Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Holidays and Observances for Mar 31 2015

César Chávez Day

César Chávez Day is an official state holiday in the U.S. states of California, Colorado and Texas. The day is commemorated to promote service to the community in honor of César Chávez's life and work. Many, but not all, state government offices, community colleges, and libraries are closed. Many public schools in the state are also closed. Texas also recognizes the day, and it is an optional holiday in Arizona and Colorado. Although it is not a federal holiday, President Barack Obama proclaims March 31 as César Chávez Day in the United States, with Americans being urged to "observe this day with appropriate service, community, and educational programs to honor César Chávez's enduring legacy." In addition, there are celebrations in his honor in Arizona, Michigan, Nebraska, and New Mexico and has been observed in California since 1995, in Texas since 2000 and in Colorado since 2003 as state holidays (optional in Texas and Colorado).

As a senator, Barack Obama made a call in 2008 for a national holiday in Chávez's honor, saying: "Chávez left a legacy as an educator, environmentalist, and a civil rights leader. And his cause lives on. As farm workers and laborers across America continue to struggle for fair treatment and fair wages, we find strength in what César Chávez accomplished so many years ago. And we should honor him for what he's taught us about making America a stronger, more just, and more prosperous nation. That's why I support the call to make César Chávez's birthday a national holiday. It's time to recognize the contributions of this American icon to the ongoing efforts to perfect our union." (Senator Barack Obama March 31, 2008) Grassroots organizations continue to advocate to create a national holiday. On March 30, 2011, President Obama reiterated his support for the cause: "César Chávez's legacy provides lessons from which all Americans can learn."

A model curriculum for teachers shows how students can learn about César Chávez's legacy through his work with other immigrants, farm workers, and how his work relates to the modern world.

César Chávez Day has been celebrated in Reno, Nevada, since 2003. A state law passed in 2009 (AB 301) requires Nevada's governor to annually issue a proclamation declaring March 31 as César Chávez Day.

Eiffel Tower Day

On March 31, 1889, the Eiffel Tower is dedicated in Paris in a ceremony presided over by Gustave Eiffel, the tower's designer, and attended by French Prime Minister Pierre Tirard, a handful of other dignitaries, and 200 construction workers.

In 1889, to honor of the centenary of the French Revolution, the French government planned an international exposition and announced a design competition for a monument to be built on the Champ-de-Mars in central Paris. Out of more than 100 designs submitted, the Centennial Committee chose Eiffel's plan of an open-lattice wrought-iron tower that would reach almost 1,000 feet above Paris and be the world's tallest man-made structure. Eiffel, a noted bridge builder, was a master of metal construction and designed the framework of the Statue of Liberty that had recently been erected in New York Harbor.

Eiffel's tower was greeted with skepticism from critics who argued that it would be structurally unsound, and indignation from others who thought it would be an eyesore in the heart of Paris. Unperturbed, Eiffel completed his great tower under budget in just two years. Only one worker lost his life during construction, which at the time was a remarkably low casualty number for a project of that magnitude. The light, airy structure was by all accounts a technological wonder and within a few decades came to be regarded as an architectural masterpiece.

The Eiffel Tower is 984 feet tall and consists of an iron framework supported on four masonry piers, from which rise four columns that unite to form a single vertical tower. Platforms, each with an observation deck, are at three levels. Elevators ascend the piers on a curve, and Eiffel contracted the Otis Elevator Company of the United States to design the tower's famous glass-cage elevators.

The elevators were not completed by March 31, 1889, however, so Gustave Eiffel ascended the tower's stairs with a few hardy companions and raised an enormous French tricolor on the structure's flagpole. Fireworks were then set off from the second platform. Eiffel and his party descended, and the architect addressed the guests and about 200 workers. In early May, the Paris International Exposition opened, and the tower served as the entrance gateway to the giant fair.

The Eiffel Tower remained the world's tallest man-made structure until the completion of the Chrysler Building in New York in 1930. Incredibly, the Eiffel Tower was almost demolished when the International Exposition's 20-year lease on the land expired in 1909, but its value as an antenna for radio transmission saved it. It remains largely unchanged today and is one of the world's premier tourist attractions.

International Transgender Day of Visibility

International Transgender Day of Visibility is an annual holiday occurring on March 31 dedicated to celebrating transgender people and raising awareness of discrimination faced by transgender people worldwide. The holiday was founded by Michigan-based transgender activist Rachel Crandall in 2009[4] as a reaction to the lack of LGBT holidays celebrating transgender people, citing the frustration that the only well-known transgender-centered holiday was the Transgender Day of Remembrance which mourned the loss of transgender people to hate crimes, but did not acknowledge and celebrate living members of the transgender community.

In 2014, the holiday was observed by activists across the world — including in Ireland and in Scotland.

From Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera (see below) to modern-day activists and “possibility models,” like Angel Collie, Rev. Norma Gann, Rev. Miller Hoffman, Rev. Jake Kopmeier, Zach McCallum, Rev. Aaron Miller, Rev. Maxwell Reay, Stacy Sanberg, Steve Sills, Rev. Mykal Slack, and Julie Walsh, our proud trans* siblings that serve as members of MCC Trans* Gender Non-Conforming Advisory Council, we pay tribute to all those who have boldly shared their stories, spoken out against discrimination, and smoothed the path toward equality and acceptance for all those who follow in their footsteps like, Rev. Brendan Boone, Rev. Emma Chatton, Dr. Colt Meyer, Monica Roberts and many others.

Remembering Sylvia Rivera
Sylvia Rivera, the Bronx-born Puerto Rican LGBTQ icon, is rumored to have started the infamous 1969 Stonewall Riots, yet she remains generally unknown. A tireless advocate for LGBTQ rights until her death in 2002, Rivera worked to ensure that change was constantly on the horizon for her community. Since 1960, New York City has been home to a thriving LGBTQ community and gay scene, despite harassment, arrests and assault.
Historians of the period believe that earlier foreign migration in the city injected new life into the already established gay scene, making it renowned. Greenwich Village, Times Square and the streets in neighboring areas became home to gay, working class and homeless youth. Among them was Rivera, a self-identified “queen,” who was raised by her Venezuelan grandmother until Rivera left home at age 11. Transforming from Ray Rivera to Sylvia Rivera, she began dressing in drag and prostituting herself on 42nd street.

“It was a hard era. There was always gay bashing on the drag queens. We had to live with it, but none of us was very happy about it,” Rivera said during a recorded interview.

Rivera and other “street queens” were constantly in danger of being arrested, mainly because of the fact that cross-dressing was illegal at the time. Raids of gay bars were common, and by the time she was 17-years-old, Rivera had already made countless trips to Riker’s Island. The arrests and harassment bred frustration, and Rivera craved a revolution.

On June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, an establishment that’s widely considered the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement, that revolution came. When officers attempted to storm the Stonewall Inn, they quickly lost control, and the self-aware gay and transgender community reacted with riots and protest. Rivera was rumored to have thrown one of the first Molotov cocktails that evening, while others claim that she wasn’t at the Stonewall Inn at all.

The radical moment in history has been debated time and time again by historians, but one thing that’s evident is the whitening and “suburbanizing” of the Stonewall Inn Riots, leading to Rivera being dropped from historical texts related to Stonewall. However, what makes her involvement so profoundly important is that she represents working class, queer Latino and black street youth, who happened to be responsible for the more militant actions that took place that evening.

The homeless people living in Sheridan Square were non-white. They were predominately Puerto Rican/Latina and they were prominent and active. Their inclusion in the night’s riots helped make it what it was, and that contingent would go on to produce more fruitful actions.

The following year, Rivera and other activists organized the first Christopher Street Liberation march to commemorate the Stonewall Rebellion. That tradition became what’s presently known as the Gay Pride Parade. Rivera went on to do profound work in the transgender community, founding the Street Transvestite/Transgender Action Revolutionaries (STAR), and organizing with the Black Panthers and the Young Lords to drive change in the queer community as well as other disenfranchised communities.
International Hug a Medievalist Day

March 31st is International Hug a Medievalist Day! Yes, we medievalists need some love too and since 2011 it has been celebrated by the medieval community and even got noticed by the New Yorker.

The idea to have International Hug a Medievalist Day comes from Sarah Laseke, who is currently studying for an MST in Medieval Literature at the University of Oxford. We interviewed Sarah, asking her about this day started:

How did you come up with the idea of International Hug a Medievalist Day? My partner, who is a librarian, joined the Hug a Librarian Day on Facebook in 2011. This made me come up with the idea that medievalists also deserve an official celebration day, so I created the event on Facebook.

Why do medievalists deserve a day to get hugged (not that we’re complaining)? I wanted to create a day which puts medievalists in the center of attention. Medievalists come from various disciplines and our research is varied and exciting. Also, I see the Hug a Medievalist Day as an opportunity to introduce the wider public to Medieval Studies.

The idea of International Hug a Medievalist Day really became popular – why do you think that is? The last three years have seen an increase in the interest in and popularization of the Middle Ages, triggered by TV series such as Game of Thrones. As for medievalists, we are hard working and we have well deserved this special day of appreciation and celebration.

National "She's Funny That Way" Day

What could man be without women? With laughter being the only thing within reach of our comprehension (God and Human Folly is out of bounds), let us be thankful that women possesses the things that lighten our ills and burdens. Come and let’s partake of the special feeling on the National “She’s Funny That Way” Day! National “She’s Funny That Way” Day is celebrated on the 31 of March every year.

On National "She's Funny That Way" Day we pay tribute to the women that make us laugh. Show appreciation for the humorous side of women, the things they do and say. Watch a female stand up comedian, rent a funny movie or if you're a women be extra funny today.
Some sources point to the origin of this event to the compendium Chase’s Calendar of Events ‘sponsored events’ category. Sources say that Brenda C. Meredith, the author of the coming-of-age novel She’s Funny That Way published in March of 2003, as the sponsor of this day for the Chase’s Calendar editors to include in their list. Since then, the event has taken a life of its own, providing everyone a reason to celebrate the little quirks and idiosyncrasies of women all over the planet.

  1. Some sources state that an average woman manages to eat some of her lipstick that amounts to 2 to 3 kilos or 4 to 6 pounds, in the course of her lifetime. 
  2. Some research states that the average woman spends about 120 hours in front of a mirror beautifying herself over the course of a year. That amounts to 5 whole days if done continuously! 
  3. Women consider their room aka the ladies room, as the ladies room and not just the room that contains the toilet. Some backroom dealing happens in there, too. 
  4. To guys, commenting on women’s appearance is a landmine, especially with these questions: “How do I look” and “Is that girl good-looking.”
How to celebrate the National “She’s Funny That Way” Day
  1. Keenly observe the main woman in your life on this day. She’ll probably notice it, and could lead to lots of embarrassing and hilarious revelations. 
  2. Discuss with your female friends the little quirks and habits of the ladies and have a discussion of separating fact from fiction. Makes for a wondrous time! 
  3. Give your lady a soulful rendition of John Legend’s All of Me. That song is a perfect fit to the spirit of this event. That or Frank Sinatra’s She’s Funny That Way. 
  4. Watch movie hits like Pretty Woman, Sister Act, There’s Something About Mary; better yet, get a copy of the classic Funny Girl starring Barbara Streisand These movies that tickles you pink and shows the weird and wonderful side of the ladies 
  5. Watch some female stand-up comedians in their best form or better yet, go to the downtown comedy bar and have a few laughs personally.
Some humorous women on TV, both past and present, include:
  • Lucille Ball
  • Carol Burnett
  • Jane Curtin
  • Tina Fey
  • Chelsea Handler, 
  • ne Kaczmarek
  • Betty White
  • Amy Poehler
  • Gilda Radner.
  • Ellen DeGeneres
  • Kathy Griffin
  • Whoopie Goldberg
  • Roseanne Barr
  • Phyllis Diller
  • Lily Tomlin
  • Minnie Pearl
  • Margaret Cho
  • Wanda Sykes
  • Sarah Silverman
National Bunsen Burner Day

National Bunsen Burner Day is a holiday that commemorates the date of birth of the inventor of the Bunsen Burner. While not enjoying the status of being considered a major holiday in any country or group of countries, Bunsen Burner Day has been observed for a number of years. The holiday occurs on the same calendar date each year, and is often recognized by persons with a strong interest in chemistry and science in general.

Celebrated on 31 March of each year Bunsen Burner Day is the celebration of the German chemist Robert Wilhelm Eberhard von Bunsen. Born in 1811, van Bunsen is the generally acknowledged inventor of Bunsen Burners. While there are some historians of the development of chemistry that maintain von Bunsen was not the creator but rather a refiner of the device, there is general agreement that the devices used in chemistry labs and classrooms around the world today is the work of von Bunsen.
The Bunsen Burner itself is a very simple device, consisting of a long hollow tube. A combination of gas and air help to form the flame that powers the burner, making it very easy to control the amount of flame and heat by adjusting the mixture of the two compounds. Many people get their first view of a Bunsen Burner while in junior high or high school, as part of scientific assignments and experiments. Large corporations that develop a wide range of chemically based products routinely make use of the device. In like manner, educational and research institutions also commonly utilize the Bunsen Burner in laboratories around the world.

There is some difference of opinion on when and where the actual observance of Bunsen Burner Day began. One theory is that the holiday originates in Germany, the birthplace of von Bunsen and was inaugurated in the early 20th century. A different theory places the beginning of Bunsen Burner Day in the middle of the 20th century, with a combination of UK and US chemists combining efforts to honor the work of von Bunsen. In general, celebrants agree the holiday came into being at some time after the death of von Bunsen in 1899.

National Clams on the Half Shell Day

National Clams on the Half Shell Day is celebrated on March 31st of each year.

In culinary use, within the eastern coast of the USA, the term “clam” most often refers to the hard clam Mercenaria mercenaria. It may also refer to several other common edible species, such as the soft-shell clam, Mya arenaria, and the ocean quahog, Arctica islandica. Another species which is commercially exploited on the Atlantic Coast of the US is the surf clam Spisula solidissima.

Clams can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, baked or fried; the method of preparation depends partly on the size and species of the clam. They can also be made into clam chowder (a popular soup in the U.S. and Canada) or they can be cooked using hot rocks and seaweed in a New England clam bake.

Stuffed clams are also known as stuffies. They are popular in New England and consist of a breadcrumb and minced clam mixture that is baked on the half shell of a quahog hard shell clam. Other ingredients typically found in the basic breadcrumb mixture are: meat such as sausage, bacon or chorizo, peppers, lemon juice, celery, garlic, spices and herbs. There are many different recipes for stuffed clams; many restaurants in New England have their own variety, as do many home cooks.

National Crayola Crayon Day

Binney & Smith, Inc. put Crayola Crayons on the market. On March 31st in 1903 the company began selling their Crayola Crayons to the public.

A crayon (or wax pastel) is a stick of colored wax, charcoal, chalk or other material. A crayon made of oiled chalk is called an oil pastel; when made of pigment with a dry binder, it is simply a pastel. A grease pencil or china marker (UK chinagraph pencil) is made of colored hardened grease. There are also watercolor crayons, sometimes called water soluble crayons.

Crayons, which are available at a range of price points, are easy to work with, often less messy than paints and markers, blunt (removing the risk of sharp points present when using a pencil or pen), typically non-toxic, and are available in a wide variety of colors. These characteristics make them particularly good instruments for teaching small children to draw in addition to being used widely by student and professional artists.

The history of the crayon is not entirely clear. The word "crayon" dates to 1644, coming from (chalk) and the Latin word creta (earth).

The notion to combine a form of wax with pigment actually goes back thousands of years. The Egyptians perfected a technique using hot beeswax combined with colored pigment to bind color into stone in a process known as encaustic painting. A heat source was then used to "burn in" and fix the image in place. This method, also employed by the Romans, the Greeks and even indigenous people in the Philippines around 1600-1800, is still used today. However, the process wasn’t used to make crayons into a form intended to be held and colored with and was therefore ineffective to use in a classroom or as crafts for children. 
Contemporary crayons are purported to have originated in Europe where some of the first cylinder shaped crayons were made with charcoal and oil. Pastels are an art medium having roots with the modern crayon and stem back to Leonardo da Vinci in 1495. Conté crayons, out of Paris, are a hybrid between a pastel and a conventional crayon; used since the late 1790s as a drawing crayon for artists. Later, various hues of powdered pigment eventually replaced the primary charcoal ingredient found in most early 19th century product. References to crayons in literature appear as early as 1813 in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Joseph Lemercier (born Paris 1803—died 1884), considered by some of his contemporaries to be “the soul of lithography”, was also one of the founders of the modern crayon. Through his Paris business circa 1828 he produced a variety of crayon and color related products. But even as those in Europe were discovering that substituting wax for the oil strengthened the crayon, various efforts in the United States were also developing. Prehistoric artists were the first to use makeshift chalks and clay sticks to express artistic views, all in natural pigments from which the clay and chalk was made. The use of wax being used as an artistic medium began back with Greek art in a period of time known as the Golden Age. The Wax Encaustic Technique was described by the Romans, even though created by the Greeks. Pliny the Elder, a Roman scholar, was thought to describe the first techniques of wax crayon drawings.

National Tater Day

National Tater Day is an unofficial food holiday set aside to celebrate the potato. It is celebrated annually on March 31. While it is a day set aside for potatoes, this day may have come about because of a different food celebration that occurs just days later. On the first Monday in April each year, there is a local observance for sweet potatoes in Marshall County, Kentucky. It has been an annual day for sweet potato celebration since the 1840's. The sweet potato is one of the main cash crops in that area.

The potato is the leading vegetable crop in the US, with 41.3 billion pounds produced per year and over 1 million acres of cropland dedicated to potato planting.

The exact reason that National Tater Day came about is unknown. It is also unknown who had the idea for National Potato Day. The history of the potato goes back over 2500 years. Archaeologists have found evidence that potatoes have been grown since 500 BC. The Incas grew and worshiped potatoes.

Potatoes sustained the economy in Ireland for centuries. In fact, the Irish were so dependent on potato production that when a great famine wiped out potato crops in the mid-1800's, close to one million people died and others were forced to migrate to North America and Australia to survive.

Americans did not start to use potatoes as a food until the 1870s. Prior to that, potatoes were primarily considered livestock feed. In 1872, the Russet Burbank potato was developed by horticulturalist Luther Burbank. He developed a hybrid potato that proved to be more disease resistant. He introduced it to farmers in Ireland to help stop the blight in that country. He also introduced it to Idaho farmers, thus beginning a boom in the Idaho potato industry after it had failed in that area nearly forty years earlier

National Tater Day is celebrated by consuming potatoes in any of the many ways they can be prepared. Potatoes come in many different varieties, including russet, red, white, blue/purple, yellow and fingerling. Each of these kinds of potatoes offer the consumer several different preparation ideas. Yellow potatoes are commonly used for potato pancakes, red for roasting for salads, russet for oven fries and baked potatoes.

World Backup Day

If you haven’t backed up your digital data yet, you are a fool. No offense. Seriously, though, it is so, so, so easy to lose everything. And guess what: A lot of people who want you to buy stuff have made up a holiday around the concept. Think Valentine’s Day, only this time it’s a good idea. Happy World Backup Day, everyone! Marketing scam or no, we urge you to celebrate.

Backing up your data isn't just practical — say, if you want to transfer everything from your current computer to a new one — it’s an incredibly important safeguard against total digital loss. Whether you get hacked, your hard drive crashes, or you accidentally spill a cup of coffee across your keyboard, you’ll want to make sure that a copy of your collection of Skrillex albums and selfies are safely stored elsewhere for retrieval.

Here are some ways to back up your computer and prevent digital loss. Of course, this isn't a comprehensive list, so go ahead and hit us in the comments with your best techniques.

The Old Standby: The External Hard Drive
One of the simplest ways to back up your computer is to clone a copy of everything you have onto an external hard drive. If you own a Mac, it’s as easy as hooking up a drive via USB, FireWire or Thunderbolt and firing up Time Machine, which you can find on the right side of the menu bar. Click the “Backup Now” button and Time Machine will make a copy of everything on your machine. It’s a painless process, though the initial backup will take a while. If you don’t want to deal with wires, you can set up a Wi-Fi enabled hard drive like Apple’s Time Capsule or Seagate’s GoFlex Satellite.

Windows users have a few more options, depending on which OS you’re running. Windows 7 users can use the simple Backup and Restore tool, located in the Control Panel under System and Maintenance. Windows 8 users need to do a bit of digging to back up a carbon copy of your computer system. You can set up a backup with File History — found in Control Panel’s System and Security — but that won’t make a complete clone. For that, you’ll need to go to the Windows 7 File Recovery link, located at the bottom left corner of the File History page.

Need help looking for a hard drive? We've reviewed a bunch of them.

The In-Crowd Option: Take It to the Cloud
If you don’t have the funds to throw down on a drive — or don’t trust yourself with one more piece of breakable/losable gadgetry — you can always back up your data to the cloud, as the cool kids are doing these days. There are plenty of services that let you back up all of your data via the internet. Take, Mozy for example. The company offers automatic online backups of your entire system, and throws in file syncing, too. And it’s pretty affordable at $6 a month for 50GB of storage and one computer. Plus, you can access your files on you mobile devices through the company’s iOS and Android apps.

(CrashPlan and Backblaze both sponsor World Backup Day. Both of their services are highly regarded and just as, or more, affordable than Mozy. But it felt a bit sleazy to plug them so directly, so we’re putting them here.)

The advantage to using these services is that you don’t have to worry about losing or breaking a physical drive. It’s also very unlikely that a highly-rated company would lose your data — and if it did, you could reasonably expect that it would go out of business. Cold comfort, but comfort nonetheless. The disadvantages: Online services might be unavailable due to maintenance, and there’s always the possibility of your account getting hacked. Plus, you’re signing up for yet another bill.

The Cheapskate’s Option: Dropbox It for Free
Dropbox isn't built as a backup service, but it’s not a bad option for safeguarding your most important files without spending any money. You can sign up for a free account, which gives you 2GB of storage. Refer your friends and Dropbox gives you another 500MB for each person. Or you can always pay $10 a month for 100GB of storage, but that kinda defeats the whole “free” thing.

You won’t be able to store your personal app data, like the information you have stored in your Contacts or in an offline calendar system. And 2GB isn’t a ton, but it should be enough to back up key files that you want to make sure never to lose — like your novel-in-progress or wedding photos. The good thing about Dropbox is that you can sync everything across different devices, all in one easy-to-manage Dropbox folder on your computer. And the more devices sync, the less likely you are to lose your data. Once you put a file into Dropbox, it syncs to all of your other computers (that are connected to Dropbox), and backs up a copy of that file on those devices as well. Dropbox also lets you look back on older versions of files or even deleted files.

If you’re a loyal Google, Microsoft or Apple user with all of your documents and files in a single companies’ products, then you can get good free file backups from them. Google Drive, Microsoft’s SkyDrive and iCloud all do the trick. Naturally, someone who lives in Google products will benefit from a paid Google Drive storage system, and SkyDrive is great for Windows, Office and Windows Phone users. Of course, you can always go iCloud for your Mac and iOS data. You’ll want to decide which free service works best for you depending on what other products you use. But you’ll want to make sure you have another backup in place (see below).

Back Up the Backup
The best way to make sure that you don’t suffer a huge digital data loss is to back up your backup. If you use iCloud to back up your photos and documents, it’s best to have those same photos and documents on another cloud service or hard drive (or both). Apple’s developer community has been especially outspoken about the difficulty of working with Apple’s cloud system with stories of data loss and corruption. It’s just not reliable as your sole backup. Your account can get hacked on any online service and an external hard drive can go bad or break. You should also consider having an offsite backup, like an external hard drive stored at your office or a storage locker or a trustworthy friend or relative’s house. No plan is totally bulletproof, but you can add extra armor to your backup plan by having more than one system in place.