(Holidailies Day #1.)
I wanted a theme this year for Holidailies, but as I’m not really one for seasonal sentimentality most of the time, I didn’t want to go a traditionally Christmas-y route. It’s not my style.
People who remember me from previous December blogfests might recall that I generally spend the night of December 25 laughing anew at frequently-watched Sandra Lee videos on YouTube while I finish up the ends of wine bottles from the Orphanarium’s annual Christmas Open House and wonder why Weebro bought me oven mitts again.
I had a hint of an idea a couple of weeks ago, a subject I brought up with an occasional cinema employee on Friday. I told her I wanted to take on a ‘Fact a Day’ blog project during December/Holidailies, because, I explained, I like the idea of celebrating (as much as non-exclamation-pointy blog can) that everyone learns something new every day.
Yes, cheesy as all hell, but I really do believe it’s true.
Her reply, though, was a slightly morose ‘I don’t’.
Lies. I refuse to believe it. Not one little bit.
But she was pretty drunk, so reasoning with her wasn’t going to make a dent in that bit of self-pitying-stubbornity.
I spent a chunk of Saturday at the library, something I really should do more regularly. I want to learn more things, and working at home is too full of distractions. I needed a separate space to get new information into my braintank, and, y’know what? The library has lots of facts. (Even when you don’t fire up the wifi on your phone and start trying to find shortcuts to the punchline of an dense bit of reading or falling for the latest horseshitty feel-good clickbait making the rounds.)
Trouble is, there are too many? Kinda? Is there such a thing as too much information when it doesn’t involve genital warts?
(And yes, clickbait can contain facts too. They are everywhere. It’s fine. I just think clickbait and its feelgoodery and sob-storiry is taking the place of reasonable discussion and analysis and it makes me uncomfortable. Unless it’s about stars of ‘Sherlock’ and their resemblances to woodland and river creatures. Or Mental Floss listicles.)
Anyway, it was difficult to decide what to focus on. Especially as I was mostly there to study a bit for a trivia thing that should be happening this weekend. Learning ALL THE THINGS in one go is not going to happen and I hadn’t gone in with a firm plan because I found out that Teach Yourself Latin wasn’t available before I had left the house.
But I was there for a few hours, reading and taking a few notes out of late October edition of the New Scientist, then reading some of the papers in an issue of Social History, that an old prof of mine edited, about Canada during the First World War and changing attitudes about how that defined our nation. Then I read that People cover story about Katie Holmes (virtually content-free) and checked out a copy of the Algebra & Geometry textbook that I didn’t learn much from in 1995, but want to attempt to understand better for no specific reason.
If Josie Long can do her Maths A-Level in her late 20s/early 30s, I can relive the horrors of having all the numbers fall out of my head when I was about 17.
(Seriously, I was good at math(s) until grade 12, tested 99th percentile when I was a kid, then I had a famously awful teacher, and it’s like I was reprogrammed to not absorb anything number-related again. Teenaged apathy about school sure didn’t help either.)
So, keeping in mind that my brain is deeply scattered, and inspired by the QI podcast, the aforementioned Mental Floss, et al., I am going to attempt to post a fact a day, with or without self-involved preamble, sometimes (often?) December holiday-themed, as this year’s Holidailies project.
If I have readers this year, some will undoubtedly know and/or have no interest in what shit I ‘reveal’. Well, quiet you.
Mistletoe is a parasite. Well, a hemi-parasite. I had no idea. It never even occurred to me that it wasn’t a hedgey thing like holly is. I assumed all Yuley plants in English traditions are hedges. The UK has a lot of hedges. The country is actually mostly hedges.* Anyway, instead of growing roots into the ground, it grows onto trees, burrows roots in, and sucks out nutrients. Vampire plants? Cannibal plants? Zombie plants? It’s a bit of a bastard, at any rate.
How I learned this: After listening to Elvira Kurt talking about TGIF mistletoe drones and consent, I wondered where the devil the kissing thing came from. Result? Inconclusive.
* Not actually a fact.