DAILY BRIEFINGArmadillos and Old Socks
Jul. 29 - The DMB and I were in Prague for the weekend. The trip provided me with a superfluity of material for blogging, but it also exhausted my capacity for blogging. Give me one more day. Until then. . .
On July 29, 1588, Phillip II of Spain sent his armadillo to invade England. This Spanish armadillo was defeated by the belly-buttons of Lord Howard and Sir Francis Drake in one of the greatest navel engagements of all time. The defeat altered the balance of power in Europe irreversibly and marked the last use of armadillos in navel warfare.
Ole Sock Day
A thousand years ago there was a king of Vestfold County, Norway, named Harald. He has a son named Olav whom he sent to raid the ports of the Baltic Sea.
While raiding Denmark, young Olav met Thorkell the Tall, a Viking Chef. Olav enjoyed Thorkell's cooking and therefore invited the Viking Chef to accompany him on a raid of England, where the food was awful and there would consequently be a high demand for his services.
They raided England for three years. Then they raided coastal France and Spain. In Spain Olav had a dream and therefore returned to Normandy. While there, he heard stories of the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne. The stories of Charlemagne's conquests, riches, and power, and the extent of his empire, persuaded Olav to convert to Christianity, which clearly had much to offer a budding young warrior.
On his way back to Norway, Olav stopped in London to pick up some bishops. He continued on to Norway and began the process of converting it as soon as he landed. This was done through a process known as conquest.
Olav was a passionate missionary and by the age of 22 he had converted all of Norway into a Christian country.
This irritated many Norwegians, and they therefore invited King Canute, of England and Denmark, to convert them back to paganism. Canute obliged them and Olav fled to Russia, where he was not required to convert anyone.
Canute returned to England leaving a deputy to represent him in Norway. In 1029 that deputy died, and Canute sent his mistress and their son to rule Norway. Olav heard about this in Russia, put on his lucky socks, and returned directly to Norway to begin the process of reconversion—stopping only briefly to pick up an army in Sweden.
Olav and his Swedes met the Norwegian army on July 29, 1030, in Stiklestad. Olav was killed before he had the chance to re-reconvert a single Norwegian. His lucky socks were removed from his corpse and flown from the parapets of the capitol in triumph.
The people of Norway eventually came to regret the way they'd treated Olav. They re-reconverted themselves and made Olav a saint, and Ole Sock Day ("Olsock Day") remains a venerable national holiday.
For what it's worth, Ole Sock Day is also the birthday of Geddy Lee (1953), Peter Jennings (1938), Elizabeth Dole (1936), Benito Mussolini (1883), and Grigori Rasputin (1871).
© 2003, The Moron's Almanac