Sunday, August 30, 2015

Holidays and Observances for August 30 2015

Frankenstein Day


Frankenstein Day is celebrated on August 30th of each year to commemorate the birth of Mary Shelley, author of the novel Frankenstein.

Mary Shelley (née Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin; 30 August 1797 – 1 February 1851) was an English novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus (1818). She also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley. Her father was the political philosopher William Godwin, and her mother was the philosopher and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft.

Mary Godwin’s mother died when she was eleven days old; afterwards, she and her older half-sister, Fanny Imlay, were raised by her father. When Mary was four, Godwin married his neighbour, Mary Jane Clairmont. Godwin provided his daughter with a rich, if informal, education, encouraging her to adhere to his liberal political theories. In 1814, Mary Godwin began a romantic relationship with one of her father’s political followers, the married Percy Bysshe Shelley. Together with Mary’s stepsister, Claire Clairmont, they left for France and traveled through Europe; upon their return to England, Mary was pregnant with Percy’s child. Over the next two years, she and Percy faced ostracism, constant debt, and the death of their prematurely born daughter. They married in late 1816 after the suicide of Percy Shelley’s first wife, Harriet.

In 1816, the couple famously spent a summer with Lord Byron, John William Polidori, and Claire Clairmont near Geneva, Switzerland, where Mary conceived the idea for her novel Frankenstein. The Shelleys left Britain in 1818 for Italy, where their second and third children died before Mary Shelley gave birth to her last and only surviving child, Percy Florence. In 1822, her husband drowned when his sailing boat sank during a storm in the Bay of La Spezia. A year later, Mary Shelley returned to England and from then on devoted herself to the upbringing of her son and a career as a professional author. The last decade of her life was dogged by illness, probably caused by the brain tumour that was to kill her at the age of 53.

Until the 1970s, Mary Shelley was known mainly for her efforts to publish Percy Shelley’s works and for her novel Frankenstein, which remains widely read and has inspired many theatrical and film adaptations. Recent scholarship has yielded a more comprehensive view of Mary Shelley’s achievements. Scholars have shown increasing interest in her literary output, particularly in her novels, which include the historical novels Valperga (1823) and Perkin Warbeck (1830), the apocalyptic novel The Last Man (1826), and her final two novels, Lodore (1835) and Falkner (1837). Studies of her lesser-known works such as the travel book Rambles in Germany and Italy (1844) and the biographical articles for Dionysius Lardner’s Cabinet Cyclopaedia (1829–46) support the growing view that Mary Shelley remained a political radical throughout her life. Mary Shelley’s works often argue that cooperation and sympathy, particularly as practiced by women in the family, were the ways to reform civil society. This view was a direct challenge to the individualistic Romantic ethos promoted by Percy Shelley and the Enlightenment political theories articulated by her father, William Godwin.

International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances


Enforced disappearance has frequently been used as a strategy to spread terror within the society. The feeling of insecurity generated by this practice is not limited to the close relatives of the disappeared, but also affects their communities and society as a whole.

Enforced disappearance has become a global problem and is not restricted to a specific region of the world. Once largely the product of military dictatorships, enforced disappearances can nowadays be perpetrated in complex situations of internal conflict, especially as a means of political repression of opponents. Of particular concern are:
  • the ongoing harassment of human rights defenders, relatives of victims, witnesses and legal counsel dealing with cases of enforced disappearance;
  • the use by States of counter-terrorist activities as an excuse for breaching their obligations;
  • and the still widespread impunity for enforced disappearance.
Special attention must also be paid to specific groups of especially vulnerable people, like children and people with disabilities.

On 21 December 2010, by its resolution 65/209 the UN General Assembly expressed its deep concern, in particular, by the increase in enforced or involuntary disappearances in various regions of the world, including arrest, detention and abduction, when these are part of or amount to enforced disappearances, and by the growing number of reports concerning harassment, ill-treatment and intimidation of witnesses of disappearances or relatives of persons who have disappeared.

By the same resolution the Assembly welcomed the adoption of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and decided to declare 30 August the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, to be observed beginning in 2011.

International Whale Shark Day


The bunnies have got Easter sewn up and Christmas is all about Rudolph, so it’s only fair that everyone’s favorite fish, the whale shark, gets a bite at the cherry.

Started in 2012, International Whale Shark Day celebrates these gentle giants. Growing up to 14 meters long and 12 tons heavy, whale sharks have a face only a mother could love: no whale shark will ever win a beauty contest, so it’s right they’re made to feel special one day a year. However, there’s a serious purpose to the day, which aims to raise awareness of how this animal has been hunted to vulnerability for its highly prized fins and meat.

As the largest fish in the sea, reaching lengths of 40 feet (12 meters) or more, whale sharks have an enormous menu from which to choose. Fortunately for most sea-dwellers—and us!—their favorite meal is plankton. They scoop these tiny plants and animals up, along with any small fish that happen to be around, with their colossal gaping mouths while swimming close to the water's surface.

The whale shark, like the world's second largest fish, the basking shark, is a filter feeder. In order to eat, the beast juts out its formidably sized jaws and passively filters everything in its path.  The mechanism is theorized to be a technique called “cross-flow filtration,” similar to some bony fish and baleen whales.

The whale shark's flattened head sports a blunt snout above its mouth with short barbels protruding from its nostrils. Its back and sides are gray to brown with white spots among pale vertical and horizontal stripes, and its belly is white. Its two dorsal fins are set rearward on its body, which ends in a large dual-lobbed caudal fin (or tail).

Preferring warm waters, whale sharks populate all tropical seas. They are known to migrate every spring to the continental shelf of the central west coast of Australia. The coral spawning of the area's Ningaloo Reef provides the whale shark with an abundant supply of plankton.

Although massive, whale sharks are docile fish and sometimes allow swimmers to hitch a ride. They are currently listed as a vulnerable species; however, they continue to be hunted in parts of Asia, such as the Philippines.

So, why not show a little solidarity on International Whale Shark Day and celebrate our finned friends? Go coastal and try and glimpse a whale or perhaps bake a (fish)cake. Whatever you do, just don’t watch Jaws.

National Holistic Pet Day


This August 30th you have the chance to change your pet’s life just by celebrating Holistic Pet Day. The goal of this special day is to highlight the importance of whole pet health instead of singular systems or problems. Holistic pet health can help improve nutrition, increase energy and remedy lingering ailments.

National Holistic Pet Day was founded by Colleen Paige of Animal Miracle Network. She is considered to be one of America's premier family and pet lifestyle experts. She has also founded such holidays as National Dog Day, National Cat Day, National Kids & Pets Day, and several others. Ms. Paige has said of National Holistic Pet Day, “I want people to understand that with the already short life spans our pets have, they need a fighting chance these days to live as long as they were meant to. Pet owners really need to start looking at their pet’s diet, lifestyle and environment. I want to ensure that I have done my best to bring about public awareness of the need for a healthy lifestyle with our pets. I don’t blame myself for Tinkerbelle’s death, but now that she has died from cancer – I know I could have done better. I don’t want anyone else to have to feel how I feel…wondering if I could have prevented it.”

You play a very important role in the health of your dog. Its food, amount of exercise and mental stimulation lead to excellent health and well-being, affecting your dog's physical, behavioral and emotional health. Holistic Pet Day is a chance to help improve your pet's quality of life by strengthening each of the following:
Nutrition is one of the most important aspects of holistic pet care. A diet of natural and organic food is has numerous health benefits such boosting your pet’s immune system, which is an easy way to prevent diseases and other health problems. Try not to feed your dog food that is difficult to digest. Our dogs’ digestive systems aren’t mean to deal with many of the preservatives and chemicals found in cheap pet food. Good quality, natural dog food also helps our dogs fight allergies, intestinal problems, obesity, diabetes and other food-related diseases.

Water is the most important nutrient for long, healthy life. Dogs need plenty of fresh water that isn't potentially contaminated with fluoride, chlorine and other chemicals. Keep your dog's water safe by using filtered water, never reusing plastic water bottles to fill their water bowls, and using stainless steel dog bowls instead of plastic.

One of the best ways to keep your dog healthy in body is to give it plenty of exercise. It helps keep your dog physically fit, aids weight loss, lowers cholesterol levels, decreases diabetes risk, lessens the risk of heart disease, helps with anxiety and helps fight certain cancers. Exercise also helps your dog behave too; you know the saying that a tired dog is a good dog.

It doesn’t take much to get your dog moving around and exercising. Go for plenty of walks or maybe a run. How about a fun game of fetch? Dogs love to chase down their favorite ball or toy. Another added benefit of exercising your dog is that you get plenty of exercise and in turn help improve your own health. It’s a win-win situation!

Use only natural grooming products when giving your dog a bath. This includes items with natural oils and extracts instead of synthetic chemicals which can leave harmful residues and strip away your pet’s natural oils.

While keeping your dog physically active is important so is keeping it mentally stimulated. It keeps him or her happy and well-balanced. There are all sorts of different and fun ways to get your dog's brain cells firing. Some dog toys are specifically designed to challenge your dog to solve a puzzle for a treat. Hide treats in different areas of your home or apartment and have your dog search them out using its sense of smell. Try taking an alternative route when going for a walk. Your dog will love the new smells, sounds and sights! Have your dog interact with others dogs with a trip to the local doggie park.

The overall goal of Holistic Pet Day is to help improve your dog’s quality of life. It’s a wonderful opportunity to keep your dog happy and healthy in all aspects of its life. Remember to follow the tips you learned on Holistic Pet Day everyday for a long-lasting and happy relationship with your pet.

National Toasted Marshmallow Day


Fall is just around the corner, and with it comes cooler weather. Don’t be disheartened by the dropping temperatures; instead, light the hearth, stoke the outdoor fire pit or wait a while before putting the grill in the garage. Toasted marshmallows are the ultimate way to usher in the cooler season.

Marshmallows have a pretty interesting history. The althea officinalis, or marshmallow plant, was initially used for its healing properties (Althainein in Greek means "to heal"). The root of this native African plant also produces a sticky white substance which the Egyptians combined with honey to make candy.

Not surprisingly, in the mid-19th century, the French turned the treat into the fluffy puff we know today as a marshmallow. They combined egg whites, water, sugar and the marshmallow root and then molded the mixture into individual candies. They were also dusted with corn starch to prevent them from sticking to everything. Over time, the marshmallow root has been replaced with gelatin, but the basic homemade recipe remains the same.

Marshmallows are pretty easy to make, but you will need a candy thermometer and an electric mixer or beater. You can use them in all sorts of ways: in cocoa, for puffed rice treats or for dipping in chocolate or caramel.

Toasted marshmallows are probably best known for their starring roles in sweet potato casserole (a Southern staple at Thanksgiving) and s’mores. The technique you use for toasting is very personal. Some prefer the rotisserie method, gently turning their mallow until it’s evenly browned. Others jump right in and engulf the puff in flames. Whatever your preferred technique, there’s something very satisfying about enjoying this treat outdoors before the cold really sets in.

Pony Express Day


Pony Express Day is observed the last Sunday in August and is to honor and celebrate the brave riders who were a part of the mail service (with the same name) delivering mail, messages, newspapers, and small packages from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California.

Pony Express Day celebrates those brave souls who made up the unique mail delivery system of the same name. Back in the days of the wild west, there was no Fed Ex, no Postal Service that ran that far west, no planes, and delivery by ship was likely to take months if it ever got there at all. Seeing this need for a specialized delivery service, Leavenworth and Pike’s Peak Express Company took an opportunity to expand into this void. From this important decision was born one of the most iconic pieces of American History, whose influence is felt in hundreds of Pony Express Day Festivals throughout the American Midwest.

The Pony Express existed for 18 months between the days of April 3, 1860 to October 1861. In these days there was no air mail, no great American Highway, all there was was hundreds of miles of wide open spaces with not much in between but animal filled wilderness and bandito filled hollows. During this time, if you wanted to send a letter or small package from anywhere East past the gateway of St. Joseph, Missouri, there was only one way to go. The Pony Express was a massive employer for it’s time, with up to 80 young riders employed at any given stage, with stringent requirements on their age, size, and weight.

The Pony Express preferred to employ the youngest riders they could, in part for their resilience, and in part for how light they were. The lighter a man was the longer the horse could run and the more cargo the rider could carry, and since the horses were put to go full tilt for 10 to 15 miles at a stretch before changing, this was of vital importance. The rider changed out every 75 to 100 miles, but the mail never so much as slowed even in the worst of weather. While the average trip from coast to coast (On Horseback!) took 10 days, when they delivered Lincoln’s Inaugural Address, the trip was made in a mere 7 days and 17 hours.

With Pony Express Day Festivals being a staple all throughout the United States, there are tons of opportunities to celebrate the bravery of these young mailmen. You can spend Postal Express Day dressed up as one of these adventurous young souls who served as the heart of America’s fast tracked postal line, while watching equestrian events commemorating the challenges they faced. Speaking of equestrian events, lets not forget the true heroes of this endeavor, the horses that carried men and post across the nation time and time again. These events often have a broad range of related events, including food related events. Chili was one of the staples of the old American West, and as you might imagine there was often a pot of this spicy staple bubbling to keep the riders fed as they came in and out with the packages.

If you find yourself without a local event, you can host one at your home. Make Chili and Cornbread, find logos and the like to print out online, and get the 1953 movie ‘Pony Express’ featuring Charleston Heston and Rhonda Fleming! This is a classic about this amazing American institution and the trials and efforts of the men and women who fought to make it a reality. So get together with your friends and family on Pony Express Day, and celebrate the Pioneer spirit of the Old West!

Slinky Day


Spring into action on August 30! It's Slinky Day.

Who remembers this popular coiled spring toy, which clinks and clanks and steps downstairs all by itself? The Slinky first appeared in the 1940s, created by American naval engineer Richard James. Apparently James invented the classic plaything by accident. He was working on a set of metal springs for shipboard instruments. Suddenly, a section of spring fell off his laboratory shelf and stepped down several stacks of books, papers and counter before landing in a neat upright stack. A legend was born. Celebrating this auspicious occasion, August 30th is Slinky Day.

Slinky is a toy; a precompressed helical spring invented by Richard James in the early 1940s. It can perform a number of tricks, including travelling down a flight of steps end-over-end as it stretches and re-forms itself with the aid of gravity and its own momentum, or appear to levitate for a period of time after it has been dropped. These interesting characteristics have contributed to its success as a toy in its home country of USA, resulting in many popular toys with slinky components in a wide range of countries.

The toy was invented and developed by naval engineer Richard T. James in 1943 and demonstrated at Gimbels department store in Philadelphia in November 1945. The toy was a hit, selling its entire inventory of 400 units in ninety minutes. James and his wife Betty formed James Industries in Clifton Heights, Pennsylvania to manufacture Slinky and several related toys such as the Slinky Dog and Suzie, the Slinky Worm. In 1960, James' wife Betty became president of James Industries, and, in 1964, moved the operation to Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. In 1998, Betty James sold the company to Poof Products, Inc..

Slinky was originally priced at $1, but many paid much more due to price increases of spring steel throughout the state of Pennsylvania, and has remained modestly priced throughout its history as a result of Betty James' concern about the toy's affordability for financially disadvantaged customers. Slinky has seen uses other than as a toy in the playroom: it has appeared in the classroom as a teaching tool, in wartime as a radio antenna, and in physics experiments with NASA. Slinky was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong in Rochester, New York, in 2000. In 2002, Slinky became Pennsylvania's official state toy, and, in 2003, was named to the Toy Industry Association's "Century of Toys List." In its first 60 years Slinky has sold 300 million units.

In 1943, Richard James, a naval mechanical engineer stationed at the William Cramp and Sons shipyards in Philadelphia, was developing springs that could support and stabilize sensitive instruments aboard ships in rough seas. James accidentally knocked one of the springs from a shelf, and watched as the spring "stepped" in a series of arcs to a stack of books, to a tabletop, and to the floor, where it re-coiled itself and stood upright. James' wife Betty later recalled, "He came home and said, 'I think if I got the right property of steel and the right tension; I could make it walk.'" James experimented with different types of steel wire over the next year, and finally found a spring that would walk. Betty was dubious at first, but changed her mind after the toy was fine-tuned and neighborhood children expressed an excited interest in it. She dubbed the toy Slinky (meaning "sleek and graceful"), after finding the word in a dictionary, and deciding that the word aptly described the sound of a metal spring expanding and collapsing.

With a US$500 loan, the couple formed James Industries (originally James Spring & Wire Company), had 400 Slinky units made by a local machine shop, hand-wrapped each in yellow paper, and priced them at $1 a piece.[4] Each was 21⁄2" tall, and included 98 coils of high-grade blue-black Swedish steel. The Jameses had difficulty selling Slinky to toy stores but, in November 1945, they were granted permission to set up an inclined plane in the toy section of Gimbels department store in Philadelphia to demonstrate the toy. Slinky was a hit, and the first 400 units were sold within ninety minutes. In 1946, Slinky was introduced at the American Toy Fair.

Richard James opened shop in Albany, New York after developing a machine that could produce a Slinky within seconds. The toy was packaged in a black-lettered box, and advertising saturated America. James often appeared on television shows to promote Slinky. In 1952, the Slinky Dog debuted. Other Slinky toys introduced in the 1950s included the Slinky train Loco, the Slinky worm Suzie, and the Slinky Crazy Eyes, a pair of glasses that uses Slinkys over the eyeholes attached to plastic eyeballs. James Industries licensed the patent to several other manufacturers including Wilkening Mfg. Co. of Philadelphia and Toronto which produced spring-centered toys such as Mr. Wiggle's Leap Frog and Mr. Wiggle's Cowboy. In its first 2 years, James Industries sold 100 million Slinkys (At $1 apiece, that would be the equivalent to $1 Billion, adjusted for inflation, in gross revenue over those 2 years).

In 1960, Richard James left the company after his wife filed for divorce and he became an evangelical missionary in Bolivia with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Betty James managed the company, juggled creditors, and in 1964 moved the company to Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. Richard James died in 1974. The company and its product line expanded under Betty James' leadership.[4] In 1995, she explained the toy's success to the Associated Press by saying, "It's the simplicity of it."

Betty James insisted upon keeping the original Slinky affordable. In 1996, when the price ranged from $1.89 to $2.69, she told The New York Times: “So many children can't have expensive toys, and I feel a real obligation to them. I'm appalled when I go Christmas shopping and $60 to $80 for a toy is nothing." In 2008, Slinkys cost $4 to $5, and Slinky Dogs about $20.

In 1998, James Industries was sold to Poof Products, Inc. of Plymouth, Michigan, a manufacturer of foam sports balls. Slinky continued production in Hollidaysburg. In 2003, James Industries merged with Poof Products, Inc. to create Poof-Slinky, Inc.

Betty James died of congestive heart failure in November 2008, aged 90, after having served as president of James Industries from 1960 to 1998. Over 300 million Slinkys have been sold between 1945 and 2005, and the original Slinky is still a bestseller.
Or simply sit back and wax nostalgic by watching this old Slinky television commercial. Just try not to sing along. See? You can't help yourself!