Tuesday, January 29, 2008

January 25 weird 'n wacky celebrations

A Room of One's Own is brought to you by those wonderful holiday creators at Wellcat.com. It's a day for anyone who longs for or who enjoys having a room of one's own. Growing up, I shared a room with my sister until I was in 5th or 6th grade. And one day, I just decided to move into the guest bedroom. I didn't ask, I just moved. And when I was in 7th grade, I started a fire when I tried to burn a letter and it wouldn't go out on its own. Oops! Luckily, there wasn't any damage!!

Fun at Work Day is a day to finally have fun at work. I found conflicting information about the actual date this holiday should be celebrated, but I think you should have some element of fun at work every day. I'm not talking something silly; I'm talking about having fun and enjoying your workplace. The holiday was created by Playfair and has been in existence for a dozen years.

When my daughter and son-in-law purchased a purebred dog named Oscar, Cassie thought it would be fun to dress him up. Her boss bought Oscar a Husker jersey and he sported it on game days until he outgrew it - which seemed like about two weeks after he received it. So, Dress Your Pet Day is a time to show off your dog's or cat's fashion sense.

The Macintosh Anniversary party is today, if you keep track of when the Mac first hit the market.

Need a hot drink? National Irish Coffee Day might hit the spot. Legend has it that the drink was first served by a bartender at the Shannon Airport and popularized by an American travel writer who drank it while there and then wrote about the experience.

Observe the Weather Day. I observed. It's about 40 and partly sunny.

Old Disting is an old Norse celebration / feast honoring Disir, the Norse guardian goddess.

It's also the day for the Festival of Constructive Energy. I searched for how this festival began and more importantly, what it's all about, but I came up empty handed.

Dinner Party Day establishes a day to invite guests to your home to share a meal and dish about what's going on with each other. Why not plan a themed dinner party? Maybe a Mexican fiesta or a Hawaiian luau. Could be a great way to beat the winter doldrums!

Opposite Day should be self-explanatory. Typically, statements made on this day mean the opposite of what is said.

January 24 weird 'n wacky celebrations

Belly Laugh Day is a time to cut loose and let laughter lighten the day. Studies show that laughter releases stress and is a good cure-all for what ails you. At 1:24 PM, holiday officials want you to throw your arms to the sky and laugh. For other possible ways to celebrate, check out the official holiday website.

Most people don't like to toot their own horns, and some people don't know how to handle when others praise them. But for today, let it go, and learn to accept a compliment because it is National Compliment Day. My mom always said that if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. Find out more at the this website and find something nice to say.

At first, I thought our next cause to celebrate was a fashionable holiday, but in actuality, Women in Blue Jeans Day pays tribute to the women of rural America. Women involved in ag met in Mitchell, South Dakota, for the 6th annual conference.

Women's Healthy Weight Day promotes healthy living.

And one of my favorite days - Beer Can Appreciation Day - is a huge celebration around our farm. We collect beer cans. And later, we cash 'em in and make enough money to buy another 12 cans to add to the collection. It's a vicious cycle! But if you really take a look at beer cans in a collection, there are definitely some unique pieces of aluminum circulating out there.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Celebrations for January 23

National Handwriting Day honors a lost art - handwriting. When I write magazine or newspaper articles, I like to write on notebook paper and then type. I think there are several reasons why this works for me. One, it's a tactile thing. I like the feel of the pen in my hand and my hand moving against the notebook paper. I even have certain pens I prefer to write with. My two favorites are the Papermate Flair (in magenta) or the Papermate Profile. Two, I think it has to do with my multiple intelligence learning style. I'm a visual learner, and seeing the edits and rewrites on the page gives me a sense of satisfaction. A computer can't really supply that because once you delete, it's gone.

On second thought, those reasons just might be obsessive compulsive. :)

On a more delicious note, today is National Pie Day. It's as American as apple pie! The American Pie Council offers a newsletter about this favorite comfort food. I'd like to pick a favorite, but it really depends on the time of year. I like strawberry or peach pie in the summer. Cherry - with a lattice top - is a favorite and brings back a lot of memories from my childhood. Pecan is always a winner.

My Grandma Larson always enjoyed a piece of pie with afternoon coffee. I remember once when I stopped by the cafe and got several pieces and took them - and the kids - along for an afternoon treat. Everybody but Courtney ate a piece, leaving one piece. It was coconut cream. Grandma ate it, along with her piece of chocolate cream pie.

And finally, if your mailbox is located next to the road, watch out. Today is Snowplow Mailbox Hockey Day. This little game is enjoyed by snowplow drivers as they try to annihilate mailboxes from roadside existence. Heck, I can do that without a snowplow. It's called a Jimmy, and I can swerve it to the side of the road and take out a box at any time.

Isn't that against a federal offense though? I wouldn't do that anyway because I've had it happen to my mailbox and it gets very frustrating having to replace it on a regular basis.

January 22 wacky and weird celebrations

Answer Your Cat's Questions Day is again brought to you by those fun-loving holiday creators at Wellcat. And actually, a study came out this summer that showed that by learning how to "read" your cat's tail movement, pet owners should be able to communicate with their cats.

Makes me think about the spoiled snowshoe Siamese that lives with my parents. He's very lovable, and I would agree that if you watch, you can tell if Nash is in a playful mood or if he's going to be on the offensive.

Celebration of Life Day has a remarkable story. Learn more about the reason why we should celebrate every day of life by reading Susan Stucki's story.

International Day of Radiant Peace sounds like a wonderful idea. Peace (and a little quiet) remains a wonderful way to relax and unwind. I've always thought that peace - with anything we encounter in the world - begins within, so unless you are at peace with yourself, it can be difficult to make share the love, so to speak. Get an accurate description of this holiday, which is celebrated four times throughout the year.

National Speak Up And Succeed Day promotes positive public speaking. Since 98% of all Americans fear public speaking, this would be the perfect opportunity to confront that fear and share how you feel.

Rid the World of Fad Diets and Gimmicks Day. Now here's a holiday I can relate to! I know I need to lose some weight. Through the years, I've tried the grapefruit diet, which kind of worked, the cabbage soup diet, and Weight Watchers - which did work! But the best way is to eat sensibly. About 10 years ago, I went on a fairly strict diet and lost about 70 pounds in 3 months. I felt good, and I kept it off for about five years. Then, the yo-yo thing hit and life kind of interfered and I gained about 40 of it back. Now I'm on a program and am just watching what I eat and trying to make sensible decisions. That's the best way!

Nude Beach Day. Enough said. Not really, though. When I lived in New York, my neighbor asked me if I wanted to go to the beach with her once, so we drove to Long Island and went to the beach. I didn't realize it was a nude beach until, well, we walked out on the sand. We didn't stay long.

Tu B'shvat celebrates the new year for trees. A great multimedia presentation describing the holiday can be found at aish.com.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Big Red Rock: Paint It Black

Now if this doesn't get you pumped up for football, then something is wrong with you. Seriously wrong with you! :)

I'm itching for Husker football to begin. And since Coach Bo is trying to get the spring game moved to a night time kickoff, I'm hoping I can talk you-know-who (I hope you are reading this, Scott) to go to Lincoln that day.

Take a look at this video from You Tube!

Weird and wacky celebrations for January 21

Martin Luther King Day honors the equality efforts made by and the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Many special events and activites are planned around the country. Since it's a government holiday, government employees get the day off, but people are encouraged to make it a day on by volunteering or working on service projects. Get the scoop at MLKDay.gov.

Need a hug? You're in luck then because today is National Hugging Day. This holiday's roots date to 1986, and the primary purpose is to promote hugging on a year-round basis. Of course, you should always ask before you just give someone a bear hug. There are people who don't like others invading their personal space. In the field of proxemics, a hug is within a person's intimate zone and we allow only those we trust to enter that area. You can submit hugging pictures to the holiday's official website.

My favorite celebration for today is Squirrel Appreciation Day. Yes, those furry little creatures that sit in the middle of the road, thus causing cars to swerve to avoid confrontation and ultimate squirrel roadkill in the Geico commercials. Now, I honestly don't mind watching squirrels chasing each other while they are acting squirrelly. Plus, if you listen closely to their chatter, they talk up a storm! Some interesting hints about the squirrel population can be found here. A humorous view of the holiday is available here.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Fitness check

-3 and counting!

January 20 wacky celebratiosn / holidays

Love music? Spend today celebrating your favorite DJ for National Disc Jockey Day. Do I have a favorite? I admit, I listen to a lot of different radio stations, but I primarily listen to US92 from Norfolk. They have wonderful, crazy, fun DJs on the air throughout the day. The morning show features Dave, Angie, and Jason (who is from my home town), and I like listening to them because they are unpredictable. One of the funniest moments was when the area turkey federation brought in some live turkeys and they jumped on the control panel. Hilarious!

But my favorite DJ at US92 would have to be Jay Johnson. He does the No-Repeat Drive at 5 and the Saturday Night Country Club. I like listening to Jay because he is a little crazy, likes the classics as well as the new stuff, and he knows how to have fun.

Today is also Inauguration Day. This is the day the President of the United States is sworn into office. Did you know that the day was originally held on March 4? The only exception to these dates is our first president - George Washington - who was sworn in on April 30.

World Religion Day fosters interfaith understanding and harmony by showing similarities in all religions.

And finally, Stay Young Forever Day is today. Isn't age a state of mind? I will tell my age. I'm 39. Kidding! I'm 46, but I feel like I'm in my 30s. My best friend always tells me I feel young because I taught and was around kids for so many years. I guess that might be true to an extent. But I still think it's a mind over matter thing. Plus, I guess I was blessed with genetics from my mom, because she certainly doesn't look her age, and I don't look mine, although I have noticed a few more wrinkles around my eyes, but I'll take care of that with a little Oil of Olay. No botox for this babe!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

January 19 weird and wacky holidays

For horror fans, today reigns as a special day. It's the birthday of Edgar Allan Poe. The EA Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia, has a birthday celebration planned. And the city of Baltimore hosts a special birthday celebration each year for the city's most renowned author. The party includes theater performances, music, and a world famous toast to Poe at his grave site.

I always liked teaching Poe's short stories, although many students didn't always catch on to the symbolism. The Cask of Amontillado is probably my favorite. His poem, The Raven, continues to be an oft-quoted piece of literature, but my favorite Poe poem is Annabel Lee.

If the nation's national bird is more to your liking, you are in luck. This weekend in Eagle Days. Many of the state's Games and Parks Commissions are hosting eagle watching activities. I think Nebraska's celebration is held in December. A month ago, there was a bald eagle lurking around the north treeline of the farm. During deer season, some got a hit in the alfalfa field and skinned the deer there. A few days later, I saw the eagle near the carcass. Another spot about two miles south of us has several eagles living in the trees. They are interesting to watch.

The National Popcorn Board isn't sure if today is actually National Popcorn Day or if the celebration falls on Super Bowl Sunday. Either way, popcorn is a delicious treat! And one of the best ways to serve it is in a salad. I first had it about 20 years ago at a salad luncheon I attended with my grandma. Last year at Christmas, Cassie made it. It's super simple, but oh, so yummy!
You can use microwave popcorn, but I usually just pop some on the stove. Add water chestnuts, celery, and onion. Mix. Whip up a dressing made of about 1/2 cup of mayonnaise (depending on amount of popcorn), a tablespoon of sugar and pour on top. Top the salad with cheddar cheese and bacon bits.

For other popcorn recipes, visit the National Popcorn Board.

Feel like singing? Today is your today. Celebrate International Sing Out Day by singing. This celebration is the brainchild of Adrienne Sioux Koopersmith, a Chicago cartoonist and writer. Actually, she's an eventologist.

And finally, today is Tin Can Day. In 1825, the first patent for storing food in a tin can was awarded.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Cold weather, Ice, and Cattle

This has been a treacherous week on the farm. First, several of the yards are slick because of the ice and the lack of the sun to melt the ice. While feeding cattle the other day, the herd was on the other side of the field, but when Scott entered with the feed wagon, they headed toward him. Now, instead of walking around the ice, they attempt to walk across the ice. Not all at once, either. One of them steps on the ice, does a nosedive, and ends up sliding part way across the patch.

Now you would think that the other 90 head would figure out that:
  • Ouch, that hurts!
  • I don't want to look like a dumb cow.
  • Maybe I should avoid the ice and walk around.

But no. Instead, four of them end up falling and hurting their legs. According to the farmer who lives in this house, something happens after a cow falls and injures a leg. Usually, the cow never again walks correctly. And since the cold spell has hit, and the wind chill right now is -10, those four will probably not make it.

When you calculate the cost invested into one animal and then figure the loss, it's a wonder that farmers ever make a profit. But if you look at the big picture of profitability, it all evens out. Or shows a profit!

January 18 wacky celebrations / holidays

Hug that lovable bear because today is Pooh Day, in honor of author A.A. Milne's birthday. Join Tigger, Eyore, Pooh, and Christopher Robin for some fun and games.

Today is also Maintenance Day. Now I'm not sure if they're talking about maintaining weight, honoring maintenance workers, or trimming those nasty nose hairs (yes, there is actually a nose hair maintenance day, but it's September 8).

And finally, today is Crank Up The Stereo Day. Honestly, I do that every day. I crank the tunes, sing along, and dance around the house. It's my wintertime therapy. During the summer, I mow the lawn for therapy. Trust me. It works.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Getting fit on the farm

So, I know I'm usually sitting in front of the computer writing, and I know I need to exercise more. Before I moved to the farm, I belonged to a gym in Norfolk and worked out almost daily. It included circuit training and I usually logged some time on the treadmill while I was there.

Now you'd think since I live out here in the middle of nowhere that I could go for a walk anywhere at any time. Well, I did during the summer, but now that winter's cold is at its strongest, I dread going outside to get the mail, let alone going for a walk. Our east/west road is coated in ice. The north/south minimum maintenance road is muddy. I would like a treadmill. I know I would use it!

But yesterday, my parents and I joined the local hospital's wellness effort. We received a pedometer, water bottle, and other fun stuff to chart our number of steps. Now yesterday was not such a good day for my pedometer. I put it on before leaving the hospital, went to Norfolk and ran a few errands and went to work, and then came home. And I logged....250 steps. That's like 1/10 of a mile. Today's been better so far. I've walked laps in the house and have a good start on it.

We also decided that we would join the weight loss challenge. I know it would help me if I would eat breakfast, but I'm never really hungry in the morning. I realize that breakfast jump starts your metabolism. I just read an article on MSNBC about eating small meals ever three hours. So today, I ate breakfast. And guess what. I feel tired. But I'm not hungry and I've been drinking a lot of water, so it's a good start. I weighed myself this morning - pre-breakfast - and the scale registered two pounds lighter than it did yesterday. It's a start.

January 17 weird celebrations / holidays

Today, the theme appears to focus on people, primarily customers. Two celebrations, Customer Service Day and Get to Know Your Customer Day, promote positive customer and business interaction. When a customer receives outstanding service, customers should commend those employees instead of only negative experiences.

Here's a good example of why you need to treat customers with respect. A friend of mine owns a fairly well-known restaurant in Northeast Nebraska. A waitress who worked there had quite an unfriendly disposition. She was rude to customers, never smiled, and was generally unpleasant to be around. One time, after this waitress had served their table, a couple left three pennies on the table. Now, my theory is that even a bad waiter/waitress deserves at least 10 % of the bill primarily due to the fact that most restaurants do not pay minimum wage and these servers rely on tips to make minimum wage. However, she had behaved badly when she served them. But, this waitress went to clean off the table as soon as the couple left, found the three cents, and chased them down in the parking lot and told them they'd forgot this on the table. She was fired. Immediately. Just my three cents worth..... :)

Kid Inventor's Day - KID - celebrates inventions by kids. Why is it celebrated on January 17? It's Ben Franklin's birthday. An official website mentions inventions by kids. No KIDding.

Today is also Judgment Day. I'm positive this has nothing to do with the Terminator movies. Honestly, I could not find any factual information about why this is celebrated on this date.

Today also honors St. Anthony, patron saint of lost things.

January 16 wacky celebrations

Hot 'N Spicy Food Day. There's not a great deal of information out there about this celebration, but in to uphold a tradition, I whipped up a huge pot of hot 'n spicy chili. Here's the recipe:
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef 1/2 lb. hot Italian sausage
1 medium onion, diced 1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1 T. garlic pepper 1/4 t. salt
1 c. green pepper, diced (red or yellow pepper are OK to use)

Brown these ingredients until meat is cooked. Then add:

1 large can vegetable juice 2 15-oz cans chili or dark red kidney beans
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed 1 15-oz can butter beans
1 can beer 2 T. chili powder
1/4 t. cayenne pepper

Simmer for one hour. Yum! And that's my contribution to Hot 'n Spicy Food Day.

If you're not up for food, how about paying tribute to a legendary mythical creature. Today is a time to celebration Appreciate a Dragon Day. I always think about the dragon that battles Beowulf at the end of the epic. Or Puff. According to the Dragon Keeper Chronicles, this day was initiated to promote literacy. You can find a list of dragon books, based on reading level, at their website.

Of course, you could celebrate nothing. Now what kind of fun would that be? This un-event, National Nothing Day, was founded by Harold Pullman Coffin, a newspaper reporter, and was first celebrated in 1973. The goal: to provide Americans with a day when they can sit and observe without honoring anything.

And finally, today is Religious Freedom Day. The origins commemorate the 1786 passage of the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom. An official website offers good information, along with Presidential proclamations honoring the day.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

January 15 wacky holidays / celebrations

First, it's Basketball Day. Appropriate for this time of year, right? When I was younger, this was my favorite sport, but now that I'm older, I prefer volleyball. A good college game can be fun to watch though. Bring on March Madness!

Champion of the Month Day. You know, this celebration is listed on many calendars, but there isn't much information about the origins. I guess you can select your own champion of the month.

Humanitarian Day should be celebrated every day, but some people just can't play nice in the sandbox. But the celebration appears to have solid roots. Good information about how it all began is located here. I like the tagline: Convert one day into a life mission. Good motto!

And if you were wondering if there would be a food worth celebrating today, there is. It's National Fresh Squeezed Juice Day. I'd have a difficult time picking a favorite. Grapefruit juice is very refreshing, but so is orange juice. And, there's nothing like a little fresh-squeezed lemon or lime juice to add to a beverage or food item. But on the Today Show the other day, a guest was promoting eating a piece of the fruit instead of drinking juice because of the high sugar content of the juice. And think about it: an orange has approximately 80 calories. A glass of OJ has close to 140 calories, and that's if you pour an eight-ounce glass. Most of us fill it to the rim!

January 14 weird celebrations/holidays

I had to substitute yesterday, so I'm a day behind. And darn it, I missed the chance to talk about a favorite topic of mine: organization. Actually, I'm into organized chaos. When I taught full time, my desk proved that point, but if someone asked me for something, I knew exactly what pile to go to. Yes, my office now is better, but there's still room for improvement. It's called a filing cabinet!! :)

National Clean Off Your Desk Day. Yes, I've already discussed the topic above. But if you still feel the need to clean your desk, here are some pretty good ideas. But remember, an organized desk is a sign of a sick mind.

Organize Your Home Day. We are working on that one here at the farm. We just finished a new, huge garage. And just last week, we built a "mud room" that connects the garage and the house. The mud room will have a shower, so those muddy, dirty, cattle-smelling clothes don't have to come inside the house at the end of the day. There will also be a lot of storage available so I can clear out the hallway where boxes are still sitting from when we moved in. And, I'm hoping bro-in-law Ryan will find two skylights so I can create a relaxing atmosphere out there - besides the mud.

Assembly Line Worker's Day honors those who do a little shift work. Great song, Kenny Chesney and George Strait! I have never worked in a plant. OK, I'll rephrase that. I've never worked on the floor of a plant. I was a personnel and payroll assistant manager for a place, and I thought the people who worked in the plant did not earn enough money for the job they had to do.

Ratification Day.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

January 13 weird celebrations

Play an instrument? Sure, I played the french horn when I was in school. Do I enjoy it? Definitely.

Is there an instrument that withstands a great deal of ridicule? Yes. The accordian. And in honor of the squeezebox, today is the time to stand and celebrate Accordian Day. I'm not sure of the origins of this holiday, but if you associate good polka music with the accordian, then you just might be in luck!

January 12 weird celebrations

So, it's Penguin Awareness Day. I'm aware. Need I say more? Okay, actually, I think penguins are pretty darn cute. Why is it celebrated on today? It coincides with a northward migration of penguins.

Today also honors a valued profession: pharmacists. National Pharmacist Day pays tribute to those who truly understand the balance between science and medicine. Pharmacists not only have to know hundreds of thousands of drugs, they also need to understand the interaction between drugs and how they affect the body.

Friday, January 11, 2008

January 11 weird celebrations

Honestly, I don't think today's celebration is a weird one. In fact, I think it's something that is lacking in this country, and people need to get back to having manners. Today is International Thank You Day. That's right. Say thank you to those who have done thoughtful things for you; thank everyone who gave you a present over the holiday season.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Coffee Time at the ranch

My grandparents owned a farm. I don't really remember Grandpa coming in from the field or chores for afternoon coffee, but that could be because I was playing outside and simply didn't notice.

But here, on our ranch, it's a major thing. Well, usually. Some days we skip it because of our schedule. Or because I'm not home to make anything! :)

But usually around 4 PM - that might seem kind of late, but when you eat lunch and rest from 12:30 - 2, break comes around 4 - we usually stop for coffee, tea or hot chocolate. In the summer, it's usually an iced tea break.

And you can't have coffee without dessert. Some days, it's just a cookie. Other days, we're finishing the last of the Better-Than-Sex cake that I whipped up a day or two before. Today, we'll finish the apple-peach pie.

It's a chance to relax for five or ten minutes before going back outside into winter's coldness. It's a chance to discuss the events of the day or what lies ahead for the remainder. Sometimes, we're quiet; other times, the local radio station plays in the background.

No matter what, it's a break from the hard work and long hours that are associated with farming.

January 10 wacky holidays and celebrations

This day is the Islamic New Year Day. I did not realize that the Islamic calendar is 11 days shorter than the solar calendar. I learned something new today!! I love when that happens. Good information about this type of celebration can be found here. Interesting history and background information! And actually, the New Year celebration began yesterday at sundown.

The next reason to celebrate won't elicit jokes or wild celebrations, but it will make your pocketbook happy. National Cut Your Energy Costs Day is a time to evaluate whether your are wasting energy and natural resources in your home. Some basic energy savers worth trying are made available by Bank Rate. I'll be honest, I'm sure that a great deal of energy is wasted here on the farm. I hate to say it, but it's probably true. While I was perusing the list at BankRate, one definitely stood out to me: fix drippy faucets. Both our master shower and sink faucet leak. Terribly. We will need to get those fixed so we can save some cash.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

January 9 wacky celebrations

Feeling the need to get up, up, and away, in my beautiful balloon...Oops! Temporary flashback to the 60s and The Fifth Dimension.

You might need that bit of information for today's reason worth celebrating. It's Balloon Ascension Day. I've never been in a hot air balloon. Part of me finds it intriguing; part of it finds me it a scary proposition. Could be because of my fear of falling.

What's the significance of the holiday? In 1793, a Frenchman, Blanchard, made the first hot air ascension in the U.S. A tidbit of history is that America's first president, George Washington, helped construct the balloon used for this inaugural flight.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Multiple, yet weird-n-wacky, reasons to celebrate January 8

Relax, today is National Bubble Bath Day. Now, this is a truly relaxing way to unwind after a long day at the office or wherever you've been. Shut off the lights, light a few candles, turn on the soft music, but don't fall asleep.

And while you're in the tub, why not celebrate with a little English Toffee.

Or maybe you are in the shower to get rid of the germs. After all, it is National Joy Germ Day. I prefer NO germs, especially after the case of salmonella poisoning I ended up with last May.

It's also time for Show and Tell At Work Day, brought to you from those fun-loving folks at Wellcat.com. And I agree: if kids get to take objects to school and show off, why can't adults do it at work, too?

Monday, January 7, 2008

January 7 wacky and weird celebrations

Thank God It's Monday Day. Hmmm. Guess who thought up this holiday probably wasn't a teacher or working stiff who tired from the daily grind. But I also know that, as a former teacher, you needed to start off the week on a positive note. It's all about attitude. You choose each morning if you're going to be positive or negative. I choose positive.

And if you don't want to celebrate because it is a Monday, you can check out Organize Your Home Day. I try to keep things organized. Organized chaos, that is. :) I know when I was teaching I let things pile up, but if you asked where something was, I could find it immediately because I knew what was in each pile.

But back to an organized home. Maybe it's more a matter of reducing the clutter. I'm still in the process of doing that from the move to the farm. It's a never ending process, or so it seems.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Cervical Cancer Rates Decline

Since the mid-1970s, cervical cancer rates have dropped. But in today's fast-paced and fast-living world, cervical cancer and its causes give pause, especially to someone who has had an abnormal test result following a Pap test. According to the Mayo Clinic, cervical cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in women.

These factors increase the risk:
  • Many sexual partners. The more sex partners you have had - coupled with the number of partners your partner has had - increases the risk of acquiring HPV.
  • Early sexual activity. Having sex before age 18 increases the risk of HPV.
  • STDs. Having other STDs increases the chance of HPV.
  • Weak immune system. If your immune system is weak due to another health problem, the chances of cervical cancer increase.
  • Smoking.

Controversy seems to follow the HPV vaccine. I've heard people say that if mothers take their daughters to get the vaccine, the parent is promoting sex outside marriage. Isn't there just as good a chance that the parent is saying 'I love you and I want to protect you from a deadly disease.'

Receiving the three-shot series seems logical. MSNBC reports that some girls faint or suffer pain following the injection. But a little pain sure beats the possibility of cancer.

January is Cervical Cancer Screening Month. If you have daughters, this is a good time to discuss HPV and its potential harm. If you haven't had a Pap test in the last three years, this would be a good time to schedule one. It might save your life.

January 6 weird n wacky celebration

Some food holidays are just plain out delicious, and others....well, they give pause and make us wonder why they are celebrated on a certain day. Today's food holiday - Bean Day - falls into the 'other' category. Now don't get me wrong. I like beans. And I like almost any kind of bean. I planted four rows of green beans in the garden last summer and my freezer is stocked with the delicious veggie. I enjoy black beans in taco soup. And lima beans are....good! But since there isn't any historical data to go along with this holiday, you can decide how you plan on celebrating it on your own.

International Respect For Living Day is a highlight of today. But this reminds me of the whole Celebration of Life month dilemma. Shouldn't every day be respect for living day?

Today also honors those 3 million plus who are known by the last name "Smith." Here's a great explanation of the holiday by its founder.

And if you aren't a Smith but are into namedropping, today honors one of literature's most enduring detectives: Sherlock Holmes. Did you know there are over 400 Sherlock Holmes societies around the world? A three-year-old article in the New York Sun takes an interesting look at these Baker Street Irregulars.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Organic cocktails?

So, I'm perusing through some old press releases, trying to sort out the bad from some possible story topics, and I happen upon one for an organic cocktail mix. That's right. Organic cocktail mix. I checked out the website. I'm not saying I wouldn't buy the mix, because, hey, I like pomegranate and cosmopolitans, and a mojito hits the spot every once in a while.

But then I just started laughing. Because I'm sure everyone makes a conscious attempt to purchase organic vodka. Or rum. FYI, the press release didn't mention using any organic alcohol.

Me? I'm a tequila girl, and to my knowledge, the only "organic" tequila is 4 Copas. Right. Like I'm willing to pay $65 for a 750 ml bottle of tequila.

I'm all for saving the environment and doing what I can to make the world a better place, but where's the organic craze going to stop? Organic cigarettes? Wait! That product is already available. And isn't it funny that people who are smoking are willing to pay extra bucks to smoke 100% certified organic tobacco and additive-free tobacco.

Wake up, folks. Just because a cigarette doesn't have any additives does not mean an organic cigarette is a safer cigarette.

January 5 wacky holidays

Today is National Bird Day. It seems fairly obvious to me, but I Googled the topic and found an interesting site. According to them, it's the perfect to reflect on how we treat birds. I once owned a cockatiel. He was very peaceful and would great me each morning. I thoroughly enjoyed him. He liked to sit on the screen of my laptop while I worked on it. He wouldn't bother anything, and he kept his talons away from the screen, which was a huge worry I had. And once he flew outside, and I feared he would be gone, but later that day, he landed on our back patio and just stood by the door, waiting to come inside.

National Second Hand Wardrobe Day occurs today. I don't remember wearing hand-me-downs as a kid, but that's probably because I was the oldest in the family and the oldest grandchild. But when I had kids, I certainly didn't mind "recycling" clothing. It sure as heck beat buying an entire new wardrobe. Even today, I like to scour thrift shops and second hand stores because you never know what you will find. Once, in Lincoln, I found a pair of Venezia jeans that still had the tag attached. A pair of $60 jeans (which I would NEVER pay for a pair of jeans) for only $3.50. Now that's a bargain! And I still remember when Courtney was a freshman and I swung by a thrift store to check on some possible costumes to create for Homecoming week activities. There was a beautiful leather coat - long and with a great belt - and Courtney liked it. How can you pass up a leather coat that sold for $5? I couldn't, so I gave the cash and let her get it. She wore it all the time! And, who can resist stopping at a garage sale?

Then, there are the new additions to my family. They won't wear anything that isn't new. Scott's sister stopped and bought a few shirts so the kids would have some decent clothes when they are here, brands like Aeropostale, Old Navy, American Eagle, and they wouldn't wear any of it because it wasn't new. I like to call that thinking stupidity.

And if you aren't in need of any clothing, why not clean the cluttered closet and donate items to a local thrift store.

Fruitcake Toss Day is celebrated today. So instead of letting that heavy cake dry out even more so, make it a family event. See who can throw it the farthest. Instead of pumpkin chuckin - which is a big thing in a local Nebraska town - toss the fruitcake. There's a traditional celebration in Manitou Springs, Colorado. Looks like fun.

I'm actually working on an article for a regional magazine for next year's Christmas edition. And yes, it's about fruitcake.

Finally, it's Twelfth Night or the Epiphany, a Christian feast celebrating the revelation of God to mankind. Various Christians recognize this date as the day the Magi brought gifts to the baby Jesus, signifying the twelfth day of Christmas.

Friday, January 4, 2008

January 4 wacky celebrations

Man, I truly enjoy those folks at Wellcat.com. They have devised some crazy reasons to celebrate, and in the process, they've provided me, as well as others, moments of laughter. Today's reason to celebrate is Dimpled Chad Day. I like Wellcat's explanation of the celebration.

Now the next celebration is one that I certainly enjoy: Trivia Day. It's fun to impress friends and family with the mounds of useless knowledge I carry inside my mind. Actually, I think that has more to do with a photographic memory, which in my family, seems to be an inherited trait. One of my favorite things is to play trivia on the NTN network. Restaurants and bars across the country use the 20-question trivia format. You sign up at a place you frequent, play the 15-minute game, accumulate points, and move your way up the establishment's leader board. There are all types of trivia: general knowledge, music, retro TV, entertainment, sports, passport (geography), adult, football (you make the call). Dish Network offers the game through its satellite service; you can also play online. It just proves that all my years of reading (and coaching quiz bowl teams) finally paid off!

And on a more serious note, today is the celebration of the birth of Louis Braille. Find out more about his invention of the six-dot reading system.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

January 3 weird celebrations

Today's first strange holiday/celebration caught me off guard. It's Memento Mori 'Remember You Die' Day. My first thought was 'like we need to be reminded of that?' But after some investigation, I discovered that memento mori is a Latin phrase that means "remember you are mortal." Often, people don't want to think about death and dying, but take it from someone who has had a loved one pass away unexpectedly, it is a topic that needs to be discussed.

On a lighter note, today is National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day. Try this recipe for the classic holiday sweet.

And finally, for all you book lovers, it's Tolkein Day in honor of the Lord of the Rings trilogy author.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

How is it possible that if a couple has three children, two appear to be alike in thoughts and emotions and yet the third child doesn't seem to fit? Is it environmental or is it a twist of the genetic code? Did something happen during the pregnancy that caused a disturbance from the normal flow of life?

I've always been thankful that all three of my children were born without any defects. But really, isn't that an untrue statement since none of us are born with the perfection trait? All three of them have gone through their own moments of success and despair. They've persevered and have become stronger women.

When I was pregnant with the oldest, I worried that something would go wrong. And once her twin died when I was four months pregnant - a freak of nature that happened at the same time my sister's fiance passed away in a work accident - I was scared that something would go terribly wrong. But she was a healthy baby, born a week late, and we discovered that her twin was a boy. Sometimes I wonder what he would be like or would he be like his sister? Or maybe she is the way she is because of him.

With the second one, I worried because I was under a lot of stress. But she, too, was healthy at birth. She was two days late, and once we were in the delivery room, the contractions stopped. The doctor gave me an IV solution that jumpstarted the contractions, which by the way, seemed much stronger than the first ones. I still think now, though, that she has a thyroid problem - like most of the females in my family - but the doctors just say her level is safe but toward the low end.

And then there's the baby of the group. She, too, was healthy. A week early. But when she was a little over a year old, she fell and hit the back of her head. Tests showed she was okay, but I always thought that tumble changed her personality.

After that, there were two miscarriages. In my mind, that was nature's way of saying that something had gone amiss with these pregnancies.

But it still makes me wonder: how do two of three or four of five seem so alike and yet there is one who doesn't seem to belong in the family because their thinking pattern is so different. Is it nature's way of testing us, as parents?

Book blitz and self promotion

Today, authors must self promote their work if they hope to sell the end product after months or years of hard work. The days of receiving a hefty royalty check from a publishing house seem to have gone by the wayside for the majority of authors. Of course, if you're a famous author who has signed on to write a series or if you're someone who is in the news, there's a fairly good chance that a publishing house might pay millions to be able to tell your story.

Promoting books or even just promoting yourself as an author is hard work. And I think that's something most people don't really consider. Writing is work! Sure, the creativity muse wakes me up each morning and guides me to my computer, but as a self-employed person, a writer needs discipline to create the final product.

So once that book is written, an author needs to establish a relationship with the media. Authors need to set their work apart from the other 150,000+ books that are published each year.

How do you do this? Create promotional pieces that generate buzz!

Step one is to make a list of media outlets you'd like to reach. Do you simply want to have a listing in a magazine that offers book reviews? Or is your ultimate goal to make it on the Today Show and have Meredith, Ann, or Matt discuss your work with you while you're sitting in the studio by Rockefeller Plaza? Are you listed on Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.com?

Next, you need to consider marketing materials, including postcards, book marks, business cards, posters, and book trailers - which seems to be the latest craze in book marketing. I've seen several on YouTube which are fantastic!

Reviews are a vital part of promotion. Submit your work to reputable book review sites and magazines. It appears that many newspapers are cutting book reviews, but regional newspapers might be a good place to generate book buzz.

Host a book signing at book stores or libraries. Even offer to read from your work while you're there. Hopefully, that will generate even more interest which will lead to increased sales.

Authors need a website to showcase their work. Why not write a blog about your book? Or while you're working on the book, why not blog about your progress?

Press releases to the media offer an outlet to announce the publication of your work. I know that Author House sends press releases when books are released, and I'm sure other publishers do the same. If not, create your own. After all, you are a writer.

You get out of it what you put into it. This is definitely true with self-promotion, but if you want to establish yourself and make your work stand out, an author must learn to set himself or herself apart from the others.

All it takes is creativity.

January 2 weird holidays

I'm sure that Nash, my parents' Snowshoe Siamese, is basking in his glory today because it's Happy Mew Year for Cats Day. He rules the house and is extremely spoiled, but he is also a very enjoyable feline.

55 MPH Speed Limit Day encourages driving at 55. I happen to have a lead foot, but I try to keep it at the speed limit. And out here in the Nebraska Sandhills, the highway speed limit is 65.

Is one of your resolutions to try to shape up? Maybe you should take advantage of National Personal Trainer Day and find someone who will help you achieve your goals.

And today, Earth is at Perihelion. The earth is closest to the sun today.

New Year's Day observances

Obviously, it's the beginning of a new year, the dawn of a new day, and if you are like many Americans, you've made resolutions that you intend to stick to.

It's also New Year's Dishonor List Day, although I can't find any information about this day. I imagine it means you dishonor the list of resolutions you've made or contemplated making.

If you're last name begins with a 'Z', you're in luck today. You get to go first in any line because it's Z Day. Urban Dictionary offers another interesting, albeit weird, definition for the day. If you believe in strange happenings or monsters, you might want to check it out.