Monday, December 31, 2012

Well, folks, we've about wrapped up another one.

The Christmas decor is still 50% off, and the Valentine's Day items are out already.

#2 Son and his friends have bought an obscene amount of fireworks to set off.

We have fresh black-eye peas in the house, and plenty of cabbage.

Enjoy the final hours of 2012, and, by G-d's grace, i'll see you on the other side.

Today is:

Check Your Smoke Alarms Day

Iraq Day -- Iraq

Fairy Eve's Year News -- Fairy Calendar

Feast of Sharaf (Honor) -- Baha'i

Incwala Day -- Swaziland (biggest day of the 8 week Incwala Festival)

International Solidarity Day -- Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis worldwide

Kwanzaa, Day 6, Kuumba (Creativity)

Magal de Touba -- Senegal (Sufi religious festival)

Make Up Your Mind Day/Procrastinator's Day -- you have to make up your mind

National Champagne Day

New Year's Eve -- a selection of related observances
     Allendale Tar Barrel Burning/Baal Fire Festival -- Allendale, England (locals burn out the old year by carrying burning tar barrels on their heads, then use them to light one huge bonfire)
     Feast of Father Time -- because he ultimately overcomes us all
     Festival of Yemaya -- Yoruba/Santeria (celebration of the mother of the sun and moon)
     Fire and Ice New Year's Eve Celebration -- Anchorage, AK (fire jugglers, ice carvers, fireworks, and more)
     First Night -- a non-alcoholic alternative to New Year's Eve
     Fravartigan -- Parsi Zoroastrian (celebration to honor the dead through the night)
     Gamlarskvold -- Icelandic traditions; cows gain human speech, seals take on human form, the dead rise, and Elves move house
                obtain gold from the Elves by sitting at a crossroads and waiting for them to pass
                Housewives greet the Elves by reciting the rhyme of protection
                        Let those who want to, arrive
                        Let those who want to, leave
                        Let those who want to, Stay
                        Without harm to me or mine
                Light a bonfire, and "blow out the year" with fireworks
     Harvest Day Celebrations -- Benin (celebration of the end of harvest season at the turn of the year)
     Hogmanay Day -- Scotland (Auld Year's Night)
     Japanese Observances (a few, at least)
          Joya no Kane -- Japan (ringing out the old year with temple bells; Buddhists believe humans are born with 108 worldly desires which are removed when the bells are rung 108 times)
          Namahge -- Oga Peninsula, Japan (devil appearing holiday; young men dress as demons and run through the town warning children to behave during the coming year)
          Okera Matsuri -- Yasaka Shrine, Kyoto, Japan (Sacred Fire Rite)
          Omisoka Day -- Japan (the second most important day on the Japanese Calendar; tomorrow is the most important)
     Noche de Pedimento -- Oaxaca, Mexico (Night of the Petition)
     Ritual for Iemanja -- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (seaside rituals for the goddess of the sea and carnal pleasure, followed by a swinging party in the city and on the beaches overnight)
     Samoan Fire Dance -- Samoa
     Swinging the Fireballs -- Stonehaven, Kincardineshire, Scotland
     Universal Hour of Peace -- begins at 11:30pm your local time, welcome the New Year with peace
     Watch Night -- Christian
     World Peace Meditation Day (International observance of one hour beginning 12:00 PM GMT, focusing thought and energy on peace.)

No Resolution Day / Ditch the Resolutions Day -- if you don't want to, you don't have to!

Restoration Day -- Geneva, Switzerland

Seventh Day of Christmas

St. Sylvester's Day (Patron of Feroleto Antico, Italy; Poggio Catino, Italy) related observances
     Saint Sylvester's Day Celebrations-- Belgium, Germany, France and Switzerland
     Silvesterklause -- Urnäsch, Switzerland

St. Zoticus of Constantinople's Day (Patron of the poor; often titled Feeder of Orphans)

You're All Done Day -- sponsored by something i haven't been able to pin down online called The Long Haul Committee (and it's more like "all done in" if you are like me!)

Birthdays Today:

Joe McIntyre, 1972
Val Kilmer, 1959
Bebe Neuwirth, 1958
Donna Summer, 1948
Tim Matheson, 1947
Barbara Carrera, 1945
John Denver, 1943
Ben Kingsley, 1943
Andy Summers, 1942
Sarah Miles, 1941
Anthony Hopkins, 1937
Odetta, 1930
Simon Wiesenthal, 1908
George C. Marshall, 1880
Henri Matisse, 1869

Today in History:

80,000 Vandals, Alans and Suebians attack the Rhine at Mainz, crossing into and beginning the invasion of Gallia, 406
Byzantine General Belisarius completes the conquest of Sicily, defeating the Ostrogothic garrison of Syracuse, and ending his consulship for the year, 535
Ch'an monk Ho-tse Shen-hui interred in a stupa built in China, 765
James I of Aragon the Conqueror enters Medina Mayurqa (now known as Palma, Spain) thus consummating the Christian conquest of the island of Majorca, 1229
100,000 Jews expelled from Sicily, 1492
The British East India Company chartered, 1600
The first Huguenots depart France to Cape of Good Hope, 1687
A window tax is imposed in England, causing many shopkeepers to brick up their windows to avoid the tax, 1695
Rhode Island establishes wage & price controls to curb inflation: Limit is 70 cents a day for carpenters, 42 cents for tailors, 1776
Queen Victoria chooses Ottawa as new capital of Canada, 1857
The cornerstone is laid for Honolulu, Hawai'i's Iolani Palace, the only royal palace in the US, 1879
Edison gives 1st public demonstration of his incandescent lamp, 1879
Ellis Island (NYC) opens as a US immigration depot, 1890
Brooklyn's last day as a city, it incorporates into NYC (1/1/1898), 1897
Boers & British army sign peace treaty, 1902
The first New Year's Eve celebration is held in Times Square, then known as Longacre Square, in New York, New York, 1904
For the first time a ball drops at Times Square to signal the new year, 1907
The last San Francisco firehorses are retired, 1921
The chimes of Big Ben are broadcast on radio for the first time by the BBC, 1923
Dr R N Harger's "drunkometer," the first breath test, is introduced in Indiana, 1938
The farthing coin ceases to be legal tender in the United Kingdom, 1960
The Central African Federation officially collapses and splits into Zambia, Malawi and Rhodesia, 1963
The AT&T Bell System is broken up by the United States Government, 1983
All official Soviet Union institutions have ceased operations by this date and the Soviet Union is officially dissolved, 1991
Czechoslovakia is peacefully dissolved in what is dubbed by media as the Velvet Divorce, resulting in the creation of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, 1992
This date is skipped altogether in Kiribati as the Phoenix Islands and Line Islands change time zones, 1994
The European Exchange Rate Mechanism freezes the values of the legacy currencies in the Eurozone, and establishes the value of the euro currency, 1998
The United States Government hands control of the Panama Canal (as well all the adjacent land to the canal known as the Panama Canal Zone) to Panama, 1999
The official opening of Taipei 101, the tallest skyscraper at that time in the world, 2004

Sunday, December 30, 2012

What a Way to Save Money

 "Mom, I've been thinking about performance art lately.  What do you think of it?"  Bigger Girl really knows how to get a morning going.

Well, i haven't thought much about it, to be honest, at least not lately, i told her.

"There was one lady who delivered her baby in an art museum as a piece of performance art, but I think that's going to far, don't you?"

Humph, i'm not sure it's something i would want to see.

"Also, I'm enjoying exploring different film genres.  I've been watching a Dadaist piece, but it's hard going."


"Well, to be Dadaist, it has to have no plot.  It can have a theme, but it can't have a plot.  That makes it hard, there's a lot of imagery and symbolism, and maybe a theme, but nothing to tie it all together.  So if I wanted to make a Dadaist film, I could show a guy eating spicy food on a train in India, then go to a shot of a lake, then to something totally different.  Then I might show a guy eating a hot dog at a stand in New York or something.  People eating in different places could be the theme, but there would be no plot, and just lots of weird scenes."

Yes, i can see why that wouldn't hold your attention for long, remind me to never watch one of those.

"Yeah, and I can tell you one genre I would never get into, and that's the nudist films of the 1950's and 60's.  Really, it became a big thing for nudist camps to make nudist films then."

No, that's another i wouldn't watch.  Although i can say, at least they saved money on costumes.

"Yes, but what a way to save money!"

Not much longer to this year, folks, go do something worthwhile.  Don't bother with Dadaist film, though.

Today is:

Bacon Day -- for those tired of the same old winter holidays, see

Day of the Declaration of Slovakia as an Independent Eccliesiatic Province -- Slovakia

Fairy Frequent Fliers' Awards

Falling Needles Family Fest Day -- gather the family, watch the needles fall from the tree, and have a party; sponsored by Wellcat Holidays

Feast of the Holy Family -- Catholic Christian

Festival of Enormous Changes At the Last Minute -- internet generated, and i'm not sure i'm up to it

Kwanzaa, Day 5, Nia(Purpose)

National Bicarbonate of Soda Day -- shouldn't this be on Jan. 1, to help us get over the indigestion from the night before?

No Interruptions Day -- let people finish up what needs to get done before the New Year at work, and silence the devices at home that keep us from spending uninterrupted time with family

Rizal Day -- Philippines (commemoration of the martyrdom of Dr. Jose Rizal in 1896)

Sixth Day of Christmas

St. Ruggero of Canne's Day (Barletta, Italy)

Anniversary Today:

Rutherford B. Hayes (19th US President) marries Lucy Ware Webb, 1852

Birthdays Today:

LeBron James, 1984
Kristin Kreuk, 1982
Eliza Dushku, 1980
Laila Ali, 1977
Tiger Woods, 1975
Sean Hannity, 1961
Tracey Ullman, 1959
Matt Lauer, 1957
Meredith Vieira, 1953
Patti Smith, 1946
Davy Jones, 1945
Michael Nesmith, 1942
Del Shannon, 1939
Noel Paul Stookey, 1937
Sandy Koufax, 1935
Russ Tamblyn, 1934
Bo Diddley, 1928
Jack Lord, 1920
Bert Parks, 1914
Simon Guggenheim, 1867
Rudyard Kipling, 1865

Today in History:

Hugh Capet, King of the Franks, crowns his son Robert the Pious king and co-ruler, 987
A Muslim mob storms the royal palace in Granada, crucifies Jewish vizier Joseph ibn Naghrela and massacres most of the Jewish population of the city, 1066
Tokyo is hit by an earthquake, about 37,000 die, 1703
The first coffee is planted in Hawaii (Kona), 1817
Gyula, Count Andrássy, of Hungary, issues the Andrassy Note, calling for Christian-Muslim religious freedoms, 1875
Gilbert & Sullivan's "Pirates of Penzance," premieres, 1879
The American Political Science Association founded at New Orleans, 1903
Iran becomes a constitutional monarchy, 1906
The All India Muslim League is founded in Dacca, East Bengal, British India Empire, which later laid down the foundations of Pakistan, 1906
Lincoln's Inn in London admits its first female bar student, 1919
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is formed, 1922
Japan dedicates the first subway in the Orient (route under 2 miles long), 1927
The Cole Porter Broadway musical, Kiss Me, Kate (1,077 performances), opens at the New Century Theatre and becomes the first show to win the Best Musical Tony Award, 1948
In the 39th game of his 3rd NHL season Wayne Gretzky scores 5 goals giving him 50 on the year setting a new NHL record , 1981
Israel and the Vatican establish diplomatic relations, 1993
Tropical Storm Zeta forms in the open Atlantic Ocean, tying the record for the latest tropical cyclone ever to form in the North Atlantic basin, 2005
The last roll of Kodachrome film is developed by Dwayne's Photo, the only remaining Kodachrome processor at the time, concluding the film's 74-year run as a photography icon, 2009

Saturday, December 29, 2012


Someday, i'm going to live in a house i'm not afraid to be in during the rain.

Someday, i'm going to live in a house that doesn't leak from the roof and the foundation.

Someday, but not today.

Yesterday's rain had the water coming in through a downstairs bathroom.  No leak upstairs, just through a vent downstairs.

It's the pipe at the roof, the flashing must be bad, so the water ran down the pipe and into that bathroom.  Funny, in a way, having a roof leak downstairs and not upstairs above it.

Whether there is water downstairs where the sump pump is i'm not sure yet.  It's something i don't want to check.  Besides, unless there's standing water, there's nothing i can do anyway, just let the pump do its work and mop up if there is excess.  If there is excess, i'll see it, no need to go looking.

Living in a swamp in a leaky house is not a fun thing, but it could be worse.

It could be Seattle, which is probably a nice place, but we don't get rain every single day like they do.

On a cheerier note, all the kittens we've put up for adoption became Christmas kittens for someone.

Today is:

Constitution Day -- Ireland

Enjoying ESP Day -- internet generated, and it means eating, sleeping, and partying!

Fifth Day of Christmas

Illegal Pants Day -- commemorates Emma Snodgrass' arrest in Boston in 1852 for wearing pants

Kwanzaa, Day 4, Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)

Lhosar -- Gurung People of Nepal (sometimes called the Tamu People; Losar is celebrated by the rest of Nepal in February or March)

National Chocolate Again Day -- because someone, somewhere, believes it can't be chocolate something-or-other day often enough

Paternoster Row Day -- in memoriam of the famous area destroyed by the Blitz this date and tomorrow in 1940

Pepper Pot Day -- Pepper Pot Soup was invented today in 1777 at Valley Forge for the army to have something warm to eat

Sacrifice to Zeus Horios -- Ancient Greek Calendar (sacrifice in the deme of Erichia; date approximate)

St. Gabriel's Day -- Ethiopia

St. Thomas of Canterbury's Day (Thomas a Becket, Patron of clergy, secular clergy; Exeter College, Oxford, England; Portsmouth, England)

St. Trophimus of Arles' Day (Patron of children; Arles, France; against drought)

Tick Tock Day -- end of the year is getting closer, stop putting off your dreams! sponsored by Wellcat Holidays

Yodel in the Shower Day -- internet generated, and i promise not to tell if you do

Anniversaries Today:

Texas becomes the 28th US State, 1845

Birthdays Today:

Jude Law, 1972
Bryan "Dexter" Holland, 1966
Ed Autry, 1954
Ted Danson, 1947
Marianne Faithfull, 1946
Jon Voight, 1938
Mary Tyler Moore, 1936
Billy Mitchell, 1879
William Gladstone, 1809
Andrew Johnson, 1808
Charles Goodyear, 1800

Today in History:

Thomas a Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, is assassinated inside Canterbury Cathedral by followers of King Henry II; he subsequently becomes a saint and martyr in the Anglican Church and the Roman Catholic Church, 1170
The first nautical almanac in US published by Samuel Stearns, Boston, 1782
Gas lights are installed at White House, during the Polk administration, 1848
The first Young Men's Christian Association chapter in the US opens, in Boston, 1851
Emma Snodgrass is arrested in Boston for wearing pants, 1852
The first telegraph ticker used by a brokerage house, Groesbeck & Co, NY, 1867
The Wounded Knee Massacre takes place, 1890
Edison patents "transmission of signals electrically" (radio), 1891
Mongolia gains independence from the Qing dynasty, 1911
The first movie serial, "Adventures of Kathlyn," premieres in Chicago, 1913
Fred P Newton completes longest swim ever (1826 miles), when he swam in the Mississippi River from Ford Dam, Minn, to New Orleans, 1930
Physicist Richard Feynman gives a speech entitled "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom", which is regarded as the birth of nanotechnology, 1959
Filming began on Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey in England, 1965
Riots break-out after Hong Kong decides to forcibly repatriate Vietnamese refugees, 1989
Guatemala and leaders of Guatemalan National Revolutionary Union sign a peace accord ending a 36-year civil war, 1996
Leaders of the Khmer Rouge apologize for the 1970s genocide in Cambodia that claimed over 1 million lives, 1998
The last known speaker of Akkala Sami dies, rendering the language extinct, 2003

Friday, December 28, 2012

It's the time of year when we start to get all those "year in review" reports.

Most of them are lousy.

Most of them major on depressing stuff and include long lists of famous people who died this year.

There is one piece of good news that i've read, and to counteract all the bad press out there, i'm holding on to this:

In the 24 hours that were Monday, November 26, 2012, not a single criminal shooting, stabbing, or slashing was reported in all 5 New York City Boroughs.  That is the first time this has ever happened that anyone in the entire enforcement community can remember.

This, in a year when New York City stands to have fewer than 400 murders on the books for the whole year.

So i guess that's two pieces of good news, both of which show miracles can happen.

Today is:

Bairns Day -- Scotland (Begins the runic half-month of Eoh, the yew tree, which signifies the dead, and is now associated with the Slaughter of the Innocents of Christian tradition, so today is considered by some the unluckiest day of the year, and no work should be undertaken today.)

Call a Friend Day -- just to catch up a bit

Card Playing Day -- internet generated, enjoy a fun game with friends and family; "Go fish!"

Childermas a/k/a Holy Innocents Day -- (Patrons of babies, children's choirs, foundlings)
     various Christian traditions celebrate under many names and in various ways
     Els Enfarinats -- Ibn, Valencia, Spain (flour fight, and if it's anything like the tomato throwing in other towns of Spain, it's probably lots of fun)
     French Childermas tradition interpreted what the Norse saw as evidence of the Wild Hunt of Odin as the spirits of the Holy Innocents running from King Herod
     Inocentes -- Mexico, and sometimes celebrated as Mexican December Fool's Day (Herod fooled himself into thinking he had gotten rid of his rival king born in Bethlehem.)

Dyzemas Day -- Northhamptonshire, UK (an unlucky day to begin any new undertaking, "what is begun on Dysemas Day will never be finished")
     origin unknown, but often translated as Tithe Day, being very close to the Portugese word for tithe

Eat A Vegetarian Day -- an internet generated joke; yes, the vegetarian in question can be a cow

Endangered Species Act Day -- US (act passed 1973; a day to mourn species already extinct)

Fairy Academy of Window-Frosting Winter Exhibition -- Fairy Calendar

Fourth Day of Christmas

Full Cold Moon or Full Long Nights Moon (also Black Moon or Death Crone Moon)
     Nattaw Full Moon -- Myanmar
     Unduwap Full Moon Poya Day -- Sri Lanka (began sunset yesterday)

King Taksin Memorial Day -- Thailand

Kwanzaa, Day 3, Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)

National Chocolate Candy Day

Proclamation Day -- South Australia (trad.)

Return a Gift for the Cold Hard Cash Day -- and good luck, these days

Runic Half-month Eoh (yew) commences

Take a Drive and Enjoy the Christmas Lights Day -- before they are gone for another year

Unluckiest Day of the Year -- various traditions state no work should be started today, for whatever is started today will never be finished!  In Olde England, nothing of importance was ever undertaken on Childermas, because it would prove unlucky

Anniversaries Today:

Iowa becomes the 29th US State, 1846

Birthdays Today:

Denzel Washington, 1954
Edgar Winter, 1946
Don Francisco, 1940
Maggie Smith, 1934
Nichelle Nichols, 1933
Martin Milner, 1931
Johnny Otis, 1921
Sam Levenson, 1911
Lew Ayres, 1908
Cliff Arquette, 1905
Earl "Fatha" Hines, 1905
Hendrik Meijer, 1883
Woodrow Wilson, 1856

Today in History:

The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, a/k/a Westminster Abbey, is consecrated, 1065
The reign of Emperor Hanazono of Japan begins, 1308
Galileo Galilei becomes the first astronomer to observe the planet Neptune, although he mistakenly catalogued it as a fixed star, 1612
King Taksin is crowned as king of Thailand and establishes Thonburi as a capital, 1768
Construction of Yonge Street, formerly recognized as the longest street in the world, begins in York, Upper Canada (present-day Toronto, Ontario), 1795
A magnitude 6.8 earthquake strikes Echigo, Japan, killing 30,000+, 1828
John Calhoun becomes the first US Vice President to resign (over differences with President Andrew Jackson), 1832
Spain recognizes independence of Mexico, 1836
South Australia and Adelaide are founded, 1836
Rangoon Burma, destroyed by fire, 1841
The United States claims Midway Island, the first territory annexed outside Continental limits, 1867
The Lumière brothers perform for their first paying audience at the Grand Cafe in Boulevard des Capucines, marking the debut of the cinema, 1895
The first municipally owned streetcars take to the streets in San Francisco, California, 1912
The Peak District becomes the United Kingdom's first National Park, 1950
Alexander Solzhenitsyn publishes "Gulag Archipelago", 1973
Winnie Mandela is banished from South Africa, 1976
The first American "test-tube baby", Elizabeth Jordan Carr, is born in Norfolk, Virginia, 1981
U.S. retail giant Montgomery Ward announces it is going out of business after 128 years, 2000

Thursday, December 27, 2012

So, What Did We Do On Boxing Day?

 Just break into our own car.

Sweetie's vehicle can't be locked.  Well, it can be, but the keys won't open it, and the "clicker" remote doesn't work, and it would cost several hundred to replace the whole mechanism so it would work.  Thus, we don't lock it, and we don't leave anything in it that can be stolen, either.

Until Sweetie accidentally locked himself out yesterday.

Breaking in to your own car because you are too cheap to call Pop-a-Lock isn't easy.  First, we straightened out a coat hanger.  Since Sweetie hadn't quite closed the door all the way, we managed to get it in, but it was too short.  Then we electrical taped a second coat hanger to the first, and hooked it around the trunk release and pulled.

That got the trunk open, which was a great start.  There's a small access into the back seat, a little arm-rest that folds down.

To get the whole seat to fold in, though, you have to turn the lock that is in the back panel, right under the rear window.

#2 Son, ultra skinny with long arms, was able to reach in and put the key in that lock, and turn it.

Then i pulled the lever in the trunk so the entire back seat folded down.  #2 Son climbed in and opened the back door, and we unlocked all the doors again.

The whole operation took a good 20 minutes, but it was worth it.

We just hope we don't have to do that again any time soon.

Today is:

Calli (House) Day -- Aztec Calendar (a good day for all things hearth and home and family. a bad day to participate in public life; date approximate, but soon after the solstice)

Constitution Day -- Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea)

Doody Day -- the premier in 1947 of the first successful children's TV show, "Howdy Doody"

Festival of Nehebkau -- Ancient Egyptian Calendar (Beginning of Eternity, celebrating the snake god and his role of binding the sun to the earth at the beginning of time; date approximate)

Kwanzaa, Day 2, Self-Determination

Make Cut Out Snowflakes Day -- internet generated, with Christmas over, you need to do winter decorations

Modern Medicine Day -- birth anniversary of Louis Pasteur

National Fruitcake Day -- unless, of course, you are like me and have spent your last several days with fruitcake relatives, at which point you get a day off from fruitcakes! ;D

St. Fabiola's Day (Patron of difficult marriages, divorced people, victims of abuse, victims of adultery, widows)

St. John the Divine's Day (Patron of art dealers, authors, bookbinders, booksellers, burn victims, compositors, editors, engravers, friendships, lithographers, painters, papermakers, printers, publishers, tanners, theologians, typesetters, writers; Asia Minor; Boise, Idaho, Borgo Santo Sepolcro, Italy; Cleveland, OH; Eger, Hungary; Milwaukee, WI; Morra, Netherlands; Saint-Jean – Longueuil, Québec; Sansepoicro, Italy; Sundern, Germany; Taos, NM; Umbria, Italy; Wroclaw, Poland; against burns, poisoning)

St. Stephen's Day -- Eastern Orthodox, a public holiday in Romania

Third Day of Christmas

Unduwap Full Moon Poya Day -- Sri Lanka

Unfairies' Gathering -- Fairy Calendar

Visit the Zoo Day -- don't know who put this one in the middle of winter, but there it is

Watch the Children Day -- internet generated, a day to take a page from the book of the young and remember how to play like a child

Birthdays Today:

Heather O'Rourke, 1975
Bill Goldberg, 1966
Gerard Depardieu, 1948
Cokie Roberts, 1943
John Amos, 1939
Oscar Levant, 1906
Marlene Dietrich, 1901
Sydney Greenstreet, 1879
Louis Pasteur, 1822
Johannes Kepler, 1571

Today in History:

The Hagia Sofia of Constantinople is completed, 537
The Spanish Crown issues the Laws of Burgos, governing the conduct of settlers with regards to native Indians in the New World, 1512
The first public railroad using steam locomotive completed in England, 1825
Charles Darwin embarks on his journey aboard the HMS Beagle, 1831
Worst English avalanche kills 8 of 15 buried in Lewes Sussex, 1836
Ether is first used in childbirth in US, in Jefferson, Ga., 1845
The world's first cat show is held at the Crystal Palace, London, 1871
Carrie Nation's first public smashing of a bar, at the Carey Hotel, Wichita, Kansas, 1900
Unsuccessful attempt on prince-regent Hirohito of Japan, 1923
Stalin's faction wins All-Union Congress in USSR, Trotsky is expelled, 1927
Radio City Music Hall opened in New York City, 1932
The Shah of Persia declares Persia is now Iran, 1934
The World Bank was created with the signing of an agreement by 28 nations, 1945
Apollo 8 splashes down in the Pacific Ocean, ending the first orbital manned mission to the Moon, 1968
The People's Republic of China is granted permanent normal trade relations with the United States, 2001
Radiation from an explosion on the magnetar SGR 1806-20 reaches Earth. It is the brightest extrasolar event known to have been witnessed on the planet, 2004
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is assassinated, 2007

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

How to Have a Great Christmas

Get up early, well before the kids, even though you were up late baking pie and the cornbread the night before.

Find out you didn't bake the cornbread quite enough.  Put it back in the oven.  Realize, after you get the rest of the ingredients ready, that the oven was at the wrong temperature and burned it.

Finally get a dressing made, after cutting the burned parts off the cornbread.  Hope it's still enough dressing.

Go wake the family, who all respond with groans because they were up late the night before.  Listen as your #1 Son, who came home to visit for the holiday, gets sick in the bathroom.

Spend 30 minutes trying to figure out which cars to take, who will drive, who has to put up with #2 Son's music, where the ice chests will fit, and which gas station to stop at because the one with the cheapest gas also has the lousy coffee, and everyone has to have coffee at the gas station.

Find out, at the gas station, that your debit card doesn't work because of a botched transaction the previous day.  Go get the emergency stash of cash out from your driving glasses case.

Drive 70 or so miles to Grandma and Grandpa's house, realizing when you get there that you forgot the football programs for Grandpa and one of Grandma's gifts.

Look over the situation in the kitchen and hear from Grandma that the turkey was a dud.  Look at the turkey, which baked off with almost no juice in the pan, and realize she's right.  Grab the giblets and start boiling them for gravy as she tells you she also has only about a half cup of flour left in the house for the gravy roux.

Wrestle Grandma's cantankerous stove into boiling the giblets and browning the roux with the help of 6 other people who have nothing else to do while the potatoes are being mashed and the gravy made.

Listen to Grandma worry about the homemade mac and cheese, which also dried out, probably in sympathy with the turkey.  Check on it, and sure enough, it's dried, too.

Burn the edges of the bread while spattering hot gravy on yourself.

Serve a dinner that could feed 20 to 7 people.

Try to pack all that food into the ice chests you brought along.  Have Grandpa shoo you out the door in record time because there is a bad storm front moving in.

Drive home and get there just ahead of the storm.

Unpack and get everything into the fridges just in time for the power to go out.

Be thankful for the generator.

Be thankful for Grandma and Grandpa, who put up with this every year.

Be thankful for the children mostly behaving and keeping arguments down to a minimum.

Be thankful that you don't have to do this again until next Thanksgiving.

Be thankful because it really was a wonderful, happy Christmas after all.

Today is:

Awful Tie Day -- internet generated, go to the office and compare who got the worst tie as a gift

Blessing of the Wine -- Greiveldange, Luxembourg (winemakers parade to the church to have a barrel of wine blessed)

Boxing Day -- day on which boxes of goodies are given to the less fortunate or public servants, and sometimes servants and masters traded places for the day

Coffee Percolator Day -- invented by James Mason on this day in 1865

Day of Goodwill -- Namibia; South Africa

Day of Our Theotokos /  Synaxis of the Most Holy Mother of God -- Byzantine/Eastern Orthodox Christian

Family Day -- Namibia; Vanuatu

Icelandic Traditional Calendar Month Morsugur "Fat Sucker" begins -- Iceland (refering to the daily fare becoming scant in deep winter and body fat is used up)

Independence and Unity Day -- Slovenia

Junkanoo (Junkanoo Jonkanoo, Jankunu, John Canoe or Johnkankus) -- Caribbean Islands, also on New Years Day (A special music and dance, mime and symbol that is an early traditional dance form of African descent.)

Kwanzaa, Day 1, Unity

Mauro Hamza Day -- Houston, TX, US (United States Fencing Association Foil Director)

Mummer's Day -- Padstow, Cornwall

National Candy Cane Day

National Thank-you Note Day

National Whiner's Day™ -- a day to encourage people to be happy with what they have; the previous year's worst whiners are announced (you don't want to be one!)

Recyclable Packaging Day -- started by someone who wants to remind us to gather up the reusable bags, boxes, etc., left from the holiday, and recycle the rest

Second Day of Christmas

Sports Days -- Falkland Islands (through the 28th, with the Boxing Day race at Stanley being the most famous part of the celebration)

St. James the Just's Day -- Orthodox Christian

St. Stephen's Day (Patron of casket makers, deacons, horses, masons, stone masons; Patron of over 80 cities throughout Italy; Kessel, Germany; Metz, France; Owensboro, KY; Toulouse, France; against headaches)
     Public Holiday in Alsace, Andorra, Austria, Catalonia, Croatia, Czech Republic; Germany, Holy See, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Poland, San Marino, Slovakia, Spain (regional), Switzerland (regional)
     Celebrated as Father's Day -- Bulgaria
     Day of the Wren -- Ireland; Isle of Mann (costumed mayhem)

Tehuantepec Festivities -- Oaxaca, Mexico

Thanksgiving Day -- Solomon Islands

Zarathosht Diso (Death of Prophet Zarathushtra) - Zoroastrian

Birthdays Today:

Jared Leto, 1971
Lars Ulrich, 1963
David Sedaris, 1956
Ozzie Smith, 1954
Carlton Fisk, 1947
John Walsh, 1945
Phil Spector, 1940
Alan King, 1927
Steve Allen, 1921
Richard Widmark, 1914
Mao Tse-tung, 1893
Henry Miller, 1891
Charles Babbage, 1791
Thomas Gray, 1716

Today in History:

Columbus founds the first Spanish settlement in the New World by leaving behind 36 men in what is now Haiti, 1492
The final trial of Louis XVI of France begins, 1792
A theater fire in Richmond, Virginia kills the Governor of Virginia George William Smith and the president of the First National Bank of Virginia Abraham B. Venable, 1811
The Erie Canal opens, 1825
Gilbert and Sullivan collaborate for the first time, on their lost opera, Thespis. It does modestly well, but the two would not collaborate again for four years, 1871
King Mwanga of Uganda signs a contract with the East Africa Company, 1890
Marie and Pierre Curie announce the isolation of radium, 1898
FM radio is patented, 1933
Time Magazine's Man of the Year is for the first time a non-human, the personal computer, 1982
The Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union meets and formally dissolves the USSR, 1991
A 9.3 magnitude earthquake creates a tsunami causing devastation in Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, the Maldives and many other areas around the rim of the Indian Ocean, killing over 250,000 people, 2004

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

No matter what else today holds for you, may it be filled with smiles.

For those who celebrate, Merry Christmas!

Today is:

A'phabet Day -- a/k/a No "L" Day!  yes, go ahead and groan

Carol Day -- internet generated, listed as different dates, but this is the last day this year you should have to listen to Christmas songs, so enjoy

Children's Day -- Cameroon; Chad; Central African Republic; Congo; Congo DR; Equatorial Guinea; Gabon; Uruguay

Christmas Day/Feast of the Nativity -- Christian/Orthodox Christian

Constitution Day -- Taiwan

Dies Natalis Invicti Solis -- Ancient Roman Calendar (birthday of the invincible sun god)

Ennead Feast in the Houses of Ra, Horus, and Osiris -- Ancient Egyptian Calendar (date approximate)

Family Day -- Angola; Mozambique; Uruguay

Malkh-Festival -- Nakh peoples of Chechenya and Ingushetia (a sun god festival)

National Pumpkin Pie Day

Quaid-e-Azam's Day -- Pakistan (birth anniversary of "Great Leader," the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah)

St. Anastasia of Sirmium's Day (Patron of martyrs, weavers, and widows)

Birthdays Today

Dido, 1971
Rickey Henderson, 1958
Shane MacGowan, 1957
Annie Lennox, 1954
Ron Foos, 1949
Sissy Spacek, 1949
Barbara Mandrell, 1948
Jimmy Buffett, 1946
Gary Sandy, 1945
Carlos Castaneda, 1925
Rod Serling, 1924
Anwar Sadat, 1918
Quentin Crisp, 1908
Cab Calloway, 1907
Humphrey Bogart, 1899
Robert Ripley, 1893
Conrad Hilton, 1887
Clara Barton, 1821
Isaac Newton, 1642
Traditional Birthday of Mithras
Traditional Birthday of Sol

Today in History:

The first Christmas, according to calendar maker Dionysus Exiguus, 1
The earliest possible date that Christmas was celebrated on the 25th, 337
The first definite date that Christmas was celebrated on the 25th, 352
Coronation of Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor, in Rome, 800
William I, Conqueror, crowned king of England, 1066
Boudouin I of Boulogne crowned king of Jerusalem, 1100
Count Roger II of Sicily is crowned the first King of Sicily, 1130
St Francis of Assisi assembles the first Nativity scene, in Greccio, Italy, 1223
The city of Natal, Brazil is founded., 1599
Gov William Bradford of Plymouth forbids game playing on Christmas, 1621
The Massachusetts General Court ordered a fine of five shillings for "observing any such day as Christmas", 1651
The first performance of "Silent Night" takes place in the church of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorf, Austria, 1818
Louisiana & Arkansas are the first US states to observe Christmas as holiday, 1831
Despite bitter opposition, Pres Andrew Johnson grants unconditional pardon to all persons involved in Southern rebellion (a/k/a the Civil War, or, tongue planted firmly in cheek, that recent unpleasantness between the States), 1868
The legendary/unofficial "Christmas Truce" takes place between the British & Germans, 1914
Emperor Taisho of Japan dies; his son, Prince Hirohito succeeds him as Emperor Showa, 1926
Montgomery Ward introduces Rudolph the 9th reindeer, 1939
The first in Europe artificial, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction was initiated within Soviet nuclear reactor F-1, 1946
The Stone of Scone, traditional coronation stone of British monarchs, is taken from Westminster Abbey by Scottish nationalist students, 1950
Apollo 8 performs the very first successful Trans Earth Injection (TEI) maneouver, sending the crew and spacecraft on a trajectory back to Earth from Lunar orbit, 1968
Cyclone Tracy devastates Darwin, Northern Territory Australia, 1974
Prime Minister of Israel Menachem Begin meets in Egypt with President of Egypt, Anwar Sadat, 1977
The first successful trial run of the system which would become the World Wide Web, 1990
Mikhail Gorbachev resigns as president of the Soviet Union (the union itself is dissolved the next day), 1991
Cassini orbiter releases Huygens probe which would later successfully land on Saturn's moon Titan, 2004

Monday, December 24, 2012


So, what one big gift does each of you want for Christmas?  The kids in Sunday school were eager to share that.

Two of them were asking for DS3, whatever that is.  One little girl in my lap said she really wanted earrings.  One adventurous young lady wants a motorized minibike.

Then there's Timmy.  "I want a sack of coal!" he announced with glee.

And what, i asked, would you do with that?

"I want coal so I can melt my brother's snowman!" he grinned mischievously.

With the lack of snow around here, do you really think that is feasible? i teasingly inquired.

"Well, it doesn't matter, I want to build a big fire!"

So, i further asked the kids, is Timmy saying that what some people think is not much of a present, or is a punishment, can really be a great gift?

"Yes, it can!" Laura noted.  "If you are cold, you want coal!"

Right, i said, and that fits the Christmas story.

As they stared at me, i asked them to think about the Christmas story.  We discussed the idea.  Does a baby, especially one stuck in a feed trough, look like a gift?

"No!  Babies look awful!  They are all wrinkled and red, and I know, because we went to see Pastor L and Mrs. J's new baby at the hospital the other day, and he was ugly and wrinkled and red!"  Timmy apparently has his opinions on beauty nailed down.

So, on the surface, does it look like a baby born to poor people that no one ever heard of could be someone come especially to tell us the message that G-d loves and cares about us, and to show us that we are to love one another?

They agreed that it does appear unlikely.  They also got it that the main message is love, that we are to love, to act with love, always.  That's what G-d wants to teach us, always.

We also talked about how, if something happens that doesn't look like a gift on the surface, it might really be the best thing that could happen.

Mostly, i think, they understood.  And mostly, i know, the message i taught was for me, as i got a call from #2 Son right as class ended.

He swelling was worse, the hives were terrible, and i came home to take him to the ER.

We are going to assume penicillin allergy, he's on steroids and anti-histamines and i'm going to take it as a gift that we found out now, without him having to have a worse reaction.

May each of you find a gift in today, even if it is an unlikely one.

Today is:

Adam the Patriarch & Eve the Matriarch's Day -- Catholic Christian (Adam, Patron of gardeners and tailors; Eve, Patron of tailors)

Aofangadagskvold -- Iceland (arrival of the 13th and final Yule Lad)
     Icelandic Yuletide Lad of the Day, Kertasnikir -- Candle-beggar, who, as children did before light bulbs, wants the treat of a precious candle, and will steal one if he can

Bonfires on the Levee -- Louisiana, US (began among the Cajuns, now a big celebration for everyone, lighting the way for Papa Noel, a/k/a Te Claus)

Calendas -- Oaxaca, Mexico

Celtic Tree Month Beth (Birch) commences

Christmas Eve

Constitution Day -- Transdniestra

Declaration of Christmas Peace -- Old Great Square of Turku, Finland's official Christmas City

Feast of the Seven Fishes (La Vigilia) -- Italy (traditional serving of seven kinds of seafood at dinner)

Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols -- King's College Chapel, Cambridge University, Cambridge, England (special Christmas Eve performance by the Choir of King's College held since 1918)

Independence Day -- Libya

Kolada -- Asatru/Slavic Pagan Calendar (various celebrations of the gods until Dec. 31)

Last Minute Shoppers Day

Mistletoe Time -- traditional day on which to hang the mistletoe

Modresnach -- Germanic/Scandinavian/Anglo-Saxon Odinist festival celebrating midwinter and motherhood (date approximate)

National Egg Nog Day

Noche Buena -- Spain and Spanish speaking countries

Remember to Read the Instructions First Night -- when assembling the kids' toys, of course

Silent Night, Holy Night Celebrations -- Austria (in honor of the hymn's composition in 1818)

St. Trasilla's Day (Patron of single laywomen)

Tolling the Devil's Knell -- All Saints Parish Church, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, England (the church bell tolls once for each year since the birth of Christ, signaling when the Devil's demise was heralded)

T'owd 'oss -- Richmond, North Yorkshire, England (A tradition of dressing in hunting clothes and blowing the hunting horns on Christmas Eve.)

Utter Day -- Fairy Calendar (Every word uttered by the fairy folk becomes a physical object he/she must wear for the rest of the day.)

Yap Constitution Day -- Micronesia (regional)

Zerowork Season begins -- seriously, unless you work in retail, how much work really gets done between now and New Year's Eve at your office?

Birthdays Today:

Ryan Seacrest, 1974
Stephanie Meyer, 1973
Ricky Martin, 1971
Mary Higgins Clark, 1929
Ava Gardner, 1922
Howard Hughes, 1905
Johnny Gruelle, 1880
James Prescott Joule, 1818
Kit Carson, 1809

Today in History:

The Byzantine church Hagia Sophia in Constantinople is dedicated for the second time after being destroyed by earthquakes, 563
Thomas Wolsey is appointed English Lord Chancellor, 1515
Kiritimati, also called Christmas Island, is "discovered" by James Cook, 1777
"Silent Night" is composed by Franz Joseph Gruber; it is first sung the next day, 1818
The Eggnog Riot at the United States Military Academy begins that night, wrapping up the following morning, 1826
Fire devastates the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., destroys 35,000 volumes, 1851
Henry Ford completes his first useful gas motor, 1893
Irving Fisher patents an archiving system with index cards, 1912
The first radio transmission of NCRV in Netherlands, 1924
NORAD Tracks Santa for the first time in what will become an annual Christmas Eve tradition, 1955
Shooting begins on "The Cage" the pilot for the Star Trek series, 1964
The crew of Apollo 8 enters into orbit around the Moon, becoming the first humans to do so, 1968
Cyclone Tracy devastates Darwin, Australia, 1974
The first European Ariane rocket is launched, 1979
The Spanish police thwart an attempt by ETA to detonate 50 kg of explosives at 3:55 p.m. inside Madrid's busy Chamartín Station, 2003

Sunday, December 23, 2012

What's All the Buzzin' About?

 "Mom, I need you to come here, it's a real problem."

When #2 Son sounds unlike his "I'm always in control, everything is fine" self, i know something must be wrong.

So i ran downstairs to see what the buzz was about.

"Right before I went to bed last night, I started feeling a bit itchy, and look," he said, raising the let of his pants to show me the red welts.

Hives, i told him.  Are you having any trouble breathing?  Lips swelling?

"No, nothing like that.  But what could cause this?"

It's one of two things.  Either you are allergic to the antibiotic you are on for the sinus infection, or your dust mite/seafood sensitivity is kicking up again.  Did you take your meds last night?

"Yes, and I had shrimp ramen."

Well, you should only have one or two more doses of the medicine, so stop taking it and stop eating the shrimp ramen.

"But it itches right now, like crazy!"

Yes, so here's some anti-histamine to take.  If it's not better in half an hour, take another.  If it's still not better a half-hour after that, i'll be back from the store with some Claratin, sometimes that's the only thing that helps your sister when she gets hives.

"I thought I wasn't really allergic to shellfish!"

Well, technically, you aren't.  You have a sensitivity to chitin, which is in the shells of shellfish and bugs.  So if you get overexposed to dust mites, say, then eat shellfish, you will have a reaction.  Lay low on the stuff for a while, and we will see what happens.

"Okay, but I hope this goes away fast, it's miserable!"

So that what what the buzzin' was about -- hives.  He should be fine, though.

Today is:

Birthday of the Queen Silvia -- Sweden (an official flag day)

Children's Day -- South Sudan; Sudan

Day of Acca Larentia -- Ancient Rome, Republic and Empire (earth goddess and protectress who raised Romulus and Remus)

Festivus -- For the Rest of Us!  (The holiday introduced on the episode of Seinfeld that aired 12/18/97; have some meatloaf, decorate with an unadorned aluminum pole, have a "Feats of Strength" contest and an "Airing of Grievances"!)

Fourth Sunday of Advent -- Christian
     Lighting the Candle of Love

Humanlight Celebration -- celebration of tolerance, compassion, empathy, honesty, free inquiry, reason, and rationality 

Icelandic Yuletide Lad of the Day, Ketkrokur -- Meat-hook, who will lower a hook down the chimney and snatch a bit of meat if he can, especially if you are cooking lamb for St. Porlakur(Thorlac)

Igler Bergweihnacht -- Igls, Austria (charming nativity parade starring the children of this small town near Innsbruck)

Mouse-Marketing Day -- Fairy Calendar

National Pfefferneusse Day -- don't forget the Puderzucker!

Noche de Rabanos (Night of the Radishes) -- Oaxaca, Mexico (part of the lead up to Christmas, bring out your best carved radish!)

Popcorn Popping Day -- so you can string it on the tree, of course

Porlaksmessa, Feast of St. Thorlaker/Thorlac -- Iceland (Patron saint, though never officially recognized by the Holy See)

Roots Day -- as you gather with family during the season, don't forget to sit with elder relatives and learn about your family's past

Secret of the Unhewn Stone -- Celtic Calendar (Only day on their calendar not governed by a tree month)

St. John of Kanti's Day (Patron of Lithuania, Poland)

St. Servulus' Day (Patron of the disabled/physically challenged; against paralysis)

St. Victoria's Day (Patron of Anticoli Corrado, Italy)

Tenno Tanjobi -- Japan (Birthday of Emperor Akihito, national holiday observed as a day of rest.)

Two Days To Go Day

Victory Day -- Egypt (a/k/a Suez Victory Day)

Birthdays Today:

Corey Haim, 1971
Carla Bruni, 1967
Eddie Vedder, 1964
Susan Lucci, 1946
Harry Shearer, 1943
Jose Greco, 1918
Madame C.J. Walker, 1867
Connie Mack, 1862

Today in History:

Byzantine-Arab Wars: Under the future Emperor Nicephorus Phocas, Byzantine troops stormed the city of Aleppo, recovering the tattered tunic of John the Baptist, 962
St Philip of Moscow martyred by Ivan the Terrible, 1569
Giovanni Cassini discovers Rhea, a satellite of Saturn, 1672
John Flamsteed observes Uranus without realizing it's undiscovered, 1690
The Continental Congress negotiates a war loan of $181,500 from France, 1776
Benedict Arnold court-martialed for improper conduct, 1779
"A Visit from St Nicholas" by C. Clement Moore is published in the Troy (NY) Sentinel (Now usually titled " 'Twas the Night Before Christmas"), 1823
The opera Hänsel und Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck is first performed, 1893
The first all-steel passenger railroad coach completed, in Altoona, Pa, 1907
The first hospital ship built to move wounded naval personnel is launched, 1919
Alice H Parker patents gas heating furnace, 1919
Discovery of the first modern coelacanth in South Africa, 1938
The transistor is first demonstrated at Bell Laboratories, 1947
Dedication of Tokyo Tower, the world's highest self-supporting iron tower, 1958
The North Tower of the World Trade Center in Manhattan, New York City is topped out at 1,368 feet (417 m), making it the tallest building in the world, 1970
A 6.5 magnitude earthquake strikes the Nicaraguan capital of Managua killing more than 10,000, 1972
The 16 survivors of the Andes flight disaster are rescued after 73 days, having survived by cannibalism, 1972
Voyager, piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, lands at Edwards Air Force Base in California becoming the first aircraft to fly non-stop around the world without aerial or ground refueling, 1986
In a referendum, 88% of Slovenia's population vote for independence from Yugoslavia, 1990
An 8.1 magnitude earthquake hits Macquarie Island in the Southern Ocean, 2004

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Well, i think we're all still here.

At least, i feel like i am as "here" as i ever am.

How about you?

Also, i just checked the headlines.  The world seems to be popping along as usual.

The Maya, of course, have hung up their new calendar, which is what we will do on January 1.  That's all the end of their calendar meant, anyway, is that it was time to get a new one.

The fact that theirs lasts thousands of years instead of just one simply means they were more efficient.  You have to be, i guess, when you write it in stone.  You don't want to have to carve a new one of those every 12 months.

A happy Saturday to everyone, even if we are still on the hook for all that holiday prep stuff we have to do!

Today is:

Beetle Banquet and Badger Ball -- Fairy Calendar

Chipmunks Day -- the date, in 1958, when Alvin, Simon, and Theodore hit #1 with "The Chipmunk Song"

Day Sacred to the Lares -- Ancient Roman Calendar (household gods)

Hari Ibu -- Indonesia (Mother's Day)

Icelandic Yuletide Lad of the Day, Gattapefur -- Sniffer, who uses his big nose on hlakkandi ("looking forward" day, when you begin to look forward to Christmas) to sniff out a cake or two to snatch

International Sahara Festival -- Douz, Tunisia (through the 27th)

Khoiak Ceremony for Raising the Djed Pillar -- Ancient Egyptian Calendar (Osiris festival, the pillar represented his spine, and so stability and strength; date approximate)

National Date Nut Bread Day

Santa Claus Flight Clearance Day -- US FAA (they make sure he's cleared to fly, with his de-icing system, Terrain Avoidance Warning System for low-altitude flight, and special seat belt extension in good working order)

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini's Day (Mother Cabrini, the first US citizen canonized; Patron saint of emigrants, hospital administrators, immigrants, orphans; against malaria)

Unity Day -- Zimbabwe

Birthdays Today:

Jordin Sparks, 1989
Maurice Gibb, 1949
Robin Gibb, 1949
Steve Garvey, 1948
Diane Sawyer, 1945
Joe Pyne, 1925
Barbara Billingsley, 1922
Gene Rayburn, 1917
Lady Bird Johnson, 1912
Giacomo Puccini, 1858

Today in History:

A serious earthquake strikes Innsbruck, 1689
The Turkish fortress of Izmail is stormed and captured by Suvorov and his Russian armies, 1790
The first freight train is operated in Roorkee, India, 1851
Jules Janssen flies in a balloon in order to study a solar eclipse, 1870
The first string of Christmas tree lights is created by Thomas Edison, 1882
Ito Hirobumi, a samurai, becomes the first Prime Minister of Japan, 1885
French officer Alfred Dreyfus court-martialed for treason, triggers worldwide charges of anti-Semitism (Dreyfus later vindicated), 1894
Colo is born, the first gorilla to be bred in captivity, 1956
Berlin's Brandenburg Gate re-opens after nearly 30 years, effectively ending the division of East and West Germany, 1989
Richard Reid attempts to destroy a passenger airliner by igniting explosives hidden in his shoes aboard American Airlines Flight 63, 2001

Friday, December 21, 2012

Photo-Finish Friday: My Favorite Holiday Shirt

Photo-Finish Friday is the brainchild of Leah at The Goat's Lunch Pail.

Today is:

Crossword Puzzle Day -- the first one was published this date in 1913

Divalia -- Ancient Roman Calendar (part of Saturnalia; feast of Angerona, goddess of secret sorrows)

Flashlight Day -- what better day, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, when dark is with us longest, to make sure you have one in good working order

Forefathers' Day -- Plymouth, MA, US (celebrates the landing of the Pilgrims)

Homeless Persons' Memorial Day -- US

Humbug Day -- those frustrated with their holiday preparations are allowed up to 12 humbugs today, just to help vent their frustrations; sponsored by Wellcat Holidays

Icelandic Yuletide Lad of the Day, Gluggagaegir -- Peeper, who peeps through the windows and will come steal toys he likes the look of

Kiwi Fruit Day -- California, US (celebrate with them, these are good!)

Look At the Bright Side Day -- Northern Hemisphere, and why not; after all, each day after this will have more sun!

National Haiku Poetry Day -- US

National Hamburger Day

Pancha Ganapati -- India (through the 25th, a modern Hindu festival honoring of Lord Ganesha, Patron of Arts and Culture)

Phileas Fogg Wins A Wager Day (1872)

Poseidea -- Ancient Greek Calendar (festival to honor Poseidon; date approximate)

Solstice -- Northern Hemisphere Winter begins/Southern Hemisphere Summer begins
     Anne and Samantha Day -- celebrating the lives of Anne Frank and Samantha Smith, a day to work and pray for world peace
     Alban Arthuan -- Druid Festival, 4th Station; through the solstice
     Bruma -- Ancient Roman Calendar
     Dongzhi Festival -- East Asia (literal meaning, "Extreme of Winter")
     Festival of Isis -- Ancient Egyptian Calendar (celebration of the seeking of Osiris by Isis and her resurrection of him)
     Wild Hunt reaches its peak -- various traditions
     Soyala New Year Festival -- Hopi and Zuni Native Americans (a festival of purification as well as celebration, with homes cleaned, fires doused, and personal restraint observed)
     Yalda -- Iran (Persian/Zoroastrian winter solstice festival; to celebrate the longest night of the year, many stay up for the fight against dark and evil.)
     Yule/Jul/Jol Festivals begin -- various calendars, religions, countries and observances, both ancient and modern
          Yule -- Wicca/Pagan, northern hemisphere
          Litha -- Wicca/Pagan, southern hemisphere
          from the Old Norse Hjol, meaning "wheel" to signify the year is at its lowest point and ready to rise again
     Ziemassvetki -- Ancient Latvian Calendar (birth of Dievs, highest of the gods; modern Latvians celebrate this on Christmas Eve/Christmas, but it was originally a three day solstice festival)

St. Peter Canisius' Day (Patron of Catholic press, Germany, writers of catechisms)

St. Thomas' Day, the Doubting Thomas (old date, now celebrated on July 3, but many of the superstitions related to it are still observed at this time)
     Mumping Day a/k/a Gooding Day -- UK (traditional day on which beggars beg for, or "mump", good things for Christmas, always on old St. Thomas' Day)
     Sao Tome Day -- Sao Tome e Principe (Dia de Sao Tome e Principe)

Underdog Day -- the day to celebrate all the number two people who make the number ones what they are (as in Friday to Crusoe); day founded by by the late Peter Moeller, THE Chief Underdog

Birthdays Today:

Jack Noseworthy, 1969
Kiefer Sutherland, 1966
Andy Dick, 1965
Florence Griffith Joyner, 1959
Ray Romano, 1957
Jane Kaczmarek, 1955
Chris Evert, 1954
Samuel L. Jackson, 1948
Frank Zappa, 1940
Jane Fonda, 1937
Phil Donahue, 1935
Joe Paterno, 1926
Paul Winchell, 1922
Joseph Stalin, 1879

Today in History:

A hurricane hits Holland/Friesland, destroying villages with widespread flooding, 1163
The Battle of Curalaba: The revolting Mapuche Native Americans, led by cacique Pelentaru, inflict a major defeat on Spanish troops in southern Chile; all Spanish cities south of the Biobio river are eventually taken by the Mapuches, and all conquest of Mapuche territories by Europeans practically ceases, until the 1870s "Pacification of Araucania", 1598
William Bradford and the Mayflower Pilgrims land on what is now known as Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts, 1620
Hue Tay Son becomes emperor Quang Trung of Vietnam, 1788
The Rochdale Pioneers commence business at their cooperative in Rochdale, England, starting the Cooperative movement, 1844
The first Permanent Force cavalry and infantry regiments of the Canadian Army are formed: The Royal Canadian Dragoons and The Royal Canadian Regiment, 1883
The first Word-Cross puzzle, which the printer mislabeled as a Cross-Word (the name that stuck), is published in the New York World, 1913
The first feature length color and sound cartoon, Disney's Snow White, premiers, 1937
Rondane National Park is established as Norway's first national park, 1962
Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon, is launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The crew performs the first ever manned Trans Lunar Injection and become the first humans to leave Earth's gravity, 1968
The United Nations adopts the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, 1969
Mexican volcano Popocatepetl, dormant for 47 years, erupts gases and ash, 1994
The city of Bethlehem passes from Israeli to Palestinian control, 1995

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Why Now?

 Just as i'm celebrating that the kids are out of school until January, so i don't have to fight the horrible holiday traffic twice a day any more -- and trust me, i'm celebrating -- #2 Son comes in with the announcement that, "Oh, by the way, mom, tomorrow is the end of the world, according to the Mayans, so we are having an End Of The World Party."

This was said quite casually, as he made himself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Really, son, you should know the world isn't going to end.

"Well, but listen.  We're going to be having a party, with a bonfire outside and everything.  And if anything does happen, and there's some kind of trouble, we're going to wake you and dad and get out of here.  We have plans for what to do."

You have plans for escaping the end of the world?

"Well, it's going to be things like earthquakes and wars starting and such, and my friends and I, we have these plans, and we have supplies and stuff, so just be ready to go at a moment's notice."

"At least the world is ending on a Friday," Bigger Girl chimed in.  "Friday is a great day to have the world end.  Wouldn't it be awful if it was on a Thursday instead?"

Humph, i would think people would prefer to have it end on a Monday, so they could at least enjoy the weekend and not have to go back to work after.

"Just be ready, okay, mom?"  #2 Son grabbed his sandwich and a cup of milk and headed out the door.

Just so long as it doesn't mean i have to sit in traffic.

Today is:

50 Ways To Leave Your Lover Day -- marking the debut of the song, think of 50 ways to stay with the one you love, and do one!

BPT Remembrance Day -- try to remember what breakfast was like BPT (before Pop-Tarts)

Dot Your I's With Smileys Day -- a great internet generated idea, if you are a 9-year-old girl

Fete des Cafres -- Reunion (Abolition Day)

Go Caroling Day -- if you have the voice for it, enjoy

Icelandic Yuletide Lad of the Day, Bjugnakraekir -- Sausage-pilferer, who will steal any kind of sausage you don't manage to hide from him

International Human Solidarity Day -- UN

Louisiana Purchase Day -- US

Macau Special Administrative Region Establishment Day -- Macau

Mudd Day -- for Samuel Mudd, the doctor who accidentally treated a disguised John Wilkes Boothe after he assassinated Lincoln; don't hang your head in shame if your name is Mudd!  Today is your day.

National Fried Shrimp Day

National Sangria Day (if you still aren't ready for Christmas, you might need it.)

Old St. Thomas' Eve -- St. Thomas, whose feast is now in July, was formerly on Dec. 21, and the evening before used for prognostication; related observance
     Tammasmass E'en -- Orkney Islands, UK (from tonight until Yule, no work was undertaken or amusements enjoyed after sunset; all alemaking for the Yule celebrations had to be done by this day)

Snowflake-Riding Championships -- Fairy Calendar (no Goblins allowed!)

St. Dominic of Silos' Day (Patron of captives, pregnant women, prisoners, and shepherds; against hydrophobia, insects, mad dogs, and rabies)

Try to Remember Where You Hid The Christmas Gifts Day -- it's getting close, and you don't want to have to go out at the last minute and buy more; sponsored by "Marlar in the Morning," QFL-101 Radio, Rockford, Illinois

Winter Solstice Eve

Birthdays Today:

David Cook, 1982
Billy Bragg, 1957
Uri Geller, 1946
Peter Criss, 1945
George Roy Hill, 1922
Irene Dunne, 1898
Harvey Firestone, 1868

Today in History:

Vespasian enters Rome to claim the title of Emperor, 69
Richard the Lionheart is captured in Vienna, 1192
Suleiman the Magnificent accepts the surrender of the surviving Knights of Rhodes, who are allowed to evacuate. They eventually settle on Malta and become known as the Knights of Malta, 1522
Peter the Great orders the Russian New Year changed from Sept 1 to Jan 1, 1699
The Louisiana Purchase is formally transferred from France to US for $27M, 1803
The international cantilever railway bridge opens at Niagara Falls, 1883
North America's longest railway, at 50,000km, the Canadian National Railways, is established, 1919
The first international dogsled mail leaves Minot, Maine for Montreal, Quebec, 1928
The cathode-ray tube is patented by Russian immigrant Vladimir Zworykin, 1938
Cardiff is proclaimed the capital city of Wales, United Kingdom, 1955
Djibouti and Vietnam join the United Nations, 1977
NeXT merges with Apple Computer, starting the path to Mac OS X, 1996
US District Court Judge John E. Jones III rules against mandating the teaching of "intelligent design" in his ruling of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, 2005
Queen Elizabeth II becomes the oldest ever monarch of the United Kingdom, surpassing Queen Victoria, who lived for 81 years, 7 months and 29 days, 2007

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

School Party Fare

 "Hey, mom, I've decided what we will bring for the school party on Wednesday!"

#2 Son is nothing if not prolific with ideas.

Okay, what shall i fix?

"No, not you!  I'm going to make my famous pancakes!"

Are you sure you want to do that?

"Yes.  We have chocolate syrup and Nutella and bananas, right?"

Last i checked, yes.

"Okay, wake me early, I'm going to make pancakes."

Will do, especially since it means i don't have to come up with something, i told him.

The kid is something.  He doesn't ever use a recipe, he just cooks (sort of like i do except when i'm baking).  The only thing i will regret is the cleaning.  He tries, but he's such a messy cook, he doesn't get into all the crevices and crannies where his spatters go.  So he better be a famous chef someday, with a paid staff to clean up after him.

Meanwhile, pancakes to conquer the school party.

Today is:

A Christmas Carol Day -- published this day in 1843; go read it over, it's worth it

Build a Snowman Day -- occupy your mind, as Christmas seems too far away still; if you have no snow, make snowball cookies

Chocolate Pizza Day -- yes, really

Election Day -- South Korea

E-Mail Santa Claus Just in Case He Didn't Get Your Letter Day -- go here

Festival for Juventas -- Ancient Roman Calendar (goddess of youth, protector of young soldiers)

Icelandic Yuletide Lad of the Day, Skyrgamur -- Curd-glutton, who loves skyr (milk curd) so that he sneaks in the pantry to try to get it all

I've Got My Big Fat Guy Pants On Day -- someone tired of tight clothes started this, a day to wear whatever you like, so long as it is comfortable -- and roomy

Look for an Evergreen Day -- although if you haven't bought your tree by now, you may have waited too long

National Hard Candy Day -- this time of year, it probably means candy canes

National Heroes and Heroines Day -- Anguilla

National Oatmeal Muffin Day

Opalia -- Roman Empire (feast of Ops, goddess of abundance; 3rd day of the Saturnalia)

Riddle-Making Trials -- Fairy Calendar

Robinson Crusoe Rescue Day (1686)

St. Bernard Valeara's Day (Patron of Teramo, Italy)

St. Samthann (Samantha) of Meath's Day (Patron of the spiritual life)

United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation -- UN

Birthdays Today:

Alyssa Milano, 1972
Tyson Beckford, 1971
Amy Locane, 1971
Criss Angel, 1967
Jessica Steen, 1965
Jennifer Beals, 1963
Robert Urich, 1946
Richard Leakey, 1944
Alvin Lee, 1944
Tim Reid, 1944
Al Kaline, 1934
Cicely Tyson, 1933
David Susskind, 1920
Ralph Richardson, 1902

Today in History:

Licinius abdicates his position as Roman Emperor, 324
The Seldjuken under Toghril Beg occupy Baghdad, 1055
The Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery depart England carrying settlers who found, at Jamestown, Virginia, the first of the thirteen colonies that became the United States, 1606
Benjamin Franklin, under the name Richard Saunders begins publication of "Poor Richard's Almanack", 1732
Thomas Paine publishes his first "American Crisis" essay, in which he wrote that "These are the times that try men's souls," 1776
Chinese troops occupy the capital Thang Long Vietnam, 1788
The US state of Kentucky becomes the first to appropriate money for road building, 1795
The US state of Georgia becomes the first to pass a birth registration law, 1823
Allen Wilson of Connecticut patents a sewing machine that can sew a curved seam, 1854
Albert L. Jones patents corrugated cardboard, 1871
The first black US Catholic priest, Charles Uncles, is ordained in Baltimore, 1891
The first city ordinance requiring separate neighborhoods for blacks and whites is passed, in Baltimore, 1910
Robert Ripley begins his "Believe It Or Not" column in the NY Globe, 1918
The British Broadcasting Corp begins transmitting overseas, 1932
The US Earth satellite Atlas transmitted the first radio voice broadcast from space, 1958
The last manned lunar flight, Apollo 17, returns to earth, 1972
The Sino-British Joint Declaration, stating that the People's Republic of China, in 1997, would resume the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong, is signed, 1984
Mikhail Gorbachev, leader of the Soviet Union, releases Andrei Sakharov and his wife from internal exile in Gorky, 1986
A record high barometric pressure of 1085.6 hPa (32.06 inHg) is recorded at Tosontsengel, Khövsgöl Province, Mongolia, 2001

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

To Make It Easy To Celebrate

 To make it easy to celebrate "Bake Cookies Day", you won't have to go looking far for a recipe.

Our favorite holiday cookie, which has come to have no name but "those chocolate ones."

Melt together one cup of semisweet chocolate chips, two squares of baking chocolate, and two tablespoons of butter.

While that's melting, mix 1/4 cup flour with 1/4t baking powder and a dash of salt (or use self-rising flour).

When the chocolate is all melted, pull the pan off the heat and add 2 eggs, 2/3cup sugar, and 1t vanilla, and mix well.

Add the flour, incorporate, and then another cup of chocolate chips.

If you really want to make it fun, add nuts, chocolate candies, butterscotch chips, or raisins.

Drop by the heaping tablespoon onto a greased cookie sheet -- make them big, everyone likes it when they are big cookies.

Bake at 350°F for 8-10 minutes.  They should look like a brownie, with a dull and crackled surface.

Cool thoroughly and enjoy.  They don't last long.

Today is:

Bake Cookies Day -- the holiday for everyone!

Eponalia -- Ancient Roman Calendar (feast of Epona, goddess of fertility and horses, mules, and donkeys; during the Saturnalia and the only Roman honoring of a Celtic deity)

Flake Appreciation Day -- snow or human, your choice!

Icelandic Yuletide Lad of the Day, Hurdaskellir -- Door-Slammer, a noisy fellow who tries to keep everyone awake

International Migrants Day -- UN

Khoiak Ceremony for the Sokar Festival -- Ancient Egyptian Calendar (falcon god; date approximate)

Let's See What We Find In the Fridge Day -- to bravely see if you've left anything in the back that you shouldn't have

National Day / Founder's Day -- Qatar

National Roast Suckling Pig Day

National Scrooge Week begins -- at least according to Mr. Ed

Nuestra Senora de la Soledad -- Oaxaca, Mexico (Our Lady of Solitude, Patron of the lonely, of Oaxaca, and of sailors who bring her pearls)

Republic Day -- Niger

St. Flannan's Day (Patron of Killaloe, Ireland)

Tulya's E'en -- Orkney Island (beginning of the Yule season when evil spirits roamed; date approximate, as we aren't sure if they equated Yule initially with Dec. 25 or the 22nd)

Wear a Plunger On Your Head Day -- observe this internet generated holiday at your own risk (and you will be one of the human flakes, i guess, that the rest of us appreciate)*

Anniversaries Today:

New Jersey becomes the 3rd US State, 1787
The 13th Amendment to the US Constitution, outlawing slavery, takes effect, 1865

Birthdays Today:

Christina Aguilera, 1980
Katie Holmes, 1978
Earl "DMX" Simmons, 1970
Rob Van Dam, 1970
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin, 1964
Brad Pitt, 1963
Leonard Maltin, 1950
Steven Spielberg, 1946
Keith Richards, 1943
Ossie Davis, 1917
Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, 1917
Douglas Fraser, 1916
Betty Grable, 1916
Ty Cobb, 1886

Today in History:

Second Punic War: Battle of the Trebia - Hannibal's Carthaginian forces defeat those of the Roman Republic, BC218
Kublai Khan renames his empire "Yuan", officially marking the start of the Yuan Dynasty of China, 1271
The Mayflower lands in present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts with 102 Pilgrims on board, 1620
Abel Tasman becomes first European to land in New Zealand, 1642
Thomas Fleet publishes "Mother Goose's Melodies For Children", 1719
Empress Maria Theresa expels Jews from Prague, Bohemia & Moravia, 1774
The first celestial photograph (of the Moon) is made in US, by John Draper, NYC, 1839
William Bond obtains the first photograph of Moon through a telescope, 1849
Richard Wetherill and his brother in-law discover the ancient Indian ruins of Mesa Verde, 1888
The Upper Ferntree Gully to Gembrook Narrow-gauge (2 ft 6 in or 762 mm) Railway (now the Puffing Billy Railway) in Victoria, Australia is opened for traffic, 1900
The Piltdown Man, later discovered to be a hoax, is supposedly found in the Piltdown Gravel Pit, by Charles Dawson, 1912
Japan joins the United Nations, 1956
Saturn's moon Epimetheus is discovered by Richard L. Walker, 1966
Dominica joins the United Nations, 1978
HTML 4.0 is published by the World Wide Web Consortium, 1997
The first of a series of floods strikes Malaysia, 2006

*Unless this should have been Wear A Brand New, Never Before Used Plunger on Your Head Day, and was started by the plumbing supply industry

Monday, December 17, 2012

Just When You Thought The News Was All Bad

 There comes the story of Possom Trot, a Texas town so small there is no stop light.  There aren't even street names in this little place.

What's so special about a tiny town that had its local food bank close months ago and which struggles just to survive?

The fact that the people there, inspired sixteen years ago by Pastor W.C. Martin of the Bennett Chapel Baptist Church, have adopted 76 children out of the foster care system over these intervening years, giving them homes to call their own.

In a world where people fight to adopt infants, older kids often just age out of the foster care system, and are left to cope with life on their own.

People in this town have changed that for many foster children, even as they struggle to put food on their tables, sharing whatever they have and helping these kids have a family to call their own.  They may not be able to give them all the luxuries of life, but they can give them love, and joy, and a chance to grow up knowing they belong to a real family.

The news gets better, too.  Many people view Wal-Mart as a conglomerate with no heart, but not the people of Possum Trot.  Wal-Mart Corporation donated enough food to reopen the food bank, gave each family that has adopted kids from foster care a huge cart full of food and a $500 gift card, has given each of the kids Christmas presents this year, and has given Pastor Martin a $15,000 gift to use in helping families in the future.

This is the kind of news that should be in the headlines. 

Today is:

Christmas Festival in Salvador -- Salvador, Brazil (begins around now, lasts until New Year's Day)

Clean Air Act Day -- US (passed this day 1963; a day to give thanks for the air we breathe)

Cookie Cutter Day

Daniel the Prophet's Day -- Orthodox Catholic Feast Day

Feast of Babalu Aye -- Yoruba/Santeria (celebration of the healer of deadly diseases)

Feast of the Fairy Godmothers -- Fairy Calendar

Hagoita Ichi -- Sensouji Temple, Japan (sale of specially decorated paddles, called hagoita)

Icelandic Yuletide Lad of the Day, Askasleikir -- Bowl-licker, who hides under the bed and snatches bowls set on the floor to lick them clean

Kasuga Wakamiya Festival -- Nara, Japan (rarely performed traditional dances at a festival held every year since 1136)

National Day -- Bahrain; Bhutan

National Maple Syrup Day

Procession of Agnios Dionysios -- Zakynthos, Greece (one of the biggest festivals of the year, when the relics of this island's patron saint is honored)

Saturnalia begins (through Dec. 23) -- Ancient Roman Calendar (festival for Saturn, the planter god)

Sow Day -- Orkney Islands, Scotland (ritual slaughter of a sow for the Yule feast)

St. Lazarus of Bethany's Day

Take a New Year's Resolution to Stop Smoking -- Tanyrss; 23rd annual; make the decision now to improve your life and health next year

Wright Brother's Day -- US

Birthdays Today:

Milla Jovovich, 1975
Duff Goldman, 1974
Mike Mills, 1958
Bill Pullman, 1953
Wes Studi, 1947
Eugene Levy, 1946
Chris Matthews, 1945
Bob Guccione, 1930
William Safire, 1929
Arthur Fiedler, 1894
John Greenleaf Whittier, 1807

Today in History:

The Ostrogoths of King Totila conquer Rome by bribing the Byzantine garrison, 546
Sultan Nasir-u Din Mehmud's armies in Delhi are defeated by Timur, 1398
Pope Paul III excommunicates England's King Henry VIII, 1538
Go-Yozei becomes Emperor of Japan, 1586
Shimabara Rebellion: Japanese peasants led by Amakusa Shiro rise against daimyo Matsukura Shigeharu, 1637
Congregation Shearith Israel of NY purchases a lot on Mill Street in lower Manhattan, to build NY's first synagogue, 1728
France recognizes independence of English colonies in America, 1777
Aztec calendar stone discovered in Mexico City, 1790
NYC traffic regulation creates first 1-way street, 1791
Opening of the first legislative assembly of Lower Canada in Quebec city, 1792
The US state of Kentucky abolishes debtors prisons, 1821
General Ulysses S. Grant issues General Order No. 11, expelling Jews from Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky, 1862
First performance of the Unfinished Symphony by Franz Schubert, 1865
Violent riots in Montreal, as workers demand work or bread,1875
France declares Madagascar a protectorate, 1885
George Brownell patents a machine to make paper twine, 1895
A first prize of 100,00 francs is offered for communications with extraterrestrials, but Martians are excluded - considered too easy, 1900
The Wright Brothers make their first successful flights, 1903
First flight of the Douglas DC-3 airplane, 1935
Ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and dummy Charlie McCarthy first appear on TV, 1936
The SALT I talks begin, 1969
Fernando Collor de Mello defeats Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in the second round of the Brazilian presidential election, becoming the first democratically elected President in almost 30 years, 1989
SpaceShipOne flight 11P, piloted by Brian Binnie, makes its first supersonic flight, 2003

Sunday, December 16, 2012

One Good Thing

 If you search long enough with many things that aren't too great, you will find the one good thing about it.

So i've been searching for the one good thing about my computer, Ol' Bessy, being so slow, and i've finally found it.

For anyone who doesn't know, Ol' Bessy is slow as molasses.  She sometimes has to be restarted multiple times when she freezes.  She cannot run more than two programs at a time, is allergic to most downloads, and overheats when trying to show videos.

If i leave her alone long enough, she freezes up, especially if she can't decide whether or not to go ahead and start the screen saver or not.

Ads slow her down mightily, especially the ones that have things moving around to attract your attention.

In fact, she had to be rebooted once and Firefox restarted three times during the composition of this blog.

But i have found one really good thing about it all.

When you are waiting for a page to download, if you click on the icon that stops the page loading at the right moment, you get the whole page, but not the ads, because they take the longest to load.

So if i'm careful, i can surf without as many ads, and it doesn't slow her down as much.

The silver lining to poor Ol' Bessy's clouds.

Today is:

Barbie and Barney Backlash Day -- if you need an explanation, you don't have kids; sponsored by Wellcat Holidays

Beethoven Day -- celebrate the anniversary of his birth by listening to one of his fine works

Bijoy Dibosh -- Bangladesh (Victory Day)

Day of Reconciliation -- South Africa

Day of the Republic -- Kazakhstan (Independence from the USSR)

Festival of Sapientia -- Ancient Roman Empire (personification of wisdom and knowledge)

Icelandic Yuletide Lad of the Day, Pottasleiker -- Pot-licker, who tries to snatch unwashed pots and lick them clean

Man Will Never Fly Memorial Society Annual Meeting

National Chocolate Covered Anything Day

National Day -- Bahrain

Posadas Navidenas (Fiesta of the Virgin of the Lonely) -- Mexico (celebrated through the 24th, "pilgrims" go house to house seeking shelter to commemorate the search of Mary and Joseph for shelter in Bethlehem)

Simbang Gabi -- Philippines (Christmas festivals that last until Three Kings Day)

St. Adelaide's Day (Patron of abuse victims, brides, empresses, exiles, in-law problems, parenthood, parents of large families, princesses, prisoners, second marriages, step-parents, and widows)

Stupid Toy Day -- make sure you aren't giving any of those to any kids you buy for

Tea Party Day -- Boston, MA, US (anniversary of the 1773 Party)

Third Sunday of Advent -- Christian
     Lighting the Candle of Joy

Vijay Diwas --  India (Victory Day)

Wan Kila Haeng Chat -- Thailand (National Sports Day)

Birthdays Today:

Michael McCary, 1971
Benjamin Bratt, 1963
William "Refrigerator" Perry, 1962
Billy Gibbons, 1949
Benny Andersson, 1946
Steven Bochco, 1943
Lesley Stahl, 1941
Liv Ullmann, 1939
Arthur C. Clarke, 1917
Margaret Mead, 1901
Noel Coward, 1899
Wassily Kandinsky, 1866
George Santayana, 1863
Jane Austen, 1775
Ludwig von Beethoven, 1770
Catherine of Aragon, 1536

Today in History:

An Lushan revolts against Chancellor Yang Guozhong at Fanyang, initiating the An Shi Rebellion during the Tang Dynasty of China, 755
Mount Vesuvious, Italy erupts, destroys 6 villages & kills 4,000, 1631
Oliver Cromwell sworn in as English Lord Protector, 1653
The last recorded eruption of Mount Fuji in Japan, 1707
A big tea party in Boston harbor -- Indians welcome -- is "celebrated" (Boston Tea Party), 1773
Fire burns over 600 buildings in NYC, 1835
In New Zealand, the Charlotte-Jane and the Randolph bring the first of the Canterbury Pilgrims to Lyttelton, 1850
The Kingdom of Nepal accepts its constitution, 1862
Antonín Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95, From The New World is given its world première performance at Carnegie Hall, 1893
The first submarine with an internal combustion engine is demonstrated, 1897
The "Great White Fleet" sails from Hampton Downs on its round the world tour, 1907
The first credit union in the US is formed, in Manchester, New Hampshire, 1908
The first US postage stamp picturing an airplane, a 20 cent parcel post, is issued, 1912
Albert Einstein publishes his "General Theory of Relativity", 1915
The Haiyuan earthquake, magnitude 8.5, rocks the Gansu province in China, killing an estimated 200,000, 1920
Theodore Cole and Ralph Roe attempt to escape from the American federal prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay; neither is ever seen again, 1937
Thailand joins the United Nations, 1945
William Shockley, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain build the first practical point-contact transistor, 1947
Cleveland, Ohio becomes the first post-Depression era US city to default on its loans, owing $14,000,000 to local banks, 1978
An episode of Pokemon, "Denno Senshi Porygon", aired in Japan induces seizures in 685 Japanese children, 1997
George W. Bush signs the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 into law, 2003