Friday, January 2, 2015

Holidays and Observances for Jan 2 2015

55-MPH Speed Limit Day

On this day in 1974, President Richard M. Nixon signs the Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act, setting a new national maximum speed limit.

Prior to 1974, individual states set speed limits within their boundaries and highway speed limits across the country ranged from 40 mph to 80 mph. The U.S. and other industrialized nations enjoyed easy access to cheap Middle Eastern oil from 1950 to 1972, but the Arab-Israeli conflict changed that dramatically in 1973. Arab members of the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) protested the West's support of Israel in the Yom Kippur War by stopping oil shipments to the United States, Japan and Western Europe. OPEC also flexed its new-found economic muscle by quadrupling oil prices, placing a choke-hold on America's oil-hungry consumers and industries. The embargo had a global impact, sending the U.S. and European economies into recession. As part of his response to the embargo, President Nixon signed a federal law lowering all national highway speed limits to 55 mph. The act was intended to force Americans to drive at speeds deemed more fuel-efficient, thereby curbing the U.S. appetite for foreign oil. With it, Nixon ushered in a policy of fuel conservation and rationing not seen since World War II.

The act also prohibited the Department of Transportation from approving or funding any projects within states that did not comply with the new speed limit. Most states quietly adjusted their speed limits, though Western states, home to the country's longest, straightest and most monotonous rural highways, only grudgingly complied. Even after OPEC lifted the embargo in March 1974, drivers continued to face high gas prices and attempted to conserve fuel by buying revolutionary Japanese economy cars. For many, a desire for fuel-efficient automobiles became the standard until the trend toward gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) emerged in the 1990s. In 1987, Congress authorized states to reset speed limits within their borders, but proponents of the national maximum speed limit law claimed it lowered automobile-related fatalities, prompting Congress to keep it on the books until finally repealing it on November 28, 1995.

Today speed limits across the country vary between 35 and 40 mph in congested urban areas and 75 mph on long stretches of rural highway. U.S. drivers now drive almost as fast as their European counterparts, who average between 75 and 80 mph on the highway. On some roads in Italy, it is legal to drive as fast as 95 mph.

Happy Mew Year for Cats Day

Any cat owner will tell you that cats consider themselves to be far, far superior to us mere mortals. They most certainly feel entitled and deserving of all that life has to offer, so why not have a Happy Mew Year Day For Cats Day just for them?

Like the hugely inferior human version of New Year’s Day, it is on this special day that our feline companions can paws (get it?) and consider the ‘mewness’ of the brand new season and all of the purrfect possibilities it holds. Perhaps this will be the year their people start feeding them tinned food instead of dry? Maybe that tomcat next door will make his move? Will the useless dog realise that the cat is king in this house? All these questions and more can be pondered by our furry kitties today while they go about their normal business of looking aloof and disinterested. After all, don't you know that cats rule and dogs drool?

Happy Mew Year for Cats Day was created by so cats could have their own little celebration for New Year’s. And why not indeed? Cats are graceful, regal and all around fabulous, so why shouldn't they have their own version of New Year’s?

Many holidays here on are all in good fun, but the truth is that many animal-related holidays can also help raise awareness about the millions of unwanted, unloved, neglected and abused pets that end up in animal shelters across the nation, spend months or even years there, and are eventually put to sleep for lack of funds to keep them alive. So if you haven't got your own perfect feline ruler yet, it’s time to take action now!

Of course, if you do, then this is the perfect time to spoil your cat with fish and all sorts of other cat delicacies, but if not…

Help reduce the amount of pets euthanized waiting for their “furever” home by adopting an abandoned cat! As you're welcoming in the New Year into your life, won't you consider opening your heart and your home to a new four-legged friend as well? Cats can serve many purposes around the home—they are natural, avid hunters, so they can easily resolve any mouse invasion problem you might be experiencing quickly and, well, with pleasure. cats are also just plain fun to have around the home—they're the perfect mix of both fun and silly. They chase shadows and the light of flashlights. They always seem to know the right time to cuddle, when you're feeling sad or lonely. They're graceful and beautiful and just a pleasure to watch. They groom constantly, making their fur silky smooth to the touch… There are so many reasons to adopt a cat into your home! So if you haven't done this yet, go down to your local animal shelter today and find the kitty that’s been waiting there fore you for weeks or even months, and take her home! Nothing beats the gratitude of a cat, guaranteed! You may have all sorts of New Year’s resolutions that may or may not work out, but adopting a cat is something you will never regret, and the cat will never forget.

National Buffet Day

Everybody loves a buffet, so imagine having a whole day dedicated to one! Buffet Day is about hosting or attending a buffet of epic proportions—enjoy a table spread with enough food to keep you full for a whole day, and interesting enough to make eating all day fun and exciting!

The buffet table has its origins in brännvinsbord—a type of schnapps made in 16th century Sweden. The smörgåsbord was a type of “meal” during which guests gathered for a pre-dinner drink and small talk. The smörgåsbord buffet was often held in separate rooms for men and women before the dinner was served. The Smörgåsbord became internationally known as “smorgasbord” at the 1939 New York World’s Fair exhibition, when the Swedes taking part in the exhibition had to invent a new way of showcasing the best dishes of the Swedish cuisine to large numbers of visitors. The term “buffet” itself originally referred to a type of French sideboard furniture where the food was served, but became popular in the English-speaking world in the second half of the 20th century after the Swedes had popularized the smorgasbord in New York, probably because it was considerably easier to pronounce and remember.

The way you celebrate Buffet Day depends on where you are and what your preferences are. If you happen to be anywhere near Nevada, it would be an unforgettable experience to visit one of Las Vegas’ famous all-you-can-eat buffets. The Carnival World Buffet offers more than 300 dishes (!) and more than 70 varieties of homemade pies, cakes and pastries all made from scratch. For $24, you can get into Carnival World and stay all day, tasting the extremely wide variety of foods on offer all throughout it. If you're a fan of seafood, you could visit The Village Seafood Buffet, that features all of your seafood favorites such as lobster, snow crab legs, shrimp, fresh shucked oysters, sushi and many other mouthwatering seafood dishes. Lago Buffet at Caesars Palace is another absolute must for anyone who truly loves food, especially in such enormous quantities. Featuring fresh ingredients and many made-to-order specialties, the Lago Buffet offers a world-class selection of Asian fare, herb-roasted poultry and sauteed pastas.

If you're not anywhere near Nevada, or crowded places are just not your thing, consider preparing your own buffet at home to celebrate Buffet Day. You can make anything you want, of course, but seeing as how the buffet has Swedish origins, why not try some Swedish or Scandinavian specialties? Start buy seeking out a high-quality schnapps. Many different kinds of flavored schnapps are available today, and they range from exotic, summery flavors such as watermelon or coconut to root beer or others like it. The world over, cinnamon schnapps is perhaps the most popular kind of schnapps. However, if you’re wanting to keep your smorgasbord/buffet as traditional as possible, buy some Akvavit, a flavored spirit that has been produced in Scandinavia since the 15th century. Akvavit, like vodka, is distilled from either grain or potatoes. After distillation, it is flavoured with herbs, spices, or fruit oil, with caraway, cardamom, cumin, anise, fennel, and lemon or orange peel being the most popular choices. Traditionally, different types of pickled herring are served with the drink.

National Cream Puff Day

Sweet stuff: January 2 is National Cream Puff Day.

What do cream puffs, profiteroles and beignets have in common? They're all made from the same type of dough – pâte à choux. Unlike beignets, which are fried, cream puffs are baked. This French confection doesn’t contain a leavening agent. Instead they puff up from steam that’s created when they bake.

This history of cream puffs reads like a mystery novel, leaving the chef to wonder "who done it?" Who invented this delicate puff pastry recipe is unknown, although chefs know the century in which this delectable dessert was first mentioned in cookbooks and restaurant menus.

Many cooks and pastry chefs passed recipes along by word of mouth. Recipes might be called one thing in France and another in England, one thing in the queen's kitchen and another in the mayor's. This makes it difficult to trace the history of cream puffs and mixes myth with fact.

One myth surrounding the history of cream puffs is that they were invented by Catherine de Medici's cook. Catherine de Medici, daughter of the famous Renaissance Italy family of Medicis, was the queen of France. Legends surrounding the history of the cream puff credit Catherine's cook at the royal court of France with inventing this tasty dessert. Because Catherine was a patroness of the arts, many assume that her high taste in art ran to high art in the kitchen.

Unfortunately, this myth is probably just that - a myth. While Catherine most certainly enjoyed delicate pastries, her cook did not invent puff pastries nor did he invent the cream puff. The ancestor of the cream puff can be traced back to the Middle Ages.

Long before Catherine de Medici's cook set foot on French soil, cooks during the 13th century in southern Germany and France had created puff pastries filled with rich cheese mixtures. Pastry dough was cooked in a hot oven until it puffed, then sliced open and cheese inserted. The warm pastry melted the cheese center. Herbs were often added for additional flavoring.

During the same time Catherine was queen in Renaissance France, pastry chefs throughout France and England had begun to experiment with dough mixtures of flour, water, fat and egg. The exact mixture goes by the name choux pastry. It's a simple mixture with delightful results: when it puffs, it creates an airy hole in the center which can be filled with sweet or savory filling.

Recipes for cream buns called pate feuillettée in France and butter pasted puffs in England circulated from cook to cook by at least the early 1500's. These buns used the same basic dough of pastry flour, water, egg and fat. They were cooked into cakes about three or four inches long. After baking in the oven, they were removed and basted with a mixture of rosewater and sugar or lemon, rosewater and sugar and glued together to form a layered pastry. The entire pastry was then coated in another layer of sugar and lemon or rosewater flavoring. While not exactly resembling today's puffed and creamy delight, these desserts were much admired and sought after by the nobles and wealthy people of the day. They were an important step on the road to today's cream puff.

The mystery of the true history of puffs deepens thanks to the many terms used to describe puffed pastry. While the basic four ingredient recipe remains the same, how the ingredients are prepared and baked led to many names - choux, puff, profiterole, and buns. By the 17th century, the pastry recipe was commonly referred to as a choux recipe, because the buns it made resembled cabbages. The French word for cabbage is choux.

By the 19th century, the various types of puff pastries had developed their own following. Now each name took on distinctive meaning and characteristics. The dessert known and loved as the cream puff became known in pastry circles as the profiterole. There was still some leeway in the creation of the dessert. What you ordered in one French restaurant called a profiterole might taste very different than a similarly named dessert in England.

By the mid 19th century in both France and England, the cream puff had become known as the profiterole. Often created in elaborate shapes by skilled pastry chefs, elegant Victorian diners could find cream puffs shaped like swans or pyramids of tiny, fragile chocolate or vanilla filled puffs to nibble on with the dessert wine, tea or coffee. In the United States, the first recorded mention of the cream puff on a restaurant menu dates to 1851 at the Revere House Restaurant in Boston.

The humble cream puff had come a long way from the kitchens of the 13the century as a cheese-filled pastry to the darling of the Victorian dining room. What was once the purview of royalty now became a bakery aisle staples You can even buy frozen cream puffs at most supermarkets. There's even a chain of cream puff bakeries called Beard Papa's, with 300 stores worldwide. But nothing beats the taste of a home baked, fresh from the oven puff pastry filled with sweet cream. Bite into one and imagine you're back at the French royal court, or sitting among the elegant dinners at the Revere House Restaurant. Although the origins remain a mystery, the taste answers all questions: it's simply divine.

Once you get the technique down, cream puffs are easy to make and a great dessert or treat. They can also be made with savory fillings and if you've got a fryer you could make churros too.

National Personal Trainer Awareness Day

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight, go to the gym and get fit; though many of these aspirations fall a little short! As such, January is often one of the busiest periods for personal trainers! Personal Trainer Awareness Day aims to highlight not only how busy trainers are during January, but also to highlight how much more chance you can have of sticking to your exercise and weight loss routines if you retain a personal trainer, and show some love and appreciation to all the personal trainers out there that have helped us change our lives for the better and make resolutions reality!

At the beginning of the 2000’s, two fitness professionals named Jim Labadie and Joey Atlas took a look at the surge of people signing up to the gym in hopes of fulfilling their New Year’s Resolutions of losing those few pounds, and then they looked at the personal trainers, whose lives become completely swamped with work at that time, and they decided it was time to say thank you. Personal Trainer Awareness Day was born out of what the pair deemed necessary in order to say thanks to all of the personal trainers of the world whose lives are turned nearly upside down at the beginning of January every year in order to help the rest of us reach our fitness goals. When you are exercising with a personal trainer, Labadie and Atlas said, it may indeed seem to you like you're the one doing all the work, but it takes plenty of planning, analyzing and consideration on the part of the personal trainer to make sure your hard work amounts to something in the end. Personal Trainer Awareness Day is the day to say thank you!

Take the chance Personal Trainer Awareness Day offers you to show your appreciation to your personal trainer for all he or she has helped you achieve over the months or even years that you've been working together. If you have a workout on that day, be sure to try extra hard to show your personal trainer how seriously you take his or her advice; you may not see it this way, but when you slack off it may well demotivate your personal trainer and make him or her feel like all of his or her planning and advice is being disregarded. You should also take a moment or two at the end of the training session to say a nice thing or two about how well your personal trainer does his or her job, and how much he or she has been able to positively impact your life with his or her instruction. If you’ve lost some weight under the instruction of your personal trainer, or have managed to regain your pre-pregnancy look or the form you had before an injury, tell your him or her about it! It will only take a minute or two, but saying something like that is sure to make his or her day! A personal trainer’s goal is to help you, so we should let them know they’ve done just that!

Personal trainers are of then the unsung heroes of the fitness world. Be sure to show your personal trainer how happy you are to have the opportunity to work with them this Personal Trainer Awareness Day!

National Motivation and Inspiration Day

January 2nd is National Motivation & Inspiration Day. It was passed by The United States Congress after the tragic events of 9-11-01. The intent of the day is to help people become the very best U that U can be, through "taking action to make things happen. This year's focus is to have 10 million young adults create their goals on National Motivation & Inspiration Day, Monday, January 2nd. They have created 2 Success Calendar Apps available for download. In addition, Motivate America and National Motivation & Inspiration Day has announced this year’s recipients of The American Motivation Awards, “honoring motivational, inspirational and patriotic leaders in America.

January 2nd is National Motivation & Inspiration Day, a day created by Kevin L. McCrudden, President of Motivate America, Inc. a Long Island, NY company focused on motivational, leadership and training programs for businesses, schools, athletic teams and individuals.

The United States Congress passed H. Res 308 on December 18, 2001 after the tragic events of 9-11-2001 making January 2nd of every year National Motivation & Inspiration Day. “I created National Motivation & Inspiration Day after the tragic events of 9-11-2001, because in all of the loss, despair and sadness, I saw Americans working side-by-side to accomplish amazing things,” says McCrudden.

The focus of Motivate America and National Motivation & Inspiration Day is to help Americans “become the very best U that U can be” and establish realistic annual goals and work toward the achievement of those goals. One of the company slogans is “take action to make things happen,” which is why they encourage people, especially young adults to establish the habit of creating annual goals and then work diligently toward the accomplishment of those goals. “Statistically, we know that the top 3% of highly successful people write down and track their goals on an annual basis. If we know this to be true, then why doesn't everyone establish annual goals and then set out to achieve them?” asks McCrudden.

One of Motivate America’s 2012 goals is to have 10 million people, especially young adults, establish their goals on Monday, January 2nd National Motivation & Inspiration Day! They have a Success Calendar iPhone APP that can be used to establish and track individual goals daily throughout the year and can be accessed through their web sites: or  
*National Motivation & Inspiration Day is a 501 C 3 non profit organization.

National Run it Up the Flagpole and See if Anybody Salutes It Day

"Run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes" is an expression. It means to float an idea to see what people think, or if they notice. The term is commonly used in advertising and print media.

Run it Up the Flagpole to See if Anyone Salutes Day is set aside to allow people to do just that. Be creative today.  Use this day to try and test new ideas and concepts.  Don't limit the ideas to business applications. In your personal life, try out a new dress or clothing style, perhaps a different haircut. Or, maybe buy a new house flag and run it up the flagpole to see if anyone salutes...or even notices.

We discovered no substantial information about the origin of this day.  Because this is a common expression, we suspect someone decided there should be a day dedicated to express or display new ideas, and concepts, etc. And, there's no better time to try something new than early in the New Year. So, January 2and is a good day for Run it Up the Flagpole and See if Anyone Salutes Day.

“Let’s run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes it” is a catchphrase which became popular in the United States during the late 1950s and early 1960s. It means “to present an idea tentatively and see whether it receives a favorable reaction.” It is now considered a cliché. Sometimes it is used seriously, but more often it is used humorously, with the intention that it be recognized as both hackneyed and outdated. A non-joking equivalent would be “to send up a trial balloon.”

The phrase was associated with the advertising agencies then located on Madison Avenue in New York, and with the “men in the gray flannel suits.” Comedians, when mocking corporate culture, were certain to use it, along with expressions such as “the whole ball of wax” and the use of invented words ending in “-wise” (e.g. “We've had a good year, revenue-wise”).

The phrase was also used as an ice breaker between serious moments in the Motion Picture film ’12 Angry Men’ starring Henry Fonda.

In Stan Freberg's 1961 comedy album, Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America: The Early Years, General George Washington, after having just received the nation's new flag from seamstress Betsy Ross, announces that he'll just "run it up the flagpole... see if anyone salutes."

Allan Sherman captured the essence of this meme in his 1963 parody of Gilbert and Sullivan's "When I Was a Lad." In Sherman's lyrics, the future exec graduates from Yale, buys a suit that "proved I was a member of the Ivy League," and gets his first job sharpening pencils for an advertising VP. ("I sharpened all the pencils so pointedly/That now I am a partner in the agency"):
I worked real hard for the dear old firm,I learned most every advertising term.I said to the men in the dark gray suits,"Let's run it up the flagpole and see who salutes."
The group Harvey Danger used the phrase in their song "Flagpole Sitta" singing,
Fingertips have memories,Mine can't forget the curves of your bodyAnd when I feel a bit naughtyI run 'em up the flagpole and see who salutes(But no one ever does)
As it became hackneyed, it got a second life as a launching point for the invention of joking variations, such as "Let's drop it in the pool and see if it makes a splash," "Let's throw it against the wall and see if it sticks," "Let's put it in a saucer and see if the cat licks it up," and "Let's put it on the five-fifteen and see if it gets off at Westport" (i.e., let's put it on a New York City commuter train and find out whether it is destined for Westport, Connecticut, a town thought to be the home of many successful executives).

National Science Fiction Day

National Science Fiction Day Is January 2, Isaac Asimov’s Birthday.

Isaac Asimov was born January 2, 1920–officially, that is. Unofficially, of course, is another matter. He was born in Russia, and I imagine that in those turbulent times people were more concerned about living to see another day than recording the exact day a baby joined the living. However, when the Asimovs arrived in America in 1923, little Isaac’s date of birth had to be declared. It was probably January 2, but who could be sure? What better day to select, the Asimovs may have thought, than the day after the New Year is celebrated? As the year begins, so does our son’s life.

During his lifetime, Asimov received numerous degrees, awards, and other emblems of distinction. I bet that one of his favorite modes of recognition, though, was having his official birthday function as National Science Fiction Day. Of course, Isaac did more than scientifically imagine and create works of science fiction. He wrote between 400 and 500 works of fact, fiction, criticism, religion, and everything in between. (Even Asimov lost count.) Nevertheless, the architects of National Science Fiction Day knew what they were doing. Asimov may have been a PhD chemist, professor, and a member of Mensa (R), but envisioning the future seemed to fire up his imagination more than science, teaching, and interactions with geniuses. He must have been proud of his scientifically fictitious images of space and robots–which sometimes turned out to be more truth than fiction.

To tell the truth, Asimov’s beginnings as a writer were humble. He actually started his career as an author of infamous pulp fiction. He was paid by the word rather than the work, but he had the company of Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke. Sci-fi fans certainly know those names.

Science fiction fans also know the influence science fiction has upon the future–the future of our children. (But I’m being redundant.) Do you know someone in the field of space exploration or robotics? Then you can test a hypothesis. Ask this brilliant person is she/he has read one of Isaac Asimov’s robots stories or space fantasies. The answer is more likely to be yes than no.

Have you read any of Asimov’s novels, short stories, or works of non-fiction? Have you read any works of science fiction? If not, then–whether it’s Asimov or not–do it today! You truly don’t know the wonderful worlds you are missing. Are you already a sci-fi aficionado or an Asimov lover? That’s all the more reason for you to honor the day that does the Great One honor! What else are you going to do the day after New Year’s? Keep the celebration going with Science Fiction Day!

Pet Travel and Safety Day

The holidays are traditionally a time for travel to visit friends and family. If you travel with your pet, do you consider your pet’s safety when making your travel plans and preparations? Nowadays, more pets are traveling with us wherever we go, and it is our obligation to take precautions to ensure our pets are safe whenever they travel with us, even if it’s just a short trip to the corner store. Founded by Celebrity Pet and Safety Expert, Animal Behaviorist and former Los Angeles Paramedic Colleen Paige, the goal of National Pet Travel Safety Day on January 2nd is to raise awareness of the importance of pet safety when it comes to all areas of travel. As an added benefit, because an unrestrained pet is a distraction and can interfere with the driver’s ability to safely drive the car, ensuring your pet’s safety will also improve safety for everyone on the road. Some tips for making sure your pet is safe during car travel:

  • Get your dog used to traveling. An over-excited or anxious pet makes a poor traveler, so spend some time getting your dog used to regular car rides. Start off with short trips around the block and to fun destinations such as the dog park. Reward your dog with treats so your dog associates car rides with good things. If you only take your pet in the car for trips to the vet, the car will automatically have a negative association.
  • Restrain your pet. If you must come to an abrupt stop while driving, an unrestrained pet can become a projectile and is subject to great injury. Make sure your pet is properly restrained whenever you travel by car with one of these options:
  1. The simplest and safest method is a well-ventilated pet carrier of the appropriate size which is securely fastened inside the car.
  2. If you don't have room for a crate or carrier in your car, consider a dog car seat or booster seat. These are usually elevated to allow your pet to see out the windows, and have a leash attachment to keep your pet in place.
  3. A pet barrier is another option which keeps your dog safely confined to the back seat or cargo area and away from the driver. For pets that experience travel sickness, or just to protect the interior of your car, consider car seat covers.
  • Identification is important. Whenever you travel with your pet, make sure your dog or cat has current identification, ideally a collar and ID tag that can be spotted immediately as well as a permanent form of identification such as a microchip or tattoo as a backup in case the collar becomes separated from your pet. If you are in an accident, or even if you open the door to leave the car, an excited or scared dog or cat can easily bolt and become lost in an unfamiliar area.
  • Finally, this is a good time to remind everyone never to leave a pet unattended in a parked car, even with the windows cracked. Even on a mild day, it doesn’t take long for the interior temperature of a parked car to become dangerously hot. On cold days, your pets are at risk of hypothermia.