Sunday, March 16, 2014

Holidays and Observances for March 16 2014

Curlew Day

Today is Curlew day.  The Curlew is the large shorebird also known as the “sicklebird” or the “candlestick bird”.  March 16 is the traditional day that 500 curlews return from Mexico to the Umatilla National Wild Refuge in Oregon to court,  mate, nest and raise their young.

The curlews, genus Numenius, are a group of eight species of birds, characterized by long, slender, down-curved bills and mottled brown plumage. They are one of the most ancient lineages of scolopacid waders, together with the godwits which look similar but have straight bills. In Europe "curlew" usually refers to one species, the Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata.

Curlews feed on mud or very soft ground, searching for worms and other invertebrates with their long bills. They will also take crabs and similar items.

Curlews enjoy a world-wide distribution. Most species show strong migratory habits and consequently one or more species can be encountered at different times of the year in Europe, the British Isles, Iberia, Iceland, Africa, Southeast Asia, Siberia, North America, South America and Australasia.

The distribution of curlews has altered considerably in the past hundred years as a result of changing agricultural practices. Reclamation and drainage of marshy fields and moorland, and afforestation of the latter, have led to local decreases, while conversion of forest to grassland in some parts of Scandinavia has led to increases there.

The stone-curlews are not true curlews (family Scolopacidae) but members of the family Burhinidae, which is in the same order Charadriiformes, but only distantly related within that.

Freedom of Information Day

Freedom of Information (FOI) Day is an annual event on or near March 16, the birthday of James Madison, the fourth Presidnet of the United States. James Madison is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being instrumental in the drafting of the United States Constitution and as the key champion and author of the United States Bill of Rights. Freedom of information and individual rights was a very important issue to James Madison. 

Freedom of information is an extension of freedom of speech, a fundamental human right recognized in international law, which is today understood more generally as freedom of expression in any medium, be it orally, in writing, print, through the Internet or through art forms. This means that the protection of freedom of speech as a right includes not only the content, but also the means of expression. Freedom of information may also refer to the right to privacy in the context of the Internet and information technology. As with the right to freedom of expression, the right to privacy is a recognised human right and freedom of information acts as an extension to this right. 

Lastly, freedom of information can include opposition to patents, opposition to copyrights or opposition to intellectual property in general. The international and United States Pirate Party have established political platforms based largely on freedom of information issues.

Goddard Day

Commemorates first liquid-fuel-powered rocket flight launched by Robert Hutchings Goddard on March 16, 1926.

Robert Hutchings Goddard (October 5, 1882 – August 10, 1945) was an American professor, physicist, and inventor who is credited with creating and building the world's first liquid-fueled rocket, which he successfully launched on March 16, 1926. Goddard and his team launched 34 rockets between 1926 and 1941, achieving altitudes as high as 2.6 km (1.6 mi) and speeds as high as 885 km/h (550 mph).

Goddard's work as both theorist and engineer anticipated many of the developments that were to make spaceflight possible. He has been called the man who ushered in the Space Age. Two of Goddard's 214 patented inventions — a multi-stage rocket (1914), and a liquid-fuel rocket (1914) — were important milestones toward spaceflight. His 1919 monograph A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes is considered one of the classic texts of 20th-century rocket science. Goddard successfully applied three-axis control, gyroscopes and steerable thrust to rockets, to effectively control their flight.

Although his work in the field was revolutionary, Goddard received very little public support for his research and development work. The press sometimes ridiculed his theories of spaceflight. As a result, he became protective of his privacy and his work. Years after his death, at the dawn of the Space Age, he came to be recognized as the founding father of modern rocketry. He not only recognized the potential of rockets for atmospheric research, ballistic missiles and space travel but was the first to scientifically study, design and construct the rockets needed to implement those ideas.

Lips Appreciation Day

What would life be like if it were not for lips?  March 16 is Lips Appreciation Day.  Imagine whistling without lips.  How about talking without those handy lips.  Or even kissing.  Lips are just amazing.  I will appreciate them today and everyday, unless they are chapped.  I really hate chapped lips!

It is said that the mouth is one one of the first facial features we notice when looking at someone, so it is understandable that our lips have been the subject of various fashions and fads over the years. Over the centuries, lip colouring have been applied by both males ad females. Trends in lip gloss color and sheen come and go, and it is becoming more and more common for people to artificially enhance their lips through botox and plastic surgery.

The importance of the lips in human interaction and communication can hardly be overstated. Not only are they critical in facilitating human speech, but they also serve as carriers of many subtle non-verbal messages.

From an anatomical viewpoint, lips are equally fascinating:
  • The lips form the border between the exterior facial skin and the mucous membrane inside the mouth.
  • The skin of the lips contains only 3-5 cellular layers, and is very thin compared to the rest of the facial skin, which has up to 16 layers. This allows the blood vessels in the lips to be more visible, (especially in people with lighter skin) resulting in the pink/red color of the lips.
  • The skin of the lips contains no sweat glands, and as such they do not have the same protective layer of sweat and body oils that protect the rest of our skin. This is why lips dry out faster, and become more easily chapped.
  • There are at least 12 groups of muscles controlling the movements of the lips and mouth.
  • The lips have many nerve endings making them very sensitive to touch and heat (they are said to be 100 times more sensitive than the fingertips). For this reason, lips are critically important to babies and toddlers when exploring foreign objects.
The lips are without doubt one of the most fascinating parts of the human body, playing a key role in communication, exploration, feeding and sexual interaction. And Lips Appreciation Day is the perfect opportunity to celebrate your lips in all their multidimensional splendor.

National Artichoke Heart Day

Today is National Artichoke Hearts Day! Artichokes are one of the oldest foods known to man. The plant originated in the Mediterranean region and is part of the sunflower family. According to Greek mythology, Zeus turned his mistress Cynara into the first artichoke plant when he caught her sneaking away from Olympia.  

Although we usually refer to it as a vegetable, the produce we eat is actually the flower bud of the artichoke plant. If you let the flower blossom, it turns a beautiful violet-blue color. People enjoy artichokes boiled, baked, steamed, grilled, deep fried, and stuffed with all sorts of yummy fillings.

Almost every artichoke produced in the United States comes from California. Did you know that the town of Castroville, California crowned its first “Artichoke Queen” in 1947? The winner was a young actress named Norma Jean Mortenson who later changed her name to Marilyn Monroe!

To celebrate National Artichoke Hearts Day, try out a new artichoke recipe for dinner tonight!

St. Urho's Day

The legend of St. Urho originated in Northern Minnesota in the 1950s. However, there are differing opinions as to whether it began with the fables created by Sulo Havumaki of Bemidji, or the tongue-in-cheek tales told by Richard Mattson of Virginia. Either way, the legend has grown among North Americans of Finnish descent to the point where St. Urho is known and celebrated across the United States and Canada, and even in Finland.

St. Urho's Day is celebrated on March 16th, the day prior to the better known feast of some minor saint from Ireland, who was alleged to have driven the snakes from that island.

The legend of St. Urho says he chased the grasshoppers out of ancient Finland, thus saving the grape crop and the jobs of Finnish vineyard workers. He did this by uttering the phrase: "Heinäsirkka, heinäsirkka, mene täältä hiiteen" (roughly translated: "Grasshopper, grasshopper, go to Hell!"). His feast is celebrated by wearing the colors Royal Purple and Nile Green. St. Urho is nearly always represented with grapes and grasshoppers as part of the picture.
Saint Urho has been recognized with proclamations in all 50 states. Minnesota Governor Wendell Anderson issued a proclamation in his state, the unofficial home of Saint Urho, in 1975.