Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pig Day and a suggestion for peanut butter lovers

The Usual Suspects highlight National Pig Day and National Peanut Butter Lovers Day as choices for Friday, March 1.

You know a microminiholidayette is on the brink of the big time when it has its own Wikipedia page, as National Pig Day does. According to Wikipedia, Pig Day "was started in 1972 by sisters Ellen Stanley, a teacher in Lubbock, Texas, and Mary Lynne Rave of Beaufort, North Carolina. According to Rave the purpose of National Pig Day is 'to accord the pig its rightful, though generally unrecognized, place as one of man's most intellectual and domesticated animals.'"

If pigs are so smart, perhaps some porker can explain why some people have designated Friday as National Peanut Butter Lovers Day. Didn't we just celebrate National Peanut Butter Day?

(That, by the way, is an example of a 'rhetorical question.' Regular BOD readers know well that we observed National Peanut Butter Day on January 24.)

Usual Suspect claims "the average child will eat 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before he or she graduates high school." This is a fascinating statistic, if true, but it does not explain the need for two peanut butter-themed microminiholidayettes in such close proximity. And... early warning here... National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day looms on the horizon (April 2). Wouldn't it be best if we could roll these competing days into one single, sticks-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth celebration?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

February ends with multiple choices

Thursday, February 28 is marked, in some circles, as Rare Disease Day. Our crack research staff assures us that this is not a joke; rather, it is an opportunity for the less well-known diseases to have their moment in the sun -- and make their claims for scarce research dollars. (Here is the link to the Rare Disease USA website.)

Tooth Fairy image obtained at this site.

But Thursday is also National Tooth Fairy Day. We're not sure why. Our research staff could find no evidence of any additional bounty paid to little kids who lose a tooth in time for this allegedly big day.

Thursday is also National Public Sleeping Day. Presumably if you're caught snoring during your boss's Powerpoint presentation Thursday, it will avail you not to claim that you were just celebrating this microminiholidayette -- but you're free to try.

At your own risk.

Several Arab states (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain, UAE, and Oman) will celebrate Teachers' Day on Thursday (Teachers' Day is celebrated in America in May; the UN observance is October 5).

There are an abundance of food microminiholidayettes on Thursday as well. By themselves, National Chili Day, National Chocolate Souffle Day, or National Pancake Day might be swell ideas -- but in combination?

And, no, Friday will not be National Bromo Day.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

February 27: Polar Bear Day or Kahlua Day? We think it's a No-Brainer

Photo obtained at this site.
Many of the Usual Suspects tout Wednesday as Polar Bear Day, which is probably seasonably appropriate. Wikipedia says polar bears cubs are typically born between November and February. We are inclined to limit our interactions with giant carnivores, however. We are happy to leave the Arctic to the wild polar bears; if we really need to, we can visit some of their cousins in the local zoo.

Besides, many of the Usual Suspects also advise that Wednesday will be National Kahlua Day. Here is a worthy celebration. Have a Black Russian, or a White Russian for that matter, tonight at your local tavern. Drink a toast to the polar bears if you please.

An easy choice, no? And how appropriate, then, that Wednesday will also be No Brainer Day.

Monday, February 25, 2013

February 26 is Tell a Fairy Tale Day

Once upon a time, we here at The Blog of Days might have balked at a vague microminiholidayette like Tell a Fairy Tale Day. Not that we object to fables or fantasy; we like dragon-slaying as much as the next knight. But why choose February 26 for this observance? What is so special about Tuesday that it should be so honored?

But we have learned to stop asking questions like this because they only give us headaches. So, tonight, at your local, start spinning tall tales. Make yourself the hero or the damsel in distress as you see fit. Claim a cave or a castle for your home. It's your story. Make it a good one.

Tuesday will also be Levi Strauss Day (Levi Strauss was born in Button-fly, er, Buttenheim, Germany on February 26, 1829), National Pistachio Day, or National Personal Chef's Day. Do so many people have personal chefs that a day should be set aside to honor these culinary whiz-kids?

Marching into Spring?

If March comes in like a lion it's supposed to go out like a lamb -- but if it comes in like a lamb, it's supposed to go out like a lion.

Confused? March is. March used to the be first month of the year, and for good reason: In the Northern Hemisphere March is the month when the icy grip of Winter is broken, at least occasionally, and for short periods, and the first tentative sprigs of green poke carefully out of the cold, dead ground. But there's no straight-line progression: A snowstorm may follow close on the heels of a 70-degree day. That's confusion.

March is the time for new life and renewal -- perfect symbolism for Lent and Easter -- and, this year, for Western Christians, Easter will arrive in March, on the 31st.

In March we wear green for St. Patrick on the 17th, and red for St. Joseph on the 19th.

We're still wary of the Ides of March, March 15, that fateful day in 44 B.C. when Julius Caesar finally grasped the point that some of his fellow friends, Romans and countrymen weren't entirely thrilled with his one-man rule. It's a wonder that the IRS doesn't make personal income taxes due and payable on March 15 instead of the 15th of April -- but corporate tax returns are due on the Ides of March.

Not surprisingly, March will be Irish-American Heritage Month.

But March is also Expanding Girls Horizons in Science and Engineering Month and International Science Month, National Middle School Month, Honor Society Awareness Month, and Music In Our Schools Month.

March is Cabin Fever Month, but Spring Training and the World Baseball Classic are underway in March, promising eventual relief, and relief pitching, to even those of us in northern climes.

And March is Red Cross Month and Women's History Month.

March is also National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Colonoscopies are invasive and uncomfortable, the preparation is difficult and not a little disgusting, and getting one when you're supposed to just might save your life. So deal with it. In March perhaps.

And, finally, in March we celebrate Humorists are Artists Month. We hope you will, too.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Monday, February 25: Another disappointment?

You know, kids, not every day on the calendar can be a big red letter day. And Monday, February 25 sure won't be.

Options for Monday include National Chili Day, National Chocolate Covered Nuts Day, and National Clam Chowder Day. Whoopee... not.

But, ever eager to help, we here at The Blog of Days are pleased to point out that Monday will be the centennial of the birth of Jim Backus (born February 25, 1913 in Cleveland, Ohio). Backus may be better known as Thurston Howell III to you Gilligan's Island fans, but we think he is most famously remembered as the voice of Mr. Magoo. (Oh, Blog of Days, you've done it again.)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

February 24: National Tortilla Chip Day? Really?

Some days are more crowded than others; Sunday, February 24 is not one of these.

Many of the Usual Suspects mention the Oscar telecast on Sunday night. Actually, we have read that many people actually do plan parties around the Oscar presentation. We just can't imagine why.

But, judging by the Usual Suspects, there isn't a lot to choose from on Sunday. Those that mention something other the Oscars tout National Tortilla Chip Day.

If you've forgotten about that one, it's probably already too late to send out Tortilla Chip Day cards -- but perhaps you could call dear friends and relatives to mark the occasion. Just don't be surprised if your dear friends and relatives start making plans for your involuntary commitment.

Here at The Blog of Days, we are all about giving you options, so permit us to offer these alternatives:

First, February 24 will be the Second Sunday of Lent.

February 24 is also the anniversary of the single most important legal decision in the history of the United States. On February 24, 1803, Chief Justice John Marshall handed down the Supreme Court's opinion in Marbury v. Madison. In Marbury, the Supreme Court declared that it has the power to determine whether a statute is, or is not, constitutional. The Constitution did not give the power of judicial review to the Supreme Court; rather, the Supreme Court invented it in this case. Every single constitutional challenge that has arisen, then, in the last 210 years proceeds from Marbury/

And we were initially quite surprised that none of our Usual Suspects tout February 24 as Calendar Day. It was on February 24, 1582 that Pope Gregory XIII promulgated what we still call (and use as) the Gregorian Calendar. You'd think calendar sites would be all over this one.

The Pope's introduction of the new calendar on February 24 may have been deliberate: February 24 was apparently the leap day under the old Julian calendar. At least, that's what we sorta, kinda understood after reading this passage in the Wikipedia entry on the Julian calendar (footnotes omitted):
The new leap day was dated as ante diem bis sextum Kalendas Martias, usually abbreviated as a.d. bis VI Kal. Mart.; hence it is called in English the bissextile day. The year in which it occurred was termed annus bissextus, in English the bissextile year.

There is debate about the exact position of the bissextile day in the early Julian calendar. The earliest direct evidence is a statement of the 2nd century jurist Celsus, who states that there were two halves of a 48-hour day, and that the intercalated day was the "posterior" half. An inscription from AD 168 states that a.d. V Kal. Mart. was the day after the bissextile day. The 19th century chronologist Ideler argued that Celsus used the term "posterior" in a technical fashion to refer to the earlier of the two days, which requires the inscription to refer to the whole 48-hour day as the bissextile. Some later historians share this view. Others, following Mommsen, take the view that Celsus was using the ordinary Latin (and English) meaning of "posterior". A third view is that neither half of the 48-hour "bis sextum" was originally formally designated as intercalated, but that the need to do so arose as the concept of a 48-hour day became obsolete.

There is no doubt that the bissextile day eventually became the earlier of the two days for most purposes. In 238 Censorinus stated that it was inserted after the Terminalia (23 February) and was followed by the last five days of February, i.e. a.d. VI, V, IV, III and prid. Kal. Mart. (which would be the 24th to 28th days of February in a common year and the 25th to the 29th days in a leap year). Hence he regarded the bissextum as the first half of the doubled day. All later writers, including Macrobius about 430, Bede in 725, and other medieval computists (calculators of Easter) followed this rule, as did the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church until 1970. However, Celsus' definition continued to be used for legal purposes. It was incorporated into Justinian's Digest, and in the English statute De anno et die bissextili of 1236, which was not formally repealed until 1879.

The effect of the bissextile day on the nundinal cycle is not discussed in the sources. According to Dio Cassius, a leap day was inserted in 41 BC to ensure that the first market day of 40 BC did not fall on 1 January, which implies that the old 8-day cycle was not immediately affected by the Julian reform. However, he also reports that in AD 44, and on some previous occasions, the market day was changed to avoid a conflict with a religious festival. This may indicate that a single nundinal letter was assigned to both halves of the 48-hour bissextile day by this time, so that the Regifugium and the market day might fall on the same date but on different days. In any case, the 8-day nundinal cycle began to be displaced by the 7-day week in the first century AD, and dominical letters began to appear alongside nundinal letters in the fasti.

During the late Middle Ages days in the month came to be numbered in consecutive day order. Consequently, the leap day was considered to be the last day in February in leap years, i.e. 29 February, which is its current position.
Of course, the complexity of the explanation is perhaps sufficient in itself to explain the reason why the Usual Suspects don't mention February 24 as Calendar Day.

Friday, February 22, 2013

A couple of athletic observances -- and Purim

Most of the Northern Hemisphere is still in winter's icy grip. We can't fathom, therefore, why so many of the Usual Suspects proclaim Saturday, February 23 as Play Tennis Day. Really? Tennis? Outside?

No, February 23 strikes us more as more a day to celebrate winter sports, and so we weren't terribly surprised to learn that Saturday is also Curling is Cool Day. The image selected for this post is taken from the website of the Chicago Curling Club -- and demonstrates that, even though the sport of curling is played on ice, some people are smart enough to bring the game indoors.

Perhaps some of you have access to full-size indoor tennis courts as well. But there can't be that many of you -- and if you should happen to be one of the Grey Pouponers reading this post, please feel free to shower us with large gifts of spare cash.

The Jewish holiday of Purim begins Saturday night at sundown. Wikipedia tells us that Purim "commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people in the ancient Persian Empire from destruction in the wake of a plot by Haman, a story recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther." Purim may not be the most important Jewish holiday, but it may be just about the happiest. Happy Purim to all those who observe it.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

We can not tell a lie: Friday is Washington's Birthday

Presumably -- hopefully -- you already knew that Friday, February 22 is George Washington's Birthday.

You might choose to celebrate the Father of Our Country tomorrow evening with a margarita. No, the connection is not obvious to us either, but tomorrow is also, for some reason, National Margarita Day.

Several of the Usual Suspects also note that Friday is World Thinking Day, a Girl Scout observance which asks girls to take "time to give thanks for their international friendships and remember that Girl Scouts of the USA is part of a global community." Usual Suspect was kind enough to supply a link to the Girl Scout website, from which this quote and graphic were taken.

Usual Suspect is the only one to suggest Inconcenience Yourself Day as an alternative for Friday. We don't know why being inconvenienced would be an occasion for celebration, nor do we understand why one would voluntarily make one's self inconvenienced -- but we here at The Blog of Days like to try and provide a variety of excuses whenever possible. But, seriously: Why would anyone want to be inconvenienced? Doesn't it happen often enough without courting such an occasion?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Introduce A Girl To Engineering Day

Not all of the Usual Suspects mention it, but Thursday, February 21 will be Introduce A Girl To Engineering Day.

Image obtained from Whiting School of Engineering
of John Hopkins University.
We need more engineers in the United States, period. Too many of 'our' American engineering graduates are taking their talents back home to India or China, where new engineers are also being produced in carload lots. If America is to compete in a global economy, we need all the engineers we can develop -- and, historically, in encouraging careers in engineering, we've ignored half our population. This must stop.

How can you help?

If you have daughters or granddaughters, obviously, encourage them to think about careers in engineering. But 'encouragement' is not enough.

Engineering is a practical discipline, and there are practical steps that parents can take to help make their child ready for a possible engineering career: First, every child should finish the first year course in algebra before graduating from grammar school. Completion of Algebra I in 8th grade puts a child on the road to possibly take introductory calculus before finishing high school. It is the small pool of kids who arrive on campus with AP Calculus credit from whom the majority of tomorrow's engineers will come. We've got to make that pool bigger -- and more co-ed. If your junior high does not demand Algebra I from at least your school's best and brightest, you should demand that your school raise its expectations.

Thursday will also be National Sticky Bun Day and International Mother Language Day. We don't know how to work sticky buns into the equation -- although we're more than willing -- but we can see where it would be good to combine a facility for multiple languages and a talent for engineering.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

If Wednesday is Love Your Pet Day, does that mean you can kick your dog the rest of the year?

Seriously, if you only love your pet on Love Your Pet Day, celebrated each year on February 20, should you even be allowed to have a pet?

Wednesday will also be National Cherry Pie Day, which may or may not be something to get you ready for Washington's Birthday on February 22. (Just a hint, folks: Parson Weems's fable notwithstanding, little George didn't really chop down his father's cherry tree when he was six years old.)

Edward "Butch" O'Hare
On February 20, 1942, Navy Lieutenant Edward "Butch" O'Hare became America's first World War II flying ace, credited with shooting down five Japanese bombers, and earning the Medal of Honor for his defense of the carrier Lexington.

Butch would not survive the war, being killed in action in 1943 near the Gilbert Islands, but his name lives on in aviation: Chicago's O'Hare International Airport is named in his honor.

In Chicago, everything is complicated. Butch O'Hare was the son of attorney Edward J. O'Hare -- who was at one time a mouthpiece for Al Capone but who later helped the Feds put Capone in jail. O'Hare Sr. got whacked for it, too, on November 8, 1939, gunned down in a volley of "big-game slugs" by two "shotgun-wielding henchmen" in a dark sedan as O'Hare's car "approached the intersection of Ogden and Rockwell." The murder of O'Hare Sr., like so many Chicago 'gangland style' killings, was officially never solved, but Chicago Ald. Edward M. Burke wrote a book arguing that Capone ordered the hit and, in 2010, asked the Chicago Police Department to reopen the investigation. Our research staff tells us that, officially, the case remains unsolved.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Tuesday is Chocolate Mint Day

The Usual Suspects are unusually unanimous in proclaiming Tuesday, February 19 as Chocolate Mint Day. Inasmuch as the Girl Scouts are in the process of distributing millions of boxes of Thin Mints even as you read this, perhaps the selection of February 19 for this microminiholidayette is not entirely random.

Or, more likely, it's just a happy coincidence.

Image obtained from this site.
On February 19, 1878, Thomas A. Edison patented the phonograph.

You didn't necessarily need a phonograph to hear Smokey Robinson's records. These were in heavy rotation on all the best radio stations back in the 1960s and early 70s. Smokey was born on February 19, 1940.

But, depending on where you lived, you might have needed Mr. Edison's invention if you wanted to listen to Lou Christie's "Rhapsody in the Rain," or at least the original version thereof, back in 1966. Lou Christie was born on February 19, 1943.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Monday, February 18 is President's Day -- but it's also...

Monday is President's Day this year, but February 18 is Battery Day every year, for reasons we can't begin to fathom. Our crack research staff was, as usual, of no use in ascertaining why this might be so. Instead, the research staff noted that Monday is also Drink Wine Day -- and they volunteered to research that. We turned them down.

Monday is also Pluto Day because astronomer Clyde W. Tombaugh discovered Pluto on February 18, 1930.

Poor Pluto. From the time of its discovery until August 24, 2006, Pluto was recognized as the ninth planet in our Solar System -- but, on that dark day, the International Astronomical Union officially adopted a definition of planet the demoted Pluto from "planet" to "dwarf planet." Appeals are still pending.

Photo of Elm Farm Ollie, the flying cow, obtained here.
Also on February 18, 1930, Elm Farm Ollie, alias "Nellie Jay" and "Sky Queen," became the first cow to fly -- and be milked -- in a fixed wing aircraft. The stunt was staged to promote an air show in St. Louis; the milk obtained in flight was put into commemorative paper cartons and dropped, by parachute, to spectators below. A glass was supposedly served to Charles Lindbergh as well. For this reason, Usual Suspect calls Monday Cow Milked While Flying In An Airplane Day.

How literal.

According to Wikipedia, on February 18, 1979, in the Sahara Desert in southern Algeria, snow fell for the first and only time in recorded history. Two great American actors from the Golden Age of Hollywood were born on February 18, 1890 -- Edward Arnold and Adolphe Menjou. No American President was actually born on February 18, but 1940 Republican nominee Wendell Wilkie was born on February 18, 1892.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Random Acts of Kindness or My Way?

The two top competitors for Sunday, February 17 are Random Acts of Kindness Day and My Way Day. These may seem contradictory in a way -- doing acts of kindness for others is selfless, doing things your own way might be seen as selfish. But it ain't necessarily so: Your way could be to perform random acts of kindness for friends or strangers. It's probably easier than being nice to grouches anyway.

Alexander Hamilton's unlikely support of Thomas Jefferson helped break the stalemate in the House of Representatives on February 17, 1801, finally ending the presidential election of 1800. With Hamilton's quiet support of Jefferson as the lesser of two evils, Hamilton was set on a collision course with Aaron Burr, the man who became Jefferson's Vice President. Their paths would cross for the final time on the Heights of Weehawken on July 11, 1804.

In addition to being the First Sunday of Lent, Sunday is also World Human Spirit Day. (We've got spirit, yes we do. We've got spirit, how about you?)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Saturday, February 16: Do a Grouch a Favor Day

It's not necessarily easy to do a grouch a favor. One is not always highly motivated to be nice to grouches, and grouches are not always receptive even to acts of kindness. Nevertheless, most of the Usual Suspects agree that Saturday, February 16 is Do a Grouch a Favor Day.

Proceed at your own risk.

Usual Suspect is among those who offers Innovation Day as an alternative microminiholidayette for Saturday. We didn't know innovation could be scheduled, but someone thinks so.

Saturday is also the 110th anniversary of the birth of legendary ventriloquist Edgar Bergen (born in Chicago on February 16, 1903). Radio was the perfect medium for Bergen: You couldn't see his lips move when Charlie McCarthy or Mortimer Snerd talked. But, whatever his technical shortcomings as a ventriloquist, Bergen's characters, especially Charlie McCarthy, became real enough to millions of Americans. If Bergen's lips moved, who cared? He made Charlie talk, and we loved to listen.

Charlie McCarthy, Marilyn Monroe and Edgar Bergen. Photo obtained here.

And, since you are reading this online, you probably ought to know that Saturday is a red-letter day in the development of the technology we so take for granted today. On February 16, 1978, 35 years ago, in Chicago, Illinois, the very first computer bulletin board service, CBBS, was established. Originally "a computerized answering machine and message center, which would allow members to call in with their then-new modems and leave announcements for upcoming meetings," computer bulletin boards developed into all the team productivity tools and time wasting blogs we enjoy today.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

February15: Remember the Maine

Happy birthday, Galileo.
The USS Maine blew up in Havana Harbor on February 15, 1898. Why exactly this happened, or even whether the explosion was an accident or a deliberate act of sabotage, is still uncertain -- but it didn't stop the American press, especially, the Hearst newspapers from demanding that America declare war on Spain because of the disaster. War did follow, and Teddy Roosevelt rode up San Juan Hill and into national office. Many of the Usual Suspects proclaim Friday Remember the Maine Day as a result.

Friday will also be Singles Awareness Day, originally a day for those who were shut out on Valentine's Day to meet and mingle and perhaps pair up for next Valentine's Day. If you disregard our advice in yesterday's post and celebrate Jack Benny's Birthday today, you may be painfully aware tomorrow that you are now single. Don't say we didn't warn you.

Friday is also National Gumdrop Day and the birthday of Galileo Galilei (born on February 15, 1564).

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Yes, but besides Valentine's Day, what is Thursday?

You may be feeling like an unworthy sinner today on Ash Wednesday, but you'll really be penitent tomorrow if you forget St. Valentine's Day -- which is strange, really, because, according to Wikipedia, the Catholic Church more or less has forgotten the St. Valentine whose feast day was February 14 (there are, the article tells us, "about 11 other" St. Valentines in the calendar of the Roman Church, but none with a feast day on February 14). The possibly apocryphal St. Valentine, the one who may have been martyred on February 14, A.D. 269, is still approved by the Catholic Church for "local veneration" -- a definite downgrade -- but he remains firmly established in the calendars of the Anglican and Lutheran churches on February 14.

Legal Disclaimer: The Blog of Days is unconditionally not responsible for any bodily injury or property damage that may (and probably would) result if you tell your sweetie that you don't have to buy flowers or candy today because there's doubt over whether St. Valentine ever existed.

We also wouldn't advise trying to weasel out of getting a present for your valentine tomorrow because you just hate to spend money on the birthday of America's favorite miser, Jack Benny.

But Thursday will be the 39th birthday -- again -- of Jack Benny, born in Chicago, Illinois (as Benjamin Kubelsky) on February 14, 1894. (Benny grew up in north suburban Waukegan and is more commonly associated with that town.)

The list of alternatives to Valentine's Day is lengthy -- and most of them have Valentine tie-ins anyway. Thus, Thursday is also National Organ Donor Day, National Have A Heart Day, National Cream-Filled Chocolates Day, National Call In Single Day, and (so much for romance) National Condom Day.

On the other hand, there's no obvious Valentines tie-in for Frederick Douglass Day, League of Women Voters Day, or Library Lovers Day. Yet these will also be observed on Thursday.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Remember, man, that thou art dust

And unto dust thou shalt return.

Cheery sentiment with which to start the day, isn't it?

And yet that is the message for tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, the start of the Christian penitential season of Lent.

Wednesday, Catholics will fast -- only one meatless meal will be permitted for most healthy adults. Now do you understand why they are partying today with such fervor in Rio and on Bourbon Street?

Some of the Usual Suspects call Wednesday National Tortellini Day or Get a Different Name Day. You could combine things, possibly, and change your name to Tortellini... but do you think you look sufficiently Italian?

Monday, February 11, 2013

OK, besides Lincoln's Birthday, what is Tuesday?

Pretty much everyone knows that Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12. Some may also know that Charles Darwin was also born on February 12, too -- but even some of these may not realize that Darwin and Lincoln were born on the exact same February 12 -- February 12, 1809.

Alice Roosevelt Longworth was born on February 12, 1884. The eldest daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt, Alice was a national celebrity when her father was in the White House. The color "alice blue" was associated with her; the song "The Alice Blue Gown" was inspired by her.

Alice married a Republican congressman, Nicholas Longworth, who rose to Speaker of the House before his death in 1931. Alice would survive her husband by nearly half a century, dying at the age of 96, in 1980.

During much of that time, Mrs. Longworth was among the most prominent hostesses in the world's biggest company town. She was famed for her caustic wit. On a settee in her living room was a pillow embroidered with one of her most famous sayings, "If you haven't got anything good to say about anybody, come sit next to me." When she died, President Jimmy Carter wrote, "She had style, she had grace, and she had a sense of humor that kept generations of political newcomers to Washington wondering which was worse — to be skewered by her wit or to ignored by her." (She'd refused to meet Carter, according to the linked Wikipedia biography, because she thought him lacking in social grace.)

Tuesday is also Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, the last day before Lent starts on Ash Wednesday. In Chicago, we also call it Paczki Day.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

February 11: Satisfied Staying Single Day and lots more

If you dumped your 'significant jerk' recently -- and we've highlighted a couple of opportunities for you to do so here at The Blog of Days -- you may have already found your new Valentine.

On the other hand, you may not have found your new Valentine -- and Monday offers some possible consolation: February 11 is Satisfied Staying Single Day.

Don't worry that your friends aren't buying it.

And, whatever you do, don't cry over spilt milk. According to Usual Suspects Hallmark and Punchbowl (among others), Monday is also Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk Day. Again, we'd have spelled spilled spilt -- say that ten times fast -- but we must learn to be more tolerant of these variations as we here at The Blog of Days try to bring order to the calendar. The point is, what's done is done. Move on. Don't look back.

Instead, focus on just making a new friend. Monday, February 11 is also Make a New Friend Day. We can all use as many friends as we can get.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Schnozz Day, Plimsoll Day, Umbrella Day -- and a very Happy Year of the Snake to all of you

Image obtained here.
Usual Suspect American Greetings says that Sunday, February 10 will be Schnozz Day -- and we didn't even need to wake the crack research staff to figure out why: Sunday is the 120th anniversary of Jimmy Durante's birth (he was born on February 10, 1893). In the accompanying illustration, Mr. Durante is attempting to shield his co-star in Billy Rose's Jumbo. And small wonder. How often did the Great Durante get to work with a co-star with a bigger beak than his own prodigious proboscis?

February 10 is also Plimsoll Day because it is the anniversary of British politician and social reformer Samuel Plimsoll (born February 10, 1824), best remembered today for the Plimsoll Line, "also known as the International Load Line or water line (positioned amidships), that indicates the draft of the ship and the legal limit to which a ship may be loaded for specific water types and temperatures in order to safely maintain buoyancy, particularly with regard to the hazard of waves that may arise."

And February 10 is deemed by most of the Usual Suspects to be Umbrella Day. No, none of them adequately explain why. You'd think Umbrella Day might be better celebrated in April... if April showers bring May flowers... but here we are.

Finally, February 10, 2013 marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year. Wikipedia tells us that the traditional Chinese calendar does not use consecutively numbered years. However, scholars have taken a stab at figuring this out and, depending on who you ask, you may be told that this is the beginning of the year 4711, 4710, or 4650 (scholars traditionally disagree on the finer points). There is agreement, however, that Sunday marks the beginning of the Year of the Snake.

Friday, February 8, 2013

February 9: Read in the Bathtub Day

Image obtained here.
At first we thought Read in the Bathtub Day might be in steep decline, given the increasing popularity of e-readers... and the incompatibility of almost any significant quantity of water and most electronic devices.

Will people buy duplicate copies of books just so they can be read in the tub? (Not that paper is particularly waterproof... but the odd drip here and there won't short out a paper book.)

Our crack research staff did some nosing about and found several references to schemes and devices for waterproofing your e-readers. A site called shows a number of choices. Amazon also has a supposedly waterproof product. The Blog of Days does not endorse any of these, of course, but apparently the transition from paper to screens is no bar to the continuation of Read in the Bathtub Day.

Saturday will also be National Bagels and Lox Day. You can presumably bring your bagel to the tub along with your paperback.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

No consensus for February 8, but lots of choices

Usual Suspect suggests that February 8 is Opera Day. As you learned here yesterday, others suggested that today (February 7) is Ballet Day. Maybe this is the week to get any cultural impulses out of your system before pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.

Tomorrow will also be one of Charlie Brown's least favorite days: National Kite Flying Day.

The Boy Scouts of America were founded on February 8, 1910. Several of the Usual Suspects proclaim February 8 Boy Scouts Day to commemorate that anniversary.

February 8 will also be National Molasses Bar Day, but by far the best suggestion we've seen for the 8th is Laugh and Grow Rich Day.

We have the laughing part down.

On February 8, 1942, the Japanese invaded Singapore. Unlike Sir Thomas Raffles, however, the Japanese didn't turn right around and leave.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wave All Your Fingers At Your Neighbors Day

Most of the Usual Suspects agree that Thursday, February 7 is Wave All Your Fingers At Your Neighbors Day. This is supposed to promote harmony among neighbors, and it probably would, at least when compared to waving only one finger at your neighbor, if you know what we mean.

Usual Suspect says Thursday will be Dump Your Significant Jerk Day. Others, as you will recall, observed this on February 3. Either way, ladies, Valentine's Day is close upon us, and, if you're presently seeing a jerk, you may not want to be obliged to celebrate VD with him now, would you?

Other nominees for February 7 are National Fettuccine Alfredo Day and Ballet Day. If you enjoy too much the former, you'll not do well at the latter.

Wikipedia tells us Sir Thomas Raffles left Singapore on February 7, 1819 -- after just officially founding it the day before.

'Don't overstay your welcome' is a fine motto by which to live, but this seems a bit extreme, doesn't it?

Usual Suspect, tells us that the Beatles first landed in New York on February 7, 1964; they'd make their famous first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show just a couple of days later.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

February 6 is Lame Duck Day -- and there's no good reason for it, either

The Usual Suspects are pretty much agreed that Wednesday, February 6, will be Lame Duck Day, a day set aside to honor the defeated officeholder or term-limited officeholder in the waning stages of his or her political career.

There's nothing illegal, immoral or fattening about Lame Duck Day, in our opinion, but the placement of this microminiholidayette on the calendar in February strikes us as particularly dumb.

The American elections were in November. The new Congress was sworn in in early January. Most of your newly elected state legislators took office somewhere around the same time. In other words, most of your lame ducks are already out working as lobbyists, er, looking for work. If lame ducks are worthy of a microminiholidayette to call their own, it should be in late November or December.

A better call for Wednesday might be to celebrate the life of George Herman Ruth, Jr. You may know him better as 'Babe Ruth,' the Sultan of Swat, the Bambino. Babe Ruth was born on February 6, 1895.

You may have forgotten, however, that Ruth was a pretty darn good pitcher before he became a full-time hitter.

Ruth was on his way to becoming an everyday player in 1918, when the Boston Red Sox beat the Chicago Cubs in the World Series -- but Ruth started and won Games 1 and 4 of the 1918 Series, tossing a complete game shutout in Game 1. (Of course, there is a rumor that the Cubs threw the 1918 Series, inspiring some on the 1919 Black Sox to try the same thing a year later. The "Eight Men Out," however, forgot that Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the new baseball commissioner, was a die-hard Cub fan... and wasn't likely to make an example of them. He may have had less difficulty making examples out of members of the hated cross-town rivals.)

Singapore was founded on February 6, 1819 by Sir Thomas Raffles.

Monday, February 4, 2013

February 5: Weathermen, Nutella, and the birthdays of Hank Aaron and Andrew Greeley

We can make short work of Weatherman's Day and Nutella Day, two of the micro-est of microminiholidayettes ever, and both slated for Tuesday, February 5.

Granted, the science of meteorology has advanced significantly in recent decades, especially once satellites were devoted to watching weather develop and move. However, the bride who picks a June date has no way of knowing more than a couple of days in advance whether to expect sunshine or rain; the folks who draw up high school baseball schedules in Illinois can't avoid rainy -- or even snowy -- days. Celebrate weathermen? These are the men and women who tell us -- too late to change our plans -- that Saturday's barbecue is likely to be washed out. Phooey. And, besides, 'meteorology' is just too darned hard to spell.

As for Nutella Day, who the heck eats that stuff anyway? Usual Suspect Days of the Year tells us Nutella is a paste made from chocolate and hazelnut. Apparently on purpose.

Celebrate at your own risk.

For our part, we'd rather remember Hammerin' Hank Aaron. Henry Aaron was born on February 5, 1934; he turns 79 Tuesday. That's his Hall of Fame plaque shown here.

Fr. Andrew Greeley turns 85 on Tuesday. Usual Suspect tells us Greeley was born in Oak Park, Illinois on February 5, 1928.

An unusual combination of academic (professor of sociology at the University of Arizona and a Research Associate with the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago) and popular author, Fr. Greeley has been in poor health since a taxi accident a few years back. Some Catholics find that their blood pressure skyrockets at the mention of Greeley's name: His newspaper columns were often stridently partisan and his popular books contained steamy passages that some though inappropriate for a priest to write (or even imagine). However, we've always liked the disclaimer (credited to Rev. Ron Rolheiser, O.M.I) on so many of Greeley's book jackets: "Nobody has ever left the church because of an Andrew Greeley novel, but many have been attracted back to it by him."

That's not a bad legacy for a gadfly.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

February 4: Rosa Parks Centennial

Monday, February 4 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks (pictured here in 1955; that's Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the background).

According to Wikipedia, California officially commemorates Rosa Parks Day on February 4. (Ohio also has a Rosa Parks Day, but it is observed on December 1, the anniversary of the day Ms. Parks was arrested on the bus in Montgomery.)

Monday, February 4 is also World Cancer Day, a day, according to the linked website, "to raise our collective voices in the name of improving general knowledge around cancer and dismissing misconceptions about the disease."

Some of the Usual Suspects (Punchbowl Holidays, for one, but also Days of the Year) proclaim Monday to be Thank a Mailman Day. However, Usual Suspect insists that Thank a Mailman Day should be observed on February 5. We'll let you decide when (or whether) to thank your friendly neighborhood letter carrier. The choice between days is probably insignificant; according to Wikipedia, "The United States Post Office (USPO) was created in Philadelphia under Benjamin Franklin on Wednesday, July 26, 1775, by decree of the Second Continental Congress." And that's neither Monday nor Tuesday.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

So what have you got for us on Sunday besides the Super Bowl?

Anybody who was old enough to listen to the radio in the early 1970s probably still knows all the words to Don McLean's "American Pie." It was played to death on the radio. Deejays would host 'specials' to analyze the lyrics, trying to parse out all the references to performers or events in McLean's words. (You can still find some of these analyses on line, such as this one, posted on Yahoo! Music just this past July.)

While some interpretations conflicted, all agreed on one point: "The Day the Music Died" was a reference to the airplane crash on February 3, 1959, outside Clear Lake, Iowa, which killed Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper. A young and not-yet-famous Waylon Jennings was part of Holly's backup band on that tour, and he was supposed to be on that plane, but he gave up his seat at the request of J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, who'd been recovering from the flu and wanted to avoid the bus trip to the tour's next stop in Minnesota.

Just about all the Usual Suspects set aside February 3, therefore, to commemorate The Day the Music Died. (In other words, kids, The Day the Music Died has nothing whatsoever to do with how badly the Super Bowl Halftime Show turns out. Probably.)

The Iowa crash site was documented in a number of photos by investigators; these are collected at a site called The Day the Music Died: Crash Site Photo Archive. Here's one:

The crash victims had not been removed when these photos were taken.

Several of the Usual Suspects also proclaim Sunday to be Dump Your Significant Jerk Day. With Valentine's Day coming up, do you really want to keep on going out with that loser who treats you badly and is rude to your friends and family? Dump him now (we suspect that this microminiholidayette is directed primarily at women) -- and find somebody better to be your Valentine.

We also have one uplifting observance for February 3, even if it is also a sad one.

Sunday, February 3 is Four Chaplains Day, remembering the heroic sacrifice of four U.S. Army chaplains, the "Immortal Chaplains," who gave up their life belts and their places in the rescue boats because there weren't enough to go around. The four clergymen were on the USAT Dorchester on February 3, 1943, when the ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat. They were Methodist minister the Reverend George L. Fox, Rabbi Alexander D. Goode, Roman Catholic priest the Reverend John P. Washington, and Reformed Church in America minister the Reverend Clark V. Poling. As the linked Wikipedia article relates, "The chaplains joined arms, said prayers, and sang hymns as they went down with the ship."

Friday, February 1, 2013

Groundhog's Day and Candlemas

Our crack research staff was all set to dump all over Usual Suspect Days of the Year for calling Saturday Hedgehog Day instead of Groundhog Day, but Usual Suspect Hallmark explains that the "meteorological rodent tradition [of Groundhog's Day] began as Hedgehog Day in England. Early settlers brought the tradition across the Atlantic, but it turns out there were no hedgehogs in America, so they had to settle on the lowly groundhog."

You can amaze your friends and family tonight at your own Groundhog's Day gatherings with this fast fact: According to Usual Suspect, the first Groundhog's Day celebration at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania took place on February 2, 1887. On the other hand, according to Wikipedia, the first Groundhog's Day celebration at Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania took place in 1887... or maybe 1886. OK, forget that one. But the Bill Murray movie, Groundhog Day, though ostensibly set in Punxsutawney, was really filmed mostly in Woodstock, Illinois.

If you work your way through the Wikipedia article on Groundhog's Day you'll discover the historic linkage between this observance and Candlemas.

Candlemas is also known as the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus, that is, the presentation of Jesus at the Temple in Jerusalem 40 days after His birth (yes, it's been 40 days since Christmas already) in accordance with Jewish custom.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops complicates things further by noting that, in 1997, "Pope John Paul II instituted a day of prayer for women and men in consecrated life. This celebration is attached to the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2nd. This Feast is also known as Candlemas Day; the day on which candles are blessed symbolizing Christ who is the light of the world."

Bottom line is this, folks: Christmas is absolutely, totally, finally over. Take down the lights already.