Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Holidays and Observances for September 30 2015

Banned Websites Awareness Day

To raise awareness of the overly restrictive blocking of legitimate, educational websites and academically useful social networking tools in schools and school libraries, AASL has designated one day during Banned Books Week as Banned Websites Awareness Day. On Wednesday, September 30, AASL is asking school librarians and other educators to promote an awareness of how overly restrictive filtering affects student learning.

Usually the public thinks of censorship in relation to books, however there is a growing censorship issue in schools and school libraries – overly restrictive filtering of educational websites reaching far beyond the requirements of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). Students, teachers, and school librarians in many schools are frustrated daily when they discover legitimate educational websites blocked by filtering software installed by their school.  

Filtering websites does the next generation of digital citizens a disservice.  Students must develop skills to evaluate information from all types of sources in multiple formats, including the Internet. Relying solely on filters does not teach young citizens how to be savvy searchers or how to evaluate the accuracy of information.

Over extensive filtering also extends to the use of online social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blogger, etc. In order to make school more relevant to students and enhance their learning experiences, educators need to be able to incorporate those same social interactions that are successful outside of school into authentic assignments in the school setting.  Unfortunately, filters implemented by school districts also block many of the social networking sites.

Blasphemy Day

Blasphemy Rights Day International encourages individuals and groups to openly express their criticism of, or even disdain for, religion. It was founded in 2009 by the Center for Inquiry. A student contacted the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, New York to present the idea, which CFI then supported. Ronald Lindsay, president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry said regarding Blasphemy Day, "We think religious beliefs should be subject to examination and criticism just as political beliefs are, but we have a taboo on religion," in an interview with CNN.

Events worldwide on the first annual Blasphemy Day in 2009 included an art exhibit in Washington, DC and a free speech festival in Los Angeles.

According to USA Today's interview with Justin Trottier, a Toronto coordinator of Blasphemy Day, "We're not seeking to offend, but if in the course of dialogue and debate, people become offended, that's not an issue for us. There is no human right not to be offended."

Anti-blasphemy laws exist throughout the world. In many parts of Europe and North America they have been overturned, although there are anti-blasphemy laws in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Italy, Liechtenstein, Iceland, San Marino, Spain and the UK. (The UK common law offences of blasphemy andblasphemous libel were abolished by the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, section 79. The remaining law, Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006, concerns inciting hatred against a person on the grounds of their religion.) There are also "religious insult" laws in 21 European nations.

The Republic of Ireland passed the "Defamation Act 2009" in that year, which states in part, "A person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €25,000."

Finland has been the setting for a number of noteworthy blasphemy trials in the 2000s. The Finnish linguist, political blogger Helsinki City Councillor and subsequent member of parliament Jussi Halla-aho was charged with "disturbing religious worship" because of internet posts in which he called Muhammad apedophile, Halla-aho was fined €330.

The article 525 of the penal law in Spain considers "vilification" of religious "feelings", "dogmas", "beliefs" or "rituals". This extension to "dogmas" and "beliefs" makes it very close to a blasphemy law in practice, depending on the interpretation of the judge.

In some countries, blasphemy is punishable by death, such as in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. Six US states (Massachusetts, Michigan,South Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Wyoming) still have anti-blasphemy laws on their books, although they are seldom enforced.

Blasphemy Day is celebrated on September 30 to coincide with the anniversary of the publication of satirical drawings of Muhammad in one of Denmark's newspapers, resulting in the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy. Although the caricatures of Muhammad caused some controversy within Denmark, especially among Muslims, it became a widespread furor after Muslim imams in several countries stirred up violent protests in which Danish embassies were burned and over 100 people killed.

Chewing Gum Day

Gum chewers across the nation celebrate Chewing Gum Day each year on September 30.

Chewing gum is a soft, cohesive substance intended for chewing but not swallowing. Humans have used chewing gum for at least 3,000 years. Modern chewing gum was originally made of chicle, a natural latex. By the 1960s, chicle was replaced by butadiene-based synthetic rubber which is cheaper to manufacture. Most chewing gums are considered polymers.

Chewing gum in various forms has existed since the Neolithic period. 5,000-year-old chewing gum made from birch bark tar, with tooth imprints, has been found in Kierikki, Yli-Ii, Finland. The tar from which the gums were made is believed to have antiseptic properties and other medicinal advantages. The ancient Aztecs used chicle as a base for making a gum-like substance and to stick objects together in everyday use. Women in particular used this type of gum as a mouth freshener.

Forms of chewing gums were also chewed in Ancient Greece. The Ancient Greeks chewed mastic gum, made from the resin of the mastic tree. Many othercultures have chewed gum-like substances made from plants, grasses, and resins. The American Indians chewed resin made from the sap of spruce trees.The New England settlers picked up this practice, and in 1848, John B. Curtis developed and sold the first commercial chewing gum called The State of Maine Pure Spruce Gum. Around 1850 a gum made from paraffin wax was developed and soon exceeded the spruce gum in popularity. William Semple filed an earlypatent on chewing gum, patent number 98,304, on December 28, 1869.

Modern chewing gum was first developed in the 1860s when chicle was brought from Mexico by the former President, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, to New York, where he gave it to Thomas Adams for use as a rubber substitute. Chicle did not succeed as a replacement for rubber, but as a gum, which was cut into strips and marketed as Adams New York Chewing Gum in 1871. Black Jack (1884) and “Chiclets” (1899), it soon dominated the market. Synthetic gums were first introduced to the U.S. after chicle no longer satisfied the needs of making good chewing gum. The hydrocarbon polymers approved to be in chewing gum are styrene-butadiene rubber, isobutylene, isoprene copolymer, paraffin wax, and petroleum wax.

International Translation Day

Launched in 1953, International Translation Day is a relatively recent entry into the calendar of world events. Established by the International Federation of Translators, the annual celebration is an opportunity to pay tribute to the work of translators who endeavor to make the world a slightly smaller place by breaking down language barriers and allowing great literature to be enjoyed far more widely. The work of translators is seen as being of growing importance due to growing opportunities for international travel and globalization of trade markets.

The event is marked with a series of dedicated events, seminars and symposiums across the world. International Translation Day itself coincides with the feast day of St. Jerome, a Christian scholar and priest who was the first person to translate the Bible into Latin from the original Hebrew, making it accessible for the first time to a far wider audience. St. Jerome is the patron saint of translators.

In 1991 FIT launched the idea of an officially recognized International Translation Day to show solidarity of the worldwide translation community in an effort to promote the translation profession in different countries. This is an opportunity to display pride in a profession that is becoming increasingly essential in the era of progressing globalization. 

Translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text. A competent translator is not only bilingual but bicultural. A language is not merely a collection of words and of rules of grammar and syntax for generating sentences, but also a vast interconnecting system of connotations and cultural references whose mastery comes close to being a lifetime job.

National Mud Pack Day

National Mud Pack Day is celebrated on September 30th of each year.  A mud pack, or mud mask, is a facial option.  The nutrient rich mud will clean and remineralize your skin.  This mask is recommended for normal to oily skin types and will absorb facial oils, dirt, and make-up while extracting impurities from pores.

There are different kinds of masks (e.g. cactus, cucumber, etc.) for different purposes: deep-cleansing, by penetrating the pores; healing acne scars or hyper-pigmentation; brightening, for a gradual illumination of the skin tone. Some masks are designed to dry or solidify on the face, almost like plaster; others just remain wet. The perceived effects of a facial mask treatment include revitalizing, healing, or refreshing; and, may yield temporary or long-term benefits (depending on environmental, dietary, and other skincare factors).

Masks are removed by either rinsing the face with water, wiping off with a damp cloth, or peeling off of the face by hand. Duration for wearing a mask varies with the type of mask, and manufacturer's usage instructions. The time can range from a few minutes to overnight. Those with sensitive skin are advised to first test out the mask on a small portion of the skin, in order to check for any irritations. Some facial masks are not suited to frequent use. A glycolic mask can only be used once a month without the risk of burning the skin.

Masks can be found anywhere from drugstores to department stores, and can vary in consistency and form. Setting masks include: clay, which is a thicker consistency, and will draw out impurities (and sometimes, natural oils, too) from the pores; a cream, which stays damp to hydrate the skin; sheet-style, in which a paper mask is dampened with liquid to tone and moisturize the skin; and lastly, a hybrid/clay and cream form that includes small beads for removing dead surface skin cells. Non-setting facial masks include warm oil and paraffin wax masks. These different forms are made to suit different skin types (e.g., oily or dry), and different skincare goals or needs (e.g., moisturizing, cleansing, exfoliating). Clay and mud masks suit oily and some "combination" skin types, while cream-based masks tend to suit dry and sensitive skin types.

National Hot Mulled Cider Day

Today is National Hot Mulled Cider Day! Hot mulled cider is a delicious drink perfectly suited for crisp September afternoons. Apple cider is produced using a cider press and is a time-honored favorite of the autumn season.

Mulled cider is a hot or warm drink, typically made from apple juice or cider, and is most popular during autumn and winter. It is sometimes called wassail, or wassail punch. However, typically wassail would be made with ale or beer. Modern, child-friendly versions are more likely to be made with either apple or cranberry juice, or a combination of juices.

Mulled cider gets its name from the definition of mull, which means to flavor a beverage by heating it and adding spices. Frequently, this drink also includes either slices or the zest of citrus fruits like oranges. It's usually served hot, though one can buy spiced cider. In fact, if one has little time, warming spiced cider is an excellent shortcut for making mulled cider.

Confusion exists about whether a difference in taste occurs when one uses products labeled apple juice, or apple cider. Apple cider tends to be associated with a darker, unfiltered apple juice that may not be pasteurized. Apple juice is usually clear and has been filtered several times to be golden in appearance.

Cider, in this definition tends to have a tangier flavor, and is more likely to ferment quickly. In fact hard cider, which is fermented, is now a popular drink. Alcoholic cider is more typically used in Europe for mulled cider recipes.

Within this narrow definition, not universally recognized, mulled cider is generally better when using apple cider, even if not fermented. It should be a bit tangy, and a little stronger in taste than a filtered apple juice. In fact, many recipes for this beverage call for using a small amount of apple cider vinegar to deepen the flavor if one is using filtered apple juice.

However, to combat overly sour cider, some recipes include a bit of sugar as well. Common spices include allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon. Some people use a premade pumpkin pie spice. Frequently, the spices are kept in a cheesecloth bag during the heating process, so they simply flavor, but don’t mix with the cider.

This drink can be served in mugs. Many like to garnish the drink with a stick of cinnamon or a thin orange slice. It can also be served in punch cups if it is not overly hot.

One should observe some care in choosing the appropriate heating vessel. Aluminum and cast iron pots should be avoided. The acidity in the cider tends to leach metals from such pots and may give the cider a bitter, metallic taste. Stainless steel, ceramic pots, or crock-pots are preferred.

Enjoy National Hot Mulled Cider Day as you sip on your homemade brew!

National Women's Health and Fitness Day

Women’s Health & Fitness Day is the nation’s largest annual health promotion event for women of all ages. This year’s event is set for Wednesday, September 30, and in future years, is always be held on the last Wednesday in September. This unique national program — with participation by local organizations throughout the U.S. — focuses attention on the importance of regular physical activity and health awareness for women. The event is similar in concept to its “sister” event — National Senior Health & Fitness Day — the nation’s largest older adult health promotion program held every May. Women’s Health & Fitness Day will also be part of a new National Women’s Health & Fitness Week, to be held annually the last week in September.

On Wednesday, September 30, more than 1,000 groups across the country will host women’s health and fitness events at senior centers, hospitals, health clubs, park and recreation districts, local health and service organizations, schools, retirement communities, houses of worship, and other community locations. An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 women of all ages are expected to participate in these local activities.

Local health and fitness activities will vary widely based on the organizations hosting the events and the interests of local women in these communities. Activities will be noncompetitive and may include walking events, exercise demonstrations, health screenings, and health information workshops.

The goal of this event is to encourage women to take control of their health: to learn the facts they need to make smart health choices, and to make time for regular physical activity.

Because of its grassroots nature, the event provides an excellent opportunity for local organizations to showcase the health-related programs and services they offer to women in their communities.

National Women's Health & Fitness Day is a public/private good health partnership organized by the Health Information Resource Center (HIRC)sm, a national clearinghouse for consumer health information professionals. The HIRC's "sister" organization, the Mature Market Resource Center, is the official organizer of National Senior Health & Fitness Day - the nation's largest older adult health promotion event - which is always held the last Wednesday in May.

The HIRC staff will coordinate all Women's Health & Fitness Day host site registrations along with the sales and distribution of event incentive items and samples/information from our national and state/local event sponsors.

World School Milk Day

World School Milk Day - The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) is celebrating the 16th annual World School Milk Day on 30 September 2015 for school milk information, giving advice and help to countries who want to establish school milk programmes.  A lack of information about different school milk systems among United Nations members prompted the FAO to rectify this.

E-mail networks and a linked website were created in 1997 as the place to exchange the relevant information.   This is accompanied by conferences to exchange information among those operating school milk programmes.

World School Milk Day is a focal point of activities and draws attention to the different programmes used by members of the School Milk List e-mail network.

By having so many people worldwide participating in the event, school milk programmes are better promoted.   I remember receiving my free school milk at morning break and it is an important part of my childhood memories.

By encouraging young children to drink milk now, and make it a part of their milk diet, then the behavior is likely to continue into adulthood. Calcium foods are an important part of a healthy diet so establishing the behavior now is vital to a healthy lifestyle.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Holidays and Observances for September 29 2015

Broadway Musicals Day

Musicals began to emerge as modern Western theatre in the 19th century. They’re commonly shows that integrate a story with music, range from 30 minutes to three hours and are presented in two acts. They differ from opera by being sung in the audience’s native language and generally incorporating acting, dancing and singing equally. In opera singing is the priority, operas generally employ singers not actors.

Musicals originated in ancient Greece where music and dance were included in light comedies and tragedies. The Romans continued this tradition, also introducing a form of tap shoe to make their dance steps more audible in auditoriums. By the Middle Ages musicals mostly consisted of travelling minstrels and performing troupes offering singing, slapstick comedy and musical morality plays of which little is known. In the Renaissance period musicals evolved into Commedia dell’Arte, Italian masked theatre based on sketches. Court masques involving music, dancing and singing were introduced in the Tudor period, and William Shakespeare and Ben Johnson both wrote plays which included masque-like sections. Musical opera evolved from masques which was very popular until the death of Charles 11 in 1685.

Comic operas and ballad operas, like John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera (1728) became popular in the 18th century. Ballad operas typically contained spoof lyrics which were written to popular tunes. Comic operas,  like Michael Balfe’s The Bohemian Girl (1845) were happy and original musicals, normally with romantic overtones.

Music halls, melodrama, burlesque, vaudeville and operette also developed during the 18th century. One of the earliest British music halls, Weston’s music hall, evolved from operette. Music halls were incredibly popular during the industrial revolution and both Stan Laurel and Charlie Chaplin began their careers there.

Operette was introduced by the French composer Herve in 1850. The most significant composer of operette was Jacques Offenbach, Gilbert and Sullivan’s musical theatre, can be traced back to him.

Gilbert and Sullivan were the first authors in Britain to write musical stage works  (1871 to 1896). They combined humor, acting and music and were similar to the musicals we love today. Gilbert wrote the words and Sullivan wrote complimentary music. Pirates of Penzance (1879) and HMS Pinafore (1878) are two of their more famous works.

Meanwhile, in America, Edward Harrigan and Tony Hart were doing their bit towards the evolution of modern musicals. Harrigan and Hart collaborated just after Harrigan’s first stage performance in 1867. They acted and David Braham, a London born musical theatre composer, wrote the corresponding music. Their plays were Vaudeville sketches of lower class workers which audiences, typically lower and middle class citizens, could relate to and loved. Vaudeville sketches, performances consisting of several unrelated acts such as comics, singers and acrobats were different from variety shows, also popular in the period, because they were aimed at families. Variety shows tended to consist of chorus girls, dancers and comics.

Minstrel shows were also introduced around this time. These now carry some racial stigma because white and black actors performed with black faces nevertheless, at the time, they were popular.

Broadway as we know it was introduced in 1866 with the show, The Black Crook, a production put on William Wheatley for, at the time, the unheard of amount of $25,000. In the 1900’s George M. Cohan, an American entertainer known before WW1 as “the man who owned Broadway” and Victor Herbert, an Irish born cellist and composer, gave musicals the distinctive style that we know today. Musicals evolved steadily throughout this period and the twentieth century. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s famous musical Showboat premiered in 1927 and Oklahoma! in 1943. In the 1950s, iconic musicals such as The King and I (1951), Bernstein and Sondheim’s West Side Story(1957) and My Fair Lady (1956) entered Broadway.

Concept musicals emerged in the 1960s, they are typically musicals which put significance on the statement rather than the narrative. Cabaret (1966) is thought to be a concept musical.

However, by the 1980s the big staged musicals were becoming more fashionable and French musical Les Miserables (1985), Miss Saigon (1989) and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera (1986) were introduced.

At present big Broadway musicals seem to be growing in popularity with the Lion King (1997), Wicked (2003), Billy Elliot (2005) being highly successful favorites.

To celebrate Broadway Musicals Day, here’s a list of some of my favorite songs from musicals:
1. “All That Jazz” from Chicago— I wasn’t familiar with Chicago Until the movie came out, but when I saw it, I fell in love. I saw it in the movie theater four times, and then Mom and I saw it on Broadway thanks to my freshman year college friends. If you’re familiar with this blog, you know how that went. But I really think if I had a chance to play any character on stage, it would be Velma Kelly!
2. “For Good” from Wicked — I know most people’s favorite song from Wicked is “Defying Gravity,” but I just love “For Good.” Makes me tear up everytime I hear it.
3. “Single” from The Wedding Singer — I just saw this at the Pennsylvania Playhouse last month, and I absolutely loved it. The Wedding Singer is one of my favorite movies, and they follow that script pretty closely. But then they add some really terrific songs to it, including this one. It’s hilarious and so catchy!
4. “Tomorrow” from Annie – Annie is another musical we grew up with, and we used to act out with the Foster and Schultz girls. A young Brandon was always Daddy Warbucks.
5. “Hard Candy Christmas” from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” – The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas was the first La Salle theater production I saw. I loved it, and Tanya had us watch the movie before we saw it as well. There is something so sad yet sweet (get the pun? It has candy in the title!) about this song.
6.“The Telephone Hour” from Bye Bye Birdie — This one has a lot of sentimental value because it’s one of Mom’s favorites. We used to sing it with her all the time.
7. “All Er Nuthin” from Oklahoma — Emily and I used to perform this one for our Nanny, and she loved it. I don’t remember which one of us was Ado Annie and who had the poor luck to be Will.
8. “The Time Warp” from The Rocky Horror Show — I’ve never seen The Rocky Horror Show on stage, just it’s very popular film version, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I’ve gotta say the movie is so bizarre and I don’t know what to think of it, but I do know the music is awesome!
9. “Waterloo” from Mamma Mia! — After Ter and I saw this movie, I would not stop singing “Waterloo.” Worst part was, I didn’t really know the lyrics. I’m pretty sure my roommates were very close to choking me.
10. “Suddenly Seymour” from Little Shop of Horrors — My high school produced this one and I was really impressed how they were able to operate that big ol’ plant on such a small stage!

Confucius Day

Confucius Day is held annually on Confucius’ Birthday September 28 to pay homage to Confucius, China’s ‘First Teacher.’

Confucius (551-479 BC) was a sage, scholar and philosopher. Confucius passed on his passion for education by emphasizing the importance of education. A slew of accolades, including a posthumous award of “Supreme Teacher” in 1AD, an imperial decree deeming him a "Grand Master" in 581AD, and the bestowing of the title “Prince of Culture” in 739AD led to Confucius’ continued popularity.

The Confucian ceremony has been traced to the Zhou Dynasty (1046BC-221BC). After Confucius’ death, ceremonies to honor him were held by Confucius' family members. Emperor Lu Aigong converted Confucius’ home in Qufu, in Shandong Province, to a temple so Confucius' descendants could honor him. It wasn't until after Han Emperor Gaozu Liu Bang paid his respects to Confucius that all emperors began to worship Confucius. Confucian Ceremonies have been held regularly since the Han dynasty (206BC-220AD).

During the Three Kingdoms Period (220AD-280AD), Emperor Cao Cao established the biyong, an institute for teaching the emperor how to conduct the Confucius ceremony.

The modern Confucian ceremony is 60-minutes long and is celebrated at Qufu (Shandong), the birthplace of Confucius, the Confucius Temple in Taipei, Taiwan, and at temples throughout China. The Confucius ceremony is held at day break each Sept. 28 on Confucius’ birthday. The modern Confucian Ceremony consists of 37 parts which are each precisely choreographed.

The ceremony starts with three drum rolls and a procession of attendants, musicians, dancers and participants who include political leaders, school principals and students, musicians in Ming Dynasty style red robes and black hats and 64 dancers dressed in Soong and Ming Dynasty style yellow silk robes with dark blue waistbands and black hats. Each person must stop every five steps and pause before continuing to his designated spot where each person remains standing for the entire ceremony.

The next portion of the ceremony involves opening the gates of the temple, which are only opened during the Confucian ceremony. A sacrifice is buried and the spirit of Confucius is welcomed into the temple. After three bows, food and drink, which traditionally included a pig, a cow, and a goat, is offered as a sacrifice to Confucius. Nowadays, livestock have been replaced with fruit and other offerings at some ceremonies including the one at the Confucius Temple in Taiwan.

After the food offering, “The Song of Peace” is played with traditional Chinese instruments while the dancers, who are all students, perform the Ba Yi dance, an ancient dance that started in the Zhou Dynasty as a way to pay respect to people of different social positions. Yi means ‘row’ and the number of dancers depends on who is being honored: eight-rows for an emperor, six-rows for a duke or princess, four-rows for high ranking government officials, and two-rows for lower ranking officials. Eight rows of eight dancers are used for the Confucian Ceremony. Each dancer holds a short bamboo flute, which symbolizes balance, in the left hand and a long pheasant tail feather, which symbolizes integrity, in the right hand.

Incense is offered and after a few moments of chanting, there is another round of three bows. Next, each official group makes a presentation and, in Taiwan, the president offers incense before chanting a blessing and giving a short address. Some years the president of Taiwan is unable to attend so another high ranking political person delivers the speech on his behalf. When the president finishes chanting, there is another round of triple bows.

The sacrificial feast is removed to symbolize it has been eaten by the spirit of Confucius. His spirit is then escorted out of the temple. A final round of three bows precedes the burning of spirit money and prayers. The participants move from their appointed places to watch the pile of money and prayers burn. They return to their places before the gates of the temple are closed.

Once the gates are locked, the participants exit and the ceremony concludes with the participants and observers feasting on a ‘wisdom cake’. It is said eating the special rice cake will bring luck with one’s studies so hundreds of students line up each year hoping a bite of this cake will make them as smart as Confucius or at least garner better academic performance.

National Attend Your Grandchild's Birthday Day

Beginning in 2002, September 28 has been designated as “National Attend Your Grandchild’s Birth Day.” It is being set aside each year to encourage grandparents participate in their grandchild’s birth as well as his or her life.

Have you been invited to attend the birth of your grandchild? Are you reluctant to go or are you looking forward to it?

With the ease in hospital regulations and the exploding senior population, many grandparents are now present during the delivery of their grandchildren. Attending the birth is a way to begin the lifelong love affair with your grandchild.

When you attend the birth of your grandchild, the birth event becomes a “rite of passage” where everyone celebrates the addition of a new generation to the family. Your children become parents and you become grandparents. You all move up a branch on the family tree. It is an emotional and spiritual event that touches everyone in attendance. Sharing your grandchild’s birth provides unforgettable memories.

“A new baby can cement and affirm family bonds,” says Dr. Arthur Kornhaber, President and Founder of The Foundation for Grandparenting, who has long advocated the attendance of grandparents at the birth of their grandchildren. “But many grandparents are hesitant about attending their grandchild’s birth. They ask many questions about the “how”, “why” and “when” of getting involved.”

If it has been over twenty years since you were in a maternity ward, you probably realize that things have changed a lot. Perhaps you were sedated during the birth of your children and have never actually seen a baby being born. Or if you had your children during the 70′s, you may have had natural childbirth. But today’s hospital birth is very mechanized and a delivering woman can look like she is in intensive care. Despite all the propaganda about new pain relieving procedures, women still have some degree of pain at some time during most deliveries. Watching your daughter give birth is a very different experience than giving birth yourself and watching her in pain can be overwhelming if you don’t understand what is taking place.

It is no wonder some grandparents are hesitant. Many often feel that birthing is a private event and they shouldn’t intrude. But if you are invited to be there, don’t pass up the opportunity. This is your child who is having a child. It is an important event. A little preparation will assuage any fears that linger.

Preparation makes the event more comfortable for everyone present: the doctor, the expecting couple, the hospital staff, and the grandparents, and preparation begins with the first announcement that a baby is expected.

Here are ten tips to enhance your expectant grandparent experience:
  1. Be informed. Read about how pregnancy is managed today and about birthing practices and how they have changed. Know the tools and terminology.
  2. Be positive. Keep a positive attitude. Refrain from scary talk even when you are worried. Tell only positive birth stories.
  3. Be attentive. Be ready to help when asked, listen to a daughter or son’s pregnancy updates with enthusiasm, and recognize this milestone in their life.
  4. Be available. Go shopping together, attend a doctor’s visit, take a hospital tour, and help fix up the nursery, stay in touch.
  5. Be prepared. Have your camera in good working condition; keep yourself healthy, study up on baby care, childproof your home, get your own baby equipment for future visits.
  6. Be available. Postpone a vacation or cancel a function if it means you might miss the birth. This day will not come again.
  7. Be supporting. Even if you don’t agree with plans your children make, try to support them. This is their birth and their baby. You don’t want family disputes now.
  8. Be Proud. Let everyone know you are looking forward to this grandchild and to being a grandparent; least you hurt your children’s feelings.
  9. Be Patient. Have a thick skin, as pregnant and laboring women aren’t always in a good mood. Don’t take things personal.
  10. Be kind. Don’t forget other grandchildren. Think of everyone else’s needs before your own during this time.
Whether you are in the room or waiting nearby, being there when your grandchild is born is an exciting experience and one you shouldn’t miss. Your children will appreciate your help and support during this milestone in their life.

National Biscotti Day

September 29 is National Biscotti Day!

Biscotti Goddess created and registered National Biscotti Day.  We have been in business since 2001 making handmade gourmet biscotti and believe there needs to be a day to celebrate this delicious treat that pairs wonderfully with coffee (and wine, tea, milk, etc.).

Based upon some searching we did, it appears there seems to be confusion around the existence of a day dedicated to biscotti.  It sometimes has been bundled in with Coffee Cake Day (April 7) and National Cookie Day (December 4).  We feel it makes sense to us to match it with National Coffee Day on September 29 and submitted it to Chase’s Calendar of Events.

"Biscotti" is the plural form of biscotto. The word originates from the medieval Latin word biscoctus, meaning "twice-cooked." It defined oven baked goods that were baked twice, so they were very dry and could be stored for long periods of time. Such nonperishable food was particularly useful during journeys and wars, and twice baked breads were a staple food of the Roman Legions. The word biscotti, in this sense, shares its origin with the British English word "biscuit", which describes what American English-speakers refer to as a "cookie". In modern Italian, the word biscotti refers to any cookie or cracker, just as does the British use of the word "biscuit". The number of bakings or hardness is not relevant to the term. In America, the term "biscotti" refers only to the specific Italian cookie. The American pronunciation is also different from the Italian.

The first documented recipe for biscotti is a centuries-old manuscript, now preserved in Prato, found by the eighteenth-century scholar Amadio Baldanzi. In this document, the biscuits are called of Genoa.

Although commonly used to indicate the biscuits of Prato, biscotti di Prato, in modern Italy and Argentina they are also known widely by the name "cantuccini". These names actually suggest other similar regional products of Italy. The term cantuccini is most commonly used today in Tuscany, but originally refers to variations or imitations which deviate from the traditional recipe in a few key points such as the use of yeasts, acids (to make them less dry) and flavorings. Rusks are larger, longer biscuits, rustic bread dough enriched with olive oil and anise seeds.

The confusion on the name may have been born from the fact that on the old sign (still present) of "Biscottificio Antonio Mattei," the leading manufacturer of biscuits of Prato, is written just below the name of the shop: "Manufacturers of cantuccini," which at the time were one of the major products of the biscuits. The sign has remained unchanged, and after such a long time people are accustomed to associate the name "cantuccini" with the biscuits typical of Sardegna and Sicily.

Through Middle French, the word was imported into the English language as "biscuit", although in English as in Italian "biscuit" does not refer specifically to a twice-baked cookie.

In Spain, the Catalan carquinyoli are made with whole or sliced almonds, and are also associated with the regions of Aragon. In Batea, La Fatarella, and Prat de Comte, all inland municipalities of Catalonia, in the Terra Alta they are also called carquinyols. Biscotti are traditional also in some inland towns in Valencia, where they are called rosegons or rosegós. In Minorca, carquinyols are square shaped and do not include whole almonds. One Catalan food writer states that carquinyoli is derived from the French croquignole. Croquignole, another name for these biscotti, is a French word of Germanic origin.

In North America, where "biscuit" has taken on other meanings, any twice-baked cookies are apt to be known as biscotti.

National Coffee Day

National Coffee Day takes place on September 29. National Coffee Day is an annual event observed in a handful of countries for the celebration and enjoyment of the popular beverage coffee. This day is also used to promote fair trade coffee and to raise awareness for the plight of the coffee growers. 

On this day, many businesses around the world offer free or discounted cups of coffee. Some businesses share coupons and special deals with their loyal followers via social networking. Some greeting card companies sell National Coffee Day greeting cards, as well as free e-cards to help celebrate the occasion. While the exact origin of International Coffee Day is unknown, many countries around the world participate in this event. 

The global spread of coffee growing and drinking began in the Horn of Africa, where, according to legend, coffee trees originated in the Ethiopian province of Kaffa. It is recorded that the fruit of the plant, known as coffee cherries, was eaten by slaves taken from present day Sudan into Yemen and Arabia through the great port of its day, Mocha. Coffee was certainly being cultivated in Yemen by the 15th century and probably much earlier. In an attempt to prevent its cultivation elsewhere, the Arabs imposed a ban on the export of fertile coffee beans, a restriction that was eventually circumvented in 1616 by the Dutch, who brought live coffee plants back to the Netherlands to be grown in greenhouses.

Initially, the authorities in Yemen actively encouraged coffee drinking. The first coffeehouses or kaveh kanes opened in Mecca and quickly spread throughout the Arab world, thriving as places where chess was played, gossip was exchanged and singing, dancing and music were enjoyed. Nothing quite like this had existed before: a place where social and business life could be conducted in comfortable surroundings and where - for the price of a cup of coffee - anyone could venture. Perhaps predictably, the Arabian coffeehouse soon became a centre of political activity and was suppressed. Over the next few decades coffee and coffeehouses were banned numerous times but kept reappearing until eventually an acceptable way out was found when a tax was introduced on both.

 By the late 1600’s the Dutch were growing coffee at Malabar in India and in 1699 took some plants to Batavia in Java, in what is now Indonesia. Within a few years the Dutch colonies had become the main suppliers of coffee to Europe, where coffee had first been brought by Venetian traders in 1615. This was a period when the two other globally significant hot beverages also appeared in Europe. Hot chocolate was the first, brought by the Spanish from the Americas to Spain in 1528; and tea, which was first sold in Europe in 1610. At first coffee was mainly sold by lemonade vendors and was believed to have medicinal qualities. The first European coffeehouse opened in Venice in 1683, with the most famous, Caffe Florian in Piazza San Marco, opening in 1720. It is still open for business today. The largest insurance market in the world, Lloyd's of London, began life as a coffeehouse. It was started in 1688 by Edward Lloyd, who prepared lists of the ships that his customers had insured.

The first literary reference to coffee being drunk in North America is from 1668 and, soon after, coffee houses were established in New York, Philadelphia, Boston and other towns. The Boston Tea Party Of 1773 was planned in a coffee house, the Green Dragon. Both the New York Stock Exchange and the Bank of New York started in coffeehouses in what is today known as Wall Street.

In 1720 a French naval officer named Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu, while on leave in Paris from his post in Martinique, acquired a coffee tree with the intention of taking it with him on the return voyage. With the plant secured in a glass case on deck to keep it warm and prevent damage from salt water, the journey proved eventful. As recorded in de Clieu's own journal, the ship was threatened by Tunisian pirates. There was a violent storm, during which the plant had to be tied down. A jealous fellow officer tried to sabotage the plant, resulting in a branch being torn off. When the ship was becalmed and drinking water rationed, De Clieu ensured the plant’s survival by giving it most of his precious water. Finally, the ship arrived in Martinique and the coffee tree was re-planted at Preebear. It grew, and multiplied, and by 1726 the first harvest was ready. It is recorded that, by 1777, there were between 18 and 19 million coffee trees on Martinique, and the model for a new cash crop that could be grown in the New World was in place.

But it was the Dutch who first started the spread of the coffee plant in Central and South America, where today it reigns supreme as the main continental cash crop. Coffee first arrived in the Dutch colony of Surinam in 1718, to be followed by plantations in French Guyana and the first of many in Brazil in the state of Pará. In 1730 the British introduced coffee to Jamaica, where today the most famous and expensive coffee in the world is grown in the Blue Mountains.

The 17th and 18th centuries saw the establishment across Brazil of vast sugar plantations or fazendas, owned by the country’s elite. As sugar prices weakened in the 1820’s, capital and labour migrated to the southeast in response to the expansion of coffee growing in the Paraiba Valley, where it had been introduced in 1774. By the beginning of the 1830’s Brazil was the world’s largest producer with some 600,000 bags a year, followed by Cuba, Java and Haiti, each with annual production of 350 to 450,000 bags. World production amounted to some 2.5 million bags per year.

The rapid expansion of production in Brazil and Java, among others, caused a significant decline in world prices. These bottomed out in the late 1840’s, from which point a strong upward movement occurred, reaching its peak in the 1890’s. During this latter period, due mainly to a lack of inland transport and manpower, Brazilian expansion slowed considerably. Meanwhile, the upward movement of prices encouraged the growth of coffee cultivation in other producing regions in the Americas such as Guatemala, Mexico, El Salvador and Colombia.

In Colombia, where coffee had been introduced by the Jesuits as early as 1723, civil strife and the inaccessibility of the best coffee-growing regions had hampered the growth of a coffee industry. Following the “Thousand Days War” of 1899 to 1903, the new peace saw Colombians turn to coffee as their salvation. While larger plantations, or haciendas, dominated the upper Magdalena river regions of Cundinamarca and Tolima, determined peasants staked new claims in the mountainous regions to the west, in Antioquia and Caldas. New railways, relying on coffee for profit, allowed more coffee to be grown and transported. The opening of the Panama Canal in 1914 permitted exports from Colombia’s previously unreachable Pacific coast, with the port of Buenaventura assuming increasing importance.

In 1905 Colombia exported five hundred thousand bags of coffee; by 1915 exports had doubled. While Brazil desperately tried to control its overproduction, Colombian coffee became increasingly popular with American and European consumers. In 1914 Brazil supplied three-quarters of U.S. imports with 5.6 million bags, but by 1919 that figure had fallen to 4.3 million, while Colombia’s share had risen from 687,000 to 915,000 bags. During the same period Central American exports to the U.S. had risen from 302,000 to 1.2 million bags.

In spite of political turmoil, social upheaval and economic vicissitude, the 20th century saw an essentially continuous rise in demand for coffee. U.S. consumption continued to grow reaching a peak in 1946, when annual per capita consumption was 19.8 pounds, twice the figure in 1900. Especially during periods of high global prices, this steadily increasing demand lead to an expansion in production throughout the coffee-growing regions of the world. With the process of decolonisation that began in the years following the Second World War, many newly independent nations in Africa, notably Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi, found themselves in varying degrees dependent on coffee export revenue.

For US coffee drinkers, the country’s wettest city, Seattle, has become synonymous with a new type of café culture, which, from its birth in the 1970s, swept the continent, dramatically improving the general quality of the beverage. This new found 'evangelism' for coffee has spread to the rest of the world, even to countries with great coffee traditions of their own, such as Italy, Germany, and Scandinavia, adding new converts to the pleasures of good coffee. Today it is possible to find good coffee in every major city of the world, from London to Sydney to Tokyo; we are drinking more and, more importantly, better coffee.

The importance of coffee to the world economy cannot be overstated. It is one of the most valuable primary products in world trade, in many years second in value only to oil as a source of foreign exchange to producing countries. Its cultivation, processing, trading, transportation and marketing provide employment for hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Coffee is crucial to the economies and politics of many developing countries; for many of the world's Least Developed Countries, exports of coffee account for more than 50 percent of their foreign exchange earnings. Coffee is a traded commodity on major futures and commodity exchanges, most importantly in London and New York.

Many studies have examined the health effects of coffee, and whether the overall effects of coffee consumption are positive or negative has been widely disputed. The majority of recent research suggests that moderate coffee consumption is benign or mildly beneficial in healthy adults. However, coffee can worsen the symptoms of some conditions, such as anxiety.

National Mocha Day

September 29 is National Mocha Day!

Mocha lovers from all over – today is the day to indulge in the rich, delicious mocha flavored beverage of your choosing. If you like your coffee plain, maybe branch out today and try something with a mocha twist.

When you step into your local coffee shop and order a café mocha, mocha latte or mocha java, do you really understand what you are ordering and the origin of the drink. Here is a little insight into the history of your drink.

Mocha, also spelled Mokha, is used to describe a varietal of coffee bean. Smaller and rounder than most other varieties, these beans are derived from the coffee species Coffea Arabica (Arabica coffee) which is native to the Middle East country of Yemen. Although, the beans originally shipped from the port of Mocha, Yemen were thought to have had a chocolate-like taste, current mocha beans from Yemen usually do not.

It is commonly believed that the coffee bean that originated in the port city of Mocha (Mokha), Yemen and was first encountered by Marco Polo on his trip through the Arab World. After the month and a half into Polo’s troubled journey, his party was forced to go ashore, into what is now modern day Lebanon, to resupply their stocks, because their captain had provided insufficient room for food storage. In the marketplace, Polo found a salesman, from Yemen, who had brought coffee beans from Mocha. He purchased some and ultimately returned with them to Europe. However, the bean was not widely known throughout Europe until the 17th century.

“Mocha coffee” can refer either to coffee brewed with mocha beans, which were originally cultivated in Yemen and exported through the port of Mocha or to a popular, yet bastardized, drink made of coffee infused with chocolate.

The term “mocha” in relation to chocolate and coffee–chocolate blends is strictly a result of European influence. Chocolate is not cultivated at Mocha nor imported into it. Mocha Java refers to a blend of beans from both Mocha, Yemen and the island of Java in Indonesia. Now you know.

National Poisoned Blackberries Day

It’s Poisoned Blackberry day! We are celebrating this day around my house with – guess what? Lots and lots of blackberries! 

So just what the heck is Poisoned Blackberry Day anyway?

The reason for the day actually has a couple of theories behind it. The first, English, legend says that after the Devil was kicked out of Heaven on September 29,  he sought revenge by spitting – and some other, ickier legends even say peeing - on the blackberries! This made them unfit to eat and therefore, they were known to be poisoned blackberries.

There is another, perhaps more reasonable, explanation as to what Poisoned Blackberry Day is all about. This one dates back to the 1700s and it doesn’t have anything to do with the Devil or his bathroom functions. This theory states that during that time, blackberries were thought to cause more deaths than any other fruit that comes off a vine or a bush. Ever since, dozens of people have gone roaming the countryside on Poisoned Blackberry Day to hunt for the lethal blackberries that kill immediately upon consumption.

I have no idea whether there’s any merit to be given to either of these theories. But I do know that it’s Poisoned Blackberry Day. And that’s one more reason to take some berries out of the freezer, and figure out something new to do with them!


Each year on September 29th VFW Day is celebrated at Posts and in communities around the world. It’s a day devoted to the organization and its dedicated members who are so deeply committed to serving those who bravely serve this nation.  

This year marks the 115th year since the VFW was established. On this date in 1899, a small group of Spanish-America war veterans joined together to form what would become the nation’s largest and most dedicated group of combat veterans.  

For 115 years the VFW has been unwavering in its devotion “to honor the dead by helping the living.” VFW and its Auxiliary members carry out this mission by promoting good will, patriotism and youth scholarship. Their commitment is demonstrated through national veterans and legislative services, military assistance and community service programs, youth activities and scholarship programs, as well as millions of volunteer hours in their local communities each year.  

Show your support by honoring all members and veterans in your community. Today everyone is invited to celebrate the tradition of continuous service and steadfast devotion that defines the VFW.

World Heart Day

World Heart Day is globally observed on September 29 to inform people about cardiovascular diseases, which are the biggest cause of death worldwide. The event also aims to promote preventative measures that reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Many people around the world unite with governments and non-government organizations celebrate and promote World Heart Day each year. Activities include fun runs, public talks, concerts, and sporting events. The World Heart Federation organizes awareness events in more than 100 countries. They include:
  • Health checks.
  • Organized walks, runs and fitness sessions.
  • Public talks.
  • Stage shows.
  • Scientific forums.
  • Exhibitions.
  • Concerts.
  • Carnivals.
  • Sports tournaments.
These activities are done in partnership with organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), which is the UN’s directing and coordinating authority for health.

About World Heart Day
Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death worldwide and this is projected to remain so, according to WHO. About 17.5 million people died from cardiovascular disease in 2005, representing 30 percent of all global deaths. Risk factors that may lead to heart disease and stroke include:
  • Raised blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels.
  • Smoking.
  • Inadequate intake of fruit and vegetables.
  • Overweight.
  • Obesity.
  • Physical inactivity.
World Heart Day was created to inform people around the globe that heart disease and stroke are the world’s leading cause of death. Together with organizations such as WHO, the World Heart Federation spreads the news that at least 80 percent of premature deaths from heart disease and stroke could be avoided if the main risk factors – which are tobacco, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity – are controlled. World Heart Day started in 1999 and is held on the last Sunday of September every year.

Various leaflets, posters, brochures and other material used to promote World Heart Day show images of people taking steps towards healthier living through activities such as exercise, as well as eating healthy and nutritious food. The heart symbol is also seen in promotional material.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Holidays and Observances for September 28 2015

Family Day

Family Day is a national initiative created by CASAColumbia to promote simple acts of parental engagement as key ways to help prevent risky substance use in children and teens.  

What started out in 2001 as a grassroots initiative to inform parents about all the benefits of frequent family dinners, has grown into a national movement that is supported by a network of partners and sponsors across the country.

Family Day has evolved and expanded to reflect how important it is to connect with your kids at various times throughout the day including while driving your kids to soccer practice, tucking little ones into bed or having frequent family dinners.

These every day activities have a lasting effect on your children. Each of these moments offers an opportunity to communicate with your kids and to really listen to what’s on their mind.

As children age, it is vital to keep those lines of communication open, especially during adolescence when they are at risk of engaging in risky behavior including smoking, drinking or using other drugs.

At CASAColumbia we know that:
  • Adolescence is the critical period for the initiation of risky substance use and its consequences. 
  • Nine out of 10 Americans who meet the medical criteria for addiction started smoking, drinking, or using other drugs before age 18.  
  • Addiction is a disease that in most cases begins in adolescence so preventing or delaying teens from using nicotine, alcohol, or other drugs for as long as possible is crucial to their health and safety.

While there are no silver bullets – addiction can strike any family regardless of ethnicity, affluence, age or gender – parental engagement can be a simple, effective tool to help you prevent substance use in your kids.

Make every day Family Day in your home!

Fish Tank Floorshow Night

Fish Tank Floorshow Night is a funny concept that can be taken two ways - gather 'round the fish tank and let them entertain you, or gather 'round the fish tank and entertain the fish.

Day in and day out our finned friends in the little glass houses. For years they have offered us the peace and tranquility of their lives swimming around in their fish tanks. Now it’s time to pay up. Return the favor. Put on a floor show for your fish.

Don’t be shy or embarrassed. Gather up the family and sing some songs. Dance a number or two.

Don’t have a fish? No problem, head down to the pet store and give those fish a show. The fish will enjoy it. If not, you can film it and place it on YouTube.

For those of you who don't have a fish tank, I've scoured the net for a superior video:

International Right To Know Day

Sept. 28 is International Right to Know Day, a day to celebrate the right of citizens to access information held by public bodies (the right to information or RTI). Originally proclaimed on Sept. 28, 2002, International Right to Know Day is now formally recognized in countries around the world with activities ranging from conferences, prize-giving ceremonies, online discussions (the Centre for Law and Democracy will host a discussion on RTI this year, and the like.

More generally, International Right to Know Day provides an opportunity to reflect on progress regarding the right to information, protected as a human right under international law, as well as the Constitution of Indonesia. 

This year we have a major milestone to celebrate, the passage of the 100th right to information law globally, with the formal signing, on Sept. 18, of Paraguay’s Access to Information Act. With this law, over one half of the world’s countries, including of course Indonesia, covering some three-quarters of the world’s population, have put in place legal regimes guaranteeing the right to information. 

How does Indonesia weigh up globally on this important human rights issue? The good news is that the legal framework in Indonesia, and in particular the Public Information Disclosure Act, No. 14 of 2008, is relatively strong. According to the RTI Rating ( (a globally accepted methodology for assessing the strength of legal frameworks for RTI developed by the Centre for Law and Democracy and Access Info Europe), Indonesia’s legal framework scores 101 points out of a possible total of 150, putting it in 28th position globally. 

This is a very respectable position, which Indonesians can be proud of. Readers may be interested to know that Serbia tops the rating, with a score of 135 points, while nearby Austria languishes in last place, with just 37 points. 

There is no single, accepted global measure of how well RTI laws are being implemented (the RTI Rating only measures legal provisions). However, anecdotal evidence suggests that Indonesia is not doing quite as well on this front. 

The demand for information (i.e. by civil society and members of the public) remains somewhat weak, especially for a country the size of Indonesia, although this is starting to build. 

Some organizations are increasingly making demands for information, but the overall buzz around the issue is far less animated than in countries like Bulgaria, India and Mexico, where there are almost daily newspaper reports on citizens using RTI to achieve social goals.

There is also room for improvement on the supply side (i.e. the measures taken by public bodies to be transparent). Many public bodies have not even appointed the Information Management and Documentation Officers (PPIDs) that Article 13 of Law No. 14 of 2008 requires them to. And even fewer have gone so far as to adopt internal rules — Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) — on this issue.

Indonesia is not alone in this, inasmuch as it is much easier to pass a law than to implement one and many countries struggle with the latter. Indeed, to some extent implementation is an ongoing challenge, even many years after the law has been passed. The Canadian law was passed over 30 years ago, but there are continuous efforts to improve implementation.

However, the Indonesian law came into effect in May 2010, nearly four and a half years ago, and so the various Indonesian stakeholders do need to make an effort to improve implementation. The imminent prospect of a new government, which is on record as being committed to becoming more open, provides an ideal opportunity for this.

It is up to local stakeholders to decide what they want to do, but some suggestions based on what has been successful in other countries may be helpful. Media outlets often file RTI requests to obtain information about medium- or longer-term stories they are working one. 

Sometimes, not getting the information makes for just as good a story as getting it. Media outlets in some countries have, for example, made similar requests to different public bodies, and then produced great reports based on the different types of responses they received.

Civil society groups could also use the law more extensively. Practically every organization, regardless of the issues they work on, needs information held by government; this is certainly not an issue which is limited to groups working directly on RTI. 

And, if the request is refused, one can always lodge an appeal with the Central or relevant Provincial Information Commission, which has the power to order public bodies to disclose information. 

Finally, public bodies need to do their part, in the first place by appointing a PPID and adopting a standard operating procedure. These are, actually, formal legal obligations for all public bodies in Indonesia. In the short term, such measures may seem rather burdensome. 

But experience in countries around the world has shown that, in the longer-term, being open leads to better relations with citizens and improves the effectiveness of public bodies. Surely this, along with the satisfaction of doing one’s bit to respect a fundamental human right, should be motivation enough.

Many observers, including this author, consider Indonesia to be the strongest democracy in Southeast Asia. With a little bit more effort, the right to information could be held up as a pillar of that democracy. Let’s work together to make that happen.

Happy International Right to Know Day!

National Ask A Stupid Question Day

This annual “holiday” is typically observed on September 28 unless the day falls on a weekend - then it’s observed the last school day in September. Ask a Stupid Question Day is a holiday that is sometimes celebrated in the United States, usually by school students and teachers. Although Ask a Stupid Question Day's default date is September 28, in practice it is usually observed on the last school day of September.

This holiday was created by teachers in the 1980s to encourage students to ask more questions in the classroom. According to, "at the time, there was a movement by teachers to try to get kids to ask more questions in the classroom. Kids sometimes hold back, fearing their question is stupid, and asking it will result in ridicule."

If you were ever a kid once, a teacher or adult probably told you there is no such thing as a stupid question. But let’s be honest. Have you ever blurted out a question that was so lame, you couldn't believe the words actually came out of your own mouth? It was almost like you were in the middle of an out-of-body experience and someone else uttered the words! Most of us have probably kept a few questions to ourselves because we were so worried we’d be ridiculed or laughed at by co-workers, fellow students or friends.

But today is a new day! In honor of National Ask a Stupid Question Day, go ahead. Take your best shot and ask away!

National Drink Beer Day

Today is Drink Beer Day! Raise a pint and toast to one of the oldest and most popular beverages in human history.

There are hundreds of different varieties of beer, but they all fall into one of two categories—ale or lager. Historians believe that humans have been producing beer, or some form it, since the Neolithic Era. The oldest continuously operating brewery in the world is in the Bavaria region of Germany. The Weihenstephan brewery began producing beer in the year 1040. Today, the company exports fourteen different brews all over the world.

Ale is one of the oldest beverages humans have produced, dating back to at least the 5th millennium BC and recorded in the written history of Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. As almost any cereal containing certain sugars can undergo spontaneousfermentation due to wild yeasts in the air, it is possible that beer-like beverages were independently developed throughout the world soon after a tribe or culture had domesticated cereal. Chemical tests of ancient pottery jars reveal that beer was produced about 7,000 years ago in what is today Iran, and is one of the first-known biological engineering tasks to utilize the process of fermentation. In Mesopotamia, the oldest evidence of beer is believed to be a 6,000-year-old Sumerian tablet depicting people drinking a beverage through reed straws from a communal bowl. A 3900-year-old Sumerian poem honouring Ninkasi, the patron goddess of brewing, contains the oldest surviving beer recipe, describing the production of beer from barley via bread.

The invention of bread and/or beer has been argued to be responsible for humanity's ability to develop technology and build civilization. The earliest chemically confirmed barley beer to date was discovered at Godin Tepe in the central Zagros Mountains of Iran, where fragments of a jug, at least 5000 years old was found to be coated with beerstone, a by-product of the brewing process.

Beer may have been known in Neolithic Europe as far back as 5000 years ago, and was mainly brewed on a domestic scale.

Ale produced before the Industrial Revolution continued to be made and sold on a domestic scale, although by the 7th century AD beer was also being produced and sold by European monasteries. During the Industrial Revolution, the production of beer moved from artisanal manufacture toindustrial manufacture, and domestic manufacture ceased to be significant by the end of the 19th century. The development of hydrometers and thermometers changed brewing by allowing the brewer more control of the process, and greater knowledge of the results.

Today, the brewing industry is a global business, consisting of several dominant multinational companies and many thousands of smaller producers ranging from brewpubs to regional breweries. More than 133 billion liters (35 billion gallons) are sold per year—producing total global revenues of $294.5 billion (£147.7 billion) in 2006.

There’s really only one way to celebrate Drink Beer Day! Gather a group of friends for a beer tasting at home or at your favorite bar. Be sure to check for promotions and giveaways that might be going on in your area. Cheers!

National Good Neighbor Day

National Good Neighbor Day is observed on September 28. Being good neighbors is an important part of the social life. In 2003, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution, sponsored by Montana Senator Max Baucus, making September 28, National Good Neighbor Day. 

A Neighbor is a person who lives nearby, normally in a house or apartment that is next door or, in the case of houses, across the street. Some people form friendships with their neighbor, and help them by sharing their tools and helping with gardening tasks. Other people become frustrated with their neighbors, if the neighbor makes a lot of noise or makes messes.

A group of people living close together in a small community is called a neighborhood. Some neighborhoods have many community organizations, where people volunteer and do charitable activities. Other neighborhoods in poor communities may have no community organizations, and there may be many problems in the community, such as illegal drugs, prostitution, and homelessness. 

National Strawberry Cream Pie Day

Today is National Strawberry Cream Pie Day! Did you know that 70% of a strawberry cream pie’s weight comes from the strawberries themselves? That's a lot considering that the fruit isn't even in season in September!

No one knows who ate the first slice, but pie in some form has been around since the ancient Egyptians made the first pastry-like crusts. The first pies were probably made by the early Romans who probably learned about it from the Greeks. The Roman, Cato the Censor, published the first written pie "receipt" or recipe: a rye-crusted, goat cheese and honey pie.

The Romans then spread the word around Europe including England. The Oxford English Dictionary notes that the word pie was "evidently a well-known popular word in 1362."

In 1475, the Italian writer Platina offered a recipe for a squash torta or pie hat concludes:

"Put this preparation in a greased pan or in a pastry shell and cook it over a slow fire. ... When it is cooked, set on a plate, sprinkle it with sugar and rosewater."

More often than not, the early pies were main dish meat pies. Fruit pies or tarts ("pasties") were probably first made in the 1500s. English tradition credits Queen Elizabeth I with making the first cherry pie but it's unlikely that Her Highness actually spent much time in the kitchen. In Tudor and Stuart times, English pies were made with pears and quinces as often as with apples."Thy breath is like the steame of apple-pyes," wrote Robert Greene in "Arcadia" in 1590.

Prior to this time many "pyes" or pies were crustless, being simply hollowed out pumpkins filled with mincemeat (which was mostly meat), baked in ashes and served in wedges.

Pie came to America with the first English settlers but chances are Christopher Columbus knew of his native dish "pizza" which is Italian for "pie." The early colonists cooked their pies in long narrow pans called "coffins." The early crusts were frequently inedible and tough designed more to hold the filling together during baking than to be actually eaten.

"If one were to conduct a survey of Americans to determine the typical American pie, chances are it would be a large, deep-dish, two-crusted affair, which is actually a combination of two European pies: the tartlet and the savoury," writes Lee Edwards Benning.

If the food-loving Pennsylvania Dutch people didn't invent pie, they certainly perfected it. Evan Jones in "American Food The Gastronomic Story" writes:

"Some social chroniclers seem convinced that fruit pies as Americans now know them were invented by the Pennsylvania Dutch. Potters in the southeastern counties of the state were making pie plates in the early eighteenth century, and cooks had begun to envelop with crisp crusts every fruit that grew in the region. 'It may be,' Frederick Klees asserts, 'that during the Revolution men from the other colonies came to know this dish in Pennsylvania and carried this knowledge back home to establish pie as the great American dessert.' "

"I was happy to find my old friend, mince pie, in the retinue of the feast" wrote Washington Irving in 1820.

Pies became a common part of American life. A Vermont housewife, itemizing her baking for the year 1877, counted 152 cakes, 421 pies and 2,140 doughnuts.

In 1878, Mark Twain made up a menu of American foods he missed in Europe for "A Tramp Abroad" which concludes "Apple pie ... Peach pie. American mince pie. Pumpkin pie. Squash pie. All sorts of American pastry."

Every cook knew how to make them. "One of the things noticeable about early pie recipes is their lack of detail; it was assumed that any cook who knew her way around a kitchen could put together a pie" writes Richard Sax in "Classic Home Desserts."

Although modern Americans don't eat pie for breakfast—although we might LIKE to—pie remains a favorite, whether apple, cherry, mince, pecan, chess, lemon meringue, pumpkin or a myriad of others.

"Cakes, pies and sweet puddings have remained the most popular American desserts. They gained popularity because they pleased the palate but also because they satisfied voracious hunger and provided energy for hardworking people," writes Evan Jones.

When you set out to find the perfect strawberry cream pie there are many variations from which to choose. Some recipes use cream cheese in the filling while others call for whipped cream or custard. Crusts can be sweet or savory, strawberries can be whole or whipped into a mousse, and there are dozens of different toppings.

Find your favorite kind of strawberry cream pie or sample a selection to celebrate National Strawberry Cream Pie Day!

Read a Child a Book You Like Day

Today is “Read a Child a Book You Like Day?” This day celebrates the birthday (1856) of Kate Douglas Wiggin, author of “Rebecca at Sunnybrook Farm” and other wonderful children’s stories.

Kate Douglas Wiggin (1856-1923), American author and educator, wrote Rebecca Of Sunnybrook Farm (1903). Though not the perfect child and driven by strong independence, the gregarious Rebecca Rowena Randall eventually softens the heart of her severe Aunt Miranda with her innocence and sensibility. She goes on to win the hearts of all those who meet her and read about her life from poverty to a richness of spirit and hope in a tale generous in humour that is acclaimed for its authentic portrayal of rural Maine, its people and culture. Mark Twain said it was "beautiful and moving and satisfying." The enduring classic was translated to many languages and adapted for the stage and screen. A proponent of early childhood education, Wiggin is also now noted for establishing the first free kindergarten in San Francisco, California.

Kate Douglas Wiggin was born on 28 September 1865 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her mother was Helen Elizabeth Dryer Smith and her father Robert Noah Smith. In 1877 she started her career of teaching kindergarten in Santa Barbara, California. A firm believer in the merits of starting education at a young age and making it accessible for all children, she was involved with the founding of the San Francisco Silver Street Kindergarten.

World Rabies Day

World Rabies Day is an international campaign coordinated by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control, a non-profit organization with headquarters in the United States and the United Kingdom. It is a United Nations Observance and has been endorsed by international human and veterinary health organizations such as the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Veterinary Association. World Rabies Day takes place each year on September 28, the anniversary of the death of Louis Pasteur who, with the collaboration of his colleagues, developed the first efficacious rabies vaccine. World Rabies Day aims to raise awareness about the impact of rabies on humans and animals, provide information and advice on how to prevent the disease, and how individuals and organizations can help eliminate the main global sources.

Rabies is still a significant health problem in many countries of the world. Over 99% of all human deaths that are caused by infected dogs usually occur in Africa and Asia, especially in regions with large numbers of unvaccinated community and domestic dogs. With the exception of Antarctica, people and animals on every continent are at risk of contracting rabies.

The first World Rabies Day campaign took place in September 2007 as a partnership between the Alliance for Rabies Control and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, USA (CDC), with the co-sponsorship of the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/AMRO). In 2009, after three World Rabies Days, the Alliance for Rabies Control estimated that rabies prevention and awareness events had taken place in over 120 countries, that over 100 million people worldwide had been educated about rabies and that nearly 3 million dogs had been vaccinated during events linked to the campaign.

The World Rabies Day campaign is organized through a system of global partnerships from government to local level, and a worldwide community of volunteers. Over 50 organizations partner in the campaign, supporting and promoting the outreach of educational messages about rabies in person, in print and online. The campaign aims to bring together all relevant partners in an effort to address rabies prevention and control. Health workers, scientists and personnel in communities at risk of rabies are encouraged to access an education bank of materials through the organization’s website for use in local educational initiatives.

As rabies is a disease that crosses borders, especially in wild animal populations, the campaign encourages the transnational collaboration of rabies control and prevention organizations. It also promotes a One Health approach to rabies prevention, part of a worldwide strategy for expanding interdisciplinary collaborations and communications in all aspects of health care for humans and animal health. The WRD logo (pictured above) represents the complexity of rabies, which can infect human beings, wildlife and domestic animals.

The advocacy work of the World Rabies Day campaign includes promoting government involvement in rabies prevention and control programs, increasing the vaccination coverage of pets and community dogs, and improving the educational awareness of how to prevent rabies in all levels of society. It also promotes the utilization of an integrated model of disease management, the Blueprint for Rabies Prevention. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN (FAO) considers that World Rabies Day plays an important role in advocating the prevention and control of rabies among policy makers, especially in countries where rabies is still neglected.