Friday, January 17, 2014

Holidays and Observances for January 17th 2014

National Hot-Buttered Rum Day

Today is National Hot-Buttered Rum Day! Hot-buttered rum is a warm alcoholic beverage flavored with butter, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves. These ingredients form a batter that is then mixed with rich, dark rum.

Mulled wines and other “toddies” originated in Europe, but hot-buttered rum is an American innovation. During the colonial period, merchants began importing molasses (the basis for rum) from Jamaica. The first rum distillery opened in the 1660s and it wasn’t long before the colonists began mixing the alcohol with spices to create a warm winter refreshment.

Try making a homemade batch for your friends to celebrate National Hot-Buttered Rum Day!

Cable Car Day

On January 17, 1871, San Franciscan Andrew Smith Hallidie patented the first cable car, ultimately sparing many horses the excruciating work of moving people over that city's steep roadways. Using metal ropes he had patented, Hallidie devised a mechanism by which cars were drawn by an endless cable running in a slot between the rails which passed over a steam-driven shaft in the powerhouse.

After gathering financial backing, Hallidie and his associates constructed the first cable railway. The track ran from the intersection of Clay and Kearny Streets along twenty-eight hundred feet of track to the crest of a hill 307 feet above the starting point. At five o'clock on the morning of August 1, 1873, a few nervous men climbed aboard the cable car as it stood on the hilltop. With Hallidie at the controls, the car descended and arrived safely at the bottom.

Given San Francisco's steep terrain, the cable car came to define the city. Writing in 1888, Harriet Harper declared: "If any one should ask me what I consider the most distinctive, progressive feature of California, I should answer promptly, its cable-car system. And it is not alone its system which seems to have reached a point of perfection, but the amazing length of the ride that is given you for the chink of a nickel. I have circled this city of San Francisco, I have gone the length of three separate cable lines (by means of the proper transfers) for this smallest of Southern coins."

The success of the San Francisco line led to the expansion of that system and the introduction of street railways in many other cities. By the 1920s, most United States municipalities had abandoned horse drawn cars for electrically powered cars.

The first mass transportation vehicle in America was called an omnibus. It looked like a stagecoach and was pulled by horses. The first omnibus to operate in America began running up and down Broadway in New York City in the year 1827. It was owned by Abraham Brower, who also helped organize the first fire department in New York.

There had long been horse-drawn carriages in America to take people where they wanted to go. What was new and different about the omnibus was that it ran along a certain designated route and charged a very low fare. People who wanted to get on would wave their hand in the air. The driver sat on a bench on top of the omnibus at the front, like a stagecoach driver. When people who were riding inside wanted to get off the omnibus, they pulled on a little leather strap. The leather strap was connected to the ankle of the person who was driving the omnibus. Horse-drawn omnibuses ran in America cities from 1826 until about 1905.

The first important improvement over the omnibus was the streetcar. The first streetcars were also pulled by horses, however, instead of riding along a regular street, the streetcars rolled along special steel rails that were placed in the middle of the street. The wheels of the streetcar were also made out of steel, carefully manufactured in such a way that they would not roll off the rails. A horse-drawn streetcar was much more comfortable than an omnibus and a single horse could also pull a streetcar that was much larger, and carried more passengers, than an omnibus.

The first streetcar ran along Bowery Street in New York, and began service in the year 1832. It was owned John Mason, a wealthy banker, and built by Irishmen, John Stephenson. Stephenson's New York company would become the largest and most famous builder of horse-drawn streetcars.

The second American city to have streetcars was New Orleans, Louisiana, in the year 1835. The typical American streetcar was operated by two crew members. One man, a driver, rode up front. His job was to drive the horse, controlled by a set of reigns. The driver also had a brake handle that he could use to stop the streetcar. When streetcars got bigger, sometimes two and three horses would be used to haul a single car. The second crew member was called the conductor, who rode at the back of the car. His job was to help passengers get on and off the streetcar, collect their fares, and give a signal to the driver when everyone was on board and it was safe to proceed. He gave this signal by pulling on a rope that was attached to a bell at the other end of the car that the driver could hear.

The first major attempt to develop a machine that could replace horses on America's streetcar lines was the cable car in 1873. Cable cars were hauled by a long cable that moved slowly under a city's streets. To convert a streetcar line from horse cars to cable cars required digging a ditch between the rails and building a chamber under the track from one end of the line to another. This chamber was called a vault. When the vault was finished, a small opening was left at the top of the vault. Then a long cable was placed inside the vault. The cable ran under city streets from one end of the streetcar line to the other. The cable was spliced into a big loop and was kept moving by a huge steam engine with massive wheels and pulleys that was located in a powerhouse at the side of the street. The cable cars themselves were equipped with a device that extended down below the car into the vault and allowed the operator of the car to latch onto the moving cable when he wanted the car to go, or let go of the cable when he wanted the car to stop. There were many pulleys and wheels inside the vault to make sure the cable was able to go around corners, as well as up and down hills.

The first cable cars ran in San Francisco. The largest and busiest fleet of cable cars in America were in Chicago. Most large American cities had one or more cable car lines by the year 1890.

Frank Sprague installed a complete system of electric streetcars in Richmond, Virginia, in 1888. This was the first large scale and successful use of electricity to run a city's entire system of streetcars. Sprague was born in Connecticut in 1857. In 1878 he graduated from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and began a career as a naval officer. He resigned from the navy in 1883 and went to work for Thomas Edison.

After 1888, many cities turned to electric-powered streetcars. To get electricity to the streetcars from the powerhouse where it was generated, an overhead wire was installed over city streets. A streetcar would touch this electric wire with a long pole on its roof. Back at the powerhouse, big steam engines would turn huge generators to produce the electricity needed to operate the streetcars. A new name was soon developed for streetcars powered by electricity; they were called trolley cars.

Kid Inventors' Day

It’s Kid Inventors’ Day! Today we celebrate the creativity and ingenuity of young people all around the world. Kids have invented all sorts of things that we use in our everyday lives including earmuffs, popsicles, trampolines, Braille, and even the television! One of the earliest known kid inventors was Benjamin Franklin. He invented swim flippers at the age of twelve.

Many school systems hold an annual Invention Convention to encourage students to come up with creative solutions to the problems they find in their own environment. The prize winners sometimes go on to receive U.S. patents for their work!

To celebrate Kid Inventors’ Day, visit the official website to learn more about this special occasion. You can also help organize a local Invention Convention in your community, and encourage the kids in your life to be young inventors!

Ditch New Years Resolutions Day

Admit it – we all do it. Every year we decide to start January 1st by reinventing ourselves in some novel way. But few of us stick to these resolution and soon find ourselves falling back on our old ways. The idea of the New Year’s resolution is an important fixture in our society, but so too is the idea of ditching our New Year’s resolution. The concept even has its own holiday. January 17th has been dubbed “Ditch your New Year’s Resolution Day” because it is the most common date people abandon their New Year’s goal. To help us overcome these odds, every year around this time the news and internet are flooded with advice on how to stick to your goals. Nearly all of this advice focuses on the types of goals people adopt. If you follow this advice, you know that you should adopt goals that are specific instead of vague, quantifiable instead of abstract, and ones that can be easily linked with a situational cue.

There is nothing wrong with this advice; we have given it ourselves in blog entries and interviews. But maybe the problem is not what we chose to adopt. Maybe the problem is when. Maybe the very act of starting your goal on January 1st sets you up for the impending failure. First, consider what most people do the day before their resolution is enacted. Most of us stay up until midnight or later and consume alcohol to usher in the New Year. Thus, we face the New Year groggy, sleep deprived and hung over. We essentially spend December 31 digging ourselves into a hole that we are forced to climb out of on January 1st. This wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the fact that our willpower—or what scientists refer to as self-control—is a very limited resource (Baumeister, Vohs & Tice, 2007). You only have so much of it, and once it is used up, your ability to stick with your goals and resist temptation is threatened. So just getting out of bed and facing the day after the New Year celebration taxes your fuel tank, leaving you with little in reserve to put toward your new resolution.

To make matters worse, alcohol has a uniquely impairing effect on self-control. The physiological source of our willpower appears to be glucose, which serves fuel for both our brain and our muscles. A number of studies have found that when we exert self-control, our glucose levels decrease (Galliot et al, 2007). And when people are given glucose in the form of sugary beverages, they show an increase in self-control. Interestingly, even gargling with a sugary beverage and then spitting it out has been shown to boost self-control, likely because receptors in our mouth are tricked into thinking they consumed glucose (Sanders et al., 2012). But just as sugar boosts glucose, alcohol depletes it. As tasty as those glasses of champagne are, your body sees them as poison and so it goes through great efforts to rid yourself of the alcohol. To have enough energy for this task, your body temporarily shuts down other functions, including the healthy maintenance of glucose levels. This is why 50-70% of people with alcoholic liver disease also have glucose-related disorders (e.g., diabetes).

But the negative impact of alcohol on blood glucose is not necessarily immediate and it often carries over into the next day. So by the time we start our goal on January 1st, we have already depleted ourselves of our self-control resources. It’s a lot like starting a road trip with an empty tank of gas.

But what if you don’t drink on New Year’s? Or what if you go to bed at a reasonable hour and simply watch highlights of the ball drop during your morning news? Have you escaped the inevitable failure? Not quite. In addition to New Year’s festivities, the end of the year also marks the end of a whirlwind of activity. We are exhausted by all those holiday parties, elaborately cooked dinners and straining family interactions.

Businesses are working extra hard to wrap up by the end of their year. Workers owe their end-of-year reports and inventories. Projects all tend to be due at this time of year. And just when we get all of this cleared off our plate, we are hit with a flood of new projects to start out the year. Dealing with all of this stress requires self-control, leaving less available for enacting our new resolutions.

All of this doesn’t mean we are against the New Year’s resolution. Quite the opposite. It is great that once a year we all think about ways to improve ourselves. It’s just than January 1st may be the worst day to start these improvements. So what do we suggest? First, hold off on starting your resolution for a week. Instead, spend the first week of the New Year planning and preparing for the start of your resolution. Clean out the kitchen of all the holiday cookies and candies. Stock it instead with healthy options like fruits, veggies, lean protein and whole grains. Dust off that treadmill that hasn't been touched in months or better yet, drag it in front of the TV so there are no excuses. All good military generals prepare and plan before charging into battle. You should too.

Second, avoid starting your resolution on a Monday. Mondays are already taxing, so give yourself a few days to get back into the groove. Start your resolution on a Wednesday or Thursday instead. You increase your likelihood of successfully making it to the weekend, which will only empower you to try for the full week next time.

Third, instead of just designating one day a year to start anew, why not start over each season, or even each month? Instead of setting one large goal for the whole year, set a smaller goal for yourself each month. Treat the first of every month as a chance to re-commit to your goal. This approach takes the pressure off. If you fail at your goal in January, it’s no big deal. You’ll get a redo in February. By focusing on the when in addition to the what, you might just be able to skip that January 17th holiday.

International Fetish Day

International Fetish Day is observed on January 17, 2014. International Fetish Day is a day supporting the BDSM community. It originated in the United Kingdom as "National Fetish Day". The first International Fetish Day was held on 16 January 2009 (the third Friday of the year). The main purpose of International Fetish Day is to increase awareness and support of the fetish community, whilst also opposing the new law criminalising possession of "extreme pornography". It is also designed to encourage members of the community to be more open about their sexuality.

Maybe you have a fetish and do not know it. Straight from Wikipedia a list of “paraphilias”:
  • Abasiophilia: love of (or sexual attraction to) people who use leg braces or other orthopaedic appliances
  • Acousticophilia: sexual arousal from certain sounds
  • Acrotomophilia: love of (or sexual attraction to) amputees
  • Agalmatophilia: sexual attraction to statues or mannequins or immobility
  • Algolagnia: sexual pleasure from pain
  • Amaurophilia: sexual arousal by a partner whom one is unable to see due to artificial means, such as being blindfolded or having sex in total darkness. (See: sensory deprivation)
  • Andromimetophilia: love of women dressed as men
  • Apodysophilia: desire to undress, see also nudism
  • Apotemnophilia: desire to have (or sexual arousal from having) a healthy appendage (limb, digit, or male genitals) amputated
  • Aquaphilia: arousal from water and/or in watery environments, including bathtubs or swimming pools
  • Aretifism: sexual attraction to people who are without footwear, in contrast to retifism
  • Asphyxiophilia: sexual attraction to asphyxia; also called breath control play; including autoerotic asphyxiation; see medical warnings
  • Autogynephilia: love of oneself as a woman (also see Blanchard, Bailey, and Lawrence theory for discussion on controversy)
  • Biastophilia: sexual pleasure from committing rape
  • Beastiality: sexual arousal to animals
  • Celebriphilia: pathological desire to have sex with a celebrity.
  • Coprophilia: sexual attraction to (or pleasure from) feces
  • Crush fetish: sexual arousal from seeing small creatures being crushed by members of the opposite sex, or being crushed oneself
  • Dacryphilia: sexual pleasure in eliciting tears from others or oneself
  • Dendrophilia: sexual attraction to trees and other large plants, popularized by the movie “Superstar” with Molly Shannon
  • Diaper fetishism: sexual arousal from diapers
  • Emetophilia (a.k.a. vomerophilia): sexual attraction to vomit
  • Ephebophilia (a.k.a. hebephilia): sexual attraction towards adolescents
  • Eproctophilia: sexual attraction to flatulence
  • Exhibitionism: sexual arousal through sexual behavior in view of third parties (also includes the recurrent urge or behavior to expose one’s genitals to an unsuspecting person, known as indecent exposure)
  • Faunoiphilia: sexual arousal from watching animals mate
  • Fetishism: is the use of non-sexual or nonliving objects or part of a person’s body to gain sexual excitement. Examples include:
  • Balloon fetishism — breast fetishism — foot fetishism (podophilia) — fur fetishism — leather fetishism — lipstick fetishism — medical fetishism — panty fetishism — robot fetishism — rubber fetishism — shoe fetishism — smoking fetishism — spandex fetishism — dental braces fetishism — transvestic fetishism (see below)
  • Frotteurism: sexual arousal from the recurrent urge or behavior of touching or rubbing against a nonconsenting person
  • Galactophilia: sexual attraction to human milk or lactating women (incorrect term)
  • Gerontophilia: sexual attraction towards the elderly
  • Haematophilia: sexual attraction involving blood (either on a sex partner/attractive person or the liquid itself; not to be confused with haemophilia, a genetic disorder of the blood)
  • Harpaxophilia: sexual arousal from being the victim of a robbery or burglary
  • Hematolagnia: sexual attraction to blood
  • Homosexuality: sexual arousal to people of the same gender.
  • Hybristophilia: sexual arousal to people who have committed crimes, in particular cruel or outrageous crimes
  • Infantilism: sexual pleasure from dressing, acting, or being treated as a baby
  • Katoptronophilia: sexual arousal from having sex in front of mirrors.
  • Klismaphilia: sexual pleasure from enemas
  • Lust murder: sexual arousal through committing murder
  • Macrophilia: sexual attraction to larger people and large things (including larger body organs such as breasts and genitalia)
  • Maiesiophilia: sexual attraction to childbirth or pregnant women
  • Masochism: is the recurrent urge or behavior of wanting to be humiliated, beaten, bound, or otherwise made to suffer
  • Microphilia: sexual attraction to smaller people and things of smaller size
  • Mysophilia: sexual attraction to soiled, dirty, foul or decaying material
  • Necrophilia: sexual attraction to corpses
  • Necrozoophilia: sexual attraction to the corpses or killings of animals (also known as necrobestiality)
  • Nepiophilia: the same as infantophilia sexual attraction to children between the age of 0 – 3 yrs.
  • Pedophilia: sexual attraction to prepubescent children (British spelling: paedophilia)
  • Phalloorchoalgolagnia: sexual arousal by the experiencing of painful stimuli being administered to the male genitals.
  • Pictophilia: sexual attraction to pictorial pornography/erotic art
  • Plushophilia: sexual attraction to stuffed toys or people in animal costume, such as theme park characters
  • Pyrophilia: sexual arousal through watching, setting, hearing/talking/fantasizing about fire
  • Retifism: sexual arousal from shoes
  • Sadism: sexual arousal from giving pain
  • Schediaphilia (aka Toonophilia): love (or sexual arousal) to cartoon characters/situations
  • Sitophilia: sexual arousal from food
  • Somnophilia: sexual arousal from sleeping or unconscious people
  • Spectrophilia: sexual attraction to ghosts
  • Telephone scatologia: being sexually aroused by making obscene telephone calls
  • Teratophilia: sexual attraction to deformed or monstrous people
  • Transformation fetish: sexual arousal from depictions of transformations of people into objects or other beings
  • Transvestic fetishism: is a sexual attraction towards the clothing of the opposite gender (also known as transvestitism)
  • Trichophilia: love (or sexual arousal) from hair
  • Urolagnia: sexual attraction to urine
  • Vorarephilia: sexual attraction to being eaten by, and/or eating, another person or creature
  • Voyeurism: sexual arousal through watching others having sex (also includes the recurrent urge or behavior to observe an unsuspecting person who is naked, disrobing or engaging in sexual activities, see peeping tom)
  • Xenophilia: sexual attraction to foreigners (in science fiction, can also mean sexual attraction to aliens)
  • Zoophilia: emotional or sexual attraction to animals
  • Zoosadism: the sexual enjoyment of causing pain and suffering to animals