Monday, April 14, 2014

Holidays and Observances for April 14 2014

National Pecan Day

National Pecan Day celebrates the only nut native to North America. Pecans have been cultivated since the 1500's. The word pecan comes from Native American Algonquin origin that was used to describe "all nuts requiring a stone to crack." Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson planted pecan trees. The state tree of Texas is the pecan tree though Albany, Ga. is the pecan capital of the United States. Pecans contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals and are known to be rich in vitamin E and a powerhouse nut for antioxidants.

The History of Pecans:

Pecans Were Popular From the Start
The history of pecans can be traced back to the 16th century. The only major tree nut that grows naturally in North America, the pecan is considered one of the most valuable North American nut species. The name “pecan” is a Native American word of Algonquin origin that was used to describe “all nuts requiring a stone to crack.”

Originating in central and eastern North America and the river valleys of Mexico, pecans were widely used by pre-colonial residents. Pecans were favored because they were accessible to waterways, easier to shell than other North American nut species and of course, for their great taste.

Because wild pecans were readily available, many Native American tribes in the U.S. and Mexico used the wild pecan as a major food source during autumn. It is speculated that pecans were used to produce a fermented intoxicating drink called “Powcohicora” (where the word “hickory” comes from). It also is said that Native Americans first cultivated the pecan tree.

Presidents Washington and Jefferson Loved Pecans, Too!
One of the first known cultivated pecan tree plantings, by Spanish colonists and Franciscans in northern Mexico, appears to have taken place in the late 1600’s or early 1700’s. These plantings are documented to around 1711—about 60 years before the first recorded planting by U.S. colonists.

The first U.S. pecan planting took place in Long Island, NY in 1772. By the late 1700’s, pecans from the northern range reached the English portion of the Atlantic Seaboard and were planted in the gardens of easterners such as George Washington (1775) and Thomas Jefferson (1779). Settlers were also planting pecans in community gardens along the Gulf Coast at this time.

In the late 1770’s, the economic potential of pecans was realized by French and Spanish colonists settling along the Gulf of Mexico. By 1802, the French were exporting pecans to the West Indies—although it is speculated that pecans were exported to the West Indies and Spain earlier by Spanish colonists in northern Mexico. By 1805, advertisements in London said that the pecan was “…a tree meriting attention as a cultivated crop.”

The Birth of an Industry
New Orleans, located near the mouth of the Mississippi River, became very important to the marketing of pecans. The city had a natural market as well as an avenue for redistributing pecans to other parts of the U.S. and the world. The New Orleans market gained local interest in planting orchards, which stimulated the adaptation of vegetative propagation techniques and led to the demand for trees that produce superior nuts.

During the 1700’s and the early 1800’s, the pecan became an item of commerce for the American colonists and the pecan industry was born. (In San Antonio, the wild pecan harvest was more valuable than popular row crops like cotton!)

Pecan groves (trees established by natural forces) and orchards (trees planted by man) consisted of diverse nuts with various sizes, shapes, shell characteristics, flavor, fruiting ages and ripening dates. In the midst of this variability, there was the occasional discovery of a wild tree with unusually large, thin-shelled nuts, which were in high demand by customers.

In 1822, Abner Landrum of South Carolina discovered a pecan budding technique, which provided a way to graft plants derived from superior wild selections (or, in other words, to unite with a growing plant by placing in close contact). However, this invention was lost or overlooked until 1876 when an African-American slave gardener from Louisiana (named Antoine) successfully propagated pecans by grafting a superior wild pecan to seedling pecan stocks. Antoine’s clone was named “Centennial” because it won the Best Pecan Exhibited award at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876. His 1876 planting, which eventually became 126 Centennial trees, was the first official planting of improved pecans.

The successful use of grafting techniques led to grafted orchards of superior genotypes and proved to be a milestone for the pecan industry. The adoption of these techniques was slow and had little commercial impact—until the 1880’s when Louisiana and Texas nurserymen learned of pecan grafting and began propagation on a commercial level.

Thus was the start of a booming pecan growing and shelling industry!

National Dolphin Day

There are many special days of the year devoted to animals of all shapes and sizes. Some celebrate specific breeds or species and others help raise awareness about an important cause or issue. Animal-related holidays during the month of April include National Siamese Cat Day, National Farm Animals Day, National Pet Day, National Hairball Awareness Day, World Penguin Day, Pet Owner's Independence Day, Dog Farting Awareness Day (yes, really!)

April 14 is National Dolphin Day, an annual event that not only celebrates these amazing creatures, but also shines the spotlight on plight of the dolphin.

Dolphins Facts:
  • Part of the toothed whale family, dolphins are highly intelligent marine mammals known for their playful behavior.
  • There are 36 species of dolphins - most live in salt water but a few live in freshwater locations.
  • Dolphins are social creatures and live, travel and hunt for fish and other prey together as a group.
  • Did you know dolphins can't breathe underwater? While they eat with their mouths, they breathe through their blowholes.
  • Dolphins have excellent eyesight but have no sense of smell.
  • Killer whales are actually dolphins.
  • Dolphins can recognize themselves and have and know their names.
  • Dolphins are known to commit suicide when under duress.
Dolphin Threats
Like other species around the world, dolphins face numerous threats. From global warming, pollution and oil spills, to hunting, boat collisions, fishing nets and tuna fishing, the biggest threat to these fascinating creatures is man.

The film, The Cove, exposed the horrific slaughter of more than 20,000 dolphins and porpoises off the coast of Japan in a secluded and highly protected cove. The dolphin meat, containing toxic levels of mercury, is often sold and labeled as whale meat.

The Social Action Campaign for The Cove shines the spotlight of this disturbing annual hunt. Please help stop the senseless slaughter of Japan's dolphins by signing the online petition directed to President Barack Obama, Vice President Biden and the Japanese Ambassador to the United States. Currently, over 695,000 people have signed the petition.

Children With Alopecia Day

Today is the day if you are a child living with any form of alopecia to stand proud and not afraid to go without a wig, hat or bandanna! If you are a child (or have a child) who is losing hair because of the autoimmune hair-loss disease alopecia areata, today is your day to stand up and be proud of not having hair while still being you!

What Is Alopecia Areata?
Alopecia areata is considered an autoimmune disease, in which the immune system, which is designed to protect the body from foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria, mistakenly attacks the hair follicles, the tiny cup-shaped structures from which hairs grow. This can lead to hair loss on the scalp and elsewhere.

In most cases, hair falls out in small, round patches about the size of a quarter. In many cases, the disease does not extend beyond a few bare patches. In some people, hair loss is more extensive. Although uncommon, the disease can progress to cause total loss of hair on the head (referred to as alopecia areata totalis) or complete loss of hair on the head, face, and body (alopecia areata universalis).

What Causes It?
In alopecia areata, immune system cells called white blood cells attack the rapidly growing cells in the hair follicles that make the hair. The affected hair follicles become small and drastically slow down hair production. Fortunately, the stem cells that continually supply the follicle with new cells do not seem to be targeted. So the follicle always has the potential to regrow hair.

Scientists do not know exactly why the hair follicles undergo these changes, but they suspect that a combination of genes may predispose some people to the disease. In those who are genetically predisposed, some type of trigger–perhaps a virus or something in the person’s environment–brings on the attack against the hair follicles.

Who Is Most Likely To Get It?
Alopecia areata affects an estimated four million Americans of both sexes and of all ages and ethnic backgrounds. It often begins in childhood.If you have a close family member with the disease, your risk of developing it is slightly increased. If your family member lost his or her first patch of hair before age 30, the risk to other family members is greater. Overall, one in five people with the disease have a family member who has it as well.

Is My Hair Loss a Symptom of a Serious Disease?
Alopecia areata is not a life-threatening disease. It does not cause any physical pain, and people with the condition are generally healthy otherwise. But for most people, a disease that unpredictably affects their appearance the way alopecia areata does is a serious matter.

The effects of alopecia areata are primarily socially and emotionally disturbing. In alopecia universalis, however, loss of eyelashes and eyebrows and hair in the nose and ears can make the person more vulnerable to dust, germs, and foreign particles entering the eyes, nose, and ears.

Alopecia areata often occurs in people whose family members have other autoimmune diseases, such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, pernicious anemia, or Addison’s disease. People who have alopecia areata do not usually have other autoimmune diseases, but they do have a higher occurrence of thyroid disease, atopic eczema, nasal allergies, and asthma.

Can I Pass It on to My Children?
It is possible, but not likely, for alopecia areata to be inherited. Most children with alopecia areata do not have a parent with the disease, and the vast majority of parents with alopecia areata do not pass it along to their children.

Alopecia areata is not like some genetic diseases in which a child has a 50-50 chance of developing the disease if one parent has it. Scientists believe that there may be a number of genes that predispose certain people to the disease. It is highly unlikely that a child would inherit all of the genes needed to predispose him or her to the disease.

Even with the right (or wrong) combination of genes, alopecia areata is not a certainty. In identical twins, who share all of the same genes, the concordance rate is only 55 percent. In other words, if one twin has the disease, there is only a 55 percent chance that the other twin will have it as well. This shows that other factors besides genetics are required to trigger the disease.

To learn more about the genes and other factors involved in alopecia areata risk, the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) is funding an alopecia areata registry. The registry is an organized network of five centers throughout the United States that will identify and register patients with the disease and collect data and blood samples (which contain genes). Data, including genetic information, will be made available to researchers studying the genetic basis and other aspects of disease and disease risk. (For more information about the registry, see “How Can I Take Part In Research?”)

Will My Hair Ever Grow Back?
There is every chance that your hair will regrow, but it may also fall out again. No one can predict when it might regrow or fall out. The course of the disease varies from person to person. Some people lose just a few patches of hair, then the hair regrows, and the condition never recurs. Other people continue to lose and regrow hair for many years. A few lose all the hair on their head; some lose all the hair on their head, face, and body. Even in those who lose all their hair, the possibility for full regrowth remains.

In some, the initial hair regrowth is white, with a gradual return of the original hair color. In most, the regrown hair is ultimately the same color and texture as the original hair.

What Can I Expect Next?
The course of alopecia areata is highly unpredictable, and the uncertainty of what will happen next is probably the most difficult and frustrating aspect of the disease. You may continue to lose hair, or your hair loss may stop. The hair you have lost may or may not grow back, and you may or may not continue to develop new bare patches.

Ex-Spouse Day

Okay, I admit, I have no idea where to go with this one. I mean, most of the time, when a marriage ends, it’s cause for at least a little bit of mourning, sad reflection, or at least a regret or two. So, it seems odd to have a  “holiday” for Ex-Spouse Day.

Most of the time, when a day is set aside to honor a certain specific group of people (think Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Administrative Professional’s Day), it’s in recognition of the contribution that group makes to society as a whole. But, ask any divorced person- especially a recently divorced person- and they’ll tell you that their ex-spouse is “good for nuttin’!” So, what is the holiday for?

My first thought was that it was kind of a “say what you really think of your ex-spouse”, or a “get revenge on your ex-spouse”, or maybe a “play a funny prank on your ex-spouse” day.  Or maybe, since somewhere between 41 and 50%  of first marriages end in divorce, with the percentages of second and third marriages that end in divorce being even higher, maybe it’s more of a call for solidarity? There are a great many Ex-Spouses around, after all, so a chance to swap war stories over a few drinks seems in order. 

Actually, no- it’s none of those things.  According to (who in turn credits The Deseret News) Ex-Spouse Day was actually created in 1987 by Reverend Ronald Coleman of Kansas City, MO. He didn't create it with raunchy divorce jokes and flaming bags of dog poo in mind- his goal was healing. He proposed the day as a chance to let go of the hurt, anger, resentment, and bitterness many people feel toward their ex-spouse. 

One suggestion is to clean out your closet on Ex-Spouse Day, and either return or dispose of things you are holding on to that rightfully belong to your ex. He’s sure you’ll feel better for it. 

So, whether you’ll celebrate by hoisting a few and telling nasty jokes about your Ex-Spouse, or if you’ll follow Reverend Coleman’s advice and take the high moral ground- if you are an ex-spouse and have an ex-spouse, today is your day.

Look Up At The Sky Day

Look up at the Sky Day takes place on April 14. The day is a goof opportunity to go outside and see what's going on above you. Maybe there is an airplane, the shining sun, funny clouds or a meteor on it's way. You can also try to look for our milky way in the night. 

The sky, also known as the celestial dome, commonly refers to everything that lies a certain distance above the surface of Earth, including the atmosphere and the rest of outer space. During daylight, the sky appears to be blue because air scatters blue sunlight more than it scatters red. At night, the sky appears to be a mostly dark surface or region scattered with stars. 

During the day, the Sun can be seen in the sky, unless obscured by clouds. In the night sky the moon, planets and stars are visible in the sky. Some of the natural phenomena seen in the sky are clouds, rainbows, and aurorae. Lightning and precipitation can also be seen in the sky during storms. Birds, insects, aircraft, and kites are often considered to fly in the sky.

Pan American Day

April 14 - Pan American Day is celebrated annually as a "commemorative symbol of the American nations and the voluntary union of all in one continental community" marking the anniversary of the day in 1890 when this union was established.

Each year Pan American Day and Pan American Week are designated by official proclamations throughout the Western Hemisphere as the occasion on which Americans of all ages and nationalities can strengthen the bonds of friendship and understanding that unite the peoples of the 24 American nations. Americans as widely separated as those of Alaska and Punta Arenas, Chile, come to know each other better through special observances, classroom projects, club programs, plays and pageants, parades and social events.

It is important to understand the interdependence of the American nations and how the organization which unites them -the Organizations of American States- works for the peace, security, welfare, and human rights of all our peoples. And it is especially important to understand how the inter-American community is striving to attain these goals, through the OAS which is dedicated to securing a better life, under freedom and democracy, for present and future generations.

Pan American Day originated in a resolution adopted by the Governing Board of the Pan American Union on May 7, 1930, reading as follows:

WHEREAS, It would be desirable to recommend the designation of a date which should be observed as "Pan American Day" in all the Republics of America and which should be established as a commemorative symbol of the sovereignty of the American nations and the voluntary union of all in one continental community;

WHEREAS, April 14th is the date on which the resolution creating the Pan American Union was adopted,

The Governing Board of the Pan American Union


To recommend that the Governments, members of the Pan American Union, designate April 14th as "Pan American Day" and that the national flags be displayed on that date.

Pursuant to this recommendation the President of the United States issued a Proclamation calling upon the schools, civic associations, and people of the United States generally to observe the Day with appropriate ceremonies, thereby giving expression to the spirit of continental solidarity and to the sentiments of cordiality and friendly feeling which the Government and people of the United States entertain toward the peoples and Governments of the other republics of the American Continent.

Proclamations have been issued and legislation enacted in all the other American Republics setting aside April 14th as Pan American Day.

Today, Pan American Day has become one of the significant anniversaries of the Continent. It is the only day set apart by the Government of an entire continent to symbolize their common bonds and their common hopes for a system of international relations based on mutual respect and cooperation. The observance of Pan American Day by government leaders, as well as by educational institutions, clubs, commercial associations and other groups, and its recognition by the press and radio, convey its message of solidarity to young and old throughout the Continent. It has become a powerful agent in bringing about a closer understanding among the nations of the Western Hemisphere.

Reach as High as You Can Day

Have you ever heard the expression “If you aim for nothing, you’ll probably hit it?”  Well, today, you need to aim for something great, something that seems out of reach, something that seems nearly impossible.  You need to Reach as High as You Can!!  Stretch yourself to go beyond what you imagine yourself even possible of reaching.  You won’t be disappointed.

Set aside some time to day to set some new goals that really challenge you to get out of your comfort zone.  Whether your goals are relationship oriented, fitness or weight related, job/career oriented or new skills that you've been putting off—today is your day to go for it and start on a new journey towards great success.

Here are 7 steps given by Dr. Phil to successfully achieve a goal:
  1. Express your goal in terms of specific events or behaviors.
  2. Express your goal in terms that can be measured.
  3. Assign a timeline to your goal.
  4. Choose a goal you can control.
  5. Plan and program a strategy that will get you to your goal.
  6. Define your goal in terms of steps.
  7. Create accountability for your progress toward your goal.
Go ahead, Reach as High as You Can TODAY!

Dictionary Day

Noah Webster, a Yale-educated lawyer with an avid interest in language and education, publishes his American Dictionary of the English Language.

Webster's dictionary was one of the first lexicons to include distinctly American words. The dictionary, which took him more than two decades to complete, introduced more than 10,000 "Americanisms." The introduction of a standard American dictionary helped standardize English spelling, a process that had started as early as 1473, when printer William Caxton published the first book printed in English. The rapid proliferation of printing and the development of dictionaries resulted in increasingly standardized spellings by the mid-17th century. Coincidentally, Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language was published almost exactly 63 years earlier, on April 15, 1755.

International Moment of Laughter Day

International Moment of Laughter Day is celebrated on April 14. The goal of this day is to get people to laugh, because "laughter is the best medicine". Moment of Laughter Day was created by Humorologist Izzy Gesell to encourage people to laugh. 

Laughing is an involuntary reaction to certain external or internal stimuli. Laughter can arise from such activities as being tickled, or from humorous stories or thoughts. Most commonly, it is considered a visual expression of a number of positive emotional states, such as joy, mirth, happiness, relief, etc. 

A link between laughter and healthy function of blood vessels was first reported in 2005 by researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center with the fact that laughter causes the dilatation of the inner lining of blood vessels, the endothelium, and increases blood flow. 

Laughter has also been shown to have beneficial effects on various other aspects of biochemistry. For example, laughter has been shown to lead to reductions in stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine. When laughing the brain also releases endorphins that can relieve some physical pain.

Pathologists' Assistant Day

The American Association of Pathologists' Assistants (AAPA) has declared April 14th, 2014 as the first annual Pathologists' Assistant day.

 A pathologists’ assistant (PA) is a highly trained allied health professional who provides various services under the direction and supervision of a pathologist.  Pathologists' assistants interact with pathologists in a manner similar to physician’s assistants in surgical and medical practice, carrying out their duties under the direction of their physicians.  PAs are academically and practically trained to provide accurate and timely processing of a variety of laboratory specimens, including the majority of pathological specimens.  PAs are key components to helping make a pathologic diagnosis, but it is the sole province of the pathologist to render a diagnosis.

The majority of pathologists’ assistants are responsible for the gross examination and dissection of anatomic pathology specimens and the performance of postmortem examinations.  PAs prepare tissue for numerous pathological tests including frozen section, flow cytometry and immunohistochemical staining.  PAs may photograph gross and microscopic specimens, help prepare educational conferences and provide training to pathology personnel, including pathology residents.  The duties of a pathologists’ assistant are not always limited to anatomic and surgical pathology; many PAs fill administrative, instructional and supervisory roles as well.  PAs are a crucial extension of the pathologist in the healthcare setting, working as a liaison to other departments and laboratories to ensure quality healthcare.

Pathologists’ assistants perform in a wide scope of clinical practices.  Although the majority of pathologists’ assistants work in academic and community hospitals, PAs can also be employed in other areas such as private pathology laboratories, forensic pathology laboratories and morgues, reference laboratories, government healthcare systems, and medical teaching facilities.  Some PAs are even self-employed business owners providing their pathology expertise via long- and short-term contract. 

Pathologists' assistants contribute to the overall efficiency of the laboratory or pathology practice in a cost effective manner.  With increased pressure on healthcare systems to control costs, the demand for qualified pathologists' assistant is growing every year.