August 17th – The Meaning of “Is”, Is…

August 17, 2017 at 12:01 am | Posted in Today's Reasons To Celebrate | Leave a comment

Good morning wordsmiths. Today is Thursday, August 17, 2107. Today’s reasons to celebrate are:

The Meaning of “Is” Day

The Meaning of “Is” Day, of course, refers to the infamous words uttered by former President Bill Clinton as he dabbled in semantics during his testimony before the Grand Jury hearings to clarify his relationship with White House intern, Monica Lewinsky on this date in 1998. He said, “It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.”
The word ‘is’ is the seventh most commonly used word in the English language.
The word ‘is’ is hard to define. Most dictionaries agree that the word ‘is’ is the third person singular form of the word “be”; which is equally hard to define without going into a bunch of existential folderol. You could spend the rest of your day trying to decipher the definitive definition of the word ‘is’ and not be successful. Or you could simply accept the fact the definition of the word is,  just ‘is’, and move on with your life.

Black Cat Appreciation Day

In Japan, young women are encouraged to own a black cat to increase their chances of romance. In Great Britain, black cats are thought to bring good luck, and in Germany, if a black cat crosses your path (from the right), it is said to bring prosperity. Research shows that black cats may have developed dark hair to fight off disease, meaning their fur is more than beautiful, it’s useful too.
Due to a special pigment called melanin in their fur, when out in the sun, many black cats will temporarily turn a dark brown color, as if they have color-shifting powers. The melanin also causes their irises to be yellow. Because of these traits, superstitions abound that black cats are thought to be the harbingers of evil and/or bad luck. During the Middle Ages, black cats were believed to be connected to witchcraft, and the reputation stuck. Another superstition says that if a black cat crosses your path, and that the encounter portends bad things to come.
Sadly, because of this bad reputation, black cats are far more likely to be euthanized or wait a long time to be adopted from shelters. Black Cat Appreciation Day was launched to show people that a black cat could be the perfect choice for them, and help raise awareness about black cats in general.
If you’ve been looking for a rescue cat yourself, why not consider a black cat? Not only are the superstitions about them being evil and bringing bad luck completely unfounded, but you might find a black cat to be a fantastic feline companion for you.
If you own a black cat you can celebrate Black Cat Appreciation Day by taking photos with your pet. If you don’t, you might want to consider adopting a black cat into your family. And, of course,  a small donation to an animal shelter is always a good way to celebrate any pet-related holiday.

Baby Boomers Recognition Day

Baby Boomers Recognition Day is dedicated to baby boomers, the generation that was born between 1946 and 1964. This holiday was created in 2011 and was celebrated on June 21st. However, due to frequent conflicts with Father’s Day weekend, it was moved to August 17th in 2015 to coincide with one of the iconic moments in Baby Boomer history – the Woodstock Music Festival.
There was an uptick in births after WWII, which was spurred by an economic boom and a longing for a return to normalcy after the Great Depression and the war. Early baby boomers came of age during the Summer of Love and Woodstock and grappled with issues such as the Vietnam War during a time of great social change. In general, early baby boomers tended to be more liberal than later baby boomers, although many early baby boomers’ politics shifted towards the right in the 1980’s. To date, four United States Presidents have been baby boomers: Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barak Obama, and Donald Trump. Their varying ideologies demonstrate that the views of baby boomers are not monolithic. Rock & Roll and television were important parts of the lives of young baby boomers, and there was a belief while growing up that they were better off than those who came before them.
Baby boomers have witnessed a significant number of historical events. Baby boomers saw the transition from radio to television, and went from vinyl records to 8-track tapes, to cassettes, to CDs, to MP3’s and now “streaming” music. They were around for the dawn of the ‘computer age’. They saw the first man go into space, saw man’s first walk on the moon, and a permanent space station orbiting the Earth. They lived through the Viet Nam War, the Civil Rights protests, student unrest, Woodstock, and the Watergate scandal — And I have just scratched the surface. They are now rapidly approaching retirement age or are already retired. Baby Boomer Recognition Day is a holiday to recognize the many accomplishments and contributions to society that “baby boomers” have made.

Archaeology Day

Can you dig it? It’s time to ‘bone up’ on the history of past civilizations. Today is Archaeology Day.
Archaeology is a branch of anthropology, focusing on ancient and prehistoric cultures and civilizations. Archaeologists search and attempt to uncover artifacts and other evidence of human life in the distant past. To celebrate Archaeology Day,  take a tour at a historical museum. Check out the mummies, and examine primitive tool displays. Consider what the science of the past may reveal about our society today.

National Massachusetts Day

National Massachusetts Day recognizes the first New England colony and the sixth state to join the Union. Named after the indigenous people who populated the area when explorers (and later the pilgrims) first arrived, Massachusetts became an incubator for independence, education, and industry.
It should come as no surprise that the colony credited with the founding of the Sons of Liberty, hosting the Boston Tea Party and “the shot heard round the world” would also be considered the Cradle of Liberty. The list of notable and recognizable names from history grows long from Massachusetts and their stories quite fascinating. Patriots are the first to come to mind, but don’t stop there!  Poets, inventors, authors, politicians, architects, activists, athletes and those who have managed the amazing. It’s much too long for these pages, so you are encouraged to explore them further.
With her numerous bays and abundant shorelines, Massachusetts offers many seaside escapes. Mountain exploration can be found inland, and for those who seek urban adventure, there is plenty to be found. Everywhere you go, there’s history, beauty and perhaps a bit of an adjustment to the New England language.  Either way, dive into the food, the past and the future of Massachusetts.

Foul Ball Day

On August 17, 1957, Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Richie (Whitey) Ashburn hit a foul ball into the stadium stands, hitting spectator Alice Roth in the nose. A couple of pitches later, hapless Whitey hit a second foul ball that poor Alice again as paramedics carried her away on a stretcher. Ironically, Alice Roth was the wife of Earl Roth, sports editor for the Philadelphia Bulletin. After the incident, she and Whitey Ashburn became friends, and Alice Roth’s son became a bat boy for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Have you ever caught a foul ball while watching a baseball game? Foul Ball Day celebrates all of the baseball fans who intercept those errant baseballs.
To celebrate Foul Ball Day, grab the gang and head for a Major League (or minor league) Baseball game. Be sure to take your baseball glove to the game to protect yourself…and maybe snag a souvenir in the process. Keep your eye on the ball – lest one find your nose.

National Thrift Shop Day

The term ‘thrift shop’ has a couple of meanings in today’s society. The first meaning refers to stores that sell merchandise which is deeply discounted. It’s not always the highest quality, but the price is right. You know these stores better today as discount department stores and dollar stores.
The other meaning refers to a resale shop that sells used goods, typically receiving its inventory from donations. Popular examples of thrift stores include those offered through non-profit organizations like Goodwill and Salvation Army.
Whichever definition you choose, go “thrifting” today and pick up some bargains.

National “I Love My Feet” Day

National “I Love My Feet” Day is observed annually on August 17 and urges people to appreciate how valuable our feet are, to practice good foot care and pamper our feet.
Most people don’t think much about their feet…that is until they stub their toe on the coffee table, step on a Lego that their kid left on the living room floor, or get a blister from ill-fitting shoes. Feet are our primary mode of transportation. They help us stand, run, walk, play sports, jog, skip, dance, etc. They take us to school or work and help us navigate through our homes. Our feet withstand all the things we do in our everyday lives and accomplish things our hands cannot.
Proper foot care is important for preventing long-term problems. Years of wear and tear can be hard on them, as can disease, bad circulation, improperly trimmed toenails and poorly fitting shoes. Practicing good foot care is easy. Elevating your feet when you sit is a relaxing way to help reduce swelling. Stretching, walking or having a gentle foot massage aids circulation. A warm foot bath is also helpful. Make sure your feet are dry before putting on shoes. Wearing shoes when outside provides your feet better protection.
About 75% of the adult population has a foot problem and improper shoe choices account for the majority of those problems. Wearing properly fitted shoes with good arch support, getting foot massages and regular pedicures can reduce foot problems. If you have persistent foot pain, consulting your physician or a podiatrist can help – but the best way to avoid foot problems is to take care of your feet.

National Vanilla Custard Day

Vanilla custard is a sweet pudding-like dish made with vanilla, eggs, sugar, and milk. It can be enjoyed on its own or as an ingredient in other desserts.
Vanilla custard has been around since the Middle Ages and was traditionally used as a pie filling. (A very simple custard tart was a popular dessert during that time period.) Today, custard is an important component in many dessert recipes including éclairs, trifle, and Boston cream pie.
The word custard is derived from “crustade,” a tart with a crust. After the 16th century, fruit creams became popular and it was about this time that custards began to be made in individual dishes or bowls rather than as fillings for a crust. Yet, as things move full circle, today custard is used to fill tarts, Danish pastry, flans, cream puffs and éclairs; it is mixed into trifles and otherwise part of other sweet and savory delights. Custards are prepared in two ways: stirred or cooked on top of the stove, or baked in the oven.
To celebrate this holiday, make a custard for dessert tonight.

More Holidays

On This Date

  • In 1790 – The capital city of the U.S. moved to Philadelphia from New York City.
  • In 1807 – Robert Fulton’s “North River Steam Boat” (known as the “Clermont”) began heading up New York’s Hudson River on its successful round-trip to Albany.
  • In 1835 – Solymon Merrick of Massachusetts patented the first wrench.
  • In 1858 – Baltimore mechanic Charles Moncky invented the “monkey wrench”. It derived its name from a misspelling of his last name.
  • In 1859 – A hot air balloon was used to carry mail for the first time. John Wise left Lafayette, IN, for New York City with 100 letters. With typical Post Office efficiency, he had to land after only 27 miles.
  • In 1894 – John Wadsworth of Louisville set a major league record when he gave up 28 base hits in a single game.
  • In 1896 – George Carmack discovered gold on Rabbit Creek in Alaska. This was the beginning of the Klondike gold rush.
  • In 1903 – Joseph Pulitzer donated a million dollars to Columbia University. This started the Pulitzer Prizes in his name.
  • In 1915 – Charles F. Kettering patented the electric, automobile self-starter.
  • In 1960 – Gabon gained independence from France. France had occupied Gabon since the latter part of the 1800’s. In 1910, the Equatorial country was added to French Equatorial Africa, a federation of France’s Central African colonies. From 1934 to 1958, French Equatorial Africa was considered by France as a unified colony.
  • In 1961 – The Communist East German government completed the construction of the Berlin Wall.
  • In 1970 – The Venera 7 was launched by the Soviet Union. Launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Venera 7 became the first spacecraft to land on another planet, Venus, and send data back to Earth. It entered Venus’ atmosphere in December 1970.
  • In 1977 – Florists Transworld Delivery (FTD) reported that in one day the number of orders for flowers to be delivered to Graceland after Elvis Presley’s death had surpassed the number for any other event in the company’s history.
  • In 1978 – Maxie Anderson, Ben Abruzzo, and Larry Newman became the first to complete a trans-Atlantic hot air balloon flight. The voyage began in Presque Isle, ME and ended in a barley field in Miserey, France (near Paris). The feat was accomplished in a balloon called the Double Eagle II.
  • In 1979 – Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” premiered in America.
  • In 1982 – The Senate approved an immigration bill that granted permanent resident status to illegal aliens who had arrived in the United States before 1977.
  • In 1992 – Woody Allen admitted to being romantically involved with Soon-Yi Previn. The girl was the adopted daughter of Mia Farrow, Allen’s longtime companion.
  • In 1996 – Ross Perot was announced to be the Reform Party’s presidential candidate. He was the party’s first-ever candidate.
  • In 1998 – President Clinton admitted to having an improper relationship with Monica Lewinsky, a White House intern.
  • In 2002 – In Santa Rosa, CA, the Charles M. Schulz Museum opened to the public.
  • In 2008 – Michael Phelps earned his 8th Gold Medal in the 2008 Olympics. The American champion swimmer won the medal in the 4×100-meter medley relay race in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. With this medal, he broke the record for the most gold medals won by a person in a single Olympic games, a record previously held by American swimmer Mark Spitz.

Noteworthy Birthdays

If you were born on this date, Happy Birthday. You share your birthday the following list of illustrious individuals – and about 20-million other people.

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