Friday, August 31, 2012

Love Litigating Lawyers Day

Hey, this guy was a litigating lawyer -- and he's
proved quite popular down through the years.
Of course he had to get shot first.
Oh, sure, you can celebrate Eat Outside Day if you want, but we here at The Blog of Days encourage you to participate in Love Litigating Lawyers Day.

Actually, most people like their own lawyers: Lawyers are respected in the first person -- my lawyer, our lawyer -- but generally reviled in the second and third persons -- your lawyer, his lawyer, her lawyer, their lawyer. (And even "my lawyer" loses some of his or her luster when his or her bill arrives....)

Love Litigating Lawyers Day represents a chance to turn those negative feelings around.

And, if you don't quite succeed in reversing your bad attitude today, you can always pencil in April 10 on your calendar for next year: That's the next scheduled observance of International Be Kind to Lawyers Day.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

August 30 is Hotline Day

American Greetings says today is National Geek Day but the weight of Internet authority is against it: Most sites suggest Geek Day is really May 25. There may be areas in which the Internet is not yet authoritative, but surely it must be considered so when it comes to all things geeky.

Today is National Toasted Marshmallow Day. Have a campfire tonight and try to toast a marshmallow without it catching fire. You will discover that there is some skill involved.

Carter Era Red Phone, displayed at the Carter
Library and Museum. Photo from Wikipedia by Pistorius.
But today is also Hotline Day, the anniversary of the date, in 1963, when the "hotline" from Washington to Moscow was first placed in service.

The second link in the preceding sentence is to a Wikipedia entry on the subject. According to that article, the first acknowledged use of the Hotline did not take place until 1967, during the Israeli-Egyptian Six Day War, when American and Soviet leaders used the Hotline to inform "each other of military moves which might have been provocative or ambiguous."

But, however frequently or infrequently it has been used in real life (there still is a hotline to Moscow), the "Red Phone" has been a vital prop in political thrillers ever since it was established. And the fact that the Hotline long reduced the chances that American and Soviet leaders would start World War III by mistake is surely worth celebrating today.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Take today with just a grain of salt: August 29 is More Herbs, Less Salt Day

According to a number of the Usual Suspects, today is More Herbs, Less Salt Day.

Holiday Insights suggests that today was chosen for this observance because, in the Northern Hemisphere anyway, the harvest of garden herbs may be at its peak.

We stress, therefore, that "herb" is here used in the sense of a food additive and not in any other, er, colloquial sense.

There's some support for today being Chop Suey Day, and that could be entertaining: One hour after you celebrate, you may feel like celebrating all over again.

As mentioned here previously, today is also the observance of the Beheading of John the Baptist. John had only one head to lose but, according to Wikipedia, that head has been found in many places:
  • Muslim tradition maintains that the head of John the Baptist was interred in the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus. Pope John Paul II visited the tomb of John the Baptist at the Umayyad Mosque during his visit to Syria in April, 2001.
  • In medieval times it was rumored that the Knights Templar had possession of the head, and multiple records from their Inquisition in the early 14th century make reference to some form of head veneration.
  • Some Christians believe that the head on display in San Silvestro in Capite in Rome is that of John the Baptist.
  • Amiens Cathedral claims the head as a relic brought from Constantinople by Wallon de Sarton as he was returning from the Fourth Crusade.
  • Some believe that it is buried in Turkish Antioch, or southern France.
  • It is believed that a piece of his skull is held at the Romanian skete Prodromos on Mount Athos.
  • A reliquary at The Residenz in Munich, Germany is labeled as containing the skull of John the Baptist.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

August 28: Turnovers and computer games

To be specific, a number of the Usual Suspects proclaim today National Cherry Turnover Day. Even if you like cherries, this barely qualifies as even a minor microminiholidayette.

Office workers may find Race Your Mouse Around the Icons Day to be a more palatable alternative. Rearrange the icons on your computer desktop to set up a challenging course -- and see how fast you can navigate it while you're sitting on hold this afternoon.

The IT department probably won't beef if you race your mouse, but you may draw more flak if you celebrate Crackers Over the Keyboard Day in the manner suggested by the name of the observance. The Blog of Days is not responsible for any discipline imposed against any cubicle dweller who chooses to crumble crackers over his or her keyboard.

If you're looking for something more substantive to celebrate today, it is the Feast of St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo and Doctor of the Catholic Church, who died on this day in A.D. 430. Probably not the occasion you'll celebrate in the local tavern tonight, however.

What to remember in September?

Do these things really migrate on their own?
In September we observe Be Kind to Writers and Editors Month. As far as we're concerned, we could stop right there.

It's also National Coupon Month -- but don't break your screen trying to clip and save this information.

Children's Good Manners Month is celebrated in September; we'd encourage that this be observed all year round. Wouldn't you?

September is Library Card Sign-Up Month. This goes well with September being Read a New Book Month and also Adult Literacy Month.

September is also Bourbon Heritage Month -- feel free to celebrate this any day on which the regularly scheduled microminiholidayettes prove inadequate.

On a serious note, September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and National Sickle Cell Month.

But September is also Pink Flamingo Month. Why? Our crack research staff was unable to figure that one out. Watch your lawns, though. Maybe this is the month they migrate....

Monday, August 27, 2012

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Irish novelist Margaret Wolfe Hungerford may be best remembered today for this phrase.

But, as Wikipedia documents, Hungerford was quite a prolific and successful author in the late 1800s.

In the United States, Hungerford's works were issued under the pen name "The Duchess."

Thus, as several of the Usual Suspects attest, today is The Duchess Who Wasn't Day -- because Mrs. Hungerford wasn't actually a duchess. Get it?

Zany Holidays says we celebrate today as The Duchess Who Wasn't Day because it is the anniversary of Mrs. Hungerford's birth. Wikipedia demurs. It says Hungerford was born on April 27.

Today is also National Petroleum Day. But is this a day to celebrate the miracles wrought by the internal combustion engine or to contemplate how we may break free of the chains of gasoline? Online sources differ; you are apparently free to decide for yourself.

Is an oil refinery a beautiful thing? How about a oil shale mine? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose, but a future free of gasoline sounds more beautiful to me.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Go Topless Day tops today's list

Our very juvenile crack research staff insisted on it, and proposed all sorts of photos, too, none of which we can run here in the Family Section of the Intertubes.

But it really is Go Topless Day and there's a website and everything to prove it. According to that website, this is an international event. The big topless rally in the United States is supposedly scheduled for Washington, D.C., in front of the White House. An excerpt from the site:
During the protests, women will have the choice of going fully topless or wear red tape or something else to hide their (infamous!) nipples. They are also completely welcome to come and support this cause while being fully dressed if they prefer.

To show their support, men are encouraged to wear a bikini top since we are standing up for topless constitutional equality. Either we can all be topless or no one can. Bikinis will be available on location.
I'm not certain that any of the Founding Fathers could have imagined going topless as a matter of constitutional right.

OK, maybe Ben Franklin. But you can't name two.

August 26 is also Women's Equality Day (the Go Topless folks are pleased at the convergence) and also Toilet Paper Day.

According to Wikipedia, the earliest documented use of toilet paper goes back to 6th Century China. (The Romans used a sponge on a stick. Ick.)

Our crack research staff was unable to adequately explain why Toilet Paper Day is celebrated today. Or at all.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A day for osculation and reconciliation

How's that for a fancy way to announce that today is Kiss-and-Make-Up Day?

Because that's what today is -- there's a pretty strong consensus on this amongst the Usual Suspects.

Not surprisingly, however, none of the Usual Suspects reveal why today should be Kiss-and-Make-Up Day. If you screw up tomorrow or a week from Tuesday with your significant other, should you be expected to wait until August 25, 2013 to kiss and make up? Do you think your significant other will be satisfied with this?

Don't bet on that happening.

We here at The Blog of Days don't want to denigrate anyone's special day... but we'd submit that any day is a good day to kiss and make-up.

Of course, the alternatives today are pretty thin: American Greetings offers Healthy Day -- we should only be healthy one day a year? -- while suggests National Second-Hand Wardrobe Day -- is this day set aside for Nordstrom's customers go slumming at the Salvation Army Thrift Store?. proposes National Neighborhood Day and Hallmark's alternative to Kiss-and-Make-Up Day is National Banana Split Day.

Our crack research staff was quick to clarify that this last-named microminiholidayette pertains to the food item and not to the late 1960s television show.

But the theme song got in your head anyway, didn't it?

Such a catchy lyric, too: Tra-la-la, tra-la-la-la....

Friday, August 24, 2012

Pluto Demoted Day -- but there will be waffles

On this day in 2006, the International Astronomical Union voted to demote Pluto from "planet" to "dwarf planet."

Ever since the IAU's vote, die-hards have steadfastly insisted that Pluto should remain a planet. Their eloquent protests may be found elsewhere on the Web. For the IAU's side of the story, click here.

Today is also National Waffle Day -- referring not to waffling over whether Pluto should or should not remain a planet but, rather, referring to the breakfast batter cake prepared in a waffle iron, a device patented by Cornelius Swarthout on this day in 1869.

Mr. provides a careful explanation of the difference between today's observance of National Waffle Day and the August 5 observance of International Waffle Day

Wait a minute. International Waffle Day was August 5? Our crack research staff seems to have missed that....

If you'd rather stick with Debbie Downer theme we've established here at The Blog of Days recently... well, on this day in A.D. 79, Mt. Vesuvius blew its top, destroying Pompeii and Herculaneum. Pliny the Elder was just the most famous victim of Vesuvius's 16,000 or so victims on this occasion.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

August 23 is not a very cheerful day

Image from Mel Brooks' History of the World: Part 1

Mel Brooks said, "It's good to be the King!" -- but King Louis XVI of France would have disputed that notion.

Louis was born on this day in 1754; he lost his head in 1793.

August 23 is not a cheery day. It's Black Ribbon Day, a day set aside to commemorate the victims of Nazism and Stalinism. The United Nations suggests that today is also the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, a day that might be a bit cheery if the slave trade really had been abolished.

But slavery hasn't been truly abolished, not even in the very complacent United States. New American Bar Association President Laurel Bellows warns that "We have approximately 100,000 U.S. citizens who are being forced into labor or sex for the profit of their captors." Meanwhile, Bellows said, according to James Podgers' linked article posted August 1 on ABA Journal Law News Now, "human traffickers are bringing 'hundreds and hundreds of thousands' of people--children as well as adults--into the United States to become part of the sex trade or forced laborers. 'We have a scourge that has to be eradicated,' she said, 'but it is a silent crime.'"

Depressed yet? Well, American Greetings says today is Hug Day. You may need one after thinking about all this stuff.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Be an Angel Day

Although they play an important role in all Abrahamic religious texts, in our modern culture angels have transcended any organized religion. For example, Angel Reach is a popular blog run by an British psychic and medium, Linda Preston (she gives email readings, too). Nor is Ms. Preston alone; there are many persons who wouldn't be caught dead in a church, mosque or synagogue that nevertheless find comfort believing that angels are among us and have an influence on our daily lives.

If you are so inclined, you could simply celebrate these winged wonders or haloed heroes today on Be an Angel Day -- but our crack research staff says that the idea behind Be an Angel Day, as conceived by Rev. Jayne Howard Feldman in 1993, is to remember to do some service today for someone, to be an angel in that person's life. It could become habit-forming.

In his first inaugural address, Abraham Lincoln referred to the "better angels of our nature." He wasn't asking for angels with wings and white robes to swoop in and prevent the Civil War; he was asking for his fellow countrymen, North and South, to put aside their differences and see that they were truly members of a perpetual union, bound together with the mystic chords of memory "stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land." We are not all angelic, and the best among us are not angelic all the time, but we have within each of us the capacity for good.

Do good for someone today -- and celebrate that.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

August 21: It's Senior Citizens Day

So President Ronald Reagan proclaimed it in 1988 and most of the Usual Sources seem to think that August 21 remains Senior Citizens Day in perpetuity.

Does anyone know a gin mill which takes AARP cards?

That would definitely be the place to head today.

American Greetings offers Scrape the Bugs Day as an alternative. Scrape the Bugs? Really?


Happy Senior Citizens Day.

Monday, August 20, 2012

August 20: The NFL's Birthday

NFL logo obtained from Wikipedia.
Are you ready for some football?

Monday Night Football has been an institution in the United States for 42 years now, a dessert course for a football-crazed nation still hungering for pro gridiron action even after a full menu of Sunday games.

It was not ever thus.

College football was the predominant variety of football on this date in August 1920 when the owners of four Ohio pro teams met at the Jordan and Hupmobile Auto Showroom in Canton, Ohio to form the American Professional Football Association. Seven more teams, including the Decatur Staleys (soon to be known as the Chicago Bears) joined the fledgling league at its second meeting, on September 17.

So George Halas really wasn't there at the very beginning -- but it was close.

The first league president was Jim Thorpe. It was hoped that his name would lend credibility to the new enterprise. Second Effort readers may recall the recent article on that blog about the multi-talented Thorpe.

Other Sources: Shmoop Editorial Team, "NFL History Timeline of Important Dates," Shmoop University, Inc., 11 November 2008,; History.Com, "This Day in History," (both accessed August 13, 2012).

Sunday, August 19, 2012

August 19: Eid-al-Fitr

Our Muslim neighbors celebrate the end of Ramadan today. The time of fasting is over; today is a time to feast.

Eid-al-Fitr is moving holiday, however; next year it will fall on August 9.

What is always celebrated on August 19?

Microminiholidayettes only, we're afraid. Black Cow Root Beer Float Day or National Potato Day will just have to take a back seat this year.

Happy Eid!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

August 18 is Bad Poetry Day

Photo from the movie version of Hitchhiker's
obtained from Wikipedia.
Bad Poetry Day immediately reminded us of the late, great Douglas Adams and The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Quoting now from the Hitchhiker Wiki now (there seems to be a wiki for everything these days, doesn't there?):
Vogon poetry is of course, the third worst in the universe. The second worst is that of the Azgoths of Kria. During a recitation by their poet master Grunthos the Flatulent of his poem "Ode To A Small Lump Of Green Putty I Found In My Armpit One Midsummer Morning " four of his audience died of internal hemorrhaging and the president of the Mid-Galactic Arts Nobbling Council survived only by gnawing one of his own legs off. Grunthos was reported to have been "disappointed" by the poem's reception, and was about to embark on a reading of his 12-book epic entitled "My Favourite Bathtime Gurgles" when his own major intestine--in a desperate attempt to save life itself--leapt straight up through his neck and throttled his brain. The very worst poetry of all perished along with its creator, Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings of Sussex, in the destruction of the planet Earth. Vogon poetry is mild by comparison.
Third worst or not, on no account should you let a Vogon attempt to read poetry to you today.

Friday, August 17, 2012

What is today? Does it depend on what the meaning of 'is' is?

You will find some support online for today being 'Is' Day or The Meaning of 'Is' Day.

It was on this day in 1998 that President Bill Clinton's testimony to a grand jury included these amazing sentences: "It depends upon what the meaning of the word 'is' is. If the—if he—if 'is' means is and never has been, that is not—that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement."

The Blog of Days, being squarely located in the Family Section of the Internet, will not go into details about the Monica Lewinsky matter. It is enough to recount that Mr. Clinton said on January 26, 1998, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time; never. These allegations are false." However, on the evening of August 17, 1998, after his grand jury testimony, a few weeks after the infamous blue dress was turned over to the special prosecutor's office, Mr. Clinton was back again on TV, acknowledging (quoting now the linked Wikipedia article) that his "relationship with Lewinsky which was 'not appropriate.'"

While there is support, therefore, for calling today 'Is' Day, the whole thing strikes us as rather tacky and not a thing to be celebrated.

We asked our crack research staff to come up with an alternative. They reported that suggests that today could also be Hug Your Boss Day -- and then they wouldn't stop snickering.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Elvis Presley and Joe Miller died today

For all you ever wanted to know about this meeting, click here.
Elvis left us on this day in 1977.

The King should therefore be in heavy rotation on your iPod or other music machine today.

But today also marks the anniversary of the death of Joe Miller. Miller, a renowned English actor in his day, died in 1738.

In 1739, after Miller's death, another Englishman brought out a book entitled Joe Miller's Jests, or the Wit's Vade-Mecum. The joke book sold well, capitalizing on the late actor's fame, and it was followed by other editions and books, all employing Miller's name in one way or another, to the point where "a Joe Miller" or "Millerism" entered the language as a synonym for joke. Thus, according to Wikipedia, in A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens has Ebeneezer Scrooge exclaim, on Christmas morning, when he sends the lad to buy the fat turkey, "Joe Miller never made such a joke as sending [the turkey] to Bob's will be!"

Eventually a Millerism came to mean a particular kind of time-worn joke, namely, one so old that even Milton Berle wouldn't steal it.

And, today, at least until now, you have probably never heard of Joe Miller. You are not alone. Thus Hallmark merely proclaims today National Tell a Joke Day. But keeps the flame alive, insisting that today is Joe Miller's Joke Day, and that got our crack Research Staff to thinking.

For once.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

August 15: National Relaxation Day

Granted, National Lazy Day was just last week (August 10, if you're fussy about it).

Nevertheless, all the Usual Suspects line up behind today being National Relaxation Day.

No doubt that will greatly impress the boss should he or she catch you reading this online.

But just tell the boss to relax, OK?

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Please note that The Blog of Days does not guarantee that you will continue to remain employed should you follow the foregoing advice. Today's post is, and all posts on The Blog of Days are, provided for solely the entertainment of any readers who happen upon this page. Nothing in this post is meant to suggest any actual advice on how to handle your boss, nor is The Blog of Days responsible for anything you may say to your boss as a result of reading the above and foregoing post or for anything that your boss may say to you as a result thereof.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Navajo Code Talkers Day

Military codes are made; military codes are broken.

During World War II Allied code breakers figured out German and Japanese codes -- the secret work done at Bletchley Park and other code breaking sites played a vital role in the eventual Allied victory.

And, of course, the Axis powers had their own code breakers, too.

But one code the Axis never cracked was the code employed by Navajo Indians serving in the U.S. Marines, the Navajo Code Talkers. According to the Navajo Code Talkers website,
[The Navajo code] originated as approximately 200 terms—growing to over 600 by war's end—and could communicate in 20 seconds what took coding machines of the time 30 minutes to do. It consisted of native terms that were associated with the respective military terms they resembled. For example, the Navajo word for turtle meant "tank," and a dive-bomber was a "chicken hawk." To supplement those terms, words could be spelled out using Navajo terms assigned to individual letters of the alphabet—the selection of the Navajo term being based on the first letter of the Navajo word's English meaning. For instance, "Wo-La-Chee" means "ant," and would represent the letter "A". In this way the Navajo Code Talkers could quickly and concisely communicate with each other in a manner even uninitiated Navajos could not understand.
The Navajo were not the only code talkers, nor was code talking invented for World War II: According to Wikipedia Cherokee and Choctaw code talkers aided Allied efforts in World War I. Hitler knew about these code talkers and, as part of his war preparation, ordered a team of 30 anthropologists to study and learn Native American languages. And because we knew that Hitler knew, Native American code talkers were used mostly in the Pacific Theater (although, Wikipedia adds, there were Comanche code talkers used in the Normandy invasion, landing at Utah Beach, and 27 Meskwaki code talkers -- members of the Fox tribe -- used in the North African campaign).

Navajo Code Talkers Day was set aside in 1982, however, by President Ronald Reagan, specifically to honor the surviving Navajo code talkers. From the linked Wikipedia article:
The Navajo code talkers were commended for their skill, speed and accuracy accrued throughout the war. At the Battle of Iwo Jima, Major Howard Connor, 5th Marine Division signal officer, had six Navajo code talkers working around the clock during the first two days of the battle. These six sent and received over 800 messages, all without error. Connor later stated, "Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima."

Monday, August 13, 2012

International Left-Handers Day

You know a microminiholidayette is getting near the big-time when it has its own website (where we found this image, in fact).

Left-handers have had to endure persecution and prejudice down through the ages: It is no accident that the English word "sinister" is the Latin word for "left" and unlucky. The Gospel of Matthew (25:31-41) puts the saved on God's right-hand side, the damned on the left. The Palmer Method was the undoing of many natural southpaws for several generations -- and, even today, in most classrooms, scissors remain a continuing trial.

On the other hand, science apparently teaches that left-handers are right-brain dominant.

That means left-handers are the only ones in our right minds.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Vinyl Record Day -- not to be confused with Record Store Day

Record Store Day was April 21. We've asked the crack research staff here at The Blog of Days to file that factoid away for reference at the appropriate time next spring. We're crossing our fingers in hopes they remember.

Meanwhile, today is Vinyl Record Day. Why today? Well, some sources claim Edison invented the phonograph on this date in 1877 (although others say Edison didn't complete the first phonograph until November 21 of that year). And Edison recorded sound on tinfoil first, later on wax (leading eventually to the old cliche "stacks of golden wax"). But, whenever Edison actually invented the phonograph, vinyl wasn't used as a medium for sound recording until after World War II.

There are probably 45 other days (or at least 33⅓ days) which would be as appropriate or more for Vinyl Record Day -- but, nevertheless, today is the big day.

Interestingly, vinyl records are not merely historic artifacts. Although they were virtually pushed out of the stores by CDs in the 80s and 90s (and CDs seem near extinct themselves, these days) vinyl records started to make a comeback a few years back.

And vinyl is not being bought by Baby Boomers on a nostalgia binge (we have enough vinyl in our basements, thank you). Rather, vinyl's resurgence comes from young hipsters, kids under 30 who "listen out of a borrowed nostalgia for an unremembered, pre-internet age." According to a May 6 article by Misty Harris in the Vancouver Sun:
Once the purview of bearded hipsters, DJs and audiophiles, vinyl is now being sought by music lovers of all ages and interests. That shift is not only reflected in the range of artists with LPs — think Adele, Bruce Springsteen, Broken Social Scene and Arcade Fire — but also in the ways in which the albums are being packaged, with many accompanied by digital downloads. * * *

Nielsen SoundScan reports that U.S. unit sales of vinyl have grown annually for the past six years, rising from 857,000 in 2005 to 3,868,000 in 2011.
Harris's article notes that vinyl sales are trending even higher in 2012.

So vinyl records are not going to be consigned to the scrapheap of history with buggy whips or typewriters; surely, that's worth celebrating.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

August 11 -- we start bombing in five minutes?

On this day in 1984, President Ronald Reagan got ready for his weekly radio address with a mike check. According to Wikipedia, his little remark (meant only for the technicians) was a riff on the opening line of the morning's prepared speech. His speech called for him to say, "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you that today I signed legislation that will allow student religious groups to begin enjoying a right they've too long been denied — the freedom to meet in public high schools during nonschool hours, just as other student groups are allowed to do." Instead, just for giggles -- and never dreaming that this would get out -- he said, "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes."

It got out. (The disgruntled technician who leaked the tape may have been a Democrat. Or, given the text of the actual speech, an atheist. Maybe both.)

The Russians (then more formally known as the Soviets) were miffed. No apparatchik could survive long with a madcap sense of humor. Or any sense of humor at all. Indeed, in this one respect, and this one only, the Russians could have passed for Germans (to their mutual mortification). The Russians took the President's weak joke seriously (or claimed to) and demanded an apology. From there the story just got bigger and bigger to the point where Hallmark suggests we commemorate today as Presidential Joke Day.

It's not much to work with, certainly, but it's the best of a thin lot of choices for today.

If President Reagan's faithless technician was an atheist, perhaps he was miffed that the President failed to acknowledge Ingersoll Day. offers Ingersoll Day as a possible observance today, along with National Garage Sale Day. But isn't any Saturday a good day for a garage sale?

As for Robert G. Ingersoll, the Civil War veteran whom the Humanist Institute commemorates today, Wikipedia notes that he was Attorney General of the State of Illinois from 1867-1869. As a Republican.

That's certainly something you'd not be likely to see these days. I do not refer to any scarcity of Republican officeholders who reject religion -- there's no doubt a lot of skeptics and scoffers in both parties, even if they're not as candid about it as was Mr. Ingersoll. No, I'm referring how odd it is to think of a Republican holding statewide office in Illinois in our current day and age....

Friday, August 10, 2012

August 10: Today is National Lazy Day

No, seriously, most of the Usual Suspects line up on this one.

And it seems like such a good idea that we'll wait until tomorrow for a new, full-blown post.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Roll out the barrel -- it's National Polka Day!

An' a one, an' a two -- grab your accordions, folks, and celebrate National Polka Day. One-two-three-stomp! (but preferably not on your dance partner's toes tonight at your neighborhood tap).

Does the polka seem a tad old-fashioned for you to celebrate this evening? Something just for Poles and Slavs -- and only old ones at that? If Wikipedia can be believed, the polka has some pretty diverse styles (some of which you may like already because nobody told you it was polka music):
One of the types found in the United States is the North American "Polish-style polka," which has roots in Chicago; two sub-styles are "The Chicago Honky" (using clarinet and one trumpet) and "Chicago Push" featuring the accordion, Chemnitzer & Star concertinas, upright bass or bass guitar, drums, and (almost always) two trumpets. North American "Slovenian-style polka" is fast and features piano accordion, chromatic accordion, and/or diatonic button box accordion; it is associated with Cleveland. North American "Dutchmen-style" features an oom-pah sound often with a tuba & banjo, and has roots in the American Midwest. "Conjunto-style" polkas have roots in northern Mexico and Texas, and are also called "Norteño". Traditional dances from this region reflect the influence of polka-dancing European immigrants. In the 1980s and 1990s, several American bands began to combine polka with various rock styles (sometimes referred to as "punk polka"), "alternative polka", or "San Francisco-style".
There also exist Curaçaon polkas, Peruvian polkas (becoming very popular in Lima). In the pampas of Argentina, the "polca" has a very very fast beat with a 3/4 compass. Instruments used are: acoustic guitar (usually six strings, but sometimes seven strings), electric or acoustic bass (sometimes fretless), accordion (sometimes piano accordion, sometimes button accordion), and sometimes some percussion is used. The lyrics always praise the gaucho warriors from the past or tell about the life of the gaucho campeiros (provincial gauchos who keep the common way). The polka was very popular in South and Southwest of Brazil, were it was mixed with other European and African styles to create the Choro.
The polka (polca in the Irish language) is also one of the most popular traditional folk dances in Ireland, particularly in Sliabh Luachra, a district that spans the borders of counties Kerry, Cork and Limerick. Many of the figures of Irish set dances, which developed from Continental quadrilles, are danced to polkas. Introduced to Ireland in the late 19th century, there are today hundreds of Irish polka tunes, which are most frequently played on the fiddle or button accordion. The Irish polka is dance music form in 2/4, typically 32 bars in length and subdivided into two parts, each 8 bars in length and played AABB. Irish polkas are typically played fast, at over 130 bpm, and are typically played with an off-beat accent.
The polka also migrated to the Nordic countries where it is known by a variety of names in Denmark (galopp, hopsa), Estonia (polka), Finland (pariisipolkka, polkka), Iceland, Norway (galopp, hamborgar, hopsa/hopsar, parisarpolka, polka, polkett, skotsk) and Sweden (polka).
Still not persuaded, eh?

Well, here at The Blog of Days we always try and give you an alternative.

Today, however, the leading alternative is Send an Email Day. This is something special?

Give us a day where we don't need to send an email and perhaps we can celebrate. Even better, give us a day entirely free of email and we can perhaps rejoice!

But you go ahead and decide for yourselves.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

August 8 -- the Date to Create -- or Zucchini Day

Watch out for clandestine zucchini placements tonight.
August 8 is designated the Date to Create by a number of the Usual Suspects, presumably because "create" rhymes with "eight."

Yes. Sure.

Well, that's something, perhaps. So create an excuse to celebrate tonight and head out to your local after work.

If that's not enough for you, Hallmark says today is National Zucchini Day. That seemed harmless enough... until we realized that the usually sane, sober and sensible has proclaimed today Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Night.

Why would anyone want to do that?

So much for all that good neighborly feeling generated with last night's National Night Out.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tonight is the 29th Annual National Night Out

Why is this guy wearing a stocking cap in August anyway?
Here's a good idea, despite the rather weird-looking creature in the National Night Out website: National Night Out is a night for the good people of the community to reclaim their streets. It is celebrated across the United States tonight (except in Texas, where they really do think they're a whole other country; the Texas NNO is October 2).

From the NNO website:
NATIONAL NIGHT OUT is designed to:
  • Heighten crime and drug prevention awareness;
  • Generate support for, and participation in, local anticrime programs;
  • Strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships; and
  • Send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.
Just don't imbibe too much liquid courage at your local tavern before you take to taking back the streets this evening: Your neighbors may think they have to take the streets back from you!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Hiroshima: Perspective

On this day 67 years ago, a B-29 (dubbed the Enola Gay by its crew) dropped an atomic bomb (codenamed Little Boy) on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. No one who has read John Hersey's unstinting account of that day (Hiroshima) can be blind to the horror of atomic war.

However, some perspective is required.

Some 70,000 people died in the city when the Hiroshima atomic bomb was detonated -- but 100,000 died in the entirely "conventional" firebombing of Tokyo on March 10, 1945. Of course, only one plane was involved in the devastation of Hiroshima; there were over 300 B-29s taking part in the Tokyo raid. (Another difference in the two events was the aftermath. Fallout and radiation claimed another 30,000 victims in Hiroshima by the end of 1945, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, and 200,000 or more may have died within five years of the blast due to radiation exposure.)

In the Pacific, World War II was a succession of island battles, as American forces edged ever nearer to the Japanese "home islands."

In February 1945, 70,000 Americans faced 22,000 Japanese defenders on Iwo Jima. The Japanese would not surrender; they did not expect to survive. They didn't. And they killed 6,000 Americans along the way, wounding another 20,000 more.

The Battle of Okinawa followed. From April 1 until roughly June 21, American and other allied forces vied for control of the large island and its smaller neighbors. Of the 117,000 Japanese defenders, nearly 110,000 (94%) died. American land forces numbered 182,000 at the start of the battle (including Marines and Navy personnel under Army command). Some 12,500 were killed; there were 62,000 casualties in all -- one in three! Because of kamikaze attacks, Navy losses at sea were also steep, with 4,907 killed and 4,874 wounded. Estimates vary as to the civilian death toll -- anywhere from a tenth to a third of the population was killed in the battle -- as many as 150,000 killed.

Okinawa was to be the jumping off point for the Allied invasion of Japan proper. The hundreds of thousands of American troops in Europe were nervously awaiting transfer to the Pacific theater in the Summer of 1945.

Japanese strategy was simple: Fight to the death for each inch of ground -- and thereby make the war so terrible, so costly, so bloody, that the Allies would give up and sue for peace. Once the guns were silenced, Japan could hold on to its conquests (or even win back some of what it had already lost) at the negotiation table; the Japanese believed the West would be that reluctant to start shooting again.

From Harry Truman's standpoint, the atomic bombs were a last-chance gamble to prevent the invasion. The weapons employed were unbelievably terrible, but the worst thing about them, from the Japanese standpoint, was that the bombs were visited upon Japan by single airplanes, leaving no chance for the dug-in defenders to inflict massive American casualties. The Japanese did not know whether what happened on this day in 1945 in Hiroshima (and a week later in Nagasaki) might happen in all of their cities, one by one, or two by two. They did not know that America used up its entire nuclear stockpile in the two attacks -- and because they did not know, but because they feared what might happen, the Japanese surrendered.

Did you know that, ramping up for a possible Japanese invasion, the United States began mass producing Purple Heart medals? Military planners made their order based on their expectations for a conventional invasion, imbibing the hard lessons learned on Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

The invasion never happened -- thanks to the atomic bombs. The argument is understandably difficult to accept for any survivor or anyone descended from a survivor of Hiroshima or Nagasaki, but it is reasonable to believe that many, many, many people lived -- Japanese as well as Americans -- who would surely have died but for the atomic bombings.

And America is still using the Purple Hearts stockpiled in anticipation of the invasion of Japan. We didn't use up the supply in Korea. Or Vietnam. Or Panama, Grenada, the Gulf Wars, Iraq or Afghanistan.

The medals that our young men and women earn by their suffering today were made for the grandfathers of today's troops. Because we thought they'd be needed.

What happened today in Hiroshima 67 years ago is awful and horrible and anyone with a conscience prays that it never, ever happens again.

But we also need to remember that it was a choice between bad alternatives. Between bad and, arguably, much, much worse.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Underwear Day -- no, really, it is -- grab a beer and celebrate

Our crack research staff surfaced long enough to advise that today really is Underwear Day ( is not the only Usual Suspect to so assert; so too does

The research staff explains that Underwear Day seems to be a promotion of an online underwear vendor, Not exactly a huge surprise there, is it?

Both of the aforementioned Usual Suspects assert that today is also International Beer Day. Gone-ta-pott enthuses, "beer parties are hosted and drinking games are played in celebration of beer. Believe it or not, beer parties are traditional on this day worldwide."

We believe. What we find it hard to believe is that there are days when beer parties are not traditional.

Celebrate International Beer Day with too much gusto and you may find yourself stumbling around town in your underwear. This would probably not be the best way to combine today's observances. If this is how you wind up, however, keep in mind that American Greetings touts today as National Blackmail Day. Things could get awkward.

If you're looking for something more sedate, but still out-of-this-world, did you know that today is Neil Armstrong's 82nd birthday?

Well, it is.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

August 4 is Coast Guard Day

Congress created the Coast Guard on this day in 1790, approving a proposal made by Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton for the construction of ten cutters to protect the new nation's revenue.

According to the Wikipedia entry for Coast Guard Day, the service got its present name in 1915 when Congress "merged the Revenue Cutter Service with the U.S. Life-Saving Service, and provided the nation with a single maritime service dedicated to saving life at sea and enforcing the nation's maritime laws."

For years a creature of the Treasury Department, the Coast Guard was transferred to the U.S. Department of Transportation in 1967 and then, after 9/11, to the Department of Homeland Security. According to the Coast Guard website, on this day in 1949 Congress "confirmed that the Coast Guard was a branch of the armed forces of the United States, confirmed it in its general functions of marine safety, maritime law enforcement, and military readiness to operate as a service in the Navy upon declaration of war or when the president directs."

Fair warning: Celebration of Coast Guard Day is not likely to be accepted as an excuse should you and yours be accused of boating under the influence today.

Friday, August 3, 2012

August 3 marks Watermelon Day -- and the 100th Post on The Blog of Days

All the Usual Suspects concur in proclaiming today Watermelon Day. At least today's microminiholidayette commemorates a food item that is actually in season.

And, at your local tonight, you can do watermelon shots. Here's a recipe for watermelon shots I found at
1 part vodka
1 part amaretto almond liqueur
1 part Southern Comfort® peach liqueur
fill with orange juice
pineapple juice
1 dash grenadine syrup

Shake well with ice. Strain and pour into a shot glass.
Our crack research department insisted on trying this recipe out before our publication deadline.

Unfortunately, they've not been heard from since.

Meanwhile, today marks the 100th Post here on The Blog of Days. That might be worth a toast or two tonight at your local as well.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The hazards of playing poker

Wild Bill Hickok met his end on this date in 1876, playing poker in a Deadwood saloon.

He was holding a pair of aces and a pair of 8's (all black) when he was gunned down by Jack McCall. Thus, the line from the old song, "Aces and eights are the dead man's hand."

Hickok preferred to sit at the poker table with his back to the wall; he really hated sitting with his back to the door -- as he was when McCall shot him.

Understandable, particularly in retrospect.

If you'd rather celebrate something other than Wild Bill Hickok's demise today, you can, I suppose, celebrate National Ice Cream Sandwich Day instead. Just don't drip any ice cream on your cards.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

August 1: National Girlfriends Day, Lughnasadh

There's no real debate about this one: August 1 is Girlfriends Day.

The Blog of Days recommends that married men be careful about their participation in this observance.

Safer for married men might be Lughnasadh, a Celtic harvest festival -- and a warning, therefore, that the Summer, so soon begun, is almost done.

You're on your own as to how to pronounce Lughnasadh, and this Wikipedia entry on the subject will no doubt confuse you further.