Saturday, April 27, 2019
Every month has its share of bizarre and unique holidays, and May is no exception. In addition to a holiday on a specific day, there are month long celebrations and week long celebrations.
Month long celebrations:
Date Your Mate Month, Foster Care Month, National Barbecue Month, National Bike Month, National Blood Pressure Month, National Hamburger Month, National Photograph Month, National Recommitment Month, National Salad Month, Older Americans Month.
Nurse's Week (first week of month), Wildflower Week (week two), National Bike Week (third week), National Police Week (third week), Emergency Medical Services Week (fourth week).
1) Mother Goose Day
When: Always on May 1st
Mother Goose Day was created only recently, as a day to appreciate nursery rhymes and stories. The term "Mother Goose" dates back to the 1650's. It referred to stories like Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Sleeping Beauty. It does not appear to represent a particular person, as many of Mother Goose stories were written both before and after this term was first used. And, the stories were written by numerous authors.
1) Save the Rhino Day
3) International Tuba Day (first Friday in May)
3) Space Day (first Friday in May)
3) Lumpy Rug Day
3) World Press Freedom Day
4) National Candied Orange Peel Day
4) Star Wars Day
When: Always on May 4th
It's all because of a play on words! Star Wars Day is May the Fourth because a famous quote from the hugely popular science fiction series blockbuster is "May the Force (Fourth) be with you". Some call this Day "Luke Skywalker Day".Great ways to Celebrate Star Wars Day: Watch any of the great Star Wars movies. Better yet, have a Star Wars marathon, and watch all of them.
5) National Hoagie Day
5) Oyster Day
6) Beverage Day
6) No Diet Day
7) National Tourism Day
8) Iris Day
8) No Socks Day
9) Lost Sock Memorial Day
When : Always May 9th
Lost Sock Memorial Day recognizes your drawer full of unmatched socks. Each unmatched sock represents a missing sock. We never throw away our unmatched socks. After all, it may show up someday. On Lost Sock Memorial Day, we suggest you spend a little time (as little as possible) searching for those missing socks. After a (very) brief search, and in good memorial spirit, spend a minute reflecting upon how warm and comforting the missing socks were on your stinky toes. Then, by all means, get on with your life. Use this special day, to toss out all of your unmatched socks. Let's face it, you're never going to find the missing one.
10) Clean Up Your Room Day
10) National Train Day (date may vary)
11) Eat What You Want Day
11) Twilight Zone Day
12) Fatigue Syndrome Day
12) Limerick Day
13) Frog Jumping Day
14) Dance Like A Chicken Day
15) National Chocolate Chip Day
16) Love A Tree Day
16) National Sea Monkey Day
17) Pack Rat Day
When: Always on May 17th
Today is Pack Rat Day (or if you prefer, you can call it Hoarder's Day). If you are a Pack Rat, you're in good company. You might as well come out of hiding behind those piles of valuable stuff, and celebrate this fun day. Making the decision to discard something of even remotely questionable value, is difficult, if not impossible to do. In keeping with the intent of Pack Rat Day, here are some Do's and Don'ts: Don't clean your room, basement, garage or any other area today. Don't discard anything today—it may be valuable. Don't even empty the trash today. You might have accidentally thrown out something useful. Do keep an eye out for useful stuff being discarded by others. Do go to garage and rummage sales. They can be pack rat gold mines. Do look around your belongings and be thankful for what you have. Do spend time thinking of uses for your things.
18) International Museum Day
18) No Dirty Dishes Day
20) Be A Millionaire Day (now we all can go for that)
When: Always on May 20th
Everyone wants to enjoy today as a member of the Millionaire's Club, even though a million dollars isn't what it used to be. And after reaching the Millionaire's Club you can work on your qualifications for the Billionaire's Club. If you are a millionaire, savor and enjoy the day. Remember, many Millionaires get there by a combination hard work, sound investment, and frugal spending.
20) Pick Strawberries Day
21) National Memo Day
22) Buy A Musical Instrument Day
23) Lucky Penny Day
24) National Escargot Day
25) International Jazz Day (Saturday of Memorial Day weekend)
25) Tap Dance Day
27) Sun Screen Day
29) Learn About Composting Day
When: Always May 29th
Composting Day is a great opportunity to "Go Green" and help the environment. Composting is easy. It makes you feel good knowing you are doing your part to keep our environment a little bit cleaner. As you learn about composting, you will be surprised at all the things you can compost. It is common knowledge that you can compost garden and yard vegetation as well as kitchen (vegetable) scraps. But, you can also recycle many other things, including papers, untreated wood, and cardboard. Cardboard paper towel and toilet paper holders are great items to compost. You can use compost around your plants, to feed them, keep the weeds down, and to help retain soil moisture.
30) Water A Flower Day
31) National Macaroon Day
31) Worldwide No Tobacco Day
When: Always May 31st
Worldwide No Tobacco Day brings awareness of the health issues and dependency issues related to tobacco use. World No Tobacco Day stresses the importance of making people all over the world aware of the health dangers of using tobacco. In 1987, the World Health Organization Assembly passed Resolution WHA40.38, calling for 7 April 1988 to be "a world no-smoking day." In 1988, Resolution WHA42.19 was passed, calling for the celebration of World No Tobacco Day, every year on 31 May.
Saturday, April 20, 2019
Cities being built on top of ruins of ancient cities. Subterranean caverns running beneath today's cities. Underground fortresses and secret facilities being built. Many cities world wide have entire cities located beneath them, some centuries old and others relatively new.
Here are just a few of those places.
Located in the nineteen arches of Edinburgh's iconic South Bridge, the Edinburgh Vaults were used to house tradesmen as well as the city's less desirable residents. When it was constructed in 1785, the bridge was intended to expand the city, and also serve as a custom-built shopping district. Along those ends, buildings located on the bridge's arches were given underground storage areas. Unfortunately, the storage vaults began to flood and were evacuated by their rightful owners. Shortly afterward, Edinburgh's downtrodden moved into them. The damp, dark rooms were a hotbed for crime, with serial killers Burk and Hare frequenting them for victims. [They were notorious body snatchers who became serial killers when there weren't enough 'legally' executed criminals to supply their need for bodies to sell to medical schools] Tons of rubble was dumped into the Vaults in the mid-1800s to close them down for good, but an access tunnel was discovered in the 1980s, leading to some fascinating discoveries. The underground city now has conducted tours.
2) Napoli Sotteranea
If you were to pick a European city that would be least likely to host an underground secret, Naples might be on your list. The flooded canals of Campania's capitol actually lay atop a bed of volcanic rock known as tuff, which is easy to mine and work. Over the centuries, a massive system of tunnels and caverns have been carved out of this material. The ancient Greeks used them as reservoirs, but there are also many fascinating ruins down below, including theaters and early Christian worship sites. During World War II, the tunnels were used for air raid shelters.
3) La Ville Souterraine
Most of the subterranean cities here have fallen into disuse and disrepair, but the massive complex beneath the streets of Montreal is one of the city's main commercial hubs. La Ville Souterraine was constructed after the Metro subway system opened in 1966, and covers over 20 miles of space under the city. Entry points are constructed around residential or commercial businesses at the surface, and the network contains underground stores, restaurants, nightclubs, and a library. During the bitterly cold winter, the majority of the city's commerce happens below the streets.
4) Burlington Bunker
The English country town of Cortsham, Wilshire, doesn't seem like it would be hiding any dark secrets, but guess again. Buried 100 feet below the quaint cobblestone streets lies a massive, sprawling subterranean city built in case a nuclear attack targeted London. The Burlington Bunker consists of 35 acres of construction and over 60 miles of roads. It was designed to support a maximum population of 4,000 people and boasted a number of amenities, including a television studio, cafeterias, and even a pub. Many of the walls are decorated with colorful murals. The existence of Burlington Bunker was classified until 2004, when it was decommissioned. It was never used, not even for test exercises.
5) Old Sacramento
In 1862, massive flooding swept through California's capitol, submerging both homes and businesses. The Legislature was relocated to San Francisco and the people who were left behind tried to figure out how to prevent a disaster like that from happening again. The solution was to raise all of the city's streets by ten feet, building new construction vaulted above the remains of the old. The abandoned spaces were used for storage and other purposes, and there is still a good amount of old Sacramento architecture left untouched beneath the surface, illuminated by squares of rose quartz set into the sidewalk as makeshift skylights.
6) Beijing Underground
The Cold War saw the threat of global nuclear annihilation loom heavy over our heads, so it's not surprising that many world leaders saw fit to head underground for safety. Perhaps the most ambitious project was Mao Zedong's underground city, which covers a staggering 33 miles of catacombs beneath the capital. China began construction in the 1970s when tensions with the Soviet Union were high, and the sprawling complex eventually came to contain medical clinics, schools, theaters, and even a roller rink. Food would come from a subterranean mushroom farm. It was opened to tourists in 2000, but closed in 2008. Some parts of the complex are now being used as illegal apartments.
Having an office with a window is a nice perk, but for the workers of Subtropolis, that is not an option. This massive cave system carved out of the bluffs above the Mississippi River hosts 50 companies and thousands of employees working in a giant limestone mine. Subtropolis makes up a complex larger than downtown St. Louis's business district, and hosts the U.S. Postal Service's collectible stamp stockpile, a number of data centers, and an artisanal cheese aging facility. Even 5K and 10K races are held in this underground complex.
8) Paris Catacombs
Over 200 miles of tunnels, caves and catacombs stretch beneath the streets of Paris, France, and are used for a variety of fascinating purposes. Originally hollowed out for limestone when the city was being built, the Paris catacombs have been used for corpse disposal, mushroom farming, and hideouts for the French resistance during World War II. They were closed to the public in 1955, but a whole subculture has arisen around the underground city. Explorers have renovated tunnels, built living areas and even hosted art exhibitions in the Paris catacombs. The structural integrity of the remaining quarry walls are monitored by a team of French officials as they have been known to cave in and take whole neighborhoods on the surface with them.
9) Las Vegas Tunnels
The glittering streets of Las Vegas are a playground for people from all over the world with its tempting gambling, nightlife, and food. But beneath the streets, a subterranean city houses the unlucky people chewed up and spit out by Sin City. In the 1990s, with the tourism boom putting lots of tax money into the city, Vegas built a system of drainage tunnels to protect the city from flash floods. The 200 miles of tunnels have now become home to about a thousand people, who create living spaces in the cramped, scorpion-filled spaces and hope that the rain doesn't wash away everything they own.
10) Underground Seattle
One of the most famous underground cities in America was created as a result of a major disaster. In 1889, a cabinetmaker working in Seattle's Pioneer Square area tipped over a glue pot, which caught fire and started a massive blaze that destroyed 31 blocks of the city. Instead of just rebuilding, the City Council decided to raise all of the streets one to two stories higher than the old height. This created a cavernous area of walled-in sidewalks, with glass skylights in the street's above, that people used to get from business to business, as well as the remnants of buildings damaged by the fire. Seattle condemned the Underground in 1907 following a bubonic plague scare, but it was opened for tours in 1965. I've taken this tour [actually, took it on two different occasions]. Fascinating place.
Saturday, April 13, 2019
I was watching a quiz show on television (probably Jeopardy) and one of the questions referred to the collective group name for a bunch of crows. My first thought was that I knew the answer…a murder of crows. My second thought had to do with why a bunch of crows would be referred to as a murder of crows.
We've all used the commonly known term of herd when referring to a bunch of cattle or horses or buffalo. Different groups of animals are collectively referred to by specific designations. And many of those collective group names make us scratch our heads and wonder who called them that and why.
So, my curiosity got to me and I did a little digging into collective group names for various animals.
Here's some I found particularly interesting…and strange.
Alligators? They congregate in a congregation. However, crocodiles group together in a bask or a float. And rattlesnakes are a rhumba.
Barracudas are referred to as a battery (seems more appropriate for a group of electric eels). Jellyfish group together in a smack. And sharks form into a shiver (a name that seems very appropriate and properly descriptive).
Buzzards bunch into a wake. Eagles form a convocation or an aerie. A group of owls is a parliament or a stare. Ravens form an unkindness or a storytelling (shades of Edgar Allen Poe). And swallows give us a flight or gulp (which seems to fit with swallow).
Cats…as a general collective they can be a clowder or clutter or pounce or dout or nuisance or glorying or a glare. Wild cats specifically form into a destruction.
Giraffes group into a tower (seems very appropriate).
Gnus are an implausibility (seems only right for an animal that starts with a silent letter).
Porcupines come in a prickle (again, an appropriately named collective).
Wolves, in general, group into a pack. However, if the wolves are moving they are known as a route or rout.
Zebras are known as a zeal or crossing or dazzle or cohorts in addition to the traditional herd.
And in the rodent community…we have ferrets grouped into a business. Squirrels are known as a dray or scurry.
But what about people, you might be asking. Well, here's a suggestion I came across that might be appropriate: a nag of wives and a jerk of husbands. :)
Saturday, April 6, 2019
Monday, April 22, 2019, is Earth Day. We only have one planet and we need to do everything we can to save it.
Supposedly originated in 1969 at a UNESCO conference in San Francisco, the name and idea for Earth Day was first observed on March 21, 1970—the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. This day in celebration of the Earth was put into a proclamation signed by UN Secretary U Thant.
And at about the same time, a separate Earth Day was founded in the United States as an environmental teach-in first observed on April 22, 1970. The April 22nd date was taken international in 1990 with organized events focusing on environmental issues in 141 nations.
The impetus for an Earth Day came following the huge oil spill in 1969 off the coast of Santa Barbara, California. Originally a teach-in on environmental issues to be observed on every college campus in the United States. The name Earth Day was a logical and obvious suggestion made by several people in the fall of 1969.
The April 22, 1970, Earth Day was the beginning of the modern environmental movement. Media coverage of the first April 22 Earth Day included Walter Cronkite's narration of a CBS News Special Report Earth Day: A Question Of Survival.
Earth Day became a popular event in the United States and soon around the world as well. Earth Day seemed to work because of a grassroots level enthusiasm that quickly spread.
In 1990, on the 20th anniversary of Earth Day in the United States, the observation officially went global in 141 countries. The status of environmental issues now had stronger marketing tools, greater access to television and radio, and multimillion-dollar budgets.
Earth Day 2000 marked the first time the movement used the internet as its principle means of organization both locally and internationally.
Today Earth Day continues to grow in membership, number of countries participating, and the scope of its effectiveness.
We only have one planet and now, more than ever, we need to do everything we can to save it.