Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Holidays and Observances for October 1 2014

Balloons Around The World Day


It's Balloons Around the World Day! Today we celebrate the joy and delight that balloons bring to our lives. To mark the occasion, balloon artists from around the world will showcase the art of balloon twisting and decorating.

The first rubber balloons were made by Professor Michael Faraday in 1824 for use in his experiments with hydrogen at the Royal Institution in London. `The caoutchouc is exceedingly elastic', he wrote in the Quarterly Journal of Science the same year. `Bags made of it...have been expanded by having air forced into them, until the caoutchouc was quite transparent, and when expanded by hydrogen they were so light as to form balloons with considerable ascending power....' Faraday made his balloons by cutting round two sheets of rubber laid together and pressing the edges together. The tacky rubber welded automatically, and the inside of the balloon was rubbed with flour in order to prevent the joining together of two surfaces.

For the first time in the history of balloons, the wonder product became accessible to people in the year 1825. Interestingly, they had to make the actual balloon by themselves. The balloons came in the form of a kit which included a bottle of rubber solution and a condensing syringe. The kit was marketed by England's pioneer rubber manufacturer, Thomas Hancock.

As early as 1889, balloons could be bought by people in the United States. The famed Montgomery Ward had them in their catalog that year. The price was 4 cents each or 40 cents a dozen. In fact, the balloons were not made in the United States, but were probably imported from Belgium.

In 1931, balloon technology frog leaped much and according to an industry catalog, "Neil Tillotson dipped the first modern latex balloon made from the sap of a rubber tree." The catalog further states that the balloon, shaped like a cat's head with pointed ears and a whisker-printed face, was the world's first novelty-shaped and printed balloon. Before that, the manufacture of balloons involved a cumbersome, lengthy process. Tillotson founded the Tillotson Rubber Company which makes balloons even today.

Guaranteed to put a smile on anyone's face, balloons come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes and can be used to play a number of different games or for colorful decoration. To celebrate this fun holiday, check out events happening in your neighborhood with local balloon artists or create some of your own balloon art!

CD Player Day


With the rise of digital downloads, MP3s and integrated media devices in the house and on the move, the humble CD player may become a thing of the past. Get a bit lo-tech, and celebrate CD Player Day by enjoying music from a dedicated CD player, a portable hand-held player, or even a boombox or ghetto-blaster!

October 1, 1982 Sony starts selling the first CD players to the public. Change is in the air.

Once upon a time cassettes were the preferred method of storing music. These mighty rectangles of plastic and magnetic tape allowed for easy recording, flaunted ample capacities, and were effortlessly portable. (If you weren’t worried about portability, there was still the reliable LP vinyl phonograph disc.)

And yet cassettes sucked.

Tapes easily wore out after repeated use, they were prone to kraken-like tangles, and audio fidelity was about as sharp as a bowling ball. By the mid ’70s electronics behemoth Sony was eager to replace cassettes with a high-quality digital format.

The firm demoed an optical digital-audio disc in 1978 that could hold 2½ hours of music with 16-bit linear resolution and cross-interleaved error-correction code. Sony used this optical disc as a template, and four years later released the very first commercial compact disc player.

The CDP-101 did not come cheap nor did it come svelte. Early adopters had to part ways with the equivalent of $2,200 in today’s ducats for a single 14 x 5 x 12½-inch unit. Worse yet, the CD player’s media library was pathetic. At launch a mere 113 albums were available for purchase.

Compact discs themselves were not exactly inexpensive either. A single album sold for around $33 to $45 in today’s currency.

But that didn’t stop folks from buying in. Classical music snobs and serious audiophiles went gaga for the stratospheric increase in sonic quality that came with the compact disc.

Mozart and Beethoven were some of the first artists on CD, and the ability to fit Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on a single disc at least partly determined the CD’s capacity. Some classical fans complained of tinniness or excessive crispness in the sound mix, but that eventually faded away as audio engineers learned how to optimize quality in the new medium.

Sony sold 20,000 CDP-101s by the end of 1982. Less than a year later digital music exploded like a Michael Bay film. CBS records issued 16 new titles on CD in March of 1983.

In 1985, the Dire Straits album, Brothers in Arms would be the first CD to sell over a million copies. More than 400 million CDs were produced in 1988 by some 50 factories scattered around the world.

Compact discs were thought of as the heir apparent to both cassettes and vinyl. It turns out the format would also pave a binary-coded road for almost all forms of digital media we use today. Everything from CD-ROMs to Blu-rays to USB sticks to MP3s — which in their own turn essentially killed the CD format — can all trace their lineage back to the success of the CDP-101.

International Day of Older Persons


The United Nations' (UN) International Day of Older Persons is celebrated annually on October 1 to recognize the contributions of older persons and to examine issues that affect their lives.

International Day of Older Persons is a special day for older persons or senior citizens all over the world. In many countries, politicians make speeches, particularly those responsible for government departments that focus on senior citizens, at this time of the year. Some radios, televisions or newspapers publish interviews with senior citizens on various issues such as achievements they made to create a better society.

Other activities surrounding this day include: displays of promotional material on the International Day of Older Persons in schools, tertiary institutions, office buildings and public notice boards;  media announcements on the day and activities that promote older persons; and inter-generational cooperation on voluntary activities focused on the environment, health, education or community services.

The World Health Organization (WHO), which is the UN’s directing and coordinating authority for health related issues, and other groups have been actively involved in promoting public awareness and attention on the International Day of Older Persons. Discussions are centered on topics such as: ageing populations and the provision of adequate healthcare for aged persons; volunteer work; social care; and ways to be more inclusive of older persons in the workforce.

On December 14, 1990, the UN General Assembly made October 1 as the International Day of Older Persons, following up on initiatives such as the Vienna International Plan of Action on Ageing, which was adopted by the 1982 World Assembly on Ageing and endorsed later that year by the assembly. The International Day of Older Persons was observed for the first time throughout the world on October 1, 1991.

In 1991 the UN General Assembly adopted the United Nations Principles for Older Persons. In 2002 the second World Assembly on Ageing adopted the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing to respond to the opportunities and challenges of population ageing in the 21st century and to promote the development of a society for all ages.

The WHO logo is often seen on promotional material for the International Day of Older Persons.  The logo is often featured in the color white on a mid-blue background. It shows a stereographic projection of the earth centered on the North Pole under a serpent coiled around a staff. Two ears of wheat “cradle” the image. The projection symbolizes the global nature of the organization, while the serpent and staff are known to symbolize medical help and knowledge. Images of older people from different cultures and backgrounds around the world have been also used in UN promotional tools for the International Day of Older Persons.

International Music Day


International Music Day or World Music Day is a concept too good to believe and the best part is that it actually exists. Yes, International Music day or the IMD was initiated on the 1st of October in 1975 by Lord Yehudi Menuhin. It was first organized by the International Music Council on 1st of October, 1975, in accordance with the resolution taken at the 15th General Assembly in Lausanne in 1973.

The International Music Council (IMC) or the guardian of the IMD was founded by UNESCO in 1949. The IMC is the world's largest network of organizations, institutions and individuals functioning in the field of music. The International Music Council encourages and fosters musical diversity, access to culture for everyone and unites organizations in some 150 countries worldwide in building peace and understanding among people cutting across class, culture and heritage.

The IMC in its bid to establish a global harmony through the music, celebrates the International Music Day and with special focus on organizing musical events, radio and television programs and press recordings. Amidst all this the onus is also on building up an environment more conducive and hospitable to music-on the practice, consumption and the general aura of music. So, an important zone of interest is also struggle against the pollution of the sound environment and quite interestingly the IMC proposes that each country should maintain a few moments of silence on the International Music Day, and use that silence to listen to music played out in main city squares.

On International Music Day, the desired aim is to create a global atmosphere of music, a platform for people to come together with their diversities and mingle to make one unified whole. Like any other artistic or cultural celebrations the day is generally to celebrate art and to successfully realize these activities, it is essential to mobilize all means at our disposal in the 21st century-the radio and television, concert societies, opera companies, amateur societies; a great many different types of localities should all be used to their best advantage.

In various countries the day is the perfect opportunity to organize grand concerts by roping in the greatest musical artistes of our. Also common are random musical events and talent shows to seek out the new and emerging musical artistes- to build up a treasury of the old and new in the world of music. Music after all is the greatest unifier in humanity and all significant social events have musical pieces dedicated to it. No event is better recognized or defined than by music which defines and completes a perfect human social and aesthetic experience.

Model T Day


On October 1, 1908, the first production Model T Ford is completed at the company's Piquette Avenue plant in Detroit. Between 1908 and 1927, Ford would build some 15 million Model T cars. It was the longest production run of any automobile model in history until the Volkswagen Beetle surpassed it in 1972.

Before the Model T, cars were a luxury item: At the beginning of 1908, there were fewer than 200,000 on the road. Though the Model T was fairly expensive at first (the cheapest one initially cost $825, or about $18,000 in today's dollars), it was built for ordinary people to drive every day. It had a 22-horsepower, four-cylinder engine and was made of a new kind of heat-treated steel, pioneered by French race car makers, that made it lighter (it weighed just 1,200 pounds) and stronger than its predecessors had been. It could go as fast as 40 miles per hour and could run on gasoline or hemp-based fuel. (When oil prices dropped in the early 20th century, making gasoline more affordable, Ford phased out the hemp option.)  "No car under $2,000 offers more," ads crowed, "and no car over $2,000 offers more except the trimmings."

Ford kept prices low by sticking to a single product. By building just one model, for example, the company's engineers could develop a system of interchangeable parts that reduced waste, saved time and made it easy for unskilled workers to assemble the cars. By 1914, the moving assembly line made it possible to produce thousands of cars every week and by 1924, workers at the River Rouge Ford plant in Dearborn, Michigan could cast more than 10,000 Model T cylinder blocks in a day.

But by the 1920s, many Americans wanted more than just a sturdy, affordable car. They wanted style (for many years, the Model T famously came in just one color: black), speed and luxury too. As tastes changed, the era of the Model T came to an end and the last one rolled off the assembly line on May 26, 1927.

National Fire Pup Day


National Fire Pup Day is a celebration of the four-footed members of the fire department.

For many years, the dalmation was a well recognized team member of each fire house.  They went on fire calls with the other members of the department – clearing the way for the then horse-drawn vehicles, protecting the equipment and the horses, and preventing by-standers from getting too close.

Dalmations are no longer found in each fire station and their role has changed over the years.  Rather than working at the fires, their role is now largely one involving public relations, but they still play a major role in many fire stations.

While the focus of this blog is on dogs, the fire pups’ two-legged partners are being honored this weekend also.  This coming weekend, October 5th through 7th, is Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend.

Please take a few minutes in gratitude for these selfless individuals who put the safety of their neighbors and community above their own, and to remember those who ultimately sacrificed themselves in doing so.

National Homemade Cookie Day


Grab the milk - October 1 is National Homemade Cookie Day!

There’s something seriously satisfying about dunking a homemade cookie into a tall glass of cold milk. Knowing that the plate before you is piled high with mini labors of love is up there on the "things to make you happy" list.

Cookies were first made after sugar became available as a baking ingredient about 1400 years ago. They were an enhancement to grain and water based breads made as early as 10,000 years ago. Persian bakers added sugar to bread recipes to create sweet cakes that baked in a clay oven fueled by dry wood fires. Because it was hard to estimate baking temperatures in that kind of oven, small amounts of cake batter, placed inside at intervals, determined the best time to start cooking the full-sized cakes. Eventually, those small "test" cakes became a delicacy in their own right, and today we know them as cookies, the Dutch word for "little cake."

The earliest cookie recipes made use of sweet cake ingredients such as flour, sugar, butter, spice and nuts. Baked twice to make a crisp biscotti cookie; they kept well for a long time. Dried fruit embellishments such as raisins and dates made these treats quite nourishing, and they soon ended up as a staple for sailors, nomadic traders, and soldiers. Today, these same ingredients, used in a centuries-old biscotti recipe, can inspire families and motivate kids to meet goals through success-oriented activities such as cookie dough fundraising projects. Otis Spunkmeyer Butter Sugar Cookie dough makes a fast and easy starter for hand-shaped and cutter-shaped cookies that make a great family project.

While you wait for your history-making cookies to bake, you can entertain the kids by sharing stories about different types of cookies from around the world, exploring how cookies have changed in each place over the centuries. After cakes became widespread in Persia they caught the eye of soldiers in the armies of Alexander the Great, and were soon brought back with them to Greece. From there, the idea of making small cakes into cookies spread to India, Asia, Africa and the rest of Europe. By the end of the 16th century, individual "fine cake" cookie recipes began making their way into the bread section of nationally representative cookbooks. Early explorers from Spain and France were instrumental to introducing cookies to South America, and pioneers from the Netherlands, Scotland and England made sure that cookie recipes became a part of North American colonial history.

When more exotic cookie ingredients, such as flaked coconut and chocolate, became available through international trade, the range of cookie types quickly expanded. In addition, with new recipes came novel ways for shaping cookies into fanciful and remarkable designs. One unique style we are all familiar with is the fortune cookie. Contrary to popular belief, this cookie actually originated in Japan, and it is often made by combining those same ancient ingredients in a slightly different way. For your next culinary adventure with the kids, you may want to visit the makefortunecookies.com site for simple instructions and printable fortunes. Another site that can take you through a world of food history ishttp://www.foodtimeline.org/index.html, with more specific resource links and detailed information in their section about cookies at http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodcookies.html.

Familiarize your kids with the history of cookie stamps, molds and cutters used to decorate cookies from the time they were first invented. Carved into ceramics and wood, or fashioned from metal, they often carried family, clan or country emblems handed down through generations. Many examples still exist as collectible antiques, and illustrated designs are searchable online. You can reproduce those patterns, or invent your own, by crafting clay or rubber stamps to press on your cookie dough. Simple, iconic shapes are popular, such as a thistle outline to represent Scotland, or a family name carved into an heirloom cookie press.

Cookies are so beloved in modern history that most home cooks include them in their repertoire. More than half of the cookies baked at home are chocolate chip cookies. The chocolate chip cookie was invented in 1930 at the Toll House Inn by Ruth Graves Wakefield, resulted when she chopped a semi-sweet chocolate bar into small bits and added it to a traditional colonial butter drop cookie recipe. As a result, the chocolate chip cookie became regionally famous and later renowned throughout the country. In 1997, Massachusetts designated it as the state cookie.

Cookies are not particularly hard to make, but perfecting the technique can take some practice. Here are some useful tips:
  • Take the time to make sure your ingredients are room temperature. Butter and eggs can sit on the kitchen counter overnight without catastrophe.
  • To ensure even sizing, use a small ice cream scoop to portion out your cookies. This will help them all bake evenly.
  • Speaking of cooking evenly, most ovens have one spot or side that cooks faster than the other. If this is the case for you, rotate your cookies half way through baking.
  • Don’t forget to use a non-stick spray or wax paper to prevent your morsels from sticking. There’s nothing worse than cookies stuck to the pan.
  • Be patient! Let the cookies cool after baking. Use a spatula to move them from the baking sheet to a wire rack.
  • For chewy cookies, pull them out a minute or two shy of the recommended baking time. The patience rule still applies though.
  • While it may be delicious, don’t eat too much of the raw cookie dough. It’ll leave you with a stomach ache and is potentially hazardous to your health.
National Kale Day


National Kale Day celebrates kale’s incredible health benefits, highlights kale’s culinary versatility, and promotes eating, growing and sharing kale throughout America. National Kale day is the first Wednesday in October and is an annual celebration.

Kale has been cultivated for over 2,000 years. In much of Europe it was the most widely eaten green vegetable until the Middle Ages when cabbages became more popular. Historically it has been particularly important in colder regions due to its resistance to frost. In nineteenth century Scotland kail was used as a generic term for 'dinner' and all kitchens featured a kail-pot for cooking.

Our common cabbage-like vegetables provide an excellent example of remarkable crop improvements that was accomplished by simple long-term selection with no real goal in mind, but simply by people growing those plants that had the features that they most desired.

Although they appear very different, kale, cabbage, kohlrabi, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts are all the same species of plant. These plants are all known botanically as members of the species Brassica oleracea. The only difference between these plants are the differences that were introduced over thousands of years of human cultivation and selective propagating.

In the wild, the Brassica oleracea plant is native to the Mediterranean region of Europe, and is somewhat similar in appearance to a leafy canola plant. Sometime, soon after the domestication of plants began, people in the Mediterranean region began growing this first ancient "cabbage" plant as a leafy vegetable. Because leaves were the part of the plant which were consumed, it was natural that those plants with the largest leaves would be selectively propagated for next year's crop. This resulted in large and larger-leafed plants slowly being developed as the seed from the largest-leafed plants was favoured.

Curly KaleBy the 5th century B.C., continued preference for ever-larger leaved had led to the development of the vegetable we now know as kale. Kale is known botanically by the name Brassica oleracea variety acephala which translates to mean "cabbage of the vegetable garden without a head."

Kale continued to be grown as a leafy vegetable for thousands of years, and is still grown today. As time passed, however, some people began to express a preference for those plants with a tight cluster of tender young leaves in the centre of the plant at the top of the stem.

Because of this preference for plants in which there were a large number of tender leaves closely packed into the terminal bud at the top of the stem, these plants were selected and propagated more frequently. A continued favouritism of these plants for hundreds of successive generations resulted in the gradual formation of a more and more dense cluster of leaves at the top of the plant. Eventually, the cluster of leaves became so large, it tended to dominate the whole plant, and the cabbage "head" we know today was born.

Kale was grown as a staple crop in the the Scottish Islands due to it’s extreme hardiness, and was given protection from the elements in purpose built Kale Yards. Indeed, almost every house had a kale yard and preserved kale in barrels of salt, similar to sourkraut in Germany. They also fed it to livestock through the winter. Kale continued to be extremely important until potatoes came to the Islands towards the end of the 18th century.

Scorr Kale yard on the Isle of Skye remains in remarkably good condition with walls over 4 feet high, and with all doorways and gateways well defined but is a sad reminder of the depopulation of Skye in the 19th and 20th centuries

Early in the twentieth century, Kailyard (kale field) was a disparaging term used to describe a school of Scottish writers, including Peter Pan author J. M. Barrie, whose writing featured sentimental nostalgia for rural Scottish life.

World Vegetarian Day


Today is World Vegetarian Day! Organized by the North American Vegetarian Society (NAVS), World Vegetarian Day promotes awareness about the proven benefits of vegetarianism. Each year about one million people become vegetarians in the United States.

Far from being a relatively new phenomenon, vegetarianism has enjoyed a long and diverse history and has been preserved in most cultures since the beginnings of time.

In antiquity, vegetarianism found favour with some of the great figures of the classical world, most notably Pythagoras (580 BCE). Well known for his contributions to mathematics, Pythagoras was an independent thinker, the first to admit women to his intellectual circle on equal terms and to argue that the world was a sphere. His teaching that all animals should be treated as kindred included the abstinence from meat. Pythagoras's ideas mirrored, in part, the traditions of much earlier civilizations including the Babylonians and ancient Egyptians. A vegetarian ideology was practiced among religious groups in Egypt around 3,200 BCE, with abstinence from flesh and the wearing of animal derived clothing  based upon karmic beliefs in reincarnation.

In the Greek tradition of Pythagoras, it was not only the avoidance of animal cruelty that established vegetarianism as a way of life, he also saw the health advantages a meat-free diet. Pythagoras viewed vegetarianism as a key factor in peaceful human co-existence, putting forward the view that slaughtering animals brutalized the human soul. Other notable Ancient Greek thinkers that came after Pythagoras favored a vegetarian diet. These included Theophrastus, pupil of Aristotle and successor to him as head of the Lyceum at Athens. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle all debated the status of animals though Aristotle's conclusion that the animal kingdom exists for human use (and in his view, as equal to slaves) prefigured the the view of the Romans and the christian church that was to become the dominant view in the west.

Pythagorean ideals found very limited sympathy within the brutality of Ancient Rome, where many wild animals were murdered at the hands of gladiators in the name of sport and spectacle. Pythagoreans were despised as subversives, with many keeping their vegetarianism to themselves for fear of persecution. However, the term 'Pythagorean' was to become synonymous with 'vegetarian' and vegetarianism was to spread throughout the Roman Empire from the 3rd to 6th centuries among those influenced by Neo-Platonist philosophy. Such authors included Plutarch (c.CE46) whose 16 volume work Moralia includes the 'Essay on Flesh Eating' , Porphyry (c.CE232) who wrote 'On Abstinence From Animal Food' and Apollonius who was a well travelled healer and strict vegetarian who spoke out against deliberately imposed grain restrictions.

People choose to become vegetarians for many different reasons. Common motivations are ethical concerns, health concerns, and environmental concerns. Not eating meat saves animals from gruesome factory-farm conditions; reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer; and mitigates the environmental pollution of animal agriculture.

Join other vegetarians today at parties, potlucks, and food tastings in honor of World Vegetarian Day!