Good morning intellectuals. Today is Monday, February 27, 2017. Today’s reasons to celebrate are:
No Brainer Day
You won’t be needing your intellect today because today is No Brainer Day. By definition, a ‘no brainer’ is a task so simple that it requires little or no conscious thought to accomplish. The term no brainer originated in engineering jargon as a way to describe something that should be obvious to anybody but soon evolved into everyday vernacular.
No Brainer Day urges you to stop over analyzing things, stop second-guessing yourself, and to just relax and take it easy. If a project requires thinking, study, or analysis of any kind, put it off until tomorrow. Today is the day to do all of those simple, easy, obvious, and/or logical tasks that you have put off because they’re “no brainers”. Don’t even think about doing anything else.
Factoid: In a study conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, neuroscientists found that the human brain could process images that had been flashed before the person for as little as 13 milliseconds.
Polar Bear Day
Polar Bear Day was created in 2011 to create awareness of the plight of polar bears due to loss of habitat. In 2008, polar bears were classified as a ‘threatened species’ under the Endangered Species Act. The new classification will strengthen already existing regulations concerning the killing of polar bears and the importing of related products to the United States.
Polar Bears are impressive hunters and are the world’s largest carnivores. They can reach up to nine feet tall when standing erect and weigh up to 1400 pounds. They have large front paws, which are slightly webbed, used to paddle as they swim. They have a warming layer of fat which is covered by their thick coat of insulating fur which helps them live in the colder environments. Polar Bears are native to Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Norway, and Russia. Seals and fish are their primary source of food.
The easiest way to celebrate Polar Bear Day is a visit to a nearby zoo that has a Polar Bear Exhibit. Other ways to celebrate include researching polar bears online or at the library and watching a documentary on polar bears on TV.
Author’s Note: I strongly recommend that you do not attempt to celebrate Polar Bear Day by visiting them in their native habitat (especially wearing a seal skin coat). The reasons for this are threefold.
- They are huge.
- They are carnivorous.
- Right now it’s flippin’ cold where they live.
Anosmia Awareness Day
Anosmia Awareness Day was created to increase awareness of anosmia — the loss of the sense of smell — which affects over six million Americans and many millions more worldwide.
Many physicians, including those who specialize in otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat disorders), have little understanding of the underlying biological mechanisms that cause the loss of our sense of smell. Researchers are using a variety of methods, including stem cell research, to try to determine the causes of anosmia and discover effective treatments.
Our sense of smell is more valuable than one might think. It is often the first indicator that there is danger…for instance smelling smoke when there is a fire. It is also linked to the pleasure centers in our brains…the aroma of a bouquet of roses, the aroma of ozone after a rain, the aroma of a candy shop, etc. I can’t even conceive a life without the sense of smell.
Shrove Monday, sometimes known as Collop Monday, is the Monday before Ash Wednesday every year and is a part of the English traditional Shrovetide celebrations of the week before Lent. Shrove Monday events of the New Orleans and Mississippi Gulf Coast Mardi Gras, date back to the 19th century. However, since the late 20th century, they have been named Lundi Gras (“Fat Monday”). In layman’s terms, it signals that Easter is nigh upon us.
The British name for Shrove Monday, Collop Monday, relates to the traditional dish of the day, consisting of slices of leftover meat (collops of bacon) along with eggs. It is eaten for breakfast and is part of the traditional Lenten preparations. In addition to providing a little meat, the collops were also the source of the fat for the following day’s pancakes. The word collop, here, is taken to mean a small piece of bacon. In general, it is used to refer to a small piece of meat.
The term Shrove Monday is no longer widely used in the United States or Canada outside of liturgical traditions, such as in the Lutheran, Anglican, and Roman Catholic Churches. The whole process for determining the date on which Easter, and therefore Lent, fall each year is complicated, and I can’t even begin to explain the correlation between the two. This link may help you.
Author’s note: Not being religious, the only way I know that Easter is approaching is when the chocolate hearts in stores are replaced with Peeps and chocolate bunnies.
National Strawberry Day
Strawberries are a unique berry in that its seeds grow on the outside of the fruit instead of the inside as do most berries. Food historians generally believe that strawberries were first cultivated in ancient Rome. In the United States, strawberries were first cultivated during the mid-1830’s in Massachusetts. Today strawberries grow in every US state and Canadian province.
Strawberries are not only are they delicious, but they are also fragrant. – not surprising, they belong to the rose family. There are over 600 varieties of strawberries and they are an excellent source of Vitamin C and are also a good source of folic acid, potassium, and fiber. Strawberries contain only 55 calories and zero fat and cholesterol in a 1 cup serving.
While the best season for strawberries is from late April to August, they can be grown year-round in temperate climates as long as they are protected from freezing.
Below are a few strawberry picking and preserving tips:
- Pick fully ripe berries. Strawberries don’t continue to ripen if picked too early like bananas or pears.
- Don’t overfill your container. Berries are tender and can bruise easily.
- Don’t wash the fruit until you are ready to eat. Strawberries are susceptible to mold and washing will speed up spoilage.
- The best time to pick strawberries is on cool, cloudy days, but if they will be eaten right away, any time is perfect!
- If you pick more than you can eat before they spoil, strawberries freeze very well. Pluck off the green caps and toss into a freezer bag. Use for smoothies, ice cream or cake toppings.
National Kahlua Day
Kahlua is a rich, creamy, rum-based, coffee-flavored liqueur from Mexico. People enjoy it straight up, on the rocks, and mixed in coffee or cocktails (like the White Russian). Kahlua is also used to flavor desserts such as ice cream, cakes, and cheesecakes. The word “Kahlua” means “house of the Acolhua people” in the Nahuatl language. A company named Domecq has produced the drink since 1936 and named it for the native people of Veracruz. Kahlua is made with rum, Mexican coffee, sugar, and vanilla.
On This Date
- In 1801 – The city of Washington, DC, was placed under congressional jurisdiction.
- In 1827 – New Orleans held its first Mardi Gras celebration.
- In 1867 – Dr. William G. Bonwill invented the dental mallet.
- In 1883 – Oscar Hammerstein patented the first cigar-rolling machine.
- In 1896 – The “Charlotte Observer” published a picture of an X-ray photograph made by Dr. H.L. Smith. The photograph showed a perfect picture of all the bones of a hand and a bullet that Smith had placed between the third and fourth fingers in the palm. It was the first X-ray photograph to ever appear in a newspaper.
- In 1922 – The Supreme Court upheld the 19th Amendment that guaranteed women the right to vote.
- In 1939 – The Supreme Court outlawed sit-down strikes.
- In 1951 – The 22nd Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, limiting United States Presidents to two terms.
- In 1973 – The American Indian Movement (AIM) occupied Wounded Knee in South Dakota.
- In 1974 – “People” magazine was first issued by Time-Life (later known as Time-Warner).
- In 1981 – Chrysler Corporation was granted an additional $400 million in federal loan guarantees. Chrysler had posted a loss of $1.7 billion in 1980.
- In 1982 – Wayne B. Williams was convicted of murdering two of the 28 black children and young adults whose bodies were found in Atlanta, GA, over a two-year period.
- In 1990 – The Exxon Corporation and Exxon Shipping were indicted on five criminal counts in reference to the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.
- In 1991 – President George H.W. Bush announced live on television that “Kuwait is liberated.”
- In 1997 – Ireland finally legalized divorce.
- In 1998 – Britain’s House of Lords agreed to give a monarch’s first-born daughter the same claim to the throne as any first-born son. This was the end of 1,000 years of male preference.
- In 2002 – Twenty people working at Logan International Airport in Boston, MA were charged with lying to get their jobs or security badges.
If you were born on this date, Happy Birthday. You share your birthday with the following list of illustrious individuals – and about 20-million other people.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807 – Poet.
- Hugo Black, 1886 – Supreme Court Justice.
- John Steinbeck, 1902 – Writer.
- Franchot Tone, 1905 – Actor.
- Joan Bennett, 1910 – Actress.
- Joanne Woodward, 1930 – Actress.
- Elizabeth Taylor, 1932 – Actress.
- Ralph Nader, 1934 – Consumer advocate.
- Howard Hesseman, 1940 – Actor.
- Mary Frann, 1943 – Actress.
- Debra Monk, 1949 – Actress.
- Adam Baldwin, 1962 – Actor.
- Chelsea Clinton, 1980 – Former First Daughter.
- Josh Groban, 1981 – Singer.
Oh, for Pete’s sake, good morning already. Today is Sunday, February 26, 2017. Today’s reasons to celebrate are:
For Pete’s Sake Day
“For Pete’s sake” is a euphemism — a word or phrase used in place of a more profane or vulgar phrase not accepted in polite society. Perhaps because profanity and vulgarity are more accepted by society these days, one seldom hears the phrase anymore, except maybe in the “Bible Belt” – but those from my generation (Baby Boomers) are quite familiar with the expression.
For Pete’s sake is used to convey anger or frustration at an object, person or circumstance. For example: “For Pete’s sake, what is wrong with kids today?” – Or: “Oh for Pete’s sake, I dropped my iPhone in the toilet.” – Or, “for Pete’s sake, is this rain ever going to end?” – Or, “for Pete’s sake, when is the Orange Oracle going to get off of Twitter and start governing?”
You may be wondering where the term “for Pete’s sake” originated. Some Christians use this euphemism believing that using it instead of cursing will garner favor with Saint Peter, thus giving them a better chance to enter the gates Heaven – but they are wrong. All of my research indicates that “for Pete’s sake” is nothing more than a corruption of the term “for pity sake”. As for poor Pete, no one knows why he was singled out as the person to whom you direct your frustration.
If you want to learn more about this, or other euphemisms, for Pete’s sake, research it yourself…you can’t expect me to do everything for you.
Levi Strauss Day
Today marks the 144th anniversary of the day, in 1873, that Levi Strauss applied for his patent for the “copper rivet” design of one of the most durable and popular articles of clothing ever manufactured. It wasn’t Levi Strauss who originally thought of the brand’s (Levi’s) trademark feature…metal rivets. One of Strauss’ customers, a tailor by the name of Jacob Davis, had the idea to use copper rivets to reinforce points of strain, such as the pocket corners and at the top of the button fly. As Davis did not have the required capital to purchase a patent, he suggested to Strauss that they both go into business together. The two men received the patent on May 20, 1873.
The history of jeans dates as far back as 16th century Europe. Soldiers from Genoa, Italy wore the blue fabric as a part of their uniforms. The word ‘jeans’ is derived from the French phrase: bleu de G nes, which literally translates to ‘the blue of Genoa’.
Ya gotta love Levi’s. They are always in style and are suitable for any occasion (except formal functions). So, wear your favorite pair of Levi’s proudly today to celebrate Levi Strauss Day.
Author’s Note: Coincidently, today also happens to be the birthday of Levi Strauss, who was born on this date in 1829.
Each year, millions of Americans flock to carnivals and put down big bucks to be entertained by death-defying feats, clowns, elephants, lions, and other animal acts, and so much more. Carnivals are not limited to those big traveling spectaculars. There is a wide range of summer and winter carnivals across America. School carnivals are popular. Towns and even businesses hold carnivals of all types. Personally, I enjoyed carnivals as a kid, but these days, not so much.
Tell A Fairy Tale Day
To qualify as a fairy tale, a story does not need to begin with “Once upon a time,” but, they often do. Nor does the story have to end with “and they all lived happily ever after”, but again, they often do.
‘Fairy Tales’ are a form of folk tales, passed down both orally and in printed form generation to generation. Before the 17th century, fairy tales often had themes unsuitable for children and were written mostly for adults. However, today, fairy tales are considered to be children’s literature and the term fairy tale is used to refer to happy events and happenings, such as a fairy tale romance or a fairy tale ending.
To celebrate, cozy up under a blanket with your children or grandchildren and read from a book of fairy tales. Libraries and schools will often mark this holiday with special fairy tale readings and story hours as well.
Thermos Bottle Day
Thermos™ is a brand of insulated vacuum bottle designed to keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. The word thermos is also used generically to mean any insulated vacuum bottle. That is where the confusion lies. Does Thermos Bottle Day refer to the brand name Thermos™ bottle or just vacuum bottles in general? Since none of my sources referred to the Thermos™ brand bottles specifically, I am going to assume the latter.
Vacuum bottles (also known as a Dewar flask, Dewar bottle or thermos) were invented in 1892 by Scottish scientist Sir James Dewar as a result of his research in the field of cryogenics. Dewar formed a brass chamber that he enclosed in another chamber to keep the palladium at its desired temperature. He evacuated the air between the two chambers creating a partial vacuum to keep the temperature of the contents stable. Through the need for this insulated container, Dewar created the vacuum flask, which became a significant tool for chemical experiments and became a common household item. However, Dewar refused to patent his invention.
Dewar’s flask was later developed using new materials such as glass and aluminum. In 1904, two German glass blowers (one of whom was Reinhold Burger) discovered that it could be used to keep cold drinks cold and warm drinks warm. Since the Dewar flask design was never patented, they renamed it Thermos and claimed the rights to the commercial product and the trademark to the name. And the rest, as they say, is history. Over time, the company expanded the size, shapes, and materials of these consumer products, primarily used for carrying coffee on the go and carrying liquids on camping trips to keep them either hot or cold. Eventually, other manufacturers produced similar products for consumer use
A vacuum flask is actually two bottles, placed one within the other and joined at the neck. The gap between the two bottles is partially evacuated of air, creating a partial vacuum which reduces heat conduction or convection. Heat transfer by thermal radiation may be minimized by silvering flask surfaces facing the gap but can become problematic if the flask’s contents or surroundings are very hot; hence vacuum flasks usually hold contents below the boiling point of water. Most heat transfer occurs through the neck and opening of the flask, where there is no vacuum. Vacuum flasks are usually made of metal, borosilicate glass, foam or plastic and have their opening stoppered with a cork or polyethylene plastic. Vacuum flasks come in many different sizes and have a variety of uses– from that Thermos™ bottle in your lunchbox to huge vacuum-insulated shipping containers.
So, to celebrate Thermos Bottle Day, use your insulated vacuum vessel today – no matter the brand. Since today is not a work day for most people, fill it up with your favorite hot or cold beverage and go for a nature hike.
National Pistachio Day
Pistachios come from a small bushy tree native to the Middle East. It produces bunches of fruit (similar to grapes) and the pistachio nut is the seed of that fruit. Pistachios have more antioxidants per serving than green tea and are also an excellent source of fiber, copper, manganese, and Vitamin B6.
Pistachios are not just eaten roasted as a snack food, they are also used in cooking. Their sweet flavor most often finds them used in desserts, such as baklava or even pistachio ice cream, but they can be used in savory dishes as well.
The largest producer of pistachio nuts today is Iran but they are also grown in other areas, including California and Mediterranean Europe.
Here are a few more interesting facts about pistachios.
- Pistachios are native to the Middle East.
- In the Middle East, people call them the “smiling nut”.
- The Chinese are the greatest consumers of pistachios.
- In China, they are called the “happy nut”.
- It is thought that pistachios have been eaten by humans for at least 9000 years.
- It takes 7-10 years for a pistachio tree to mature.
- California is the biggest producer pistachios in the United States.
- Pistachios are harvested in September by machines that shake the trees.
- The red dye added to pistachios is only due to consumer demand for the color.
- The pistachio’s open hull is unique. The nut is fully ripe only when the hull splits open.
Pistachios are one of my favorite nuts. They are delicious and nutritious. Enjoy some in one form or another as a snack today. You can bet that I will.
Tonight is the biggest night of the year for the film industry—the Academy Awards. While I don’t consider the Academy Awards a holiday, some of you might, so I’ll cover it anyway.
The Academy Awards, as of February 20, 2013, officially re-branded as The Oscars, are a set of awards given annually for excellence of cinematic achievements. There is no fixed date for this awards show, but it usually happens in either February of March. The criteria for setting the actual date each year seem to be one of the world’s most closely guarded secrets.
The first Academy Awards took place on May 16, 1929, at a ceremony at the Hotel Roosevelt in Hollywood at a private dinner party with less than 250 guests in attendance. The ceremony only lasted fifteen minutes, and the tickets cost $5.00 each. Over the years, the categories presented have expanded. Currently, Oscars are given in more than a dozen categories and include films of various types. It is also the oldest award ceremony in the media. As one of the most preeminent award ceremonies in the world, the Academy Awards ceremony is televised live in more than 100 countries annually, with an average viewership of over 40 million people.
The trophy for the Academy Awards is a knight gripping a crusader’s sword standing on a reel of film. The reel has five spokes representing the original branches of the Academy: actors, directors, producers, technicians, and writers. The statuette is officially known as the Academy Award of Merit but was nicknamed “Oscar” in the 1930’s. Each of the Oscars costs $500 to produce and weigh about 8.5 pounds.
As I alluded to earlier, I am not a fan of The Oscars and I won’t be watching. It’s not that I don’t care about the recipients of the awards, it’s just that the awards show seems to drag on FOREVER. I am also not a big fan of the winners using their acceptance speeches to promote their pet cause or to make snide political remarks. Jeez, your peers just selected you as “the best of the best.” No one outside your insular circle of friends cares what your politics are. Graciously accept your award, shut up, and get off the stage!
Personal Chef Day – Celebrated semiannually on February 26th and July 16th.
On This Date
- In 1815 – Napoleon Bonaparte escaped from the Island of Elba. He then began his second conquest of France.
- In 1863 – President Lincoln signed the National Currency Act.
- In 1870 – New York City, opened the first pneumatic-powered subway line to the public.
- In 1907 – Congress raised their own pay to $7500.
- In 1909 – A color motion picture was shown to the general public for the first time. A series of 21 short Kinemacolor film were presented at the Palace Theatre in London.
- In 1917 – The world’s first jazz record was recorded. The “Original Dixieland Jazz Band” recorded “Livery Stable Blues” for the Victor Talking Machine Company in New York.
- In 1919 – In Arizona, the Grand Canyon was established as a National Park with an act of Congress.
- In 1920 – The first German Expressionist film premiered. “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” by Robert Wiene is considered one of the best silent films of the horror genre.
- In 1929 – President Coolidge signed a bill creating the Grand Teton National Park.
- In 1930 – New York City installed traffic lights.
- In 1933 – A ground-breaking ceremony was held at Crissy Field for the Golden Gate Bridge.
- In 1952 – British Prime Minister Winston Churchill announced that Britain had developed an atomic bomb.
- In 1987 – The Tower Commission rebuked President Reagan for failing to control his national security staff in the wake of the Iran-Contra affair.
- In 1991 – Iraqi President Saddam Hussein announced on Baghdad Radio that Iraqi troops were being withdrawn from Kuwait.
- In 1991 – The world’s first web browser was presented to the public. The browser “WorldWideWeb” (later renamed “Nexus”) was developed by Tim Berners-Lee, a British computer scientist best known as the inventor of the internet.
- In 1993 – A car bomb exploded below the World Trade Center in New York City. The attack was carried out by a group of Islamist militants. Six people died in the blast and more than a thousand more were injured.
- In 1998 – A Texas jury rejected an $11 million lawsuit by Texas cattlemen who blamed Oprah Winfrey for a price drop after her on-air comment about mad-cow disease.
- In 1998 – An Oregon health panel ruled that taxpayers must help to pay for doctor-assisted suicides.
- In 2009 – The Pentagon reversed its 18-year policy of not allowing media to cover returning war dead. The reversal allowed some media coverage with family approval.
If you were born on this date, Happy Birthday. You share your birthday with the following list of illustrious individuals – and about 20-million other people.
- Victor Hugo 1802 – French author, poet, playwright.
- Levi Strauss 1829 – Entrepreneur.
- William (Buffalo Bill) Cody 1846 – Frontiersman.
- John Harvey Kellogg – American surgeon, co-created Corn Flakes.
- Herbert Henry Dow 1866 – Entrepreneur.
- William Frawley 1887 – Actor.
- Jackie Gleason 1916 – Entertainer.
- Tony Randall 1920 – Actor.
- Betty Hutton 1921 – Actress.
- Ariel Sharon 1928 – Israeli general, politician, 11th Prime Minister of Israel.
- Fats Domino 1928 – Musician.
- Johnny Cash 1932 – Country musician.
- Mitch Ryder 1945 – Singer.
- Michael Bolton 1953 – Singer.
- Greg Germann 1958 – Actor.
- Jennifer Grant 1966 – Actress.
- Erykah Badu 1971 – Singer.
Good morning solitude seekers. Today is Saturday, February 25, 2017. Today’s reasons to celebrate are:
Quiet Day, as the name implies, is a day to lower the noise level of your surroundings. It originally started as a holiday in the Anglican church to focus on special devotions, meditations, and instructions; however today it is construed more generally to mean lowering the amount of noise you make.
We can’t totally escape noise… it is all around us. Traffic, the din of workplaces, and even our homes are all sources of superfluous background noise, and there is not much we can do about that. But what we can do is reduce the amount of noise we make as individuals – which is the purpose of Quiet Day.
Noise causes stress, so reducing the amount of noise we make as an individual could be beneficial to our health. Studies done on stress and the adrenal glands at the Franklin Institute show that even low-level chronic noise increases aggression and decreases cooperation and is associated with increased risk for such serious physiological problems as peptic ulcers, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.
Reducing the noise level in your immediate environment helps the body relax, lowers blood pressure, and lowers heart your rate. It allows the mind to focus and be more creative. It can boost your immune system and decrease the amount of pain that we feel.
To celebrate Quiet Day, take control of your environment. If it gets too noisy, move away and find someplace quieter. Take a hike and enjoy the calming sounds of nature. If you can’t physically move away from the noise, relax. Take a few deep breaths and think serene thoughts. Try to clear your mind of the auditory clutter that is causing you so much stress.
International Sword Swallowers Day
First, I ask you to please keep your tawdry sexual innuendoes to yourselves…unless, of course, they are funny. In that case, leave them in the comments.
International Sword Swallowers Day is always held on the last Saturday in February and is sponsored by Ripley’s “Believe It or Not!”. They will be holding events in Believe It or Not! “Odditoriums” world-wide. Its purpose is to honor veteran performers and to raise funds for esophageal cancer research.
Believe it or not, sword swallowers have made some contributions in the fields of medicine and science. Sword swallowers have been prodded and examined by doctors and scientists at medical centers over the past 150 years without recognition. In 1868, a sword swallower was used by Dr. Adolf Kussmaul in Freiburg Germany to develop the first rigid endoscopy. In 1906, a sword swallower underwent the first esophageal electrocardiogram in Wales.
I cannot, in all good conscience, urge you to celebrate International Sword Swallowing Day…unless you are already an accomplished sword swallower. If you don’t know what you’re doing, sword swallowing can have serious, if not fatal consequences and is something best left to professionals. You can, however, take a few minutes to research the history of sword swallowing.
Let’s All Eat Right Day
Let’s All Eat Right Day honors Adelle Davis, one of the country’s best-known nutritionists. Adelle was born on this date in 1904 and was an advocate of the nutrition movement. She wrote a series of books about healthy living including the books: “Let’s Cook it Right”, “Let’s Have Healthy Children”, “Let’s Eat Right to Keep Fit”, and “Let’s Get Well”. Adelle was a proponent for eating whole unprocessed foods. She criticized food additives and claimed that dietary supplements and other nutrients played a huge role in preventing diseases and restoring health when recovering from a disease. Use this holiday to consider your food choices and ways you can change your diet to eat healthier.
Open That Bottle Night
Created by columnists Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher in 2000, Open That Bottle Night is an annual occasion celebrated on the last Saturday in February. It aims to motivate people to reconnect with each other over a cherished bottle of wine, champagne, and/or spirits – and create lasting memories with friends and family.
Open That Bottle Night is dedicated to making sure that those bottles of fine wine put away for a special occasion, are used and enjoyed. You know the one. That bottle you bought at that quaint little wine shop in (fill in city here) on your honeymoon. Or the one that you bought when you toured California Wine Country a few years back but was a little too expensive to serve to your casual friends. Tonight is the night to open that symbolically significant bottle and share the memories and stories of that event again with the ones you love.
National Clam Chowder Day
There are many different types chowders, and there are even quite a number of clam chowders, but the dominant styles are; New England and Manhattan. New England clam chowder is a roux based chowder made with milk or cream whereas Manhattan clam chowder is tomato based. Of the two most prominent types, the most popular seems to be New England style, which originated in the Northeast in the early 1800’s.
National Clam Chowder Day celebrates clam chowder in any of its forms. It encourages you to enjoy a steamy bowl of clam chowder – whether New England style, Manhattan style, or any of the myriad, lesser-known regional styles.
Since we celebrated New England Clam Chowder Day about a month ago, I won’t delve into the history of chowders again.
Chocolate-Covered Nuts Day
Again, I ask you to please keep your tawdry sexual innuendos to yourself. Chocolate-covered Nuts Day is pretty much self-explanatory.
Nuts have been a staple of the human diet for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks and Romans were fond of the walnut, Native Americans enjoyed the pecan, and the Chinese believed the hazelnut was one of the five sacred nourishments.
People also believed that chocolate had divine properties. The Aztecs and Mayans drank chocolate mixed with water for all their sacred rituals. In the 17th century, chocolate became a very fashionable drink throughout Europe and people soon learned that everything tastes better when it’s covered in chocolate. By the middle of the 19th century, it was a common practice to dip items like pretzels, nuts, and fruits into melted chocolate.
To celebrate Chocolate-Covered Nuts Day, any kind of nut will do, as long as it is covered in chocolate. Nuts are packed with protein, and moderate amounts of chocolate have been proven to have health benefits…so, basically, chocolate-covered nuts are health food, right?
What is your favorite type of chocolate-covered nut?
On This Date
- In 1570 – England’s Queen Elizabeth I was excommunicated by Pope Pius V.
- In 1751 – Edward Willet displayed the first trained monkey act in the United States.
- In 1793 – The department heads of the United States government met with President Washington for the first Cabinet meeting on record in the United States.
- In 1836 – Samuel Colt was issued Patent (# 138) for the Colt Revolver, the first pistol with a revolving cylinder with multiple chambers for cartridges.
- In 1837 – Thomas Davenport patented the first commercial electrical motor. There was no practical electrical distribution system available at the time, and Davenport went bankrupt.
- In 1901 – The United States Steel Corp. was incorporated by J.P. Morgan.
- In 1913 – The 16th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified. It authorized a graduated income tax.
- In 1919 – The state of Nebraska became the first state to place a tax on gasoline. The tax was 1 cent per gallon.
- In 1928 – The Federal Radio Commission issued the first United States television license to Charles Jenkins Laboratories in Washington, DC.
- In 1930 – The bank check photographing device was patented.
- In 1933 – The first aircraft carrier, USS Ranger, was launched.
- In 1940 – The New York Rangers and the Montreal Canadians played in the first hockey game to be televised in the United States. The game was aired on W2WBS in New York with one camera in a fixed position. The Rangers beat the Canadiens 6-2.
- In 1947 – The state of Prussia was dissolved. At its peak, the most important state of the German empire encompassed parts of modern-day Germany, Poland, and Russia.
- In 1948 – Communists seized power in Czechoslovakia.
- In 1956 – Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev criticized the late Josef Stalin in a speech before a Communist Party congress in Moscow.
- In 1964 – Muhammad Ali became world heavyweight champion for the first time. Ali, who still used his original name Cassius Clay at the time, is considered one of the greatest heavyweight boxers in history.
- In 1972 – Germany gave a $5 million ransom to Arab terrorists who had hijacked a jumbo jet.
- In 1986 – Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos fled the Philippines after 20 years of rule, after a tainted election. Corazon Aquino was then sworn in as the 11th President of the Philippines. Aquino’s presidency ended 20 years of dictatorship. She was the first female president in Asia.
- In 1991 – The Warsaw Pact was disbanded. Following the end of the Cold War, the defense treaty between 8 communist states had lost its purpose. It had been signed in 1955 as an antagonist of NATO.
- In 1994 – Baruch Goldstein, an Israeli doctor, killed 30 unarmed Palestinians in the Mosque of Abraham. The massacre by the right-wing extremist was condemned worldwide…even in Israel.
- In 1999 – William King was sentenced to death for the racial murder of James Byrd Jr in Jasper, TX. Two other men charged were later convicted for their involvement.
- In 2005 – Dennis Rader was arrested for the BTK (bind, torture, kill) serial killings in Wichita, KS. He later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 life prison terms.
If you were born on this date, Happy Birthday. You share your birthday with the following list of illustrious individuals – and about 20-million other people.
- José de San Martín 1778 – Argentinian general, politician, 1st President of Peru.
- Pierre-Auguste Renoir 1841 – Impressionist artist.
- Enrico Caruso 1873 – Italian tenor.
- Zeppo Marx 1909 – Comedian.
- Jim Backus 1913 – Actor, Comedian.
- Bobby Riggs 1918 – Tennis player.
- Tommy Newsom 1929 – Musician.
- Faron Young 1932 – Singer.
- Sally Jessi Raphael, 1935 – TV talk show host.
- Bob Schieffer 1937 – Newscaster.
- Diane Baker 1938 – Actress.
- Karen Grassle 1944 – Actress.
- Veronica Webb 1965 – Actress.
- Téa Leoni 1966 – Actress.
- Carrot Top (Scott Simpson) 1967 – Comedian.
- Rashida Jones 1976 – Actress.
Good morning mixologists. Today is Friday, February 24, 2017. Today’s reasons to celebrate are:
World Bartender Day
Bartending is a difficult and often a thankless job. Not only does a good bartender have to know how to make myriad different drinks, they also have to put up with people in various stages of intoxication, and be willing to listen to people’s troubles…and since a large portion of their income is derived from tips, they have to do all of this while maintaining a positive attitude and keeping a smile on their faces.
World Bartender Day salutes these saintly souls who keep our glasses full and our spirits high.
In my younger days, I spent many an hour ensconced on a bar stool across from some really nice bartenders who were always willing to exchange a joke or two and generally brighten my day.
National Skip the Straw Day
National Skip the Straw Day is a new addition to the National Day Calendar being celebrated for the first time this year and to be observed annually on the fourth in February henceforth. It was created by students at Whitehall Middle School in Whitehall, MI (who call themselves the Coral Keepers) and their advisor, Susan Tate.
For millennia, mankind ingested liquids either from their hands or from cup-shaped or cylindrical vessels. Then, in 1888, Marvin Stone invented the paper straw…and the world was changed forever.
In the 1960’s, plastic straws were introduced and because of their minimal cost, their durability, and their convenience, they eventually all but pushed paper straws out of the market. But like with most other products of convenience, once they are no longer usable, they become an environmental problem. Today, landfills, roadsides, and even the world’s waterways are being inundated with plastic refuse.
National Skip the Straw Day encourages Americans to give up plastic straws and help spread awareness about the damage caused by disposable plastics. According to the National Park Service, Americans use 500 million plastic drinking straws daily. That’s a lot of non-biodegradable waste that will eventually wind up in our environment.
The easiest way to celebrate National Skip the Straw Day is to pick up the glass and tip it back like your parents taught you to do when you were a toddler. It may take some practice and maybe both hands, but you’ll eventually get the hang of it. Here are some other eco-friendly options.
- Bamboo straws are a renewable, reusable and biodegradable.
- Paper straws, while still disposable, are biodegradable and from a renewable source.
- Glass straws are coming in durable, colorful designs fit for a variety of beverages.
- Stainless steel straws are an option for those of us who like our cold drinks really cold.
You can also volunteer to help clean up your local beaches, parks or neighborhoods. [Take note of how many plastic straws are included in all the litter]. If you frequent fast food restaurants or get beverages to go, you can request your beverage to be served sans straw. Do your part today to help the environment today by foregoing the straw in your beverage. Just think, if we were to celebrate National Skip the Straw Day every day, together, maybe we could bring down “Big Straw”.
Tortilla Chip Day
Tortilla chips are made from round corn or flour tortillas that are cut into wedges. The chips may be either fried or baked. Tortilla chips are considered a Mexican food, however, they originated in Los Angeles. During the late 1940’s the Carranza’s, a couple who ran a tortilla factory came up with the idea to cut ‘misshaped’ tortillas into triangles and fry them. They sold them by the bag for 10¢ each and the rest is history. Soon, the lowly tortilla chip began to compete with the major brands of corn chips (Fritos, et al). To celebrate, try making some fresh tortilla chips at home. Here is a simple recipe.
Factoid: In 2003, the state of Texas made the tortilla chip their official state snack.
International STAND UP to Bullying Day – Last Friday in February and the third Friday in November.
On This Date
- In 1582 – Pope Gregory XIII orders the introduction of the Gregorian calendar. His reform of the Julian calendar was first introduced in some European countries and is now the world’s most widely used calendar.
- In 1607 – The world’s first opera premiered. Claudio Monteverdi’s “L’Orfeo” is still performed regularly today.
- In 1803 – The Supreme Court ruled itself to be the final interpreter of all constitutional issues.
- In 1839 – William S. Otis received a patent for the steam shovel. His steam shovel revolutionized the construction and mining industries and was an integral part of the expansion of the railroad system in America. Alas, Mr. Otis never saw his invention reach its true potential. He died later that year of Typhoid Fever. He was just 26 years old.
- In 1857 – The first shipment of perforated postage stamps was received by the United States Government.
- In 1863 – Arizona was organized as a territory.
- In 1868 – The first parade to use floats occurred in New Orleans at Mardi Gras.
- In 1868 – The House of Representatives impeached President Andrew Johnson due to his attempt to dismiss Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton. The Senate later acquitted Johnson.
- In 1903 – In Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, an area was leased to the United States for a naval base.
- In 1920 – The German nazi party was founded. Adolf Hitler became the party’s leader in 1921.
- In 1938 – The first nylon bristle toothbrush was made. It was the first time that nylon yarn had been used commercially.
- In 1942 – The United States Government stopped shipments of all 12-gauge shotguns for sporting use due to the need for gunpowder during WWII.
- In 1942 – The Voice of America (VOA) aired for the first time.
- In 1956 – The city of Cleveland invoked a 1931 law that barred people under the age of 18 from dancing in public without an adult guardian.
- In 1981 – Buckingham Palace announced the engagement of Britain’s Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer.
- In 1988 – The Supreme Court overturned a $200,000 award to Rev. Jerry Falwell that had been won against “Hustler” magazine. The ruling expanded legal protections for parody and satire.
- In 1989 – Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini sentenced Salman Rushdie to death for his novel “The Satanic Verses”. A bounty of one-million-dollars was also put on Rushdie’s head.
- In 1989 – A Boeing 747 jumbo jet ripped open over the Pacific Ocean. United Airlines Flight 811 experienced an explosive decompression, resulting in the death of 9 passengers.
- In 1992 – Tracy Gold began working on the set of “Growing Pains” again. She had left the show due to anorexia.
- In 1994 – Garrett Morris was shot during a robbery attempt in Los Angeles, CA. He eventually recovered from his injury.
- In 1997 – The Food and Drug Administration named six brands of birth control as safe and effective “morning-after” pills for preventing pregnancy.
- In 2008 – Cuba’s parliament named Raul Castro president. His brother Fidel had ruled for nearly 50 years.
- In 2010 – Sachin Tendulkar became the first cricket player to score a double-century in the One Day International format. The Indian cricketer is widely recognized as one of the greatest batsmen in the game.
- Wilhelm Grimm 1786 – Author.
- Honus Wagner 1874 – Baseball player.
- Chester Nimitz 1885 – U.S. Navy Admiral.
- Marjorie Main 1890 – Actress.
- Zachary Scott 1914 – Actor.
- Abe Vigoda 1921 – Actor.
- Linda Cristal 1936 – Actress.
- James Farentino 1938 – Actor.
- George Harrison 1943 – Beatle.
- Sheila Larkin 1944 – Actress.
- Barry Bostwick 1945 – Actor.
- Rupert Holmes 1947 – Musician.
- Edward James Olmos 1947 – Actor.
- George Thorogood 1950 – Musician.
- Steven Jobs 1955 – Co-founder of Apple, Inc.
- Paula Zahn 1956 – TV journalist.
- Billy Zane 1966 – Actor.
- Bonnie Somerville 1974 – Actress.
Good morning dog breaths. Today is Thursday, February 23, 2017. Today’s reasons to celebrate are”
International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day
They say that “Every dog has its day”, but this is the second day in a row that a holiday has been dedicated to our beloved canine companions. What’s going on here? Are dogs trying to take over the world? What’s next? Will they start running for political office?
Oh wait, they already are! The town of Sunol, CA elected a dog named “Bosco” as their mayor in 1981, and the hamlet of Rabbit Hash, KY has elected three dogs as mayor (so far). More recently, in 2014, Cormorant, MN elected a dog named Duke as Mayor. Even more impressively, Duke has been re-elected three more times since.
Perhaps our canine companions should set their sights on even higher offices. Representative “Rascal”? Senator “Sparky”? Or, dare I dream, President “Patches”? They certainly could do no worse than the current ‘motly mob of mange-ridden mongrels’ that “represent” us. True, there would be a lot of yapping at each other, and a certain amount of “butt-sniffing” to establish dominance – but then, how is that different from what goes on in Congress today? And, approval ratings would most likely skyrocket.
Anyway, I digress, back to the original topic. You would think that International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day would be a holiday sponsored by the manufacturers of dog biscuits and dog ‘treats’, but apparently, that is not the case. International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day encourages us to learn how to make our own healthier alternative to mass manufactured, store-bought dog food and dog treats. This link will give you more information, and even includes some rather tasty sounding recipes to get you started.
World Spay Day
World Spay Day was created by The Humane Society of the United States. In conjunction with Humane Society International, and Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association and with other humane organizations, veterinary professionals, businesses, and individuals worldwide, its purpose is to focus on spay/neuter programs as a proven means of saving animals’ lives, and the need for affordable services, particularly in underserved communities.
Many communities already have facilities which provide low-cost spaying/neutering programs. PetSmart and the ASPCA have teamed up to provide this website where you can find affordable spaying/neutering services in your area.
I have long been an advocate of spaying and neutering pets. If you haven’t had your pet spayed or neutered, I strongly urge you to do so.
Curling Is Cool Day
Curling is an odd sport that combines ice-skating, bowling, shuffleboard, and a household chore. Curling Is Cool Day attempts to break away from the stereotypes, and to show curling as an interesting, exciting and cool sport (at least in terms of temperature) in its own right.
Curling has been around since the Middle Ages and was first developed in Scotland. It is a sport in which players slide stones across a sheet of ice towards a target area which is segmented into four rings. Two teams, each of four players, take turns sliding heavy, polished granite stones, across the ice curling sheet towards the “house”, a circular target marked on the ice. The purpose is to accumulate the highest score for a game; points are scored for the stones resting closest to the center of the house at the conclusion of each end, which is completed when both teams have thrown all eight of their stones. A game may consist of ten or eight ends. Each team has a thrower, two sweepers, and a “skip”. The skip is the one who directs the sweepers when and where to sweep.
When it was being considered as an official sport (rather than an exhibition sport) for the Olympic games in 1998, sweeping changes were made to the brooms [pause for the groan here] used to sweep along the path of the ‘stone’. New brushes made from horse hair replaced the old corn straw brooms which left debris on the playing surface.
Play Tennis Day
Tennis, as we know it, has been around since the mid-1800’s, when two friends Harry Gem and Augurio Perera developed the game on Perera’s lawn in England. The first tennis club was created soon after, in 1872, and began with just 4 members. However, the origins of the sport of tennis can be traced back to twelfth-century France, where it was played by hitting the ball over the net with the hands instead of a racket. In fact, King Louis X was a big fan of the game that was then called jeu de paume (“game of the palm”) and is considered the world’s first tennis player known by name.
Since then, tennis has, of course, evolved greatly into the competition we know today – played by thousands and followed by millions of fans from around the world.
As the name implies, Play Tennis Day encourages you to go out and play a set or two of tennis today.
Diesel Engine Day
In August of 1893, Rudolph Diesel fired up a single-cylinder engine attached to a flywheel. The contraption was fueled by peanut oil. Soon after, he applied for a patent. Diesel Engine Day celebrates the date in 1893 on which Rudolf Diesel received a patent for his diesel engine. He had worked for years on the new idea: that higher levels of compression within the engine could ignite the fuel, thus eliminating the need for the spark to ignite the fuel as required by conventional internal combustion engines.
Unfortunately, on September 29th, 1913, Rudolph Diesel disappeared from the steamship Dresden while traveling from Antwerp, Belgium to Harwick, England. He would never know how his invention revolutionized the transportation industry, and see it grow to its full potential.
The Great American Spit Out
This holiday, I believe, was intended to sound a bit gross. The Great American Spit Out encourages those who use smokeless tobacco to quit.
Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death, and the use of smokeless tobacco, including chewing tobacco, continues to be a problem. Many people believe that smokeless tobacco is less harmful than cigarettes. The truth is, smokeless tobacco is not a safe alternative to cigarettes. At least 28 chemicals in smokeless tobacco have been found to cause cancer including oral, esophageal and pancreatic cancer and oral lesions other than cancer, such as leukoplakia (precancerous white patches in the mouth). Using smokeless tobacco may also cause heart disease, gum disease, so as you can clearly see, using smokeless tobacco is just as bad as smoking – detrimental effects just manifest themselves in different ways.
National Chili Day
This is the time of year for comfort food, so what better time to celebrate National Chili Day? According to my sources, Chili is America’s favorite comfort food.
The origins of chili are vague at best. Some food historians say that chili originated in Mexico, but Mexican food historians dispute that claim. One theory contends that Canary Islanders who made their way to San Antonio as early as 1723, used local peppers and wild onions combined with various meats to create an early type of chili. Another, even more far-fetched, theory says that chili was created by Sister Mary of Agreda, a Spanish nun in the early 1600’s who never left her convent – yet had out-of-body experiences in which her spirit was transported across the Atlantic to preach Christianity to the Indians. After one of the return trips, her spirit wrote down the first recipe for chili con carne: chili peppers, venison, onions, and tomatoes.
Modern, and logical, thinking suggests that chili was actually created in Texas and is a blend of Native American, Spanish, and Mexican cuisines because Texas was heavily influenced by each of these cultures. In fact, the earliest written description of Chili is from J.C. Clopper, who lived near Houston. While his description never mentions the word Chili, this is what he wrote of his visit to San Antonio in 1828:
“When they [poor families of San Antonio] have to lay for their meat in the market, a very little is made to suffice for the family; it is generally cut into a kind of hash with nearly as many peppers as there are pieces of meat–this is all stewed together.”
National Chili Day is always celebrated on the fourth Thursday in February. In 1977, House Concurrent Resolution Number 18 of the 65th Texas Legislature designated chili [also known in Texas as “bowls o’ red”] as the official dish of the State of Texas. On the other side of the coin, according to legend, Spanish priests called chili “the soup of the Devil” because they believed that chili peppers were an aphrodisiac. Maybe that is why chili was the favorite food of Lyndon Johnson. He once said:
“Chili concocted outside of Texas is usually a weak, apologetic imitation of the real thing. One of the first things I do when I get home to Texas is to have a bowl of red. There is simply nothing better.”
His wife and First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson, even had is favorite chili recipe printed on cards to be mailed out because of the many thousands of requests the White House received for it.
Some like it hot – some not – but however you like your chili, have a big steamy bowl of this spicy classic comfort food on National Chili Day.
National Banana Bread Day
Banana bread is a delicious baked good, which is classified as a “quick bread” or “tea cake.” Bananas arrived in the United States in the 1870’s and quickly became one of the most popular fruits on the market. It wasn’t long before they started to appear in dessert recipes as the star ingredient. The first cookbooks that mentioned banana bread were published during the Great Depression. Culinary historians believe that a resourceful housewife who did not want to throw away over-ripe bananas may have invented the original recipe.
Today there are many variations on classic banana bread recipes. So, make some banana bread today, I’m sure you have a recipe floating around somewhere. It’s a great way to use up those bananas that are a bit too ripe and are no longer suitable for topping your Wheaties in the morning.
National Toast Day
Who would think that there is a holiday celebrating toast…certainly not me? But, nonetheless, there is. National Toast Day was created in 2014 by The Tiptree World Bread Awards in the UK but has found a following in the United States.
Topped with butter or some kind of nut butter and a wide variety of jams, jellies, marmalades, or fruits compotes, toast is a perennial breakfast favorite here in America. If you’re like me, you like to dip your toast into your egg yolks or smear it with honey as a kind of breakfast dessert.
So, raise a toast to your toast this morning. How do you like your toast – dark, medium, or light?
On This Date
- In 1455 – The Gutenberg Bible was published. Johannes Gutenberg’s bible edition was the first book ever printed in movable type, heralding the age of the printed book in the West.
- In 1792 – The Humane Society of Massachusetts was incorporated.
- In 1813 – The first United States raw cotton-to-cloth mill was founded in Waltham, MA.
- In 1821 – The Philadelphia College of Apothecaries established the first pharmacy college.
- In 1821 – Poet John Keats died.
- In 1822 – Boston was incorporated as a city.
- In 1836 – In San Antonio, TX, the siege of the Alamo began.
- In 1847 – Santa Anna was defeated at the Battle of Buena Vista in Mexico by United States troops under Gen. Zachary.
- In 1848 – John Quincy Adams 6th President of the United States, died.
- In 1861 – President-elect Abraham Lincoln arrived secretly in Washington to take his office after an assassination attempt in Baltimore.
- In 1861 – Texas became the 7th state to secede from the Union.
- In 1870 – Mississippi was readmitted to the Union after siding with the Confederacy in the Civil War.
- In 1883 – Alabama became the first state to enact an antitrust law.
- In 1886 – Charles M. Hall invented aluminum.
- In 1896 – The Tootsie Roll was introduced by Leo Hirshfield.
- In 1904 – The United States acquired control of the Panama Canal Zone for $10 million.
- In 1905 – The Rotary Club was founded in Chicago, IL, by Attorney Paul Harris and three others.
- In 1910 – In Philadelphia, PA, the first radio contest was held.
- In 1915 – Nevada began enforcing their convenient divorce law.
- In 1917 – The February Revolution began in Russia. The demonstrations and armed clashes ultimately resulted in the demise of the Russian Empire.
- In 1919 – The Fascist Party was formed in Italy by Benito Mussolini.
- In 1927 – The Federal Radio Commission began assigning frequencies, hours of operation and power allocations for radio broadcasters. On July 1, 1934, the name was changed to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
- In 1941 – Glenn T. Seaborg and his team chemically identify Plutonium. The radioactive element plays an important role in nuclear fuels and nuclear weapons.
- In 1947 – The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) was created. The ISO issues standards for everything from bicycle tires to date formats.
- In 1954 – The first mass vaccination of children against polio began in Pittsburgh, PA.
- In 1968 – Wilt Chamberlain (Philadelphia 76ers) became the first player to score 25,000 career points in the NBA.
- In 1974 – The Symbionese Liberation Army demanded $4 million more for the release of Patty Hearst. Hearst had been kidnapped on February 4th.
- In 1980 – Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini declared that Iran’s new parliament would have to decide the fate of the hostages taken on November 4, 1979, at the U.S. embassy in Tehran.
- In 1993 – Gary Coleman won a $1,280,000 lawsuit against his parents.
- In 1999 – White Supremacist John William King was found guilty of kidnapping and murdering James Byrd Jr. Byrd was dragged behind a truck for two miles on a country road in Texas.
- In 2005 – The New York, NY, the city medical examiner’s office announced that it had exhausted all efforts to identify the remains of the people killed at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, due to the limits of DNA technology. About 1,600 people had been identified leaving more than 1,100 unidentified.
- George Frederic Handel 1685 – Composer.
- Mayer Amschel Rothschild 1734 – Banker.
- W.E.B. DuBois 1868 – Civil Rights activist.
- William Shirer 1904 – Author.
- Elston Howard 1929 – Baseball player.
- Diana Varsi 1938 – Actress.
- Peter Fonda 1940 – Actor.
- Fred Biletnikoff 1943 – Football player.
- Johnny Winter 1944 – Musician.
- Ed ‘Too Tall’ Jones 1951 – Football player.
- Patricia Richardson 1951 – Actress.
- Bobby Bonilla 1963 – Baseball player.
- Kristin Davis 1965 – Actress.
- Marc Price 1968 – Actor.
- Emily Blunt 1983 – Actress.
- Dakota Fanning 1994 – Actress.