A World of Eleven Holidays

Well. As I was saying…

Tomorrow is November 11th. The Eleventh Day, of the Eleventh Month. This time, it’s also the Eleventh Year. It only happens once per year that the day, month and year are the same TWO numbers. Next year, it’ll match on December 12th – 12/12/12. Even so, the next time we see a row with the same number in every slot, it’ll be what year? I’m taking into account the fact that usually we write “03/23/09”, or something like that. Therefore, even 12/12/12 doesn’t count here. No, indeed, it does not at all. Nor did 10/10/10. Yes, tomorrow is a red letter day. I’d advise making the most of it.
For many, it’s a day of Remembering. It began with the signing of the Armistice between the warring sides of the Great War, now called WWI since we ended up with another Great War, #2, starting in 1939. That being said, the number of countries involved was massive. Everyone was happy that it came to an end and it seemed good to celebrate. On the 11th day of the 11th month, at the 11th hour, a moment of silence is taken to remember all who have given. In some places it’s Veterans Day, in others it’s Remembrance Day, and in others yet it’s still Armistice Day. In some countries, it’s celebrated on the Sunday closest to the 11th. At any rate, it’s important.
But, in my perambulations around and about this spinning orb of humanity, I’ve come across many types of holidays. My point being: we have a right to decide what to celebrate, and when, and how. Whether it’s traditions from centuries ago carried over to today, or something we just made up yesterday, we’ve a right to celebrate it.
Take tomorrow for example. Were you it South Korea, it’d be a grave faux pas should you forget Pepero Day. Well, maybe not that grave. It’s a day sort of like Saint Valentine’s Day in other places; you give presents of Pepero to the people you like, sort of like our tradition of giving poor quality over priced candy to your Valentine. You see, Pepero is a snack. It’s a pretzel stick covered with chocolate, or other flavors. 11/11 is perfect for the holiday because the elevens look like four Peperos lined up. But, tomorrow is really important because it’s SIX elevens lined up. Goodness, a millennial event. In Japan they have a similar snack named Pocky, and it’s Pocky Day in Japan tomorrow. I think pretzels deserve their own holiday, whether knotted or straight, plain or dipped. Honor thy pretzels!
Another holiday occurs tomorrow very much worth noting, and one which I do plan on celebrating (at least a bit) as well: The King’s Birthday in Bhutan. November 11 is the holiday honoring the birthday of the 4th King of Bhutan, . Now, although I am not Bhutanese, nor have I ever actually been there on November 11th, I find it terribly important to honor a leader who decided that Gross National Happiness (GNH) was a much better thing to measure than just Gross National Product (GNP – money, in other words). Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the 4th King of Bhutan, thought that it would be terribly smart to run the country based on ideas of happiness and wellness for his people based on Buddhist principles. Quite sophisticated formulae were devised to, indeed, measure the happiness of the people. That does strike me as wonderfully intelligent!
Therefore, after remembering Remembrance Day, I intend to do something to honor the King of Bhutan’s birthday. It’s doubtful that it will include Pepero, since I’m not sure where to buy some on short notice.
I must beg forgiveness! I nearly neglected in my writings to mention another Augustus Personage whose day is celebrated upon the 11th of November. That would be the maestro of Eleven, Nigel Tufnel! As a composer, guitarist and touring musician myself, I have always heartily concurred with Mr. Tufnel in his assertion that any electric musical instrument amplifier which ranges up to a maximum volume of “11” is better than one which tops out at a mere “10”. Alas, I have as yet not succeeded in finding an example of that rare Equipage, but optimism rules and I am confident that I shall. Hats Off and Eleven Cheers for Mr. Nigel Tufnel and His Day, and all the Spinal Tap gentlemen! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!

…that was eleven, right? Ah. There’s my taxi. I must be off. We’ll chat again, very soon.

Pictures and Potties

As I was saying.

Two interesting “Dies Propensus” – important days – occur within the next two days. The first is of an historical nature. November 18th is, as those who’ve Googled anything today will already know, the birthday of Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, inventor of the Daguerreotype. Daguerrotypes were perhaps the earliest or at least the most brilliant and accurate  photographic images. It is an amazing process that Daguerre and several others had been working on. Daguerre himself had wrestled with the question for nearly 20 years. He’d been intrigued with the idea of capturing the images created by the Camera Obscura, a device used by painters and draftsmen for drawing images. This device is itself already a more advanced version of the pinhole camera, a device and principle known as far back as Aristotle in the mid-300s B.C.
Yes, Daguerre was brilliant in creating what amounts to modern photography, but his legacy also involves the invention of the Paris Diorama, in its own way just as interesting. The concept of the Diorama was brilliant: large paintings were made on screens more or less opaque, or with sections more or less so. Using a system of pulleys, mirrors, windows, screens, and a rotating platform upon which sat the audience, the Diorama could, for example, produce the effect of watching the progress of a violent storm. This invention of Daguerre amounted to the first “picture shows”! We know of Daguerre through his invention of early photography, but before that he was a fine artist, a painter in the Romantic style who also understood theatre, scenery, and lighting. Unfortunately, his Diorama burnt to the ground in 1839 with the loss of most of his notes about the Daguerreotype as well an many early photos, and all of the scenes from his building. Ah, well.
The other day upon which I wish to discourse is International Toilet Day. Yes, indeed, the toilet has its own day. Worldwide, no less. Now, while it might seem fun (oh, let’s face it, it IS fun) to make jokes about toilets, and upon International Toilet Day, for many it’s no laughing matter. Modern sanitary toilets, sewers and water treatment have done much to improve public health. Curiously, mechanisms  for using hydraulic movement to wash away waste have been known for nearly 3500 years.
And yet, many around the world have no way to dispose of their waste in such a fashion as to isolate it from water used for other purposes. The result is sickness, and yes, death. Often of very young children. So, International Toilet Day, the 19th of November, is a day upon which to marvel at the conveniences many (I count myself among them) enjoy in the Modern World. We take these for granted, they have made our lives better, and not everyone has the luxury of these luxuries. Think upon that tomorrow, if you will. And, thank Thomas Crapper in England for popularizing the flush toilet. Hats off to Thom. Crapper!