Loving Our Kids, Pillow Fights, Tomatoes and MORE! Come Celebrate the Day!

Apr 6th

Humor Month – Joke of the Day  (In Honor of it Also Being National Pet Month)

A wealthy man decided to go on a safari in Africa. He took his faithful pet dachshund along for company. One day, the dachshund starts chasing butterflies and before long the dachshund discovers that he is lost.  So, wandering about, he notices a leopard heading rapidly in his direction with the obvious intention of having him for lunch. The dachshund thinks, “OK, I’m in deep trouble now!” Then he noticed some bones on the ground close by, and immediately settles down to chew on the bones with his back to the approaching cat. Just as the leopard is about to leap, the dachshund exclaims loudly, “Boy, that was one delicious leopard. I wonder if there are any more around here.” Hearing this, the leopard halts his attack in mid-stride, as a look of terror comes over him, and slinks away into the trees. “Whew,” says the leopard. “That was close. That dachshund nearly had me.” Meanwhile, a monkey, who had been watching the whole scene from a nearby tree, figures he can put this knowledge to good use and trade it for protection from the leopard. So, off he goes.  But the dachshund saw him heading after the leopard with great speed, and figured that something must be up.  The monkey soon catches up with the leopard, spills the beans and strikes a deal for himself with the leopard. The leopard is furious at being made a fool of and says, “Here monkey, hop on my back and see what’s going to happen to that conniving canine.” Now the dachshund sees the leopard coming with the monkey on his back, and thinks, “What am I going to do now?” But instead of running, the dog sits down with his back to his attackers, pretending he hasn’t seen them yet … and, just when they get close enough to hear, the dachshund says………………”Where’s that darn monkey? Sent him off half an hour ago to bring me another leopard.”

Drowsy Driver Awareness Day – This is an observance set up in California, but honestly I believe it’s something we should all be aware of, and take steps to prevent tragedy for ourselves and our loved ones.  On April 6, 2005 the Governor of California made a proclamation to designate the state’s observance of April 6th every year as a memorial day for those people who have died as a result of a collision involving a drowsy driver.  The statistics for drowsy driving deaths are actually quite high, and they were only listed for California!  I’d be interested to see what they are nation wide.  From 1993 to 2003 – according to the statistics compiled by the Department of CA Highway Patrol, about 100 people were killed each year in collisions where a drowsy driver was involved.  In that 10 year period 41,228 people were injured in collisions involving a drowsy driver, and 28,533 collisions happened involving a drowsy driver where no one was injured but there was significant property damage.  Every single one of these accidents could have been avoided had the drivers used common sense, pulled over and either taken a nap, gotten out and gotten some fresh air and something to drink and woken up.  In 1999 the National Sleep Foundation discovered in a poll that 62% of all adults surveyed reported driving a car or other motor vehicle feeling drowsy in the prior year, and that same poll showed that 27% of the adults reported that at some time they had dozed off while driving.  23% of the people polled stated that they knew someone who had experienced a fall-asleep crash within the past year.  The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates the about 100,000 police reported crashes each year – that’s about 1.5% of all crashes, involve drowsiness or fatigue as the main cause.  These numbers are just shocking !  The NHTSA estimates that at least 71,000 people are hurt in fall-asleep crashes each year, and the estimates are that these crashes represent $12,500,000 in monetary losses each year.  These numbers are actually saying that many more people die each year from crashes related to drowsy, sleepy or fatigued drivers than from many serious illness.  The drowsy driver doesn’t just affect themselves, they affect every person who operates a vehicle or rides in a vehicle, or who walks, stands or sits near the roadway where one of these crashes occurs.  This is a problem that can be easily solved!  Just being aware of yourself and how you’re feeling, not driving for more than a specified amount of time before you make yourself stop and get out to take a walk could do wonders for getting these numbers to drop.  I know that the cars my husband and I drive both have automatic alerts in them that start binging at the 2 hour mark.  They will keep binging until the car is stopped and the motor turned off.  Since I know that I get drowsy while driving, I stop at least that often, sometimes more, when I am on a road trip by myself (which honestly isn’t that often) to get some fresh air, walk around, get something more to drink – which translates into automatic stops a little later – and make sure I am awake. I don’t know if I could live with myself if I got drowsy and caused someone else to be hurt because I wasn’t responsible enough to pull over and take a break when I needed one.  Please, be aware of this, know your physical limitations, and if if you think you feel OK, stop every couple of hours to make sure.  You may not just be saving your life, but the lives of others around you.

International Pillow Fight Day –  We were all kids at one point.  Some of my readers may still be kids now!  But chances are pretty high that you’ve had a few pillow fights over the years.  It was likely with childhood friends, brothers or sisters, or other family members.  Pillow fights are loads of fun – as long as the pillows are soft.  I never did understand hard pillows anyway, but doggone, if you’re hit with one, it can hurt!  Apparently there are people who decided that they didn’t want to grow up (sort of like the Toys R Us kids!) and have set up in a massive pillow fight each year.  Today is an annual celebration that encourages friendly pillow fights wherever you live.  Big parties are set up where friends and even strangers gather to pummel each other in a friendly pillow fight.  Cities who are known to participate are Amsterdam, Berlin, London, Hong Kong, Mexico City, Oslo, Paris, Quebec City, Toronto, Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas/Ft Worth, Denver, Los Angeles, New York City and Washington DC.  I’m sure there are others, but these are the main ones mentioned.  The current Guinness World Record for the largest pillow fight was in 2008 with 3,706 people participating! That’s a LOT of pillows being swung around!

Here’s how it works – The fights are free for people of all ages, so obviously keeping things kid friendly is important.  When the official signals the start, it’s time to begin swinging and letting those pillows fly!  There are rules though: 

*  Soft feather-free pillows are required – no hard pillows or pillows filled with down are allowed.  (I used to work in a feather factory – trust me, flying down can cause you to choke uncontrollably, it gets in the eyes, and it naturally dusty so it could really hurt someone with an allergy.
Do NOT put any other items into the pillow case other than the pillow
*  Pajamas are encouraged – keeping the kid friendly thought in mind.
*  Wait for the official signal to start.
*  All glasses must be removed for safety.
*  Do NOT swing at people who don’t have a pillow or who are taking pictures.
*  Swing gently.
*  All participants must help clean up when the fight is over.

Sounds like fun!  Maybe this is something you can start in your neighborhood with your family and friends!

National Love of Our Children Day – I’ve seen listings for this day for today, and for the 8th.  We’ll go with today.  This day has been set up to offset Mother’s Day and Father’s Day – a day to let our kids know how important they are to us, and how much we love them.  Our kids depend on us for everything, to keep them safe, clothed, fed and loved.  Take time to play with them, sit and talk with them, do an activity that is important to them today.  Even if its sitting on the floor putting together cities with blocks, going for a walk or a bike ride together, watching a kid friendly movie together, whatever they want – as long as it isn’t dangerous or is in the family budget – take the time to put the focus on them.  In this busy life we live, hurrying from one event to the next, shuttling kids from school, to sports, music or dance lessons, camps, tutors, etc. we somehow lose the fun factor in being families.  Get that fun back, focus on just BEING together today without all the other STUFF getting in the way.  They grow up far too fast, enjoy them while you can.  I speak from experience here – trust me.  I’d give nearly anything to be able to have a do-over of some of the time my kids were growing up, and get back those times I lost to just being busy.

New Beers Eve – This day is an unofficial holiday in the United States, celebrating the end of Prohibition on April 6th.  The end of Prohibition happened as a result of the Cullen-Harrison Act, and its signing into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on March 23, 1933.  Sales of beer in the United States would become legal on April 7, 1933, provided that the state in question had enacted its own law allowing such sales.  The beer had to have an alcohol content of less than 3.2% because this amount was considered too low to produce significant intoxication.  On the evening of April 6th, people lined up outside of breweries and taverns, waiting for midnight when they would be able to legally buy beer for the first time in over 13 years! Since then, the night of April 6th has been referred to as New Beer’s Eve!  Cheers!

Tartan Day – If you see a lot of people wearing tartan this weekend, don’t be surprised.  Today the United States is celebration National Tartan Day.  It is intended to recognize the contributions of Scottish Americans to the United States.  Here are 5 things you may not have known about Scotland –

Tartan – The famous woven cloth is the most recognizable pattern associated with Scotland.  Tartan consists of interwoven vertical and horizontal lines, known as sett.  The pattern is seen on shirts, kilts and other clothing and different patterns denote different family groups – each having their own identifiable and distinct colors and patterns.

Scotland’s declaration of Independence – or the Arbroath – was signed on April 6th, 1320.  Scottish barons and earls sent the declaration, in the form of a letter, to Pope John XXII to assert their status as  an independent state.  The letter also the Pope to recognize Robert the Bruce as the country’s lawful king. 

 

Auld Lang Syne is a traditional Scottish song.  We hear it sung on New Year’s Eve, but what do we know about it?  I didn’t know anything so this was interesting to me.  It was written in 1788 by poet Robert Burns.  It was set to a traditional Scottish folk melody and Auld Lang Syne literally means “old long since”.  I never even knew that there were so many verses!  Here they are, if you’re interested, and if not, just skip to the next celebration!  

1. Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days o’ auld lang syne.

Chorus: And for auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne,

2. And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp!
And surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

3. We twa hae run about the braes
And pu’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary foot
Sin auld lang syne.

4. We twa hae paidl’d i’ the burn,
Frae mornin’ sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
Sin auld lang syne.

5. And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
And gie’s a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak a right guid willy waught,
For auld lang syne.

Scottish music is often associated with just bagpipes, but not all music is bagpipes.  There are several popular artists who come from Scotland, including Britain’s Got Talent Susan Boyle, Scottish/North Irish band Snow Patrol, and rock band Big Country. This is just a few.  I’ve never heard of them, but that doesn’t actually surprise me (well except for Susan Boyle) I don’t keep up on the new or popular bands for the most part since my kids have grown up and moved out. 

English is still the main language spoken in Scotland, but there more than 150 other languages spoken, including the ancient Celtic language of Gaelic. A study done in 2011 showed that 80% of the Scottish population was “aware of Gaelic being used in Scotland, with the highest awareness of Gaelic usage in the media, in education, and in transportation signage. 

There you go – your Scottish education for the day – or at least a skimming of the surface.

Teflon Day – In 1938, Roy Plunkett was fiddling around in his lab and accidentally discovered polytetrafluoroethylene, soon to be known as Teflon. It was a slippery substance that would have practical applications in everything from nonstick cookware to a presidential nickname.  Plunkett was a chemist at DuPont’s Jackson research lab in New Jersey, and made his discovery in the time honored scientific way – as the result of a mistake with an assistant’s help.  Plunkett and his assistant, Jack Rebok, were testing the chemical reactions of tetrafluoroethylene, as gas used in refrigeration.  The gas was in some pressurized canisters, one of which failed to discharge properly when its valve was opened.  When Rebok picked up the canister he found that it was heavier than an empty canister should be.  He suggested cutting it open to figure out what happened and in spite of the risk of blowing the lab up, Plunkett agreed.  It was heavy because the gas hadn’t escaped, it had solidified into a smooth, slippery white powder as a result of the molecules bonding together, a process known as polymerization.  This new polymer was different that other similar solids like graphite.  It was lubricated better and very heat-resistant.  Plunkett put aside his other work and began testing the possibilities of this new substance and eventually it was patented and in 1944 was registered under the trade name Teflon.  At first it was used for military and industrial use, but it became a household name in the early 1960s when it was used to produce the most effective, heat resistant cookware seen.  As an interesting side note, in the 1980s President Reagan was nicknamed the Teflon President, a reference to his “infuriating” ability to avoid being tarnished by the various scandals plaguing his administration (insert irritation that the media and the left haven’t changed, they’ve just gotten worse – the BEST president our nation has seen in modern times didn’t do anything wrong so he couldn’t be tarnished, so he’s given a snarky nickname. Nice, real nice.)  Teflon is seen nearly everywhere today, coating metals and fabrics, from the aerospace industry, to clothing, to pharmaceuticals.  Talk about a HAPPY accident!  DuPont has been chuckling all the way to the bank ever since!  Because of his discovery, Plunkett, who retired from DuPont in 1975, was enshrined in the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Food Celebration of the Day –

Fresh Tomato Day – Are tomatoes a fruit or a vegetable?  In 1893, the US Supreme Court decided that it was officially a fruit. . . . but taxed it as a vegetable.  So . . . . did that mean vegetables were taxed at a higher percentage?  Hmmm . . . I did find out some interesting things about Tomatoes though – so figured I’d fill you in!

French botanist Tournefort provided the Latin botanical name, Lycopersicon esculentum, to the tomato. It translates to “wolfpeach” — peach because it was round and luscious and wolf because it was incorrectly considered to be poisonous.  Tournefort  mistakenly took the tomato for the wolfpeach referred to by Galen in his third century writings, ie., poison in a palatable package which was used to destroy wolves.   The English word tomato comes from the Spanish word, tomate, derived Nahuatl (Aztec language) word, tomatl. It first appeared in print in 1595. A member of the deadly nightshade family, tomatoes were again mistakenly thought to be poisonous (though – the leaves ARE poisonous)  by Europeans who were suspicious of their bright, shiny fruit. Native versions were small, like cherry tomatoes, and more often were yellow, rather than red.  Tomatoes are native to western South and Central America.  Cortez discovered tomatoes growing in Montezuma’s garden in 1519, and brought seeds back to Europe where they were planted for ornamental enjoyment, and not food.  The first varieties to reach Europe were most likely yellow, since in Spain and Italy they were known as pomi d’oro, which means yellow apples. Italy was the first country to accept and cultivate the tomato outside of South American.  The French called the tomato as “pommes d’amour” or love apples.  They were thought to have stimulating aphrodisiacal properties.  Joseph Campbell -of Campbell Soup fame – came out with condensed tomato soup in 1897, which set the company on the road to wealth as well as making the tomato even more endearing to the general public. 

The high  acid content of the tomato makes it a prime candidate for canning, which is one of the main reasons the tomato was canned more than any other fruit or vegetable by the end of the 19th century.
As a really funny side note, did you know that there is an annual tomato fight that goes on?  I didn’t either.  Hubby mentioned it to me, so I looked it up and it’s true!  (not that I doubted him for a moment)  Each year in Bunol, Spain (in the Valencia region) the world’s largest tomato fight happens.  La Tomatina is the ultimate food fight!  People travel thousands of miles for the pleasure of being pelted by, and pelting others, with tomatoes!  Wow!  I see where it would be fun, but it seems so wasteful!   

So here are some ideas for enjoying tomatoes today.  I may have to go with the BLTs for us.

A happy, healthy and joyous Saturday to Everyone – Happy Birthday to my wonderful Mother-In-Law!  May you find something to celebrate to make this day special.  God Bless You and I’ll see you tomorrow!

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