Saturday, June 30, 2012

July: You probably already guessed that this is Fireworks Safety Month

And if it wasn't, it should be.

If you are so inclined, the National Council on Fireworks Safety offers these common-sense tips for handling fireworks:
  • Use fireworks outdoors only.
  • Obey local laws. If fireworks are not legal where you live, do not use them.
  • Always have water handy. (A hose or bucket).
  • Only use fireworks as intended. Don't try to alter them or combine them.
  • Never relight a "dud" firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Use common sense. Spectators should keep a safe distance from the shooter and the shooter should wear safety glasses.
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a "designated shooter."
  • Only persons over the age of 12 should be allowed to handle sparklers of any type.
  • Do not ever use homemade fireworks of illegal explosives: They can kill you! Report illegal explosives to the fire or police department in your community.
Assuming you keep all of the eyes, fingers and toes that you start July with, what else should you consider celebrating throughout the coming month?

Our crack research staff strongly urges you to consider celebrating National Cell Phone Courtesy Month. The link is to etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore's blog; she started the observance in 2002. On her blog, Ms. Whitmore provides these Top Ten cell phone courtesy tips:
  1. Be all there. When you’re in a meeting, performance, courtroom or other busy area, let calls go to voicemail to avoid a disruption. In some instances, it’s best to put your phone on silent mode.
  2. Keep it private. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid discussing private or confidential information in public. You never know who may be in hearing range.
  3. Keep your cool. Don’t display anger during a public call. Conversations that are likely to be emotional should be held where they will not embarrass or intrude on others.
  4. Learn to vibe. Use your wireless phone’s silent or vibration settings in public places such as business meetings, religious services, schools, restaurants, theaters or sporting events so that you don’t disrupt your surroundings.
  5. Avoid “cell yell.” Remember to use your regular conversational tone when speaking on your wireless phone. People tend to speak more loudly than normal and often don’t recognize how distracting they can be to others.
  6. Follow the rules. Some places, such as some restaurants or courtrooms, restrict or prohibit the use of mobile phones, so adhere to posted signs and instructions. Some jurisdictions may also restrict mobile phone use in public places.
  7. Excuse yourself. If you’re expecting a call that can’t be postponed, alert your companions ahead of time and excuse yourself when the call comes in; the people you’re with should take precedence over calls you want to make or receive.
  8. Send a text message when you want to send a quick message. But remember not to text while having a conversation with another person. It’s important to give others, especially clients and customers, your full, undivided attention.
  9. Watch and listen discreetly. Multimedia applications such as streaming video and music are great ways to stay informed and access the latest entertainment. Use earphones to avoid distracting others in public areas.
  10. Don’t text and drive. Don’t put your life or those of others at risk. Pull over if you absolutely must send a message or wait until you reach your destination.
We can only hope these catch on.

Not enough for you? How about Wheelchair Beautification Month? Or how about Adopt a Rescued Rabbit Month? (And, before you know it, Try to Give Away a Few Dozen Rabbits Month....)

Readers of this blog should never have to worry about being bored, but July is Anti-Boredom Month. In case you were interested.

July is also Nectarine and Garlic Month, although that sounds like a combination that should only be served to persons who fail to observe basic cell phone courtesy.

Have a Glorious Fourth, and be sure to consult the Blog of Days each and every day in July for more suggestions on what to observe and celebrate.

June 30 is National Meteor Day. I wonder if they celebrated something similar in the Late Cretaceous.

Some quick vocabulary:
  • The meteor is the streak of light across the sky that one sees as an object burns up on entering the Earth's atmosphere; this is sometimes called a 'shooting star.' Lots of shooting stars constitute a meteor shower; Earth experiences a number of these per year (here's a handy list for meteor showers still to come in 2012);
  • The meteoroid is the object that creates the meteor trail -- if the object burns up completely in the atmosphere;
  • If some part of the object makes it to the surface, that is called a meteorite;
  • The Late Cretaceous was punctuated by a rather large meteorite. The dinosaurs did not survive... except as birds. Some of those little rat-like mammals became, well, us.

Whether that amounted to an improvement is not for this blog to determine.

NASA tracks a lot of large objects that could become meteorites. (That link will take you to a table of recent and forthcoming 'close encounters.')

Of course, these are the ones the government knows about.

One hopes that, in this instance, anyway, the government is actually well-informed.

But enjoy National Meteor Day today.

If the dinosaurs had a similar observance, they probably enjoyed theirs, too. All except the last one....

From the webcomic Chuckle-A-Duck

But, remember, we don't need to colonize outer space until we resolve all of our problems here on Earth.


Updated November 21, 2012 to include the webcomic. It just seemed to fit so well.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Feast of Saints Peter and Paul

St. Peter, considered the first Pope by Roman Catholics, was very much a model of human frailty for all the popes who came after: Holding the Master's gaze, Peter could walk on water, only to be submerged by his doubts. Although he could inspire enough confidence that Jesus would call him the rock on which the Church would be built, Peter could also provoke Jesus to the point where Jesus rebuked him, "Get thee behind me, Satan." Peter cut off the ear of the High Priest's servant when the mob came to arrest Jesus in the garden -- only to deny even knowing his Master three times before cockcrow next morning.

Peter was brave enough to leave his home and preach the Gospel in faraway Rome -- but when Nero's persecutions heated up, Peter ran away again.

According to tradition, Peter met Jesus on the road as he was hightailing it out of Rome. Surprised, he asked, "Domine, quo vadis?" Lord, where are you going?

Jesus replied, "Romam vado iterum crucifigi." I am going to Rome to be crucified again. (Meaning, of course, that Jesus was going to Rome to do what Peter was refusing to do.)

Only after this did Peter, suitably chastened, return to Rome and, in due course, face crucifixion on the Vatican Hill. (Tradition has it that he asked to be crucified upside down because he was not worthy to be crucified the same way as Jesus was.)

St. Paul was martyred around this same time. However, he was a Roman citizen and, according to tradition, he was killed with a sword.

Google the "patron saint of salesmen" and you'll find out about St. Lucy of Syracuse. St. Paul would have been a far better choice: His missionary work around the Mediterranean and, in particular, his insistence that converts need not follow all the minutiae of the Law of Moses -- in other words the way he repackaged the product -- helped guarantee that Christianity would take root as a world religion.

So, OK, you're not religious. And you plan on spending tonight in a pub, not in a church. Have you ever had to deal with responsibility and the fear that you might not be quite up to the job? Have you ever had to sell anything... even yourself in an interview? Raise a glass, then, to Peter and Paul.

The illustration here is taken from a 1602 painting by Annibale Carracci, Domine, Quo Vadis.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

June 28: Today the United States Supreme Court will decide the fate of "Obamacare"

And most people will celebrate or mourn according to their preconceived political notions without regard to what the Court might actually say or what the decision might actually mean, or how the decision will affect them individually.

If you'd actually like to read and consider what the Supreme Court says this morning before reacting (or overreacting) -- and there must be some people left who are rational in this world -- you could observe instead the 86th birthday of Mel Brooks.

A famous Mel Brooks line is, "It's good to be the king."

And it was pretty good to be England's King Henry VIII (it's his 521st birthday today).

Certainly better to be King Henry than most of his various queens. Anne of Cleves made out alright, but the rest... not so much.

It's also Paul Bunyan Day -- according to most people. But says February 12 is Paul Bunyan Day. She also says he was born in Maine. Michigan and, of course, Minnesota also lay claim to that honor, and those claims seem stronger to me -- that is, to the extent that claims about mythical people can be weighed and compared.

Besides, February 12 is already Lincoln's Birthday. (And here's a tip for you youngsters out there: Ol' Abe used to split rails with his axe... not to kill vampires, OK?)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

June 27 is National HIV Testing Day... and also some really obscure observances

Today really is National HIV Testing Day.

But... I don't know... get a blood test (follow the link for more information) at lunch... and then brag about your disease-free status at the local in the evening?

It seems... tacky.

But the alternatives are sparse and the Usual Suspects are all over the board as to what they might be. has National HIV Testing Day and Industrial Workers of the World Day. But our crack research staff has been all over the Wobblies' web site and none of us can figure out where got the idea.

Brownielocks also suggests that today is "Decide to Be Married Day." At least there's some support for this one on the web; there is even corroboration that today is the one and only official Decide to Be Married Day. Apparently the day was inspired by a poem of the same name.

Hallmark offers none of the above. Per Hallmark, today is either Orange Blossom Day or Sunglasses Day. (I suppose you can play Corey Hart's "Sunglasses at Night" if you can find it on the jukebox at your neighborhood tap. If you don't have a jukebox at your neighborhood tap, you should find another place to patronize.)

The sole offering from American Greetings is Talk Like a Cheesy Private Investigator Day.

It's Independence Day in Djibouti, too. Which is great if you are in that tiny East African country.

You have lots of choices, at least, even if they are all pretty obscure.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

Here is a United Nations observance that is, in a literal sense, deadly serious. The Mexican drug cartels corrupt those they can and kill those they can't. The opium trade finances perpetual murder in Afghanistan. Pick a spot on the globe and you can find plenty of reasons to be concerned about drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking.

But here in the United States we are... at best... ambiguous about drug use.

(From Married to the Sea by Drew and Natalie Dee)

Two of these three admit to having used drugs stronger than marijuana as well -- although, of course, not in the White House.

In Chicago, we are about to make smoking doobie a mere ticketable offense; if you're in California, you can apparently get "medical marijuana" on just the flimsiest of pretexts from corner stores that have sprung up thick as Starbucks. Drug use, even abuse, is common among the glitterati. Poor Michael Jackson or Whitney Houston couldn't control their drug addictions. They died. People were sad. But Charlie Sheen goes spinning out of control, proudly professing his drug abuse (as if we needed any hints) and doesn't die. He gets a new television series and television commercials that gently mock his 'naughty' behavior.

Today, therefore, we celebrate the law of supply and demand. People are getting killed all over the world supplying our demand. We can either stop demanding... or legalize the trade. The first approach appears to violate the law of human nature and the other...?

Don't hold your breath.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Little Bighorn Day

The Battle of the Little Bighorn was fought and Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer died on this date in 1876.

Custer's younger brothers Thomas and Boston were also killed in the engagement.

The illustration is by Kicking Bear and was obtained from a June 21, 2011 post on a blog called The First Scout.

Today's observance may not be an occasion for celebration, but it's certainly worth remembering.

And it's not as if there are lot of great alternatives. On this day in 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea, triggering the Korean War (today is referred to as "Fatherland Liberation War Day" in the Hermit Kingdom). You do realize that, technically, that war never actually ended, right? There is a truce in place, some days more firmly than others, but peace has never actually broken out.

Hallmark offers "National Catfish Day" as a micro-mini-holidayette; American Greetings suggests that today is "Leon Day," L-E-O-N being N-O-E-L spelled backwards -- and, thus, a reminder (an early warning) that it's only six months more until Christmas.

I'd prefer to remember the Little Bighorn, thank you.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

June 24 is International Fairy Day

This picture dates to 1917 -- well before Photoshop! Little girls were thought too innocent to fake photographs, so the fairies in this picture must therefore be real. No less than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of the über-rational Sherlock Holmes, was completely taken in by this picture and other, similar ones.

I hate to be the one to break the news to you, but these pictures didn't actually show real, live fairies. (Read more here.)

Nevertheless, today is International Fairy Day. If you feel there's magic in the air... there just might be.

It's also the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist -- but we've talked enough this week here at the Blog of Days about people who've lost their heads. Besides, the commemoration of John the Baptist's beheading is at the end of August. We can come back to it.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A micro-mini-holidayette honoring an obsolete technology

The object shown above, kiddies, is called a typewriter. You see something there that you can interpret as a keyboard, don't you? And note -- it's the same QWERTY layout that's on your laptop or the virtual keyboard on your iPad. But you can type URL's on this device all day long and not be connected to a single website! And, what's more (or, perhaps, more accurately, what's less) you have to check your own spelling! There's no control key -- no copy and paste on this device.

And yet, somehow, your decrepit ancestors managed to transact business using these ancient devices -- and, believe it or not, typewriters were deemed a great advance over scratching letters out with a pen.

You kiddies think that keyboards only made muffled clicking noises, but a battered old portable, like the one shown above, made a healthy, percussive clicking noise as the keys really did strike the ribbon against the page (you rolled paper into the typewriter, kids, there was no separate printer) while the old IBM Selectrics had a bass hum to go along with its much different electric-click-striking sound.

So raise a glass tonight, kiddies, to the ancient and honorable typewriter and wish every gray head that you meet on the street a Happy Typewriter Day.

And hope they don't slug you.

Friday, June 22, 2012

June 22: Take your dog to work day... or the feast of a philospher and martyr

One of our Usual Suspects, 2012 Holidays & Observances (which our crack research staff wants to call "" because that is both the URL of the site and a cooler name) advises that today is Take Your Dog to Work Day.

Interestingly, another Usual Suspect, American Greetings (which puts TYDTWD on Sunday, June 24, which doesn't make a whole heck of a lot of sense) claims that today is also Be Kind To Stuffed Animals Day. If you've got stuffed toys at home and a dog that chews on things while you're away at work, today is a Win-Win: Take your dog to work and you will be kind to your stuffed animals by giving them respite from the maw of your masticating mutt.

But if you don't have a dog or if you can't take your dog to the local after work, consider raising a glass tonight to the memory of St. Thomas More. In the Catholic Calendar of Saints, today is his feast day. It's also the feast of St. John Fisher.

Sir Thomas More was truly A Man for All Seasons (that's a link to the great 1966 movie about More which you should watch soon). Chancellor of England under Henry VIII, and the author of Utopia, More broke with Henry when Henry broke with Rome to found the Church of England (and not coincidentally, grant himself a divorce from Catherine of Aragon in order to marry Anne Boleyn). More tried to take refuge in silence, but he was forced to speak and, when he did, he could not and would not acknowledge his one-time friend and patron Henry as supreme head of the Church in England.

John Fisher was Bishop of Rochester -- and was the only English bishop not to abandon Rome for the Church of England. Stripped of his office and later convicted of treason for failing to take that same loyalty oath that would cost More his life, Fisher was sentenced to hanged, drawn and quartered. King Henry commuted this sentence to one of beheading, and St. John Fisher lost his head on this day in 1535.

Tommy More (as he, or at least his parish, is known on the South Side of Chicago) kept his head until July 6, 1535 (he was the beneficiary of a commuted sentence, too), but his feast day got consolidated in with Fisher's in a Vatican housekeeping some years back.

Interestingly, St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More are both also venerated by King Henry's Church of England (the Episcopal Church in America) as "Reformation Martyrs." In the Church of England, however, their joint feast day is July 6.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

June 21 is Go Skateboarding Day

Be careful!

The website at says that today "skateboarders around the globe celebrate the pure exhilaration, creativity, and spirit of one of the most influential activities in the world by blowing off all other obligations to go skateboarding."

I'm not entirely certain that skateboarding ranks up there with the "most influential activities in the world" but, if you enjoy skateboarding, be sure to carpe diem. One suggestion, however, if I might: Don't plan on skateboarding after you've celebrated Go Skateboarding Day at your favorite public house.

Not that Go Skateboarding Day isn't likely to be celebrated with increasing fervor in the decades and centuries to come, but it may be worth noting that June 21 is also the anniversary of the first privately-funded manned space flight.

On this day, eight years ago, SpaceShipOne flew, albeit briefly, into outer space. Says Wikipedia:
Flight 15P on June 21, 2004, was SpaceShipOne's first spaceflight, and the first privately funded human spaceflight. There were a few control issues, but these were resolved prior to the Ansari X PRIZE flights that followed, with flight 17P on October 4, 2004, winning the prize.
Someday, that anniversary may be almost as important as Go Skateboarding Day.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Happy First Day of Summer?

This may come as a surprise to you, especially if, like me, you're in Chicago where summer has been here, off and on anyway, since March.

If you're not currently in the grip of a killer heatwave, you may be surprised to learn that the Summer Solstice can be on some other day other than June 21, but that's what Wikipedia says. And, although most people may think of the Summer Solstice as the first day of Summer, Wikipedia (again) tells us that today is Midsummer. That makes sense, sort of, since today is, by definition, the longest day in the Northern Hemisphere. So how can today be both the first day of summer and midsummer. Lord, what fools these meteorologists be!

If this is all to confusing for you, today is the 49th Anniversary of the actual first installation of that indispensable prop in nearly all Cold War movies, comedies and dramas alike, the red phone.

If you'd rather save that one for the gala 50th anniversary next year, today is also the day on which the Ed Sullivan Show (then titled "Talk of the Town") first appeared on CBS.

Sure, your parents or grandparents tuned in to this really big shew for Topo Gigio and Señor Wences, but Ed Sullivan is the man who brought Elvis Presley and the Beatles into the grown ups' living rooms. And you know darn good and well, they weren't getting in there any other way.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

June 19 is Juneteenth. Have a martini and celebrate.

Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. You can read about the origins of the holiday on Wikipedia or on

Another page on the website has a number of helpful suggestions on how this important day may properly be observed.

But none involve martinis. However, since today is also National Martini Day, and if you don't feel like following any of those suggestions... why not toast Juneteenth with a martini? Or two.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The War of 1812 began 200 years ago today

On this day in 1812 President James Madison signed a declaration of war passed by Congress formally declaring war on Great Britain (you know, the way the Constitution says we're supposed to declare war... and never quite seem to do anymore, even though America is more bellicose these days than ever in its history). For future reference (and just in case any Members of Congress stumble across this post and wonder what a declaration of war actually looks like), Wikipedia quotes the declaration starting the War of 1812 thusly:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That war be and is hereby declared to exist between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the dependencies thereof, and the United States of America and their territories; and that the President of the United States is hereby authorized to use the whole land and naval force of the United States to carry the same into effect, and to issue to private armed vessels of the United States commissions or letters of marque and general reprisal, in such form as he shall think proper, and under the seal of the United States, against the vessels, goods, and effects of the government of the said United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and the subjects thereof
Interestingly, if Wikipedia may be believed, Britain did not reciprocate with its own declaration of war.

To Britain, I guess, pesky America's declaration of war was only a sideshow in the larger strategic death struggle with Napoleon. Instead of declaring war, the Brits merely burned Washington:

Image of British cartoon from 1814 obtained from Pitch, The Burning of Washington (pdf)

Image of Tom Freeman painting obtained from White House Historical Association

What did America gain from the War of 1812? Well, we had our first secession controversy: The New England Federalists, whose region was devastated by the loss of British trade, toyed seriously with the notion of leaving the Union. South Carolinian John C. Calhoun was a War Hawk in those days... but he took notes, which he dusted off in 1832, and which his southern successors built on in 1861.

Other than that? We wanted Canada -- but didn't get it. We did get the satisfaction of winning the Battle of New Orleans (fought after a peace treaty had been signed, although the combatants didn't yet know about it). This was the battle that pretty much put Andrew Jackson in line for the (rebuilt) White House. The battle was later celebrated in a 1959 hit (#1 with a bullet?) for Johnny Horton.

Anything else? Well, while being held on a British warship in Baltimore Harbor, Maryland lawyer Francis Scott Key penned a poem that could be sung to the tune of To Anacreon in Heaven, a song that, with Key's new lyrics, is still sung before sporting events today.

For further reading, see The War of 1812: Remember the Raisin!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Richard Nixon signed legislation making Father's Day a national observance in 1972 (see, 36 U.S.C. §109)

No matter how much you don't like Tricky Dick, that does not give you an excuse for failing to call your father today.

And speaking of your federal government, the United States Census Bureau has published a handy list of Fun Facts concerning Father's Day.

Did you know, for example, that there are roughly 7,708 men's clothing stores in the United States? That seems like a lot -- until you realize that there are almost twice as many hardware stores (15,734 as of 2009) -- and almost three times as many sporting goods stores (21,628 as of 2009).

And there's lots more taverns than any of these.

Dads: We have our priorities straight.

Happy Father's Day.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


I do not pretend to be a James Joyce fan and I certainly do not pretend to have read his Ulysses. But I do know that today is Bloomsday because Joyce set Ulysses on a single day (June 16, 1904) and the protagonist of the novel is named Leopold Bloom. If you are a James Joyce fan, you can easily find a Bloomsday celebration in your locality. Recitations from the novel are a staple at these events.

Middlebrow that I am, I prefer reciting instead from the collected works of Allan Sherman. You may recall this line from Hello Mudduh, Hello Fadduh:

And the head coach
Wants no sissies
So he reads to us from
Something called Ulysses

Hallmark suggests that today is Fudge Day, but this has to do with the confection and not whether you can bluff the local literati into believing you got through the roughly 265,000 words in Ulysses.

Friday, June 15, 2012

June 15 is Magna Carta Day

On this day in 1215, in the meadow at Runnymede, King John of England put his royal seal on Magna Carta, the "Great Charter" of English liberties.

Sort of.

Actually, it was more of a charter of the liberties of England's nobility... a peace treaty, really, because the English barons had Johnny over a barrel.

Yes, this is the same King John who was the evil prince in all the Robin Hood stories -- and he didn't improve after the end credits rolled on the Errol Flynn or even the Mel Brooks movies. Richard the Lion Heart left John with all of England and most of France in 1199 -- but John lost nearly all of France (including Normandy) in a series of wars, skirmishes and feudal missteps and, in the process, taxed his English barons into open revolt.

John lost this war, too, and Magna Carta, all 63 provisions (in Latin, of course) was the result. Only three of these provisions remain enshrined in English law today, according to the Salisbury Cathedral website (the Cathedral has one of the four remaining copies of the original 1215 document) but this one is important:
No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled. Nor will we proceed with force against him except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.
Of course, John had his fingers crossed when he signed the document and he broke faith with the barons about the same time he broke camp.

Fortunately, John managed to die about a year later and a Readers' Digest condensed version of Magna Carta (missing 25 of the original 63 clauses) was soon reproclaimed in the name of his 9-year old son, Henry III.

Meanwhile, the King of France invaded England (with the connivance of a good many barons who'd been fighting John) and conquered a good chunk of the country before giving up. Whereupon Magna Carta was again reissued, in 1217, with still more editing, and again in 1225, after Henry III managed to survive to adulthood. (One of the documents from 1217 is at England's Hereford Cathedral; some of the chronology referred to in this post, as well as the illustration at the top, comes from this linked site.) Magna Carta did not officially become a part of the laws of England in 1297 when an edition was reissued by Edward I (in exchange, of course, for a tax increase).

But, the bottom line is that none of this might have happened if King John had been less of an incompetent.

So tonight, lift your glasses high and toast the incompetence of our leaders -- the source of our cherished liberties.

Although that sounds wrong somehow, doesn't it?

If you insist upon an alternative, today is Separation Day in Delaware, commemorating that day in 1776 when one of King John's successors, George III, lost Delaware (it was on this day that Delaware proclaimed itself an independent state).

Thursday, June 14, 2012

June 14 is Flag Day

No, today is not the day on which seamstress Betsy Ross delivered the first American flag, although that makes a good story.

However, the Second Continental Congress did adopt the first American flag by resolution dated June 14, 1777:
Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation.
Our crack research staff found this site which claims that the first celebration of Flag Day can be traced to 1885 when "BJ Cigrand, a schoolteacher, arranged for the pupils in the Fredonia, Wisconsin Public School, District 6, to observe June 14... as 'Flag Birthday.'" Cigrand, who was later a resident of Batavia, Illinois, became a tireless proponent of the day and is sometimes described as the Father of Flag Day. In 1911, a major national fraternal organization, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, made Flag Day celebrations mandatory in all of its lodges. President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day in 1916. In 1949, the observance of Flag Day was established by Act of Congress (see, 36 U.S.C. § 110).

If you need something else to celebrate, the U.S. Army was born on this date in 1775. Hooah and happy birthday.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

June 13: Feast of St. Anthony of Padua

St. Anthony was perhaps the most renowned preacher of his day.

St. Anthony died on June 13, 1231 -- which is why today is his feast day. He was canonized a saint of the Roman Catholic Church only a year later, in 1232. Born in Lisbon, Portugal in 1195, he started off religious life as an Augustinian and ended as a Franciscan. You can read about his remarkable career in Wikipedia or the Catholic Encyclopedia.

But that's not why you know about him.

You know about St. Anthony because of the time you lost your cell phone... or your keys... or the piece of paper with the phone number of that cute girl in the marketing department and this little bit of doggerel came into your head:

Tony, Tony, turn around
Something's lost that must be found

That's not a nursery rhyme; it's a rather irreverent prayer.

Yes, for all of his many accomplishments, St. Anthony is best remembered today as the patron of lost articles (and, more seriously, of missing persons).

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

June 12: It might be National Peanut Butter Cookie Day

The crack research staff here at The Blog of Days combs through the Internet, pausing only to look at videos of kittens being precocious or water skiing squirrels, searching all sorts of sites -- I call these these sites the Usual Suspects -- looking for something you can commemorate this evening at your local tavern.

Most of the time the Usual Suspects agree about which micro-mini-holidayette is on tap on any given day; one sometimes suspects that they consult one another. (I do not merely suspect; rather, I am virtually certain that none of these, as yet, consults The Blog of Days.)

But today the crack research staff presents a clear-cut conflict: Hallmark's Ultimate Holiday Site says today is either Machine Day or Red Rose Day (perhaps you should buy flowers for your toaster) and that tomorrow is National Peanut Butter Cookie Day. On the other hand, this rather comprehensive list of 2012 Holidays & Observances says that today is National Peanut Butter Cookie Day.

I suppose you might celebrate peanut butter cookies on both days, if you like such things enough, but I think Hallmark is wrong on this occasion.

The National Peanut Board says today is National Peanut Butter Cookie Day -- and I, for one, would be willing to defer to the Peanut Board's expertise on this... except the Peanut Board web page says that its list of peanut-related holidays comes from Chase’s Calendar of Events, published by McGraw-Hill.

(See what I mean about all the Usual Suspects consulting each other?)

If you're asking my opinion, I say: Pick one National Peanut Butter Cookie Day and stick with it, just like peanut butter sticks to the roof of your mouth. Make it today. Tomorrow, we'll try something else.

Monday, June 11, 2012

June 11 -- if you're in Hawai'i it's King Kamehameha Day

However, if you're not actually in Hawai'i (as you can see, the Hawaiians prefer we spell it that way), where King Kamehameha Day is an official state holiday, you may be casting about for something else to celebrate today.

One possible alternative is Corn on the Cob Day. A micro-mini-holidayette if ever there was one, one of the Usual Suspects I consulted in the preparation of this post suggested that the dental floss industry is the day's official sponsor. Our crack research staff was, of course, unable to verify or refute this claim.

On the other hand, we're still some way away from even the Fourth of July (when corn, traditionally, needs be only knee-high).

You may therefore wish to defer celebrating Corn on the Cob Day until fresh, locally-grown sweet corn is available in your locality.

History may provide some additional alternatives to King Kamehameha Day.

Today happens to be the 503rd anniversary of the marriage of King Henry VIII of England and Catherine of Aragon (that's Kate, above). Of course, that one didn't exactly work out.

According to the calculations of Eratosthenes of Cyrene (276-194 B.C.), today is also the anniversary of the sacking of Troy. Yes, on this day in 1184 B.C., the Greeks finished horsing around and ended the Trojan War. Worthy of celebration if one was rooting for Team Agamemnon -- perhaps not so much if one favored Team Priam.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

June 10 is Yo-Yo Day

Classical music enthusiasts should not be misled: Today has nothing to do with the celebrated cellist Mr. Ma.

No, today honors the humble yo-yo or, rather, the humbling child's toy if you've ever tried -- and failed -- to master it.

A post on the TLC website tells us that today was selected as Yo-Yo Day because it may have been the birthday of Donald Duncan, Sr., the patriarch of the Duncan Yo-Yo clan. There is apparently some dispute, even within his own family, as to the actual date of Mr. Duncan's birth.

Duncan Senior didn't invent the yo-yo. According to the TLC article, Duncan got involved with the product by buying out one Pedro Flores, a Filipino who had been trying to sell the toy he'd played with as a boy in the Philippines. While the modern yo-yo can therefore trace its origins to that country, toys similar to yo-yo's have been frustrating kids all around the globe for at least 2,000 years.

If you were too badly traumatized by just trying to make that #$%@! thing come back up, you can always celebrate National Iced Tea Day. On the other hand, it's already National Iced Tea Month. Some of the staff here think that iced tea is rather pushy trying to have both a day and a month.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Donald Duck Day

Donald Duck Day is celebrated today because it was on this day, 78 years ago, that the original Donald made his big screen debut in the Walt Disney Silly Symphony, The Wise Little Hen.

Clarence Nash provided the voice of Donald Duck in that first cartoon and would continue to provide that amazing noise until 1983, just a couple of years before his death.

Donald, of course, is still very much with us.

And he's still not wearing any pants.

An alternative, I'm told, is National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day.

But why?

Friday, June 8, 2012

June 8 -- Name Your Poison Day

Name Your Poison Day sounds like a good pick for a Friday. You head into your neighborhood tavern and the bartender gives you a cheerful wave and says "name your poison."

But today is also Best Friends Day, which works well if he or she is close by and can accompany you to the local. You can even say to your bestie, "Name your poison."

Not enough for you? Today is the anniversary of the massacre at the monastery of Lindisfarne. The monastery was established in about 635 and had been at the center of the Christian evangelization of northeast England. By June 8, 793 it was just the sort of soft, fat target that the Vikings found impossible to resist. The raid at Lindisfarne, 1,219 years ago today, is widely regarded as the beginning of the Viking Age.

It's also World Oceans Day. The Canadians proposed this one in 1992, according to Wikipedia.

And if that's still not enough for you, back in 2000 the German Brain Tumor Association selected June 8 as World Brain Tumor Day.

Surely, there's something in all this from which to pick. You simply have to name your poison.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

June 7: Daniel Boone Day, VCR Day, and still one more...

National Chocolate Ice Cream Day!

I know we've said that obscure food days, like last month's "National Grape Popsicle Day" are a bit of a stretch as far as holidays go. But I happen to like chocolate ice cream better than grape Popsicles; accordingly, I am willing to stretch a little more on this occasion. Especially if I can stretch in the direction of the freezer.

For the rest of you the Library of Congress says that it was on this day, in 1769, that Daniel Boone "first saw the forests and valleys of present-day Kentucky." For the last 100 years or so, the Library of Congress continues, the Kentucky Historical Society has commemorated that event as "Daniel Boone Day." I followed the link provided by the Library of Congress to the aforementioned Kentucky Historical Society -- and found nary a mention of this great event.

Nevertheless, a quick search with any reputable search engine will quickly satisfy the overly concerned that today is indeed widely recognized as Daniel Boone Day... but you may also find this May 14, 2012 article in the Wilkes (North Carolina) Journal-Patriot ("Wilkes County's Local Newspaper Since 1906), which asserts, in no uncertain terms, that Daniel Boone Day was observed in the greater Ferguson area on Saturday, May 12. Perhaps this is the day on which Boone set out for Kentucky -- but The Blog of Days does not wish to get involved in what is obviously a swirling controversy.

For those both risk-averse and lactose intolerant (or on a diet), today is also "VCR Day." Our crack research staff is still trying to find out when National Buggy Whip Day will be observed.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The D in D-Day may have stood for Deception

Today, June 6, is the 68th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy.

If you haven't watched it recently, you should buy, rent or Netflix (is that a verb now?) the 1962 epic The Longest Day. Based on a 1959 book by Cornelius Ryan, the movie shows the invasion from the American, British, French and German points of view.

The movie tells a thorough, accurate and fascinating story -- but it is incomplete.

The Germans knew, of course, that the Allies would have to invade France. They could hear Stalin screaming for a second front without needing any spies at all. Stalin started screaming for the United States and Britain to open up a second front from the moment Hitler tore up his non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union and started aggressing.

However, as The Longest Day correctly recounts, the Germans were convinced the invasion would come at the Pas-de-Calais. That movie, however, doesn't explain why they were so convinced.

The 1970 biopic, Patton, hints at one very good reason why the Germans were so surprised by the Normandy invasion.

General Patton, on double-secret probation for slapping a soldier in a military hospital, was placed in command of a fictitious army (FUSAG) that appeared intent on making the Channel crossing at its narrowest point, landing at the Pas-de-Calais. There were inflatable tanks and cloth and plywood Jeeps and lots of empty tents that could be seen when German reconnaissance flights got through (and sometimes the Allies didn't try to stop the Germans' reconnaissance efforts with as much vigor as they might have). There was all sorts of radio traffic -- orders, counterorders, marching orders. Then all the spies, counterspies, superspies, double-crossers and turncoats that Allied intelligence could find were given the task of convincing the Germans that Patton's army was real and his destination Calais. And it all worked. The Germans believed that the Normandy invasion was merely a feint, a ruse to draw off armor and reserves from the defense of the Pas-de-Calais. That's what they'd seen in their recon missions; that's what their spies (the Germans thought they were there spies) had told them. And so the panzers and troops that might have bottled up the Allies on the beaches -- creating a World War II equivalent of the Gallipoli debacle -- were never moved.

(A Mental Floss post from April 2012 provides a lot more information about Patton's 'ghost army.')

When I was a kid, I thought that the 'D' in D-Day was in the nature of a bureaucratic stutter -- especially when I heard terms like 'H-Hour' also bandied about in old war movies. But, looking back, the 'D' in D-Day, whatever its official designation, might really have stood for 'Deception.'


Now pause.

Take a deep breath.

Think a bit.

You know what this means, don't you?

It means that -- at least once -- a giant government conspiracy (actually a multi-government conspiracy), involving all sorts of people, actually worked.

The implications are staggering, aren't they?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

June 5 is World Environment Day

Yes, today is another United Nations special -- World Environment Day. This year, the theme of World Environment Day (you have celebrated them all since 1972, haven't you?) is the "Green Economy."

As near as I can tell, in the green economy, we won't have to give up our lifestyle, but whatever we do to produce that lifestyle will pollute so little that our carbon footprint will be baby-bootie sized. In other words, green is the color of pipe dreams.

And none of the pipes will spew carbon dioxide.

But, hey, it's good to have a goal. So hug a tree or two tonight on your way to the local. And, maybe, tonight, after you've sipped a refreshing beverage or two, you'll come up with an idea that will make all of this possible. Just make sure someone's taking notes.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Today the inventors of micro-mini-holidayettes stoop to cliche

Surely cliche must be the explanation for suggesting that June 4 is both Old Maid's Day and Hug Your Cat Day.

Yet, you know and I know that, while it is sometimes the case, not all old maids are cat fanciers -- and surely not all cat fanciers are old maids. And yet the stereotype has crept into public consciousness and is furthered by the not-coincidental-at-all scheduling of both these observances for the same day.

We here at The Blog of Days will do our part, therefore, to ignore both of these observances.

There is a serious event to commemorate today.

On this day in 1989, the ironically-named Peoples' Liberation Army crushed Chinese dissenters in and around Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

Freedom isn't free.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Repeat after me: June 3 is Repeat Day

Our crack research staff assures me (over and over again, actually) that Repeat Day is repeated each year on June 3.

That's fine today -- a Sunday -- but, next year (assuming the Mayans were wrong) Repeat Day will fall on a Monday. Could anything be more cruel than repeating a Monday?

Today you can do something nice... twice. That's the proper spirit of Repeat Day.

And while we're setting the record straight, although we understand why you may be confused, Repeat Day is wholly unrelated to National Eat Beans Day. That's coming up July 3.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

June 2: Dinosaurs or dentists?

Our crack research staff here at The Blog of Days is torn on this one: One faction insists that Dinosaur Day should be featured today, while others are urging the celebration of I Love My Dentist Day.

I can't decide.

I'd flip a coin, but Flip a Coin Day was yesterday.

Dinosaur Day is certainly a pretty good excuse for a celebration.

Dinosaurs get cooler with each passing year. When I was a boy, dinosaurs were thought to be big, lumbering, cold-blooded beasts. They're still big, but science has shown many were warm-blooded and agile. Some even had colorful feathers (this T-Rex drawing, for example, may be a bit dated -- the real T-Rex may have sported feathers as well as attitude).

The feathers are just one clue: The birds in your backyard are the true heirs of the dinosaurs, not alligators or gila monsters or even komodo dragons.

Of course, if you've seen as many cheesy movies as I have in my time, you'll have as hard a time as I do getting the komodo-dragon-as-dinosaur image out of your head. That's a komodo dragon on the right, by the way.

The problem with celebrating Dinosaur Day today is that some dissidents want to observe the occasion on August 2. Troublemakers and radicals, I say, but there's the problem.

Meanwhile, I Love My Dentist Day is perfect for you if you are (a) a dentist, (b) married to a dentist, (c) working for a dentist and trying to cadge a raise out of your boss.

A modest suggestion for anyone in category (c): Don't take the theme of the day too literally, no matter how much you want that raise, if there is anybody in category (b).

Friday, June 1, 2012

Today is Flip a Coin Day

Not much to work with here, is there?

Supposedly, Julius Caesar invented the coin flip as a means of settling disputes -- and he always called "heads" because that was his head on the coin.

No, I don't believe it either.

It is also Children's Day in many places around the world, including Mongolia (which, given what we learned yesterday about Genghis Khan, certainly seems appropriate).

June 1 has also been designated as Go Barefoot Day. This seems an idea of questionable merit, especially for those living in urban areas. Also, many of the better taverns have a strict no shirt-no shoes-no service policy.

It may be appropriate to use today to celebrate one of the many month-long observances I recently offered you. To that list, our crack research staff here at The Blog of Days has added still one more: Today also marks the beginning of National Black Music Month (which President Obama has called "African-American Music Appreciation Month" in his 2010 and 2011 proclamations on the subject -- and, no, at press time the 2012 proclamation was not yet available on National Black Music Month has been proclaimed by the White House for June of every year since 1979 -- and that's easier to say.

Whatever you celebrate today, celebrate it safely. After all, it's also National Safety Month.