December 31 – New Years Eve

December 31, 2017 at 12:01 am | Posted in Today's Reasons To Celebrate | Leave a comment

Author’s Preface:

Over the past few months, I have thought long and hard about whether or not I wanted to continue these posts. After much contemplation and a fair amount of “navel-gazing,” I have decided that this post will be the last of these “Today is” (or “Reasons to Celebrate”) posts. This decision was not made lightly. 
I am devoting too much of my time each day to writing these posts…between the research and composing the narrative. I spend between 2 and 5 hours daily writing these Blog posts.
If you look at them individually, each post is an essay in and of itself and each of these posts is the equivalent of writing, on average, a 1500 to 1800 word essay every day. (The longest post was over 3500 words, and the shortest was in the neighborhood of 800 words). Hearken back to your days in English Composition class for comparison…when you thought writing a 500-word composition was torture. No matter how much one likes to write, that is a monumental task to undertake on a daily basis.
Discontinuing these posts will give me more free time for things that I want to do. Who knows, I might even start hitting the gym a few days a week. Rest assured that I will still be posting almost every day, and, don’t worry, my daily “Useless Facts” posts will continue for the foreseeable future. 

Now, I [officially] begin the last “Today is” post.

Good morning year-end revelers. Today is Saturday, December 31st. Today’s reasons to celebrate are:

New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve is celebrated across the globe. The type of celebration varies from culture to culture. The island nations of Kiribati and Samoa are the first to welcome the New Year; while Honolulu, Hawaii is among the last places to welcome the New Year. Many cultures have fireworks displays and other festivities to celebrate the start of the New Year. In Mexico, they celebrate New Year’s Eve by eating a grape with each of the twelve chimes of a clock’s bell during the midnight countdown, while making a wish with each one. In Brazil, they typically dress in white to bring good luck and peace for the year to come. In the United States, New Year’s Eve is a major social holiday. Huge crowds gather in New York City to watch the ball drop in Times Square, a tradition that began in 1907 after firecrackers were outlawed. Millions more watch this, or another, event on television. At midnight, it is customary to kiss a loved one, toast with champagne, and sing “Auld Lang Syne. To find out more about various New Year’s Eve celebrations, use this link.
Many people celebrate conservatively with a party in their home among friends and family. Others celebrate this holiday with a more festive gathering at a favorite restaurant or bar, consuming copious amounts of alcohol, much to their regret the next day. No matter how you choose to celebrate New Year’s Eve, I hope you do so safely and sanely. Don’t become a statistic!

Make Up Your Mind Day

To use a phrase from my military days, it’s time to ”s**t or get off the pot.” You have been procrastinating all year, putting off those hard decisions, and now it’s time to “pay the piper”.Clean up those loose ends and begin next year anew with a clean slate. No matter what you’ve been avoiding, it’s time take action to resolve the issues. This is your last chance for this year. Don’t carry any loose baggage into next year. “Git ‘er Done.”

World Peace Meditation Day

Since December 31, 1986, spiritual communities around the world have come together in hope for world peace through the calmness and serenity of meditation. This holiday was created in order to unite people under the common bond of love and peace. World Peace Meditation Day is a time in which many come together and however briefly, live harmoniously as one.

Universal Hour of Peace Day

In the same vane as the holiday above, Universal Hour of Peace Day started in 1995 as an hour of peace. It soon grew into a yearly event now held as we transition into each New Year. The idea of large groups of people engaging in an activity at the same time is powerful. The vision is for everyone to spend this one hour—the same hour— in a state of peace. Universal Hour of Peace is held each year from 11:30 pm on December 31st to 12:30 am on January 1st – in case you don’t have anything better to do.

Leap Second Time Adjustment Day

We had another Leap Second Time Adjustment Day on June 30th this year. Leap Second Time Adjustment Day is more of an observance in title only. Some years scientists do not make any adjustments to the Atomic clock. But, if they do, then it’s done on either June 30 or December 31. This year, no adjustment will be made. This website explains leap seconds in a more knowledgeable manner than can I.

National Champagne Day

Because Champagne has long since been associated with celebrations, it’s no surprise it was, and still is, the drink of choice for New Year’s Eve festivities. The tradition of toasting the New Year with Champagne can be found worldwide. But, not all countries can rightfully claim to be serving or producing Champagne.
By law, to accurately be called Champagne, the grapes used in the production of the wine must come from the Champagne region of France. Anything else simply isn’t Champagne. Italians call their bubbly wine Prosecco and Spain calls their bubbly wine Cava, while in America we just use the term “sparkling wine”. Another stipulation of calling Champagne by that name is that a second fermentation must happen inside the bottle. Méthode Champenois is a complicated process. Champagne is typically made from Pinot Noir and/or Chardonnay grapes. The second fermentation creates the bubbles, and the smaller the bubbles, the finer the Champagne. Some wine makers have tried adding carbon dioxide to wine, but the result isn’t authentic. The second fermentation takes place with the addition of sugar and yeast to the wine. When the Champagne is ready, some producers add a sugar syrup to sweeten the wine.
Outside of New Year’s, sparkling wine is perhaps most popularly consumed at Sunday Brunch in the form of a Mimosa. However, don’t overlook the “bubbles” portion of the wine list the next time you’re out to dinner. Champagne pairs very well with rich or oily foods.

Historical Events

Below is a list of significant historical events that occurred on this date: 

  • In 1687 – The first Huguenots set sail from France for the Cape of Good Hope, where they would later create the South African wine industry with the vines they took with them on the voyage.
  • In 1695 – The window tax was imposed in Britain, which resulted in many windows being bricked up.
  • In 1775 – The British repulsed an attack by Continental Army generals Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold at Quebec. Montgomery was killed in the battle.
  • In 1841 – The State of Alabama enacted the first dental legislation in the U.S.
  • In 1857 – Britain’s Queen Victoria decided to make Ottawa the capital of Canada. 1862 – President Lincoln signed an act admitting West Virginia to the Union.
  • In 1862 – President Lincoln signed an act admitting West Virginia to the Union.
  • In 1877 – President Rutherford B. Hayes became the first President to celebrate his silver (25th) wedding anniversary in the White House.
  • In 1879 – Thomas Edison gave his first public demonstration of incandescent lighting to an audience in Menlo Park, NJ.
  • In 1891 – New York’s new Immigration Depot was opened at Ellis Island, to provide improved facilities for the massive numbers of arrivals.
  • In 1897 – Brooklyn, NY, spent its last day as a separate entity before becoming part of New York City.
  • In 1907 – The first annual ball drop occurred in Times Square. The annual tradition of dropping a ball at 11:59 pm to mark the start of the New Year was organized for the first time by Adolph Ochs, the owner of the New York Times.
  • In 1909 – The Manhattan Bridge opened to traffic. The bridge, one of the first suspension bridges ever constructed, was designed by Leon Moisseiff and crosses the East River in New York City.
  • In 1923 – In London, the BBC first broadcast the chimes of Big Ben.
  • In 1929 – Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians played “Auld Lang Syne” as a New Year’s Eve song for the first time.
  • In 1946 – President Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War II.
  • In 1947 – Roy Rogers and Dale Evans were married.
  • In 1953 – Willie Shoemaker broke his own record as he won his 485th race of the year.
  • In 1955 – General Motors became the first U.S. corporation to earn more than one billion dollars in a single year.
  • In 1960 – The farthing coin, which had been in use in Great Britain since the 13th century, ceased to be legal tender.
  • In 1961 – In the United States, the Marshall Plan expired after distributing more than $12 billion in foreign aid to war-torn Europe.
  • In 1967 – The Green Bay Packers won the National Football League championship game by defeating the Dallas Cowboys 21-17. The game became known as the Ice Bowl because it was played in a wind chill of 40 degrees below zero.
  • In 1972 – Baseball outfielder Roberto Clemente died in a plane crash. Clemente was accompanying a relief flight loaded with supplies to Managua, Nicaragua for earthquake victims.
  • In 1974 – Private U.S. citizens were allowed to buy and own gold for the first time in more than 40 years.
  • In 1978 – Taiwanese diplomats struck their colors for the final time from the embassy flagpole in Washington, DC. The event marked the end of diplomatic relations with the United States.
  • In 1979 – At year’s end, oil prices were 88% higher than at the start of 1979.
  • In 1983 – A military coup in Nigeria overthrew the civilian government of Shehu Shagari and installed Maj-Gen Muhammadu Buhari.
  • In 1985 – Ricky Nelson died in a plane crash near Dallas, TX. The plane crashed in a field just 2-miles away from the runway. The cause of the crash is thought to be that a heater caught fire and filled the cabin with smoke. Nelson was only 45-years-old.
  • In 1986 – A fire at the Dupont Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, killed 97 and injured 140 people. Three hotel workers later pled guilty to charges in connection with the fire.
  • In 1990 – Titleholder Gary Kasparov of the U.S.S.R. won the world chess championship match against his countryman Anatoly Karpov.
  • In 1997 – Michael Kennedy, the 39-year-old son of the late U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, was killed in a skiing accident on Aspen Mountain in Colorado.
  • In 1999 – Russian President Boris Yeltsin resigned. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was designated acting president.
  • In 1999 – Five hijackers left the airport where they had held 150 hostages on an Indian Airlines plane. They left with two Islamic clerics that they had demanded to be freed from an Indian prison. The plane had been hijacked during a flight from Katmandu, Nepal to New Delhi on December 24.
  • In 1999 – Sarah Knauss died at the age of 119 years. She was the world’s oldest person. She was born September 24, 1880.
  • In 2009 – Both a Blue Moon and lunar eclipse occurred on the same day. The next such event to happen on New Year’s Eve will be in 2028.
  • In 2015 – Natalie Cole died from congestive heart failure at the age of 65.

Noteworthy Birthdays

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.

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December 30th – Festival Of Enormous Changes At The Last Minute

December 30, 2017 at 12:01 am | Posted in Today's Reasons To Celebrate | Leave a comment

Good morning my anxious friends. Today is Saturday, December 30, 2017. Today’s reasons to celebrate are:

Festival Of Enormous Changes At The Last Minute

Why wait until the new year to begin changing your life? Finish the year with a flourish. Festival Of Enormous Changes At The Last Minute encourages you to spend the whole day making major positive life changes. Eat better today. Take up a new hobby. Start an exercise regimen. Volunteer. Start a book club. These are all examples of positive things you can do, today, to improve your life. I’m sure that you can think of many more.
What changes will you make today that will improve your life?

Falling Needles Family Fest Day

Falling Needles Family Fest Day serves as a reminder that it is probably time to think about taking down your ‘live’ Christmas tree. By now, it has probably been up for 3-weeks or more. The tree is drying out, the needles are falling off, and quite frankly, it is becoming a fire hazard.
To celebrate Falling Needles Family Fest Day, gather your family together and make an event out of it. Before you begin to put all of the ornaments away for next year, be sure to take a picture of it. Remember all of the lovely presents that Santa left under your tree and the joy they brought to the recipients. Lastly, clean up the area where the tree was and put all of the furniture back to its pre-Christmas place.
And, be sure to recycle your ‘live’ tree. Here is an excellent article on ways to do that.

National Bicarbonate of Soda Day or Baking Soda Day

Sodium bicarbonate (commonly known as baking soda) is used in baking, cooking, deodorizing, cleaning, polishing, and countless other applications.
Baking soda is a white, odorless, crystalline solid that is completely soluble in water. It is very useful around the home, the kitchen, and for medical purposes. Baking soda can even be used as an antacid to treat indigestion and heartburn.
The ancient Egyptians used natural deposits of sodium bicarbonate as a cleansing agent like soap, but it wasn’t until 1791 that French chemist Nicolas Leblanc produced sodium bicarbonate in its modern form. In 1846, two New York bakers named John Dwight and Austin Church established the first factory to make baking soda.
Baking Soda has myriad uses. According to Almanac.com, here are some of the many uses for baking soda:

  • Add baking soda to your bath water to relieve sunburned or itchy skin.
  • Make a paste of baking soda and water, and apply to a burn or an insect bite for relief.
  • Clean your refrigerator with a solution of one teaspoon baking soda to one quart of warm water.
  • Pour a cup of baking soda into the opening of your clogged drain and then add a cup of hot vinegar. After a few minutes, flush the drain with a quart of boiling water.
  • To remove perspiration stains, make a thick paste of baking soda and water. Rub paste into the stain, let it sit for an hour and then launder as usual.
  • If you crave sweets, rinse your mouth with one-teaspoon baking soda dissolved in a glass of warm water. Don’t swallow the mixture; spit it out. Your craving should disappear instantly.
  • Add a pinch of baking soda to boiled syrup to prevent it from crystallizing.
  • To remove pesticides, dirt, and wax from fresh fruits and vegetables, wash them in a large bowl of cool water to which you’ve added two to three tablespoons of baking soda.
  • Soak toothbrushes in baking soda and warm water overnight to clean bristles.
  • Gasoline and oil odors can be removed by putting clothes in a trash bag with baking soda for a few days before washing them.
  • Lay down a barrier of baking soda under sink pipe openings and along basement windows to keep carpenter ants, silverfish, and roaches from invading. Roaches eat the baking soda, dehydrate, and die.
  • A light baking soda paste on a damp cloth will remove bugs and tar from cars without damaging the paint. Let the paste sit for a few minutes before wiping and rinsing clean.
  • To remove stains from your coffee and tea cups, wipe them with a damp sponge dipped in baking soda paste.
  • Keep your rubber gloves dry and smelling good by sprinkling baking soda inside them. They’ll slip on more easily too!
  • Sprinkling baking soda on your front steps will provide traction and melt the ice. Unlike rock salt, kitty litter, or sand, it won’t damage outdoor or indoor surfaces or shoes.
  • Boil two inches of water in a pan with a burned bottom, turn off the heat, then add half a cup of baking soda. Let it sit overnight. In the morning it will be easy to clean.
  • Sprinkle a teaspoon of baking soda on the bottom of your toaster oven to eliminate the burned smell from drippings and crumbs.
  • A paste of baking soda removes red sauce stains from plastic.

Bacon Day

Bacon lovers, rejoice! Today is Bacon Day. I am salivating at the mere thought of it. Although today we think of bacon in the terms of crispy, delicious strips of cured pork, at one time, bacon referred to any kind of preserved pork. However, that usage fell out of practice in the 17th Century.
The origins of bacon date back beyond the Middle Ages to the Roman Empire, where it was known as ‘Petaso’. The word bacon originated in Middle English from the word “Bacoun”. In France bacon is known as Bako, in Germany as Bakko, and in the old Teutonic as Backe — All of which mean “back”.
In the United States and Canada, bacon is made from pork belly. Elsewhere in the world, the side and back cuts of pork are used. Bacon is cured in either a salt brine or in a salt pack, then is then either dried, boiled, or smoked.
Bacon Day is observed annually on December 30th and was created in 1997 by Danya Goodman and Meff Leonard as a day to celebrate everyone’s favorite pork product. Bacon is a versatile product that can be enjoyed with any meal…any time of day.
Celebrate Bacon Day with some bacon and eggs for breakfast, a BLT or bacon cheeseburger for lunch, and/or bacon-wrapped anything for dinner.

Historical Events

Below is a list of significant historical events that occurred on this date: 

  • In 1853 – The United States bought about 45,000 square miles of land from Mexico in a deal known as the Gadsden Purchase.
  • In 1887 – A petition to Queen Victoria with over one million names of women appealing for public houses to be closed on Sundays was handed to the home secretary.
  • In 1903 – About 600 people died when a fire broke out at the Iroquois Theater in Chicago, IL.
  • In 1922 – The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was formed.
  • In 1924 – Edwin Hubble announced the existence of other galactic systems.
  • In 1927 – The first subway in the Orient was dedicated in Tokyo, Japan.
  • In 1935 – Italian bombers destroyed a Swedish Red Cross unit in Ethiopia.
  • In 1936 – The United Auto Workers union staged its first sit-down strike, at the Fisher Body Plant in Flint, MI.
  • In 1940 – California’s first freeway was officially opened. It was the Arroyo Seco Parkway connecting Los Angeles and Pasadena.
  • In 1944 – King George II of Greece proclaimed a regency to rule his country, virtually renouncing the throne.
  • In 1947 – King Michael of Romania abdicated in favor of a Communist Republic. He claimed he was forced from his throne. Michael I was forced to abdicate by the Communist Party of Romania. His first reign over the country was in 1927 as a 6-year old, and it lasted only 3 years until 1930. He was then reinstalled in 1940.
  • In 1953 – The first color TV sets went on sale for about $1,175. (In today’s dollars that would be equivalent to about $10,409).
  • In 1954 – James Arness made his dramatic TV debut in “The Chase”. His most memorable role, as Marshall Dillon in “Gunsmoke”, didn’t begin until the fall of 1955.
  • In 1961 – Jack Nicklaus lost his first attempt at pro golf to Gary Player in an exhibition match in Miami, FL.
  • In 1972 – The United States halted its heavy bombing of North Vietnam.
  • In 1976 – The Smothers Brothers played their last show at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas and retired as a team from show business. Both continued as solo artists and they reunited several years later.
  • In 1978 – Ohio State University fired Woody Hayes as its football coach, one day after Hayes punched Clemson University player Charlie Bauman during the Gator Bowl. Bauman had intercepted an Ohio pass.
  • In 1980 – “The Wonderful World of Disney” was canceled by NBC after more than 25 years on the TV. It was the longest-running series in prime-time television history.
  • In 1993 – Israel and the Vatican established diplomatic relations.
  • In 1995 – The lowest temperature ever recorded in the UK was tied. Altnaharra, a small hamlet in northern Scotland, recorded a temperature of −27.2°C (-16.96 degrees Fahrenheit). The temperature had dipped this low once before in the UK – in Braemar, East Scotland on January 10, 1982.
  • In 1996 – About 250,000 striking workers shut down vital services across Israel in protests against budget cuts proposed by Prime Minister Netanyahu.
  • In 1997 – More than 400 people were massacred in four villages in the single worst incident during Algeria’s insurgency.
  • In 2004 – The highest-ever barometric pressure was recorded. At 2 am local time, the atmospheric pressure in Tosontsengel, Mongolia rose to 846.5 hPa (adjusted for height above sea level).
  • In 2006 – Saddam Hussein was executed. The deposed president of Iraq was hanged after he was found guilty of crimes against humanity. Hussein was the fifth president of Iraq and came to power after a coup in 1968.
  • In 2011 – Samoa and Tokelau skipped December 30th. The South Pacific Ocean Islands changed their time zone and moved west of the international dateline to align their time zone with their major trading partners, Australia and New Zealand. In doing so, they skipped December 30 and moved directly from December 29 to December 31. Samoa had made a similar shift 119 years prior, eastwards of the dateline, to synchronize its time with the United States. Today, Samoa follows West Samoa Time, which is 13 hours ahead of UTC.

Noteworthy Birthdays

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.

December 29th -Tick Tock, Tic Tock

December 29, 2017 at 12:01 am | Posted in Today's Reasons To Celebrate | Leave a comment

Good morning clock watchers. Today is Friday, December 29, 2017. Today’s reasons to celebrate are:

Tick Tock Day

With only 2 days remaining in this year, Tick Tock Day serves to remind us that time is running out, and if you haven’t completed your “to do” list(s) for this year, it is time to do so. If you haven’t achieved all of the goals you set for yourself, you only have a couple more days to work on them. Don’t become discouraged if you didn’t, or can’t achieve all that you wanted this year. Finish as many as you can, then take an in-depth look at your career, your relationships, your artistic dreams, your physical goals, and your lifestyle. Set realistic, achievable, goals for next year, then when the new year comes, begin to work on them immediately.

No Interruptions Day

For most people, today is the last business day of the year, and No Interruptions Day is celebrated annually on the last workday of the year. The year is almost over, and you still have about a bazillion things to do before you leave work. Put your New Years Eve party plans on hold and concentrate on finishing the year with a clean slate. Don’t let anyone or anything interrupt you. No Interruptions Day is a day for complete focus and a peaceful and quiet work environment. It is a day to renew your energies to prepare yourself for the new calendar year ahead.
If, like me, you are no longer in the workplace, do not despair, you can still celebrate No Interruptions Day. Finish all of those small jobs around the house: Organize your home office, tidy up your garage, basement and/or attic. De-clutter your kitchen drawers, catch up on your ironing, etc…just make sure no one interrupts you.

YMCA Founded Day

In 1844, twenty-two-year-old George Williams, a farmer-turned-department store worker, was troubled by what he saw around him. Times were tough in London at the time. The streets were plagued with crime and decadence.  He joined 11 friends to organize the first Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), a refuge of Bible study and prayer for young men seeking escape from the hazards of life on the street.
Fast-forward a few years:
On this date in 1851, a retired sea captain, Thomas Valentine Sullivan, opened the first American YMCA in Boston.  He modeled the first YMCA in the United States after the one started by Williams and his friends a few years earlier in London. He wanted to create a safe “home away from home” for sailors and merchants without the perils of street life.
Today, the YMCA has locations in more than 10,000 neighborhoods across America. They are the nation’s leading nonprofit organization and are committed to helping people and communities to learn, grow and thrive.

Pepper Pot Day

Pepper Pot Day is more than just another food-related holiday. It has historical significance. The winter of 1777  was brutal.  The Continental Army was fighting for the newly formed country of the United States of America during the Revolutionary War. The soldiers were low on food because the farmers in the area sold all their supplies to the British Army for cash rather than the weak currency that the Continental soldiers could offer. As they were camped at Valley Forge on December 29th, 1777, General George Washington asked his army’s chef, Christopher Ludwick, the baker general of the Continental Army, to prepare a meal that would boost their morale and warm them.  The chef gathered whatever food he could find to feed the frail soldiers. He rounded up some peppercorn, small bits of meat, tripe and other ingredients and called it Pepper Pot Soup. Also known as Philadelphia Pepper Pot Soup, it became known as “the soup that won the war.”
To celebrate Pepper Pot Day, try to recreate this historical dish. This recipe is as close as you can get to the original.

Historical Events

Below is a list of significant historical events that occurred on this date:

  • In 1170 – St. Thomas Becket, the 40th archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered in his own cathedral by four knights acting on King Henry II’s orders.
  • In 1812 – The USS Constitution won a battle with the British ship HMS Java about 30 miles off the coast of Brazil. Before Commodore William Bainbridge ordered the sinking of the Java he had her wheel removed to replace the one the Constitution had lost during the battle.
  • In 1813 – The British burned Buffalo, NY, during the War of 1812.
  • In 1837 – Canadian militiamen destroyed the Caroline, a United States steamboat docked at Buffalo, NY.
  • In 1845 – President James Polk signed legislation making Texas the 28th state of the United States.
  • In 1848 – President James Polk turned on the first gas light at the White House.
  • In 1860 – The HMS Warrior, Britain’s first seagoing, iron-hulled warship, was launched.
  • In 1890 – The U.S. Seventh Cavalry tried to disarm the members of the Lakota tribe who were camped at the Wounded Knee Creek, SD. During their attempt, a shot was fired and the cavalry massacred over 400 men, women, and children. This was the last major conflict between Indians and United States troops. Wounded Knee is near present-day Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the state of South Dakota.
  • In 1911 – The landlocked North East Asian country of Mongolia declared its independence from the Qing Dynasty, after the Mongolian Revolution of 1911. The country had been under the rule of the Qing Dynasty for about 200 years.
  • In 1911 – Sun Yat-sen became the first president of a republican China.
  • In 1916 – The novel “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” was published. The first novel of Irish writer, James Joyce, the book follows the life of Stephen Dedalus, who many believe was the author’s alter ego. It first came out as a series in the literary magazine “The Egoist” and was then published by American publisher B. W. Huebsch. James Joyce is best known for his book Ulysses, which is about a single day in the life of advertising agent, Leopold Bloom. In honor of the book, fans of the author celebrate an unofficial holiday, Bloomsday on June 16.
  • In 1934 – The first regular-season, college basketball game was played at Madison Square Garden in New York City. New York University defeated Notre Dame 25-18.
  • In 1934 – Japan renounced the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 and the London Naval Treaty of 1930.
  • In 1937 – Babe Ruth returned to baseball as the new manager of the Class D team, the De Land Reds of the Florida State League. Ruth had retired from baseball in 1935.
  • In  1937 – A new constitution, established by a national referendum, changed the name of the Irish Free state to Ireland. The Irish Free State was a part of the British Commonwealth and was established in 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty signed in 1921.
  • In 1940 – During World War II, Germany began dropping incendiary bombs on London.
  • In 1945 – Sheb Wooley recorded the first commercial record made in Nashville, TN.
  • In 1949 – KC2XAK of Bridgeport, Connecticut became the first ultra-high frequency (UHF) television station to begin operating on a regular daily schedule.
  • In 1952 – The first transistorized hearing aid was offered for sale by Sonotone Corporation.
  • In 1972 – Following 36 years of publication, the last weekly issue of “LIFE” magazine hit the newsstands. The magazine later became a monthly publication.
  • In 1975 – A bomb exploded in the main terminal of New York’s LaGuardia Airport. 11 people were killed.
  • In 1985 – Phil Donahue and a Soviet radio commentator hosted the “Citizens’ Summit” via satellite TV.
  • In 1986 – The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, FL reopened for business after eighteen years and $47 million of restoration.
  • In 1989 – Following Hong Kong’s decision to forcibly repatriate some Vietnamese refugees, thousands of Vietnamese ‘boat people’ battled with riot police.
  • In 1996 – the Guatemalan civil war ended. The 36-year long civil war fought between several leftist groups representing the indigenous people and poor and the government came to an end after Comandante Rolando Morán of the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity and president Álvaro Arzú signed a peace treaty under the supervision of the UN. Morán and Arzú received the Nobel Peace Prize for their role in bringing peace to the country.
  • In 1997 – Hong Kong began killing 1.25 million chickens, the entire population, for fear of the spread of ‘bird flu’.
  • In 1998 – Khmer Rouge leaders apologized for the 1970’s genocide in Cambodia that claimed 1 million lives.

Noteworthy Birthdays

December 28th – Pledge of Allegiance Day

December 28, 2017 at 12:01 am | Posted in Today's Reasons To Celebrate | Leave a comment

Good morning patriots. Today is Thursday, December 28, 2017. Today’s reasons to celebrate are:

Pledge of Allegiance Day

The Pledge of Allegiance of the United States is an expression of loyalty to the federal flag and the Republic of the United States of America. Pledge of Allegiance Day commemorates the date in 1945 when Congress formally recognized the Pledge of Allegiance. First written in 1892, and amended four times since then, the Pledge of Allegiance in its current incarnation reads as follows:

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

In 1999, a New Hampshire resident contacted the office of Senator Robert Smith to inquire why the Senate did not follow the House, which had incorporated the Pledge into its proceedings 11 years earlier. Spurred by this inquiry, the Senate amended its standing rules on June 23, 1999, providing for the presiding officer to lead the body in the Pledge at the start of each daily session. President Pro Tempore Strom Thurmond inaugurated this tradition on the following day.
The American flag had become a standard fixture in the Senate Chamber by the 1930’s, placed directly behind the presiding officer. A half-century later, as the Senate began televised coverage of its floor proceedings, the flag was moved to the presiding officer’s right side so as not to appear to be bisecting that official’s head on television screens. To balance the American flag, the Senate created a flag of its own–displaying the Senate seal on a field of dark blue–and placed it on the presiding officer’s left.
The Pledge of Allegiance has been fraught with controversy since its adoption and, I wonder, in today’s politically charged and contentious climate, whether it would even be adopted at all. For a complete history of the Pledge of Allegiance, use this link.

Holy Innocents Day

Holy Innocents Day commemorates the massacre of male children of Bethlehem by King Herod’s order (Matthew 2:16). [Upon hearing of the birth of the King of the Jews and the fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy, Herod ordered the execution of all the male children in Bethlehem. While the exact date when this event occurred is uncertain, the feast has been celebrated since before the end of the fifth century].
Also known as the Feast of the Holy Innocents, this holiday is observed in the Western churches on December 28 and Eastern churches on December 29. These children are considered martyrs, Saints of God, by the Church.
On Holy Innocents Day it is customary to give the youngest child in the household the power to rule the day. From what to eat, where to go and what to do, the youngest is in charge. In Mexico, it is a day for children to play practical jokes and pranks on their elders.

Card Playing Day

Playing cards are thought to have first been introduced to the world in China before spreading to India, Persia, and ultimately everywhere else.
In these technologically advanced times with a myriad of electronic games available, sitting down with your friends and/or family with a deck of cards to play card games is rapidly becoming passé. Card Playing Day seeks to revive the age-old tradition of togetherness derived from playing card games with which so many from my generation and earlier generations were raised.
Now that the hustle and bustle of the holidays have waned somewhat, what better time to gather your loved ones around the table to play a few card games. There are countless numbers and types of card games from which to choose. Some have standardized rules, and others have rules that vary according to region or culture.
So, unplug the Xbox, the Nintendo, and/or the Wii and enjoy a fun evening playing card games with your family. Now “Go Fish”.

Call a Friend Day

Call a Friend Day is celebrated annually on this date. This holiday with a self-descriptive title encourages you to call a friend today. Though the title is in the singular, it is perfectly acceptable to call more than one friend. Are there some people that you wanted to call before the holidays, but couldn’t find the time because of the frenzy of the season? If so, give them a call today.
Additionally, you can use Call a Friend Day to reach out to people with whom we have lost contact over the years – a distant family member, an old college roommate, a comrade in arms, or a childhood friend.
The obvious way to celebrate Call a Friend Day is to call a friend…whether a new friend or one from the distant past.

National Chocolate Candy Day

As a regular reader of this BLOG, you may or may not have already surmised, that there is at least one chocolate-related holiday in every month of the year. National Chocolate Candy Day is the third chocolate-related holiday for the month of December and is the final one for the year.
Chocolate candy is one of the most popular sweets in the world. It can be combined with everything from nuts and caramel to raisins and pretzels to make some of our favorite treats.
Chocolate is clearly a favorite American treat. Over 2.8 billion pounds are consumed annually. On average that means each person consumes over eleven pounds per year. That may seem like a lot, but the United States ranks only 9th in the per capita consumption of chocolate; behind most of Europe. Switzerland leads the pack.
Little information is available on the origins of, the reasons for, or the creator of this holiday, but really, who cares? Any day that sanctions the consumption of chocolate is a good day. So, forget your diet and indulge yourself one last time in celebrating this holiday with one (or two) of your favorite chocolate candies. What is your favorite chocolate candy?
Factoid: During the Second World War, the United States Government commissioned Milton Hershey to create a candy bar to include in the soldiers’ rations. The recipe his company created is now the famous Hershey Milk Chocolate Bar.

Historical Events

Below is a list of significant historical events that occurred on this date: 

  • In 1065 – Westminster Abbey was consecrated under Edward the Confessor.
  • In 1694 – Queen Mary II of England died after five years of joint rule with her husband, King William III.
  • In 1732 – “The Pennsylvania Gazette,” owned by Benjamin Franklin, ran an ad for the first issue of “Poor Richard’s Almanac.”
  • In 1832 – John C. Calhoun became the first vice president of the United States to resign, stepping down over differences with President Jackson.
  • In 1836 – Mexico’s independence was recognized by Spain.
  • In 1836 – South Australia became a British colony. The central southern state of Australia was first established as a province in 1834 by the British Parliament under the South Australia Act. The day was observed as Proclamation Day in the state, which was later turned into an extra holiday after Christmas Day.
  • In 1846 – Iowa became the 29th state to be admitted to the Union.
  • In 1869 – William E. Semple, of Mt. Vernon, OH, patented an acceptable chewing gum.
  • In 1877 – John Stevens applied for a patent for his flour-rolling mill, which boosted production by 70%.
  • In 1879 – In Dundee, Scotland the central portion of the Tay Bridge collapsed as a train was passing over it. 75 people were killed.
  • In 1885 –The  Indian National Congress was founded. The party is one of the two main political parties in India. Created by the members of the Theosophical Society, the party was a major player in India’s independence movement against the British. After Independence, the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru belonged to the INC.
  • In 1902 – The first professional indoor football game was played at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Syracuse defeated the Philadelphia Nationals 6-0.
  • In 1908 – An earthquake killed over 75,000 at Messina in Sicily.
  • In 1912 – The first municipally owned streetcars were used on the streets of San Francisco, CA.
  • In 1926 – The highest recorded cricket innings score of 1,107 runs was hit by Victoria, against New South Wales, in Melbourne.
  • In 1937 – The Irish Free State became the Republic of Ireland when a new constitution established the country as a sovereign state under the name of Eire.
  • In 1945 – Congress officially recognized the “Pledge of Allegiance.”
  • In 1950 – The Peak District became Britain’s first designated National Park.
  • In 1968 – The Israeli Defence Forces mounted a special operation, also known as Operation Gift, on Beirut Airport. The raid was in retaliation for the attack on El Al Flight 253, which was en route from Tel Aviv to New York. During its layover in Athens, Greece, two Palestinians fired at passengers and crew and killed 1 person. In retaliation, Israel destroyed several passenger and cargo planes parked at Beirut Airport. There were no fatalities during the raid.
  • In 1972 – Kim Il-Sung became the president of North Korea. Kim Il-sung became the first and only president of South Korea under an amended constitution. He was elected to the post by the members of the North Korean parliament, which is also known as the Supreme People’s Assembly. The post was abolished in 1998, and Kim II-sung was given the title of Eternal President of Korea.
  • In 1973 – The Chamber of Commerce of Akron, OH, terminated its association with the All-American Soap Box Derby. It was stated that the race had become “a victim of cheating and fraud.”
  • In 1973 – Alexander Solzhenitsyn published “Gulag Archipelago,” an expose of the Soviet prison system.
  • In 1981 – Elizabeth Jordan Carr, the first American test-tube baby, was born in Norfolk, VA.
  • In 1982 – Nevell Johnson Jr. was mortally wounded by a police officer in a Miami video arcade. The event set off three days of race-related disturbances that left another man dead.
  • In 1987 – The bodies of 14 relatives of R. Gene Simmons were found at his home near Dover, AR. Simmons had gone on a shooting spree in Russellville that claimed two other lives.
  • In 1991 – Nine people died in a rush to get into a basketball game at City College in New York.
  • In 1995 – Pressure from German prosecutors investigating pornography forced CompuServe to set a precedent by blocking access to sex-oriented newsgroups on the Internet for its customers.
  • In 2000 – U.S. District Court Judge Matsch held a hearing to ensure that confessed Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh understood that he was dropping his appeals. McVeigh said that he wanted an execution date, set but wanted to reserve the right to seek presidential clemency.
  • In 2007 – Nepal abolished their monarchy. The amendment to the Nepalese constitution that declared the country a federal republic was passed by the parliament. The transition was completed on May 28, 2008. Established in 1768 by Prithvi Narayan Shah, the Kingdom of Nepal lasted for over 200 years. Nepal is the world’s only country with Hinduism as the state religion.

Noteworthy Birthdays

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.

December 27th – Visit the Zoo Day

December 27, 2017 at 12:01 am | Posted in Today's Reasons To Celebrate | Leave a comment

Good morning exotic animal lovers. Today is Wednesday, December 27, 2017. Today’s reasons to celebrate are:

Visit the Zoo Day

The holiday season is winding down but the children are still on Christmas break. What better time for a family excursion to the zoo? Although I couldn’t find any documentation regarding the history of  Visit the Zoo Day, it is prominently featured in a number of my sources.
Zoos and menageries have been around for at least 5000 years. Evidence of one menagerie was discovered by excavators in ancient Egypt that is thought to date back to around 3500 BC. King Solomon was a known animal collector, as were King Nebuchadnezzar and Alexander the Great. Wild animals were also collected to be used in the arenas during the Roman Games, though most of those died violent deaths after being pitted against each other for the amusement of the crowd. Later, British kings kept wild animals in the Tower of London, with the price of viewing them being a small dog or cat that could be used to feed them. When Columbus discovered America, it sparked a renewed interest in zoos all across Europe. His discovery of a “new world” meant new creatures to see.
The first actual zoo that was created not to stroke the ego of monarchs and royalty, but rather to educate and entertain, was opened in London in 1828. Since then, zoos have made great strides to humanely keep animals. Modern-day zoos are at the forefront of much of the research which goes on into animal behavior and how best to protect vulnerable animals from extinction. Many zoos have breeding programs, where they work with other facilities around the world to increase the numbers of endangered populations. In most of the better zoos around the globe, the enclosures the animals are kept in are relatively roomy and attempt to mirror an animal’s natural environment as closely as possible. Zoos are fascinating (and often smelly) places where we can get a lot closer to nature than we would normally.
Today, there are over 2,800 zoos in the world, and over 6 million people visit them each year.

Make Cut Out Snowflakes Day

Sharpen the scissors and get the paper, today is Make Cut Out Snowflakes Day. Not surprisingly, in my research, I could garner no information about the origins of, or the reason for this holiday. Information on its creator is equally lacking. Nonetheless, Make Cut Out Snowflakes Day exists. And if you have the dexterity to do so, today is the day to cut out some snowflakes.
I am definitely not an artsy-craftsy type of guy. Heck, it takes me three tries to draw a “happy face”. I remember my teachers in elementary school being able to turn out perfect snowflakes every time. My best attempts, however, looked like a piece of paper that had been chewed by rats.
So, if you’re bored, gather your children or grandchildren around and celebrate Make Cut Out Snowflakes Day by cutting out some paper snowflakes with them. Heck, turn it into an afternoon party. Take a trip down ‘memory lane’ (more like ‘nightmare lane’ for me) and cut out a few paper snowflakes.

National Fruit Cake Day

I am not a big fan of fruitcake, especially those dense, sickeningly sweet things that one can buy in the stores during the Christmas season. I swear that those lumps of industrial waste have a half-life equivalent to that of Plutonium. After the Apocalypse, whatever life form re-discovers this planet will find two things; Cockroaches, and fruitcake. They will find both because even cockroaches find fruitcake indigestible.
Fruitcakes are quite possibly the most popular item for re-gifting. A whopping 38% of people say they give fruitcakes away when they receive them. Nevertheless, fruit cakes have remained popular for thousands of years. The Ancient Egyptians buried their loved ones with fruitcakes because they believed this particular food was essential for the journey to the afterlife. (This explains a lot. Evidently, tomb raiders found a never-ending supply of fruitcake, and, to this day, market them during the holiday season). The Crusaders were known for eating fruit cakes during their campaigns. (Obviously, the diet consisting mainly of fruitcake made them extremely angry, and they vented their wrath upon the enemy). The small cakes could withstand long journeys without spoiling and were full of nutritious items like dried fruits and nuts. (They could also use them as shields to ward off blows from their foes).
The folks over at Holiday Insights.com seem to share my opinion. However, if you are hearty enough, and have a tool sharp enough to penetrate one, Celebrate National Fruit Cake Day by having a slice of fruitcake today. Be forewarned though that you will probably spend the rest of your life trying to digest it.

Historical Events

Below is a list of significant historical events that occurred on this date: 

  • In 1831 – Charles Darwin set out on a voyage to the Pacific aboard the HMS Beagle. Darwin’s discoveries during the voyage helped him form the basis of his Theory of Evolution. The voyage lasted 5-years. He published the evidence supporting it in his 1859 book, “On the Origin of Species.”
  • In 1845 – Dr. Crawford Williamson Long used anesthesia for childbirth for the first time. The event was the delivery of his own child in Jefferson, GA. The event also revolutionized the use of anesthesia in medicine and surgery.
  • In 1900 – Carrie Nation staged her first raid on a saloon at the Carey Hotel in Wichita, KS. She broke each and every one of the liquor bottles that could be seen.
  • In 1918 – The Greater Poland Uprising of 1918–1919 began. The revolt against the Germans began in Poznań after a speech by the Polish Prime Minister, Ignacy Paderewski. The uprising led to newer territory being added to Poland in the Treaty of Versailles.
  • In 1927 – Leon Trotsky was expelled from the Communist Party.
  • In 1938 – The first skimobile course in America opened in North Conway, NH.
  • In 1945 – The World Bank was created with an agreement signed by 28 nations.
  • In 1947 – The children’s television program “Howdy Doody,” hosted by Bob Smith, made its debut on NBC.
  • In 1949 – Queen Juliana of the Netherlands granted sovereignty to Indonesia after more than 300 years of Dutch rule. The Southeast Asian country’s independence came after 4 years of revolution and struggle. In August 1945, Indonesian President Sukarno signed the Proclamation of Indonesian Independence, which was formally accepted and recognized by the Dutch in 1949.
  • In 1951 – In Cincinnati, OH, a Crosley automobile, with a steering wheel on the right side, became the first vehicle of its kind to be placed in service for mail delivery.
  • In 1965 – The BP oil rig Sea Gem capsized in the North Sea, with the loss of 13 lives.
  • In 1971 – Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy and Woodstock of Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts” comic strip were on the cover of “Newsweek” magazine.
  • In 1978 – Spain adopted a new constitution and became a democracy after 40 years of dictatorship.
  • In 1979 – Soviet forces seized control of Afghanistan. Babrak Karmal succeeded President Hafizullah Amin, who was overthrown and executed.
  • In 1985 – Palestinian guerrillas opened fire inside the Rome and Vienna airports. A total of twenty people were killed, including five of the attackers, who were slain by police and security personnel.
  • In 1985 – Dian Fossey, an American naturalist, was found murdered at a research station in Rwanda.
  • In 1992 – The United States shot down an Iraqi fighter jet during what the Pentagon described as a confrontation between a pair of Iraqi warplanes and U.S. F-16 jets in U.N.-restricted airspace over southern Iraq.
  • In 1996 – Muslim fundamentalist Taliban forces retook the strategic air base of Bagram, solidifying their buffer zone around Kabul, the Afghanistan capital.
  • In 2001 – President George W. Bush granted China permanent normal trade status with the United States.
  • In 2002 – North Korea ordered U.N. nuclear inspectors to leave the country and said that it would restart a laboratory capable of producing plutonium for nuclear weapons.
  • In 2002 – Clonaid announced the birth of the first cloned human baby. The baby had been born December 26.
  • In 2007 – Benazir Bhutto was assassinated. The former Prime Minister of Pakistan was killed after a shooting and the detonation of a suicide bomb while campaigning for the upcoming elections in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

Noteworthy Birthdays

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.

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