Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Holidays and Observances for April 30 2014

International Guide Dogs Day

Every year, the last Wednesday in April is set as International Guide Dog Day.
This is a day to celebrate the important role of guide dogs that help the blind and visually impaired remain safe and independently mobile day in and day out. Guide dogs are carefully trained to recognize obstacles, and to help guide their handlers around such things. They are trained to help handler’s access public transportation, navigate public places and cross roads safely.

Guide dogs are legally allowed into all public places due to their handler’s dependence on them for safety and mobility. Due to this fact however, guide dogs must have a special calm, quiet, non-aggressive and well-behaved temperament.

According to the breeds most commonly used as guide dogs are as follows:
  • 70% Labrador Retrievers
  • 15% Golden Retrievers
  • 15% German Shepherds
Guide dogs receive formal training which takes two years and costs around $25,000.

After the two year training dogs are carefully matched with handlers based on the handler’s lifestyle and environment. Consideration is also given to the size of the dog, the strength, pace of walk and energy levels. Each of these things is taken into consideration so to match dogs and humans to create the best relationship possible.

International Guide Dog Day is intended to honor the dogs that are working hard to help their handlers as well as all the people who work very hard to train and match dogs with their owners, creating such important life-changing relationships.

Adopt A Shelter Pet Day

Homeless pets face stark and heartbreaking statistics: The Humane Society of the Untied States estimates that animal shelters care for 6-8 million dogs and cats every year in the United States, of whom approximately 3-4 million are euthanized. But throughout the US, dedicated volunteers and shelter professionals are committed to saving as many animals as possible, improving their lives, and finding “forever homes” for these loving, worthy creatures.

Millions of companion animals in shelters across America are just waiting for a special home like yours. Navigating the adoption process isn't as hard as you think. We can help you find the perfect pet and discover how amazing adopting a pet can be.

When you're looking to add a pet to your life, consider adopting a homeless animal from your local shelter or rescue group.

Whether you want a puppy or a more mature dog, a purebred or a one-of-a-kind mixed breed, even a rabbit or hamster, your shelter has the best selection of animals anywhere—all screened for good health and behavior. Most shelters will even help you with spaying and neutering.

The animal shelter is your top source for a new pet, and our pet-care experts have compiled all the information you'll need to find your nearest shelter, select a pet who matches your lifestyle, and more.

National Animal Advocacy Day

Tuesday, April 30, 2013 is National Animal Advocacy Day. This is your chance to help make a difference by providing a voice to the voiceless.

Throughout the world thousands of animals are being abused, neglected, tortured, abandoned and murdered. Advances have been made to animal welfare laws but for the most part, animals are still considered property. As a result, those that have been tortured, beaten, and left to die very rarely receive justice.

However, animal lovers like yourself can help bring some justice to our animal friends by taking just a few minutes of your time to sign an on-line petition, make a donation to a local or national non-profit organization, write an email or letter to your local representative or volunteer at your local animal shelter. And the April 30th National Animal Advocacy Day is a great place to begin.

Below you will find links to some of the hottest on-line petitions to help start you on your way to animal advocacy. You can also visit Care2 Petition Site to find the petitions or causes that interest you. If you are motivated to write to your Connecticut representatives, please follow this link for their contact information.

It may not seem like a big deal adding your name to a petition and sharing with your social networks. But you have to understand that your voice and actions count. If just one other person follows your lead, it may cause a domino effect with more people acting in the best interest of animals worldwide.

“Think globally, act locally” may be an old saying but it is also a reality. With just a few clicks and key strokes on your computer, you may help save an animal’s life today.

Tell Congress to Ban Horse Slaughter Once and for All! (ASPCA)

Tell the Canadian government to end the seal slaughter (HIS)

Urge the FDA to End Painful Tests on Animals (PETA)

Wolves In The Lower-48 States Need Your Help (Earth Justice)

Stabbing bulls to death is not culture (PETA UK)

Visit Animal Advocacy Network for more information on petitions and causes. If you would like alerts on future publications on New Haven Animal Advocacy, please subscribe. You will remain anonymous and it is completely free.

International Jazz Day

In November 2011, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) officially designated April 30 as International Jazz Day in order to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe. International Jazz Day is chaired and led by Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General, and legendary jazz pianist and composer Herbie Hancock, who serves as a UNESCO Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue and Chairman of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. The Institute is the lead nonprofit organization charged with planning, promoting and producing this annual celebration.

International Jazz Day brings together communities, schools, artists, historians, academics, and jazz enthusiasts all over the world to celebrate and learn about jazz and its roots, future and impact; raise awareness of the need for intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding; and reinforce international cooperation and communication. Each year on April 30, this international art form is recognized for promoting peace, dialogue among cultures, diversity, and respect for human rights and human dignity; eradicating discrimination; promoting freedom of expression; fostering gender equality; and reinforcing the role of youth in enacting social change.

International Jazz Day is the culmination of Jazz Appreciation Month, which draws public attention to jazz and its extraordinary heritage throughout April. In December 2012, the United Nations General Assembly formally welcomed the decision by the UNESCO General Conference to proclaim April 30 as International Jazz Day. The United Nations and UNESCO now both recognize International Jazz Day on their official calendars.


Osaka, Japan has been selected to serve as the 2014 Global Host City. This year’s celebration will kick off with a daylong series of jazz education programs, including performances, roundtable discussions, master classes, instrumental workshops and more conducted by world-renowned jazz musicians and educators at the Osaka School of Music. The evening All-Star Global Concert at the famed outdoor Osaka Castle Park will feature performances by Toshiko Akiyoshi, John Beasley (Musical Director), Kris Bowers, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Terri Lyne Carrington, Theo Croker, Sheila E., Pete Escovedo, Roberta Gambarini, Kenny Garrett, James Genus, Roy Hargrove, Lalah Hathaway, Terumasa Hino, Earl Klugh, Marcus Miller, T.S. Monk, Gregory Porter, Claudio Roditi, John Scofield, Wayne Shorter, Esperanza Spalding, Lew Tabackin, Steve Turre and other internationally acclaimed artists, with further details to be announced shortly.

As in 2013, the Global Concert will be streamed live worldwide via the UNESCO, U.S. Department of State, and Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz websites. Individuals and organizations the world over are invited to screen the concert live or organize their own unique event in honor of International Jazz Day. Over 100 countries have been confirmed already; see what activities will be happening near you by visiting the 2014 events page.


Istanbul, Turkey was named the 2013 Global Host City for International Jazz Day. The city hosted a daylong series of jazz events including workshops and seminars, panels and roundtable discussions, film screenings, student master classes led by prominent musicians and educators, and – of course – live performances.

The crowning event of the celebration was the Global Concert in the Hagia Irene, a 4th-century Byzantine Church. The star-studded evening featured an extraordinary series of performances from Dale Barlow (Australia), John Beasley, Rubén Blades (Panama), Terence Blanchard, Igor Butman (Russia), Terri Lyne Carrington, Anat Cohen (Israel), Vinnie Colaiuta, Imer Demirer (Turkey), George Duke, James Genus, Robert Glasper, Herbie Hancock, Zakir Hussain (India), Al Jarreau, Bilal Karaman (Turkey), Ramsey Lewis, Pedrito Martinez, Hugh Masekela, Branford Marsalis, Keiko Matsui (Japan), John McLaughlin (Britain), Marcus Miller, Thelonious Monk, Jr., Milton Nascimiento (Brazil), Eddie Palmieri, Alevtina Polyakova (Russia), Jean-Luc Ponty (France), Dianne Reeves, Lee Ritenour, Hüsnü Şenlendirici (Turkey), Wayne Shorter, Esperanza Spalding, Joss Stone, Joe Louis Walker, Ben Williams, and Liu Yuan (China).

Attendees also heard remarks from International Jazz Day Co-Chairs Herbie Hancock and Irina Bokova, and guest speaker Martin Luther King III, among others. The evening’s festivities were broadcast live online and on public television stations worldwide, with “Listening Parties” organized in countries from the U.S. to Trinidad and Tobago to Georgia to Bhutan.

In the true spirit of the Day, citizens the world over showed their love for jazz by participating in jam sessions, concerts, flash mobs, lectures, and film screenings; producing video tributes; and taking the conversation digital on Facebook, Twitter, and beyond.


UNESCO and United Nations missions, U.S. embassies and government outposts around the world hosted special events for the first annual International Jazz Day on April 30, 2012. Universities, libraries, schools, community centers, performing arts venues and arts organizations of all disciplines around the world marked the day through concerts, education programs, seminars, lectures, book readings, public jam sessions, master classes, photo exhibitions, dance recitals, film and documentary screenings, theater presentations and spoken word performances. More than one billion people around the world were reached through 2012 International Jazz Day programs and media coverage.

In 2012, UNESCO and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz presented three high-profile programs: a daylong celebration in Paris at UNESCO world headquarters; a sunrise concert in New Orleans’ Congo Square, the birthplace of jazz; and a sunset concert at the United Nations General Assembly Hall in New York City. Among the world-renowned artists that participated were John Beasley, Tony Bennett, George Benson, Terence Blanchard, Richard Bona (Cameroon), Dee Dee Bridgewater, Candido, Terri Lyne Carrington, Ron Carter, Vinnie Colaiuta, Robert Cray, Jack DeJohnette, George Duke, Sheila E., Herbie Hancock, Antonio Hart, Jimmy Heath, Hiromi (Japan), Zakir Hussain (India), Chaka Khan, Angelique Kidjo (Benin), Lang Lang (China), Joe Lovano, Romero Lubambo (Brazil), Shankar Mahadevan (India), Ellis Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis, Hugh Masekela (South Africa), Christian McBride, Marcus Miller, Danilo Pérez (Panama), Wayne Shorter, Esperanza Spalding, Tarek Yamani (Lebanon), Treme Brass Band and Stevie Wonder. Hosts included Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Quincy Jones.

The Institute and UNESCO will continue their partnership to encourage schools, universities, libraries, arts organizations, community centers and other entities in UNESCO’s 195 member states to host jazz concerts and educational programs on International Jazz Day. Our goal is to reach people of all ages and backgrounds, in order to include them in this global celebration of freedom, creativity, and – above all – jazz.

National Honesty Day

National Honesty Day is today (April 30th), which means that, in theory, you should be able to ask any question you want and get a straightforward answer that’s relatively free of fibs, lies, and falsehoods. Assuming, of course, that others have heard of the day and all that it entails. Otherwise, chances are you’re going to get the same old rigmarole from everyone you engage.

Want to know where a politician really stands on a touchy subject? Now’s the time to ask. Want to know if your true love is being as faithful as he or she claims? Fire away. If everyone plays by the rules today, there should be one or two fewer episodes of Maury for us to watch this season, but it’s a small price to pay to get people to be truthful with one another.

Here in the States, National Honesty Day was designed to celebrate the truthfulness of a pair of past presidents, namely George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Of course, considering that the whole Washington/cherry tree story was a total fabrication to illustrate the guy’s honesty, you could say that the holiday was founded on a lie. We’ll just sweep that little tidbit under the proverbial rug for now. No sense spoiling a good thing.

M. Hirsh Goldberg, former press secretary and author of several books, created the holiday back in the 1990′s while doing research for his tome “The Book of Lies”, a collection of words, sentences, and paragraphs that has been translated into several language. Goldberg felt that the holiday should come at the end of April since the first day of the month encourages people to spread tall tales and complete fabrications. Then again, maybe Goldberg really came up with the idea in order to sell more books. That’s just idle speculation on my part.

Will you be participating in National Honesty Day? Let us know in the comments section. In the meantime, why not see what folks on Twitter are saying about being truthful for 24 long hours.

National Oatmeal Cookie Day

"O" is for oatmeal and that's good enough for me. April 30 is National Oatmeal Cookie Day.

Oatmeal cookies are a big deal in our house. We like to think that they’re healthier than regular cookies, but that doesn’t stop them from lasting one, maybe two days. Oatmeal cookies are very versatile and can be customized to your liking - nuts, no nuts, raisins, no raisins, chocolate chips (but really, who doesn’t like chocolate chips in their cookies?).

Oats take the place of most of the flour in oatmeal cookies, and you typically only need one egg to bind them so already that’s healthier than your average cookie. Rolled or old fashioned oats work best here, but in a pinch I’ve used a sachet of instant oats too.

The rest of the ingredients are really going to depend on your taste. Some recipes eliminate sugar altogether by substituting honey and molasses; some call for whole wheat flour instead of all purpose; some even include adding oil.

My perfect oatmeal cookie has toasted walnuts and semi-sweet chocolate chips in it, and the cookie is chewy in the center but crisp on the edges. I achieve this by pulling them out of the over a minute before they look like they’re done, and removing them to a cooling rack immediately. Storage is also important; if you pack them away while they’re still warm, the steam that’s generated will leave your cookies slightly softer and sometimes soggy.

It took a while to find the perfect recipe for our oatmeal cookies, and it’s been tweaked a few times to our taste, but believe me, no one complained about the extra batches of cookies lying around while we were figuring that all out.

National Raisin Day

It’s National Raisin Day! People have been dehydrating grapes to make raisins for thousands of years. The practice dates back to 2000 B.C. and originated in Persia and Egypt. Raisins were also highly prized by the Ancient Romans, who used this delicious snack food to barter. They also awarded raisins as prizes at sporting events!

Raisins are low in fat and contain important nutrients like iron, copper, calcium, and antioxidants. Raisins first became commercially popular in 1873 when a heat wave destroyed acres and acres of California grape vines. One grower decided to sell the dried grapes and marketed them as a “Peruvian delicacy.” Today, California produces half of the world’s raisin supply!

To celebrate National Raisin Day, snack on a box of raisins or bake a delicious batch of oatmeal raisin cookies!

SpankOut Day

This year marks the 16th anniversary of SpankOut Day, a national event designed to raise awareness about spanking and to encourage parents, teachers and caregivers to find alternatives to corporal punishment.

The day is sponsored by the Center for Effective Discipline, who says:
"SpankOut Day USA was initiated in 1998 to give widespread attention to the need to end corporal punishment of children and to promote non-violent ways of teaching children appropriate behavior. EPOCH-USA (End Physical Punishment of Children) sponsors SpankOut Day USA on April 30th of each year. All parents, guardians, and caregivers are encouraged to refrain from hitting children on this day, and to seek alternative methods of discipline through programs available in community agencies, churches and schools."
Since 1998, over 1,000 informational events on child discipline have been carried out by organizations on SpankOut Day USA and thousands of people have participated.

The organization is hosting a week-long event on Facebook beginning on April 23 to help bring awareness to the day. They also offer Twelve Ways to Celebrate SpankOut Day in Your Community.

You can find much more information at the Center for Effective Discipline web site, such as which states allow corporal punishment in the schools and how parents and kids can take a stand.

Here in Minnesota, corporal punishment is not supposed to be allowed in the schools. However, the state Supreme Court says the practice is legal unless punishment is excessive or cruel and in 2008 they ruled in favor of a teacher who paddled a boy 36 times.

While at least 29 countries outlaw the physical punishment of children, it is still legal for parents to use physical punishment in every state in the U.S.

Bugs Bunny Day

Oh, yes, some Bugs Bunny fans will tell you that July 27 is Bugs Bunny Day. That is the anniversary of the 1940 debut of the familiar rabbit and his adversary, Elmer Fudd. In that July debut people also heard for the first time Bugs's famous line, “What's up, Doc?”

But today is the real anniversary of Bugs Bunny. The “wascally wabbit” first appeared on April 30, 1938, in a short theater cartoon called “Porky's Hare Hunt.” Perhaps the reason people don't recognize Bugs from that early cartoon is that he was credited as “Happy Rabbit.” But, you know what they say, if it looks like Bugs Bunny, and talks like Bugs Bunny, and moves like Bugs Bunny...then it IS Bugs Bunny, no matter what they call it!”

Enjoy Bugs Bunny!

With this free WB game, you can help Bugs gather carrots. Be sure to get a few carrots to munch on while you play!

Boomerang has all sorts of Bugs Bunny activities, such as this coloring page, this painting activity, and even a carrot cake recipe.

Here is a lesson in how to draw Bugs Bunny.

Watch some silly bits from Looney Tunes cartoons. Likethese. (Here is the full cartoon from one of those bits.)

Walpurgis Night

Halloween isn't the only night when the supernatural rules.

There's a penetrating chill in the wind. The bright moon rises behind the shivering, nearly naked trees. A profound sense of foreboding permeates the darkness. This is the night, after all, when witches ride their broomsticks through the sky, and the natural world is forced to confront the powers of the supernatural.

No, it isn't October 31 and this is not Halloween. It's April 30 and it's Walpurgis Night.

Like Halloween, Walpurgis has its roots in ancient pagan customs, superstitions and festivals. At this time of year, the Vikings participated in a ritual that they hoped would hasten the arrival of Spring weather and ensure fertility for their crops and livestock. They would light huge bonfires in hopes of scaring away evil spirits.

But the name "Walpurgis" comes from a very different source. In the 8th Century, a woman named Valborg (other iterations of the name include Walpurgis, Wealdburg and Valderburger) founded the Catholic convent of Heidenheim in Wurtemburg, Germany. She herself later became a nun and was known for speaking out against witchcraft and sorcery. She was canonized a saint on May 1, 779. Since the celebration of her sainthood and the old Viking festival occurred around the same time, over the years the festivals and traditions intermingled until the hybrid pagan-Catholic celebration became known as Valborgsmässoafton or Walpurgisnacht - Walpurgis Night.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Holidays and Observances for April 29 2014

National Shrimp Scampi Day

The National Shrimp Scampi Day is celebrated on April 29 in the United States. Shrimp Scampi refers to an American-Italian shrimp dish prepared by sauteing shrimp or prawns in garlic butter or olive oil, lemon juice and white wine. The shrimp is often served over pasta like linguine.

While the word “scampi” often signifies a cooking style in the United States, scampi are true living organisms particularly widespread in the Mediterranean and northeastern Atlantic, from North Africa to Norway and Iceland. Scampi are edible lobsters popular in Great Britain, Denmark, France, Italy and around the Adriatic coast. It is also called Dublin Bay Prawn, or Norway Lobster (Nephrops norvegicus).

The National Shrimp Scampi Day is an unofficial holiday of unknown origin although its history is unlikely to be long. The word scampi only came into the English-speaking world in the 1920's. While the Italian way of cooking shrimp is believed to be discovered in America after the World War II, the earliest reference to shrimp scampi in the New York Times was found in 1956.

The food holiday is for enjoying the special American shrimp dish. Some people may prepare the dish by using ones favorite recipe. While the basic way of cooking does not change, different kinds of shrimps or prawns can be used.

Zipper Day

April 29 celebrates a "handy" product millions of people around the world use every day and is often taken for granted. It's Zipper Day, an annual "holiday" that celebrates the zipper!

Whitcomb Judson patented the first one back in 1891 but it was not very user-friendly. Electrical engineer Gideon Sundback took Judson's idea and tweaked it a bit. And on this day back in 1913, Sundback received a patent on his "Hookless" fastener which was originally used on shoes and tobacco pouches. It wasn't until a few years later that the zipper was used in clothing. B.F. Goodrich used the product in its Zipper Boot, and the "zipper" was born.

It's hard to imagine what life would be like without the zipper, isn't it? Can you imagine how cumbersome it would be to button and unbutton, snap, hook or tie all your dresses, trousers, children's clothing, bags, purses, backpacks, coats or footwear? But thanks to a few creative minds, the revolutionary zipper was invented which made life a whole lot easier to maneuver - as long as we remember to zip it up!

Day of Remembrance for all Victims of Chemical Warfare

The Day of Remembrance for all Victims of Chemical Warfare is an annual event held on April 29 as a "tribute to the victims of chemical warfare, as well as to reaffirm the commitment of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to the elimination of the threat of chemical weapons, thereby promoting the goals of peace, security, and multilateralism." It is officially recognized by the United Nations (UN) and has been celebrated since 2005. On the latest observance on April 29, 2013, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gave a speech where he stated:
On this Remembrance Day, I urge the international community to intensify efforts to rid the world of chemical weapons, along with all other weapons of mass destruction. Let us work together to bring all States under the Convention and promote its full implementation. This is how we can best honor past victims and liberate future generations from the threat of chemical weapons.
On November 11, 2005, during the last day of the United Nations' Tenth Session of the Conference of the State Parties, the members of the UN officially recognized the Day of Remembrance for all Victims of Chemical Warfare, following a suggestion by Rogelio Pfirter, Director-General of the Secretariat. In addition, Pfirter's proposal to erect a monument at the Hague commemorating all victims of chemical warfare was approved. April 29 was chosen as the date for the event's celebration because the Chemical Weapons Convention entered into force on that day in 1997.

Although the majority of the world has either given up or destroyed their stockpiles of chemical weapons as of 2013, several nations have yet to do so. Five of these, Angola, Burma, Egypt, Israel, and North Korea, have not ratified the Convention and are suspected to possess chemical weapons. Syria is also known to possess a sizable stockpile and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted this in his 2013 speech, condemning the nation for its alleged exploitation of chemical weapons in its ongoing civil war. On September 14, 2013 the United States and Russia announced in Geneva that they reached a deal whereby Syria would ratify the treaty and give up its chemical weapons. The Syrian government has been cooperating and as of November 2013, all but one of Syria’s 23 publicly declared chemical weapon sites have been visited by international inspectors that are dismantling the Syrian chemical weapons program.

International Dance Day

On April 29, International Dance Day, also known as World Dance Day, is celebrated through promotion by the International Dance Council (CID). The day was introduced in 1982 by the International Dance Committee of the UNESCO International Theatre Institute. The date was chosen to commemorate the birthday of Jean-Georges Noverre, who was born in 1727, a French dancer and ballet master and a great reformer of dance.

The annually observed World Dance Day should increase the awareness of the importance of dance among the general public. Its goal is also to persuade governments all over the world to provide a proper place for dance in all systems of education. 

Around the world, there are events on World Dance Day, such as open-door-courses, exhibitions, articles concerning all kinds of dance, dance evenings, street shows, and special performances, etc. Above this, every year a message from a well known dance personality is circulated throughout the world. 

The CID is a non-profit umbrella organization for all forms of dance in the world. It was founded in 1973 within the UNESCO headquarters and has its headquarters in Paris, France. CID advises the UNESCO, national and local government agencies, international organizations and institutions. Currently it is represented in over 120 countries.

"Peace" Rose Day

The story of the ‘Peace’ rose is one that can be told over and over again because it encapsulates everything that we hold dear in roses – drama, love and greatness of spirit. This year marks the sixtieth anniversary of the naming of this enduring rose that remains an excellent garden rose, and a symbol of our desire for that ever-elusive peace. The creation of ‘Peace’ was beautifully chronicled in Antonia Ridge’s book ‘For Love of a Rose’ and it was something of a miracle that the rose ever saw the light of day.

In 1935, the French rose breeder, Francis Meilland, the third generation in a family of rose growers near Lyon, selected 50 ‘promising’ seedlings from his seedbeds. One was tagged 3 – 35 – 40 and over the next four years Francis and his father, Papa Meilland, watched its development with interest. In spite of war clouds gathering, the unnamed rose was introduced to friends and professional rose growers who gave it an enthusiastic ‘thumbs up’. But three months later Hitler invaded France and, with the nursery under threat of destruction, three parcels of budwood were hastily sent out of France, one of which was smuggled out in the diplomatic bag to America.

For the duration of the war the Meilland family had no idea whether any of the budwood had survived. In America their agent planted the rose in his own trial beds and gave it to other rose growers for testing in all the climatic zones throughout the United States. The rose did so well that it was decided to release it in the United States and thousands of plants were propagated. Although the war was still raging in Europe, the launch date was set for 29 April 1945, in Pasadena, California.

On the same day that two doves were released into the American sky to symbolise the naming of the rose, Berlin fell and a truce was declared. It was sheer coincidence. In naming the rose, this simple statement was read: “ We are persuaded that this greatest new rose of our time should be named for the world’s greatest desire: ‘PEACE’.”

‘Peace’ went on to receive the All American Award for roses on the day that the war in Japan came to an end. On May 8, 1945, when Germany signed its surrender, the 49 delegates who met to form the United Nations were each presented with a bloom of ‘Peace’ and a message of peace from the Secretary of the American Rose Society.

What is so touching about the story of ‘Peace’ is that back in France, the rose had been named ‘Madame Antoine Meilland’ in memory of Claudia Dubreuil, the wife of Antoine Meilland and mother of Francis. She had been the heart and mainstay of the Meilland family and died tragically young from cancer. At the same time news coming back from Germany and Italy where other budwood had been sent, revealed that in Italy the rose was called ‘Gioia’ (Joy) and in Germany, ‘Gloria Dei’ (Glory of God). For the family, all the names captured the qualities that they loved in Claudia.

The name ‘Peace’ seems to have outlasted all the others. The timing of its launch was perfect and it struck such a chord that within nine years some 30 million ‘Peace’ rose bushes were flowering around the world. But it wasn’t because of sentiment alone. ‘Peace’ truly was a superlative rose, superior by far to the roses before it in terms of vigour, hardiness, and the long lasting ability of its blooms. The colour was also magnificent, a pale, golden yellow deepening to red along the petal edges.

Its contribution to the rose world has been immeasurable. Because of its vigour and dependability, ‘Peace’ has been used in breeding programmes across the world. It is recorded that ‘Peace’ is the ‘mother’ in 150 varieties and the ‘father’ in a further 180 varieties. There would be many more if breeders always declared the parentage of new releases. Indeed it is probably safe to say that most of our modern roses are descended in some way from ‘Peace’. In South Africa a few of the great garden roses that have ‘Peace’ in their lineage are: ‘Double Delight’, ‘Casanova’, ‘Blue Moon’, ‘Soaring Wings’, and ‘Electron’.

‘Peace’ also breathed new life into the gardening world, which sorely needed reviving after the war. The huge amount of publicity it received internationally made people excited about growing roses again. I was told that in South Africa it was in every public park and the ‘must have’ variety for every garden. Because it grew so well and so easily, people were not afraid to try their hand at other roses and so the rose industry in this country took off, once again.

Although new varieties, like ‘Iceberg’ have become even more popular, ‘Peace’ is still a good garden rose with glossy green leaves and well shaped blooms that are slightly lighter than their European counterparts because of our bright South African sunlight. I recommend planting it with ‘Rudi Neitz’, which is a taller hybrid tea rose, more upright in growth, with fewer thorns and a deeper gold to red colouring that equals that of ‘Peace’ in Europe. A grouping of three ‘Rudi Neitz’ at the back and four or five ‘Peace’ in front makes a beautiful bed.

Francis Meilland died in 1958 but his son Alain and daughter Michelle and their children continue the Meilland tradition of breeding roses. After ‘Peace’ became so well known, Francis wrote in his diary: “How strange to think that all these millions of rose buses sprang from one tiny seed no bigger than the head of a pin, a seed which we might so easily have overlooked, or neglected in a moment of inattention.”

That’s the miracle of the rose!

World Wish Day

April 29, 2012 – the anniversary of the wish that inspired the creation of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. World Wish Day is a global celebration of wish granting. Wish-granting celebrations and events will take place in the 48 countries we serve. World Wish Day celebrates the day that sparked a global wish-granting movement.

The creation of Make-A-Wish was inspired in the U.S. in 1980 by the fulfillment of a wish of a 7-year-old boy with leukemia named Chris Greicius, who wished to be a policeman. On April 29th, his mother, several friends and a group of police officers, with the cooperation of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, granted his wish with a custom-made uniform, helmet, badge, and helicopter ride. Chris's magical wish touched the entire community and inspired the beginning of the Make-A-Wish.

Make-A-Wish has become the largest wish-granting organization in the world and can be found in 48 countries on five continents. The Make-A-Wish Foundation of America grants the wishes of children in the United States, Guam and Puerto Rico through its 62 chapters, while Make-A-Wish Foundation International serves children outside the United States in 47 countries on five continents through its 36 affiliate offices. With the help of generous donors and over 30,000 volunteers, Make-A-Wish has granted more than 290,000 wishes worldwide since inception.

Viral Video Day

April 29 is Viral Video Day, an annual "holiday" created by Jace Shoemaker-Galloway, a freelance writer who has written thousands of articles covering all sorts of traditional, unusual and downright wacky holidays.

Viral videos are short video clips that catapult to popularity by sharing through social media or email. And thanks to the advances in technology and the availability of video cams on cell phones and digital cameras, creating short video clips are simple and affordable to make.

Whether used as a political or marketing tool or to capture an important event or popular dance craze, the most popular viral videos often inspire or educate us, touch our hearts, make us laugh or even make us cry.

While some of these popular videos star celebs, politicians or famous people, many of the most popular viral videos feature animals, children and everyday, ordinary people. Although there doesn't appear to be any magical formula to determine which videos will go viral and create the most buzz, some lucky folks who post their videos on video sharing sites can make some pretty nice cashola. And some viral videos become so popular, even Hollywood comes-a-calling!

Viral Video Day not only celebrates the best viral videos of the past, but also encourages folks across the country to create their own original content. Join in on the celebration by sharing your favorite viral videos of all time or creating your own video and sharing it en masses.

Go ahead - take your best "shot." Who knows? Maybe your video will rise to viral video stardom and make the Most Popular Viral Videos of All Time list?

Most Popular Viral Videos of All Time
Happy Viral Video Day!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Holidays and Observances for April 28 2014

Biological Clock Day

Tick tock. Tick tock. Can you hear your biological clock ticking away?  I am pretty sure that I can.

I am certainly not looking at having anymore children! In fact, two is all that I ever wanted and it turns out, that was a good decision, as I don’t think that I could handle raising any more than that.

Our biological clock does so much more than tell us the perfect time to get pregnant. In fact, both men and women and the young and old are subject to the influence of the biological clocks that we all have.

For example, have you ever stayed awake for an all-nighter and felt off for many days afterwards or flown from one time zone to another and felt the affects of jet lag? The impact is due to a disruption to our internal clock.

All living organisms have an internal biological clock, called the Circadian Rhythm, which helps their bodies adapt to the daily cycle of day and night as the Earth rotates.

Circadian rhythms are controlled by “clock genes” that carry the genetic instructions to produce proteins. These instructions control everything from when we sleep and rest, body temperature, heart activity, hormone secretion, blood pressure, oxygen consumption, and metabolism. They may even influence our mood, particularly in the form of wintertime depression known as seasonal affective disorder.

Our biological clock has three parts: a way to receive light, temperature or other input from the environment to set the clock, the clock itself, and genes that help the clock control the activity of other genes.

The human Circadian Rhythm is actually 10 to 20 minutes longer than 24 hours. The biological clock keeps working even when the we are removed from natural light. Without daylight, the biological clock will eventually start running on its own natural cycle. But as soon as morning light hits our eyes, our clock will reset to match the earth’s 24-hour day.

Sleep is essential to our mental and physical health.  Clock genes normally keep us awake during the day and asleep at night.  But when a clock gene mutates, it can disrupt the normal sleep cycle. Sunlight, air travel and even the seasons can disrupt our Circadian Rhythms and the quality and quantity of sleep that we get.

What are the health implications of clock genes?
Understanding exactly how clock genes work may help scientists develop new medicines that adjust or reset the human biological clock to treat the ill effects of jet lag, night shift work or wintertime depression. Clock genes may also offer clues to sleep disorders such as narcolepsy, which makes people feel sleepy during the day.

Our internal clock controls hormone levels, which can effect the way our bodies respond to certain medications. Better knowledge of circadian rhythms may improve the effectiveness of medications by revealing the best times to take them.

Clock genes may some day help scientists treat cancer. At least eight clock genes are known to coordinate normal functions such as cell proliferation (which is uncontrolled in cancer) and cell suicide (which fails to occur in tumor cells).

Simple blood tests may one day help predict the age at which a woman will begin menopause. If the accuracy of the test is confirmed, women could take the test early on in their reproductive life to find out their expected age at menopause and their optimal pregnancy window.

How To Celebrate Biological Clock Day:
  • Celebrate – whatever age you are, or whatever life stage you are in.
  • Determine your ‘real’ age vs your actual age and see how you are doing. On one site my actual age is 45, my virtual age is 30 and my life expectancy is to 89 years old. Not bad!  Check out
  • Schedule a doctor visit especially if your sleep difficulties are interfering with job and other responsibilities.
Maintain a healthy sleep-wake program by:
  • Not napping if you find that it throws you off in the evening.
  • Getting up at the same time every day.
  • Being strict about your sleep schedule and creating a relaxing bedtime routine.
  • Trying light therapy. This should only be done under a doctor’s care to ensure that you are not creating additional issues.
  • Avoiding night light. When possible, avoid bright and outdoor light close to bedtime and keep your surroundings as dark as possible at night. Cover the lights of your alarm clock, so that you are not tempted to look at it or have its glow disrupt your sleep.
  • Avoid eating or exercising too close to bedtime. Also watch out for caffeine and nicotine, both of which are stimulants.
  • When traveling to different time zones – look for natural ways to align your new sleep-wake schedule with the time zone that you are in.  Some strategies require you to start several days before you take off the ground, so plan ahead.
Something to leave you smiling….
  • A class consisted of a particularly well-motivated group of students. They were encouraged to ask their teacher any questions on any subject that concerned them. One afternoon a girl raised her hand and asked the teacher to explain a woman’s “biological clock.”
  • After she had finished, there was a moment of silence and then another hand shot up. “Teacher,” a student asked, “is your clock still ticking or has the alarm gone off?”
Cubicle Day

Cubicle Day is celebrated on April 28th every year around the world.

To maximize on space, many offices now have cubicles for their employees. All of them try to personalize the space with plants, photos and other memorabilia. Of course, humans are not designed to spend their lives in cubicles. If spending a day in a cube makes you feel boxed in, take some time to change the way you feel about your space and the 4 walls around you. The number 4 represents balance – 4 seasons – Spring, Summer Autumn and Winter. There are 4 Elements – Earth, Water, Fire and Wind.

Many companies try to encourage their employees to get away from their cubicles and mingle with their colleagues. Or go for a walk during lunch. Cubicles are generally considered to be a status symbol and come with a promotion at work. They accord a degree of privacy to senior staff – so that they can conduct delicate negotiations.

On Cubicle Day, try to organize a contest for best decorated cubicle. Award prizes for the best decorated cubicle. Of course it is a given that people have to spend time at work and in their cubicles – try to maintain a good work/life balance.

National Blueberry Pie Day

It’s National Blueberry Pie Day! Americans have been filling their pies with delicious, fresh-picked berries since the colonial era. Today, blueberry pie is one of the most popular pie flavors in the United States. Blueberry season begins in May and ends in the late summer, so blueberry pie is a perennial favorite at Fourth of July celebrations.

Did you know that Maine produces more blueberries than any other state? In fact, 25% of all low bush blueberries grown in North America come from Maine. That makes this New England state the largest producer of blueberries in the world!

 Blueberries have the highest antioxidants of all fruits and vegetables, can improve memory, are packed with vitamin C and fiber, can reduce the risk of heart attack and heart failure, help stop the degradation of the skin's collagen, can improve brain function, may combat the start and/or progression of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, is helpful in combating colon, liver and ovarian cancer, and have low glycemic level.

Head to your favorite local bakery or make your own tasty blueberry pie today to celebrate National Blueberry Pie Day!

National Kiss Your Mate Day

Kiss Your Mate Day is celebrated on April 28. The day is a great opportunity to cuddle your partner and bless with kisses. Kissing on the lips is a physical expression of affection or love between two people in which the sensations of touch, taste, and smell are involved. 

The kiss is an important expression of love and erotic emotions. Romantic kissing in Western cultures is a fairly recent development and is rarely mentioned even in ancient Greek literature. Kissing in particular has been studied in a controlled experiment and it was found that increasing the frequency of kissing in marital and cohabiting relationships results in a reduction of perceived stress, an increase in relationship satisfaction, and a lowering of cholesterol levels. 

Surveys indicate that kissing is the second most common form of physical intimacy among United States adolescents (after holding hands), and that about 85% of 15 to 16-year-old adolescents in the US have experienced it. In many cultures, it is considered a harmless custom for teenagers to kiss on a date or to engage in kissing games with friends.

Workers Memorial Day

Workers' Memorial Day, International Workers' Memorial Day or International Commemoration Day (ICD) for Dead and Injured or Day of Mourning takes place annually around the world on April 28, an international day of remembrance and action for workers killed, disabled, injured or made unwell by their work.

Workers' Memorial Day is an opportunity to highlight the preventable nature of most workplace accidents and ill health and to promote campaigns and union organisation in the fight for improvements in workplace safety. The slogan for the day is Remember the dead – Fight for the living.

Although April 28 is used as the focal point for remembrance and a day of international solidarity, campaigning and other related activities continue throughout the year right around the world.

Workers' Memorial Day was started by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) in 1984. The Canadian Labour Congress declared an annual day of remembrance in 1985 on April 28, which is the anniversary of a comprehensive Workers Compensation Act (refer to the entry Workplace Safety & Insurance Board), passed in 1914. In 1991, the Canadian Parliament passed an Act respecting a National Day of Mourning for persons killed or injured in the workplace, making April 28 an official Workers’ Mourning Day.

World Day for Safety and Health at Work

Organizations such as the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations (UN) actively promote the World Day for Safety and Health at Work on April 28 every year.

The UN, ILO and other organizations, communities, individuals, and government bodies with an interest in workplace health and safety unite on or around April 28 to promote an international campaign known as World Day for Safety and Health at Work. The UN posts this event in its events calendar each year.

Community leaders and organizational representatives often promote the day by speaking out on issues such as workplace health and safety standards. Various media have promoted the day through news articles and broadcast programs. Different types of events and activities that center on workplace health and safety are held in many countries on or around April 28 each year.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) started observing the World Day for Safety and Health at Work on April 28, 2003. The ILO is devoted to advancing opportunities for people to obtain decent and productive work in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity. It aims to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, boost social protection, and strengthen dialogue in work-related issues.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Holidays and Observances for April 27 2014

Babe Ruth Day

On April 27, 1947, the Yankees hosted Babe Ruth Day at Yankee Stadium. The event was held to honor the ailing baseball star, who was nearing the end of his life because of throat cancer. Ruth, the legendary “Sultan of Swat,” died a year later at age 53.

The New York Times reported about Ruth’s appearance in front of 58,339 fans at Yankee Stadium: “Just before he spoke, Ruth started to cough and it appeared that he might break down because of the thunderous cheers that came his way. But once he started to talk, he was all right, still the champion. It was the many men who surrounded him on the field, players, newspaper and radio persons, who choked up.”

George Herman Ruth spent most of his childhood at a Roman Catholic reformatory in Baltimore and rarely saw his parents. A reportedly ill-behaved and free-spirited student, Ruth found an escape in baseball, a sport taught by a Catholic brother at the school. In 1914, at age 19, Ruth joined the minor league Baltimore Orioles, where teammates gave him the nickname Babe. Later that season, he was acquired by the major league Boston Red Sox.

Ruth began his career as a pitcher. His skill helped the Red Sox win the World Series in 1916 and 1918. In 1919, however, the Red Sox sold Ruth to the Yankees for a large sum. It is often said that the team owner Harry Frazee made the deal to finance the production of his Broadway play, though Ruth’s demands for more money and reckless off-field behavior were his true motivation.

In New York, Ruth played the outfield to become a full-time hitter, and he turned into the game’s greatest star. Ruth’s fame came at an important time for baseball; before the 1921 season, it was revealed that gamblers had fixed the 1919 World Series, casting doubt over the future of the sport. The Times’s obituary of Ruth noted that, by early in the 1921 season, fans had forgotten all about the scandal as their “attention became centered in an even greater demonstration of superlative batting skill by the amazing Babe Ruth. Home runs began to scale off his bat in droves, crowds jammed ball parks in every city in which he appeared.”

Ruth’s popularity allowed the Yankees to move to their own ballpark in the Bronx, which became known as the House That Ruth Built. Ruth had his greatest season in 1927, hitting 60 home runs, a record that would stand until 1961. Ruth’s legend grew during the 1932 World Series, when he was said to have “called his shot,” pointing to the outfield stands before hitting a home run.

Ruth was also a legend off the field, where he enjoyed an extravagant life style in the New York of the Roaring Twenties. He liked to stay out late, eating and drinking heavily. He was also known for his rapport with his fans, particularly children. “He made friends by the thousands and rarely, if ever, lost any of them,” The Times reported. “Affable, boisterous and good-natured to a fault, he was always as accessible to the newsboy on the corner as to the most dignified personage in worldly affairs.”

Matanzas Mule Day

April 27, 1898. In one of the first naval actions of the Spanish-American War, US naval forces bombarded the Cuban village of Matanzas. It was widely reported that the only casualty of the bombardment was one mule. The “Matanzas Mule” became instantly famous and remains a footnote in the history of the Spanish-American War.

Morse Code Day

Samuel Finley Breese Morse (April 27, 1791 – April 2, 1872) was an American painter who turned inventor. After having established his reputation as a portrait painter, in his middle age Morse contributed to the invention of a single-wire telegraph system based on European telegraphs. He was a co-developer of the Morse code, and helped to develop the commercial use of telegraphy.

In 1836 Samuel Morse, Joseph Henry, and Alfred Vail began developing an electric telegraph system capable of sending pulses of electric current. First employed in 1844, their telegraph used these signals to create indentations on paper as the electric currents were received. Morse worked on a code to translate these indentations (at first he planned to use a number-based system, but Vail added letters), and the “dots” and “dashes” (or “dits” and “dahs”) code was born.

Morse code was a popular mehtod of communication for over a century — it can be learned quickly and transmitted by tones, lights, or clicks. Although the military recently replaced Morse code with newer communication systems, it still has practical uses today. For example, it can be used as an assistive communication device for people with certain motion disabilities, and usually proves faster than alternative “row scanning” methods. In fact, contests have shown that skilled Morse code “readers” can translate in their heads at rates of 40 words per minute (WPM), with a 1939 record of 75.2 WPM. And the record for the fastest straight keyed message was achieved in 1942 at a rate of 35 WPM. Many amateur radio enthusiasts still learn and use Morse code, and there’s even a radio station, W1AW, that plays practice transmissions for anyone trying to learn.

Mother, Father Deaf Day

In a classic "Peanuts" comic strip, one of the characters asks an adult relative, "We have mother's day, father's day...when do we have children's day?" The wise adult relative responds, "Every day is children's day."
What about deaf parents and their hearing children? For years deaf parents have raised hearing children, a task made easier all the time by modern technology. Joanne Greenberg's classic novel "In this Sign" paints a picture of a deaf couple and their hearing children in the thirties. Deaf parents and hearing children have been the subjects of movies such as "Beyond Silence."

Hearing children of deaf parents also play a major role in the carrying on of deaf culture. It is they who often become interpreters or teachers of the deaf, for instance. While technology has reduced deaf parents' dependence on hearing children, hearing children can still help their deaf parents out in certain situations.

Deaf parents are a special type of mother and father. So in 1994, the organization Children of Deaf Adults decided to designate one day each year for hearing children (young and old) everywhere to honor their deaf parents: Mother, Father Deaf Day, held each year on the last Sunday in April. The day is usually marked with events such as picnics.

National Pet Parent's Day

Whether you have cats, dogs, pot-bellied pigs, horses, ferrets or bunnies, there's a special day of the year dedicated to the millions of caring people who make pets a part of their lives. National Pet Parent’s Day is an annual event observed on the last Sunday in April. This year, the event will be celebrated on April 27, 2014.

National Pet Parent's Day
Launched in 2008 by the folks at Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), the “nation’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance,” the yearly “howliday” recognizes and honors people who love and care for critters of all shapes and sizes.

For many humans, pets are not just dogs or cats – they are valued members of the family. Animals not only provide unconditional love and companionship, some provide special assistance and support to people in need. Whether your pet has two legs, four legs or no legs at all, it’s hard to imagine life without them!

Please Help Save a Life
But due to the current economic conditions, many animal shelters have seen an increase in the number of pets being surrendered. Please consider adopting from your local shelter or Humane Society and give an abandoned, neglected, abused or unloved pet a ‘furever’ home – before it’s too late.

While pets add tremendous joy to our lives, they can also take a lot of time. For you who do the doo-doo, this day is for you! ‘Yappy’ National Pet Parent’s Day!

National Prime Rib Day

Get primed and ready because April 27 is National Prime Rib Day!

Prime rib, or standing rib roast, is a choice beef cut from one of the eight primal cuts of beef. And if you slice the standing rib roast, so called because it is roasted standing up with the ribs stacked up vertically, you can remove the bones and get a nice number of ribeye steaks. So either way, you win!

This cut contains the "eye" of the rib and is well-marbeled with fatty muscle. Rubbing the outside of this roast with salt and seasonings and slow-roasting yields a tender, tasty meal.

If you're thinking about barbecue (which you should), take a tip from the professionals and smoke it for a few hours before dry roasting.

If the phrase prime rib brings to mind memories of the Sunday roast, make some gravy on the side, and if you're feeling fancy, whip up some Yorkshire Puddings as well. But if you want to know the best way to prepare prime rib, be sure and check out this marvelous primer.

National Tell A Story Day

National Tell A Story Day is celebrated on April 27th in the US.  In Scotland and England it falls on October 27th.  It is far more prominent in the UK.

On this day, people get together to celebrate story telling of every kind – fiction, non fiction, tall tales, scary tales or even folk tales.  It is a fun way to get together – in a library, at home or in front of a camp fire and tell all kinds of stories.  It fosters a sense of togetherness and fun.  One can even read stories from a book or use other media.

In the old days, stories were a way to pass down tradition and family history from one generation to another.  It is a good idea to also tell stories about important people and use aids like photos to make it more real.  

This kind of story telling can help develop the budding imagination of children.  Everyone, regardless of age likes to hear a good story.  So, dust off your creative side and tell a tale that would fire anyone’s imagination – a tall tale, a whopper of a tale or a spooky one.

Every country has its own tradition of stories – it is great way to learn about other cultures and connect with people.  One can even tell stories based on themes.

Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day

This is an international event created to promote and celebrate the art of pinhole photography. On this unique day, we encourage people throughout the world to take some time off from the increasingly technological world we live in and to participate in the simple act of making a pinhole photograph. To share their visions and help spread the unusual beauty of this historical photographic process.

When is the Worldwide Pinhole Photography day? The Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day is held each year on the last Sunday in April. The next Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day is on Sunday, April 27, 2014.

Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day, Pinhole Photography, and... YOU!
Why Pinhole Photography? A unique personal experience! Pinhole photography allows you to make a photograph that requires only a light-tight container (box, can,...) with a tiny hole in one side (as a camera) and any photo-sensitive surface in it. You can adapt an existing camera, or make the camera yourself . The experience of image-making becomes a little more special when created with your own hand-made camera. 

With your own camera, infinite depth-of-field, skewed perspectives, and slower exposures, you may ultimately become more creative and more selective about what you choose to photograph. Magical things happen in pinhole photography.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Holidays and Observances for April 26 2014

Audubon Day

John James Audubon (1785-1851) was America's foremost ornithological illustrator. After studying drawing in Paris under the French painter Jacques Louis David, Audubon struggled for many years to make a living from his art, shuttling back and forth between Europe and the United States and supplementing his income by giving drawing lessons, turning out portraits, playing the flute or violin at local dances, and at one time running a general store.

In 1820 he began a flatboat excursion down the Mississippi River to seek out new varieties of birds to paint. Eventually he had enough bird portraits to publish in book form. Birds of America, produced with the help of engraver Robert Havell, Jr., contains 435 hand-colored plates and was published in "elephant folio" format to accommodate the life-sized portrayals of birds on which Audubon insisted.

After his death in 1851, Audubon's wife Lucy returned to teaching to support herself. One of her students, George Bird Grinnell, became the editor of Forest and Stream magazine and in 1886 organized the Audubon Society for the study and protection of birds. Today there are many branches of this organization, known as the National Audubon Society, and it remains dedicated to the conservation of wildlife and natural resources. Its members honor Audubon on his birthday, April 26. In some states, Audubon Day and Arbor Day are celebrated together by planting trees in bird sanctuaries.

Hug an Australian Day

Hug An Australian Day is an annual event that was founded by Thomas and Ruth Roy of the website.

Though the origins of this event are unclear, Hug An Australian Day has quickly become popular over the last few years, and is celebrated by sending the likes of greeting cards and e-cards to Aussie friends.

Event ideas for Hug An Australian Day include listening to famous Aussie music artists, from The Seekers to Kylie all day long with a can of Foster’s or Castlemaine XXXX, or holding an Aussie movies day – beginning with ‘Crocodile Dundee‘, naturally enough.

Hug An Australian Day shouldn't just stop with just a hug for Aussies living overseas. They’re bound to be appreciative of a present that reminds them of home, like a toy koala bear or kangaroo for instance – or a DVD of great Aussie cricket moments.

If you really want to celebrate Hug An Australian Day why not plan a trip around it? It is the perfect time to travel to the land down under, especially if you have friends or relatives there that need a good hugging. It could be Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, it doesn't matter, there’s bound to be Australians to hug wherever you choose. With the timing right before the big holiday season beginning in May, most travel sites will even be offering discounts. You can check for hotel deals in Adelaide on Expedia and similar sites, or shop around for the best flights to Sydney. Whatever it’s going to take to get you there. While you’re there you even have a guaranteed pick up line: “Do you know what today is?”

National Kids and Pets Day

National Kids and Pets Day has been going strong since 2005, this very special day was set up by Colleen Paige who is a mother and pet lover herself. There are lots of great reasons for a child to have a pet companion - the biggest reason being that a child who is shown how to be compassionate towards pets as a child is very likely to carry that compassion on into adulthood, in both their behaviour towards animals and people.

It is also claimed that children with learning disabilities can improve their skills by reading to an animal - and that pets can help shyer children grow more confident.

Growing up, I had a cat from the age of five until I was 16. She was so good-natured, and although other members of the family cared for her, she really was my cat! We were very close and I'll always treasure the memories I had with her!

Coleen talks about how animals 'innocently' pull on tails or ears. I can vouch for this one - as a very young child I thought it would be fun to pull my cat's tail - she soon told me in no uncertain terms (with a swift scratch) that it wasn't on! Most of the time animals who lash out are generally affectionate and not aggressive, so teaching children not to do these things is very important. To follow Colleen's tips on on bringing a baby home, go to the National Kids and Pets Day website. She can tell you all about how cats and dogs temperaments and reactions might vary - and how to deal with it!

The main point of this day is to encourage you to adopt a pet. There are millions of extremely cute and loving animals out there, just waiting to be part of your family unit! As long as you and your family are ready, you could be safe in the knowledge that you are giving an animal in need a great home.
National Pretzel Day

It’s National Pretzel Day! Centuries ago, Catholic monks created the first pretzels from scraps of leftover dough. The unique knot shape represented the Holy Trinity, but the significance of this symbol has evolved over the course of history. During the 17th century, pretzels symbolized the bond of marriage. This is where the phrase “tying the knot” originated! Today, traditional soft pretzels are popular at sporting events, carnivals, and festivals.

There are numerous accounts on the origin of pretzels, as well as the origin of the name; most agree that they have Christian backgrounds and were invented by German monks. According to The History of Science and Technology, by Bryan Bunch and Alexander Hellemans, in 610 AD " Italian monk invents pretzels as a reward to children who learn their prayers. He calls the strips of baked dough, folded to resemble arms crossing the chest, 'pretiola' ("little rewards")". Another source locates the invention in a monastery in southern France. The looped pretzel may also be related to a Greek ring bread, derived from communion bread used in monasteries a thousand years ago. In Germany there are stories that pretzels were the invention of desperate bakers held hostage by local Dignatories.  Meyers Konversations-Lexikon from 1905 suspects the origin of pretzels in a ban of heathen baking traditions, such as in the form of a sun cross, at the Synod of Estinnes in the year 743. The pretzel may have emerged as a substitute. The German name "Brezel" may derive also from Latin bracellus (a medieval term for "bracelet"), or bracchiola ("little arms").

The pretzel has been in use as an emblem of bakers and formerly their guilds in southern German areas since at least the 12th century. A 12th-century illustration in the Hortus deliciarum from the southwest German Alsace region (today France) may contain the earliest depiction of a pretzel.

Within the Catholic Church, pretzels were regarded as having religious significance for both ingredients and shape. Pretzels made with a simple recipe using only flour and water could be eaten during Lent, when Christians were forbidden to eat eggs, lard, or dairy products such as milk and butter. As time passed, pretzels became associated with both Lent and Easter. Pretzels were hidden on Easter morning just as eggs are hidden today, and are particularly associated with Lent, fasting, and prayers before Easter.

Like the holes in the hubs of round Swedish flat bread (which let them be hung on strings), the loops in pretzels may have served a practical purpose: bakers could hang them on sticks, for instance, projecting upwards from a central column, as shown in a painting by Job Berckheyde (1630–93) from around 1681.

To celebrate National Pretzel Day, pick up a bag of your favorite type of pretzels to enjoy today!

National Rebuilding Day

National Rebuilding Day is the signature event of Rebuilding Together. Held on the last Saturday in April, National Rebuilding Day is the day when affiliates plan projects to celebrate the organization’s mission and to bring national attention to the plight of America’s low-income homeowners. The day is embraced by community leaders and national corporate sponsors as a way of bringing impact to America’s communities in a single day.

Rebuilding Together (or RT) is a national US non-profit organization working to preserve affordable homeownership and revitalize neighborhoods by providing free home repairs and modifications to low-income homeowners. By utilizing CapacityCorps members, RT's own branch of AmeriCorps members, neighbor volunteers, skilled trades people, the support of local businesses and donors, and major corporate partners, RT is able to offer every repair at no cost to the homeowner.

Celebrating more than 25 years of service, Rebuilding Together collectively has completed work on more than 100,000 homes across the nation, which amounts to roughly 10,000 homes per year. With the help of 3.4 million volunteers and donors, RT has delivered over $1.5 billion in market value since its founding, transforming every $1 donated to RT into $4 to the community. Today, the Rebuilding Together Affiliate Network consists of 187 offices throughout the United States. Community-level RT offices act in partnership with and on behalf of Rebuilding Together Inc national headquarters, located in Washington D.C.. These local offices are called Rebuilding Together "affiliates," often abbreviated RT with the corresponding community affiliation (ie Rebuilding Together New orleans is known as "RTNO").

Rebuilding Together continues forward with its mission of seeking to provide a safe and healthy home for every person by bringing neighbor volunteers and communities together to improve the homes and lives of low-income homeowners. Inside this core mission, Rebuilding Together has several targeted programs that address the needs of specific homeowner populations: veterans, elderly, disabled, and others. The work of Rebuilding Together positively impacts the condition of the surrounding community as well, through community center rehabilitation, playground builds, and partnerships with organizations focused on energy efficiency, sustainable community gardens, volunteer engagement, and homeowner education. Home by Home, Block by Block, entire communities are transformed.

National Richter Scale Day

Richter Scale Day is celebrated on April 26th of each year.

The Richter magnitude scale (often shortened to Richter scale) was developed to assign a single number to quantify the energy released during an earthquake.

The scale is a base-10 logarithmic scale. The magnitude is defined as the logarithm of the ratio of the amplitude of waves measured by a seismograph to an arbitrary small amplitude. An earthquake that measures 5.0 on the Richter scale has a shaking amplitude 10 times larger than one that measures 4.0, and corresponds to a 31.6 times larger release of energy.

Since the mid-20th century, the use of the Richter magnitude scale has largely been supplanted by the moment magnitude scale in many countries. However, the Richter scale is still widely used in Russia and other CIS countries. Also worth noting is that earthquake measurements under the moment magnitude scale in the United States—3.5 and up, on the MMS scale—are still usually erroneously referred to as being measured under the Richter scale in the general public, as well as the media, due to the familiarity with earthquakes being measured by the Richter scale instead of the MMS scale.

National Sense of Smell Day

National Sense of Smell Day is an annual event sponsored by the Sense of Smell Institute. It is held on the last Saturday of April at children’s museums and science centers across the United States. The day is focused on how the sense of smell plays an important role in daily life and how it interacts with other senses (particularly taste). Typically, museums and science centers celebrating the day will feature hands-on activities and informational displays about the sense of smell.

It was established in 1993 by The Sense of Smell Institute, the educational arm of The Fragrance Foundation. Though efforts on the part of both nonprofit institutions to promote National Sense of Smell Day have dwindled, interest in the subject of olfaction has grown. A large part of this is due to the link between flavor and fragrance which makes the sense of smell more tangible. Say the word “smell” and noses turn away. Say the word “aroma” and suddenly you have everyone’s attention. There’s another reason why the sense of smell is beginning to resonate in the culture; people are losing it.

Anosmia is the loss of the sense of smell. It collaborates with tongue cancer as a protagonist In Grant Achatz’ memoir “A Chef's Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat.” Anosmia visits writer Molly Birnbaum who was preparing for classes at The Culinary Institute of America when she was injured in an automobile accident that affected her sense of smell. “Season to Taste: How I Lost My Sense of Smell and Found My Way” tells the story of Birnbaum’s encounter with anosmia and her efforts to regain her sense of smell (which included an immersion in the perfume arts). Gardener Bonnie Blodgett used Zicam® Nasal Gel and soon found herself with a case of anosmia, (the product was removed from store shelves after a warning issued by the FDA in 2009). Ms. Blodgett shares her odyssey in “Remembering Smell: A Memoir of Losing – and Discovering – the Primal Sense.”

Anosmia is linked to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and is thought to be an early indicator of both degenerative diseases. This fact pushes anosmia into the spotlight. Still, there is something taboo about the sense of smell. Let’s face it, everything that falls under our nose isn't pleasant. Imagine if you never had a sense of smell. Would you feel like you lost anything? In an upcoming post  Glass Petal Smoke will interview a woman who was born with anosmia. What you find out will change the way you think about the sense of smell.

Fun Facts about the Sense of Smell per The Sense of Smell Institute:
  • No two people smell the same odor the same way.
  • Your sense of smell is least acute in the morning; our ability to perceive odors increases as the day wears on.
  • A woman’s sense of smell is keener than a man’s.
  • Our sense of smell becomes stronger when we are hungry.
  • Our sense of smell in responsible for about 80% of what we taste. Without our sense of smell, our sense of taste is limited to only five distinct sensations: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and the newly discovered “umami” or savory sensation. All other flavors that we experience come from smell.
  • Vitamin A deficiency is a leading cause of loss of sense of smell (Anosmia,) though this type of Anosmia is reversible with supplementation of vitamin A.
  • The 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (announced 4 October 2004,) was won by Richard Axel and Linda Buck for their work explaining olfaction, doccumenting the human genotype for sense of smell. Their work was published first in a joint paper in 1991 that described the very large family of about one thousand genes for odorant receptors and how the receptors link to the brain.
  • There are more genes dedicated to smell than any other of our five senses.
National Help A Horse Day

Horses are extremely intelligent, sensitive animals and true American icons. They have been central to the ASPCA’s work since our founding 148 years ago, when Henry Bergh stopped a cart driver from beating his horse, resulting in the first successful arrest for the mistreatment of a horse on April 26, 1866. Today, the ASPCA continues to assist domesticated and wild horses through legislation, advocacy, rescue and targeted grants.

Thousands of horses, donkeys, mules and other equine find themselves homeless each year through no fault of their own. Hundreds of rescues, many of them all-volunteer groups, toil long hours every day of the year to care for these at-risk animals. On Help a Horse Day 2014, help us shine a light on their exemplary work and lend a hand!

April 26, please join us in celebrating our nation’s horses by supporting the ASPCA and your local horse rescue in the fight to end equine cruelty and neglect.

Here’s how you can help:
  1. Consider making a donation to the ASPCA. The ASPCA Equine Fund supports the work of selfless horse rescues and sanctuaries nationwide.
  2. Locate a participating group near you and join in their Help a Horse Day celebration. Check below for an event near you!
  3. Can’t find an event near you? Search for a horse rescue or equine welfare group near you and send a donation or an item off their wish list.
The ASPCA Equine Fund is running a Help a Horse Day Celebration Contest and will award $10,000 grants to the top five equine organizations whose events inspire the most community engagement and support.

Please help us spread the word and let equine welfare groups how grateful you are for the work they do as a safety net for the nation’s at-risk horses.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and participating local law enforcement are coordinating a nationwide drug "take-back" day on April 26th from 10 am to 2 pm. This one-day event will provide residents with no cost anonymous collection of unwanted and expired medicines.

Click here to find a DEA collection site near you.

It's a great time to clean out your medicine cabinet! Protect our kids, families and environment by properly disposing of your unwanted and expired medicines. Medicines in the home are a leading cause of accidental poisoning and flushed or trashed medicines can end up polluting our waters. Rates of prescription drug abuse are alarmingly high - over half of teens abusing medicines get them from a family member or friend, including the home medicine cabinet, and often without their knowledge.

What if I miss this event, what I can do? For the safety of our kids, families and environment, some communities, pharmacies, and law enforcement are paying for temporary ongoing take-back programs to help you properly dispose of unwanted and expired medicines in your homes until a permanent statewide program is in place. Click here to find a temporary ongoing take-back program.

Experts agree: Take-back programs are the first choice. Law enforcement, public health, and environmental professionals stand united in support of take-back programs, such as the DEA’s take-back event on Saturday, April 26th, as the safest and most responsible way to dispose of unwanted and expired medicines to protect your family and to protect our waters.

Although needed, events like this aren’t a permanent solution. The DEA’s National Pharmaceutical Take-Back Day is a great one-time opportunity, but it provides only a band-aid solution to an ongoing need. Year-round programs are required to ensure families in Washington have ongoing access to safe disposal of unwanted and expired medicines.

Funding to provide a permanent solution is still needed. A dedicated and adequate source of funding is needed to provide our communities with a secure and environmentally sound option for disposal of leftover medicines. Our over-stretched local law enforcement and local government budgets cannot absorb the costs of providing a permanent take-back system.
Save The Frogs Day

Save The Frogs Day is the world's largest day of amphibian education and conservation action. Last year our supporters held 270 events in at least 30 countries, directly reaching over 17,000 participants. Please get involved and help spread the word so we can make Save The Frogs Day 2014 even more successful! Save The Frogs Day 2014 events are scheduled to take place in 22 countries: Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Ghana, India, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Portugal, South Africa, Taiwan, Tanzania, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the USA.

Frog populations have been declining worldwide at unprecedented rates, and nearly one-third of the world’s amphibian species are threatened with extinction. Up to 200 species have completely disappeared since 1980, and this is NOT normal: amphibians naturally go extinct at a rate of only about one species every 250 years!!! Amphibian populations are faced with an onslaught of environmental problems, including pollution, infectious diseases, habitat loss, invasive species, climate change, and over-harvesting for the pet and food trades. Unless we act quickly, amphibian species will continue to disappear, resulting in irreversible consequences to the planet’s ecosystems and to humans.

Tadpoles keep waterways clean by feeding on algae. Adult frogs eat large quantities of insects, including disease vectors that can transmit fatal illnesses to humans (i.e. mosquitoes/malaria). Frogs also serve as an important food source to a diverse array of predators, including dragonflies, fish, snakes, birds, beetles, centipedes and even monkeys. Thus, the disappearance of frog populations disturbs an intricate food web, and results in negative impacts that cascade through the ecosystem.

Most frogs require suitable habitat in both the terrestrial and aquatic environments, and have permeable skin that can easily absorb toxic chemicals. These traits make frogs especially susceptible to environmental disturbances, and thus frogs are considered accurate indicators of environmental stress: the health of frogs is thought to be indicative of the health of the biosphere as a whole. Frogs have survived in more or less their current form for 250 million years, having survived countless ice ages, asteroid crashes, and other environmental disturbances, yet now one-third of amphibian species are on the verge of extinction. This should serve as an alarm call to humans that something is drastically wrong in the environment.

Frogs produce a wide array of skin secretions, many of which have significant potential to improve human health through their use as pharmaceuticals. Approximately 10% of Nobel Prizes in Physiology and Medicine have resulted from investigations that used frogs. When a frog species disappears, so does any promise it holds for improving human health.

A group of Russian researchers found over 76 different antimicrobial peptides on the skin of the European Common Brown Frog (Rana temporaria). "These peptides could be potentially useful for the prevention of both pathogenic and antibiotic resistant bacterial strains" the scientists concluded.

The Northern Gastric Brooding Frog (Rheobatrachus vitellinus) lived exclusively in the Eungella Range in Queensland, Australia. These amazing frogs could actually shut down their gastric juices while rearing their young inside their stomachs! They therefore held great promise for advances in human medicine, as research on these frogs may have resulted in a cure for peptic ulcers, which affect 25 million people in the United States alone. Unfortunately, the gastric-brooding frogs vanished within a few years of being discovered by scientists. The health of humans and frogs is clearly intertwined. 

World Veterinary Day

World Veterinary Day is an important initiative of one of IVSA’s main partners; the World Veterinary Association (WVA). This year it will be celebrated on the 26th of April 2014 and will focus on the theme of ‘Animal Welfare’. As always, World Veterinary Day is aimed at bringing the importance of the Veterinary Profession to the general public by underlining the vital role of veterinarians in ensuring animals health and welfare, food safety, food security, safe world trade in animals and animal products as well as protecting public health. Many of our partners, such as OIE and AVMA, participate in World Veterinary Day by organizing their own activities, and this year it’s IVSA’s turn to get involved. In other words: your chance to get involved!!

For the World Veterinary Day Project we are looking for members of MO’s that would jump at the chance of spreading knowledge about our profession, by organizing a local project at one (or more) High Schools during the week before WVD (21-25 April 2014). The setup of the project is pretty free, to ensure you can find a suitable format that fits both you and the school involved. However, it must fit in the context of Animal Welfare, showcase the different roles of veterinarians and be both interactive and informative for high school students.

Experience shows that projects like these are fun to organize and can really motivate high school students! You and your MO can really make a difference!

World Intellectual Property Day

World Intellectual Property Day is observed annually on 26 April. The event was established by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 2000 to "raise awareness of how patents, copyright, trademarks and designs impact on daily life" and "to celebrate creativity, and the contribution made by creators and innovators to the development of societies across the globe". April 26th was chosen as the date for World Intellectual Property Day because it coincides with the date on which the Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization entered into force in 1970.

Following a statement made at the Assembly of the Member States of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in September 1998, the Director General of the National Algerian Institute for Industrial Property (INAPI) proposed on 7 April 1999 the institutionalisation of an international day for intellectual property, with the aim of
"[setting up] a framework for broader mobilization and awareness, [opening up] access to the promotional aspect of innovation and [recognizing] the achievements of promoters of intellectual property throughout the world."
On 9 August 1999, the Chinese delegation to the WIPO proposed the adoption of the "World Intellectual Property Day"
"in order to further promote the awareness of intellectual property protection, expand the influence of intellectual property protection across the world, urge countries to publicize and popularize intellectual property protection laws and regulations, enhance the public legal awareness of intellectual property rights, encourage invention-innovation activities in various countries and strengthen international exchange in the intellectual property field".
In October 1999, the General Assembly of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) approved the idea of declaring a particular day as a World Intellectual Property Day.

International Marconi Day

International Marconi Day celebrates the huge part Guglielmo Marconi played in the invention of radio.

People had been trying to create wireless telegraphy for years but Marconi improved and made it marketable and successful.  And do you want to know an interesting fact?

The radio operators on board the Titanic were employed by Marconi - and using his equipment they were able to alert the Carpathia, the ship which rescued around 700 survivors.

International Marconi Day (IMD) is a 24 hour amateur radio event that is held annually to celebrate the birth of Marconi on 25 April 1874.  This year IMD will celebrate its 27th year.   The event is usually held on the Saturday closest to Marconi’s birthday and in 2014 it will be held on 26 April.

The purpose of the day is for amateur radio enthusiasts around the world to make contact with historic Marconi sites using communication techniques similar to those used by the great man himself.