Wednesday, October 31, 2012

And what is today besides Halloween?

Sure, Halloween dominates the calendar today, but did you know that today is also the anniversary of the proclamation of Romulus Augustus as Western Roman Emperor? He is judged by many historians to have been the last Western Roman Emperor. He was deposed by the "barbarian" Odoacer in 476, reigning less than a year.

The linked Wikipedia article says there is controversy about whether Romulus Augustus should be really considered the last true Western Roman Emperor since his reign was so short and because he was only a teenager (installed by his father, Orestes, a general, who really ran things, to the extent that they could be run in that time of collapse). Apparently, some historians would consider Romulus's predecessor, Julius Nepos, as a better candidate for the "last" emperor (even Odoacer claimed to be ruling in the name of Julius Nepos, at first).

But these historians have no sense of style. If Romulus Augustus hadn't existed, he'd have to have been invented: Named for the mythical founder (and first King) of Rome and for the first Emperor, poor little R.A. serves as a perfect punctuation mark for the end of classical Roman history and the start of Europe's Middle Ages. Sic transit gloria mundi.

Other observances today tend to tie more into Halloween.

For example, today is National Carmel Apple Day. It's also Magic Day -- and (probably related) today is the anniversary of the date on which Harry Houdini died (in 1926).

In what surely would have been his greatest escape, Houdini promised to communicate from beyond the grave -- if he could. So far... nothing.

It's a shame, of course, but magic is bunk.

How can we say this with such authority? Well, today is also National Knock Knock Joke Day. If magic were real, surely someone would have made knock-knock jokes disappear by now.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

National Candy Corn Day, Mischief Night

Most of the Usual Suspects designate today as National Candy Corn Day. Usual Suspect explains that candy corn was invented in the 1880s by George Renninger of the Wunderle Candy Company. Candy corn "was made to mimic a kernel of corn and became instantly popular because of its innovative design."

It remains popular today -- and candy corn will be very popular tomorrow, of course, on Halloween, when it will show up in all sorts of trick-or-treat bags.

Candy Corn Day seems nice and harmless -- unless you're a stressed mom coping with kids on a candy-corn-fueled sugar high -- but when the Sun sets tonight things become a little more... sinister.

Tonight is Mischief Night -- a night originally for kids' pranks. For a number of years, Mischief Night was carried to its illogical extreme in Michigan -- Detroit in particular -- where it became known as "Devil's Night" -- a stupid, thoughtless festival of arson. Free advice: Leave the gasoline in the cars, kids.

And here's some more good advice: Shaving cream and TP are largely harmless, but eggs can permanently stain and otherwise damage roof shingles, brickwork, and good relations in the neighborhood.

Also, keep in mind that American Greetings proclaims today Bodybuilder's Day. Kids, don't be attempting any mischief tonight at the home of a bodybuilder, not if you want your teeth available to chew tomorrow night's candy haul....

Monday, October 29, 2012

Another one of those amazing calendar coincidences

Today is Internet Day (the anniversary of the day, in 1969, when the first-ever computer-to-computer link was established on ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet). Although it would have made a great story, it is not true that the first computer-to-computer communication was a picture of a kitten and a silly caption.

If you'd rather wait until Al Gore's Birthday (March 31) to celebrate the birth of the Internet, almost all of the Usual Suspects suggest that today is also National Cat Day.

OK, that could be another Halloween tie-in -- witch's familiars and all that -- but then we noticed that today is also National Hermit Day. Now how appropriate is that?

Without the Internet, how would you find out about all these cool calendar coincidences?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

November: There's a whole 'nother month 'twixt Halloween and Christmas

You wouldn't know it from the commercials on your television, of course, but there really is an entire, standard-size month sandwiched in the calendar after Halloween and before Christmas. Kids, if you're skeptical about this (and who can blame you?) check your calendars at home. We'll wait right here while you check.
OK, now do you believe us?

November is Family Literacy Month, National Adoption Month, Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.

November is also International Impotency Awareness Month. Oh, great! There might be more Viagra or Cialis commercials this month? Well, maybe not: After all, there are a lot of Christmas commercials to air. So there is -- finally -- one good thing to say about early Christmas commercials.

This will also be National Family Caregiver Month.

Celebrate November by writing the Great American Novel. It's National Novel Writing Month.

But there are some observances planned for November that we here at The Blog of Days can not get behind. To wit: The organizers of World Vegan Month failed to take into account that the United States celebrates Thanksgiving in November. Of course, maybe turkeys are behind World Vegan Month.

Mother-in-Law Day and the Statue of Liberty

A number of the Usual Suspects declare today Mother-in-Law Day.

We'll let you at home decide whether Mother-in-Law Day belongs in the same category as Grouches Day, Sourest Day, and Cranky Co-Workers' Day. (Be careful where you vocalize any conclusions you might reach in this regard).

It was also on this day in 1886 that President Grover Cleveland dedicated the Statue of Liberty. For this reason, some of the Usual Suspects consider today Statue of Liberty Day.

In addition, today marks the anniversary of the first college football game to be broadcast across the country on radio. The year was 1922, and the Princeton Tigers had traveled to the Midwest to play the University of Chicago Maroons. Princeton won. Unfortunately, we do not know if either team ran the Statue of Liberty play that day.

Image obtained from Wikipedia.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Rerun Saturday... or the Battle of the Milvian Bridge

No, nobody has designated today as Rerun Saturday, not even us.

It's just... well, several of the Usual Suspects declare today to be Cranky Co-Workers Day -- after we've just had Grouch Day and, this week, Sourest Day.

Enough, already.

Besides, what are you going to do? Go to the home of some annoying co-worker on a day off to spend more time with someone who probably makes everyone in your whole row of cubicles miserable from Monday to Friday? Are you crazy?

And some of the Usual Suspects also declare today to be Navy Day.

Nothing against the Navy, mind you, but we just celebrated the U.S. Navy's Birthday two weeks ago today.

Some of the Usual Suspects proclaim today as Boxer Shorts Day because, supposedly, that rather personal garment was first marketed on this day in 1901. Well, semper ubi, sub ubi say we, but didn't we commemorate Underwear Day just this past August 5?

Why, yes, we did. would have us believe that today is American Beer Day -- not that we have anything against beer, of course, and especially on a Saturday afternoon -- but International Beer Day was also commemorated on August 5.

Thus... in our opinion... Rerun Saturday.

Image obtained from Wikipedia

If you're looking for something more substantive, today is also the 1,700th anniversary of the Battle of the Milvian Bridge.

Not ringing a bell? It was on this day in 312 that the Emperor Constantine defeated his co-emperor Maxentius, marking the beginning of Constantine's consolidation of power.

Now, true, Roman emperors and Roman wanna-be-emperors were constantly battling one another, around this bridge or that one, but this battle stands out in history because, supposedly, on the eve of battle, Constantine received a vision that if he fought in the name of Christ he would prevail (in hoc signo vinces). Whatever Constantine saw or may have seen, it is a matter of historical fact that, during his subsequent reign, for better or worse, Christianity would emerge from the catacombs to become the state religion of the Roman Empire.

Friday, October 26, 2012

You know we're getting close to Halloween when...

Today is Frankenstein Friday, Pumpkin Day, and Howl at the Moon Day.

All of these are observed today.

And, speaking of really scary stuff, today is also the anniversary of the day on which President Bush signed the Patriot Act into law.

Interestingly, according to Wikipedia, the terrifying (and inappropriately named) Transportation "Safety" Agency was not created by the Patriot Act, but rather by the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, an entirely separate (if equally panicked) response by the President and Congress to the infamous crimes of September 11, 2001.

And, if you must know, the Department of Homeland Security wasn't created by the Patriot Act either: According to Wikipedia again, the Department was foisted upon the America public by the Homeland Security Act. And the Department was created in 2002 -- after most reasonable folks should have calmed down a bit.

Of course, we are talking now about politicians....

Image obtained from Wikipedia.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

If October 20 was Sweetest Day, can you guess what today is?

Most of the Usual Suspects proclaim today Sourest Day.

Why? Who knows? And didn't we just celebrate National Grouch Day here at The Blog of Days? (Why, yes, yes, we did.)

Image obtained from
Personally, we think the grouches and the sourpusses should get together and choose just one day that we could promote the heck out of. And, then, just as soon as we type that sentence, we realize how unlikely it is that grouches are ever going to agree with sourpusses.

Today has been designated as Greasy Foods Day in some quarters and World Pasta Day in others.

Today is also the Birthday of Pablo Picasso, if that's not too abstract a concept for you, and also National Denim Day. For you art students out there, Picasso had a "Blue Period," not a "Blue Jeans Period."

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

United Nations Day... and also Bologna Day

We couldn't make up these coincidences if we tried. Today really is United Nations Day, celebrated every year on October 24 because October 24, 1945 was the "effective date" of the U.N. Charter.

Some might argue that anyone who thinks the U.N. has ever been effective about anything must be full of bologna. And, wouldn't you know? Today is also National Bologna Day (although, as the link to Usual Suspect will reassure you, the Bologna Day observance is supposed to be about lunchmeat, not politics).

Photo obtained from Wikipedia
If you want to avoid any political entanglement, you may choose to remember instead that today is the anniversary of Annie Edson Taylor's successful 1901 plunge over Niagara Falls -- in a barrel.

You think that was a downer -- today is also the anniversary of "Black Thursday," the beginning of the Wall Street Collapse of 1929.

And the Concorde last flew on this date in 2003.

The United States, the alleged world leader in aviation and aviation technology, never did have a supersonic transport plane -- and now there are none in the world.

That's progress?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

National Mole Day -- and TV Talk Show Host Day

National Mole Day refers not to the burrowing, worm-eating mammal but rather to a unit of measurement that we were supposed to have learned in Chemistry, all those years ago, namely, the "amount of a substance that contains as many elementary entities (e.g., atoms, molecules, ions, electrons) as there are atoms in 12 grams of pure carbon-12 (12C), the isotope of carbon with atomic weight 12. This corresponds to a value of 6.02214179(30)×1023 elementary entities of the substance."

And today is 10/23, get it? And National Mole Day really only lasts from 6:02 am to 6:02 pm. Get it, huh, get it?

And every Mole Day has a theme. Last year's theme was "Moles of the Round Table" (you'd think with chemists, the theme might have been "Moles of the Periodic Table," but there are apparently boundaries even chemists won't cross). This year's theme is "Molar Eclipse."

If National Mole Day only has Avogadro's number, not yours, you may wish to consider National TV Talk Show Host Day as an alternative. Determining how this microminiholidayette grew from Johnny Carson's birthday has proved to be beyond the meager skills of our crack research department. You are therefore free to make up any explanation you wish.

Usual Suspect says that today is also the day that the Swallows Depart From Capistrano. We've heard of the day the swallows return to the Mission at San Juan Capistrano, California (March 19 -- St. Joseph's Day -- in case you're planning ahead), but we were unfamiliar with the idea that there was also a specified departure date. So we learned something.

Monday, October 22, 2012

National Nut Day and CAPS LOCK Day

Sometimes these microminiholidayettes just seem to fit together so well.

CAPS LOCK Day was started to make fun of those whose passions so stir them that, when they send an email, or leave a comment on a blog, THEY JUST HAVE TO TYPE IN ALL CAPS. This, you presumably know, is a serious breach of Internet Etiquette (or 'netiquette). Typing in ALL CAPS is the Internet equivalent of shouting.

And then to discover that today is also National Nut Day -- well, the coincidence just seemed too wonderful.

And then came the buzzkill.

Turns out, Nut Day is all about the kind of nuts that grow on trees.

Today is also Knee Day and International Stuttering Awareness Day.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Reptile Awareness Day? Didn't we just celebrate Boss's Day?

No, wait, that comparison is probably unfair... to reptiles, anyway.

Yes, today really is Reptile Awareness Day.

It's also Sunday School Teacher Appreciation Day. Kids, just this one suggestion: Even if you don't much care for your Sunday School teacher, don't try and combine these observances by bringing a reptile to church today, OK?

Today is also National Dabbling Day. Dabble in something today; it may be your obsession tomorrow.

And, finally, today is Garbanzo Bean Day. What are garbonzo beans, you ask? Apparently, according to our crack research staff (which sometimes can figure out how to use Wikipedia), garbonzo beans are the same thing as chickpeas. What are chickpeas you ask? We know they're used in hummus, somehow, but The Blog of Days is not a food blog and our crack research staff was exhausted just giving us the little it did.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Beware: Today is Sweetest Day

The third Saturday in October (that's today, folks) is Sweetest Day, a sort of ooey-gooey, icky-sticky landmine along the lines of Valentines Day. (In other words, fellas, your sweetie will want some acknowledgment from you today -- and you better come across.)

We accused our crack research staff of all sorts of terrible things when they insisted that Usual Suspect Hallmark doesn't even cite Sweetest Day as one of its choices today. Sweetest Day would be the quintessential Hallmark Holiday, we thought. But -- and here is where we have to publicly apologize to our crack research staff -- Hallmark offers two completely different choices for today, World Osteoporosis Day and National Brandied Fruit Day -- and that's it. You could look it up.

Today is also Suspenders Day -- but if you tell your sweetie that's what you're looking to celebrate tonight, that may be what you're hung up by.

Our own top pick for a Sweetest Day alternative comes from Mental Floss: Today is Information Overload Day. The Internet giveth, and it keeps piling it on.

Friday, October 19, 2012

October 19 begins with Evaluate Your Life Day

Almost all the Usual Suspects are in accord. Today is Evaluate Your Life Day. Exactly how you should evaluate it, by what criteria, or what you should do with the insights you gain by means of this evaluation are not specified at all.

Usual Suspect American Greetings, however, suggests that today is Dress Like a Dork Day -- different, presumably, than the celebration earlier this week of Wear Something Gaudy Day -- although the same outfit may do for both occasions, don't you think?

Image obtained from Wikipedia
Today is also the Feast of Sts. Isaac Jogues, Jean de Brébeuf, and the other North American Martyrs. These Jesuits had done years of missionary work among the Huron Indians. But the Hurons were often at war with the Iroquois. In 1642, Jogues was captured by a party of Mohawk Iroquois and tortured. His hands were mutilated by his captors, but they kept him alive as a slave. In 1645, according to Wikipedia, Jogues was freed by sympathetic Dutch merchants and taken back to Manhattan. From there he returned to Europe, seeking -- and obtaining -- special permission from the Pope to celebrate Mass with his mangled hands.

After peace was supposedly worked out between the Hurons and Iroquois, Jogues went back to North America. In 1646, Jogues was sent as an ambassador to the Mohawks -- but when "when the double-calamity of sickness and crop failure hit the Mohawks," Jogues was blamed. On October 18, 1646, Jogues and another Jesuit priest, St. Saint Jean de Lalande, "were tomahawked in the neck (beheaded-not clubbed as some tell the story)."

Not all the North American Martyrs died in the same place or at the same time. St. Jean de Brébeuf was killed in 1649 when he was captured by the Iroquois along with a fellow Jesuit, St. Gabriel Lalemant. Their captors fastened them to stakes and tortured them to death "by scalping, mock-baptism using boiling water, fire, necklaces of red hot hatchets and mutilation. According to Catholic tradition, Brébeuf did not make a single outcry while he was being tortured and he astounded the Iroquois, who later cut out his heart and ate it in hopes of gaining his courage."

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Here's a hot flash for you...

Today is World Menopause Day.

Well, it is.

And it's also National Chocolate Cupcake Day. That's probably enough, all by itself, for most folks.

But if you need something more, today is also No Beard Day. Shave the date.

(Oh, ouch.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

International Day for the Eradication of Povery or Wear Something Gaudy Day

Serious or silly.

Which will it be today?

If you're seriously inclined, today is The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, a United Nations observance since 1993.

For Craig Sager of TBS and TNT
everyday is Wear Something
Gaudy Day
. Lots more images
available at this link.
If you're feeling frivolous, however, you may want to consider Wear Something Gaudy Day.

If you've been watching the baseball playoffs on TBS, you've no doubt noticed Craig Sager, a broadcaster for whom every day is Wear Something Gaudy Day.

If you've got stuff in your closet that can compete with Mr. Sager's wardrobe, Wear Something Gaudy Day is certainly a microminiholidayette for you.

A third alternative today is National Pasta Day.

For the artistically inclined, today is also Black Poetry Day (but be warned: Usual Suspect Holidays for Everyday thinks that Black Poetry Day is observed on the 18th).

Finally, Usual Suspect says that today is also Get to Know Your Customers Day.

This makes us pause: When one is in business, shouldn't every day be Get to Know Your Customers Day?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Today is Boss's Day. Aren't they all?

Sure, your boss has a boss too. But your boss's boss isn't your problem. Your problem is that guy or gal in the corner office who holds your whole future in his or her tight little fists.

Today is the day you're supposed to make nice with your boss, get him or her a card and a coffee mug or maybe a gift certificate to some lunch place where you'll never, ever go... just in case. Does that seem like sucking up? Brown-nosing? Appeasement?

Well, heck yes. Folks gotta do what they gotta do to get by.

But... while The Blog of Days absolutely does not endorse this... some today will try a bolder course: Take the boss out for a couple of pops after work tonight. Get him or her tipsy. Keep the cell phone camera on standby and, well, you never know what you might get. Does this seem like dirty pool? Blackmail? Extortion?

Well, heck yes.

Maybe you should avoid Boss's Day altogether.

Instead, you might consider celebrating Dictionary Day today -- it's Noah Webster's 254th birthday, you see -- or perhaps World Food Day. Instead of trying to entrap your boss in an embarrassing moment, consider doing something positive today to fight world hunger.

Today is also the 219th anniversary of the day on which Marie Antoinette was guillotined -- but that probably has you thinking of Boss's Day again, and not in a helpful way either.

Monday, October 15, 2012

National Grouch Day!

We here at The Blog of Days do not understand why National Grouch Day has the status of a mere microminiholidayette. This one should be much more widely celebrated.

But, then, we're often grouchy.

And one of the many, many things that make us grouchy is disagreement over the proper dates for microminiholidayettes. We talked about this some last week. But here's another case in point: says today is National Cake Decorating Day -- but says it was last Wednesday.

Today is also National Mushroom Day. Insert your own 1960s reference here.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Chocolate-Covered Insects Day? No thanks!

Usual Suspect insists that today is National Chocolate-Covered Insects Day. You're free to celebrate this one entirely on your own -- we will not partake.

Today has also been designated national lower case day. We wondered why. Our crack research staff discovered, sure enough, that today is the anniversary of the birth of American poet e.e. cummings (1894-1962) and has nothing whatsoever to do with the way kids text these days.

October 14 is also Be Bald and Be Free Day. The makers of Rogaine and Propecia would like you to forget that.

And since today is a Sunday, it's appropriate to note that today is Clergy Appreciation Day.

Image obtained from the Audobon Nature Institute site. If you're in New Orleans today, you can click on the preceding link and get information on how you can chow down on your own chocolate covered bugs. Indeed, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Institute invites visitors today "to dip their edible insect in pink chocolate in support of the many families affected by the disease."

We won't see you there.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Happy Birthday U.S. Navy

Today is the 237th anniversary of the founding of the U.S. Navy.

Wikipedia gives George Washington credit for founding the Navy:
In the early stages of the American Revolutionary War, the establishment of an official navy was an issue of debate among the members of the Continental Congress. Supporters argued that a navy would protect shipping, defend the coast, and make it easier to seek out support from foreign countries. Detractors countered that challenging the British Royal Navy, then the world's preeminent naval power, was a foolish undertaking....

Commander in Chief George Washington commissioned seven ocean-going cruisers to interdict British supply ships, and reported the captures to the Congress. This effectively ended the debate in Congress as to whether or not to "provoke" the British by establishing a Navy as Washington's ships had already captured British ships, somewhat a provocation.

While Congress deliberated, it received word that two unarmed British supply ships from England were heading towards Quebec without escort. A plan was drawn up to intercept the ships — however, the armed vessels to be used were owned not by Congress, but by individual colonies. Of greater significance then was an additional plan to equip two ships that would operate under the direct authority of Congress to capture British supply ships. This was not carried out until 13 October 1775, when George Washington announced that he had taken command of three armed schooners under Continental authority to intercept any British supply ships near Massachusetts. With the revelation that vessels were already sailing under Continental control, the decision to add two more was made easier; the resolution was adopted and 13 October would later become known as the U.S. Navy's official birthday. also reports that today is National Chess Day and National Costume Swap Day.

Hallmark says today is also International Skeptics Day, but we're not sure whether to believe that.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Frustration over Teddy Bear days and other moving targets

Columbus Day got moved to Monday. So, what's left for today?

Well, American Greetings says today is Take Your Teddy Bear to Work Day.

But hold on here. Hallmark says Take Your Teddy Bear to Work Day was yesterday, October 11. And says Take Your Teddy Bear to Work Day was really Wednesday, October 10. (And, just for good measure, brownielocks avers that TYTBTWD -- which it says should really be called Take Your Teddy Bear to Work & School Day -- is always on the second Wednesday in October.)

Who would have imagined that teddy bears would be so controversial?

But, wait, there's more: says says TYTBTWD was October 11, just like Hallmark -- only says the day should really be just Take Your Teddy Bear to School Day.

Memo to any high school boys out there: Unless you're a starting lineman on the school football team, do not bring your teddy bear to school on any of these days. Maybe not even then.

And, finally, Holidays for Everyday says that Take Your Teddy Bear to Work Day was Monday, October 8. When should one properly celebrate TYTBTW Day? We may never know. It may be best to commemorate your teddy bear only on Teddy Bear Picnic Day in July.

And who'd have thought that World Egg Day would be so controversial? Both the International Egg Commission and assure us that today is indeed World Egg Day, but says that Egg Day is tomorrow. Holidays for Everyday says World Egg Day was yesterday.

Frankly, we're not too enamored of World Egg Day being this close to Halloween, whatever day it is.

We could cite other examples of disagreement over the proper dates for several microminiholidayettes but, frankly, we'd scream in frustration.

Fortunately for us the Usual Suspects seem to be in accord that today is International Moment of Frustration Scream Day.

Just don't scream at the tavern tonight; the bartender will probably cut you off.

NB: The image with this post is taken from this kids' site, which provides a good account of how the "teddy bear" was so named.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

If someone tells you that something happened on this day in Italy in 1582, don't you believe them

Italy, Spain, Portugal and Poland all adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1582 -- eliminating all the days from October 5 and October 14 from the calendars in those countries.

The Gregorian calendar is so called because it was promulgated during the papacy of Gregory XIII. Wikipedia tells us that, since classical times, an 11 minute per year discrepancy between the true solar year and the old Julian calendar had resulted, by 1582, in the Spring equinox occurring on March 11 not on March 21. Given that the import of the celebration of Easter in Catholicism -- and given that Easter is supposed to fall on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox -- this had become an embarrassment.

Because the Pope was involved, Protestant Europe was slow to adopt the new calendar -- Great Britain and its possessions did not adopt the Gregorian calendar until 1752, during George Washington's lifetime. By that time, the gap was 11 days. (Yes, according to the calendar on the wall of his mother's house, little George would have been born on February 11, 1732, not February 22.)

Russia did not adopt the Gregorian calendar until after the Bolshevik Revolution. So when America acquired Alaska from Russia in 1867 (Seward's Folly, remember?) Friday, October 6, 1867 was followed again by Friday, October 18 (there were consecutive Fridays because the International Date Line was also shifted at this time, from Alaska's eastern border to its western one). Scientists are still attempting to calculate the role this confusion played in the development of Sarah Palin.

Today is also National Sausage Pizza Day. But it wasn't celebrated, even in Italy, on this day in 1582.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Europe saved from Muslim conquest, 1,280 years ago today

Charles Martel is also credited as a
protector and patron of St. Boniface,
the "apostle to the Germans."
Today is the 1,280th anniversary of the Battle of Tours, the epic battle that turned the tide of Muslim conquest in Europe.

Imagine the world 1,300 years ago: United by their new religion, Islam, Arabs set out to conquer the world. In short order, the Holy Land, the birthplace of Christianity, fell before them, as did Egypt and the Fertile Crescent. Christian North Africa -- home of St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, for example -- was swallowed whole, and the Arabs were not yet done. Throwing their armies across the Straits of Gibraltar, the Umayyads conquered most of the Iberian Peninsula and marched into the Pyrenees.

The Christian world was not then what it would become. Basically, Christianity had not traveled much beyond the historic boundaries of the Roman Empire -- meaning most of Germany, all of Scandinavia and Russia, and all of Eastern Europe north of the Balkans, were, in 732, for the most part, still cheerfully pagan.

In other words, the Arab-Muslim armies had already conquered the biggest and richest parts of the Christian world.

Without Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours, would all of Christendom have fallen?

There are some historians who claim that the Battle of Tours was merely a raid on a wealthy monastery, but they are in the minority. And the fact is that Charles Martel's grandson would be Charleamagne, the first Holy Roman Emperor.

But, you may be saying, world-changing battles are not the sort of thing to celebrate in the tavern after work. Is there a fallback plan for today?

Well, yes.

Today is Emergency Nurses Day, the highpoint of Emergency Nurses Week. (Yes, we celebrated nurses in general back in May, but this celebration focuses specifically on nurses who work in the nation's emergency rooms.)

Your next encounter with an ER nurse may not be world-changing, like the Battle of Tours, but it may save your life.

Today is also World Mental Health Day, a United Nations World Health Organization observance that "promotes open discussion of mental disorders, and investments in prevention, promotion and treatment services. This year the theme for the day is 'Depression: A Global Crisis'."

(We agree. But we thought most people were still referring to the global crisis as merely a Recession.)

You can also celebrate National Cake Decorating Day or National Angel Food Cake Day today, but why do you need to with all this other stuff to think about?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

This year, Columbus got here first

Pursuant to 36 U.S.C. §114, today is Leif Erikson Day. Scandinavian lobbyists successfully lobbied Congress in 1964 to pass legislation allowing the President to declare every October 9 as Leif Erikson Day -- making sure, you see, that Erikson's achievement in reaching the New World (around 1001) was celebrated before that late-coming Italian, Columbus.

But the drafters of the legislation failed to anticipate the later adoption of Monday holidays in the United States -- and, therefore, sometimes, Columbus Day gets here before Leif Erikson Day. As in this year, when Columbus got here first.

Actually, according to our crack research staff, the real reason why October 9 was selected to commemorate Leif Erikson was that it was on October 9, 1825 that 52 Norwegian immigrants (who'd set sail from Stavanger, Norway three months earlier) first arrived on American shores. It was the first organized Norwegian emigration to America.

Our crack research staff also claims to be confused by the continuing controversy between Italian-Americans and Scandinavian-Americans over which of their heroes got to the New World first. After all, they tell us, it was St. Brendan that got here first, back in the 500s. Of course, our crack research staff are all of Irish descent.

Of course, if you'd rather avoid all this ethnic controversy, you can instead celebrate Moldy Cheese Day today, or National Sneakers Day.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Great Peshtigo Fire?

Detail of Currier & Ives Lithograph.
Obtained from the Chicago Historical Society.
It's Fire Prevention Week this week and it is so designated because today marks the anniversary of the start of the Great Chicago Fire. You know, the one that (probably wasn't) started by Mrs. O'Leary's cow? (Or was the real culprit Peg Leg Sullivan, him who lived across DeKoven Street from the O'Learys?)

At least 300 people died in the Chicago Fire, and another 100,000 were left homeless. Estimates of property damage were in the vicinity of $200 million -- and that was when $200 million was really worth something.

But there was a far deadlier fire that also started on October 8, 1871.

About 250 miles north of Chicago, straight up U.S. 41, lies the little town of Peshtigo, Wisconsin.

The fire that started there on October 8, 1871 killed some 1,200 to 2,500 people.

The picture at right, obtained from this very informative site, is of a mass grave containing the remains of some 350 unclaimed bodies. Whole families were wiped out in the Peshtigo tragedy.

A nearby converted church houses the Peshtigo Fire Museum.

This map, obtained from the Wikipedia entry on the Peshtigo Fire, shows the enormous area involved in the fire.

You can see from the map that the fire was on both sides of Green Bay. The fire was so strong and intense it actually jumped across the bay.

One area that was not involved in the fire, though it was in the path of the flames, was the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, in New Franken, Wisconsin.

Many believe that the Virgin Mary appeared at this site on October 9, 1859 to a Adele Brise, a young Belgian woman. A church and school were built there because the Virgin told Brise to teach religion to religion to children. According to the website of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay:
When the Peshtigo Fire spread across Green Bay on Oct. 8, 1871, area residents walked around the chapel grounds all night praying the rosary and carrying a statue of Mary. Everything outside that five-acre area was burned.

Every year on Oct. 8 people reenact the procession at the Shrine.
And there were also huge, deadly fires in Michigan that also started on this day in 1871.

So if you're looking for something to commemorate today besides Columbus Day, there's a lot to remember.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

World Communion Sunday and You Matter to Me Day

A number of Protestant churches consider today World Communion Sunday, an ecumenical day on which Christians can think more about the things that we share and less about the ways we differ.

Usual Suspect also suggests that today is You Matter to Me Day. Tell people that matter to you that, well, they matter to you.

Sounds reasonable.

And it certainly sounds more important than Bathtub Day, a microminiholidayette promoted by several of the Usual Suspects today. Bathtub Day is presumably different from Hot Tub Day. Our crack research staff, however, insists they are looking carefully into that question.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Mad Hatter Day? National Noodle Day? Another Lawyers Day?

Many of the Usual Suspects proclaim today Mad Hatter Day.

Usual Suspect Punchbowl offers this explanation as to why:
The Mad Hatter is a famous character in Lewis Caroll’s book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

In 1986, a group of computer technicians in Boulder, Colorado celebrated the first Mad Hatter Day. They designated the holiday as a day of silliness and year after year it has grown in popularity. Mad Hatter Day is celebrated each year on October 6 because the Mad Hatter wears a top hat labeled "In this style 10/6" in the book’s illustrations.
The illustration at right is from the 1951 Disney version of Alice in Wonderland. This hat clearly does say "10/6." But we suspect that this was supposed to be a price in shillings and pence, not a calendar reference.

Someone on our crack research staff claimed to have a copy of the original Wonderland books at home and promised, further, to research the claim about the legend on the Hatter's hat. But, of course, this person failed to deliver.

In this illustration, from Wikipedia, we can't quite make out what's written on the Mad Hatter's Hat.

Still, if you are inclined to celebrate Mad Hatter's Day, you probably don't worry about this sort of detail anyway.

Today is also National Noodle Day -- referring to the noodles in chicken noodle soup, or to pasta, or to ramen noodles, as opposed to 'noodle' as in using one's noodle.

Usual Suspect Holidays for Everyday says today is Lawyers Day, something different from Be Nice to Lawyers Day that so many of us look forward to in April, or August 31's Love Litigating Lawyers Day. Our crack research staff was unable to find a whole lot of corroboration for any observance of Lawyers Day today, although there is at least the possibility that this coming Monday might be Lovable Lawyers Day.

At The Blog of Days, we think that any lawyer who thinks that all of these 'days' are enhancing the reputation of the legal profession are probably as mad as a hatter. So there's a tie-in that way....

Friday, October 5, 2012

World Teachers Day

We hope you've been making plans for this. You've had plenty of notice. We gave you early warning way back in May, right after we launched this venture.

World Teachers Day is promoted by UNESCO.

Unless you matriculated from the proverbial one-room schoolhouse, by the time you finish your high school years you've had probably dozens of teachers -- some good, some not-so-good. But we remember the good ones, don't we?

Well, remember them today.

Maybe even say thanks.

The would be something nice to do, wouldn't it? And, since today is also Do Something Nice Day, it is particularly appropriate.

By the way, our crack research staff is pretty certain that, just because today is Do Something Nice Day, you don't have license to be mean and rotten all the rest of the days of the year.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

But do you realize why today is World Animal Day?

OK, you may not have even realized that today is World Animal Day, but it is.

It is also World Stray Animals Day, and for the same reason: Today is the Feast of St. Francis Assisi. Although never ordained a priest, St. Francis founded a great religious order. Though born into wealth, he voluntarily adopted a life of extreme poverty, preaching in the streets and begging for his meals. He must have been a heck of a preacher to attract so many to his decidedly unattractive way of living.

In addition, St. Francis was something of a real-life Dr. Doolittle of the Late Middle Ages. Whether he could really 'talk to the animals' is hard to tell at this distance, 786 years after his death, but there are many legends of his preaching to beasts and birds alike, with the animals snuggling up to him and the birds alighting on his hands.

Not coincidentally, St. Francis is also credited with introducing the custom of the creche at Christmastime -- the manger scenes that are prominent decorations in so many homes.

Francis is the patron saint of animals (many denominations will hold pet blessings or other animal blessings around this time of year) and of the environment.

Feel free, of course, to celebrate World Animal Day without so much as another thought about the Italian beggar who inspired it. But at least, now, you know where it came from.

Everybody thinks they know where vodka comes from, namely, Russia -- but Wikipedia reports that vodka may have been first distilled in Poland, not Russia. Either way, today is also National Vodka Day.

And something that most definitely came from Russia was launched on this date 55 years ago today. Today is also Sputnik Day, when Russia launched the first orbital satellite and, with it, the Space Age.

And, finally, yes, today is also CB Day. Pull out your copy of C.W. McCall's Convoy and celebrate. That's a big 10-4; we gone, bye-bye.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Today is German Unity Day. So far, it's worked out.

It's a holiday in Germany today, German Unity Day, commemorating the reunification of East and West Germany in 1990.

We remember David Letterman's bit about the three phases of German unification:
  1. Political unification;
  2. Economic unification;
  3. France surrenders.
As yet, however, the French are still with us.

Which is particularly fortunate inasmuch as today is the feast day of a French-American saint, Saint Mother Theodore Guérin, who came to Indiana from Brittany in 1840 with five other Sisters of Providence to found Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. The mother-house of the order remains in St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, where the sisters also operate St. Mary-of-the-Woods College.

The sisters expanded out of Indiana to operate grammar schools and high schools in Indiana, Illinois and several other American states.

What is it about French religious orders founding colleges in Indiana? In 1842, Fr. Edward Sorin, CSC, founded the University of Notre Dame du Lac. You may not have heard of the Pomeroys of St. Mary-of-the-Woods College. But you almost certainly have heard of the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

Today may also be Techies Day and Virus Appreciation Day. Our crack research staff believes these are related observances: You'll never appreciate your techie more than when he or she clears your computer of a virus.

Techies Day may be a little more inclusive than July's Take Your Webmaster to Lunch Day. But if not all techies are webmasters, all webmasters are techies, right?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Coincidence? We think not: Today is World Farm Animals Day

Maybe we here at The Blog of Days are getting a bit conspiracy-minded.

But all the Usual Suspects said yesterday was World Vegetarian Day and now they say today is World Farm Animals Day.

Why shouldn't the farm animals celebrate? Yesterday the world was urged to turn vegan.

And, indeed, Farm Animals Day is sponsored by an organization called FARM (the Farm Animals Rights Movement) a group whose self-proclaimed "mission is to end the use of animals for food." So we are being urged to turn vegan again.

Which is all well and good until the bean sprouts organize their own lobbying groups.

M.K. Gandhi.  Image obtained from Wikipedia.
In India, today is Gandhi Jayanti, commemorating the birth of Mahatma Gandhi on this day in 1869.

Gandhi's principles of non-violence are certainly worth celebrating, something recognized even by the United Nations, which (in Gandhi's honor) declares today to be the International Day of Non-Violence.

And it all ties together: Mr. Gandhi was a dedicated vegetarian.

But is there anything for a carnivore or omnivore to sink their teeth into today?

Well, today is also Name Your Car Day. Some people do, you know. And, on this day, at least, we can pretend they're not crazy.

Today can also be considered Charlie Brown's Birthday: The Peanuts comic strip first appeared on this date in 1950. Good grief!

And today is certainly the birthday of Groucho Marx, born on this day in 1890. You bet your life, that's true.

Monday, October 1, 2012

October 1 is World Vegetarian Day

The Blog of Days does not want to get political, and we certainly don't wish to appear conspiracy-minded, but World Vegetarian Day? This sounds like a plot hatched by the critters in Orwell's Animal Farm. (And they taught us in school that Animal Farm was only an allegorical novella.)

Nevertheless, all of the Usual Suspects are lined up on this one. And a press release posted on outlines the Vegan Manifesto:
Researchers at Harvard University say red meat can increase your risk of premature death. Eating one serving a day of unprocessed red meat (about the size of a deck of cards) was associated with a 13% increased risk in premature death; eating one serving a day of processed red meat (one hot dog or two slices of bacon) was associated with a 20% increased risk of premature death.

Cases of diabetes have reached epidemic levels, with nearly 350 million adults battling the disease worldwide. A study by he Harvard School of Public Health showed a strong connection between eating red meat and an increased risk in developing type 2 diabetes. A daily 100- gram serving (the size of a deck of cards) of unprocessed – red meat increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 19 percent. This effect is more pronounced when the meat is processed. A 50-gram serving (one hot dog or two bacon slices, for example) increased risk by 51 percent.

A reduced consumption of animal products is necessary to save the world from the worst impacts of climate change, a UN report says. They also said that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change.
And, if you find these arguments persuasive, you can take the Vegetarian Pledge and, maybe, win some cash. Yes, that link will tell you how. (World Vegetarian Day is promoted by the North American Vegetarian Society.)

Today is also Model T Day, commemorating Henry Ford's introduction of the Model T on this date in 1908.

And, since we mentioned that yesterday was the 85th anniversary of the date on which Babe Ruth hit his record 60th home run, we feel compelled to mention that, on this day in 1961, Roger Maris hit his 61st homer. Perhaps in memory of then-Commissioner Ford Frick, we can call today Asterisk Day.