National Make a Difference Day

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National Make A Difference Day is an annual community service event which is held on the fourth Saturday in October.

Millions of people have united in the common mission to improve the lives of others.

USA Weekend is a national weekend newspaper magazine which is distributed through more than 800 plus newspapers in the United States and published by Gannett Company as a sister publication to USA Today.   USA Weekend’s focus in on social issues, entertainment, health, food and travel.

For more information on National Make A Difference Day, an “unofficial” national holiday, see:

http://makeadifferenceday.com/

http://makeadifferenceday.com/about-make-difference-day

CELEBRATE

Do what you can to make a difference and use #MakeADifferenceDay to post on social media.

HISTORY

National Make a Difference Day was created in 1992 by USA WEEKEND magazine and joined by Points of Light, together they have sponsored the largest national day of community service for more than twenty years.

DATES
October 25, 2014
October 24, 2015
October 22, 2016
October 28, 2017
October 27, 2018

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July Fun Facts

The 7th month of the year brings us Independence Day and Canada Day.

In the Georgian calendar, the calendar that most of the world uses, July is the seventh month. However, on the Roman calendar, it was actually the fifth month and was call Quintilis, which meant fifth. Later in 46 B.C., Caesar gave 31 days and the Roman Senates named the month Julius in honor of Caesar. In northern hemisphere, July is usually the hottest month of the year when it is actually a winter time in southern hemisphere. It gets very cold in Antarctica and cold and rainy in South America. Because there isn’t much rain in July, the grass loses its greenness. Moreover, the abundance of flowers and insects occur in July.

Below are some fun facts about July:

  1. The birthstone for July is the Ruby.
  2. The zodiac signs for July are Cancer (June 21 – July 22) and Leo (July 23 – August 22)
  3. The birth flower for July is the water lily.
  4. The month of July was named after Julius Caesar.
  5. On July 1, 1867, the Dominion of Canada was established due to the British North America Act.
  6. On July 1, 1898, the San Juan Hill was occupied by the American troops during the Spanish-American War.
  7. During World War I on July 1, 1916, the Battle of Somme began.
  8. On July 2, 1881, President James Garfield was killed by Charles Guiteau.
  9. On July 2, 1890, the Sherman Antitrust Act (an Act to prohibit trusts) was passed by the United States Congress.
  10. On July 5, 1971, Amendment 26 was proclaimed which set the voting age at 18 in the United States.
  11. On July 6, 1854, the Republican Party held its first state convention at Jackson, Michigan.
  12. On July 11, 1804, during a duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, Hamilton was killed.
  13. The 38th President of the United States, Gerald R. Ford, was born on July 1, 1913.
  14. On July 16, 1790, District of Columbia was established.
  15. The first atomic bomb was set off by scientists in Alamogordo, New Mexico on July 16, 1945.
  16. National Blueberry Month
  17. National Ice Cream Month
  18. National Hot Dog Month
  19. July 1 – Canada Day
  20. July 4 – Independence Day

June Fun Facts

The 6th month of the year brings us Summer, Father’s Day, Flag Day, and the Summer Solstice.

In the Georgian calendar, the calendar that most of the world uses, June is the sixth month. However, according to the early Roman calendar, June was actually the fourth month and had only 29 day. In 46B.C, Julius Caesar gave June 30 days instead of 29 when he reformed the Roman calendar. June was named after the Roman goddess Juno, who is the wife of Jupiter. However, others say that its name actually came from the Latin word iuniors. It means the younger ones, which is opposed to majors or elders which May’s name was originated from. In June, spring ends and summer begins in the Northern Hemisphere. During this time, all the flowers and plants are very beautiful. In the southern hemisphere, winter begins in June.

Below are some fun facts about June:

  1. The birthstones for June are the pearl, alexandrite, and moonstone.
  2. The birth flower for June is the rose.
  3. The zodiac signs for June are Gemini (May 21 – June 20) and Cancer (June 21 – July 22)
  4. On June 1, 1792, the state of Kentucky, also known as the Bluegrass state, became the 15th state of the United States.
  5. On June 1, 1796, Tennessee, also known as The Volunteer State became the 16th state of the United States.
  6. On June 5, 1947, George C. Marshall, the Secretary of State, described the Marshall Plan.
  7. On June 14, 1777, the flag of the United States was adopted by the Continental Congress.
  8. June 14, 1900 – Hawaii was organized as a territory
  9. On June 15, 1215, the Magna Carta was granted by King John.
  10. On June 15, 1775, George Washington was appointed the commander in chief of the Continental Army.
  11. On June 15, 1836, Arkansas also known as the Natural State, became the 25th state of the United States.
  12. Finland’s Flag Day is celebrated on the Saturday closest to June 24.
  13. On June 6th, Sweden celebrates its national holiday, Flag Day.
  14. On June 12, The Philippines’ Independence Day is celebrated.
  15. On June 18, 1812, the United States declared war on Great Britain.
  16. National Candy Month
  17. National Dairy Month
  18. National Iced Tea Month
  19. June 5 – World Environment Day
  20. June 20 – Father’s Day

All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt”. (Charles Schulz)

 

happy-valentines-day-clip-art-5Each year on February 14th, many people exchange cards, candy, gifts or flowers with their special “valentine.” The day of romance we call Valentine’s Day is named for a Christian martyr and dates back to the 5th century, but has origins in the Roman holiday Lupercalia.

Lovers’ holiday celebrated on February 14, the feast day of St. Valentine, one of two 3rd-century Roman martyrs of the same name. St. Valentine is considered the patron of lovers and especially of those unhappily in love. The feast day became a lovers’ festival in the 14th century, probably as an extension of pagan love festivals and fertility rites celebrated in mid-February.

Until the 19th century handwritten valentines were often given rather than modern mass-produced greeting cards.

“I don’t understand why Cupid was chosen to represent Valentine’s Day. When I think about romance, the last thing on my mind is a short, chubby toddler coming at me with a weapon.”
Unknown

February Fun Facts

The 2nd month of the year brings us George Washington’s Birthday, Valentine’s Day, and the shortest month of the year.

In the Gregorian calendar, the calendar that most of the world uses, February is the second month of the year. Most of the months have 30 or 31 days in a month but February is shorter. February has 28 days until Julius Caesar gave it 29 and 30 days every four years. This is because the Roman emperor Augustus took one day from February and added that to August because August was a month that was named after him. February is a very cold month followed by January in the northern half of the world. However, there are sunny days in February that indicates that spring is almost here. Different from the northern half, the southern hemisphere usually enjoys midsummer weather.

Below are some fun facts about February:

  1. The birthstone for February is Amethyst.
  2. Two zodiac signs for February are Aquarius (January 20 – February 18) and Pisces (February 19 – March 20)
  3. The month has 29 days in leap years, when the year number is divisible by four. In common years the month has 28 days.
  4. Viola (plant) and the Primrose are the birth flowers.
  5. Black History Month is celebrated in Canada and United States.
  6. National Day of the Sun is celebrated in Argentina.
  7. In order to complete the Soviet Union’s victory in Stalingrad during World War II, the last German troops surrendered in the Stalingrad pocket.
  8. On February 4, 1861, a temporary committee met at Montgomery, Alabama where they organized a Confederate States of America.
  9. On February 6, 1933, Amendment 20 to the United States was proclaimed which moved the Inauguration Day to January 20th.
  10. In February 1910, the Boy Scouts of America was incorporated.
  11. On February 6, 1899. The U.S. Senate ratified the peace treaty that led to the end of the Spanish-American War.
  12. On February 6, 1952, Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain.
  13. February 11 – National Foundation Day in Japan
  14. February 12 – Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday
  15. February 14 – Valentine’s Day
  16. February 21 – International Mother Language Day
  17. February 22 – Independence Day in Saint Lucia
  18. February 22 – George Washington’s Birthday
  19. February 24 – Flag Day of Mexico
  20. February 25 – People Power Revolution (Phillippines)

Why do birds not freeze

 

bird3If you were one of the many bird watchers who fell into the Polar Vortex and temperatures dropped to nearly 30 below  you may have wondered how birds survive such brutally cold temperatures. I sure did, I spent much of the cold spell sitting in a cozy house, furnace on, wrapped in warm fleece, with favorite cup of coffee.

On days like these I am always astounded that there are any birds left alive, especially considering that most winter feeder visitors weigh in around 10–25 grams (the weight of 2-5 nickels)! But it turns out that birds employ many of the same strategies I was using inside my house plus a couple more to keep their motors running through cold snaps.

So how do they survive?

Bird Body Temperatures

Birds are warm-blooded animals that have a much higher metabolism, and thus higher body temperature, than humans. While the exact measurement varies for different bird species, the average bird’s body temperature is 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius). Body temperature can fluctuate during the day depending on climate and activity, but it can be a challenge for birds to maintain such a high body heat when temperatures dip too severely. Smaller birds are particularly at risk, since they have a proportionally larger surface area on their bodies to lose heat but a smaller core volume to generate it. Even the smallest birds, however, have several ways they can efficiently keep warm.

What Wild Birds Do to Keep Warm

Birds have many physical and behavioral adaptations to keep warm, no matter what the low temperatures of their surroundings.

Physical Adaptations

  • Feathers: Birds’ feathers provide remarkable insulation against the cold, and many bird species grow extra feathers as part of a late fall molt to give them thicker protection in the winter. The oil that coats birds’ feathers also provides insulation as well as waterproofing.
  • Legs and Feet: Birds’ legs and feet are covered with specialized scales that minimize heat loss. Birds can also control the temperature of their legs and feet separately from their bodies by constricting blood flow to their extremities, thereby reducing heat loss even further.
  • Fat Reserves: Even small birds can build up fat reserves to serve as insulation and extra energy for generating body heat. Many birds will gorge during the fall when food sources are abundant, giving them an extra fatty layer before winter arrives.

Behavioral Adaptations

  • Fluffing: Birds will fluff out their feathers to create air pockets for additional insulation in cold temperatures.
  • Tucking: It is not unusual to see a bird standing on one leg or crouched to cover both legs with its feathers to shield them from the cold. Birds can also tuck their bills into their shoulder feathers for protection.
  • Sunning: On sunny winter days, many birds will take advantage of solar heat by turning their backs to the sun (therefore exposing the largest surface of their bodies to the heat) and raising their feathers slightly. This allows the sun to heat the skin and feathers more efficiently. Wings may also be drooped or spread while sunning, and the tail may be spread as well.
  • Shivering: Birds will shiver to raise their metabolic rate and generate more body heat as a short term solution to extreme cold. While shivering does require more calories, it is an effective way to stay warm.
  • Roosting: Many small birds, including bluebirds, chickadees and titmice, will gather in large flocks at night and crowd together in a small, tight space to share body heat. They can roost in shrubbery or trees, and empty birdhouses and bird roost boxes are also popular locations to conserve heat. Even individual birds choose roost spots that may have residual heat from the day’s sunlight, such as close to the trunk of a tree or near any dark surface.

Torpor

Many birds will enter torpor to conserve energy during cold winter nights. Torpor is a state of reduced metabolism when the body temperature is lowered, therefore requiring fewer calories to maintain the proper heat. Most birds can lower their body temperature by a few degrees, but torpid birds have lowered their body temperatures by as much as 50 degrees. Torpor can be a dangerous behavior, however, as the reduced temperature also leads to reduced reactions and greater vulnerability to predators. Hummingbirds, chickadees, swifts and other types of birds regularly use torpor as a way to survive cold temperatures.

Helping Keep Birds Warm

Even with all these adaptations to conserve heat and stay warm, many birds still succumb to frigid temperatures and bird mortality can be very high during severe winters. Birders who know how to keep wild birds warm in winter can help their backyard flocks have an edge over the cruelest weather.

  • Offer Good Food: Choosing the best winter bird foods to offer means selecting seeds, suet, scraps and other items high in fat and calories to give birds plenty of energy to generate sufficient body heat.
  • Keep Feeders Full: After a long, cold night birds will need ready access to food to replenish their energy reserves. Keep your birdfeeders full of nutritious seed no matter what the weather so the birds know where to go for a high energy meal.
  • Offer Liquid Water: Birds can melt snow to drink if necessary, but doing so will use precious energy that is needed to maintain body heat. If the birds can drink from a liquid birdbath even in freezing temperatures, they will have a better chance at survival.
  • Provide Shelter: Plant evergreen shrubs and coniferous trees that will provide suitable shelter throughout the winter, or build a brush pile to give birds a safe, sheltered place to roost. Adding a roost box to your yard is also helpful.

When temperatures start to dip, it isn’t necessary to worry about how birds keep warm; they have plenty of efficient adaptations to survive even the chilliest nights. Birders who understand those adaptations and help birds with even better food, shelter and other necessities, however, will be sure to enjoy warm and healthy winter backyard birds no matter how cold it is outside.

Winter Birds Myths and Facts:

When it comes to winter birds, it seems there are more myths than usual. Here are a few of the common ones I’ve heard. Hopefully, I can help debunk these winter birds’ myths once and for all with the correct winter bird’s facts.

Winter Birds Myth: Birds will freeze to death when temperatures drop far below zero. Birds are well equipped to survive the coldest of temperatures. They store fat during the short days of winter to keep themselves warm during the long nights. During those freezing nights, they fluff their feathers to trap heat and slow their metabolism to conserve energy. They also look for good places to roost, whether it’s a birdhouse, natural tree cavity, grass thicket, evergreen or shrub.

Winter Birds Myth: Birds’ feet will stick to metal bird feeders and suet cages. Most suet cages have a laminated covering, so you don’t have to worry about birds’ feet sticking to it. But in general, their feet can endure cold weather. Birds have a protective scale-like covering on their feet, and special veins and arteries that keep their feet warm.

Winter Birds Myth: Woodpeckers drill on house siding in winter for food or to create nesting cavities. Though there are cases where woodpeckers find food in wood siding (and may even nest inside the boards), nearly all the drilling in late winter is done to make a noise to court mates. This is their way of singing a song to declare territory.

Information from Birds and Bloom

How do birds say warm

Wordless Wednesday

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A Sweetest Day Wish

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Is Sweetest Day a national holiday?

Sweetest Day, an “unofficial” national holiday, was created in Cleveland, Ohio, by candy-maker and philanthropist, Herbert Birch Kingston. The very first Sweetest Day, which was originally called “Sweetest Day of the Year”, was pronounced as October 8, 1921.
Date When Celebrated: Third Saturday in OctoberNow here is a day dedicated just for your sweetie. It exists as an opportunity for you to recognize that sweet and special someone. It doesn’t matter who that person is, or what their relation to you. They just have to be “sweet” in order to get a little recognition.

Herbert Birch Kingston, a Cleveland, Ohio philanthropist and candy company employee started Sweetest Day. He wanted to bring happiness to orphans, shut-ins and under-privileged. His intent was to show these people that they were not forgotten.  In 1922, he started this holiday by giving candy and small gifts. He often used movie stars to distribute the gifts.

The popularity of this holiday quickly spread. Today,  it is celebrated with loved ones and friends. However, we encourage you to follow the intent of the original holiday, and find ways to give candy and small gifts to those in need.

I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore,
there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing
I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now,
and not defer or neglect it,
as I shall not pass this way again.
William Penn

 

NATIONAL PIEROGI DAY – I grew up eating these.

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Today is the day that pierogi lovers across the nation have been waiting for, it is National Pierogi Day.  This holiday is celebrated each year on October 8.

  • Pierogi is the plural form of the rarely used Polish word pierog.
  • The word Pierogi can be found spelled a number of ways including perogi and pierogy.

However you choose to spell this delicious side dish, it is all the same.  Pierogi are dumplings made up of unleavened dough that are first boiled then sometimes baked or fried in butter and optionally adding onion.  Usually semicircular in shape, they are traditionally stuffed with a mashed potato filling, potato and cheese, potato and onion, cheese, cabbage, sauerkraut, ground meat, mushroom, spinach or fruit.

Pierogi are often served with melted butter, sour cream, fried bacon crumbles, sauteed mushrooms and onions and/or green onion.  The dessert variety, those filled with a fruit filling, can be enjoyed topped with apple sauce, maple syrup, chocolate sauce and/or whipped cream.

There are other similar types of “dumpling like” dishes in other ethnic cuisines 

It was the Eastern European immigrants that popularized pierogi in the United States.  At first, pierogi were a family food among the immigrants and were also found in ethnic restaurants;  Freshly cooked pierogi became a staple fundraisers by ethnic churches in the post-World War II era.  By the 1960′s, pierogi could be found in the frozen food aisles of grocery stores in many parts of the United States.

While in other countries pierogi are eaten as a main dish, Americans typically consider them to be a side dish.

  • At every Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game, there is a “pierogi race” where four runners, wearing pierogi costumes, race toward a finish line.
  • Whiting, Indiana celebrates an annual Pieroti Fest each July.

HAPPY NATIONAL PIEROGI DAY !

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