Monday, August 18, 2014

Holidays and Observances for August 18 2014

Birth Control Pills Day

The birth control pill was introduced to the public on August 18, 1960. Birth control pills are synthetic hormones that mimic the way real estrogen and progestin works in a women's body. The pill prevents ovulation - no new eggs are released by a women on the pill since her body is tricked into believing she is already pregnant.

Although American scientists had been busy studying hormones in the 1930s and 1940s, Margaret Sanger's dream of a pill for birth control improbably came to fruition because of the discovery of a wild Mexican yam. The yam was key to the development of synthetic hormones, a scientific advance necessary for the creation of the Pill.

Understanding the Cycle
By the 1940s scientists had figured out the importance of hormones in the female reproductive cycle. They established that once a woman becomes pregnant, her fertility is suspended. A woman cannot conceive again while pregnant, because her ovaries secrete the hormones estrogen and progesterone. The secretion of estrogen tells the pituitary gland to withhold the hormones necessary for ovulation. The secretion of progesterone also helps to inhibit ovulation by suppressing the lutenizing hormone known as LH.

Exploring Therapeutic Uses
Once scientists isolated progesterone and figured out its chemical structure, they moved on to explore possible therapeutic treatments using the hormone. Researchers hoped that progesterone would be effective in treating women suffering from gynecological disorders, especially painful menstruation.

Obstacles to Development
However, there were major obstacles to overcome in manufacturing a drug suitable for the general public. Natural progesterone was hard to come by. Extracting it from animal sources was difficult, time consuming and prohibitively expensive. Natural progesterone drug therapy required huge doses to be effective, and at a cost of anywhere from $80 to $1,000 per gram, only the richest patients could afford the treatment. The only customers for the drug turned out to be world-class race horse breeders, who used it to improve the fertility of their mares. Aside from the high cost, the drug had to be given as an injection, and the shots were painful and not well metabolized. Unless researchers could find a way to produce a highly effective synthetic oral dosage of the hormone, the treatment would remain impractical.

Extracting Progesterone
In 1943 a chemist by the name of Russell Marker came up with the answer. As a professor at Penn State, Marker had discovered a way to extract progesterone from plant material. Soon after, he was able to create synthetic estrogen from vegetation as well. His path-breaking process, which became known as the "Marker Degradation," remains the basis of synthetic hormone production today.

A Useful Yam
Marker still needed to find a plant that could yield enough progesterone to make mass production possible. He traveled across America in search of the right source, but came up empty-handed. Unwilling to abandon his quest, he headed south to Mexico in search of a plant called cabeza de negro that he had read about by chance in a dusty old regional Texas botany book. His hunch was correct, and the giant tubers proved to be an excellent source for the cheap mass production of progesterone.

Dosage Problems
Although the drug could be mass-produced inexpensively, there were still huge drawbacks. Marker's synthetic progesterone wasn't effective orally, and had to be given by injection. Patients would have to endure painful shots of huge doses of the drug for it to work.

Oral Forms Developed
In the early 1950s, Frank Colton and Carl Djerassi, two chemists working independently at separate pharmaceutical companies, took Marker's work one step farther. The scientists each created a highly potent oral form of synthetic progesterone. Working for Syntex, a pharmaceutical company based in Mexico, Djerassi invented norethindrone. This synthetic progesterone was not only orally effective, it was also eight times more potent than natural progesterone. At Searle, Colton created another version of orally effective synthetic progesterone called norethynodrel.

Basis for the Pill
With the advent of these new drugs, the Pill came into existence. Although neither Djerassi or Colton developed the drug for contraceptive purposes, both Searle and Syntex had an oral contraceptive right under their noses. Although Djerassi synthesized his version of the drug first, Searle beat Syntex to market. Less than a decade after Colton and Djerassi's breakthrough, with Gregory Pincus making the connection to contraception, Searle's Pill would reach American consumers.

Mail Order Catalog Day

Mail order is the buying of goods or services by mail delivery. The buyer places an order for the desired products with the merchant through some remote method such as through a telephone call or web site. Then, the products are delivered to the customer. The products are typically delivered directly to an address supplied by the customer, such as a home address, but occasionally the orders are delivered to a nearby retail location for the customer to pick up. Some merchants also allow the goods to be shipped directly to a third party consumer, which is an effective way to send a gift to an out-of-town recipient.

A mail order catalogue is a publication containing a list of general merchandise from a company. Companies who publish and operate mail order catalogues are referred to as cataloguers within the industry. Cataloguers buy or manufacture goods then market those goods to prospects (prospective customers). Cataloguers may "rent" names from list brokers or cooperative databases. The catalogue itself is published in a similar fashion as any magazine publication and distributed through a variety of means, usually via a postal service and the internet.

Sometimes supermarket products do mail order promotions, whereby people can send in the UPC plus shipping and handling to get a product made especially for the company.

In 1845, Tiffany's Blue Book was the first mail-order catalogue in the United States.

In 1872, Aaron Montgomery Ward of Chicago produced a mail-order catalogue for his Montgomery Ward mail order business. By buying goods and then reselling them directly to customers, Aaron Montgomery Ward was consequently removing the middlemen at the general store and to the benefit of the customer, lowering drastically the prices.

His first catalogue was a single sheet of paper with a price list, 8 by 12 inches, showing the merchandise for sale and ordering instructions. Montgomery Ward identified a market of merchant-wary farmers in the Midwest. Within two decades, his single-page list of products grew into a 540-page illustrated book selling over 20,000 items.

From about 1921 to 1931, Ward sold prefabricated kit houses, called Wardway Homes, by mail order.

Hammacher Schlemmer is the earliest still surviving mail-order business, established by Alfred Hammacher in New York City in 1848. Offering mechanic's tools and builder's hardware, its first catalogue was published in 1881.

T. Eaton Co. Limited was founded in 1869 in Toronto by Timothy Eaton, an Irish immigrant. The first Eaton's catalogue was a 34-page booklet issued in 1884. As Eaton's grew, so did the catalogue. By 1920, Eaton's operated mail order warehouses in Winnipeg, Toronto and Moncton to serve its catalogue customers. Catalogue order offices were also established throughout the country, with the first opening in Oakville in 1916.

Richard Warren Sears started a business selling watches through mail order catalogs in Redwood Falls, Minnesota in 1888. By 1894, the Sears catalog had grown to 322 pages, featuring sewing machines, bicycles, sporting goods, automobiles (produced from 1905–1915 by Lincoln Motor Car Works of Chicago, not related to the current Ford Motor Company brand of the same name) and a host of other new items.

Organizing the company so it could handle orders on an economical and efficient basis, Chicago clothing manufacturer Julius Rosenwald became a part-owner in 1895. By the following year, dolls, refrigerators, stoves and groceries had been added to the catalog. Sears, Roebuck and Co. soon developed a reputation for high quality products and customer satisfaction. By 1895, the company was producing a 532-page catalog with the largest variety of items that anybody at the time could have imagined. "In 1893, the sales topped 400,000 dollars. Two years later they exceeded 750,000 dollars."

In 1906 Sears opened its catalog plant and the Sears Merchandise Building Tower. And by that time, the Sears catalog had become known in the industry as "the Consumers' Bible". In 1933, Sears, Roebuck and Co. produced the first of its famous Christmas catalogs known as the "Sears Wishbook", a catalog featuring toys and gifts and separate from the annual Christmas Catalog.

From 1908 to 1940, Sears also sold kit houses by mail order, selling 70,000 to 75,000 such homes, many of which are still lived in today.

National Bad Poetry Day

National Bad Poetry Day or Bad Poetry Day is a celebration that proves the saying “the pen is mightier than the sword” correct. This day gives credit to “bad” poetry; poetry that glorifies wrong doings, boring poetry, poetry about death or any kind of poetry that people will see as “bad.” Bad Poetry Day is always celebrated on August 18th.

There is no official declaration when Bad Poetry Day really started or who made Bad Poetry Day. But the creator of this day must have liked the kind of poetry that is about bad things; perhaps comparing Shakespeare’s sonnets with these kinds of poetry, the sonnets were worse for him.

For those who appreciate “bad poetry” they conduct bad poetry readings in their local library or bookstore. They also host parties where bad poetry is read. They have conventions or contests where examples of bad poetry are shown or whoever can make the worst poetry be given a prize.

As the old verse goes “Poetry is the language of the soul;” this means poems are channels of emotion. Loves, sadness, joy, admiration, anger, the cause of these emotions and among others are the usual themes of poetry. But if the theme surrounds on macabre things or wishing ill-will to someone or if the poem talks about very trivial albeit boring things, these can be considered bad.

But the word “bad” may mean different things to different people. An adult who can understand the “Ulalume” by Edgar Allan Poe will love reading the poem again and again, whereas a high school student will think Edgar Allan Poe is just a drunkard who got lucky. And on the other note, an adult may hate a poem about “crushes” but a high school student will be interested in that.

Of course, there are the poetry experts. These are the people who studied and who do critiques on poetry. A perfect example of their work is shown below: 

The 1 poem is an excerpt from the poem entitled “Ode to a Grecian Urn” by John Keats. The poem below it is by Margaret Cavendish.
Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness,Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,Sylvan historian, who canst thus expressA flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:What leaf-fring’d legend haunt about thy shapeOf deities or mortals, or of both,In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?

~John Keats
All that doth flow we cannot liquid nameOr else would fire and water be the same;But that is liquid which is moist and wetFire that property can never get.Then ’tis not cold that doth the fire put out
But ’tis the wet that makes it die, no doubt.

~Margaret Cavendish
John Keats’ poem talks about a Grecian urn; a jar used to keep food and other commodities in Ancient Greece while Margaret Cavendish’s poem is about the difference of fire and water. The ode looks into the history of Greece and its rich literature. But the fire and water poem seems to talk about a 3-year old child’s analysis on why water puts out fire. Now, the Ode has been recommended in most literature subjects and not Margaret’s.
Why? Critiques find it, well…childish.

National Ice Cream Pie Day

National Ice Cream Pie Day is an unofficial food holiday celebrated in the United States on August 18 each year. On this food holiday ice cream pies in varying flavors are served by restaurants, ice cream shops and at home. Ice cream pies are made from ice cream which is softened before putting in a pie pan, inside a graham crust, or in a baked crust. Ice cream pie flavors are plentiful. Any flavor of ice cream can be made into an ice cream pie and the crust can be graham cracker, a cookie crust, or a baked pie shell.

National Ice Cream Pie Day has no historical documentation but is enjoyed by many Americans along with other summer time ice cream celebrations. Although the history of the ice cream pie itself is unknown, there is documentation on the background of ice cream. Europeans were enjoying ice cream even before refrigeration was available, as far back as the late 17th century. In the 1700's, Maryland's Governor recorded information about enjoying ice cream made of milk and strawberries.

A celebration of National Ice Cream Pie Day may include enjoying a slice of the dessert with friends. A homemade ice cream pie can be made for family celebrations or a store bought pie may be enjoyed for an easier means of celebration. Some ice cream shops may have discounts on ice cream pies on August 18th also.

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