2-20-2020

I’m not a math whiz. I am fairly competent in basic algebra and I can manage simple arithmetic in my head. I know how to do long division and I can usually tell if an answer is way off of what it should be. I have an appreciation for the beauty of mathematics as a language and a system of symbols, but I never was one to shine at mathematics. I suppose that part of the reality is that I grew up in the days of the space race when schools were making a very serious distinction between those who excelled in math and science and those headed for other vocations. I sort of stayed with the math and science bunch through elementary school. I was the son of pilots and I was fascinated by the astronauts. In high school, however, I started to drift toward the humanities. I was fascinated by religion and philosophy. By the time I got to college, I took only the basic required courses in math and science.

Still, I like numbers. I like the way they look. I like the way they sound. And I’ve been having fun with the year 2020. Today’s date struck me from the first of the year. If you say it out loud the long way, “O two, two O, two 0 two 0,” it has a kind of musical sound. We’re in for a bunch of them over the next couple of years. Take George Washington’s Birthday two years form now: “O two, two two, two 0 two two.” Say that one fast five or six times! I know it is just silliness, but it is fun to write and say numbers.

Checking out the calendar of holidays I’ve found some pretty interesting things being celebrated today.

Since 1985, February 20th has been observed as Clean Out Your Bookcase day, a time for avid readers and bibliophiles to focus on getting their bookcases clean and win order. It is a day to dust and wipe down bookcases and make sure all books are organized for them. It is also a day to donate books that are no longer needed or wanted. It may also be a day for building or buying new bookcases for some folks.

On February 20, 1912, a patent was granted to George A. Carney for a swinging arm type of adjustable, ratcheting handcuff. Of course before those lightweight handcuffs became standard, people used animal hides, vines and ropes to ie the hands of others. As early as 600 BCE the Greeks were using iron bindings to restrain prisoners. So National Handcuff Day was started in 2010. Guess where it started? At the home of the Peerless Handcuff Company.

If handcuffs and bookcase aren’t your thing, you might be glad to know that today is National Muffin Day. For what it is worth, I can find almost nothing about the day except that it has been observed since 2014. I guess you’re supposed to bake and eat muffins to celebrate the day.

Today is also The Great American Spit Out, a day to raise awareness about the dangers of smokeless tobacco. This holiday garners an entire week with Through With Chew Week, which is the third full week in February. I’ve never gotten into chew or snuff. Cancer of the mouth, esophagus or pancreas don’t seem like things I’d enjoy having.

I’m all in favor of National Cherry Pie Day, which is observed on February 20. Perhaps it is in anticipation of George Washington’s birthday. On the other hand he is famous about not lying about chopping down a cherry tree, which would have decreased the number of cherries for making pies.

Today is also Fat Thursday, the day that is 52 days before Easter. On the last Thursday before Ash Wednesday, there is a feast ay that is similar to, and a bit less important than, Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. In countries that observe Carnival, it is the beginning of six days of over-consumption, eating sweets and other foods that are avoided during Lent. Pastries and donuts are the food of the day. In some places people wear costumes and street celebrations and pubs open at 11:11 am. In Greece it is known as “Thursday of the Smoke of Grilled Meat,” a day to consume meat before the fasting of Lent. Special pastries and special sausages are pat of the observance in several different places around the globe. I’m pretty sure that a holiday dedicated to eating foods that aren’t good for you is my kind of holiday, but I’m really trying hard to make healthy choices, so my observance will be a bit dimmed this year.

There are a number of other holidays observed by some folks on February 20, 2020. It is Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, which I don’t think is about the very geeky make students at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology trying to get dates, but rather about encouraging more women to go into engineering. It is also love your pet day, but I think that it is best to love your pet every day. At least that would be best for the pet, and I think for the owner, too. It is National Day of Solidarity with Muslim, Arab and South Asian Immigrants, also National Student Volunteer Day and World Day of Social History.

It is also Northern Hemisphere Hoodie Hoo Day. Hoodie Hoo Day is supposed to take place a month before the official start of spring, so it falls in August in the Southern Hemisphere. The day is celebrated by going outside at noon and yelling “hoodie-hoo.” This is done to chase away winter and make way for spring. I’m wondering about it, however. If you were able to speed up the arrival of spring up north, wouldn’t you be speeding up the arrival of cold weather for those who live in the Southern Hemisphere? Maybe they need a day to yell whatever the opposite of “hoodie-hoo” is to counter the noise from up north.

Thinking of dates and other things yesterday it occurred to me that the 1999 car that I drive can now be fueled with ethanol. At 21 years of age it is legal in South Dakota for it to consume alcohol. I’m not saying that it didn’t engage in some under age alcohol consumption, but it was never caught and charged, so I’m sticking to my story.

Copyright (c) 2020 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!