Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Holidays and Observances for August 4 2015

Backgammon Day

August 4th is Backgammon Day. Line up those checkers, and shake that dice cup! The board game of Backgammon, or something like it, has been around for millennia. Ancient ruins in Egypt, India and Rome have been unearthed, revealing pictographs and artifacts for backgammon or its likely predecessors. Backgammon offers a stimulating solution to midsummer boredom, particularly on Backgammon Day.

Backgammon involves a combination of strategy and luck (from rolling dice). While the dice may determine the outcome of a single game, over a series of many games, the better player will accumulate the better record. Thus, records of matches between players are good indicators of relative skill. With each roll of the dice, players must choose from numerous options for moving their checkers and anticipate possible counter-moves by the opponent. In variants that originate from early 20th century New York, players may raise the stakes during the game. There is an established repertoire of common tactics and occurrences.

Like chess, backgammon has been studied with great interest by computer scientists. Owing to this research, backgammon software has been developed that is capable of beating world-class human players (see TD-Gammon for an example).

Backgammon is one of the oldest board games played today, and can be most clearly traced to the ancient game tabula, which appears in an epigram of Byzantine Emperor Zeno (AD 476–481).

The ancient Egyptians played a game called senet, which resembled backgammon, with moves controlled by the roll of dice. The Royal Game of Ur, played in ancient Mesopotamia, is a more likely ancestor of modern tables games. Recent excavations at the "Burnt City" in Iran showed that a similar game existed there around 3000 BC. The artifacts include two dice and 60 pieces, and the set is believed to be 100 to 200 years older than the sets found in Ur.

The ancient Romans played a number of games with remarkable similarities to backgammon. Ludus duodecim scriptorum ("game of twelve lines") used a board with three rows of 12 points each, and the pieces were moved across all three rows according to the roll of dice. Not much specific text about the gameplay has survived. Tabula, meaning "table" or "board", was similar to modern backgammon in that a board with 24 points was used, and the object of the game was to be the first to bear off all of one's checkers. Three dice were used instead of two, and opposing checkers moved in opposite directions.

In the 11th century Shahnameh, the Persian poet Ferdowsi credits Burzoe with the invention of nard in the 6th century. He describes an encounter between Burzoe and a Raja visiting from India. The Raja introduces the game of chess, and Burzoe demonstrates nard, played with dice made from ivory and teak.

The jeux de tables, predecessors of modern backgammon, first appeared in France during the 11th century and became a frequent pastime for gamblers. In 1254, Louis IX of France issued a decree prohibiting his court officials and subjects from playing the games. While it is mostly known for its extensive discussion of chess, the Alfonso X manuscript Libro de los juegos, completed in 1283, describes rules for a number of dice and tables games. By the 17th century, tables games had spread to Sweden. A wooden board and checkers were recovered from the wreck of the Regalskeppet Vasa among the belongings of the ship's officers.

Edmund Hoyle published A Short Treatise on the Game of Backgammon in 1743; this book described the rules of the game and was bound together with a similar text on whist. The game described by Hoyle is, in most respects, the same as the game played today.

In English, the word "backgammon" is most likely derived from "back" and Middle English "gamen", meaning "game" or "play". The earliest use documented by the Oxford English Dictionary was in 1650.

Hooray for Kids Day

Kids rock, especially on August 4th. It's Hooray for Kids. No one seems to know the actual origins of this happy holiday for hooligans, but it probably started with a bunch of youngsters. Still, who hasn't been a kid - at least once? Celebrate youth. Act like a child. Skip a rope, toss a ball or ride a bike on August 4th. Hooray for Kids!

Acting like a child can be really good for you. No, I’m not talking about throwing tantrums in the supermarket or throwing toys at your sister. I mean rediscovering that childlike sense of fun and delight that we sadly lose as we get older. Have you noticed how children can derive a huge amount of pleasure and interest from the simplest #things? So here are some delightful advantages of acting like a child, and letting go of the stresses of being an adult…

1. Stress Relief - One of the greatest #benefits of acting like a child is that it provides stress relief. With the busy and demanding lives that we lead, and the stressful environment many of us live in, we need to counteract the effect of that stress. What better way can there be than to return to your childhood? So have fun with your kids, or simply enjoy some childlike pleasures such as making snow angels. You’re never too old!

2. Rejuvenating - If you think that you’re getting old, then old is exactly what you’ll be. You’ll make it happen. Yet age can be very much a state of mind. So enjoying some childlike activities can be a great way of helping yourself feel younger again. We can all get trapped in adult responsibilities; let go of them every once in a while and be a kid again!

3. Empathy - It’s easy to forget that we were all kids once, and to forget how the mind of a child works. So we can fail to be sympathetic when what seems a small thing to us is a big deal to our kids. Putting yourself into their mindset and acting like a kid can help remind you how they view life, and give you an appreciation of their worries.

4. Simplicity - Another advantage of getting in touch with our inner child is that it allows us to enjoy the simplicity of childhood once again. As adults, we do have a tendency to complicate #everything! Children see #things in very simple terms, and by following their example we can regain a little of that simplicity.

5. Energetic - Children have so much energy, don’t they? Unlike them, we spend a lot of #time engaged in sedentary activities, which isn’t good for our health and fitness. Taking part in some active pastimes will help keep us fit, increase our energy levels, and provide a fun workout. So take the dog for a run, or play games with your kids in the park.

6. No Self-Consciousness - Kids are not naturally self-conscious; they are taught to become that way by experience. Think about how many times you have avoided doing something because of what someone might say, or through fear that you might #look silly. Children don’t worry about that. So be like them, and just go ahead and do whatever you feel like doing.

7. Fun! - Finally, acting like a child is just plain fun! And why should kids have all the fun? So shrug off your grown-up side for a while and simply enjoy yourself. Be a six year old again, and do something silly. You can do this in the privacy of your own home if you want, if it really would be too embarrassing to be seen (although bear point 6 in mind about not being too self-conscious!).

Letting your childlike side run free for a while is really good for you. Okay, so we have to be grown-up most of the #time, but we can allow ourselves that escape from adult responsibilities. Let’s #face it, being an adult can be pretty boring! So relax, switch off your grown-up side, and revert back to the pleasures of being young for a while. What’s your favorite way of being a kid again?

National Chocolate Chip Day

National Chocolate Chip Day is an American food holiday that is celebrated on May 15th and August 4th. The origins of the food holiday are unknown. National Chocolate Chip Day can be celebrated by cooking cookies, muffins, chocolate bars, cupcakes, pancakes, ice cream, and other foods with chocolate chips included.

Chocolate chips were first used in 1937 by Ruth Graves Wakefield. She used pieces of a chocolate bar in the cookie batter she was baking. The recipe was published in several newspapers in New England after it was introduced. In 1939, Nestle began the production and sale of Toll House Chocolate Chips.

Although the history of National Chocolate Chip Day is unknown, chocolate chips were first used in 1937 by Ruth Graves Wakefield. She formed chocolate chips by cutting up some of Nestle's semi-sweet chocolate and including the small pieces of it with the cookie batter she was cooking. Rather than melting as she had expected, the fragments of the bar partially held their shape and had been softened. These chocolate chip cookies were a success, and Wakefield's recipe was published in New England's newspapers.

Afterwards, Nestle and Wakefield reached an agreement that allowed Nestle to publish Wakefield's chocolate chip cookie recipe on the back of their bar wrappings. In 1939, Nestle released Nestle Toll House Real Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels.

National Chocolate Chip Day can be celebrated by cooking various foods that include chocolate chips. The foods made include cookies, muffins, pancakes, ice cream, brownies, and more. While chocolate chip cookies are a common food chocolate chips are used in, the holiday itself focuses on the chocolate chips themselves, rather than the cookies.

National Night Out

National Night Out is a community-police awareness event held annually on the first Tuesday of August.

National Night Out, ‘America’s Night Out against crime’, is an event that raises community-police awareness, introduced by the National Association of Town Watch, a non-profit, crime management association in 1984. It is celebrated on the first Tuesday of August. National Association of Town Watch is a dedicated organization that aims at the development, growth and maintenance of organised crime and drug prevention activities nationwide. Today its network has spread up including more than 6,500 crime, drug and violence prevention organizations. In Texas it is celebrated on October 4th, to avoid hot weather.

National Night Out was designed by Matt A. Peskin, the Executive Director of National Association of Town Watch. In Peskin’s words, “It’s a wonderful opportunity for communities nationwide to promote police-community partnerships, crime prevention and neighborhood camaraderie. While the one night is certainly not an answer to crime, drugs and violence; National Night Out does represent the kind of spirit, energy and determination that is helping to make many neighborhoods safer places throughout the year. It is a night to celebrate safety and crime prevention successes and to expand and strengthen programmes for the next 364 days.”

National Night Out is celebrated to enhance community-police awareness and to improve participation in local anti-crime activities.

National Night Out aims at the below mentioned goals:
  • Crime and drug prevention awareness
  • Generate support and enhance participation in local anti-crime efforts
  • Strengthen police-community partnerships
  • To let the criminals know the fact that neighborhoods are active and ready to fight back.
  • Intensifies neighborhood spirit
Initially communities held lights-on vigils as part of National Night Out celebrations.

Nowadays National Night Out celebrations include various events and activities such as, cookouts, visits from local police and sheriff departments, block parties, parades, exhibits, flashlight walks, rallies, meetings, contests and youth programs. The National Night Out 2010 was a grand event with more than 37 million people from over 15,000 communities being a part of it.

National White Wine Day

If you need a little something to whet your whistle, you're in luck.  Get ready to raise your glasses, America. August 4 is National White Wine Day, an annual beverage holiday created by wine enthusiast, freelance writer and “Queen of Holidays,” Jace Shoemaker-Galloway.

Derived from the skin and juice of grapes, white wine is actually not white. Its colors range from light yellow to golden hue. Usually served chilled, white wine is available in many tasty varietals.

The first trace of wine that has been found dates to 7500 years ago, in present-day Iran but the results of archaeological excavations have not been able to determine from which time wine began to be produced. Epigraphy tells us about the presence of wine in the Middle East: it was produced in the "High Country" (the mountain borders betweenAnatolia and Armenia) and then imported into Mesopotamia especially from the 3rd millennium BC. The tablets of Hattusa describes wine with the term wiyana in the Hittite language, GEŠTIN in Sumerian, and karânu in Akkadian. It could be red (SA5 GEŠTIN), light (or maybe white: KÙ.BABBAR GEŠTIN), good wine (DUG.GA GEŠTIN), honeyed (LÀL GEŠTIN) new (GIBIL), or sour (GEŠTIN EMSA).

In Ancient Greece wine had already been developed and used since Hippocrates, a physician born around 460 BC who commonly prescribed it to patients. "Vinous white wine" and "bitter white wine" were used among his remedies - a sign of diversity in production at that time.

In Roman times the type of viticulture practiced by the Greeks was their model for a long time and production included white wine. Rich Roman patricians organized banquets where the cost of the food was a sign of prestige. In the range of expensive products wine played a predominant role. The richest citizens built sumptuous villas in the Bay of Naples where the vine had been cultivated since its introduction by the Greeks. The aminum or ancient grape produced a sweet white wine produced as mulled wine resembling modern-day Madeira. The conquering of regions more and more to the north encouraged the Romans to cultivate the vine and to produce lighter and less sweet wines. It also encouraged them to seek new wild varieties adaptable to these distant areas where the Mediterranean varieties showed their limits. For example, vines were planted on the banks of the Rhine to provide the Legions with a healthy drink as opposed to water which was rarely drinkable. The wine was drunk cool in summer and warm in winter a practice which still continues in the 21st century.
Whether you prefer a light-bodied or full-bodied wine, dry, sweet or sparkling, with brunch, lunch, dinner, dessert or out on the deck, a glass of white wine is fine anytime of the day or night. In honor of National White Wine Day, why not celebrate the occasion with a glass or two of your favorite white wine or invite a few of your favorite BFFs over for your own wine-tasting party?

It's time to drink some wine!   And speaking of wine, Red Wine Day is coming up!

Single Working Women's Day

Are you single? Do you have single friends? Well, congratulations! You have your very own holiday to celebrate.

Single Working Women’s Week, this year the week of August 3 to 9, 2014, became an international holiday in 2006 when Chase’s Calendar of Events – the official guide to holidays around the world – agreed it was a unique reason to celebrate.

August 4, Single Working Women’s Day, became official just a few years ago And today single women all over the world have their own day to celebrate the courage and creativity it takes to live – and thrive! – in a society still mostly geared for couples.

Even though 51% of women in the U.S. are single – and the proportion continues to grow as the percentage of marriages declines both here and in countries all over the globe - couples generally still get the most benefits: lower taxes, cheaper prices, better seats in restaurants, etc. Though, thank goodness, things have been shifting in the eight years since SWWAN (Single Working Women’s Affiliate Network) was founded.

The online magazine Psychology Today publishes a column called “Living Single” written by professor Bella dePaulo, herself an ever-single woman. She specializes in studying societal trends and conducting research related to the phenomena surrounding the state of being single. Good stuff.

Single Working Women’s Week and Day gives you an official day and week in which to show your single women friends how much you appreciate them. Send a card, give a gift, buy a drink, write a blog post, or do something nice for her. And don’t forget yourself!

Whether you and your single friends are ever-single or divorced, singleton or single mom, be good to yourselves during Single Working Women’s Week. Celebrate all that you do and all that you give to the world, just as you do for others on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparents Day, and so on. You deserve it, too!

U.S. Coast Guard Day

U.S. Coast Guard Day is held every August 4 to commemorate the founding of the United States Coast Guard as the Revenue Marine on 4 August, 1790, by then Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton. On that date, Congress, guided by Hamilton, authorized the building of a fleet of the first ten Revenue Service cutters, whose responsibility would be enforcement of the first tariff laws enacted by Congress under the Constitution.

The U.S. Coast Guard received its present name through an act of Congress signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson on 28 January 1915 that merged the Revenue Cutter Service with the U.S. Life-Saving Service, and provided the nation with a single maritime service dedicated to saving life at sea and enforcing the nation's maritime laws.

The U.S. Coast Guard began to maintain the country's maritime aids to navigation, including operating the nation's lighthouses, when President Franklin Roosevelt announced plans to transfer of the U.S. Lighthouse Service to the Coast Guard in May 1939. Congress approved the plan effective 1 July, 1939. On 16 July 1946, Congress permanently transferred the Department of Commerce Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation to the Coast Guard, thereby placing merchant marine licensing and merchant vessel safety under Coast Guard regulation.

After 177 years in the Treasury Department, the Coast Guard was transferred to the newly formed Department of Transportation effective 1 April 1967. As a result of the events of 11 September 2001, the Coast Guard was transferred to the new Department of Homeland Security effective 1 March 2002.

U.S. Coast Guard Day is primarily an internal activity for active duty and reserve Coast Guardsmen, civilian employees, retirees, auxiliarists, and dependents, but it does have a significant share of interest outside the service. Coast Guard units throughout the United States usually plan picnics and informal sport competitions together with family and friends on Coast Guard Day. In addition to celebrating their own day every year, Coast Guardsmen also participate as equal partners in Armed Forces Day activities. Grand Haven, Michigan, also known by act of Congress as Coast Guard City, USA, annually sponsors the Coast Guard Festival the week of August 4.