Monday, March 31, 2014

Holidays and Observances for March 31 2014

César Chávez Day

César Chávez Day is an official state holiday in the U.S. states of California, Colorado and Texas. The day is commemorated to promote service to the community in honor of César Chávez's life and work. Many, but not all, state government offices, community colleges, and libraries are closed. Many public schools in the state are also closed. Texas also recognizes the day, and it is an optional holiday in Arizona and Colorado. Although it is not a federal holiday, President Barack Obama proclaims March 31 as César Chávez Day in the United States, with Americans being urged to "observe this day with appropriate service, community, and educational programs to honor César Chávez's enduring legacy." In addition, there are celebrations in his honor in Arizona, Michigan, Nebraska, and New Mexico and has been observed in California since 1995, in Texas since 2000 and in Colorado since 2003 as state holidays (optional in Texas and Colorado).

As a senator, Barack Obama made a call in 2008 for a national holiday in Chávez's honor, saying: "Chávez left a legacy as an educator, environmentalist, and a civil rights leader. And his cause lives on. As farm workers and laborers across America continue to struggle for fair treatment and fair wages, we find strength in what César Chávez accomplished so many years ago. And we should honor him for what he's taught us about making America a stronger, more just, and more prosperous nation. That's why I support the call to make César Chávez's birthday a national holiday. It's time to recognize the contributions of this American icon to the ongoing efforts to perfect our union." (Senator Barack Obama March 31, 2008) Grassroots organizations continue to advocate to create a national holiday. On March 30, 2011, President Obama reiterated his support for the cause: "César Chávez's legacy provides lessons from which all Americans can learn."

A model curriculum for teachers shows how students can learn about César Chávez's legacy through his work with other immigrants, farm workers, and how his work relates to the modern world.

César Chávez Day has been celebrated in Reno, Nevada, since 2003. A state law passed in 2009 (AB 301) requires Nevada's governor to annually issue a proclamation declaring March 31 as César Chávez Day.

Eiffel Tower Day

On March 31, 1889, the Eiffel Tower is dedicated in Paris in a ceremony presided over by Gustave Eiffel, the tower's designer, and attended by French Prime Minister Pierre Tirard, a handful of other dignitaries, and 200 construction workers.

In 1889, to honor of the centenary of the French Revolution, the French government planned an international exposition and announced a design competition for a monument to be built on the Champ-de-Mars in central Paris. Out of more than 100 designs submitted, the Centennial Committee chose Eiffel's plan of an open-lattice wrought-iron tower that would reach almost 1,000 feet above Paris and be the world's tallest man-made structure. Eiffel, a noted bridge builder, was a master of metal construction and designed the framework of the Statue of Liberty that had recently been erected in New York Harbor.

Eiffel's tower was greeted with skepticism from critics who argued that it would be structurally unsound, and indignation from others who thought it would be an eyesore in the heart of Paris. Unperturbed, Eiffel completed his great tower under budget in just two years. Only one worker lost his life during construction, which at the time was a remarkably low casualty number for a project of that magnitude. The light, airy structure was by all accounts a technological wonder and within a few decades came to be regarded as an architectural masterpiece.

The Eiffel Tower is 984 feet tall and consists of an iron framework supported on four masonry piers, from which rise four columns that unite to form a single vertical tower. Platforms, each with an observation deck, are at three levels. Elevators ascend the piers on a curve, and Eiffel contracted the Otis Elevator Company of the United States to design the tower's famous glass-cage elevators.

The elevators were not completed by March 31, 1889, however, so Gustave Eiffel ascended the tower's stairs with a few hardy companions and raised an enormous French tricolor on the structure's flagpole. Fireworks were then set off from the second platform. Eiffel and his party descended, and the architect addressed the guests and about 200 workers. In early May, the Paris International Exposition opened, and the tower served as the entrance gateway to the giant fair.

The Eiffel Tower remained the world's tallest man-made structure until the completion of the Chrysler Building in New York in 1930. Incredibly, the Eiffel Tower was almost demolished when the International Exposition's 20-year lease on the land expired in 1909, but its value as an antenna for radio transmission saved it. It remains largely unchanged today and is one of the world's premier tourist attractions.

National "She's Funny That Way" Day

On National "She's Funny That Way" Day we pay tribute to the women that make us laugh. Show appreciation for the humorous side of women, the things they do and say. Watch a female stand up comedian, rent a funny movie or if you're a women be extra funny today. Some humorous women on TV, both past and present, include:
  • Lucille Ball
  • Carol Burnett
  • Jane Curtin
  • Tina Fey
  • Chelsea Handler, 
  • ne Kaczmarek
  • Betty White
  • Amy Poehler
  • Gilda Radner.
  • Ellen DeGeneres
  • Kathy Griffin
  • Whoopie Goldberg
  • Roseanne Barr
  • Phyllis Diller
  • Lily Tomlin
  • Minnie Pearl
  • Margaret Cho
  • Wanda Sykes
  • Sarah Silverman

National Bunsen Burner Day

National Bunsen Burner Day is celebrated on March 30th of each year in remembrance of Robert Wilhelm Eberhard Bunsen, a German chemist who invented the Bunsen Burner.

Robert Wilhelm Eberhard Bunsen (30 March 1811 – 16 August 1899) was a German chemist. He investigated emission spectra of heated elements, and with Gustav Kirchhoff discovered caesium (in 1860) and rubidium (in 1861). Bunsen developed several gas-analytical methods, was a pioneer in photochemistry, and did early work in the field of organoarsenic chemistry. With his laboratory assistant, Peter Desaga, he developed the Bunsen burner, an improvement on the laboratory burners then in use. The Bunsen–Kirchhoff Award for spectroscopy is named after Bunsen and Kirchhoff.

National Clams on the Half Shell Day

National Clams on the Half Shell Day is celebrated on March 31st of each year.

In culinary use, within the eastern coast of the USA, the term “clam” most often refers to the hard clam Mercenaria mercenaria. It may also refer to several other common edible species, such as the soft-shell clam, Mya arenaria, and the ocean quahog, Arctica islandica. Another species which is commercially exploited on the Atlantic Coast of the US is the surf clam Spisula solidissima.

Clams can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, baked or fried; the method of preparation depends partly on the size and species of the clam. They can also be made into clam chowder (a popular soup in the U.S. and Canada) or they can be cooked using hot rocks and seaweed in a New England clam bake.

Stuffed clams are also known as stuffies. They are popular in New England and consist of a breadcrumb and minced clam mixture that is baked on the half shell of a quahog hard shell clam. Other ingredients typically found in the basic breadcrumb mixture are: meat such as sausage, bacon or chorizo, peppers, lemon juice, celery, garlic, spices and herbs. There are many different recipes for stuffed clams; many restaurants in New England have their own variety, as do many home cooks.

National Crayola Crayon Day

Binney & Smith, Inc. put Crayola Crayons on the market. On March 31st in 1903 the company began selling their Crayola Crayons to the public. They came up with the brand name Crayola when they put the French Words Craie (chalk) and ola (oily) together. The first Crayola crayons came in a box of 8 and sold for 5 cents. Today, Binney & Smith produce about 7 million crayons every day in 120 colors. The average American child uses 730 crayons by his 10th birthday. It’s no surprise that a study shows the smell of Crayola crayons is one of the twenty top scents recognized by adults in the U.S.

Crayon Facts and Trivia:
  • Did you know that Americans buy 2.5 billion crayons a year? And that if you laid them all end to end — the crayons, not the buyers — they would encircle the Earth more than 4 1/2 times
  • The hundred billionth crayon made by Crayola was Periwinkle Blue.
  • Crayola crayons come in 120 colors including 23 reds, 20 greens, 19 blues, 16 purples, 14 oranges, 11 browns, 8 yellows, 2 grays, 2 coppers, 2 blacks, 1 white, 1 gold and 1 silver.
  • The first box of Crayola crayons was sold in 1903 for a nickel and included the same colors available in the eight-count box today: red, blue, yellow, green, violet, orange, black and brown.
  • Kids, ages 2-8, spend an average of 28 minutes each day coloring. Combined, children in the U.S. spend 6.3 billion hours coloring each year.
  • Douglas Mehrens uses more crayons annually than anyone else in the world. The Phoenix-based artist goes through about 24,000 a year, many of them melted, to complete his works.
  • Binney & Smith, maker of Crayola products, produces nearly 3 billion crayons each year, an average of twelve million daily. That’s enough to circle the globe 6 times. It would take about 400 million crayons to go around the world.

National Tater Day

National Tater Day is an unofficial food holiday set aside to celebrate the potato. It is celebrated annually on March 31. While it is a day set aside for potatoes, this day may have come about because of a different food celebration that occurs just days later. On the first Monday in April each year, there is a local observance for sweet potatoes in Marshall County, Kentucky. It has been an annual day for sweet potato celebration since the 1840's. The sweet potato is one of the main cash crops in that area.

The potato is the leading vegetable crop in the US, with 41.3 billion pounds produced per year and over 1 million acres of cropland dedicated to potato planting.

The exact reason that National Tater Day came about is unknown. It is also unknown who had the idea for National Potato Day. The history of the potato goes back over 2500 years. Archaeologists have found evidence that potatoes have been grown since 500 BC. The Incas grew and worshiped potatoes.

Potatoes sustained the economy in Ireland for centuries. In fact, the Irish were so dependent on potato production that when a great famine wiped out potato crops in the mid-1800's, close to one million people died and others were forced to migrate to North America and Australia to survive.

Americans did not start to use potatoes as a food until the 1870s. Prior to that, potatoes were primarily considered livestock feed. In 1872, the Russet Burbank potato was developed by horticulturalist Luther Burbank. He developed a hybrid potato that proved to be more disease resistant. He introduced it to farmers in Ireland to help stop the blight in that country. He also introduced it to Idaho farmers, thus beginning a boom in the Idaho potato industry after it had failed in that area nearly forty years earlier

National Tater Day is celebrated by consuming potatoes in any of the many ways they can be prepared. Potatoes come in many different varieties, including russet, red, white, blue/purple, yellow and fingerling. Each of these kinds of potatoes offer the consumer several different preparation ideas. Yellow potatoes are commonly used for potato pancakes, red for roasting for salads, russet for oven fries and baked potatoes.

World Backup Day

If you haven’t backed up your digital data yet, you are a fool. No offense. Seriously, though, it is so, so, so easy to lose everything. And guess what: A lot of people who want you to buy stuff have made up a holiday around the concept. Think Valentine’s Day, only this time it’s a good idea. Happy World Backup Day, everyone! Marketing scam or no, we urge you to celebrate.

Backing up your data isn't just practical — say, if you want to transfer everything from your current computer to a new one — it’s an incredibly important safeguard against total digital loss. Whether you get hacked, your hard drive crashes, or you accidentally spill a cup of coffee across your keyboard, you’ll want to make sure that a copy of your collection of Skrillex albums and selfies are safely stored elsewhere for retrieval.

Here are some ways to back up your computer and prevent digital loss. Of course, this isn't a comprehensive list, so go ahead and hit us in the comments with your best techniques.

The Old Standby: The External Hard Drive
One of the simplest ways to back up your computer is to clone a copy of everything you have onto an external hard drive. If you own a Mac, it’s as easy as hooking up a drive via USB, FireWire or Thunderbolt and firing up Time Machine, which you can find on the right side of the menu bar. Click the “Backup Now” button and Time Machine will make a copy of everything on your machine. It’s a painless process, though the initial backup will take a while. If you don’t want to deal with wires, you can set up a Wi-Fi enabled hard drive like Apple’s Time Capsule or Seagate’s GoFlex Satellite.

Windows users have a few more options, depending on which OS you’re running. Windows 7 users can use the simple Backup and Restore tool, located in the Control Panel under System and Maintenance. Windows 8 users need to do a bit of digging to back up a carbon copy of your computer system. You can set up a backup with File History — found in Control Panel’s System and Security — but that won’t make a complete clone. For that, you’ll need to go to the Windows 7 File Recovery link, located at the bottom left corner of the File History page.

Need help looking for a hard drive? We've reviewed a bunch of them.

The In-Crowd Option: Take It to the Cloud
If you don’t have the funds to throw down on a drive — or don’t trust yourself with one more piece of breakable/losable gadgetry — you can always back up your data to the cloud, as the cool kids are doing these days. There are plenty of services that let you back up all of your data via the internet. Take, Mozy for example. The company offers automatic online backups of your entire system, and throws in file syncing, too. And it’s pretty affordable at $6 a month for 50GB of storage and one computer. Plus, you can access your files on you mobile devices through the company’s iOS and Android apps.

(CrashPlan and Backblaze both sponsor World Backup Day. Both of their services are highly regarded and just as, or more, affordable than Mozy. But it felt a bit sleazy to plug them so directly, so we’re putting them here.)

The advantage to using these services is that you don’t have to worry about losing or breaking a physical drive. It’s also very unlikely that a highly-rated company would lose your data — and if it did, you could reasonably expect that it would go out of business. Cold comfort, but comfort nonetheless. The disadvantages: Online services might be unavailable due to maintenance, and there’s always the possibility of your account getting hacked. Plus, you’re signing up for yet another bill.

The Cheapskate’s Option: Dropbox It for Free
Dropbox isn't built as a backup service, but it’s not a bad option for safeguarding your most important files without spending any money. You can sign up for a free account, which gives you 2GB of storage. Refer your friends and Dropbox gives you another 500MB for each person. Or you can always pay $10 a month for 100GB of storage, but that kinda defeats the whole “free” thing.

You won’t be able to store your personal app data, like the information you have stored in your Contacts or in an offline calendar system. And 2GB isn’t a ton, but it should be enough to back up key files that you want to make sure never to lose — like your novel-in-progress or wedding photos. The good thing about Dropbox is that you can sync everything across different devices, all in one easy-to-manage Dropbox folder on your computer. And the more devices sync, the less likely you are to lose your data. Once you put a file into Dropbox, it syncs to all of your other computers (that are connected to Dropbox), and backs up a copy of that file on those devices as well. Dropbox also lets you look back on older versions of files or even deleted files.

If you’re a loyal Google, Microsoft or Apple user with all of your documents and files in a single companies’ products, then you can get good free file backups from them. Google Drive, Microsoft’s SkyDrive and iCloud all do the trick. Naturally, someone who lives in Google products will benefit from a paid Google Drive storage system, and SkyDrive is great for Windows, Office and Windows Phone users. Of course, you can always go iCloud for your Mac and iOS data. You’ll want to decide which free service works best for you depending on what other products you use. But you’ll want to make sure you have another backup in place (see below).

Back Up the Backup
The best way to make sure that you don’t suffer a huge digital data loss is to back up your backup. If you use iCloud to back up your photos and documents, it’s best to have those same photos and documents on another cloud service or hard drive (or both). Apple’s developer community has been especially outspoken about the difficulty of working with Apple’s cloud system with stories of data loss and corruption. It’s just not reliable as your sole backup. Your account can get hacked on any online service and an external hard drive can go bad or break. You should also consider having an offsite backup, like an external hard drive stored at your office or a storage locker or a trustworthy friend or relative’s house. No plan is totally bulletproof, but you can add extra armor to your backup plan by having more than one system in place.