Sunday, March 31, 2013

In addition to April Fools' Day, Monday will be...

In addition to April Fools' Day, Monday will be Opening Day in Major League Baseball. OK, technically, the 2013 Championship Season starts tonight when the Texas Rangers welcome the Houston Astros to the American League, but most major league teams are scheduled to start play on Monday, April 1... weather permitting.

If you can't ditch work and head out to the ballpark today, do not despair. Some of the Usual Suspects tout Monday as National Fun at Work Day (one goes so far as to proclaim it International Fun at Work Day).

Of course, we're a little skeptical when 'fun' and 'work' are used in the same sentence -- and having too much fun at work may well be hazardous to your long- and short-term employment prospects. The Blog of Days can not be responsible for the consequences of your celebrating Fun at Work Day.

Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne founded Apple on April 1, 1976, and that was certainly no joke.

And there is an odd coincidence of Air Force anniversaries on April 1:

Saturday, March 30, 2013

OK, besides Easter, what is Sunday, March 31?

Photo obtained from this site.

Sunday, March 31 will be the 10th anniversary of the destruction of Meigs Field, once Chicago's lakefront airport.

In fact, Meigs Field was Chicago's airport on March 30, 2003. Flights were scheduled in and out the following day -- 16 private planes, in fact, were stranded -- when bulldozers, acting on the orders of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, carved giant 'X's in the concrete runway in the wee small hours of the night of March 30 or morning of March 31. It was no secret that Daley wanted Meigs closed (he shuttered it briefly in 1996-97), but as Wikipedia explains, "In 2001, a compromise was reached between Chicago, the State of Illinois, and others to keep the airport open for the next twenty-five years. However, the federal legislation component of the deal" -- involving the still ongoing expansion of O'Hare Airport -- "did not pass the United States Senate," allowing Daley to claim that there was no longer a deal. Daley didn't even tell the FAA before sending in the bulldozers; the City was eventually required to pay a nominal fine as a result.

Mayor Daley claimed that destroying Meigs would make the City safer -- no crazy person in a small plane could take off from Meigs -- now Northerly Island, a park and concert venue -- and visit destruction on our fair city.

Except, of course, as the linked Wikipedia article makes clear, "closing the airport made the airspace less restrictive. When the airport was open, downtown Chicago was within Meigs Field's Class D airspace, requiring two-way radio communication with the tower. The buildings in downtown Chicago are now in Class E/G airspace, which allows any airplane to legally fly as close as 1,000 feet (300 m) from these buildings with no radio communication at all" (footnotes omitted).

Several of the Usual Suspects want to designate Sunday as Bunsen Burner Day, commemorating the birth of German chemist Robert Wilhelm Eberhard von Bunsen on March 31, 1811. Wikipedia, however, says Bunsen was born on March 30, 1811, and although Bunsen himself celebrated March 31 as his natal day in later years, Bunsen's biographer was pretty certain that March 30 was really the correct day.

March 31 is also National "She's Funny That Way" Day, which sounds like something you'd better say with a smile on your face, mister.

The Eiffel Tower opened on March 31, 1889, leading some of the usual suspects to designate Sunday as Eiffel Tower Day.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Saturday is Doctors Day

A "deranged drifter," John Hinckley Jr., shot President Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981. Reagan was badly wounded, but he still found the strength to quip with his doctors, "Please tell me you're Republicans."

Reagan was not the first U.S. President to survive an assassination attempt; Squeaky Fromme, for example, tried to take a shot at President Gerald Ford in 1975, but the gun didn't go off.

But Reagan was the first U.S. President to actually be shot while in office and survive (Andrew Jackson had taken a bullet in a duel before he was President). Reagan also broke, or his doctors broke, the so called 'curse of the zeroes.' Until Reagan, every President elected in a year ending with a '0' from William Henry Harrison (in 1840) onwards had died in office (Lincoln in 1860, Garfield in 1880, McKinley in 1900 -- all assassinated -- Harding in 1920, FDR in 1940 and, of course, JFK in 1960).

Regan's doctors saved him (Garfield's doctors may have hastened his demise) but neither of those events has anything to do with Doctors Day. Instead, according to Usual Suspect, Holiday Insights, "Doctors' Day observances date back to March 30, 1933. It was started by Eudora Brown Almond of Winder, Ga. The day marks the anniversary of the first use of general anesthesia in surgery. The first National Doctor's Day was celebrated in 1991." (The attempt on Reagan's life does have something to do with why March 30 is called by some National I Am In Control Day, after Al Haig's unfortunate -- and inaccurate -- choice of words back at the White House after the news got out about Reagan's shooting.)

Saturday will also be Pencil Day. According to Usual Suspect, on March 30, 1858, "the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted the first-ever patent for a modern pencil with an eraser attached to it. Hymen Lipman created the wooden pencil and received high praise for how easy it was to use for writing."

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Niagara Falls ran dry on March 29, 1848

The falls were blocked by an ice dam upriver. The ice blocked the water flow and, according to this account,
One of the first residents to notice the deafening silence was farmer, Jed Porter of Niagara Falls, New York. During the late evening of March 29th, he left home for a stroll along the river near the American Falls and realized the thundering roar of the Falls was absent. A closer examination revealed the amount of the water flowing over the Falls had been greatly diminished.

Residents awoke on the morning of March 30th to an eerie silence and realized something was amiss. People were drawn to the Falls to find that the water flow of the Niagara River had been reduced to a mere trickle. Thomas Clark Street, the owner and operator of the large Bridgewater Mills along the Canadian shore at Dufferin Islands was awakened by one of his employees at 5 a.m. on March 30th reporting the mill had been shut down because the mill race was empty.

By the morning of March 31st, more than 5,000 people had gathered along the banks of the river. All the mills and factories [dependent] upon water power were stilled.

The river bed was quickly drying. Fish and turtles were left floundering on now dry land. A number of people made their way into the gorge to the riverbed. Here they saw articles that had been laying on the river's bottom and had been hidden for hundreds of years. Souvenirs picked up included bayonets, guns barrels, muskets, tomahawks and other artifacts of the War of 1812.

Other spectators were able to walk out onto the river bed that had only hours earlier been a torrent of rapids and would have resulted in certain death. It became a tourist and media event. People on foot, on horseback or by horse and buggy, crossed the width of the Niagara River. It was a historical event that had never occurred before and has never been duplicated since.

A squad of soldiers of the U.S. Army Cavalry rode their horses up and down the river bed as an exhibition.

Below the Falls, workers from the Maid of the Mist were able to venture out onto the river bed and blast away rocks which had normally been a navigation hazard to the Maid of the Mist boat since its inception in 1846.
Well, the wind shifted on March 31 and the ice dam broke -- and the water came back.

Photo by Saffron Blaze obtained from Wikipedia.

This natural occurrence is recalled annually as Niagara Falls Runs Dry Day. But the truth is that Niagara Falls runs dryer than it used to -- and has for over 100 years, since hydroelectric plants started going up along the river trying to harness the power of the river and turn it into electrical power. We'll let the Wikipedia account pick the story up from there (footnotes removed):
In 1961, when the Niagara Falls hydroelectric project first went on line, it was the largest hydropower facility in the Western world. Today, Niagara is still the largest electricity producer in New York State, with a generating capacity of 2.4 gigawatts (million kilowatts). Up to 375,000 U.S. gallons (1,420 m3) of water a second is diverted from the Niagara River through conduits under the City of Niagara Falls to the Lewiston and Robert Moses power plants. Currently between 50% and 75% of the Niagara River's flow is diverted via four huge tunnels that arise far upstream from the waterfalls. The water then passes through hydroelectric turbines that supply power to nearby areas of Canada and the United States before returning to the river well past the falls. This water spins turbines that power generators, converting mechanical energy into electrical energy. When electricity demand is low, the Lewiston units can operate as pumps to transport water from the lower bay back up to the plant's reservoir, allowing this water to be used again during the daytime when electricity use peaks. During peak electrical demand, the same Lewiston pumps are reversed and actually become generators, similar to those at the Moses plant.

To preserve Niagara Falls' natural beauty, a 1950 treaty signed by the U.S. and Canada limited water usage by the power plants. The treaty allows higher summertime diversion at night when tourists are fewer and during the winter months when there are even fewer tourists. This treaty, designed to ensure an "unbroken curtain of water" is flowing over the falls, states that during daylight time during the tourist season (April 1 to October 31) there must be 100,000 cubic feet per second (2,800 m3/s) of water flowing over the falls, and during the night and off-tourist season there must be 50,000 cubic feet per second (1,400 m3/s) of water flowing over the falls.
In other words, the electric companies turn the falls down at night and in the winter to make more electricity.

The Knights of Columbus were formed on March 29, 1882, leading some of the Usual Suspects to call Friday Knights of Columbus Day. Friday will also be the 70th birthday of Eric Idle (born March 29, 1943).

March 29 is also the birthday of two great pitchers -- Cy Young (born March 29, 1887) and Denny McLain (born March 29, 1944). McLain was baseball's last (and perhaps last ever) pitcher to win more than 30 games in a season (31-6 with the 1968 World Champion Detroit Tigers); Cy Young had 511 career pitching victories, one of the few baseball records that seems safer with every passing year. Cy Young never went to prison; Denny McLain, on the other hand....

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Weed Appreciation Day

This year, March 28 is Holy Thursday, the beginning of the solemn Easter Triduum.

But it will also be Weed Appreciation Day.

From Roger Ebert's Journal.
We were going to say that we can't imagine why anyone would appreciate weeds but then we thought about it: This year, with North America's late-arriving and long-lingering Winter, even the return of the dandelions might be cause for celebration.

For about 10 seconds.

Thursday will also be National Something on a Stick Day. Apparently just about anything on a stick fits in with this partially-thought-out microminiholidayette.

Dwight D. Eisenhower died on March 28, 1969. President Eisenhower died of natural causes (congestive heart failure).

Not so lucky was the Roman Emperor Pertinax, who was assassinated by his Praetorian Guard on March 28, 193. (The Praetorian Guard then auctioned the job off to the highest bidder.) Apparently the Praetorian Guard was miffed with Pertinax because he tried to impose some discipline and reform on them.

Come to think of it, our crack research staff, which is desperate need of both reform and discipline, was careful to highlight this cause of Pertinax's murder in their memo for this post. Should we be nervous?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Quirky Country Music Song Titles Day or Viagra Day

We can't make this stuff up; we wish we were that clever.

Wednesday really will be Viagra Day, as several of the Usual Suspects claim, because the FDA approved Viagra on March 27, 1998.

We can't imagine any place offering a drink special tomorrow night in honor of Viagra Day. Well, maybe a couple of places on Rush Street in Chicago. But only unofficially.

How would one openly celebrate Viagra Day anyway? (Get your collective minds out of the gutter, gentle readers.) We mean... what would one say? "Yes, I'm celebrating Viagra Day... but only for a friend?"

Quirky Country Music Song Titles Day is only slightly less unsettling. Songs like Gary Stewart's, "She's Actin' Single and I'm Drinkin' Doubles" (1974) or the 1982 Jerry Reed hit, "She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)," are barely quirky enough for this microminiholidayette. No, the song titles that pop up (bubble up?) in a quick Internet search are things like
  • I Still Miss You Baby, But My Aim's Gettin' Better,
  • If You Can’t Live Without Me, Why Aren’t You Dead?
  • If I Had Shot You When I Wanted To, I'd Be Out By Now,
  • My Wife Ran Off With My Best Friend and I Sure Do Miss Him,
  • I've Been Flushed From The Bathroom Of Your Heart,
  • Peekin’ Through the Knothole In Grandma’s Wooden Leg, or
  • I’m Sorry I Made You Cry, But At Least Your Face Is Cleaner.
Except as specified, we can't vouch for the authenticity of any of these... but we find them disturbing nonetheless.

Safer choices for celebration tomorrow may include Kite Flying Day (also referred to as Go Fly a Kite Day, but that carries with it an entirely different vibe, doesn't it?) or National Joe Day, a day on which you may call everyone, including yourself, "Joe." That's rather silly, and difficult to explain, but far less embarrassing, we think, than Viagra Day.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Tuesday is Make Up Your Own Holiday Day

Besides this guy, who actually
celebrates National Spinach Day?
Well, at least the Usual Suspects are upfront about it: Having little better to offer, the Usual Suspects proclaim Tuesday, March 26 Make Up Your Own Holiday Day today.

Usual Suspect, however, puts a thoughtful spin on the idea, noting, "Establishing an official national holiday is not an easy process. For example, in the 1800s Sarah Josepha Hale decided that our nation should observe a national day of thanks. She wrote countless letters to politicians, governors, and even the president. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln agreed to Hale’s proposal, but Thanksgiving did not become an official national holiday until 1941!"

If you find your imagination limited, today is also Legal Assistants Day and National Spinach Day.

Poet Robert Frost was born on March 26, 1874 (in San Francisco, California), playwright Tennessee Williams was born on March 26, 1911 (in Columbus, Mississippi) and comedian Bob Elliott (of Bob and Ray fame) was born on March 26, 1923 (in Boston). Bob Elliott is the father of Chris Elliott (you'll remember him from Groundhog's Day, for example) and the grandfather of Abby Elliott (who, like her father Chris, was a member of the cast of Saturday Night Live, in her case from 2008 to 2012).

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Passover starts at sunset Monday

Image from Wikipedia.
Passover begins at sundown Monday.

If you think there is a symmetry between Passover (Pesach) and Easter, you are entirely correct. The Last Supper, remembered in every Communion service in every Christian church, was a Passover Seder.

Passover will run this year from Monday evening until sunset on April 1 or 2.

This year, clearly, Passover takes precedence over the usual run of microminiholidayettes -- and, don't worry, you're not missing much.

It's Pecan Day or Waffle Day (you can combine these, we suppose, and make pecan waffles). Monday is also the 71st birthday of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin (born March 25, 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee) and the 66th birthday of Sir Elton John (born Reginald Dwight on March 25, 1947 in Pinner, Middlesex, England).

Saturday, March 23, 2013

This year March 24 is Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday, the start of Holy Week for western Christianity, falls on March 24 this year. On Palm Sunday we remember the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem -- and the Passion and Death He will soon suffer.

But Palm Sunday moves around from year to year. It takes precedence tomorrow, yes, but don't worry: You're not missing much.

The U.N. designates March 24 as World Tuberculosis Day (remembering that on March 24, 1882 Robert Koch announced the discovery of mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria species that causes the disease). Tuberculosis isn't as scary as it once was -- but it may be very scary again in the near future, because the antibiotics that greatly reduced the perils of tuberculosis are increasingly resisted by evolving strains of the disease.

On a happier note, March 24 is also Chocolate Covered Raisin Day.

Elvis Presley was inducted into the U.S. Army on March 24, 1958, 55 years ago. Queen Elizabeth I of England died on March 24, 1603, leaving the throne to James VI of Scotland (James I of England). The Exxon Valdez ran aground on March 24, 1989 in Alaska's Prince William Sound, spilling anywhere from 260,000 to 750,000 gallons of crude oil. And Archbishop Óscar Romero was murdered while saying Mass on March 24, 1980 in San Salvador, El Salvador.

Friday, March 22, 2013

March 23: Unhappy anniversaries and Puppy Day

Benito Mussolini founded the Fascist movement in Italy, reforming "the Milan fascio as the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento (Italian Combat Squad)", on March 23, 1919.

The German Reichstag passed the Enabling Act of 1933 on March 23 of that year, putting Adolf Hitler on the road to absolute power.

Martin Fleischmann of the University of Southampton and Stanley Pons of the University of Utah announced the discovery of cold fusion on March 23, 1989. This discovery would have provided an elegant solution to the world's energy problems -- except, of course, it didn't work.

With events like these to choose from, it's not surprising that many of the Usual Suspects tout March 23 as Near Miss Day -- no, not referring to cold fusion, but rather to Earth's close encounter (within 500,000 miles) with a mountain-sized asteroid -- but also on March 23, 1989. Perhaps the asteroid came close enough to steal the secret of cold fusion in its slipstream.

We'll try and ignore all of these, therefore, and celebrate National Puppy Day instead.

Also on the menu for Saturday are National Melba Toast Day and National Chip and Dip Day.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Friday will be Goof Off Day

Our crack research staff celebrates this one year round, but Friday, March 22 is the official Goof Off Day microminiholidayette.

A word to any wage slaves looking in: Your boss may not appreciate your open celebration of Goof Off Day, so be careful how you mark the occasion at work. The Blog of Days is not responsible for any consequences that may be visited on your sorry butt for goofing off too noticeably in the office on Friday.

And if you think Goof Off Day is all wet, consider Word Water Day, another U.N. observance. You can celebrate by putting ice in your drinks tonight at the local watering hole -- or, better, by visiting the linked website and learning about the problems caused by unequal access to potable water around the world.

And, whatever else you do Friday, set your phasers on stunned: William Shatner turns 82 on March 22 (he was born in Montreal on March 22, 1931).

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

March 21: Common Courtesy Day, Single Parent's Day

Most of the Usual Suspects highlight these two observances. We would prefer that Common Courtesy Day to be observed each and every day, but if everyone observes it on Thursday, that might be a nice start.

And it's hard to argue with the idea of setting aside a day to offer support for the single parents we might know. Of course, single parents need your support far more often than just on Single Parent's Day.

Thursday is also National French Bread Day and a UN observance, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (the theme of this year's observance being "racism and sport").

There is some confusion as to whether March 21 is Brain Injury Awareness Day or whether it was supposed to be observed on March 13. Either way, March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, so Thursday is as good a day as any to note the observance.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

March 20: Alien Abduction Day? Maybe not any more....

Is this the face of an alien abductor? We may never know....
Several of the Usual Suspects mention that Wednesday, March 20 is Alien Abduction Day, but our crack research staff was unable to locate any current links marking the observance.

You do know what this means, don't you?

Obviously, everyone who knew anything about it has already been abducted!

More responsibly, March 20 will be the alleged First Day of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. The vernal equinox occurs even if there's snow on the ground across much of the northern U.S., as is the case this year.

Tied to the first day of Spring is Snowman Burning Day, a microminiholidayette that seems to have originated in Minnesota. This involves building a 'snowman' out of straw and setting it on fire to celebrate the end of Winter (real snowmen being notoriously hard to burn).

World Storytelling logo design by Mats Rehnman
World Storytelling Day is also celebrated on the first day of spring. The theme this year is "Fortune and Fate," although we wonder if the organizers would be terribly upset if you instead told stories speculating on the fate of those who used to commemorate alien abduction....

Some sources, including Wikipedia, claim the very first Earth Day was observed on March 20, 1971 (although we'd dispute that -- we have a recollection of an Earth Day celebration in 1970) -- and the Wikipedia article on Earth Day backs us up. Either way, March 20 is the date on which International Earth Day is celebrated; in the United States, you'll have to wait until April 22.

Of course, Winter might actually be over by April 22.

Usual Suspect suggests that Wednesday will also be Kiss Your Fiancée Day. If a man has to have a microminiholidayette dedicated to the concept before he can be persuaded to kiss his intended bride, isn't the relationship already doomed?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Do you wear red for St. Joseph's Day?

Nearly everyone in Chicago -- Irish or not -- wore green for St. Patrick's Day. Well, Tuesday is the Feast of St. Joseph, Mary's husband and guardian of Jesus, patron of the universal Church. Among Italians and Poles in particular, the custom is to wear red for St. Joseph's Day, just as the Irish wear green for St. Patrick.

We're happy to wear red, too.

Tuesday will also be the bicentennial birthday of David Livingstone, born March 19, 1813. Yes, this is the Dr. Livingstone of "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" Wyatt Earp was born on March 19, 1848. William Jennings Bryan was born on March 19, 1860.

Foodies may be interested in observing Poultry Day or Chocolate Caramel Day. It's also supposedly Corndog Day, but we can't see Foodies going for that one.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

March 18 is Biodiesel Day. Probably.

There is plenty of support among the Usual Suspects for calling Monday Biodiesel Day, the day being selected because it is the anniversary of the birth of Rudolf Diesel (born March 18, 1858 in Paris, France).

With gasoline prices soaring to unprecedented heights, the idea of grow-your-own fuel or, especially, turn-waste-products-into-fuel, becomes increasingly attractive. Of course, if a car passing by is running on oil once used to make french fries, the emissions can make you can fall right off your diet.

But The Blog of Days is never going to be confused with Scientific American. We leave the technical stuff to technical people. But we can support 'em -- especially on March 18.

It's just... well... wouldn't you know the Wikipedia entry on biodiesel fuels suggests that there may be an International Biodiesel Day celebrated on August 10, commemorating the anniversary of that day in 1893 when "Rudolf Diesel's prime model, a single 10 ft (3 m) iron cylinder with a flywheel at its base, ran on its own power for the first time in Augsburg, Germany," burning nothing but peanut oil.

We hate these kinds of controversies, and usually shy away from them. Nevertheless, just this once, we'll pick Monday, March 18 as the one and only Biodiesel Day.

According to some of the Usual Suspects, Monday will also be Awkward Moments Day -- you may have had some this weekend in the course of your Paddy's Day revels -- and Forgive Mom and Dad Day. None of the proponents of this microminiholidayette (including the apparent originators of same) explain precisely what we are supposed to forgive Mom and Dad for, suggesting only that there's not a parent alive who hasn't made mistakes. As the young people say, duh.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

What's to celebrate on March 17 other than the Feast of St. Patrick?

Short answer: Nothing.

In America, the patron saint of Ireland is celebrated by persons of every race, color, creed, and national origin. (This is particularly so here in Chicago, where The Blog of Days has its World Headquarters. The special popularity of the Feast may have something to do with the many Irish who settled here -- but it may also have something to do with the fact that our primary elections are usually held around March 17.)

But the great parade in downtown Chicago takes place today -- and by tomorrow there may be some that are St. Patricked out.

Our crack research staff offers, then, these alternatives: Sunday will be Submarine Day, commemorating the first successful submerged run of a submarine on St. Patrick's Day in 1898. The timing was perhaps not coincidental. The submarine was then known as the Holland VI and her inventor, John Holland, was an Irish-American, born in County Clare, who emigrated to the United States in 1873.

The USS Holland
That same boat would be purchased by the U.S. Navy and recommissioned as the USS Holland (SS-1).

Usual Suspect says that Sunday will also be Rubber Band Day, commemorating its invention in 1845. We did not ask our crack research staff to investigate this claim; we felt we'd pressed our luck getting them to sort out the conflicting information on Submarine Day.

Sunday is also the Fifth Day of Lent and -- if you're looking for a Saint to celebrate other than Patrick -- our new Usual Suspect says that it is also the Feast of Joseph of Arimathea. Mark suggests that Joseph may have been a dissenting member of the Sanhedrin that condemned Jesus; in the Gospel of John, Joseph obtained the release of Jesus's body from Pilate and donated his own his own tomb for Jesus's burial. According to legend, Joseph brought the Holy Grail to Britain.

Friday, March 15, 2013

March 16: Lips Appreciation Day and so much more

You may be gratified to learn, as you polish your "Kiss Me, I'm Irish" button in anticipation of Sunday's festivities, that Saturday, March 16 is Lips Appreciation Day. Practice your pucker.

And Saturday will be the 'feast' of a lesser-known (and entirely fictitious) saint, The Feast of St. Urho, who drove the grasshoppers out of Finland. While St. Urho is allegedly admired all over the United States, Canada, and even Finland, his feast is celebrated most enthusiastically in Minnesota. The winters are just too danged long in Minnesota; that's got to be the explanation.

There really was a James Madison, however, the fourth President of the United States, and he was born on March 16, 1751. The American Library Association relates Freedom of Information Day to President Madison's birthday because he is "widely regarded as the Father of the Constitution and as the foremost advocate for openness in government."

Usual Suspect tells us that the first liquid-fueled rocket was successfully launched on March 16, 1926. For this reason, many of the Usual Suspects designate March 16 as Goddard Day, for Robert H. Goddard, the man who built and launched that rocket.

And perhaps to make up for the decision to call today Everything You Think is Wrong Day, Usual Suspect Holiday Insights proclaims Saturday as Everything You Do is Right Day.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Beware the Ides of March?

Gaius Julius Caesar
The 60 or so Senators who murdered Caesar in the Theater of Pompey, where the Senate was meeting on the Ides of March (March 15) in 44 B.C., did not consider themselves assassins.

The recruitment of Marcus Junius Brutus the Younger to the plot was a bid by the plotters to symbolically link the crime with the ouster of Rome's last king, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, by Lucius Junius Brutus, Marcus Junius's ancestor. Brutus, Cassius and all the rest thought they were liberators. That's what they called themselves. They thought they were ridding Rome of a man who would be king and thereby restoring the Republic.

The Romans disagreed and Marcus Junius and his fellow Liberators came to a bad end.

But America's Founding Fathers were enamored of the Boni, the "Good Men" who opposed Caesar. As George Washington and his contemporaries learned the tale, Caesar really did have ambitions to destroy the Republic (he had, after all, installed himself as Dictator for Life). Cato the Younger, Marcus Porcius Cato Uticensis, the subject of Joseph Addison's play, Cato (a particular favorite of Washington's), was believed by many of our Founders to be the personification of all republican virtues. And Cato was dead before Caesar's assassination, killed in the last of the civil wars that led to Caesar assuming personal control of Rome and its dominions, so he was not tainted by participation in political murder.

A great irony of history is that Cato and, later, the Liberators, may have thought they were fighting to preserve the Republic, but they were arguably the most reactionary of men, unreasonably wedded to an unworkable system of municipal government, wholly inadequate to the task of governing Italy, much less the vast territories of Spain, Africa, Greece and Gaul and all the other areas that had been conquered by Roman legions. They couldn't figure out any way of holding the conquered territories except by force of arms; they certainly could not have imagined integrating the new territories in a Roman nation. Caesar's vision and vocabulary may have been inadequate to the task as well -- but his expansion of "Latin rights" throughout the Empire and his appointment of so many new Senators, for example, may indicate that he was more on the right path to forging a broader-based Roman nation than the myopic Boni.

We suppose this really doesn't matter now, anyway, except to historians.

What matters is that America's Founding Fathers accomplished what Caesar may have wanted, while still espousing the republican virtues of Cato: They figured out how to incorporate new territory into the United States of America so that all Americans can be equal -- the person born in Massachusetts or New York has no greater claim to 'American-ness' than one born in Alaska or Hawaii.

Some of the Usual Suspects also call Friday Brutus Day, but the originators this microminiholidayette were trying to make the point that, "No matter where you work, you must admit there's as much intrigue, plotting and back stabbing as was found in Ancient Rome or is found today inside the Beltway."

TGIF, indeed.

Usual Suspect Holiday Insights says Friday will also be Everything You Think is Wrong Day, but this is more in recognition of the sad fact that, some days, nothing seems to bounce your way -- as opposed to forcing you to reappraise everything you once held true. Who'd want to celebrate that?

Friday is also World Consumer Rights Day. Always remember: The customer is always right. Unless the bank or credit card company disagrees.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pi Day!

It's not irrational to celebrate Pi Day on 3/14.

Our crack research staff gave us this link to a site that purports to list one million digits of pi. We can't vouch for whether there really are a million digits shown at that site, but we did scroll down for some time -- and never did get to the end. Here's an excerpt: "3.1415926...."

Of course, so far as mathematicians know, you can't get to the end of pi. It's an irrational number, meaning it can not be expressed as the quotient of two integers (although you'll sometimes see it approximated at 22/7) and it never settles into any repeating pattern. And people have investigated: Wikipedia says that pi has been calculated to 10 trillion digits.

Interestingly, Albert Einstein was born on Pi Day in 1879. Astronaut Frank Borman turns 85 on March 14; Sir Michael Caine and Quincy Jones both turn 80. Eugene Cernan, the last man on the Moon, will turn 79 on Thursday. Most of Billy Crystal turns 65 on March 14. His face, of course, is considerably younger.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

March 13 is Ear Muffs Day

The Usual Suspects are in rare accord on this one: Wednesday is Ear Muffs Day -- although there is some dispute as to whether the item should be rendered as two words (ear muffs) or one (earmuffs). There has to be some controversy at all times.

We were unable to ascertain why March 13 should be designated Earmuffs/Ear Muffs Day. After all, in most populated northern climes, the first tentative portents of the coming spring can be discerned. The time for earmuffs, however spelled, is rapidly drawing to a close.

Wednesday will also be the anniversary of the day in 1781 when British astronomer William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus, surely the planet with the most unfortunate name.

Don't blame Herschel for the name, by the way. According to Wikipedia, he wanted to name his discovery "Georgium Sidus (George's Star), or the 'Georgian Planet' in honour of his new patron, King George III." But other countries were cool to this idea.

Eventually, astronomers settled on Uranus because of its placement beyond the orbit of Saturn. No, wait, we can explain: In Roman mythology Saturn is the father of Jupiter. In the Solar System, Saturn is the next planet out from Jupiter. Thus, it was not entirely illogical to name the next planet out from Saturn for Saturn's father.

There was just one small problem. Uranus was the Latinized form of the Greek Ouranos -- the mythological father of Chronos (Saturn) -- but, though the Romans borrowed extensively from the Greek pantheon, they didn't steal everything. According to Wikipedia, the counterpart of Ouranos in Roman mythology was Caelus. No cult of Ouranos-Uranus appears to have survived into Classical times. Thus, while all the previously known planets of the Solar System were named for proper Roman gods, Uranus was named for a long-abandoned Greek god. It was a long stretch to make for a debatable mythological point -- the questionable value of which is surely outweighed by the snickers of ill-mannered children down through the decades.

Good Samaritan Day is offered by some of the Usual Suspects as an alternative for Wednesday. This, it turns out, is a somber observance, recalling the terrible events of March 13, 1964, when Catherine Susan "Kitty" Genovese was stabbed to death near her home in the Kew Gardens neighborhood in the borough of Queens in New York City.

Many tragedies are played out every day on the streets of our great cities, but this one is remembered specially because no fewer than 38 bystanders allegedly witnessed Genovese's murderer pursue and stab the girl -- all refusing to get involved. This was the slant taken by Martin Gansberg in a famous March 27, 1964 article in the New York Times, although (as the linked Wikipedia article relates, footnotes omitted) "[a] 2007 study found many of the purported facts about the murder to be unfounded. The study found 'no evidence for the presence of 38 witnesses, or that witnesses observed the murder, or that witnesses remained inactive'."

Programming Note: We have lost one of our Usual Suspects. Hallmark's Ultimate Holiday Site has apparently been shut down. We've removed the site from the Sidebar..

Monday, March 11, 2013

Tuesday, March 12 is Girl Scouts Day

The Girl Scouts trace their origin to March 12, 1912, when Juliette Gordon Law officially registered the first 18 "Girl Guide" members in Savannah, Georgia. Tuesday, therefore, is Girl Scouts Day.

Feel free to celebrate with a cookie or two.

Tuesday will also be Organize Your Home Office Day -- unless you work for Yahoo, that is, in which case March 12 may well be Shut Down Your Home Office Day. Tuesday is also National Baked Scallops Day, although you might want to wait until Friday to observe that one.

For reasons we can not fathom, Usual Suspect suggests that Tuesday will be National Alfred Hitchcock Day. British filmmaker Hitchcock was born on August 13, 1899 in London and died, in California, on April 29, 1980. So what's the connection to March 12? We can't figure it out.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

March 11: Johnny Appleseed Day? Again? No!

We here at The Blog of Days feel compelled to gripe about the many duplications, overlaps, and seemingly pointless repetitions on the calendar. We pointed out several different peanut butter or beer days, for example.

Today provides another splendid example: Most of the Usual Suspects proclaim Monday, March 11 as Johnny Appleseed Day -- and most of these fail to even note that these same sites also touted September 26 as Johnny Appleseed Day, too.

Kudos, however, to Usual Suspect Holiday Insights for not only acknowledging the duplication, but attempting to explain it: September 26 is the birthday of Johnny Appleseed; March 11 may be the anniversary of his death. And Holiday Insights admits that even the date of Appleseed's death is uncertain (Wikipedia, for example, says Johnny Appleseed died on March 18). Better still, Holiday Insights suggests that only one of these dates be remembered as Johnny Appleseed Day -- and it suggests that Johnny Appleseed's September 26 birthday, which coincides with the annual apple harvest, is a better choice.

We concur.

Don't celebrate Johnny Appleseed Day on Monday.

Is this an object of worship?
Usual Suspects Days of the Year and offer World Plumbing Day as an alternative for Monday.

Monday is also Oatmeal Nut Waffles Day and Napping Day, the latter being established to cope with the consequences of the switch to Daylight Savings Time. Please note, however, The Blog of Days is not responsible for the consequence of your choosing to observe Napping Day by putting your head down on your desk at work at anytime on Monday.

Monday is also National Worship of Tools Day. Yes, we understand the cliche about men and hardware stores. We know that many people make their living using tools -- plumbers, for example (in keeping with one of the events of the day). We nevertheless find it hard to believe that there are really those who carry their fondness for tools to the point of 'worship.'

But, hey, who listens to us? Go ahead, pour yourself a stiff applejack and bow in the direction of your home workshop.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

March 10 is the International Day of Awesomeness

The Usual Suspects are in rare accord on this one: Sunday, March 10 will be the International Day of Awesomeness (motto: "No one's perfect, but everyone can be awesome").

Inasmuch as the leading alternative seems to be National Blueberry Popover Day, we won't argue with it. We're just not going to try and describe what awesomeness is.

Sunday is also the Fourth Sunday of Lent, and the feast day of Pope Saint Simplicius. Simplicius (that's him, on the left) was Pope from A.D. 468-483, years that coincided with the death throes of the Western Roman Empire. Simplicius died of natural causes on March 10, 483 (and when you think about it, it was pretty awesome that a prominent person was actually able to die of natural causes during those turbulent times).

In most of the United States, tomorrow is the day we 'spring forward' to daylight savings time. Set your clocks ahead an hour so that you're on time for everything on Sunday. And, while you're at it, check the batteries on your smoke detectors, too. (Usual Suspect calls Sunday Check Your Batteries Day.) Being on time and safely escaping a house fire are both pretty awesome, each in their own way.

Friday, March 8, 2013

How many times have you been told that 'now is not the time to panic?'

Pop Star Barbie image obtained
from Mattel website
Keep your nerve. Keep your head. Don't panic.

Most people have probably received that advice dozens of times in any given year. You may have wondered, if not now, when?

Well, wonder no more: Tomorrow, Saturday, March 9 is Panic Day. Plan to head for the hills.

If you don't want to panic on command, tomorrow is also Barbie Day. Usual Suspect tells us that the first Barbie doll went on display at the American Toy Fair in New York City on March 9, 1959.

Since her debut, Barbie has been criticized for her unrealistic proportions. Her dimensions have confused generations of little girls since.

It turns out, there's a reason: Barbie did not start out life as a children's toy. says that Barbie's creator, Ruth Handler, who co-founded Mattel, Inc. with her husband in 1945, modeled Barbie after "a doll named Lilli, based on a German comic strip character" which was "[o]riginally marketed as a racy gag gift to adult men in tobacco shops."

Therapists, take note.

Saturday's Barbie Day observance is distinct from the September 6 observance of Barbie Doll Day.

Some of the Usual Suspects also suggest commemorating Joe Franklin Day on March 9. Joe Franklin was a long-time TV talk show host in New York. He is credited, in fact, with inventing the talk show format (his first show aired in 1951). Franklin was born March 9, 1926; he turns 87 on Saturday.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Friday is Be Nasty Day

Most of the Usual Suspects concur on this: Friday, March 8 is Be Nasty Day -- a day to celebrate your inner jerk.

Hope you like celebrating alone.

For the rest of us, Friday will be International Women's Day. According to Wikipedia, International Women's Day was originally sponsored by socialist movements around the world, subsequently getting promoted up by both the U.N. and in the former Eastern Bloc. International Women's Day remains a holiday in Russia and in 14 other nations (many of these being at one time within the U.S.S.R.).

And speaking of the old "evil empire," Friday will mark the 30th anniversary of President Ronald Reagan's March 8, 1983 speech to the National Association of Evangelicals in Orlando, Florida. This was the first time that President Reagan referred to our old Cold War adversary as an "evil empire."

Friday will also be National Proofreading Day. We here at The Blog of Days strive, of course, for 100% accuracy and perfect grammar and punctuation in every post. We too often fall short. We resolve to do better every day, and particularly tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

March 7: Cereal Day

Snap, crackle, pop! Thursday, March 7, is National Cereal Day. Eat your Wheaties tomorrow with pride.

Alexander Graham Bell received a patent for the telephone on March 7, 1876. Thus, Thursday is also considered to be Alexander Graham Bell Day in some circles. Of course, there is controversy over whether Bell really should be credited with inventing the telephone. As the linked Wikipedia article notes, "Innocenzo Manzetti, Antonio Meucci, Johann Philipp Reis, Elisha Gray, Alexander Graham Bell, and Thomas Edison, among others, have all been credited with pioneering work on the telephone."

Did you ever hear a parent or grandparent or other older person refer to the telephone as an "Ameche?" The reference is Hollywood actor Don Ameche who had the title role in the 1939 movie, The Story of Alexander Graham Bell. (Some readers may better recall Mr. Ameche as Mortimer Duke in the 1983 movie, Trading Places. The other Duke brother was Ralph Bellamy.)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Dentists' Day or National Frozen Food Day

On March 6 you can celebrate the tooth, the whole tooth, and nothing but the tooth by observing Dentists' Day. (Some of the Usual Suspects would put the apostrophe before the last 's' which would seem to indicate that only one dentist is being honored, rather than the whole profession. This may be a grammatical lapse. Our crack research staff assures us, however, that the entire profession is meant to be included in the day's festivities.)

Steve Martin as Orin Scrivello, D.D.S. in Little Shop of Horrors
Well... perhaps not all dentists.... We can exclude the character portrayed by Steve Martin in Little Shop of Horrors.

But March 6 is a day to celebrate most of the dentists in our lives.

Note that Dentists' Day is not to be confused with I Love My Dentist Day which we featured here on August 2. It's one thing to honor and respect one's dentist... but love? That may be best reserved for close friends and family.

Wednesday is also National Frozen Food Day. These days part or all of most meals seem to start out in the freezer, don't they? But this is a good thing -- with the ability to freeze food, we have the ability to eat a variety of foods all year round, and not be dependent on what is at hand according to the season. Oh, that's not so bad in August or September -- but the choices would get painfully few in most northern climates around this time of year.

And here's something you may not have known: Cyrano de Bergerac really existed and he really was a man of arms and a man of words. He was born on March 6, 1619. But Cyrano's nose was not necessarily as prominent in real life as it has been remembered in fiction (speaking of Steve Martin), and his love for the fair Roxane was also entirely fictional.

Monday, March 4, 2013

More name stuff and multiple personalities, too

Better late than never, we suppose, somebody on the crack research staff had the bright idea of following a link from Usual Suspect's site in order to find out where all these 'name' microminiholidayettes are coming from lately.

To recap, Sunday was Namesake Day and today is Learn What Your Name Means Day (or Fun Facts About Names Day).

According to, this is Celebrate Your Name Week. Tuesday, then, will be Unique Names Day, Wednesday will be Discover What Your Name Means Day (clearly there is some dispute with Usual Suspect over the placement of this day), Thursday will be Nametag Day, Friday will be Middle Name Pride Day, and Saturday will close Celebrate Your Name Week with Descendants Day, a day to shake your family tree.

Some of the Usual Suspects contend that March 5 will be Multiple Personalities Day -- an observance which does not appear to be tied to any serious research foundation or scholarly institution.

Engraving of the Boston Massacre by Paul Revere.  Yes, that Paul Revere.  

The Boston Massacre occurred on March 5, 1770. A mob protesting British occupation of Boston gathered outside the Customs House that evening and began taunting the soldiers guarding the building. Usual Suspect This Day in History recounts:
British Captain Thomas Preston, the commanding officer at the Customs House, ordered his men to fix their bayonets and join the guard outside the building. The colonists responded by throwing snowballs and other objects at the British regulars, and Private Hugh Montgomery was hit, leading him to discharge his rifle at the crowd. The other soldiers began firing a moment later, and when the smoke cleared, five colonists were dead or dying—Crispus Attucks, Patrick Carr, Samuel Gray, Samuel Maverick, and James Caldwell—and three more were injured.
Captain Preston, eight British soldiers, and four civilians in the Customs House who had allegedly fired into the crowd were arrested and charged with murder (without modern communication, London couldn't prevent this) and, when the defendants could not find counsel, future President John Adams agreed to defend them.

Adams was a patriot and clearly in sympathy with the victims of the Massacre, not the perpetrators. Some of his friends were aghast that he would offer his services to the enemy. Others expected only a token effort before popular justice could be done. But these were to be no show trials. Despite his personal reservations, Adams and his co-counsel Josiah Quincy mounted a vigorous defense for all the defendants. Captain Preston was tried first and acquitted because the jury believed that he had not ordered the soldiers to fire. And when the soldier's trial ended in December 1770, six of the defendants were also acquitted outright and only "two British soldiers were found guilty of manslaughter and had their thumbs branded with an 'M' for murder as punishment." (The civilian defendants were all subsequently acquitted as well.)

A few years later Adams would confide in his diary:
The Part I took in Defence of Cptn. Preston and the Soldiers, procured me Anxiety, and Obloquy enough. It was, however, one of the most gallant, generous, manly and disinterested Actions of my whole Life, and one of the best Pieces of Service I ever rendered my Country. Judgment of Death against those Soldiers would have been as foul a Stain upon this Country as the Executions of the Quakers or Witches, anciently. As the Evidence was, the Verdict of the Jury was exactly right.
The first great victory in the American Revolution was a victory for the rule of law.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

March 4: Pulaski Day, Chicago's birthday, and more

The City of Chicago was incorporated on March 4, 1837, so Monday will be Chicago's birthday.

And in celebration, most employees of the City of Chicago (and of the surrounding County of Cook) will get the day off. Technically, their holiday won't be for Chicago's birthday but, rather, in honor of Casimir Pulaski Day. In Illinois, the first Monday in March is designated Casimir Pulaski Day in honor of the American Revolutionary War hero (born in Poland on March 6, 1745) who is regarded as the "father of American cavalry."

Pulaski has no connection with Illinois whatsoever, but Chicago was at one time the largest Polish city in the world, larger even than Warsaw by some counts, so you might be forgiven if you think that Chicago, and by extension, Illinois, honor Pulaski because of our large Polish population. This is at least partially correct.

Monday is also March Forth Day -- March forth on March 4th, get it? -- a day to 'march forth' and do something positive to achieve your goals or realize your dreams.

March 4 is also Hug a GI Day (be sure to get their permission first), National Pound Cake Day, Learn What Your Name Means Day (also referred to as Fun Facts About Names Day, and Courageous Follower Day (which sounds just a little contradictory to us).

March 4 used to be Inauguration Day, and Congress met for the first time on March 4, 1789.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

National Anthem Day, Namesake Day

Readers of The Blog of Days already know that the Star Spangled Banner was penned on either September 13 or September 14, 1814 (depending on whether you follow This Day in History or Wikipedia), but Sunday, March 3 will be National Anthem Day because it was on March 3, 1931 that President Herbert Hoover signed an Act of Congress officially adopting the Star Spangled Banner as the National Anthem of the United States.

March 3 is also Namesake Day, a day, according to Usual Suspect Days of the Year, "to explore the roots of your name, to find out if you were named after somebody of something in particular, and to research and connect with people who share the same name as you." Just don't get carried away with this. Remember the cautionary tale of Kelly Hildebrandt and Kelly Hildebrandt, a couple who met on Facebook when they discovered they shared the same name and soon thereafter married. Earlier this year Mr. and Mrs. Hildebrandt announced their divorce. At least Kelly Hildebrandt didn't have to stress about resuming the use of her maiden name.

Sunday will also be I Want You to be Happy Day. That sounds like something Kelly Hildenbrandt may have said to Kelly Hildenbrandt in the course of declaring the marriage over. Or was it the other way around?

Well, we here at The Blog of Days want you to be happy, too. And even though Sunday will also be National Cold Cuts Day, that's no baloney.

Friday, March 1, 2013

March 2: Lots of Old Stuff

And why not? March 2 is Old Stuff Day, a day to climb out of your rut and do some exciting new stuff.

It may also be a good day to take old stuff out of the closet and send it to Goodwill.

And Saturday will also be Dr. Suess's Birthday. Theodor Seuss Geisel was born on March 2, 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts. In honor of Dr. Suess, some of the Usual Suspects refer to March 2 as Cat in the Hat Day. The National Education Association usually remembers Dr. Suess's birthday with National Read Across America Day -- but not this year, because Saturday is not a school day. Instead, this year, the NEA observes National Read Across America Day today, on Friday, March 1.

Saturday is also the anniversary of the birth of Morris "Moe" Berg, born on March 2, 1902 in New York City. A journeyman catcher with several major league teams including the Chicago White Sox, Berg was also a graduate of Princeton University and Columbia Law School who spoke several languages and regularly read 10 newspapers a day. He made a couple of prewar trips to Japan, on one occasion filming Tokyo Bay from the roof of Saint Luke's Hospital in Tsukiji, one of the tallest buildings in the city. According to Wikipedia, Berg's footage from the 1930s may have helped Jimmy Doolittle plan his 1942 raid.

Berg served with the OSS in World War II, at one point being dispatched to Europe to determine whether the Germans were close to developing the A-bomb. If he determined that the Germans were close, Berg had orders to assassinate Werner Heisenberg at a 1944 lecture in Zurich. (Berg decided, correctly, that the Germans were not close; Heisenberg was spared.)