Saturday, July 28, 2018
Every month has its collection of strange, weird, and obscure holidays—at least one per day—many of which are unknown to the general public. And, needless to say, holidays that are not recognized as a paid holiday at work. Days where the schools, banks, government offices, and post office are not closed. But still holidays to be celebrated and enjoyed in their own quirky fashion.
Let's start with month long celebrations. For August you have: Admit You're Happy Month, Family Fun Month, National Catfish Month, National Eye Exam Month, National Golf Month [I'd better make sure my brother knows about this one], Peach Month, Romance Awareness Month, Water Quality Month, and National Picnic Month.
And then there are the week long celebrations. The first week of August is National Simplify Your Life Week. The second week of the month is National Smile Week. The third week is Friendship Week. And the fourth week is Be Kind To Humankind Week.
And the daily celebrations: I found it interesting that 10 of the 31 days in August had holidays connected to food [are we seeing an ongoing theme here?]. Some of the dates had more than one holiday attached to them.
August 1) National Raspberry Cream Pie Day
August 2) National Ice Cream Sandwich Day
August 3) National Watermelon Day
August 4) U.S. Coast Guard Day
August 4) National Mustard Day (the first Saturday in August)
August 5) Work Like A Dog Day
August 5) Sisters Day (first Sunday in August)
August 5) International Forgiveness Day (first Sunday in August)
August 5) Friendship Day (the first Sunday in August)
August 6) Wiggle Your Toes Day
August 7) National Lighthouse Day
August 8) Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Day
Apparently zucchini is one of the most prolific plants with a single plant producing what seems to be an endless supply of zucchini. By the time August arrives, gardeners have far more zucchini than they can possibly use. After giving away as much as they can to family and friends, desperate growers seek desperate measures to rid themselves of the overflow. And that gives us the name of the holiday…sneak some zucchini onto your neighbor's porch day.
August 9) Book Lover's Day
Book Lover's Day encourages you to find a comfortable place, relax, and enjoy a good book. If you happen to fall asleep in that gently swaying hammock while reading, that's perfectly okay. There is some disagreement about when this holiday is celebrated. August 9th is the most widely accepted date. Some celebrate it on the first Saturday in November. My suggestion? Celebrate both days.
August 10) Lazy Day
August 10) National S'mores Day
August 11) Presidential Joke Day
August 12) Middle Child's Day
August 13) Left Hander's Day
August 14) National Creamsicle Day
August 14/15) V-J Day (end of World War II)
August 15) Relaxation Day
For people with a hectic lifestyle, this is the day to kick back and do nothing…just relax. Take a break from your busy work and personal schedule. If something stresses you out, this is the day to ignore it.
August 16) National Tell A Joke Day
August 17) National Thrift Shop Day
August 18) Bad Poetry Day
August 19) Aviation Day
August 20) National Radio Day
August 21) Senior Citizen's Day
August 22) Be An Angel Day
August 22) National Tooth Fairy Day (and/or February 28)
August 23) Ride The Wind Day
This is a carefree day, a time to soar above the earth. Catch a ride on the breeze or float like a cloud. Summer will soon be over. Take advantage of this day to relax and leave your worries behind. Fly a kite. Enjoy the final days of summer.
August 24) Vesuvius Day
August 25) Kiss And Make Up Day
August 26) National Dog Day
August 26) Women's Equality Day
August 27) Global Forgiveness Day
August 27) Just Because Day
August 28) Race Your Mouse Day [but in today's society are we talking rodent or computer?]
August 29) More Herbs, Less Salt Day
August 30) Frankenstein Day
There are 3 versions of this day. This one is in honor of Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, who was born August 30, 1797. There is also Frankenstein Friday and National Frankenstein Day, both celebrated in October. Confused? Celebrate all 3 days.
August 30) Toasted Marshmallow Day
August 31) National Trail Mix Day
Saturday, July 21, 2018
I recently came across an article (primarily directed toward men rather than women, but for the most part it applies to all) listing 10 lies that we all hear (and say) on a daily basis…things you don't necessarily think of as lies. These are usually considered as slight exaggerations, an attempt to be polite rather than confrontational, or merely being nice rather than hurt someone's feelings. But no matter how you rationalize it, they are still lies.
1) "Everything's great."
It's the usual response in a restaurant when your server asks how everything is, a brush-off even though the soup is too salty. And the possible consequences of this insignificant little lie? The chef never finds out he's heavy-handed with the seasonings, people stop coming to his restaurant, and you end up with the same too-salty soup everyone else was also reluctant to mention. You might be doing the chef a favor if you tell your server—politely—that something is off.
2) "I'm fine."
Reality check for men: No woman who says this to you is actually fine. Something's wrong and you need a strategy to figure out how to fix it. Most of the time it's as easy as asking her how she really feels.
3) "I love your new haircut."
People usually compliment anything that catches their eye as new or different—no matter how ugly it may be or how much they don't like it. If your significant other has a different opinion on your new hair style—or jacket, or shoes—than your chipper coworker, trust your significant other's take. The I get so many compliments on this defense doesn't hold up.
4) "No thanks, I've got it."
Guys, in particular, feel guilty accepting assistance from others, especially from a woman—even if they could really use it. If you have to ask, "Can I give you a hand with that?" you should already be helping—not offering to lend a hand.
5) "I couldn't find time to look at that today."
It doesn't matter if your boss said that, a client, or someone else, rest assured that you're being bluffed. If you need the feedback right away but fear you might irritate your boss or client with repeated requests, you'll need to come up with a new way to present your need.
6) "It's so great to see you."
Is it really great? Your wife's or husband's friend from college looks to be in a huge hurry, and you don't really know the person that well. This is a polite lie that really means, "I want to stop talking to you now." Offer a quick smile then you can both get on with your day.
7) "That's interesting."
People throw out this meaningless phrase so often it's become more of a cliché or silence-filler than a lie. Instead, consider what you actually think before speaking, and come up with a more insightful adjective (and "That's stupid!" doesn't count).
8) "Your email ended up in my spam folder."
Of all the emails you've successfully sent this person and it's this one that mysteriously ended up in the spam folder? No need to call this person out on it. Recognize this deception for what it is and figure out a better way to grab this person's attention next time.
9) "I just saw your text."
Your friends have no problem lying about being busy when they're actually looking at other things or surfing the net. But when they actually have a lot on their plates, they become reluctant about admitting it (sometimes for fear that it sounds like a flimsy excuse). This text message is their polite way of saying, "I was too busy to answer you right away."
Admit it: Even you toss out apologies as readily as you would a losing lottery ticket. At least 95 percent of the time you tell someone you're sorry when you really mean, "That's too bad." Don't apologize unless there's something you need to apologize for and you mean it.
Saturday, July 14, 2018
The vast briny deep has been the source for many a tale of the unexplained and unexplainable. Even though water covers a majority of the planet, we know more about outer space than we do about what exists beneath the surface of the oceans. The mysteries of the deep date back to ancient times. Modern science has been able to dispel many of these tall tales, but not all of them.
I recently came across a list of ten unexplained ocean mysteries, shown here in no particular order. There are, of course, many more strange and unexplainable occurrences than the ten listed here.
10) "The Bloop" and "Julia"
Several creepy sounds have been recorded by underwater microphones off the Southern coast of South America. Nearly all of these sounds have been attributed to volcanic activity and shifting icebergs. There are, however, two incidents that have baffled scientists. The Bloop occurred in 1997 and lasted over a minute. In the same region, two years later, they recorded something that sounded like a watery voice saying Julia. Both seismic and human activity were ruled out in each case. Scientists agree than an animal is responsible for Julia, but no currently known creature is large enough to produce such a noise.
9) The Mary Celeste
In 1872, a merchant ship named Mary Celeste set sail from New York with ten people on board. Eight days later the ship was found adrift in the North Atlantic, intact with the exception of one missing lifeboat. A six month's supply of food was on board as were the crew's belongings along with the ship's logbook and some charts. Neither the lifeboat nor any bodies were ever found. So, what happened to the sailors, the captain and the captain's family? With valuables left on board, a pirate takeover wasn't the answer. An experienced crew and well-liked captain ruled out error and mutiny. To this day no one has an explanation for what occurred on board the Mary Celeste.
8) The Sonar Flying Saucer
Swedish researcher Peter Lindberg was using sonar to search for a shipwreck between Sweden and Finland in 300 feet of water. In July 2011, he discovered a perfectly round circle approximately 60 feet in diameter resting on the ocean floor. Deep scars on the ocean floor suggested the object had moved across the ocean bottom. Released sonar images immediately had a number of news outlets claiming the object was a UFO. Although finding a perfectly round object of that size on the ocean floor is very strange, sonar specialists declared the resolution of the image too low to identify it as anything in particular. Until more money is available for improved equipment and more exploration, the object remains a mystery.
7) The Montauk Monster
In the summer of 2008, an unidentified dead animal washed up on the shore at Montauk, New York. Although several people reported seeing it and photographs surfaced, the carcass disappeared before police were able to recover the remains. Newspapers ran the story along with a grotesque image. Locals speculated that it could be a mutant resulting from experiments at nearby Plum Island Animal Disease Center. Others suggested that it was nothing more than a hoax. Many scientists who studied the photographs think it was a known species heavily damaged and decomposed as a result of time spent in the water. Several people claimed it was some type of sea turtle without its shell. The raccoon claim seems to be the closest, but the Montauk Monster's legs are longer than a normal raccoon leaving us without a definitive conclusion.
6) The Vil Vana
A 41-foot fishing trawler with a seven man crew mysteriously vanished off the coast of Santa Cruz Island in 1993. With no signal for help and very few ship remains ever found, it was determined that the boat sank quickly and fully intact. For two decades, investigators have been baffled by the fact that no diesel fuel ever bubbled to the surface and no bodies were ever found. Some of the victim's families believe that a military submarine may have accidently caught one of the boats' nets and dragged it under. This is rare, but possible. Four years earlier a submarine sank a tugboat in the same area. The case of the Vil Vana is still open and unsolved.
5) The Lost City Of Atlantis
In 360 B.C. Plato wrote "in a single day and night of misfortune" a major sea power called Atlantis mysteriously sank into the ocean. Some historians have labeled Plato's account a myth while others have dedicated their lives to finding the lost city which they believe was a super power devastated by a natural disaster. It's been suggested that Plato was describing the Minoan civilization on Crete and neighboring Santorini where a devastating volcanic eruption happened in 1600 B.C. During the last couple of decades several research teams claimed to have located Atlantis, but this 2000 year old puzzle is still waiting to be solved.
4) The Bermuda Triangle
Certainly one of the best known ocean mysteries, this stretch of water between Bermuda, Miami, and San Juan has also been called The Devil's Triangle. Most of today's theories say that nearly all reported incidents are due to equipment or human error combined with the areas strong currents and frequent (and sudden) storms. Others strongly believe that paranormal activity or a magnetic anomaly are to blame. A few of the Bermuda Triangle accidents have escaped any type of scientific explanation. The U.S.S. Cyclops with 306 people on board disappeared in 1918 between Barbados and Baltimore with no signal for help and no remains discovered. Five Navy bombers disappeared off the coast of Florida in 1945 with neither the planes nor any bodies ever found. A DC-3 plane with 3 crewmen and 29 passengers on a flight from San Juan to Miami with perfect visibility radioed when they were 50 miles from landing saying all was well, but the plane never arrived and has never been found.
3) Alaska's Loch Ness Monster
In Bristol Bay, Alaska, a fisherman managed to get some film footage of what the locals refer to as Caddy, a creature with undulating body, horse-like head, long neck, big eyes and back humps—much the same as descriptions of sea serpent sightings from Scotland's Loch Ness and of Lake Champlain's Champ on the New York-Vermont state line. This footage shot in 2009 has the distinction of being the first hard video evidence. After studying the footage, scientists have determined that the creature isn't a whale, seal, shark, eel or fish. It has been suggested that the film shows a Cadborosaurus, a beast named for Cadboro Bay in British Columbia combined with the Greek word saurus (lizard) that's been popular in Alaskan lore for nearly 200 years. But, without more physical clues no definite conclusions can be drawn.
In various parts of the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans during the peak of the Cold War, Soviet submarines reported hearing mysterious sounds they called quackers (the Russian version of our own ribbit of a frog). Using sound recording from various ships, scientists concluded that the noises were made by a moving object with the behavior of a living creature or manned vessel. The origin of the sounds seemed to show interest in and occasionally circle the subs. However, their sonar was unable to find anything to account for the sounds. The Soviets claimed it was secret U.S. technology. Others believed it was giant squids that evaded sonar because they don't have a rigid skeleton. The most mysterious part of the quacker puzzle is that the sounds stopped in the mid 1980s.
1) The Baychimo Ghost Ship
For centuries there have been stories about ghost ships either manned by the dead or possessed by some type of unknown force. While most of these stories are considered myths, one actual ghost ship did exist. Baychimo, a 1322-ton cargo steamer became trapped in pack ice in 1931 where the crew had to abandon ship off the coast of Alaska. A harsh blizzard hit and the ship was nowhere to be found. The crew assumed the ship had sunk, but Inuit hunters reported several sightings over the ensuing months. Many reports were received for nearly 40 years from people claiming to have seen the unmanned vessel sailing the waters around Alaska as if still in use. The last reported sighting was in 1969. The ultimate fate of Baychimo is a mystery.
And as a footnote to Ghost Ships:
This didn't actually involve a ship, but it is about a large man-made object that ended up navigating thousands of miles of ocean on its own. The large destructive tsunami following the March 2011 Japanese earthquake ripped apart four large sections of dock and set them adrift on the ocean, each about the size of a freight train box car. One landed on a nearby island, two were never seen again, but the fourth managed to find its way across 5000 miles of ocean without any type of help and came to rest on a beach in Oregon. So…I guess a ship without a crew could continue to stay afloat and move with the currents and tides for an indeterminate amount of time.
Saturday, July 7, 2018
We're in the middle of the summer tourist season (in the Northern Hemisphere). Some of us will be tourists and some of us will encounter tourists. And tourists invariably ask questions.
At one time or another when we were in school, we've probably all heard a teacher say that there is no such thing as a stupid question in an attempt to get us to express our curiosity about something without being embarrassed.
However, as an adult that old adage doesn't apply to all situations. The travel industry is filled with weird, quirky, and in some cases just plain stupid questions asked by tourists. Here's a sampling of some from various sources.
Actual Questions Asked On Cruise Ships:
Does the crew sleep on board?
Is the island surrounded by water?
What happens to the ice sculptures after they melt?
What time is the 2 o'clock tour?
Can you see the equator from the deck?
I know that ships often serve smoked salmon, but I am a non-smoker.
Can the iced tea be served hot?
Will I get wet if I go snorkeling?
Should I put my luggage outside the cabin before or after I go to sleep?
Does the outside cabin mean it's outside the ship?
Where is the good shopping in Antarctica?
And cruise ships aren't the only place that tourists seem to have absurd questions. Here are some actual questions received by Australians from foreigners, along with some well-deserved replies.
Q: Does it ever get windy in Australia? I have never seen it rain on TV, how do the plants grow? (question from the UK)
A: We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around watching them die.
Q: Will I be able to see kangaroos in the street? (question from USA)
A: Depends how much you've been drinking.
Q: I want to walk from Perth to Sydney—can I follow the railroad tracks? (question from Sweden)
A: Sure, it's only 3000 miles, take lots of water.
Q: Are there any ATMs (cash machines) in Australia? Can you send me a list of them in Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville and Hervey Bay? (question from the UK)
A: What did your last slave die of?
Q: Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Australia? (question from USA)
A: A-fri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe. Aus-tra-lia is the big island in the middle of the Pacific which does not…oh forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night at Kings Cross. Come naked.
Q: Which direction is north in Australia? (question from USA)
A: Face south and then turn 180 degrees. Contact us when you get here and we'll send the rest of the directions.
Q: Can I wear high heels in Australia? (question from the UK)
A: You're a British politician, right?
Q: Are there supermarkets in Sydney and is milk available all year round? (question from Germany)
A: No, we are a peaceful civilization of vegan hunter/gatherers. Milk is illegal.
Q: Can you tell me the regions in Tasmania where the female population is smaller than the male population? (question from Italy)
A: Yes, gay nightclubs.
Q: Do you celebrate Christmas in Australia? (question from France)
A: Only at Christmas.
The Daily Telegraph in the United Kingdom put together an international list "of the most inexplicably simple queries fielded by tourism officials."
Are there any lakes in the Lake District?
Why on earth did they build Windsor Castle on the flight path for Heathrow?
Is Wales closed during the winter?
Why did they build so many ruined castles and abbeys in England?
Do you know of any undiscovered ruins?
And here are some tourist questions asked at Niagara Falls:
What time do the falls shut off?
How far into Canada do I have to go before we have to drive on the other side of the road?
How much does it cost to get into Canada and are children a different price?
And here are some goodies from Minnesota:
I'm coming in July and want snowmobile rental information.
We want to tour the Edmund Fitzgerald. (the ship sank in Lake Superior during a storm in 1975)
One traveler asked to see the bridge in Minnesota with the arches. She was shown various photos, none of which were the bridge she was looking for. She finally identified a picture of the St. Louis Gateway Arch as the bridge she wanted to see. She was given directions to Missouri.
And finally…these tidbits.
One tourist to Scotland asked what time they fed the Loch Ness Monster. Another visitor to New York City thought they would end up in Holland if they drove through the Holland Tunnel. A traveler in Miami asked a tourism official which beach was closest to the ocean.
So…I guess the bottom line is to maybe think about that question a second time before you actually ask it. :)