Saturday, February 28, 2015

Holidays and Observances for Feb 28 2015

Floral Design Day

Floral Design Day is a day to celebrate floral design as an art form.
It is celebrated every year on Feb 28th. Proclaimed by Governor Weld of Massachusetts in 1995.

As someone interested in Floral Art we thought that you would be interested to learn a little bit about Floral Design Day.

The original idea behind Floral Design Day, was an unique way to celebrate a special birthday of Carl Rittner, who founded our school.

Mr. "R" as our students affectionately called him, founded The Rittners School of Floral Design, in Boston, over sixty years ago, and was a pioneer in floral art education. Through the years, his humor, patience and wealth of floral industry knowledge have had a marked impact upon thousands of students from all over the globe.

So it was particularly meaningful when Gov. Weld of Massachusetts proclaimed Floral Design Day as part of Mr. Rittner's special birthday celebration.

The idea of a holiday that celebrates floral design as an art form, is a wonderful one whose time has come. And so, Mr. R and the rest of us here at Rittners, wanted to see Floral Design Day continue to be observed as an event in its own right.

Floral design is a proud art form that has spanned thousands of years, with a diversity of styles reflecting varying social, religious, and cultural trends.

Floral art is a very unique art form in that it plays an important role in our social interactions, for decorating, establishing and maintaining relationships, and generally enhancing the overall quality of our lives.......

The floral industry is a multibillion dollar industry that brightens our lives at such holidays as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentines' Day, Mother's Day & Secretaries Day as well as on an everyday basis, and in so doing, contributes to our economy.

Besides which, making floral designs is a lot of fun and makes us feel good!!

International Sword Swallower's Day

The Sword Swallowers Association International reports that there are less than a few dozen professional sword swallowers actively performing around the world today. On International Sword Swallower's Day, Saturday, February 28, 2015, the world will have the rare opportunity to witness them defy death and do what they do best -- doing the impossible and swallowing swords -- all at once!

Sword Swallowers Association International (SSAI) President Dan Meyer announced the 8th annual International Sword Swallower's Day to raise awareness of sword swallowers worldwide. Founded by SSAI and co-sponsored by Ripley Entertainment, International Sword Swallower's Day 2015 will be observed on February 28th, 2015 in conjunction with February as National Swallowing Disorders Month.

"Last year we had 44 sword swallowers swallow 89 swords at 14 Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditoriums. This year we expect a record turnout with over 50 sword swallowers doing incredible stunts and setting record numbers!" Meyer said. SSAI President Sword Swallower Dan Meyer at Ripleys Believe It or Not London

"Sword swallowers have been risking our lives to perform sword swallowing for over 4000 years," explains Meyer. "But many people either don't believe what we do is real, or they think the art has died out."

"We established International Sword Swallower's Day to promote this ancient art still carried on by a few dozen surviving performers -- to raise awareness of the medical contributions sword swallowers have made in the fields of medicine and science, to honor veteran performers, and to raise funds for esophageal cancer research and the Injured Sword Swallower's Relief Fund." Meyer explains.

"Most of all, we do it to correct myths and educate the public and medical professionals by doing free demonstrations for the public and media around the world on this day."

"Many of us have been performing for years and we love our work!" explains Meyer, a 35-time world record holding sword swallower who performs at Ripley's Believe It or Not museums and speaks in 35 countries around the world. "International Sword Swallower's Day is a great chance for us to show the world what we really do and how we do it!" For International Sword Swallower's Day 2013, Meyer swallowed a 23 inch sword and used it to pull a 3700 lb car by sword out of Ripley's Believe It or Not Baltimore.

“Most people don't realize the dangers involved in sword swallowing or the contributions sword swallowers have made to the fields of science and medicine over the past 150 years.” Meyer explains. In 1868, a sword swallower was used by Dr. Adolf Kussmaul in Freiburg Germany to develop the first rigid endoscopy. In 1906 a sword swallower underwent the first esophageal electrocardiogram in Wales.

Other sword swallowers have been prodded and examined by doctors and scientists at medical centers over the past 150 years without recognition.

"We want to change all that. That's why we celebrate International Sword Swallower's Day." Meyer explains.

In 2006, the first comprehensive medical study on sword swallowing, "Sword Swallowing and its side effects", was published by the prestigious British Medical Journal. Co-authored by Meyer and British radiologist Dr. Brian Witcombe, the historic two-year study was the first comprehensive medical research conducted on sword swallowers in the 4000 year history of the art. The research won its authors the 2007 Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine at Harvard University.

Since some sword swallowers perform charitable work for the medical community to raise awareness of esophageal cancer, dysphagia, GERD, and other upper gastrointestinal and swallowing disorders, SSAI encourages sword swallowers to perform demonstrations at medical facilities throughout the day. Sword swallowers will also perform at hospitals, nursing homes, and orphanages for those who would otherwise have difficulty getting to theaters to see live performances.

"Sword swallowers who participate in these activities find them rewarding," explains Meyer. "Many people who have never had the opportunity to see sword swallowing firsthand will finally have a chance to witness it!"

"Because sword swallowing is so rare, sword swallowers usually perform solo," Meyer says. "International Sword Swallower's Day gives us a chance to work together to be part of something bigger."

Why is Ripley co-sponsoring International Sword Swallower's Day? “Because it's great entertainment!” said Tim O'Brien, former VP of Communications for Ripley Entertainment Inc. “Sword swallowers and Ripley go way back to the very first Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditorium set up at the Chicago World's Fair in 1933. There, three performers, two of whom were ladies, mesmerized the huge crowds. Ripley's has been home to sword swallowers around the world ever since!”

"It's a huge honor for us to carry on the tradition of sword swallowers who have performed at Ripley's Believe It or Not! museums over the years." Meyer explains.

"In light of this, SSAI is extending an open invitation to sword swallowers worldwide to join us in celebrating International Sword Swallower's Day by swallowing swords with us at Ripley's Believe It or Not Odditoriums around the world."

National Chocolate Soufflé Day

A real chocolate pick-me-up - February 28 is National Chocolate Soufflé Day!

Soufflés may be the only thing to rival the kind of lift many women achieve with gallons of hairspray - not to mention the fact that they taste like heaven.

A French word which literally means "puffed up," is a culinary term in both French and English (and used in many other languages) for a light, frothy dish, just stiff enough to hold its shape, and which may be savory or sweet, hot or cold.The basic hot souffle has as its starting point a roux--a cooked mixture of flour and butter...This type of souffle was a French invention of the late 18th century. Beauvilliers was making souffles possibly as early as 1782 (though he did not publish his L'Art du cuisinier until 1814). Recipes for various kinds appear in Louis Ude's The French Cook of 1813, a work which promises a "new method of giving good and extremely cheap fashionable suppers at routs and soirees. Later, in 1841, Careme's Patissier Royal Parisien goes into great detail on the technique of making souffles, from which it is clear that cooks had been having much trouble with souffles that collapsed. The dish acquired a reputation for difficulty and proneness to accidents which it does not really deserve...There are some Ukranian and Russian dishes of the hot souffle type, independently evolved and slightly different in composition."

The flavorful base is usually made with a French crème pâtissière (pasty cream), but the secret to this lightly baked cake is whipped egg whites.   The name comes from a French verb, souffler, which literally means to "blow up" or "puff up," and that's exactly the magic that happens when you bake custard and egg whites together.

Your best bet for baking individual or even one large chocolate soufflé is the ramekin. When you're ready to take them out of the oven, it will be puffy and fluffy - and then deflate a little about ten minutes later. But, don't worry! It's supposed to do that.

Get fancy and even if you're not in trouble with your significant other, make them feel special and bake an individual chocolate soufflé for your sweetie. One little investment of your time can go a long way.

National Tooth Fairy Day

When it comes to holidays, February 28 isn't your average, run-of-the-mill special day.Not only is it National Public Sleeping Day, Feb. 28 is also National Tooth Fairy Day! Hooray!

Tooth Fairy
This annual "holiday" celebrates one of children's most beloved visitors, the Tooth Fairy. While Santa Claus brings gifts and the Easter Bunny brings eggs of all shapes and sizes, the Tooth Fairy has a pretty popular arrangement with children all over the world.

The tooth fairy is a fantasy figure of early childhood. The folklore states that when a child loses a baby tooth, if he or she places it beneath the bed pillow, the tooth fairy will visit while the child sleeps, replacing the lost tooth with a small payment.

In early Europe, it was a tradition to bury baby teeth that fell out. When a child’s sixth tooth falls out, it is a custom for parents to slip a gift or money from the tooth fairy under the child’s pillow, but to leave the tooth as a reward. Some parents also leave trails of glitter on the floor, representing fairy dust.

In northern Europe, there was also a tradition of tann-fé or tooth fee, which was paid when a child lost their first tooth. This tradition is recorded in writings as early as the Eddas, which are the earliest written record of Norse and Northern European traditions.

The reward left varies by country, the family’s economic status, amounts the child’s peers report receiving and other factors. A 2011 study found that American children receive $2.60 per tooth on average.

National Public Sleeping Day

If the winter blues have you down in the dumps these days, this may be your lucky day! And if a little nap sounds perfect right about now, go grab your blankie! February 28 is (National) Public Sleeping Day! Hooray!

While the origins of this annual "holiday" are unknown, chances are pretty good the creator was probably just as tired as the rest of us. While sleeping on the job is not recommended, anyone can celebrate National Public Sleeping Day. Whether you choose to do it on the bus, on the train, in the cafeteria or in the confines of your own home, a little snooze may just be what the doctor ordered!

So turn off all those handy-dandy electronic gadgets, put a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door, turn off the lights and get ready to enjoy an afternoon siesta. When you wake up, chances are pretty good you'll be refreshed and ready to get back to work. Just remember - it's back to the old routine tomorrow!

Rare Disease Day

Rare Disease Day is an annual, awareness-raising event co-ordinated by EURORDIS at the international level and by National Alliances and Patient Organisations at the national level. 

The main objective of Rare Disease Day is to raise awareness amongst the general public and decision-makers about rare diseases and their impact on patients’ lives.

The campaign targets primarily the general public but it is also designed for patients and patient representatives, as well as politicians, public authorities, policy-makers, industry representatives, researchers, health professionals and anyone who has a genuine interest in rare diseases.

Since Rare Disease Day was first launched by EURORDIS and its Council of National Alliances in 2008, more than 1000 events have taken place throughout the world reaching hundreds of thousands of people and resulting in a great deal of media coverage.

The political momentum resulting from the Day has also served for advocacy purposes. It has notably contributed to the advancement of national plans and policies for rare diseases in a number of countries.

Even though the campaign started as a European event, it has progressively become a world event, with over 70 countries participating in 2013. We hope many more will join in 2014. Our objective is for the WHO to recognize the last day of February as the official Rare Disease Day and to raise increasing awareness for Rare Diseases worldwide. 

A disease or disorder is defined as rare in Europe when it affects fewer than 1 in 2000.

A disease or disorder is defined as rare in the USA when it affects fewer than 200,000 Americans at any given time.

One rare disease may affect only a handful of patients in the EU (European Union), and another touch as many as 245,000. In the EU, as many as 30 million people alone may be affected by one of over 6000 rare diseases existing.
  • 80% of rare diseases have identified genetic origins whilst others are the result of infections (bacterial or viral), allergies and environmental causes, or are degenerative and proliferative.
  • 50% of rare diseases touch children.
Characteristics of rare diseases
Over 6000 rare diseases are characterized by a broad diversity of disorders and symptoms that vary not only from disease to disease but also from patient to patient suffering from the same disease.

Relatively common symptoms can hide underlying rare diseases leading to misdiagnosis and delaying treatment. Quintessentially disabling, the patients quality of life is affected by the lack or loss of autonomy due to the chronic, progressive, degenerative, and frequently life-threatening aspects of the disease.

The fact that there are often no existing effective cures adds to the high level of pain and suffering endured by patients and their families.

Common problems faced
The lack of scientific knowledge and quality information on the disease often results in a delay in diagnosis. Also the need for appropriate quality health care engenders inequalities and difficulties in access to treatment and care. This often results in heavy social and financial burdens on patients.

As mentioned, due to the broad diversity of disorders and relatively common symptoms which can hide underlying rare diseases, initial misdiagnosis is common. In addition symptoms differ not only from disease to disease, but also from patient to patient suffering from the same disease.

How can things change?
Although rare disease patients and their families face many challenges, enormous progress is being made every day.

The ongoing implementation of a better comprehensive approach to rare diseases has led to the development of appropriate public health policies. Important gains continue to be made with the increase of international cooperation in the field of clinical and scientific research as well as the sharing of scientific knowledge about all rare diseases, not only the most “recurrent” ones. Both of these advances have led to the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.

However, the road ahead is long with much progress to be made.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Holidays and Observances for Feb 27 2015

International Polar Bear Day

A lot of animals serve as indicators of the world’s ecosystem. Just by studying certain animal species, our attention is focused on environmental problems we unconsciously created in our industrial developmental processes. Bees, for one, had called mankind’s attention on the harmful effects of insecticides. Polar bears, on the other hand, remind us of the harmful effects of climate change.

There is no record found as to the origin of this special day. It is, however, observed and supported by various animal and environmental groups. This day celebrates the existence and value of the world’s largest carnivore which can grow as tall as nine feet and weigh 1,400 pounds. Polar bears live at the North Pole region and are native to Alaska, Greenland, Russia, Canada and Norway.

The International Polar Bear Day is observed to prevent their extinction caused by loss of sea ice habitat through climate change. According to the World Wildlife Fund Canada, increased industrial activities on oil and gas are also causing threats to the polar bear population. Polar bears, generally left handed, are nature’s most impressive hunter but are also being hunted but men.

The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is a carnivorous bear whose native range lies largely within the Arctic Circle, encompassing the Arctic Ocean, its surrounding seas and surrounding land masses. It is a large bear, approximately the same size as the omnivorous Kodiak bear (Ursus arctos middendorffi). A boar (adult male) weighs around 350–700 kg (770–1,540 lb), while a sow (adult female) is about half that size. Although it is the sister species of the brown bear, it has evolved to occupy a narrower ecological niche, with many body characteristics adapted for cold temperatures, for moving across snow, ice, and open water, and for hunting the seals which make up most of its diet. Although most polar bears are born on land, they spend most of their time at sea. Their scientific name means "maritime bear", and derives from this fact. Polar bears hunt their preferred food of seals from the edge of sea ice, often living off fat reserves when no sea ice is present.

The polar bear is classified as a vulnerable species, with eight of the nineteen polar bear subpopulations in decline. For decades, large scale hunting raised international concern for the future of the species but populations rebounded after controls and quotas began to take effect. For thousands of years, the polar bear has been a key figure in the material, spiritual, and cultural life of Arctic indigenous peoples, and polar bears remain important in their cultures.

Polar bears are important indicator of the well-being of the arctic ecosystem. Because of this, the Polar Bear International was created with the purpose of saving them by saving their sea ice habitat. This is currently the world’s leading polar bear conservation group actively supporting the observation of the International Polar bear Day.

Observance can be done by volunteering or donating to the Polar Bear International. Visiting local zoos and studying polar bears by watching nature television channels is another way to observe the day. If qualified, joining Project Polar Bear contest in America and Canada would be great. Checking websites on Polar Bear Day and joining activities are also highly suggested.

National Kahlua Day

It’s National Kahlua Day! Kahlua is a rich, creamy alcoholic liqueur from Mexico. People enjoy it straight up, on the rocks, and mixed in coffee or cocktails (like the White Russian). Kahlua is also used to flavor desserts such as ice cream, cakes, and cheesecakes.

The word “kahlua” means “house of the Acolhua people” in the Nahuatl language. Pedro Domecq began producing Kahlúa in 1936. It was named Kahlúa, meaning "House of the Acolhua people" in the Veracruz Nahuatl language spoken before the Spanish Conquest. (Kahlúa was Hispanicized as Ulúa, forming the name of modern San Juan de Ulúa fortress.)

The company merged in 1994 with Allied Lyons to become Allied Domecq. In turn, that company was partially acquired in 2005 by Pernod Ricard, the largest spirits distributor in the world since its merger with the Swedish Vin & Sprit in March 2008.

Since 2004, the alcohol content of Kahlúa is 20.0% (21.5% alc. is still available only in Ohio); earlier versions had 26.5%. In 2002, a more expensive, high-end product called "Kahlúa Especial" became available in the United States, Canada and Australia after previously being offered only in duty-free markets. Made with premium Arabica coffee beans grown in Veracruz, Mexico, Kahlúa Especial has an alcohol content of 36%, has a lower viscosity, and is less sweet than the regular version.

To celebrate National Kahlua Day, mix up your favorite Kahlua cocktail or bake a divine Kahlua-flavored cake to share with friends!

National Strawberry Day

Seeds on the outside, sweet on the inside - February 27 is  National Strawberry Day!

Even if these little red fruits bursting with sweet perfection aren't in season, that doesn't mean you can't enjoy them today!

Strawberries have grown wild for millennia in temperate regions throughout the world. While cultivation of strawberries doesn't date back this far, it still dates back hundreds and hundreds of years.

It was not until the 18th century, however, when cultivation of strawberries began to be pursued in earnest. In 1714, a French engineer sent to Chile and Peru to monitor Spanish activities in these countries "discovered" a strawberry native to this region that was much larger than those grown in Europe. He brought many samples back to France, which were subsequently planted. These plants did not originally flourish well until a natural cross breeding occurred between this species and a neighboring North American strawberry variety that was planted nearby in the field. The result was a hybrid strawberry that was large, juicy and sweet, and one that quickly grew in popularity in Europe.

The strawberry, like many other perishable fruits at this time, remained a luxury item only enjoyed by the wealthy until the mid-19th century. Once railways were built and more rapid means of transportation established, strawberries were able to be shipped longer distances and were able to be enjoyed by more people. Today, using a commonplace, layperson's definition of the word "berry," the strawberry has become the most popular berry fruit in the world. (In technical scientific terms, this distinction would go to bananas, since their seeds and pulp produced from a single ovary, and that characteristic is used to classify berries versus non-berries. In fact, when considered from a technical scientific standpoint, strawberries are not berries at all, but rather "accessory fruits" in which the delicious substance that we eat is not directly produced from the ovary. But for most of us, despite these technical scientific distinctions, strawberries count as some of the best berries ever!)

If fresh strawberries aren't at their best in your grocery store, don't forget the many accessible forms you can always get your hands on. Frozen and dried strawberries can help in a pinch if you're creating in the kitchen. Strawberry preserves, ice cream, yogurt, smoothies and milkshakes are nothing to shake a stick at either.

But if you are one of the lucky folks who stumbled on some great fresh strawberries, you can whip up a strawberry pie, shortcake or even a simple dish of strawberries and cream.
No Brainer Day

In case you haven't heard, February 27th is No Brainer Day. Since some of our daily tasks require little thought and we go about our day set on auto-pilot, it’s no wonder we have a No Brainer Day.

Well, isn't this one interesting?  By definition a “no- brainer” is doing something that is simple, easy, obvious and/or totally logical.  Today is a day to do all of those types of no brainer tasks and activities.  If it is a project that will require thinking, studying, or analyzing anything, then it’s not the chore for you today.

Some no-brainer activities that we do every day, simply because they don't require deliberate decisions to do them – would be breathing, swallowing, blinking, sneezing or yawing.  Of course, we all know someone who does just no brainer activities all the time  . . which isn't a very good life plan.  Be selective in the days you choose to do only no brainer tasks – limiting them to today, or holidays, vacation days, or weekends.  Since most of us have jobs that require more than those limited tasks, I'd suggest not irritating your boss by sitting in your chair, blinking into space as you breathe and stare out the window . . . and yet again, I do know someone who actually does that most of the time!

No Brainer day was created by Adrienne Sioux Koopersmith, who was called “America’s Premier Eventologist” per the Chicago Tribune – January 2001. Why it was created isn't something I could find.

So go ahead - give your brain a rest and celebrate No Brainer Day today! Then tomorrow, it's back to work we go!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Holidays and Observances for Feb 26 2015

Levi Strauss Day

February 26,1829, was the day Levi Strauss, pioneer of blue jeans and founder of the company that still bears his name, was born. Although Levi's jeans were long seen as the quintessential American article of clothing, Loeb Strauss (his given name) was a Bavarian-born Jew from the town of Buttenheim, who arrived in the United States with his family only in 1845. His father, Hirsch Strauss, had died two years earlier, and his mother, Rebecca Haas Strauss (Hirsch’s second wife), sailed with her younger children and stepchildren to join two of the older sons, who had already set up a dry-goods business in New York.

By January 1853, 23-year-old Levi headed west to San Francisco, to seek his fortune by opening a branch of the family business to sell clothing and accessories to the California Gold Rushers. In 1872, one of his clients, Jacob Davis, a Reno, Nevada, tailor, sent Strauss a letter, describing how he used copper rivets to strengthen the stress points of the work pants that he fashioned out of fabric bought from the Californian. Davis suggested that the two seek a patent for the riveting method – a patent that was granted on May 20, 1873. The rivets were fastened at the corners of the pockets and the base of the fly.

By then, Levi Strauss was already an established member of San Francisco society, active in the city’s first synagogue, Congregation Emanu-El, and other institutions. Davis joined him in California, where he oversaw the tailor shop Strauss established for the production of the “XX” model of “waist overalls,” as these trousers were then called. (In 1890, the year the firm became incorporated, it also replaced “XX” with “501,” arguably the brand's most popular style that is still sold today.) The cotton denim itself was originally produced by the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company, of Manchester, New Hampshire.

Until the 1920s, Levi’s jeans were sold mainly in the West, and served for the most part as work clothes. Soon after, they started making their way east, mainly with vacationers who had encountered them at dude ranches they had visited. In World War II, they became an item rationed to defense workers, and to conserve thread, the company was forbidden from applying the decorative double arch stitching on the rear pockets of the jeans, which had by then become something of a trademark. (They had the arches painted onto the pockets for the duration of the war.)

As for the company’s founder – Levi Strauss died on September 26, 1902. Because he had never married and did not have a family of his own, Strauss left his business and estate to his four nephews, the children of his sister Fanny and her husband, David Stern. That estate was valued at $6 million, or some $160 million in 2013 terms. In addition to what he bequeathed to family members, he also bestowed gifts on the Pacific Hebrew Orphan Asylum, the Home for Aged Israelites, the Roman Catholic and Protestant Orphan Asylums and the Emanu-El Sisterhood, among other beneficiaries.

By 2010, Levi Strauss & Co., which had gone from being family-owned to being publicly shared, was once again a private company, controlled by relatives of Levi Strauss’ nephews. The firm employed more than 16,000 people worldwide, and raked in $4.4 billion in revenues.

National Chili Day

Today is National Chili Day! Whether you prefer it Texas-style, Mexican-style, or vegetarian, chili served with a side of cornbread is a fabulous comfort food for the winter season.

When it comes to the story of chili, tales and myths abound. 

While many food historians agree that chili con carne is an American dish with Mexican roots, Mexicans are said to indignantly deny any association with the dish. 

Enthusiasts of chili say one possible though far-fetched starting point comes from Sister Mary of Agreda, a Spanish nun in the early 1600s who never left her convent yet had out-of-body experiences in which her spirit was transported across the Atlantic to preach Christianity to the Indians. After one of the return trips, her spirit wrote down the first recipe for chili con carne: chili peppers, venison, onions, and tomatoes.

Another yarn goes that Canary Islanders who made their way to San Antonio as early as 1723, used local peppers and wild onions combined with various meats to create early chili combinations.

Most historians agree that the earliest written description of chili came from J.C. Clopper, who lived near Houston. While his description never mentions the word chili this is what he wrote of his visit to San Antonio in 1828:  "When they [poor families of San Antonio] have to lay for their meat in the market, a very little is made to suffice for the family; it is generally cut into a kind of hash with nearly as many peppers as there are pieces of meat--this is all stewed together.”  

In the 1880s, a market in San Antonio started setting up chili stands from which chili or bowls o'red, as it was called, were sold by women who were called "chili queens." A bowl o'red cost diners such as writer O. Henry and democratic presidential hopeful William Jennings Bryan ten cents and included bread and a glass of water. The fame of chili con carne began to spread and the dish soon became a major tourist attraction. It was featured at the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893 at the San Antonio Chili Stand.

By the 20th century chili joints had made their debut in Texas and became familiar all over the west by the roaring ‘20s. In fact, by the end of that decade, there was hardly a town that didn't have a chili parlour, which were often no more than a shed or a room with a counter and some stools. It’s been said that chili joints meant the difference between starvation and staying alive during the Great Depression since chili was cheap and crackers were free. 

Chili & The President
U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson was a big chili lover. His favorite recipe became known as Pedernales River chili after the location of his Texas ranch. Johnson preferred venison, which is leaner to beef, probably due to doctor’s orders about his bad heart. Lady Bird Johnson, the First lady, had the recipe printed on cards to be mailed out because of the many thousands of requests the White House received for it.

"Chili concocted outside of Texas is usually a weak, apologetic imitation of the real thing,” Johnson is quoted as saying. “One of the first things I do when I get home to Texas is to have a bowl of red. There is simply nothing better.” 

In 1977, chili manufacturers in the state of Texas successfully lobbied the state legislature to have chili proclaimed the official "state food" of Texas “in recognition of the fact that the only real 'bowl of red' is that prepared by Texans.”

According to legend, Spanish priests called the first chili “the soup of the Devil” because they believed that chili peppers were an aphrodisiac. To celebrate National Chili Day, indulge in a delicious bowl of this historical spicy stew!

National For Pete's Sake Day

If you happen to be a certain age, chances are pretty good you have heard or even uttered the phrase, "for Pete's sake." One day a year is actually dedicated to that once-common phrase. February 26 is For Pete's Sake Day! This annual "holiday" was created by the folks at Wellcat and is listed on Chase's Calendar of Events.

The phrase was commonly used as a substitute for the more offensive phrase, "for God's sake" or "for Christ's sake" and was said when someone was surprised, annoyed, frustrated or irritated. In medieval times, that was considered blasphemous. And in case you are wondering who the heck Pete is, you aren't alone. While some believe Pete may refer to the Apostle Peter, others suggest the phrase evolved from older phrases, "for the love of Mike" or "for pity's sake."

By the early 1900’s this expression became commonly used when annoyed, angry, frustrated or disappointed in something. for Pete's sake grumpy catLook at any Grumpy Cat photo and you can imagine them thinking, for Pete’s sake.

Personally, I don't think I've ever used it, and I rarely hear it anymore, but apparently it isn't unknown to the rap world. It is a lyric in a song called Power Trip by J. Cole: “For Pete’s sake, homie, pull it together.”  And it was the title of a Barbra Streisand movie.

The Graveyard of Obsolete Idioms

Perhaps it will soon be time for for Pete’s sake to be relegated to The Graveyard of Obsolete Idioms, where it would accompany fossils like these:

  • Run roughshod  (to treat someone harshly. In the 17th century, a “rough-shod” horse had its shoes attached with protruding nail heads in order to get a better grip on slippery roads.)
  • A day late and a dollar short (who is ever short just a dollar these days?)
  • Too big for your britches (replace with too big for your straight-leg jeans?)
  • Close but no cigar (when was the last time you saw an unfrowned-upon cigar?)
  • Go fly a kite (replaced by a more vulgar directive)
  • If I had a nickel for every time .. (with inflation, that would have to be, what, about $10?)
  • John Q. Public (who is he?)
  • Mad as a hornet (now we say p-o’ed)
  • Mind your own beeswax 
  • Cry uncle
  • When pigs fly

I wonder how many of those expressions my adult children have heard. Also, what expressions used today will be considered archaic by the next generation?

If this is all Greek to you, I must be beating a dead horse. Happy National For Pete’s Sake Day!

National Pistachio Day

Get crackin'! February 26 is National Pistachio Day.

It’s not every day that a simple nut has its own dedicated advertising campaign, and a cheeky one at that, but the humble pistachio is more than deserving.

Pistachios require a little elbow grease to eat because the greenish edible seed is encased in a harder outer shell that you have to crack open. There are many tips on how to do this, some more practical than others. The least labor intensive way is to simply wait. Pistachio shells will open easily if they’re fully ripe. The same effect is achieved by roasting.

If the nut doesn’t yield from its shell easily, you can always use half of a shell from an already cracked nut to help. The half shell acts as a lever; insert it into the opening of the whole, unopened nut and twist. This should release the pistachio from its shell.

Hard to believe, but it wasn’t until 1976 that Americans harvested the first commercial crop of pistachios. They had been enjoying the nut since about the 1800s, but it was not until the 1930s that the love for pistachios really took off.

What may have made the little tree nut so admired, though, is the invention of pistachio ice cream in the 1940s by James W. Parkinson of Philadelphia.

Today, California produces 300 million pounds of pistachios, which is about 98 percent of the domestic crop. Other world producers include Turkey, Syria, Italy and Greece.

Remember getting that red dye all over your fingers back in the day when pistachios were dyed crimson? Hard to imagine now but the apparent reason for the colouring was to hide flaws on the shell and to make them stand out in vending machines!

Related botanically to cashews and mangoes, pistachios are one of the oldest flowering nut trees, and are one of the only two nuts mentioned in the Bible.

Native to western Asia and Asia Minor, the trees grew wild in high desert regions and legend has it that for the promise of good fortune lovers met beneath the trees to hear the pistachios crack open on moonlit nights.

Thanks to their high nutritional value and long storage life, pistachios were an indispensable form of sustenance among early explorers and traders, including travellers across the ancient Silk Road that connected China with the West.

In the first century A.D., Emperor Vitellius introduced Rome to the pistachio. Apicius, Rome's Julia Child of the time, included pistachios in his classical cookbook.

Perhaps a true royal nut, the Queen of Sheba loved pistachios. In fact, she demanded that the entire region’s pistachio harvest be set aside for her.

These heart-healthy tree nuts are good for your ticker thanks to phytosterols, which pistachios have in droves. Another reason to love pistachios is that they comprise about 90 per cent unsaturated fat, which is the good kind of fat that adds flavour and makes them a highly satisfying snack. They also contain many antioxidants which aid the heart and body. An awesome source of dietary fibre, they are among the highest fibre nuts, providing 12 percent of the daily value per 30 gram serving.

In Iran, pistachios are known as the smiling nut.  In China, they are called the happy nut. Pistachios are also known as the green almond.

Pistachios have always been on the pricier end of the nut scale, costing three or four times as much as other nuts. Generally eaten roasted and salted as a dessert nut, the pistachio is often used in cooking as a garnish or decoration in sweet and savoury dishes.

According to Larousse Gastronomique, in Mediterranean and Asian cuisine, pistachios are used in poultry sauces and stuffings and also in hash. In classic cuisine they garnish galantines, brawn (head cheese) and mortadella. In India, pistachio puree is used to season rice and vegetables. Pistachios go best with veal, pork and poultry. Their green color makes them popular for creams and for ice creams and ice-cream desserts. In confectionery, it is especially associated with nougat.

China is the top pistachio consumer worldwide, with annual consumption of 80,000 tons, while the United States consumes 45,000 tons. Russia follows with consumption of 15,000 tons followed by India at 10,000 tons.

Pistachios ripen in late summer or early fall growing so energetically that the kernel splits the shell. These trees are wind pollinated which means one male tree can produce enough pollen for 25 nut-bearing female trees. Female trees produce their first nuts at age five and can bear fruit for up to 200 years.

One of the earliest desserts made with pistachios was baklava. This Middle Eastern pastry often features a nutty component, such as roasted pistachios. Making baklava at home can be time-consuming and sticky (so props to you if you give it a go!). Here’s a quick cheat version:

Mix chopped, roasted pistachios with some honey and cinnamon. You want the mixture to be thick, not runny. (Orange blossom honey works great here.) Then, lay one sheet of store-bought phyllo dough on a flat work surface and brush it with melted butter. Add a second layer of dough, and cut it into 3-inch squares. Lightly brush a large muffin tin with melted butter and lay a square into each opening. Spoon in the pistachio syrup and bring the sides of the dough up around it. Pinch the edges closed so you've got a little parcel. Brush the tops of the parcels with more melted butter and bake in a preheated 350 degrees Fahrenheit oven until the phyllo dough browns. This will take about 10-12 minutes.

National Tell A Fairy Tale Day

National Tell A Fairy Tale Day, an “unofficial” National holiday is celebrated on February 26th.  Snuggle up in your corner chair or sofa with the children sitting near you or maybe all gather around a campfire as it is a day to celebrate by telling your favorite fairy tale or making up one of your own.

Originally, adults were the audience of a fairy tale just as often as children. Literary fairy tales appeared in works intended for adults, but in the 19th and 20th centuries the fairy tale became associated with children’s literature.

A fairy tale is a type of short story that typically features folkloric fantasy characters, such as fairies, goblins, elves, trolls, dwarves, giants, mermaids, or gnomes, and usually magic or enchantments. Fairy tales may be distinguished from other folk narratives such as legends (which generally involve belief in the veracity of the events described) and explicitly moral tales, including beast fables.

In less technical contexts, the term is also used to describe something blessed with unusual happiness, as in “fairy tale ending” (a happy ending) or “fairy tale romance” (though not all fairy tales end happily). Colloquially, a “fairy tale” or “fairy story” can also mean any farfetched story or tall tale; it’s used especially of any story that not only isn't true, but couldn’t possibly be true.

In cultures where demons and witches are perceived as real, fairy tales may merge into legends, where the narrative is perceived both by teller and hearers as being grounded in historical truth. However, unlike legends and epics, they usually do not contain more than superficial references to religion and actual places, people, and events; they take place once upon a time rather than in actual times.

Fairy tales are found in oral and in literary form. The history of the fairy tale is particularly difficult to trace because only the literary forms can survive. Still, the evidence of literary works at least indicates that fairy tales have existed for thousands of years, although not perhaps recognized as a genre; the name “fairy tale” was first ascribed to them by Madame d’Aulnoy in the late 17th century. Many of today’s fairy tales have evolved from centuries-old stories that have appeared, with variations, in multiple cultures around the world. Fairy tales, and works derived from fairy tales, are still written today.

The older fairy tales were intended for an audience of adults, as well as children, but they were associated with children as early as the writings of the précieuses; the Brothers Grimm titled their collection Children’s and Household Tales, and the link with children has only grown stronger with time.

Folklorists have classified fairy tales in various ways. The Aarne-Thompson classification system and the morphological analysis of Vladimir Propp are among the most notable. Other folklorists have interpreted the tales’ significance, but no school has been definitively established for the meaning of the tales.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Holidays and Observances for Feb 25 2015

Inconvenience Yourself Day

February 25, is Inconvenience Yourself Day. The concept is simple, the idea is embraceable, and it certainly seems like common sense. But in the shuffle of day-to-day activities, people get lost in their busy lives and forget how their actions affect others.

"Think about the last time you cut someone off in traffic or hurried out the door without holding it for the person behind you…it probably wasn't intentional nor did you even notice there was anyone so close behind," says Julie Thompson, creator of Inconvenience Yourself™.

The idea behind Inconvenience Yourself encourages people to pay attention to their own actions, understand how their actions affect others, and adjust which actions have a negative impact on people they encounter.

Inconvenience Yourself is a way of living. It includes not only how people behave, but also recognizing and acknowledging the actions of others. This everyday concept has been recognized by Chase’s Calendar of Events and has received national attention. Celebrated on the fourth Wednesday in February, the day is an opportunity for people to focus on inconveniencing themselves instead of inconveniencing others. It is also a day to recognize and acknowledge those who inconvenience themselves for others. Acknowledgment can be verbal, a note, or some small token of appreciation. The concept has been embraced by businesses, teachers, children and parents.

A child can inconvenience themselves by being responsible, dependable and polite. A teacher can incorporate the concept through education and by reinforcing values. Students can learn classroom citizenship to help prevent bullying. A business can integrate the idea into their customer relations and customer service standards.

Thompson explains, “Many of our actions seem to say we think we are more significant than the next person; that our lives and schedules are more important than some else’s. We often inconvenience other people to make our own lives easier and don't give a thought to the impact of our actions on others. This movement is a way to recognize how we can positively change the way we go about our lives.”

Stories from children, teachers and business owners who have inconvenienced themselves for others can be found on the Inconvenience Yourself™ website. Thompson also encourages people to share their stories to help spread the idea. For more information about how Inconvenience Yourself™ can change lives, business or classroom activities, visit or email Julie Thompson at

About Inconvenience Yourself: Inconvenience Yourself was conceived in 2006 after Julie Thompson observed that many people forget to think about how their actions affect other people. In the fast-paced world in which we live, with schedules overflowing with commitments, people go about their lives without recognizing that what they do impacts other people. Inconvenience Yourself is not intended to suggest that people become completely self-sacrificing. Instead, it encourages people to pay attention to their own actions, understand how those actions impact others, and adjust actions which have a negative effect on others. For more information, contact Julie Thompson at (954) 693-4604 or email

National Chocolate-Covered Nuts Day

It’s National Chocolate Covered Nuts Day! Nuts have been a staple of the human diet for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks and Romans were fond of the walnut, Native Americans enjoyed the pecan, and the Chinese believed the hazelnut was one of the five sacred nourishments. People also believed that chocolate had divine properties.

Chocolate has been used throughout its 250 year history mostly as a beverage. During the sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, and up to the nineteenth century, various other uses of chocolate came into play. Chocolate started to be used in dessert and cake products and even chocolate treats as we primarily know today, such as candy bars and whole chocolate bars.

Cocoa beans were first discovered by an ancient Mexican civilization know as the Olmec. The cocoa beans were passed on through many ancient Mexican civilizations, finally being used by the Aztecs. It was the Aztec civilization that incorporated the use of the Metatea, a grinding stone base with a hammer-like grinder used to grind the roasted cocoa beans into cocoa liquid paste. Cocoa bean was a popular trade. They even used cocoa beans as currency, religious rituals and gifts.

During the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century, the use of chocolate had spread throughout most of the European countries, such as France, Italy and Spain, mostly by traders and missionaries.

In the nineteenth century, we saw the development of chocolate as we well know today. Cocoa powder was mixed with alkali which gave cocoa a stronger color and a smoother flavor, which that same process is still used today.

Candy bars, as we know today, first appeared in Great Britain in early to mid nineteenth century. Swiss chocolatier Rudolph Lint invented the process of conching, which gives the chocolate a creamier taste and texture. Other chocolatiers and technicians discovered use of milk base products and powder to mix into the chocolate base.

Today chocolate desserts, cakes, chocolate covered strawberries and candies are by far a crucial part of everyday lifestyles. From the cocoa pounded on a slab stone block to the big enormous factories that exist today, cocoa and the products it produces have come a long way. The future is deliciously bright and will hold many new and interesting by-products as the centuries role on.

Where does Chocolate Come from? All chocolate grows on trees. There is about 20 species of chocolate all derived from the genus of theobroma. The tree was originated in south Mexico and grows mostly south of the equator in such continents as south America & the south seas which are rich in cocoa plants.

There is three variations of theobroma cacao (cocoa plant): Forastero, a robust plant with light chocolate; Criollo, a strong plant with strong quality chocolate; and Trinitario a cross between the two.

The beans which are received from the plant are placed on the ground for fermentation. After the beans are fermented in the ground at 110 degrees, they are placed in the sun to dry out. The beans then are roasted and once they become dry, the husk is removed and the bean is broken down into smaller piece, which are usually purchased by chocolate factories to make chocolate.

Chocolate then is taken by the factories and then process by grinding them as either whole or roasted pieces. A liquid substance is derived from smashing the pieces and used as whole unsweetened chocolate by the factories.

The process of making chocolate begins with either beans or nibs. The first step is to crush them into chocolate liquor. From the chocolate liquor a press of natural fat is extracted leaving what is called a "cake". The cake then can be more hard-pressed into a powder material. Cocoa can be treated with an alkali during this process otherwise known as Dutch or alkalized cocoa. For manufacturers of other types of chocolate, additives such as sugar, vanilla and milk extract are added. This process is called conching, where all the ingredients are mixed together and processed.

There are many different types of Chocolate. Couverture Chocolate: This type of chocolate is high in cocoa butter content which is primarily used in melting the chocolate into molds for dipping.   Chocolate covered strawberries are a favorite.
Chocolate Covered Company creates extraordinary and unique chocolate covered gifts including chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate covered caramel apples, chocolate covered pretzels and personalized dipped fortune cookie. Chocolate Covered Company has been serving chocolate covered strawberries for many years. We use the freshest products and the finest quality in imported chocolate, to create chocolate gifts and taste treats that are simply the best.

Celebrate National Chocolate Covered Nuts Day with your favorite chocolate and nut combination!

National Clam Chowder Day

February 25 is National Clam Chowder Day. While New England doesn't have a monopoly on clam chowder, it is probably the most recognized regional style of this soup. However, there are many variations of chowders from region to region that are distinctively sourced and flavored.

Clam chowder is any of several chowders containing clams and broth. Along with the clams, diced potato is common, as are onions, which are occasionally sautéed in the drippings from salt pork or bacon. Celery is frequently used. Other vegetables are uncommon, but small carrot strips might occasionally be added, primarily for color. A garnish of parsley serves the same purpose. Bay leaves are also sometimes used as a garnish and flavoring. It is believed that clams were added to chowder because of the relative ease of harvesting them.

Clam chowder is often served in restaurants on Fridays in order to provide a seafood option for those who abstain from meat every Friday, which once was a requirement for Catholics before liturgical changes in Vatican II. Though the period of strict abstinence from meat on Fridays was reduced to Lent, the year-round tradition of serving clam chowder on Fridays remains.

New England clam chowder - New England clam chowder is a milk- or cream-based chowder, and is traditionally of a thicker consistency than other regional styles, commonly made with potatoes, onion, and clams. Including tomatoes is shunned; a 1939 bill making tomatoes in clam chowder illegal was introduced in the Maine legislature. It is occasionally referred to as Boston Clam Chowder in the Midwest.

New England clam chowder is usually accompanied with oyster crackers. Crown Pilot Crackers were a popular brand of cracker to accompany chowder, until the product was discontinued in 2008. Crackers may be crushed and mixed into the soup for thickener, or used as a garnish.

Manhattan clam chowder - Manhattan clam chowder has clear broth, plus tomato for flavor and color. In the 1890s, this chowder was called "New York clam chowder" and "Fulton Fish Market clam chowder." Manhattan clam chowder was referenced in Victor Hirtzler's 1919 "Hotel St. Francis Cookbook." The addition of tomatoes in place of milk was initially the work of Portuguese immigrants in Rhode Island, as tomato-based stews were already a traditional part of Portuguese cuisine.

Rhode Island clam chowder - The traditional Rhode Island clam chowder has a clear broth and is called "South County Style," referring to the local name of Washington County, Rhode Island, where it originated. This chowder is still served, especially at long-established New England restaurants and hotels, such as those on Block Island, and on the south coast of the state, where tourists favor white chowders while natives prefer the clear. This traditional clear chowder generally contains quahogs, broth, potatoes, onions, and bacon.

In some parts of the state, a red chowder is served as Rhode Island clam chowder. This red chowder has a tomato broth base and potatoes; unlike Manhattan red chowder, it does not have chunks of tomato, and does not contain other vegetables (such as carrots or beans). This is the recipe served for decades with clam cakes at the memorable establishments like Rocky Point and Crescent Park.

New Jersey clam chowder - Its primary ingredients are bacon, onion, chowder clams, potatoes, pepper, celery powder, parsley, crab spice (Old Bay), asparagus, light cream, and sliced tomatoes.

Delaware clam chowder - This variety typically consisted of pre-fried cubed salt pork, salt water, potatoes, diced onions, quahogs, butter, salt, and pepper. This variety was more common in the early and mid 20th century and likely shares most recent common ancestry with New England clam chowder.
Hatteras clam chowder - Served throughout North Carolina's Outer Banks region, this variation of clam chowder has clear broth, bacon, potatoes, onions, and flour as a thickening agent. It is usually seasoned with copious amounts of white and/or black pepper, and occasionally with chopped green onions or even hot pepper sauce.

Minorcan clam chowder - Minorcan clam chowder is a spicy traditional version found in Florida restaurants near St. Augustine and the northeast corner of the Sunshine State. It has a tomato broth base, with a "secret ingredient," Spanish datil pepper, an extremely hot chili comparable to the habanero. The datil pepper is believed to have been brought to St. Augustine by the Minorcan settlers in the 18th century, and tradition holds among Minorcan descendants that it will only thrive and grow in two places - Minorca, Spain and St. Augustine, Florida.

As for the clams you’ll see in these different chowders, the most commonly used are littlenecks, longnecks, cherrystones and the quahog varieties. If you’re making chowder at home, use whatever is freshest in your seafood market and you can't go wrong.

Pistol Patent Day

Pistol Patent Day is celebrated on February 25th of each year in honor of Samuel Colt’s U.S. “revolving gun” patent granted February 25, 1836 (numbered 9430X).

Samuel Colt (July 19, 1814 – January 10, 1862) was an American inventor and industrialist from Hartford, Connecticut. He was the founder of Colt’s Patent Fire-Arms Manufacturing Company (now known as Colt’s Manufacturing Company), and made the mass-production of the revolver commercially viable for the first time.

Colt’s first two business ventures ended in disappointment. His first attempt at manufacturing firearms in Paterson, New Jersey, occurred during an economic crisis in the US leading to poor sales, and was further hampered by his mismanagement and reckless spending. His next attempt at arms making, underwater mines for the US Navy, failed due to lack of US Congressional support. After the Texas Rangers ordered 1,000 of his revolvers during the American war with Mexico in 1847, his business expanded rapidly. His factory in Hartford built the guns used as sidearms by both the North and the South in the American Civil War, and later his firearms were credited in taming the western frontier. A second plant in London closed after four years because of poor sales to the British military.

Colt died in 1862, before the end of the Civil War, as one of the wealthiest men in America. The company he founded is still in business as of 2012. In 1867, his widow, Elizabeth Jarvis Colt, commissioned the building of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Hartford as a memorial to him and is on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2006, Colt was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Colt’s manufacturing methods, directed at beating his competition, were at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution. He was one of the first industrialists to successfully employ the assembly line due to his use of interchangeable parts. Beyond building arms, his innovative use of art, celebrity endorsements and corporate gifts to promote his wares made him a pioneer in the fields of advertising, product placement and mass marketing. He received criticism during his lifetime and after his death for promoting his arms through bribes, threats and monopoly. Historians have stated that his patents acted as an impediment to arms production during his lifetime, and that his personal vanity kept his own company from being able to produce a cartridge firearm until 10 years after his death when a patent, filed by a gunsmith he had fired, Rollin White, expired in 1872.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Holidays and Observances for Feb 24 2015

National Tortilla Chip Day

Kids and adults love tortilla chips. Since tortillas are such a popular snack, that they are honored on their own special day. February 24 is National Tortilla Chip Day.

Tortilla chips are a nationwide sensation, and many households are never without them.

Can you believe that the tortilla chip is so popular in Texas that in 2003, Texas became the official state snack?

What exactly is a tortilla chip? A tortilla chip is a snack food made from corn tortillas that are cut into wedges and then fried. Corn tortillas are made of corn, vegetable oil, salt and water.

Although tortilla chips are considered to be a Mexican food, they are popular with most people who have ever tasted them.

What is the origin of the tortilla chip? It is said that Rebecca Webb Carranza invented tortilla chips in the 1950s. Carranza and her husband owned the El Zarape Tortilla Factory in Los Angeles and were among the first to automate the production of tortillas. The machine often produced rejected tortillas. Carranza decided to use them instead of throwing them away. She cut the rejected tortillas into triangles, fried them, and sold them in a bag for a dime. They cost more today in the grocery store, but they are worth every penny.

Tortilla chips soon became a nationwide snack. They can be eaten alone or served with salsa, chili, guacamole, cheese dips and a variety of other appetizers.

To celebrate National Tortilla Chip Day is quite easy. Buy a bag of your favorite tortilla chips and enjoy them with your favorite dip. Share with family and friends for a great celebration.

World Bartender Day

The bartender is everyone’s favorite person on a night out. They will keep you well supplied in beverages – probably of an alcoholic variety – at any bar or pub you happen to visit, as long as you have enough money and aren't too drunk to be served!

World Bartender Day is the day to appreciate the staff in your local bar. They work hard to keep their customers happy and often don't get paid very well! Remember to always be friendly to the bartender, especially by being patient if you have to wait to be served. Give the bartender a smile and say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ – the bartender will appreciate it and you are more likely to get better service next time you buy a drink. Most importantly, if you're in a country where tipping is expected, make sure you tip appropriately!

A bartender (also known as a barkeep, barman, barmaid, or a mixologist) is a person who serves usually alcoholic beverages behind the bar, usually in a licensed establishment. Bartenders also usually maintain the supplies and inventory for the bar. A bartender can generally mix classic cocktails such as a Cosmopolitan, Manhattan, Old Fashioned, and Mojito. The bartending profession was generally a second occupation, used as transitional work for students to gain customer experience or to save money for university fees. This however is changing around the world and bartending has become a profession by choice rather than necessity. Cocktail competitions such as World Class and Bacardi Legacy has recognised some very talented bartenders in the past decade and these bartenders, and others, spread the love of cocktails and hospitality throughout the world.

In America, where tipping is a local custom, bartenders depend on tips for most of their income. Bartenders are also usually responsible for confirming that customers meet the legal drinking age before serving them alcoholic beverages. In certain countries, such as Australia and Sweden, bartenders are legally required to refuse more alcohol to drunk customers.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics maintains and publishes extensive data on occupations in the United States, including that of bartender. It publishes a detailed description of the bartender's typical duties and employment and earning statistics by those so employed, with 55% of a bartender's take-home pay coming in the form of tips. Bartenders may attend special schools or learn while on the job.

Bartenders in the United States may work in a large variety of bars. These include hotel bars, restaurant bars, sports bars, gay bars, piano bars, and dive bars. Also growing in popularity is the portable bar; it allows a bar to be moved and set up in events and other venues. Therefore, such bartenders are quickly transitioning from the traditional notion such a job, in which one stays put in a single location.
World Spay Day

World Spay Day draws attention to "spay/neuter as a proven means of saving the lives of companion animals, community (feral and stray) cats, and street dogs who might otherwise be put down in a shelter or killed on the street." It is an event held on the last Tuesday in February each year.

The event first started as Spay Day USA, an annual event created by the Doris Day Animal League (DDAL) in 1995, to promote spays and neuters across the country to help eliminate the problem of homeless pets. After the DDAL's merger with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) in 2006, the tradition continued under the auspices of the HSUS as World Spay Day.

In 2002, the event's goal was to spay and neuter 200,000 pets across the United States.

The Doris Day Animal Foundation (DDAF) reports that since 2008, they have granted HSUS $385,000 for spays and neuters of 9,421 animals in 39 states: 6388 cats, 3007 dogs, and 26 rabbits. Many other organizations and individuals worldwide provide financial support, volunteer and participate in fundraising activities to promote World Spay Day.

Spaying is a general term used to describe the ovariohysterectomy of a female animal. Neutering is a general term used to describe the castration of a male animal. However, neutering is often used in reference to both genders. The surgical procedure, performed by a veterinarian, renders the animal incapable of reproducing. Here are answers to some questions you may have about this beneficial procedure.

When can I have this procedure done? American Humane Association believes that all cats and dogs adopted from public or private animal care and control facilities should be spayed or neutered (i.e., sterilized). Such sterilization includes prepubertal spaying and neutering of kittens and puppies. American Humane Association supports the passage of laws and regulations mandating that all cats and dogs adopted from public or private animal care and control facilities be sterilized.

American Humane Association encourages the veterinary profession to assist, whenever and however possible, in reducing the number of unwanted pets. This involvement includes supporting the neutering of cats and dogs adopted from public or private animal care and control facilities – thereby controlling the ongoing contribution of offspring to pet overpopulation.

Pet owners should work with their veterinarians to determine the appropriate sterilization ages for individual cats and dogs. Veterinarians are encouraged to work with clients, especially those who are well known and likely to permit an unwanted pregnancy to occur prior to surgery.Short-term and long-term health risks for each animal should always be assessed. American Humane Association encourages research into the development and use of nonsurgical methods of sterilization.

Why should I have my pet neutered? Animal shelters, both public and private, are faced with an incredible burden: What to do with the overpopulation of dogs and cats that they cannot find homes for? Approximately 3.7 million animals are euthanized at shelters each year, due to the sheer fact that there are not enough willing adopters. Having your pet spayed or neutered ensures that you will not be adding to this tremendous burden.

What are some of the health and behavioral benefits? Through neutering, you can help your dog or cat live a happier, healthier, longer life. Spaying eliminates the constant crying and nervous pacing of a female cat in heat. Spaying a female dog also eliminates the messiness associated with the heat cycle.

Neutering of male dogs and cats can prevent certain undesirable sexual behaviors, such as urine marking, humping, male aggression and the urge to roam. If you have more than one pet in your household, all the pets will generally get along better if they are neutered.

A long-term benefit of spaying and neutering is improved health for both cats and dogs. Spaying females prior to their first heat cycle nearly eliminates the risk of breast cancer and totally prevents uterine infections and uterine cancer. Neutering males prevents testicular cancer and enlargement of the prostate gland, and greatly reduces their risk for perianal tumors.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Holidays and Observances for Feb 23 2015

Curling is Cool Day

Although some fashionistas may be disappointed to learn this particular holiday has nothing whatsoever to do with hair, today's holiday has everything to do with a team sport that, at first glance, some may consider a bit peculiar.

Curling, a sport that began in Scotland centuries ago, is actually played during the Winter Olympic Games. In fact, curling is actually considered one of the fastest growing sports in America!

Curling is Fun
In a nutshell, four players on two teams slide eight heavy polished stones across ice toward a target at the other end of the ice. And just in case you are wondering why a broom is used in curling, sweeping makes the rock travel a longer distance and curl less. The goal is to get your stone closer to the center of the target. The team with the highest score total, wins.

Curling was invented in medieval Scotland, with the first written reference to a contest using stones on ice coming from the records of Paisley Abbey, Renfrewshire, in February 1541. Two paintings, 'Winter Landscape with a Bird Trap' and 'The Hunters in the Snow' (both dated 1565) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder depict Flemish peasants curling—Scotland and the Low Countries had strong trading and cultural links during this period, which is also evident in the history of golf.

Evidence that curling existed in Scotland in the early 16th century includes a curling stone inscribed with the date 1511 uncovered (along with another bearing the date 1551) when an old pond was drained at Dunblane, Scotland. Kilsyth Curling Club claims to be the first club in the world, having been formally constituted in 1716; it is still in existence today. Kilsyth also claims the oldest purpose-built curling pond in the world at Colzium, in the form of a low dam creating a shallow pool some 100 × 250 metres in size.

The word curling first appears in print in 1620 in Perth, in the preface and the verses of a poem by Henry Adamson. The game was (and still is, in Scotland and Scottish-settled regions like southern New Zealand) also known as "the roaring game" because of the sound the stones make while traveling over the pebble (droplets of water applied to the playing surface). The verbal noun curling is formed from the Scots (and English) verb curl, which describes the motion of the stone.

In the early history of curling, the playing stones (or rocks) were simply flat-bottomed river stones that were sometimes notched or shaped; the thrower, unlike those of today, had little control over the stone, and relied more on luck than on skill and strategy. Additionally, because of the variance and inconsistency found in the size of river stones, the velocity of so-called curls varied hugely.

It is recorded that in Darvel, East Ayrshire, the weavers relaxed by playing curling matches. The stones they used were the heavy stone weights from the weavers' warp beams, fitted with a detachable handle for the purpose. Many a wife would keep her husband's brass curling stone handle on the mantelpiece, brightly polished until the next time it was needed.

Outdoor curling was very popular in Scotland between the 16th and 19th centuries, as the climates provided good ice conditions every winter. Scotland is home to the international governing body for curling, the World Curling Federation, Perth, which originated as a committee of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, the mother club of curling.

Today, the game is most firmly established in Canada, having been taken there by Scottish emigrants. The Royal Montreal Curling Club, the oldest established sports club still active in North America, was established in 1807. The first curling club in the United States was established in 1830, and the game was introduced to Switzerland and Sweden before the end of the 19th century, also by Scots. Today, curling is played all over Europe and has spread to Japan, Australia, New Zealand, China, and Korea.

The first world championship for curling was limited to men and was known as the Scotch Cup, held in Falkirk and Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1959. The first world title was won by the Canadian team from Regina, Saskatchewan, skipped by Ernie Richardson.

International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day

International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day is celebrated on February 23rd of each year.

A dog biscuit is a hard biscuit-based dietary supplement for dogs or other canine, similar to human snack food.

Dog biscuits tend to be hard and dry. Dog biscuits may be sold in a flat bone-shape. Some manufacturers claim the dry and hard biscuit texture helps clean the dog’s teeth, promoting oral health.

“Dog’s bread”, made from bran, has been mentioned since at least Roman times. It was already criticized (as in later centuries) as particularly bad bread; Juvenal refers to dog’s bread as “filth” – “And bit into the filth of a dog’s bread” Et farris sordes mordere Canini.

In Spain, “pan de perro” is mentioned as early as 1623 in a play by Lope de Vega. It is used here in the sense of giving someone blows; to “give dog’s bread” to someone could mean anything from mistreating them to killing them. The latter meaning refers to a special bread (also called zarazas) made with ground glass, poison and needles and intended to kill dogs.

The bread meant as food for dogs was also called parruna and was made from bran. This was very likely what was referred to in associating the bread with (non-fatal) mistreatment. In France, Charles Estienne wrote in 1598: “Take no notice of bran bread,… it is better to leave it for the hunting, or shepherd, or watch dogs.” By the nineteenth century, “pain de chien” had become a way of referring to very bad bread: “It is awful, general, they give us dog’s breed!”

The English dog biscuit appears to be a nineteenth century innovation: “With this may be joined farinaceous and vegetable articles — oatmeal, fine-pollard, dog-biscuit, potatoes, carrots, parsnips” (1827); “being in the neighbourhood of Maidenhead, I inspected Mr. Smith’s dog-biscuit manufacture, and was surprised to find he has been for a long period manufacturing the enormous quantity of five tons a-week !” (1828).

National Banana Bread Day

National Banana Bread Day  is celebrated on Feb. 23rd every year, due to the undisputed reason people all over the world love the flavor of bananas. This zest and flavor of banana drove people to celebrate the National Banana Bread Day  and now over the years it has become a pleasure to celebrate this day with pomp and show. All who love the luscious aroma and taste of this amazing fruit can send invites and welcome notes to their loved ones to celebrate this day together with warmth. Banana bread was a novel innovation of the desert island, using the fruit numerous delicacies of various taste can be catered according to our crave.

Apparently around the world supermarkets and manufacturers of confectionery sell assorted pastries, breads, mousse, pies and tart to tame your entire taste buds with the rich flavor of banana through this banana bread week. One of the bakers, who love this occasion, says I love this National Banana Bread Day  and truly enjoy it, though I am not a big baker. All the banana lovers’ unanimously state vow it’s the National Banana Bread Day , which means time on for banana recipes. Some of the well known recipes which are cherished by all is the “Banana crumb bread, chocolate banana bread pudding” etc. If you are calorie conscious and is on a weight loss trip then you might as well use the microwave instead of the baking pan with lesser loads of butter and other saturated fats.

National Banana Bread Day is designated to celebrate just everything and anything amusing about the fruit, it’s also a great way to warm up your kitchen by baking moist, fresh and sweet fragrant banana bread. Despite our commercial uncertainties, which lays off our efforts to grow our own banana sapling, banana is an easily available tropical fruit all over the world and everybody would deliberately attempt to buy the fruit more often than any. Banana is an excellent source of energy contains enormous carbohydrates and can be grouped under simple source of carbohydrates, i.e. a quick energy builder. It also contains potassium and other essential minerals which is needed for the enrichment of the human health. It’s a cost-effective and energetic snack for a school goers.

The potassium in the fruit can keep hypertension at bay, it can help to regulate fluctuations in blood pressure and also alleviate joint pain and muscle cramps. Banana when consumed with vitamin c sources like orange juice can help in the absorption of the potassium in the blood. If bananas are bought raw they do ripen at room temperature and can be stored till the day of consumption for a week’s time. If you intend to sustain the fruit for longer than a week, wrap the fruit with wet cloth and refrigerate this will preserve the fruit ripe and fresh inside even if the skin at the exterior turns black. Even if the fruit is fully ripen and the skin has turned dark it can be used beautifully for baking due to its rich favor and aroma. The ripen state of the fruit gives us also an excuse to cater our well longed for banana bread. Over-ripe bananas render a much stronger flavor for the baked bread. These over-ripe fruits are also easy to mash and can effortlessly kneaded to a loaf, ready for baking. Generally the over-ripe bananas are kneaded and stored in a heavily sealed freezer bag, it is always better to label it since the contents look unappealing to consume.

You can look for ½ a cup of banana cup from a fully ripe medium sized banana. Once you're ready with the mixture pull out the baggie and you are all set for the baking process. Most of the coconut detesters loved banana bread as their personal favorite. If you love anything with chocolate then banana and chocolate make a great combo by default. Thus a day to celebrate your very own and cherished fruit banana is “National Banana Bread Day ”. Many cities have their own innovative delicacies and pastry shops come up with amazing bakeries which add novelty to the National Banana Bread Day .

Play Tennis Day

Play Tennis Day is celebrated on February 23rd of each year.

Sports activities are good as they prove to be good exercise for all people of all ages. A wide array of choices make sports a very entertaining activity as well. Health conditions and body built are important factors to consider when choosing a sport. But nothing beats availability and convenience. If you want a large group game, you can always learn basketball or baseball. But if you're contented with one or three, tennis is just right for you!

The first observance of this fun holiday has not been recorded. However, this date is the anniversary of the lawn tennis being patented in 1874 by Walter Wingfield of Pimlico, England. Its purpose is to play tennis and promote this game.

On this day, many schools and sports organizations conduct games worldwide. Tennis is a sport that people usually play individually against a single opponent (singles) or between two teams of two players each (doubles). This game is always part of any school’s varsity game listings for competition with other schools or locality.

If this day turns to be sunny, playing a set of lawn tennis with friends would be a good way of celebrating the day. Otherwise, watching tennis games on the television or playing online tennis games would be alternatives. Sending ecards or tennis crossword puzzles to friends on the fun day will surely help in the awareness objective of the day.

Tennis is a sport usually played between two players (singles) or between two teams of two players each (doubles). Each player uses a racket that is strung to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over a net and into the opponent’s court. The object of the game is to play the ball in such a way that the opponent is not able to play a good return. Tennis is an Olympic sport and is played at all levels of society at all ages. The sport can be played by anyone who can hold a racket, including people in wheelchairs.

The modern game of tennis originated in Birmingham, England, in the late 19th century as “lawn tennis”. It had close connections both to various field (“lawn”) games such as croquet and bowls as well as to the older racquet sport of real tennis. During most of the 19th-century in fact, the term “tennis” referred to real tennis, not lawn tennis: for example, in Disraeli’s novel Sybil (1845), Lord Eugene De Vere announces that he will “go down to Hampton Court and play tennis.”.

The rules of tennis have not changed much since the 1890s. Two exceptions are that from 1908 to 1961 the server had to keep one foot on the ground at all times, and the adoption of the tie-break in the 1970s. A recent addition to professional tennis has been the adoption of electronic review technology coupled with a point challenge system, which allows a player to contest the line call of a point.

Tennis is enjoyed by millions of recreational players and is also a hugely popular worldwide spectator sport, especially the four Grand Slam tournaments (also referred to as the “Majors”): the Australian Open played on hard courts, the French Open played on red clay courts, Wimbledon played on grass courts, and the US Open played also on hard courts.