Sunday, June 30, 2013

And here's the start of the second half of 2013

Half of 2013 is already in the books. As a result, some of the Usual Suspects proclaim Monday, July 1 Second Half of the Year Day. Now you have only half as much time to do all things you were going to do, but so far haven't done, this year.

Some of the Usual Suspects suggest that Monday is U.S. Postage Stamp Day. We can't figure out why. Usual Suspect is among those who suggests U.S. Postage Stamp Day as a possibility for July 1, but she also adds another postal-themed holiday for Monday -- ZIP Code Day.

This one, we can figure out. The ZIP Code was introduced in the United States exactly 50 years ago, on July 1, 1963.

Did our favorite Canadian forget to buy Nell a Canada Day card?
Monday is also Canada Day: On July 1, 1867, Canada became a kingdom in its own right (under the British Crown, of course). The Province of Canada became Ontario and Quebec. The British colonies of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland also became part of the new Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867. Our crack research staff insists that Canada did not become fully independent of Great Britain until 1982. But, hey, the Canadians are entitled to celebrate their independence as they see fit.

And, if all this is not enough, Monday will be National Gingersnap Day and International Joke Day.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Meteor Day or Meteor Watch Day -- whatever you call it, keep your eyes on the sky

Image of Chelyabrinsk meteor obtained from ABC News website.

A meteor did significant damage in Russia earlier this year, injuring more than a thousand people and damaging as many as 4,000 buildings (reportedly blowing out a million square feet of window glass). A couple of months later, another meteor shook up residents in north and central Argentina.

We think of ourselves as pretty darn safe here on Planet Earth -- so smug that many of us think that we humans ourselves present the only danger to our continued survival (see, pollution, climate change, nuclear war, etc.).

We can't help but wonder whether the dinosaurs ever thought of themselves as pretty safe, too.

From the webcomic Chuckle-A-Duck

Some of the Usual Suspects call Sunday, June 30 Meteor Day, others Meteor Watch Day. Whatever we decide to call it, it's best to remember to pay attention to the dangerous Universe around us. Maybe take some time on Sunday and look at NASA's Near Earth Object Program website and check out what might be coming into the neighborhood for a visit... that we know about, anyway....

Friday, June 28, 2013

Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Waffle Iron Day

Saturday, June 29 is National Waffle Iron Day. Perhaps we're just hungry as we're preparing this post, but sitting down to a stack of waffles seems like an excellent way to begin Saturday morning.

Having breakfasted well, you may be interested to discover that Saturday is also the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, jointly recognized as co-founders of the Church.

Well, wait, you say, co-founders? Wasn't there only one Founder and isn't He the Fellow on the Cross?

That's true, certainly; there can be no Christianity without Christ. But Christ's death and Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven meant that His followers would have to spread the Word themselves. All the Apostles were recruited as "fishers of men" -- a job description for salesmen if ever there's been one -- and all were martyred for their troubles (with the exception, according to tradition, of St. John).

But Sts. Peter and Paul were (for different reasons) the most significant of the First Salesmen.

The illustration here is from a 1602 painting
by Annibale Carracci, Domine, Quo Vadis.
Scripture tells us that Peter was the designated successor, the "rock" on which the Church would be built. Yet Peter, considered the first Pope by Roman Catholics, was very much a model of human frailty: Holding the Master's gaze, Peter too could walk on water, only to be submerged by his doubts. And while Jesus clearly reposed great confidence in Peter, Peter could also provoke Jesus to the point where Jesus rebuked him, "Get thee behind me, Satan." Peter cut off the ear of the High Priest's servant when the mob came to arrest Jesus in the garden -- only to deny even knowing his Master three times before cockcrow next morning.

Peter was brave enough to leave his home and preach the Gospel in faraway Rome -- but when Nero's persecutions heated up, Peter ran away again.

According to tradition, Peter met Jesus on the road as he was skedaddling out of Rome. Surprised, he asked, "Domine, quo vadis?" Lord, where are you going?

Jesus replied, "Romam vado iterum crucifigi." I am going to Rome to be crucified again. (Meaning, of course, that Jesus was going to Rome to do what Peter was refusing to do.)

Only after this did Peter, suitably chastened, return to Rome and, in due course, face crucifixion on the Vatican Hill. (Tradition has it that he asked to be crucified upside down because he was not worthy to be crucified the same way as Jesus was.)

St. Paul was martyred around this same time. However, Paul was a Roman citizen and, according to tradition, he was killed with a sword.

Talk about the zeal of a convert: As Saul of Tarsus, Paul tried to strangle the infant Christian church in its infancy; he was implicated in some of the earliest persecutions, including the murder of St. Stephen, the Protomartyr. But then Saul took that fateful trip to Damascus... and the scales fell from his eyes.

Google the "patron saint of salesmen" and you'll find out about St. Lucy of Syracuse. St. Paul would have been a far better choice: His missionary work around the Mediterranean and, in particular, his insistence that converts need not follow all the minutiae of the Law of Moses -- in other words the way he repackaged the product -- helped guarantee that Christianity would take root as a world religion.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Paul Bunyan Day and Insurance Awareness Day

Most of the Usual Suspects proclaim Friday, June 28 to be Paul Bunyan Day in honor of the giant logger of legend (shown here with his equally legendary big blue ox, Babe).

No matter how much a fan you are of the Paul Bunyan legends, it's probably best if you don't try and pull a giant fir tree from the ground to floss your teeth on Friday.

Friday is also Insurance Awareness Day. Our crack research staff gave us a memo outlining their suspicion that insurance salesmen may be behind this most micro of microminiholidayettes (duh!) -- still, it's not a bad thing to review your insurance coverages now and then to make sure you are adequately insured.

We're more inclined to celebrate the birthday of Mel Brooks, born Melvin James Kaminsky in Brooklyn on June 28, 1926. Brooks turns 87 on Friday, which means he still has 1,913 years to go before he really becomes a 2,000 year-old man. We hope he makes it.

England's King Henry VIII was born on June 28, 1491. He didn't make it to 2,000 either, but if you had such marital problems, you'd age quickly, too.

One of George Washington's bodyguards, Thomas Hickey, was executed for treason on June 28, 1776.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Thursday is Sunglasses Day

You can wear sunglasses at night if you wish -- and we certainly hope that your future is so bright you have to wear shades -- but, frankly, the news that June 27 is Sunglasses Day struck us as merely seasonal, not particularly sensational.

You might need sunglasses if you drive the Mother Road, or what's left of it. As of June 27, 1985 you could no longer officially get your kicks on Route 66, because that was the date on which the route was officially removed from the United States Highway System.

This post has developed a musical theme, and it is therefore particularly appropriate to note the birthdays of two famous songwriters on June 27. Mildred J. Hill was born on June 27, 1859. You may not remember her -- but you've sung her most famous song, "Happy Birthday to You." And Doc Pomus was born on June 27, 1925. You may not recognize the name, but kids of a certain age wondered "(Why Must I Be) A Teenager In Love?" Doc Pomus and Mort Schuman wrote that. Other songs from their catalog include "This Magic Moment", "Sweets For My Sweet" (a hit for the Drifters and then the Searchers), "Little Sister", and "(Marie's the Name) His Latest Flame."

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

June 26: International Day in Support of Victims of Torture and Stay-at-home Mothers' Day. Coincidence?

We don't believe in coincidences. So were skeptical until we verified that the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is a designated United Nations microminiholidayette and that the linked website confirms that the U.N. absolutely does not have stay-at-home moms in mind.

But Usual Suspect American Greetings does say that Wednesday will be Stay-at-home Moms Day. But these two micominiholidayettes are not different sides of the same coin.

The U.N. has a second observance set for June 26, as well: The theme for this year's United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is "Make health your 'new high' in life, not drugs."

William Henry Cosby Jr., PhD, does not seem to have anything to do with it, but Thursday is Chocolate Pudding Day. And Wednesday will also be Beautician's Day. According to Wikipedia, Christmas did not become a federal holiday in the United States until June 26, 1870 (and then only for federal employees in the District of Columbia -- Christmas not become a holiday for all federal workers until 1968).

Monday, June 24, 2013

Tuesday is Global Beatles Day, Log Cabin Day, Catfish Day...

Our favorite suggestion for Tuesday, June 25 comes from Usual Suspects Days of the Year and Please Take My Children to Work Day.

Note the unsubtle difference between this microminiholidayette and Take Your Child to Work Day in the Spring. Tuesday may provide an opportunity for the overstressed parent to be rid of their offspring for a few hours while someone else takes the brats to work. Let's see, the kids have been home now for... what? A couple of weeks? Definitely time for a parental meltdown....

Our World may have been a pioneering program, but TV
images have become much clearer since 1967.
(Image from Wikipedia.)
Tuesday is also Global Beatles Day. According to the linked website, the reason June 25 was chosen to honor John, Paul, George and Ringo is that, on June 25, 1967, at the height of the "Summer of Love," the Beatles performed "All You Need Is Love" for the very first time on a BBC program called Our World, the first live, international, satellite television production.

Tuesday is probably Log Cabin Day, although Usual Suspect (which seems to have given the matter a great deal of thought) notes that Log Cabin Day is sometime observed on the last Sunday in June or on June 25. We know of no similar controversy swirling around Catfish Day which appears to be definitely fixed in the calendar on June 25.

George Armstrong Custer made his "last stand" on June 25, 1876. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was born on June 25, 1954.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Is there magic in the air? June 24 is International Fairy Day

This picture dates to 1917 -- well before Photoshop. Little girls were thought too innocent to fake photographs, so many people at the time concluded that the fairies in this picture must therefore be real. No less than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of the über-rational Sherlock Holmes, was completely taken in by this picture and other, similar ones.

If you're a true believer, we hate to be the one to break the news to you, but this picture doesn't actually show real, live fairies. (Read more here.)

Nevertheless, Monday is International Fairy Day. If you feel there's magic in the air... there just might be.

June 24 is also the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. You'll remember we mentioned this a few days ago, when we talked about Midsummer Night's Eve and the Summer Solstice. Wikipedia says that Mussogrsky's "Night on Bald Mountain" was originally titled "St. John's Night on the Bare Mountain." And, remember how we told you that slipping Midsummer Night celebrations to the eve of St. John the Baptist's Nativity might have been a way to Christianize a pagan holiday? Well, it depends on which Wikipedia article one consults. This one, for example, explains why that may not have been intended and why the Nativity of St. John the Baptist doesn't fall exactly six months before Christmas:
It has often been claimed that the Church authorities wanted to Christianize the pagan solstice celebrations and for this reason advanced Saint John's feast as a substitute. This explanation is questionable because in the Middle Ages the solstice took place around the middle of June due to the inaccuracy of the Julian calendar. It was only in 1582, through the Gregorian calendar reform, that the solstice returned to June 21 as it had been in the fourth century.

Therefore, a more likely reason why the festival falls on June 24 lies in the Roman way of counting, which proceeded backward from the Kalends (first day) of the succeeding month. Christmas was "the eighth day before the Kalends of January" (Octavo Kalendas Januarii). Consequently, Saint John's Nativity was put on the "eighth day before the Kalends of July." However, since June has only thirty days, in our present (Germanic) way of counting, the feast falls on June 24.
In other words, there was an attempt to locate the Nativity of St. John the Baptist exactly six months before Christmas -- but things changed when we changed calendars.

Well, we think that's interesting anyway....

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Sunday is Typewriter Day, which would be a nice tie-in with National Newspaper Columnists' Day except for one thing

Several of Usual Suspects say that Sunday, June 23 will be National Newspaper Columnists' Day. The problem with this, however, is that the National Society of Newspaper Columnists says that National Newspaper Columnists' Day was April 18. We here at The Blog of Days figure that the newspaper columnists ought to know when their own day is, so we'll defer to them on this one.

Meanwhile, Sunday really will be Typewriter Day, another of those days celebrating an obsolete and rapidly vanishing technology. You youngsters in the audience may see something in the accompanying picture that you can interpret as a keyboard, can't you? Well, this device, kiddies, is known as a typewriter. And look -- it's the same QWERTY keyboard layout that's on your laptop or the virtual keyboard on your iPad. But you can type URL's on this device all day long and not be connected to a single website! And, what's more (or, perhaps, more accurately, what's less) you have to check your own spelling! Nor is there a control key -- no copy and paste on this device.

And yet, somehow, your decrepit ancestors managed to transact business using these ancient devices -- and, believe it or not, typewriters were deemed a great advance over scratching letters out with a pen.

You kiddies think that keyboards only make muffled clicking noises, if they make any noise at all, but a battered old portable, like the one shown above, made a healthy, percussive clicking noise as the keys really did strike the ribbon against the page (you rolled paper into the typewriter, kids, there was no separate printer) while the old IBM Selectrics had a bass hum to go along with its much different electric-click-striking sound. Some of the older newspaper columnists will remember, anyway.

Sunday will also be Pink Day, a day to wear something pink for no particular reason. The United Nations says that Sunday will be Public Service Day. Go forth and help someone on Sunday -- wear pink if you must -- then go home and type up your exploits for your memoirs.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Great American Backyard Campout, Stupid Guy Thing Day, and More

There's a little pun in there, which we couldn't resist. And now we explain....

The National Wildlife Federation is promoting Saturday's Great American Backyard Campout as a way for families to begin to find harmony in nature. Unlike the Ancient Celts, the subject of the post below, we moderns have lots of things to distract us from the wonders of the natural world. Unsurprisingly, the NWF would like to change that.

However, setting up the family pup tent without first making sure that all evidence of Fido having done his business might not encourage the young people to cultivate an appreciation of nature.

Would such a bonehead move constitute a stupid guy thing? Perhaps. However Stupid Guy Thing Day does not seem to be limited to stupid things guys may do in the backyard, or even around the home. As near as we can tell, Saturday, June 22 is the day to recount any stupid thing a guy does -- or ever did.

We can't find out who is responsible for this microminiholidayette, but we'll bet it wasn't a guy. (Not unless he was stupid.)

Infamous gangster John Dillinger was born on June 22, 1903. Dillinger became Public Enemy No. 1, and was gunned down by the FBI outside Chicago's Biograph Theater on July 22, 1934 -- famously betrayed by "The Woman in Red."

Of course, Dillinger's Wikipedia biography includes a section about how some speculate that someone else was shot down in his stead that fateful night. If Dillinger really did escape, he might be turning 110 on Saturday.

Perennial Oscar favorite Meryl Streep and Bionic Woman Lindsey Wagner were both born on June 22, 1949, as was Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

But, wait, there's More....

Usual Suspect points out that, on the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints, Saturday is the Feast Day of both St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More.

John Fisher was Bishop of Rochester -- and was the only English bishop not to abandon Rome when King Henry VIII set up the Church of England (and not coincidentally, grant himself a divorce from Catherine of Aragon in order to marry Anne Boleyn). Stripped of his office and later convicted of treason for failing to take an oath of loyalty to Henry, Fisher was sentenced to hanged, drawn and quartered. Just to prove he was a nice guy, King Henry commuted this harsh sentence to the much more lenient one of beheading, and St. John Fisher, Henry's former tutor, lost his head on this day in 1535.

Sir Thomas More was truly A Man for All Seasons (that second link is to the great 1966 movie about More which you should watch soon). Chancellor of England under Henry VIII, and the author of Utopia, More also broke with Henry when Henry broke with Rome. More tried to take refuge in silence, but he was forced to speak and, when he did, he could not and would not acknowledge his one-time friend and patron Henry as supreme head of the Church in England. Thus, he too was judged disloyal -- and he lost his head on July 6, 1535.

Usually, a saint's feast day, particularly a martyr's feast day, is celebrated on the day of the saint's death. But More got lumped in with Fisher when the Catholic Church tried to tighten up its own calendar a few years back. Interestingly, St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More are both also venerated by King Henry's Church of England (the Episcopal Church in America) as "Reformation Martyrs." In the Church of England, however, their joint feast day is July 6.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What fools these mortals be: If June 21 is the "First Day of Summer," how can tonight be Midsummer Night's Eve?

Tonight may or may not be Midsummer Night's Eve, depending on how the Ancient Celts calculated it, and they aren't around to consult on the question. But they reckoned Summer as running from around May 1 and ending with the end of July. The Summer Solstice, which is our modern First Day of Summer is the longest day in the Earth's Northern Hemisphere.

The Ancient Celts, having no electricity or video games to distract them, tended to notice such things.

So even though the Solstice didn't fall exactly in the middle of their Summer, they knew a tipping point when they saw it. Thus, Midsummer... and Midsummer Night's Eve.

When Christianity supplanted paganism, as it more or less did, eventually, even in Northern Europe, a lot of calendar dates were jiggered to accommodate newly adopted saints... and still preserve the existing holidays. Thus, Midsummer Night's Eve, in some locations, may have become more associated with the Nativity of John the Baptist on June 24.

But, yes, the bottom line is we do celebrate Midsummer Night's Eve tonight... and only the First Day of Summer tomorrow. The Ancient Celts would probably find that amusing.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

June 20 -- the 50th anniversary of the "Red Phone" and Dump the Pump Day

Henry Fonda on the Hotline to
Moscow in the 1964 thriller Fail Safe.
There really was a "Red Phone" or "Hotline" to Moscow, only it probably wasn't red.

Whatever color it was, the direct connection from the Oval Office to the Kremlin was installed pursuant to a June 20, 1963 agreement entered into with the Soviets. Thursday will be the 50th anniversary of that agreement. We may never know whether the Hotline ever saved the world from Armageddon.

It was an 18½ gap in a June 20, 1972 White House Oval Office tape that made Rose Mary Woods a household word in 1974, when she explained how she accidentally erased that interval on the tape. Many serious observers thought her testimony "stretched" the truth....

June 20 is also the 8th Annual Dump the Pump Day, a day to celebrate the economies and other advantages of public transportation. Take the bus or train to work Thursday. It only makes good sense. Dollars and sense. The national average pump price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline as of Tuesday was $3.60. In Chicago, the average price is well over $4.00 -- $4.40 or more in most places in the City proper. Why isn't this price gouging? The answer to that question seems to be as big a secret as anything said over the Hotline or during the 18½ minute gap.

Perhaps the first big Summer blockbuster, Jaws, was released on June 20, 1975. And Thursday will also be National Ice Cream Soda Day.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

"Eat Your Vegetables Day" -- doesn't that sound just like the sort of holiday one could expect on a Monday?

Yes, most of the Usual Suspects advise that Monday, June 17 will be Eat Your Vegetables Day. How depressing.

Usual Suspect was kind enough to leave Eat Your Vegetables Day off her list for Monday, but one of her choices, World Day to Combat Desertification, a U.N. observance, is hardly cheery.

Monday will also be Bunker Hill Day, commemorating the Battle of Bunker Hill -- a battle that was, in fact, fought on and around Breed's Hill. As often happened during the Revolution, the Colonials lost the hill, whatever it was named, and the battle besides (and one of our early revolutionary heroes, Dr. Joseph Warren, was killed).

But it all worked out well in the end: Even though no one may have actually said, "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes," the Colonials did hold their fire until the advancing British regulars were close enough be mowed down in droves. Many senior British officers were picked out and killed by sharp-eyed Rebels (the Brits thought that just wasn't cricket). The British though the Rebels would throw down their arms once the Greatest Army in the World took the field. The Rebels thought the British were just throwing their lives away, marching uphill into an entrenched line of withering fire. If the Americans' ammunition had held out, who knows whether the British would have finally broken or simply slaughtered en masse. But the Americans did run out of ammo and the angry British survivors took the hill and took it out on the Americans who did not abandon their defensive positions quickly enough. On the other hand, because of their enormous casualties, the British reconsidered their siege of Boston. They marched away -- and took New York instead.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Fudge, it's Father's Day on Sunday

In most years, the big observance on June 16 might be Bloomsday, so named because because everything that James Joyce crammed into his novel Ulysses takes place on a single day (June 16, 1904) and the protagonist of the novel is named Leopold Bloom.

But this year, Bloomsday and even Fudge Day must take a back seat behind Father's Day (unless, we suppose, your father is a serious Joyce devotee or if he really likes fudge).

The U.S. Census Bureau, of all agencies, has a lot to say about the history of Father's Day: "The idea of Father's Day was conceived slightly more than a century ago by Sonora Dodd of Spokane, Wash., while she listened to a Mother's Day sermon in 1909. Dodd wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart, a widowed Civil War veteran who was left to raise his six children on a farm. A day in June was chosen for the first Father's Day celebration June 17, 1910, proclaimed by Spokane's mayor because it was the month of Smart's birth. The first presidential proclamation honoring fathers was issued in 1966 when President Lyndon Johnson designated the third Sunday in June as Father's Day. Father's Day has been celebrated annually since 1972 when President Richard Nixon signed the public law that made it permanent." (And, if you follow that link, you'll find more dad-centric statistics you can toss around at tomorrow's barbecue.)

We put up a picture of ties on this post because it used to be traditional to get Pop a new necktie on Father's Day. But in today's more casual world, with neckties becoming optional even for politicians on the stump, does anyone still buy Dad ties?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Magna Carta Day, Delaware Separation Day, and Smile Power Day

On June 15, 1215, in the meadow at Runnymede, King John of England put his royal seal on Magna Carta, revered in history as the "Great Charter" of English liberties.

But this is sugar-coated history.

Actually, it was more of a charter of the liberties of England's nobility... a peace treaty, really, because the English barons had Johnny over a barrel.

Yes, this is the same King John who was the evil prince in all the Robin Hood stories -- and he didn't improve after the end credits rolled on the Errol Flynn or even the Mel Brooks movies. Richard the Lion Heart left John with all of England and most of France in 1199 -- but John lost nearly all of France (including Normandy) in a series of wars, skirmishes and feudal missteps, leaving him with the disparaging nickname "John Lackland." In the process of squandering his inheritance, John taxed his English barons into open revolt.

John lost this war, too, and Magna Carta, all 63 provisions (in Latin, of course) was the result. Only three of these provisions remain enshrined in English law today, according to the Salisbury Cathedral website (the Cathedral has one of the four remaining copies of the original 1215 document) but this one is important:
No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled. Nor will we proceed with force against him except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.
Of course, John had his fingers crossed when he signed the document and he broke faith with the barons about the same time he broke camp.

Fortunately, John managed to die about a year later and a Readers' Digest condensed version of Magna Carta (missing 25 of the original 63 clauses) was soon reproclaimed in the name of his 9-year old son, Henry III.

Meanwhile, the King of France invaded England (with the connivance of a good many barons who'd been fighting John) and conquered a good chunk of the country before losing interest. Whereupon Magna Carta was again reissued, in 1217, with still more editing, and again in 1225, after Henry III managed to survive to adulthood. (One of the documents from 1217 is at England's Hereford Cathedral; some of the chronology referred to in this post, as well as the illustration at the top, comes from this linked site.) Magna Carta did not officially become a part of the laws of England in 1297 when an edition was reissued by Edward I (in exchange, of course, for a tax increase).

But, the bottom line is that none of this might have happened if King John had been less of an incompetent.

So Saturday, lift your glasses high and toast the incompetence of our leaders -- the source of our cherished liberties.

Although that sounds wrong somehow, doesn't it?

Saturday may also be considered Separation Day, commemorating that day in 1776 when Delaware proclaimed itself an independent state, repudiating at one stroke both Pennsylvania (of which it had been part) and another of King John's successors, George III. From the liked website:
On June 15th 1776, the State of Delaware was born. Until that time, Delaware had been a part of Pennsylvania which was then called "The Assembly of the Lower Counties of Pennsylvania." * * * Delaware was never recognized by the British Crown as a separate colony from Pennsylvania. Those "Lower Counties" which would become the State of Delaware, had forced a separation from the “Upper Counties” (those situated around Philadelphia) in 1704 by threatening to petition Maryland to reclaim the land that the "Lower Counties" occupied. The land had originally been part of Maryland but William Penn's colonial charter assured him that land based on the surveying of the Mason-Dixon line. Pennsylvania reluctantly agreed to allow the Lower Counties to govern themselves with their own Assembly but the two Assemblies shared a Governor.
Of course, the linked site also says that folks in Delaware choose to celebrate Separation Day on the 2nd Saturday of June -- making us a week late on this one. Nevertheless, since Saturday is the actual anniversary, we think it is probably alright to celebrate Separation Day on June 15 no matter what they do in Delaware.

If you don't agree (or if you're in Delaware) you can celebrate Smile Power Day on Saturday instead. Plaster a stupid smile on your face as you wander around in public on Saturday -- and watch as young mothers clutch their children more tightly in your presence while others cross the street to keep away from you. Or, possibly, if you can muster it, favor those you meet with a sincere smile -- and see if it's contagious.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Friday is Flag Day and the Army's birthday, but we also have something for all you vampires, too

It would make a great story if June 14 was the anniversary of the day that Betsy Ross delivered the first American flag. Sadly, however, that is not the case.

Still, there is a sound historical basis for celebrating Flag Day on June 14. The Second Continental Congress did adopt the first American flag by resolution dated June 14, 1777:
Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation.
Our crack research staff found this site which claims that the first celebration of Flag Day can be traced to 1885 when "BJ Cigrand, a schoolteacher, arranged for the pupils in the Fredonia, Wisconsin Public School, District 6, to observe June 14... as 'Flag Birthday.'" Cigrand, who was later a resident of Batavia, Illinois, became a tireless proponent of the day and is sometimes described as the Father of Flag Day. In 1911, a major national fraternal organization, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, made Flag Day celebrations mandatory in all of its lodges. President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day in 1916. In 1949, the observance of Flag Day was established by Act of Congress (see, 36 U.S.C. § 110).

But Flag Day is not a national holiday. In fact, it seems to be a state holiday only in Pennsylvania.

Still, fly the flag with pride today. And maybe call someone to let them know you did; that way the NSA will know you're a good patriot....

Friday is also the birthday of the U.S. Army, also by action of the Continental Congress, this time on June 14, 1775. Hooah and happy birthday.

But we promised something for the vampires in the audience, too -- and we sort of deliver with World Blood Donors Day.

Actually, World Blood Donor Day is a U.N. observance and the theme this year is "Give the gift of life: donate blood." The is something that vampires could get behind, couldn't they?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

June 13: St. Anthony, Sewing Machine Day, and the Galloping Ghost's Birthday

St. Anthony was perhaps the most renowned preacher of his day.

St. Anthony died on June 13, 1231 -- which is why Thursday is his feast day. He was canonized a saint of the Roman Catholic Church only a year later, in 1232. Born in Lisbon, Portugal in 1195, he started off religious life as an Augustinian and ended as a Franciscan. You can read about his remarkable career in Wikipedia, the Catholic Encyclopedia, or on the website of Usual Suspect

For all of his accomplishments, you probably best remember St. Anthony when you've forgotten something else.... like your cell phone... or your keys... or the piece of paper with the phone number of that cute girl from marketing. In that circumstance, this little bit of doggerel may come into your head:

Tony, Tony, turn around
Something's lost that must be found

That's not a nursery rhyme; it's a rather irreverent prayer. Yes, in the modern age St. Anthony is best remembered as the patron of lost articles (and, more seriously, of missing persons).

Several of the Usual Suspects offer Sewing Machine Day as an additional candidate for celebration Thursday. Usual Suspect says that June 13 is Sewing Machine Day because it was on June 13, 1790 that Thomas Saint patented the first sewing machine. We have been able to confirm that Thomas Saint did receive the first patent for a sewing machine but (Holy St. Anthony, Batman!) the patent was lost for some 83 years (it was misfiled).

Thursday will also be the 110th anniversary of the birth of Harold Edward "Red" Grange, the Wheaton Iceman, the Galloping Ghost, the running back who was such a huge star in college football that his decision to continue playing football in the National Football League after graduation put the fledgling pro league on the map. Grange was born in Forksville, Pennsylvania on June 13, 1903

It is not true that Red Grange was the last big pro football star to come out of the University of Illinois. There was Dick Butkus, of course, and... well, there was Dick Butkus anyway.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Wednesday is Loving Day and Red Rose Day

And, no, these two observances are not really related, although your significant other may find it a loving gesture were you to present her (or him, I suppose) with a red rose on Wednesday. Red Rose Day commemorates the flower, the rose, thorns and all, that may be blooming in your garden this month or which may be part of the bridal bouquet of a June bride.

Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving. Photo from Wikipedia.
Loving Day, on the other hand, recalls the struggle of Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving to live together as husband and wife in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The couple were married in June 1958 in Washington, D.C. (where interracial marriage was not prohibited) but returned to live together as man and wife in Virgina. In 1958, in Virginia, that was considered a crime. Local authorities burst into the Lovings' home and arrested them. They were prosecuted criminally, found guilty, and sentenced to a year in jail. However, according to Wikipedia, the sentence was "suspended for 25 years on condition that the couple leave the state of Virginia. They did so, moving to the District of Columbia."

The Lovings moved.

But times were tough in the District and they chafed at being unable to visit family in Virginia so, quoting again from Wikipedia (footnotes omitted):
Mildred Loving wrote in protest to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Kennedy referred her to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The ACLU filed a motion on behalf of the Lovings in the state trial court to vacate the judgment and set aside the sentence on the grounds that the violated statutes ran counter to the Fourteenth Amendment. This set in motion a series of lawsuits which ultimately reached the Supreme Court.

On October 28, 1964, after the Lovings' motion still had not been decided, they brought a class action suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. On January 22, 1965, the three-judge district court decided to allow the Lovings to present their constitutional claims to the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. Virginia Supreme Court Justice Harry L. Carrico (later Chief Justice of the Court) wrote an opinion for the court upholding the constitutionality of the anti-miscegenation statutes and, after modifying the sentence, affirmed the criminal convictions. Ignoring United States Supreme Court precedent, Carrico cited as authority the Virginia Supreme Court's own decision in Naim v. Naim (1955), also arguing that the case at hand was not a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Clause because both the white and the non-white spouse were punished equally for the crime of miscegenation, an argument similar to that made by the United States Supreme Court in 1883 in Pace v. Alabama.

The Lovings, supported by the ACLU, appealed the decision to the United States Supreme Court. They did not attend the oral arguments in Washington, but their lawyer, Bernard S. Cohen, conveyed the message he had been given by Richard Loving to the court: "Mr. Cohen, tell the Court I love my wife, and it is just unfair that I can't live with her in Virginia.
On June 12, 1967 a unanimous United States Supreme Court struck down Virginia's anti-miscegenation statute, invalidating similar statutes in several other states.

You may see this as merely an uncomfortable artifact of our nation's unhappy history of race relations, not relevant in our modern, enlightened world -- but a recent Cheerios commercial, of all things, has sparked controversy with its use of an interracial family to sell the cereal. We have come a long way, perhaps, but we're not there yet. Loving Day is still all too relevant.

Monday, June 10, 2013

June 11: The Fall of Troy, Corn on the Cob, King Kamehameha Day

According to Eratosthenes, a Greek scholar of the third century B.C., the fabled city of Troy fell to the Greeks on June 11, 1184 B.C. In other words, it was on June 11, 1184 B.C. that the Greeks finished horsing around and ended the Trojan War.

Most of the Usual Suspects note that June 11 is Corn on the Cob Day -- an nice idea, perhaps, if one is barbecuing and if the grocery has it in stock -- but not a day to look for fresh sweet corn at farmers' markets or roadside stands in most parts of North America: Traditionally, corn is not even 'knee high until the Fourth of July.'

In Hawaii, Tuesday, June 11 is Kamehameha Day, commemorating King Kamehameha the Great, the founder, in 1810, of the Kingdom of Hawaii, when he finished uniting the entire Hawaiian island chain under his rule.

Wikipedia reports that King Kamehameha's full name was Kalani Paiʻea Wohi o Kaleikini Kealiʻikui Kamehameha o ʻIolani i Kaiwikapu kaui Ka Liholiho Kūnuiākea.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

June 10 -- Iced Tea Day and a correction

Last year, we told you that June 10 was Yo-Yo Day. This year, you may have noticed, we told you that June 6 was Yo-Yo Day.

The page we linked to last year seems to be in the June 6 camp. We can't figure out what source gave us the June 10 date. We herewith abandon any claim that that June 10 is Yo-Yo Day.

We hope this disclosure hasn't upset your Monday planning too much.

Meanwhile, now that we know what June 10 isn't, what will June 10 be? Well, the Usual Suspects are in pretty unanimous accord on this: Monday, June 10 will be Iced Tea Day.

Iced tea may be different from region to region in the United States. In the North it's just like regular tea, only cold. In the South great heaping amounts of sugar are larded in, making the tea allegedly "sweet." We can accept that... assuming "sweet" means "undrinkable."

Alcoholics Anonymous was founded by Dr. Robert Smith and Bill Wilson (Dr. Bob and Bill W.) in 1935. June 10, 1935 is remembered in AA lore as the date of Dr. Bob's last drink and is celebrated as the date on which AA was founded. It would be alright to have an iced tea (even a "sweet" tea) to commemorate Alcoholics Anonymous Founders Day.

Alexander the Great died on June 10, 323 B.C. Well, he died on either June 10 or June 11 -- but, really, 2,336 years later it's pretty remarkable that we have it narrowed down so close.

Judy Garland was born on June 10, 1922. Two very different persons, but both with important Chicago connections, were also born on June 10: Bluesman Howlin' Wolf was born June 10, 1910. Although born in Mississippi, Wolf lived in the Chicago area from the early 1950s until his death in 1976; his most famous recordings were made in Chicago at Chess Records. Nobel laureate Saul Bellow was born in Canada on June 10, 1915, but moved to Chicago at a young age and, later, taught at the University of Chicago for some 30 years.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Sunday is Donald Duck Day

Donald Duck Day is celebrated on June 9 because it was on June 9, 1934, 79 years ago, that the original Donald made his big screen debut in the Walt Disney Silly Symphony, The Wise Little Hen.

Clarence Nash provided the voice of Donald Duck in that first cartoon and would continue to provide that amazing noise until 1983, just a couple of years before his death.

Donald, of course, is still very much with us -- and still not wearing pants.

Jackie Wilson was born on June 9, 1934 in Detroit, Michigan. He's been gone a long time already, but on our iPods and MP3 players, he's still taking us higher and higher. Les Paul, who more or less invented the electric guitar, making rock'n'roll possible, was born on June 9, 1915.

Comedian Jackie Mason was born on June 9, 1931 in -- and you're not going to believe this, but we're relying on Wikipedia here -- Sheboygan, Wisconsin. You have to read through the Wikipedia bio to find that Mr. Mason was raised on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, which is a relief, because he does not sound like he has a Wisconsin accent.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Saturday will be World Oceans Day

Saturday, June 8 is World Oceans Day.

The world's oceans are the cradle of life on Earth. Most of the surface of the globe is covered in seawater and, in some ways, we know less about the oceans than we do about the Moon.

That hasn't stopped us from over-fishing, polluting, and otherwise damaging the oceans. Saturday provides an opportunity to reflect on what we can do to protect and preserve the oceans and the life within.

Saturday is also Name Your Poison Day. That's a rather colorful way of stating your preference, isn't it?

And Usual Suspect advises that Saturday is beginning of World Wide Knit in Public Days, running this year from June 8 to June 16. If anyone gives you a hard time about it, you can always stab them with your knitting needles -- but, we hasten to add, The Blog of Days does not recommend or condone violence, even against those who frown on knitting in public.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

June 7 is Doughnut Day and VCR Day

Friday June 7 is Doughnut Day. Doughnut Day (or Donut Day) was started by the Salvation Army in the 1930s as a fundraiser (and still is, if you care to click on the link), but Dunkin' Donuts and Krispy Kreme are both planning promotions for Friday as well.

We consider doughnuts to be perhaps the greatest pastry ever... but we are never quite certain whether to spell it d-o-n-u-t-s or d-o-u-g-h-n-u-t-s. However the word is spelled doughnuts aren't going out of style anytime soon.

The same can not be said for the once-mighty VCR. Cutting edge technology barely 30 years ago, and the victor in the bloody Betamax war, the VCR has since been displaced by the DVD, the Blu-ray, and now by streaming video. Many of us of a certain age have extensive tape collections -- and it's getting harder and harder to find a machine on which they can be viewed.

June 7 is VCR Day, a day to remember the vanishing VCR. On Friday, we can remember the once-proud VCR as it vanishes into the mists of time, the clock on the front still flashing 12:00....

And if you're not too filled up by doughnuts, June 7 is also National Chocolate Ice Cream Day.

Crooner Dean Martin was born on June 7, 1917. One-time tennis starlet Anna Kournikova was born on June 7, 1981.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Drive-in movies and a successful multi-government conspiracy

Photo obtained from this site.
The first drive-in movie theater opened in New Jersey on June 6, 1933. Drive-ins were magical places for families to visit, and more than a few families started at the drive-in, too. Several of the Usual Suspects proclaim Thursday, June 6 to be Drive-In Movie Day as a result. There can't be too many left, so if you're fortunate enough to live near one, make it a point to head out there soon.

And for the conspiracy theorists in the audience, hold on to your aluminum foil beanies because Thursday is the anniversary of a day on which a deep, dark, multinational conspiracy was revealed to an unsuspecting world: On June 6, 1944, the Allies began the liberation of Europe. D-Day was the best and best-kept government secret ever, at least the best one ever kept for good reasons. False intelligence and spy reports convinced the Nazis that the real invasion would come at the Pas-de-Calais; until it was too late, the German High Command thought the Normandy landings were a diversion, a feint, designed to draw attention from the main invasion at Calais.

For those who remember rock'n'roll radio in its Midwestern heyday, June 6 is the birthday of the 'charming and delightful' Larry Lujack (born June 6, 1940). For everyone else, June 6 is also Yo-Yo Day.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

June 5 is World Environment Day

Remember when you were young and you balked at eating something on your dinner plate? Your mother probably said something like, "Don't waste food. Children are starving in" -- and she'd name a place. The place your mother would most likely name is strongly correlated with your age. Right after World War II, mothers of Baby Boomers would say, "Children are starving in Europe." Later, it would more likely be, "Children are starving in Asia," or, still later, "Children are starving in Africa."

Well, the mothers of the world seem to have taken over this year's World Environment Day, a U.N. observance on the calendars of just about all the Usual Suspects for Wednesday, June 5.

The theme for this year's World Environment Day, "Think-Eat-Save," encourages us to all reduce our "foodprint." The linked website advises that, "According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), every year 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted. This is equivalent to the same amount produced in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, 1 in every 7 people in the world go to bed hungry and more than 20,000 children under the age of 5 die daily from hunger."

We never understood how cleaning our plates would do one bit of good for the starving in Europe or Asia or Africa, but the U.N. clearly agrees with our mothers: End world hunger -- clean your plate.

Wednesday is also National Running Day and National Gingerbread Day. Is this how the nursery rhyme ties in? (You remember: You can run, you can run as fast as you can. / But you can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man.)

June 5 is also National Moonshine Day. We'll drink to that.

Monday, June 3, 2013

June 4 is Hug Your Cat Day and Old Maid Day

King George III (in coronation robes) by Allan
Ramsay (1713-1784). Original image in the
National Portrait Gallery, London.
This image obtained from Wikipedia.
Regular programming resumes on The Blog of Days without a backward glance or explanation.

We wonder if there might not be a connection between Hug Your Cat Day and Old Maid Day. Both of these microminiholidayettes are observed on Tuesday, June 4. Both might result in getting your face scratched.

To explain: The person in the cubicle next door says, "I hugged my cat this morning in honor of Hug Your Cat Day." You respond, "Oh, that's how your face came to be all scratched up." We can't help but suspect that wishing a Happy Old Maid Day to a female colleague of a certain age might result in similar injuries.

We'd advise against both hugging a cat or wishing anyone a Happy Old Maid Day.

King George III was born on June 4, 1738. Americans fought a revolution during King George's reign to free themselves from rule by English monarchs, but their descendants today fawn over the comings and goings of Prince William and his wife, Kate Middleton, and Billy's brother, Harry.

Also, on June 4, 1989, the ironically-named Peoples' Liberation Army crushed Chinese dissenters in and around Beijing's Tiananmen Square. Of course, we probably don't want to make too big a deal of this, lest the Chinese call their loans.