Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Holidays and Observances for September 2 2015

Bison-ten Yell Day

Today's “holiday” is pretty goofball. It's supposed to be the bicentennial birthday of a fictitious person. “The bicentennial birthday” means the 200th birthday—so we would imagine that the birthday boy or girl was born in 1813...but in this case EVERY year is the bicentennial birthday.

It's all one giant (and bad) pun – Bison-Ten-Yell, said just right, sounds a lot like “bicentennial.”

Anyway, since the birthday boy or girl is fictitious, he or she never really existed. In other words, she or he was never actually born. I guess that makes it okay for him or her to have a different birth date every year!

Now, why on earth do we celebrate the bicentennial birthday of a person who never existed? Today is supposed to honor the person who invented ten verbal signals that could be yelled during a war to alert one's soldiers to the battle plan. Ten signals, yelled signals—these are the reasons given for the “Ten-Yell” part of the name. Let's just hope the battles weren't fought against bison! They're really big and scary!

The soldiers had to memorize the meaning of each signal. Obviously, a commander yelling something that everyone could understand wouldn't be very effective—because then the enemy would know the plan, too! So the soldiers on one side would be taught their signals, and the soldiers on the other side would be taught their completely different signals. And everyone hoped that the enemy didn't figure out their playbook.

You know who uses a system like this? Football players. (I'm talking American football here, with helmets and tackling and a bullet-shaped ball.) Have you ever heard a quarterback shouting things like “Blue 32” or “Red 24” just before a play starts? Those are the special signals that each team creates and memorizes and sometimes changes—and that each team hopes the “enemy” doesn't crack!

The yelled signals can be longer than the examples I gave.

How about this one: “Right. Y-Mo. 3, 15 O.P. Naked right arrow F. Pump!”

The meaning of the yells can be complicated. A lot of yells are nonsense, and some of the yells are attempts to throw the other side off, confuse them, trick them. For example, a quarterback will often say, "hut, hut, hut," and he knows that the center will give him the ball on the third "hut." But maybe the quarterback and center agreed to snap the ball on the fifth "hut." The quarterback may still emphasize the third "hut," as if he's done—as if that were the "hike the ball" signal. If someone on the other team is faked out, he may surge forward at least for half a second--and get a penalty!

Some of the yells are real information. A certain color may mean, "We're going to stick with the play we discussed in the huddle." (Sticking with the play discussed in the huddle is most common, by the way.) But another color may mean, "Listen up! We're going to change the plan!" 

After such a signal, a common call is a number that means a particular play—such as the halfback sweeping left, catching a lateral pass, and running through a hole created by the linebackers. 

National Beheading Day

National Beheading Day is celebrated on September 2nd of each year. While its origins are unknown, this annual “holiday” is guaranteed to make you lose your head!

Beheading typically refers to the act of intentional decapitation, e.g., as a means of murder or execution; it may be accomplished, for example, with an axe, sword, knife, wire, or by other more sophisticated means such as a guillotine. Ritualistic decapitation after execution by some other means, sometimes followed by public display of the severed head, has also been common throughout history. An executioner carrying out decapitations is called a headsman. Accidental decapitation can be the result of an explosion, car or industrial accident, improperly administered execution by hanging or other violent injury. Suicide by decapitation is rare, but not unknown.

Decapitation is quickly fatal to humans and most animals as brain death occurs within seconds without circulating oxygenated blood. However, some animals (such as cockroaches) can survive decapitation, and die not because of the loss of the head directly, but rather because of starvation. Although head transplantation by the reattachment of blood vessels has been successful with animals, a fully functional reattachment of a severed human head (including repair of the spinal cord, muscles, and other critically important tissues) has not been achieved.

The word decapitation can also refer, on occasion, to the removal of the head from a body that is already dead. This might be done to take the head as a trophy, for public display, to make the deceased more difficult to identify, for cryonics or for other reasons.

Many notable people have been beheaded with many executions taking place at the Tower of London:
  • The Queen of England, Anne Boleyn, was executed for High Treason on orders from her husband, King Henry VIII. She was not the only wife to die from the cut of a blade or sword – two of King Henry’s wives died this way.
  • In 1542, Queen Katherine Howard, Henry’s fifth wife, was also beheaded.
  • Lady Jane Grey was the Queen of England for just nine days before she was beheaded at the Tower of London.
  • Louis XVI, King of France and husband to Marie Antoinette, was killed by beheading in 1793 during the French Revolution.
  • Queen Marie Antoinette was put to death via guillotine in 1793.
  • Sir Walter Raleigh was beheaded due to treason.
  • Mary, Queen of Scots, was also executed due to treason.
  • Charles I, King of England and Scotland, was beheaded.
  • John the Baptist was also beheaded.
  • Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.
National Blueberry Popsicle Day

September 2 is National Blueberry Popsicle Day.
To celebrate the day, eat blueberry popsicles. Eating another kind doesn't count. At the end of summer or at anytime, popsicles are delicious. If you have never eaten a blueberry popsicle, then wait no longer for a treat on National Blueberry Popsicle Day.
Blueberry popsicles are made with fresh-squeezed blueberry juice. If you can't find them in your local grocery store, then make them yourself by simply freezing blueberry juice. It might be hard to believe that popsicles were invented by an eleven-year-old boy named Frank Epperson in 1905.
This is how it happened: One cold winter night, the boy accidentally left a fruit-flavored drink with a stirring stick on his porch. The next morning, the fruit-flavored drink was the frozen treat we all know and have come to love. Frank called his invention the "Epsicle," based on his last name, but the name was changed to "popsicle" eighteen years later.
To celebrate National Blueberry Popsicle Day, make sure you eat and enjoy a blueberry popsicle on its day.

National “Grits for Breakfast” Day

September 2 is National "Grits for Breakfast" Day. Celebrate original Southern breakfast of champions. Grits (also sometimes called sofkee or sofkey from the Muskogee word) are a food of Native American origin common in the Southern United States. For those unfamiliar with this Southern staple, grits are nothing more than coarsely ground corn. Grits are available in three varieties at the grocery store: instant, quick cooking and old fashioned. Stone-ground grits are usually found at gristmills or specialty food stores.  The cooking time and texture are different among the four.

Instant grits are precooked and require the addition of boiling water.  Quick cooking grits are finely ground and cook in 5 minutes.  Old fashioned grits are coarsely ground and take about 15 to 20 minutes to cook.  Stone-ground grits take about 40 minutes to cook.

Grits are usually cooked in boiling water or milk and eaten as a cereal or side dish.  Some people eat grits like oatmeal, mixing the grits with milk and sugar. Others like butter on their grits, while others like them plain.  Some people like soupy grits, others like thicker grits.  I like my grits thick enough to eat with a fork.

When I cook grits, I always fix cheese grits.  However, the cheese grits I make do not require a recipe, a lot of additional ingredients or baking time. When the grits are cooked, I add shredded Cheddar cheese and stir the grits until the cheese is melted.  Cheese acts as a thickener so it's better to start with a little and add more cheese as needed.

Grits are a quick, inexpensive and filling breakfast.  They definitely warm you up in the winter, but they are good year round.  The additions you can put in grits are limited only by your imagination.

Pierce Your Ears Day

Gems and jewels, bangles and dangles are the order of the day on September 2nd. It's Pierce Your Ears Day. Fashion accessory shops may offer discounts on ear piercing and beginner earring sets on this annual holiday.

It's commonly thought that in the history of body piercings, earlobe piercings were probably one of the first man attempted due to the ease with which earlobes can be pierced. What evidence is there to support that theory? In 1991, the oldest mummified body in the world was found frozen in an Austrian Glacier; tests showed the body to be over 5,000 years old. The body had pierced ears, and the holes had been enlarged to 7-11mm diameter.

Ears were probably first pierced for magical purposes. Many primitive tribes believe that demons can enter the body through the ear; ear piercing could prevent that from happening, because demons and spirits are supposed to be repelled by metal. Sailors used to have an ear pierced due to the superstitious belief that doing so would improve their eyesight, keeping them safer at sea. Additionally, if a sailor's body washed up on shore somewhere, a single earring could pay for a Christian burial. To this day, ear piercing is done as a puberty ritual in many societies. In Borneo, a mother and father each pierce one of their child's ears to symbolize the child's dependence on his or her parents. Even in the US, it isn't uncommon for parents to pierce their little girls' earlobes.

Ear piercing isn't just for girls; it's an almost universal practice for men and women alike. It's only in western society that it has been deemed effeminate, although that prejudice has diminished in recent years, and rightly so. At various times in history, great men wore elaborate earrings. For instance, during the Elizabethan era, many famous men such as Shakespeare, Sir Walter Raleigh and Francis Drake wore gold rings in their ears. The practice for men of status to wear earrings goes back even further than that. "As the Roman Republic grew more effeminate with wealth and luxury, earrings were more popular among men than women; no less a he-man than Julius Caesar brought back to repute and fashion the use of rings in the ears of men.

If you aren't in the mood for piercing your lobes (or any other body part) on September 2nd, you can opt to crank up the tunes on your stereo, iPod, MP3 player or other audio device, and pierce your ears in an altogether different manner.

Spalding Baseball Day

September 2nd is Spalding Baseball Day, a super day for swatting at fast pitches on the diamond, in the sandlot or out in the backyard. Albert Goodwill Spalding, the popular baseball pitcher and sporting goods manufacturer, was born on September 2, 1850, so this sports-minded holiday honors his memory.

Baseball great A.G. Spalding opened his sporting goods store to produce and sell the official National League baseball. A tireless ambassador for baseball, he cleaned up corruption and earned worldwide exposure.

Business Experience - Albert G. Spalding was an entrepreneur in the sporting goods business as well as an athlete. Born in 1850 in Byron, Illinois, Spalding became a talented baseball pitcher and a savvy businessman. In 1865, he began playing competitively with a youth team, the Rockford Pioneers. He spent another two years on an amateur men's team before attracting offers of up to $2,500 a year from professional ball clubs in Washington, Cleveland, and New York. But his mother, a widow, wanted Spalding to have business experience. So he found work in Chicago at a wholesale grocery and an insurance company, both of which subsequently failed. Returning to Rockford, he became a bookkeeper for a newspaper and an insurance agency, both of which went under the next year. Although Spalding wasn't responsible for the failure of these businesses, it did inspire him to defy his mother and pursue a baseball career.

Play Ball - Spalding was first hired to play professionally for the Chicago Excelsiors for $40 a week. Following the formation of the first professional association in 1871, Spalding joined the Boston Red Stockings, with whom he played for five years. He completed his career with the Chicago White Stockings, managing the team and pitching 47 games as the club captured the first-ever National League pennant. During each of his six professional seasons, he was the sole pitcher on each of his teams and led the league in pitching victories.

Sporting Goods - Retired from the game in 1876, Spalding and his brother, J. Walter Spalding, obtained the right to produce the official National League baseball, which they would continue to produce for the next 100 years. The same year they opened A. G. Spalding & Bros., the Chicago sporting goods store that would grow into a chain over the next 25 years. In 1899, the company allowed other retailers to order directly from the their catalog. The new policy mandated quality, fixed retail prices, a fair profit to retailers, and consumer satisfaction. By 1901, the chain had grown from three to 14 stores. "Quality First" became the organization's slogan.

Baseball Ambassador - While at the helm of his sporting goods business, Spalding also headed up the Chicago White Stockings from 1882 to 1891, leading the club to three pennants. But Spalding did not like what he saw on the field. He worked to reform baseball, forbidding gambling, making drinking taboo, and preventing collusion among players. By 1888, Spalding had restored the shine to America's game and was ready to show it off to the world. He organized a promotional tour for his Chicago White Stockings and National League All-Stars, visiting five continents and 14 different countries in 1889.

America's National Game - In 1911, Spalding published America's National Game, which many consider the first scholarly account of the history of baseball. He died four years later. In 1939, he was elected posthumously into the Baseball Hall of Fame, which recognized him as an "organizational genius of baseball's pioneer days."

Victory over Japan Day

Aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, Japan formally surrenders to the Allies, bringing an end to World War II.

By the summer of 1945, the defeat of Japan was a foregone conclusion. The Japanese navy and air force were destroyed. The Allied naval blockade of Japan and intensive bombing of Japanese cities had left the country and its economy devastated. At the end of June, the Americans captured Okinawa, a Japanese island from which the Allies could launch an invasion of the main Japanese home islands. U.S. General Douglas MacArthur was put in charge of the invasion, which was code-named "Operation Olympic" and set for November 1945.

The invasion of Japan promised to be the bloodiest seaborne attack of all time, conceivably 10 times as costly as the Normandy invasion in terms of Allied casualties. On July 16, a new option became available when the United States secretly detonated the world's first atomic bomb in the New Mexico desert. Ten days later, the Allies issued the Potsdam Declaration, demanding the "unconditional surrender of all the Japanese armed forces." Failure to comply would mean "the inevitable and complete destruction of the Japanese armed forces and just as inevitable the utter devastation of the Japanese homeland." On July 28, Japanese Prime Minister Kantaro Suzuki responded by telling the press that his government was "paying no attention" to the Allied ultimatum. U.S. President Harry Truman ordered the devastation to proceed, and on August 6, the U.S. B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing an estimated 80,000 people and fatally wounding thousands more.

After the Hiroshima attack, a faction of Japan's supreme war council favored acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration, but the majority resisted unconditional surrender. On August 8, Japan's desperate situation took another turn for the worse when the USSR declared war against Japan. The next day, Soviet forces attacked in Manchuria, rapidly overwhelming Japanese positions there, and a second U.S. atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese coastal city of Nagasaki.

Just before midnight on August 9, Japanese Emperor Hirohito convened the supreme war council. After a long, emotional debate, he backed a proposal by Prime Minister Suzuki in which Japan would accept the Potsdam Declaration "with the understanding that said Declaration does not compromise any demand that prejudices the prerogatives of His Majesty as the sovereign ruler." The council obeyed Hirohito's acceptance of peace, and on August 10 the message was relayed to the United States.

Early on August 12, the United States answered that "the authority of the emperor and the Japanese government to rule the state shall be subject to the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers." After two days of debate about what this statement implied, Emperor Hirohito brushed the nuances in the text aside and declared that peace was preferable to destruction. He ordered the Japanese government to prepare a text accepting surrender.

In the early hours of August 15, a military coup was attempted by a faction led by Major Kenji Hatanaka. The rebels seized control of the imperial palace and burned Prime Minister Suzuki's residence, but shortly after dawn the coup was crushed. At noon that day, Emperor Hirohito went on national radio for the first time to announce the Japanese surrender. In his unfamiliar court language, he told his subjects, "we have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is insufferable." The United States immediately accepted Japan's surrender.

President Truman appointed MacArthur to head the Allied occupation of Japan as Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers. For the site of Japan's formal surrender, Truman chose the USS Missouri, a battleship that had seen considerable action in the Pacific and was named after Truman's native state. MacArthur, instructed to preside over the surrender, held off the ceremony until September 2 in order to allow time for representatives of all the major Allied powers to arrive.

On Sunday, September 2, more than 250 Allied warships lay at anchor in Tokyo Bay. The flags of the United States, Britain, the Soviet Union, and China fluttered above the deck of the Missouri. Just after 9 a.m. Tokyo time, Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signed on behalf of the Japanese government. General Yoshijiro Umezu then signed for the Japanese armed forces, and his aides wept as he made his signature.

Supreme Commander MacArthur next signed on behalf of the United Nations, declaring, "It is my earnest hope and indeed the hope of all mankind that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past." Ten more signatures were made, by the United States, China, Britain, the USSR, Australia, Canada, France, the Netherlands, and New Zealand, respectively. Admiral Chester W. Nimitz signed for the United States. As the 20-minute ceremony ended, the sun burst through low-hanging clouds. The most devastating war in human history was over.