Saturday, August 31, 2013

On September 1, 1878, Emma M. Nutt became the first female telephone operator. Thus, today is Emma M. Nutt Day.

Interestingly enough, particularly for those of you who remember Rowan & Martin's Laugh In, Sunday is also the birthday of Lily Tomlin. (She turns 74 Sunday.)

Among the memorable characters created by Ms. Tomlin for Laugh In was Ernestine, the telephone operator.

Coincidence? We think not.

Now repeat after us: "One ringy-dingy... two ringy-dingies...."

Sunday is also National No Rhyme (Nor Reason) Day. There's no rhyme nor reason why this should be so. September 1 is also Building and Code Staff Appreciation Day, but we're not sure if this is a microminiholidayette for persons who dream up (and impose) building codes, for building inspectors, or whether this day is intended for building maintenance staff (usually called "building engineers" in these parts). Take your pick.

We are sure that, in addition to Lily Tomlin, Sunday is the birthday of singers Gloria Estefan (she turns 56) and Archie Bell (of Archie Bell and the Drells -- "we don't only sing, but we dance just as good as we want"). Archie Bell turns 69 Sunday.

Sunday is also the the anniversary of the birth of author Edgar Rice Burroughs (born September 1, 1875). You may not immediately recognize the name, even when we give you the hint that he provided inspiration for some of our most revered science fiction authors, such as Robert Heinlein, Larry Niven, and Philip José Farmer. Perhaps you'll remember John Carter, Warlord of Mars? (Or as Burroughs named it, Barsoom?) Still not registering?

Well, alright, we'll give you the reason why Burroughs' name seems vaguely familiar: He invented a character called Tarzan. Even the horrible Bo Derek movie, Tarzan the Ape Man, couldn't destroy Tarzan's place in popular culture.

Friday, August 30, 2013

We love LItigating Lawyers Day for August 31, but there are alternatives

Hey, this guy was a litigating lawyer -- and he's
proved quite popular down through the years.
Of course, he had to get shot first.
A number of the Usual Suspects proclaim Saturday, August 31 to be Love Litigating Lawyers Day. You can stop right there, as far as we're concerned.

Actually, despite the negative press lawyers receive, most people like their own lawyers: Lawyers are respected in the first person -- my lawyer, our lawyer; they are only hated, loathed and despised in the second and third persons -- your lawyer, his lawyer, her lawyer, their lawyer. (And, of course, even "my lawyer" loses some of his or her luster when his or her bill arrives....)

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

Saturday is also Eat Outside Day, which certainly seems an appropriate thing to do on the Labor Day weekend. We don't know why August 31 should also be National Trail Mix Day, but it is.

The Roman Emperor Caligula was born on August 31, A.D. 12. Caligula was an insane, murderous psychopath, even by the standards of his own time. Initially a popular choice after the death of Tiberius (who was himself pretty darn crazy), Caligula so alienated everyone in Rome that he would be murdered by his own guard at the tender age of 28, not quite four years into his reign.

Lyricist and librettist Alan Jay Lerner (of the songwriting team of Lerner and Loewe -- Brigadoon and My Fair Lady, for example) was born on August 31, 1918. Comedian Buddy Hackett was born August 31, 1924.

Irish musician and songwriter Van Morrison turns 68 on Saturday. Actor Richard Gere turns 64. And baseball Hall of Famer Frank Robinson will celebrate his 78th birthday on August 31.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Friday: 50th Anniversary of the "Hotline"

Carter Era Red Phone, displayed at the Carter
Library and Museum. Photo from Wikipedia by Pistorius.
Friday, August 30 is Hotline Day, the anniversary of the date, in 1963, when the "hotline" from Washington to Moscow was first placed in service.

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

But, however frequently or infrequently it has been used in real life (there still is a hotline to Moscow, Wikipedia says, but now it's a dedicated computer network that can be used for chat and email), the "Red Phone" has been a vital prop in political thrillers ever since it was established. And the fact that the Hotline helped reduce the chances that American and Soviet leaders would accidentally start World War III is surely worth celebrating.

However, the illustration here notwithstanding, Wikipedia insists that there never was a red phone: "Although in popular culture known as the 'red telephone', the hotline was never a telephone line, and no red phones were used."

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

Friday is also National Toasted Marshmallow Day, College Colors Day, and International Whale Shark Day. It will also be the 83rd birthday of gazillionaire Warren Buffett and the 41st birthday of actress Cameron Diaz.

Hmmmm. Warren Buffett or Cameron Diaz.... It was difficult trying to decide whose picture to run with this post. But we eventually were able to make a decision.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Take Thursday without a grain of salt? August 29 is More Herbs, Less Salt Day

According to a number of the Usual Suspects, Thursday, August 29 is More Herbs, Less Salt Day.

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

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

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

As mentioned here previously, Thursday is also the observance of the Beheading of John the Baptist. John had only one head to lose but, according to Wikipedia, that head has been found in many places:
  • Roman Catholic tradition holds that the head on display in San Silvestro in Capite in Rome is that of John the Baptist, discovered for the second time, as also maintained by Pope Benedict XVI in August 2012.
  • Islamic tradition maintains that the head of Saint John the Baptist was interred in the once-called Basilica of Saint John the Baptist in Damascus. Pope John Paul II visited the tomb of John the Baptist at the Umayyad Mosque during his visit to Syria in April, 2001. Consequently, Muslims also believe that Jesus Christ will return to this location in the Second Coming.
  • n medieval times, it was rumored that the Knights Templar had possession of the head, and multiple records from their Inquisition in the early 14th century make reference to some form of head veneration.
  • Amiens Cathedral claims the head as a relic brought from Constantinople by Wallon de Sarton as he was returning from the Fourth Crusade.
  • Some believe that it is buried in Turkish Antioch, or southern France.
  • It is believed that a piece of his skull is held at the Romanian skete Prodromos on Mount Athos.
  • A reliquary at The Residenz in Munich, Germany is labeled as containing the skull of John the Baptist.
Heady stuff, indeed.

Sir Richard Attenborough turns 90 on Thursday. And you can send champagne wishes and caviar dreams to Robin Leach Thursday as well; he turns 72.

Every male of a certain age remembers Rebecca De Mornay from Risky Business and, in particular, a certain ride on the CTA 'el.' (There is a wistful pause, perhaps a sigh.) Ms. De Mornay turns 54 on August 29.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

August 28: From Cherry Turnovers to Chickenman, from cubicle games to St. Augustine

A number of the Usual Suspects proclaim Wednesday, August 28 to be National Cherry Turnover Day. Even if you like cherries, this barely qualifies as even a minor microminiholidayette.

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

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

St. Augustine after his wayward youth.
Usual Suspect suggests that Wednesday is Radio Commercials Day. Well, we can appreciate any microminiholidayette that reminds us of the great Dick Orkin. In addition to all the radio commercials he's done over the years, Orkin was also the White Winged Warrior, The Most Fantastic Crimefighter The World Has Ever Known: Chickenman (he's everywhere, he's everywhere!), back in the 1960s.

If you're looking for something more substantive to celebrate on Wednesday, Usual Suspect suggests that Wednesday will be the Feast of St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo and Doctor of the Catholic Church, who died on August 28, 430. St. Augustine became rather a somber figure, but he had sowed quite a few wild oats in his youth. You may remember his famous prayer from his younger days, "God, give me chastity and continence – but not just now."

Monday, August 26, 2013

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder"

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

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

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

Thus, as several of the Usual Suspects attest, Tuesday, August 27 is The Duchess Who Wasn't Day -- because Mrs. Hungerford wasn't actually a duchess. Get it?

We are unable to advise why Tuesday should be The Duchess Who Wasn't Day. There were some online sources that suggested that this was the anniversary of Mrs. Hungerford's birth, but Wikipedia demurs. Wikipedia says Hungerford was born on April 27.

Maybe we should say Tuesday is The Duchess Who Wasn't Day just because. Usual Suspect Holiday Insights offers Just Because Day for your consideration Tuesday. Do something Tuesday for no particular reason -- but just because you want to. That could include celebrating Banana Lovers Day. Usual Suspect says that's what August 27 will be.

Usual Suspect mentions National Petroleum Day as an occasion for celebration Tuesday. But is this a day to celebrate the miracles wrought by the internal combustion engine or to contemplate how we may break free of the chains of gasoline? Our research was inconclusive; you are apparently free to decide for yourself.

Barbara Bach from the movie Caveman.
Did you seriously think we'd go with
a picture of Charles G. Dawes?
Is an oil refinery a beautiful thing? How about a oil shale mine? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose, but a future free of gasoline sounds more beautiful to us.

Actress Barbara Bach -- Mrs. Ringo Starr if we're being formal -- turns 66 on Tuesday.

Before LeBron James appropriated them, the initials LBJ belonged to President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Johnson was born on August 27, 1908.

Former Vice President Charles G. Dawes was born on August 27, 1865. Dawes served as Vice President under Calvin Coolidge. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1925 and, although he died in 1951, Dawes is credited with a number one hit record that charted in 1958.

No, seriously.

Dawes wrote the melody to Tommy Edwards' big hit, "It's All in the Game," in 1911 or 1912. Dawes originally used the catchy title, "Melody in A Major," but the song enjoyed some popularity even so. Lyrics -- the ones you may remember -- were added by Carl Sigman in 1951. Dawes, according to the linked Wikipedia bio, is the only Vice President of the United States or Nobel Peace Prize winner ever to have a record hit the top of the charts. He was also the last national office holder from the Chicago area until President Barack Obama (the first, and only other, was Adlai Stevenson I).

Sunday, August 25, 2013

These may be, in general, the Dog Days of Summer, but Monday really is National Dog Day

The Animal Miracle Network and darn near all of the Usual Suspects agree that Monday, August 26 is National Dog Day. Visit the Dog Day website for 50 ways to celebrate the occasion.

And, as we mentioned yesterday, Monday is also Women's Equality Day. Wikipedia tells us that Women's Equality Day was established by Congressional resolution in 1971, August 26 being selected because the U.S. government proclaimed the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution effective as of August 26, 1920. That's the Amendment that gave women the vote.

We don't know why August 26 may have been selected for Toilet Paper Day, but Usual Suspect American Greetings says it is. According to Wikipedia, the earliest documented use of toilet paper goes back to 6th Century China. (The Romans used a sponge on a stick. History isn't always pretty.)

Actress and comedian Melissa McCarthy turns 43 on Monday. Former Congressman Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman nominated for a national ticket by a major political party, was born on Women's Equality Day 1935. Mother Teresa was also born on August 26, in 1910. Beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2003, Mother Teresa's feast day is September 5, the anniversary of her death.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sunday is Go Topless Day, Kiss and Make Up Day

The last Sunday in August is designated as Go Topless Day. This microminiholidayette has its own website (which explains that Go Topless Day always falls on the Sunday closest to Women's Equality Day -- Monday, if you're making plans).

But you don't care about whether this observance is legit or not, do you? You're probably just here looking for salacious pictures.

We know that's what our crack research staff wanted to post, but we had to remind them -- again -- that The Blog of Days is located in the Family Section of the Intertubes.

Anyway, Sunday, August 25 is also Kiss-and-Make-Up Day. We're not certain why this should be the one and only Kiss and Make Up Day. If you screw up Wednesday or a week from Tuesday with your significant other, will your significant be willing to wait until next August 25 to kiss and make up? We don't think so either.

We think the better rule would be, if you're in the doghouse, any day can be Kiss and Make Up Day... and it darn well better be.

Other Monday observances include National Second-Hand Wardrobe Day. You'll recall that we just observed Thrift Store Day (on August 17). This sounds like and instance where two microminiholidayettes might both benefit from consolidation.

Sunday is also National Banana Split Day. Our crack research staff advises that this microminiholidayette pertains to the dessert item and not to the late 1960s television show.

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

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

OK, OK. Conductor Leonard Bernstein did not include the Banana Splits theme in his repertoire at the New York Philharmonic. We bring him up because Bernstein was born on August 25, 1918. Cartoonist Walt Kelly (Pogo) was born on August 25, 1913. Actor Van Johnson was born on August 25, 1916.

You may need a martini (shaken, not stirred) when you consider that Sean Connery turns 83 on Sunday. Glam rocker Gene Simmons (Kiss) turns 64 on Sunday. Kiss, you may have heard, recently bought an Arena League football team, the Los Angeles Kiss. So far as we know, musician Elvis Costello does not own a piece of any professional sports team. But he also has a birthday Sunday; he turns 59.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Vesuvius Day, Waffles and Pluto Demoted

Maybe, for a Saturday, we should lead with Waffle Day.

According to the considered judgment of most of the Usual Suspects, Saturday, August 24 is Waffle Day. Enjoy them plain or fancy, as you prefer.

While you're in the restaurant, however, you may wish to entertain your breakfast mates with the fact that Saturday is also Vesuvius Day, commemorating the anniversary of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. and the destruction of the Roman cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii.

Mt. Vesuvius viewed from the ruins of Pompeii.  Image obtained from Wikipedia.

Pliny the Elder was just the most famous victim of Vesuvius's 16,000 or so victims on this occasion. We remember Pliny the Elder because of the surviving eyewitness account of the disaster, penned by his nephew, Pliny the Younger. According to Wikipedia, in the eruption of A.D. 79, "Mount Vesuvius spawned a deadly cloud of stones, ash and fumes to a height of 20.5 miles, spewing molten rock and pulverized pumice at the rate of 1.5 million tons per second, ultimately releasing a hundred thousand times the thermal energy released by the Hiroshima bombing."

Also on August 24, on August 24, 2006, the International Astronomical Union voted to demote Pluto from "planet" to "dwarf planet." The IAU's explanation of this decision is available online.

On August 23 we observe The International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade. Saturday, August 24, happens to be the anniversary of the birth of British abolitionist William Wilberforce (born August 24, 1759). Usual Suspect therefore tells us that August 24 is Wilberforce Day.

Baseball's Iron Man, Cal Ripken, Jr., turns 53 on Saturday. British Actor and humorist Stephen Fry turns 56 on August 24. Among Mr. Fry's many accomplishments is that he was the definitive personification of P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves.

Pete Rose was barred from baseball on August 24, 1989.

Even without taking the eruption of Vesuvius into account, August 24 is a tough day in Roman history. The Visigoths began their sack of Rome on August 24, 410. The Vandals took their turn on August 24, 455.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Friday is Hug Your Boss Day?

Well, at least in the UK, apparently, there is some push to call Friday, August 23, Hug Your Boss Day. There is no truth to the rumor that the soon-to-be-former Mayor of San Diego tried to make Hug Your Boss Day a mandatory observance in his California city.

Usual Suspect American Greetings promotes Friday as a more generic Hug Day, but the celebration thereof, without some consent or mutuality, will not insulate you against claims of harassment.

On the serious side, Friday is The International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade. The most important thing to remember about slavery is that, even in America, there are still persons held in conditions of slavery... or near enough. And we're not even talking about interns; we're being serious.

There are a lot of August 23 birthdays to remember, starting with King Louis XVI of France, born on August 23, 1954.

Song and dance man Gene Kelly was born on August 23, 1912. Barbara Eden, TV's Jeannie, turns 82 on Friday. Pro football Hall of Famer Sonny Jurgensen turns 79 on August 23.

Actress Shelly Long, Diane Chambers on TV's Cheers turns 64 on Friday.

Silent screen legend Rudolph Valentino died on August 23, 1926. He was only 31. A number of the Usual Suspects proclaim Friday Valentino Day in his honor. On the other hand, a number of the Usual Suspects also proclaim Friday National Spongecake Day for no obvious reason whatsoever.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Thursday is Be An Angel Day

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

If you are so inclined, you could simply celebrate these winged wonders or haloed heroes Thursday, August 22 on Be an Angel Day -- but our crack research staff says that the idea behind Be an Angel Day, as conceived by Rev. Jayne Howard Feldman 20 years ago, in 1993, is to remember to do some service for someone, to be an angel in that person's life. It could become habit-forming.

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

Try and increase your capacity on Thursday: Do something good for someone -- and celebrate that.

Samuel Pierpont Langley was born on August 22, 1834. If there were a direct correlation between government funding and successful research, Langley would have invented the first airplane. He was the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution when, in 1898, Langley received a $50,000 grant from the War Department and a $20,000 grant from the Smithsonian to develop a manned, powered, heavier-than-air flying machine. He had some success with unmanned models, but it was the Wright Brothers who got the first manned plane into the air. Langley Field in Virginia remembers Langley's contributions to the birth of aviation.

Baseball great Carl Yastrzemski turns 74 on August 22. Yastrzemski won baseball's Triple Crown in 1967. No one led baseball in home runs, batting average, and runs batted in again until Miguel Cabrera did it in 2012. Yastrzemski was a first ballot Hall of Famer."

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Wednesday is Senior Citizens Day

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

All we need now is a gin mill that offers a discount when you present your AARP card.

American Greetings offers Scrape the Bugs Day as an alternative for Wednesday but we are not impressed. Scrape the Bugs? Really?

Count Basie

Wednesday is also Poet's Day. Maybe this would make more sense if we consider that all bad poetry was accounted for on Sunday. We're celebrating only good poets on Wednesday.

Bandleader Count Basie was born on August 21, 1904. Animator Friz Freleng was born on August 21, 1905.

Singer Jackie DeShannon (What the World Needs Now Is Love) turns 69 on Wednesday. Two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin turns 59 on Wednesday.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The NFL turns 93 on Tuesday

NFL logo obtained from Wikipedia.
The football preseason is half over; NFL rosters are taking shape. Pro football is a multi-billion dollar business, a dominant feature of the sports landscape in the fall and winter.

But it was not ever thus.

College football was the predominant variety of football on August 20, 1920 when the owners of four Ohio pro teams met at the Jordan and Hupmobile Auto Showroom in Canton, Ohio to form the American Professional Football Association. Seven more teams, including the Decatur Staleys (soon to be known as the Chicago Bears) joined the fledgling league at its second meeting, on September 17.

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

The first league president was Jim Thorpe. It was hoped that his name would lend credibility to the new enterprise. Second Effort readers may recall a 2012 article on that blog about the multi-talented Thorpe.

Tuesday is also Lemonade Day, honoring the traditional summertime refreshment, and Radio Day, honoring the anniversary of the day when radio station 8MK began broadcasting in Detroit, Michigan. In one of those interesting coincidences of history, this also occurred on August 20, 1920.

For more on the birth of the NFL: Shmoop Editorial Team, "NFL History Timeline of Important Dates," Shmoop University, Inc., 11 November 2008,

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Monday is Humanitarian Day, Potato Day, Aviation Day

Monday August 19 is Humanitarian Day, Potato Day, and Aviation Day. Aviation Day remembers the birthday of Orville Wright. Monday is also Bill Clinton's birthday.

But all of that's rather... humdrum. Routine. Boring, even.

Especially when one compares these microminiholidayettes to the fact that August 19 is also the anniversary of the day, in 1951, that Eddie Gaedel went to bat for the St. Louis Browns.

All 3'7" of him.

This was not a stunt.

Well, OK, it was a stunt -- but it wasn't a gag: Eddie Gaedel had a valid contract to play baseball for the Browns (the umpire demanded to see it when Gaedel, wearing a miniature uniform, bearing number 1/8, stepped into the box to pinch hit during the second game of a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers). Gaedel took four pitches, all balls (of course -- where was there a strike zone?) and took his base -- and his place in baseball history -- whereupon a pinch runner was duly substituted.

The late Bill Veeck was then the owner of the Browns and the madman who signed Gaedel for this singular appearance. As he told the story, his one fear was that Gaedel would get ambitious and attempt to take a swing. Gaedel, after all, was a professional performer. He might have been inspired by the cheers of the crowd. Sometimes, when he told the story, Veeck claimed to have warned Gaedel that he had positioned a sniper on the roof of the stadium, ordering the sniper to kill Gaedel if the bat came off his shoulders. That probably was a bit of an embellishment.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Sunday is Bad Poetry Day

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

Sunday is also National Soft Ice Cream Day and the anniversary of the day, in 1868, when French astronomer Pierre Janssen discovered helium and immediately became a hit at all children's birthday parties in the neighborhood.

Martin Mull turns 70 on Sunday; Denis Leary turns 56.

Friday, August 16, 2013

What is Saturday, August 17? Well, that may depend on the meaning of 'is'....

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

It was on August 17, 1998 that President Bill Clinton's testimony to a grand jury included these amazing sentences: "It depends upon what the meaning of the word 'is' is. If the—if he—if 'is' means is and never has been, that is not—that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement." Rumor has it that two grammarians in Britain and fully 10 in the United States went stark raving mad attempting to diagram those sentences.

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

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

Saturday is also Thrift Store Day. We know people who used to say they shopped at a store called "Sally's" -- trying to obscure by this that they were actually shopping at a Salvation Army Thrift Store. These days, however, resale shops have become almost trendy. If this sends a mixed message -- at least -- about the state of the modern American economy, well, so be it.

The Woodstock Music Festival ended on August 17, 1969. Nearly half a million people made the trip to Yasgur's Farm in Bethel, New York (about 50 miles from the town of Woodstock proper, according to the linked article on Usual Suspect Nearly 10 times that number claim to have been there.

Maureen O'Hara turns 93 on August 17. Robert De Niro marks his 70th birthday on Saturday.

Davy Crockett was born on a mountaintop in Tennessee on August 17, 1786. The linked Wikipedia article takes no position on whether he kilt him a b'ar when he was only three, but it puts that song right in your head, doesn't it? Some of the Usual Suspects designate Saturday as Davy Crockett Day in honor of Mr. Crockett's natal day.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Elvis Presley and Joe Miller both died on August 16

For all you ever wanted to know about this meeting, click here.
Elvis left us on August 16, 1977.

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

And Friday will also mark the anniversary of the death of Joe Miller. Miller, a renowned English actor in his day, died on August 16, 1738.

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

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

And, accordingly, you may never heard of Joe Miller. You are not alone. Thus, most of the Usual Suspects tell us that Friday is simply National Tell a Joke Day. But keeps the flame alive, insisting that today is Joe Miller's Joke Day. We give Brownielocks props on this.

Frank Gifford and Kathie Lee Gifford have his and her birthdays on Friday. Frank turns 83. Kathie Lee will be 60. Madonna Louise Ciccone was born on August 15, 1958. She only uses one of those names these days. Madonna turns 55 on Friday.

Friday is also Bratwurst Day, National Men's Grooming Day, and (our favorite) National Rum Day. Enjoy Cuba Libres tomorrow after work.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Thursday is National Relaxation Day, Fort Dearborn anniversary

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

Nevertheless, all the Usual Suspects line up behind Thursday, August 15 being National Relaxation Day.

No doubt the close proximity of these two microminiholidayettes will greatly impress the boss should he or she catch you reading this online.

But just tell the boss to chill, OK?

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

With that out of the way, we can move on. What we used to call the Fort Dearborn Massacre took place on August 15, 1812. The event is now more properly referred to as the Battle of Fort Dearborn, but it still involves the attack by Potawatomi warriors on an American Army garrison -- a garrison which had that morning marched out of Fort Dearborn, with women and children in tow, intending to strategically retreat to Fort Wayne, Indiana.

The Emperor Napoleon trying to scratch an itch?
The American military command feared that Fort Dearborn (now Chicago) was too exposed -- too far into the wilderness -- to hold its own as British agents agitated for allies among the indigenous population. The fort's commander had told local native leaders that he'd been ordered to withdraw (the Indians thought the Army had agreed to give them the fort's surplus weapons and supplies when the fort was abandoned -- thus they were miffed when these were burned instead -- and they also thought that the Army had promised to pay a large sum for safe escort to Fort Wayne -- but the Americans did not think they'd made any such agreement). According to the linked Wikipedia account, on August 14, "a Potawatomi chief called Black Partridge warned [American Captain Nathan Heald] that the young men of the tribe intended to attack, and that he could no longer restrain them." Nearly half of the American troops were killed in the engagement (26 of 54 regulars), as were all 12 militiamen, 12 of the 18 children, and two of the nine women that accompanied the troops. Everyone else was taken prisoner. Some more would die in captivity; others would be ransomed. The victorious Potawatomi burned the fort down, but it was rebuilt in 1816.

Napoleon Bonaparte was born on August 15, 1769. Scottish novelist Sir Walter Scott (Ivanhoe, for example) was born on August 15, 1771.

Julia Child was born on August 15, 1912.

"The Old Roman," Charles Comiskey was born on August 15, 1859. The 1988 movie, Eight Men Out (and Eliot Asinof's book, 8 Men Out, on which the movie is based) take the position that Comiskey practically incited the 1919 Black Sox Scandal.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

August 14 is Navajo Code Talkers Day

Military codes are made; military codes are broken.

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

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

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

August 14 was set aside as Navajo Code Talkers Day in 1982, however, by President Ronald Reagan, specifically to honor the surviving Navajo code talkers. From the linked Wikipedia article:
The Navajo code talkers were commended for their skill, speed and accuracy accrued throughout the war. At the Battle of Iwo Jima, Major Howard Connor, 5th Marine Division signal officer, had six Navajo code talkers working around the clock during the first two days of the battle. These six sent and received over 800 messages, all without error. Connor later stated, "Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima."
David Crosby (of the Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young and various permutations of the foregoing) turns 72 on August 14. Steve Martin turns 68 on Wednesday as well.

Depending on how you figure things, August 14 can also be V-J Day. The Japanese agreed to surrender on August 14. On that same day, Japan's Emperor recorded a speech advising of this decision. Now the speech wasn't actually broadcast in Japan until noon on August 15, and the announcement wasn't released to the United States until that same time -- but, owing to the International Date Line, it was still August 14 here. Thus, V-J Day can be August 14 or 15 -- or (officially, according to the American government) September 2 (because that is the day on which the instrument of surrender was formally signed). (Trust a government to mess up something easy: The signing was necessary, of course. But it was anticlimactic.)

Anyway, if all this isn't enough for you, a number of the Usual Suspects add that Wednesday will be National Creamsicle Day.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Tuesday is International Left Handers Day

You know a microminiholidayette is getting near the big-time when it has its own website (where we found this image, in fact). Another indication is the fact that the Usual Suspects are in rare accord: All, or near enough, proclaim Tuesday, August 13 as International Left Handers Day.

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

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

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

There are a wide variety of Tuesday birthdays as well. Sharpshooter Annie Oakley was born Phoebe Ann Moses on August 13, 1860. Bert Lahr, the Cowardly Lion in the classic movie The Wizard of Oz, was born Irving Lahrheim on August 13, 1895. Director Alfred Hitchcock was born August 13, 1899. Legendary golfer Ben Hogan was born on August 13, 1912. Cuban dictator Fidel Castro turns 87 on Tuesday.

But the guaranteed-to-make-Baby-Boomers-feel-old special birthday Tuesday is that of Danny Bonaduce. He turns 54 on August 13. And, while you may not want to admit it, perhaps, not even to yourself, you can easily pick Bonaduce out of this Partridge Family photo, can't you?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

We remember when vinyl records and the IBM PC were 'state of the art' -- but we weren't here when Sue was alive

Monday, August 12 is Vinyl Record Day. Why august 12? Well, some sources claim Edison invented the phonograph on this date in 1877 (although others say Edison didn't complete the first phonograph until November 21 of that year). And Edison recorded sound on tinfoil first, later on wax (leading eventually to the old cliche "stacks of golden wax"). But, whenever Edison actually invented the phonograph, vinyl wasn't used as a medium for sound recording until after World War II.

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

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

Monday is also IBM PC Day. It was on August 12, 1981 that IBM announced the release of personal computers to be sold for home use. That link will take you to IBM's complete press release announcing the new product but here is a brief excerpt from that now-historic document:
The IBM Personal Computer can be tailored to fit the user's needs. A basic system for home use attached to an audio tape cassette player and a television set would sell for approximately $1,565, in IBM Product Centers, while a more typical system for home or school with a memory of 64,000 bytes, a single diskette drive and its own display would be priced around $3,005. An expanded system for business with color graphics, two diskette drives and a printer would cost about $4,500.
And those were 5½ inch diskette drives, by the way.

A T-Rex named Sue.  Photo obtained from Wikipedia.
The United Nations offers International Youth Day as an August 12 observance. Usual Suspect Holiday Insights would focus attention instead on one particular type of youth, namely, the middle child. Holiday Insights tells us that Monday, August 12 is Middle Child's Day.

Isaac Singer received a patent for his sewing machine on August 12, 1851. This leads a number of the Usual Suspects to add Sewing Machine Day to the August 12 docket. And, finally, Sue, the tyrannosaurus rex skeleton that now resides in Chicago's Field Museum, was discovered on August 12, 1990.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Presidential Joke Day, Ingersoll Day, good and bad baseball milestones

On August 11, 1984, President Ronald Reagan got ready for his weekly radio address with a mike check. According to Wikipedia, his little remark (meant only for the technicians) was a riff on the opening line of the morning's prepared speech. His speech called for him to say, "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you that today I signed legislation that will allow student religious groups to begin enjoying a right they've too long been denied — the freedom to meet in public high schools during nonschool hours, just as other student groups are allowed to do." Instead, just for giggles -- and never dreaming that this would get out -- he said, "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes."

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

The Russians (then more formally known as the Soviets) were miffed. No apparatchik could survive long with a madcap sense of humor. Or any sense of humor at all. Indeed, in this one respect, if this one only, the old Soviets could have passed for Germans (to their mutual mortification). The Soviets took the President's weak joke seriously (or claimed to) and demanded an apology. From there the story just got bigger and bigger to the point where most of the Usual Suspects tell us that August 11 is Presidential Joke Day.

If President Reagan's faithless technician that morning was an atheist, perhaps he was miffed that the President failed to acknowledge Ingersoll Day. and most of the other Usual Suspects offer Ingersoll Day as a possible observance today.

Lawyer and Civil War veteran Robert G. Ingersoll, "the Great Agnostic" and freethinker whom the Humanist Institute commemorates today, was born on August 11, 1833. Wikipedia also notes that Ingersoll was Attorney General of the State of Illinois from 1867-1869. As a Republican.

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

But forget politics. We promised baseball milestones, good and bad.

First the good: Babe Ruth hit his 500th home run on August 11, 1929 in a game against the Cleveland Indians. Lou Gehrig stroked his 27th homer of the season in that game as well, but the Yankees committed four errors and the Tribe prevailed 6-5. And the game -- a Yankees game, mind you -- was played in two hours exactly.

But then the bad: Once the last game on August 11, 1994 was in the books, major leaguers went on strike. The rest of the season was canceled. There were no playoffs or World Series.

Fans were angry at baseball and stayed away in droves in 1995 when the parks finally reopened. Cal Ripken would help rekindle America's love affair with its national pastime in September 1995 when he broke the aforementioned Lou Gehrig's streak of consecutive games played. But what really put the fannies back in the seats was the amazing increase in the number of home runs -- chicks were digging the long ball -- McGwire dueled with Sosa -- records set by Ruth and Maris were easily eclipsed. It was almost as if some magic potion had been added to the players' training table.

As we now know, of course, the magic potion was steroids, all too frequently injected in clubhouse bathrooms. MLB looked the other way for the longest time because revenues were going back up. Money was being made. Careers were made... and ruined. Sportswriters -- those born-again virgins who police entry into Baseball's Hall of Fame -- knew darn good and well that PEDs were being liberally used -- but they cashed their checks and laughed along with Sammy Sosa when he said his new muscle-bound physique came from "Flintstones Vitamins." And he we are, almost 20 years later, trying to root out drug contamination in America's game, still suffering from the effects of the 1994 players' strike.

Sunday will also be Alcatraz Day. The first inmates of that notorious prison arrived on the island on August 11, 1934.

And the Mayan Long Count Calendar -- you remember, the calendar that was supposed to end, and with it the world, last December? -- well, according to Wikipedia, the Mayan Long Count Calendar began on August 11, 3114 B.C.

Friday, August 9, 2013

August 10 is Lazy Day

Lazy Day seems like such a good idea, doesn't it?

But, lazy as we are, we would be remiss were we to omit that Saturday, August 10 is also Garage Sale Day, S'Mores Day, and Smithsonian Day.

Yes, the Smithsonian Institution was created on August 10, 1846 when President James K. Polk signed legislation specifying how to spend James Smithson's 1829 bequest. James Smithson was an Englishman who died in Italy -- and he never laid eyes on the United States -- but he left the new nation his entire fortune, requiring America to establish an institution (to be named in his honor) "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge."

Image from
And August 10 is the 90th birthday of actress Rhonda Fleming, born Marilyn Louis in Hollywood, California on August 10, 1923.

Watching a Rhonda Fleming Picture, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, would be a very appropriate way to commemorate Lazy Day: One of the highlights of the film is the song "Busy Doing Nothing," sung by Bing Crosby, William Bendix, and Sir Cedric Hardwicke.

Herbert Hoover was born on August 10, 1874. Antonio Banderas turns 53 on August 10.

SABR, the Society for American Baseball Research was founded on August 10, 1971. Before that, we got all the stats we needed on the back of baseball cards. The baseball cards came with gum -- and WAR meant a conflict between or among nations.

According to Usual Suspect, it wasn't until August 10, 1776 that news of the American Declaration of Independence arrived in London.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

National Polka Lovers Day, Book Lover's Day, Veep Day

Last year's post on National Polka Lovers Day remains one of the most popular ever published on this blog. This means one of two things: Either there is a hitherto unsuspected yearning among the huddled masses for all-things-Myron-Floren or, for reasons one can only speculate about, spammers really like polka.

Be that as it may, tomorrow, August 9 is National Polka Lovers Day. We hope your toes don't get stomped too badly amidst the gaiety and glamor.

Last year we suggested that Send an Email Day was the leading alternative to Polka Day, and Usual Suspect American Greetings does offer it as a suggestion for Friday.

But several of the Usual Suspects state that Friday will also be Rice Pudding Day and Veep Day.

Nobody knows or cares where Rice Pudding Day came from.

Given American ignorance of history, the origins of Veep Day may also be obscure to anyone under 50, but it was on August 9, 1974 that Vice President Gerald R. Ford succeeded Richard M. Nixon as President of the United States. Nixon had resigned in disgrace. Ford would soon pardon Nixon, paving the way for Jimmy Carter's election in 1976. However, for at least a brief moment in August 1974 most American found in Mr. Ford a breath of fresh air. Addressing the nation after taking office, President Ford stated "our long national nightmare is over."

Usual Suspect Holiday Insights says that Friday is also Book Lovers Day and Usual Suspect adds that Friday is also the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, a microminiholidayette courtesy of the United Nations. If you live where you were born and where your parents and grandparents were born before you, Indigenous Peoples Day might be about you, but probably isn't, even though you are, in the ordinary sense, indigenous to the region of your birth. On the other hand, if your ancestors were cruelly uprooted and forced to settle on worthless land where only casinos now grow, Indigenous Peoples Day might actually be about you, even though you are strongly inclined to reject any notion that you are indigenous to the region where you now reside, at least when the word "indigenous" is given its common, ordinary definition. Actually, if you take a long enough view, no human is indigenous to any part of the world except Africa, from whence we all came. If all this confuses you, well, you can always celebrate Polka Lovers Day.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

August 8: Doing creative things with zucchini -- and more

Watch out for clandestine zucchini placements tonight.
Usual Suspect is among those telling us that Thursday, August 8 is designated The Date to Create, presumably because "create" rhymes with "eight" (cre-ate on eight-eight). If you're the creative type, perhaps you can do something with this.

Nearly all of the Usual Suspects proclaim Thursday to be National Zucchini Day and several of them add that Thursday night will be Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Night.

Why would anyone want to do that?

On August 8, 1974, Richard Nixon announced that he was resigning as President of the United States. The resignation was effective at noon on August 9.

The Secret Society of Happy People has proclaimed August 8 as Happiness Happens Day. And it probably does.


But more power to them if they're happy. Maybe on Thursday you can find an excuse to be happy too, at least for a little while.

Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate (1967)
Maybe Dustin Hoffman will be happy on August 8. The actor turns 76 Thursday (born August 8, 1937).

Paul Hogan, the Australian actor perhaps best known for his portrayal of Michael J. "Crocodile" Dundee, was born on August 8, 1939.

African American explorer Matthew Henson, the man who may have been the first to set foot at the Geographic North Pole (on Admiral Peary's 1909 expedition) was born on August 8, 1866.

Astronaut James Irwin, the eighth man to walk on the Moon (the Lunar Module Pilot on the Apollo 15 mission) died on August 8, 1991.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Variety is the name of the game for August 7

We can discern no particular unifying theme for Wednesday, August 7, but there is a wide variety of things to celebrate if you are so inclined.

Wednesday, for example, will be Lighthouse Day, commemorating the day when the Lighthouses Act of 1789 was adopted, creating the U.S. Lighthouse Service.

Wednesday will also be Purple Heart Day because, on August 7, 1782, George Washington created the award that he called the "Badge for Military Merit." This award was revived and repurposed in the 20th Century as the Purple Heart.

On the frivolous side, Wednesday is Particularly Preposterous Packaging Day, an alliterative, tongue-twisting microminiholidayette honoring -- in a less than serious way -- the idiots who package useful things in packages that can't be opened without a PhD in engineering.

In the Muslim world, Ramadan, the month of fasting, is finally at an end. On Wednesday evening, then, Muslims break the long fast by celebrating Eid al-Fitr. Pope Francis has posted Eid greetings on line.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Tuesday is the 30th Annual National Night Out

Tuesday, August 6, will be the 30th Annual National Night Out. National Night Out, or as its promoters like to call it, "America's Night Out Against Crime," began in 1984. The purpose was and is "to promote involvement in crime prevention activities, police-community partnerships, neighborhood camaraderie and send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back." National Night Out now involves over 37 million people in 15,000 communities in all 50 states, U.S. Territories, military bases and even some Canadian cities. Check to see if your community is participating.

Tuesday is also National Fresh Breath Day, so brush your teeth or take a mint or something before going out to greet your neighbors for National Night Out. Celebrate National Night Out with a root beer float; Tuesday is also Root Beer Float Day.

On a somber note, Tuesday is also Hiroshima Day, the day remembering the dropping of the A-bomb on that Japanese city, 68 years ago.

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

But American strategists believed that the bombings saved lives -- Japanese as well as American.

This may seem farfetched today. But the Pacific War had been unbelievably bloody.

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

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

Okinawa was to be the jumping off point for the Allied invasion of the Japanese "Home Islands." The hundreds of thousands of American troops in Europe -- idle now after V-E Day -- spent the Summer of 1945 nervously awaiting transfer to the Pacific theater. Given the casualty rates in other Pacific-theater landings, it is reasonable to say that many of these men lived because so many in Hiroshima died.

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

From President Harry Truman's standpoint, the atomic bombs were a last-chance gamble to avoid full-scale invasion. The weapons employed were unbelievably terrible, but the worst thing about them, from the Japanese military standpoint, was that the bombs were visited upon Japan by single airplanes, leaving no chance for the dug-in defenders to inflict massive American casualties.

The Japanese did not know whether what happened on August 6, 1945 in Hiroshima (and a week later in Nagasaki) might happen in all of their cities, one by one, or two by two. They did not know that America used up its entire nuclear stockpile in the two attacks -- and because they did not know, but because they feared what might happen, the Japanese surrendered.

On Hiroshima Day, we remember the horrible choices both Japan and America faced in 1945 -- and we pray we make better choices in the future.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Work Like a Dog Day sounds more appropriate for Monday than another International Beer Day, doesn't it?

See what happens when we start to recognize microminiholidayettes dedicated to beer? They proliferate. We told you International Beer Day was Friday, August 2. Several of the Usual Suspects would have you believe that Monday, August 5 is International Beer Day instead. Or in addition.

If you can get away with extending your weekend, more power to you.

For the rest of us, Work Like a Dog Day sounds more appropriate for another darned Monday.

Interestingly, International Assistance Dog Week starts today, August 4, and runs through August 10. So... does Working Like a Dog Day refer to, you know, working like a dog, nose to the grindstone, and all that sort of stuff or does Working Like a Dog Day refer to working like an assistance dog -- guiding and comforting and all that sort of stuff? Usual Suspect Holiday Insights suggests the former... but we are not entirely persuaded. We leave it to you to sort out this cosmic conundrum, over one or more beers if you insist.

Monday August 5 is also National Underwear Day, at least in the opinion of corporate sponsor To celebrate the occasion, Freshpair is trying to round up as many people as possible to come out to New York's Times Square (at Broadway between 46th and 47th St.) between 5:00 and 7:30 EST -- in their skivvies of course -- in an effort to break one of the more obscure Guinness world records. Participants must be 18 or over -- and there are other rules besides. Among these are:
  1. Men must be wearing underpants, boxers, boxer briefs or briefs. They cannot be wearing shirts, undershirts, or jock straps.
  2. Women must wear underpants, thongs (not too revealing; allowed on a case-by-case basis), shapewear or boyshorts (that are clearly underwear). Shirts or full coverage bras are also permitted.
One wonders whether self-proclaimed "New York City icon" The Naked Cowboy will be participating.

Maureen McCormick as Marcia Brady
The United States Army abolished flogging on August 5, 1861. But the first income tax was levied on August 5, 1861 as well.

Usual Suspect says that the first stop light was installed on August 5, 1914 in Cleveland, Ohio (at the corner of Euclid Avenue and East 105th Street). Unfortunately, the linked article does not mention when the first ticket was issued for running that red light. We're guessing August 6, 1914.

The first man to walk on the Moon, Neil Armstrong, was born on August 5, 1930. He died just last year.

And if that doesn't make you feel old -- actress Maureen McCormick, who portrayed Marcia Brady on TV's Brady Bunch, turns 57 on Monday. She was born August 5, 1956.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Coast Gaurd and chocolate chips, sisters and single working women all on August 4

Congress created the Coast Guard on August 4, 1790, approving a proposal made by Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton for the construction of ten cutters to protect the new nation's revenue.

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

For years a creature of the Treasury Department, the Coast Guard was transferred to the U.S. Department of Transportation in 1967 and then, after 9/11, to the Department of Homeland Security. According to the Coast Guard website, on August 4, 1949 Congress "confirmed that the Coast Guard was a branch of the armed forces of the United States, [and] confirmed it in its general functions of marine safety, maritime law enforcement, and military readiness to operate as a service in the Navy upon declaration of war or when the president directs."

Fair warning: Celebration of Coast Guard Day will almost certainly not be accepted as an excuse should you be accused of boating under the influence on Sunday.

Sunday will also be Chocolate Chip Day -- which seems rather random. Couldn't any day be Chocolate Chip Day?

Sunday is Sister's Day and, according to some of the Usual Suspects, Single Working Women Day. If your sister is a single working woman, you have a twofer. Perhaps you can bake chocolate chip cookies in celebration?

Percy Bysshe Shelley, the English poet, was born on August 4, 1822.

According to Wikipedia, Louis Armstrong was born on August 4, 1901. If you thought ol' Satch was born on the 4th of July, you're not alone. Armstrong used to claim that he was born on July 4, 1900 -- but his true August birthdate was discovered years after he died (in 1971).

Samuel J. Tilden died on August 4, 1886. Tilden won the popular vote for President of the United States in 1876 -- but lost in the Electoral College to Rutherford B. Hayes when three states in the still-being-Reconstructed South (Florida -- what else is new? -- Louisiana and South Carolina) each sent two sets of electors. Without these three states, Tilden had 184 electoral votes. He need only 185 to win the election. A commission established to resolve the controversy, however, voted 8-7, along party lines, to award all the disputed states to Hayes... who thus received (just barely) the 185 votes needed for election.

The linked Wikipedia article quotes Tilden as saying, "I can retire to public life with the consciousness that I shall receive from posterity the credit of having been elected to the highest position in the gift of the people, without any of the cares and responsibilities of the office."

To this day, Tilden remains the only presidential candidate to receive a majority of the popular vote (he got 51%) and not be elected President.

We know... we know... you're thinking about Al Gore in 2000 and, yes, it's true that Gore did garner more popular votes that George W. Bush, 50,999,897 to 50,456,002. But Gore won only 48.4% of the popular vote, not a majority.