only have to do 17 more celebrations to hit our target. Will we do more? Maybe. Here’s today’s stuff:

  • National Cashew Day. The pinnacle of all nut-related days this year. We will be dining on cashews.
  • National Eat A Cranberry Day. We… we don’t have any cranberries lying around. Maybe that will change in the next few hours, who knows?
  • National Espresso Day. Damn, I wish we had one of these machines in our house. Jodie might have to tackle this one.
  • Doctor Who Day. I won’t pretend to be a fan of the show, though I’m amazed at its longevity.
  • Fibonacci Day. A day to get all up in numbers. That’s fun.
  • Wolfenoot. It’s a dog thing. I’ll explain in tomorrow’s article.