Monday, December 8, 2008

John Milton's Quatercentenary (400th Birthday), December 9th

John Milton's Quatercentenary

Where have the years gone? It seems like just yesterday I was assigned a section of Paradise Lost in that Early British Lit survey class that I took in the attempt to try to understand and be able to speak intelligently about any and all literature written ever, or at least any and all that made it into my Norton Anthology. I remember almost nothing about what I read in that class ( we covered Beowulf to Samuel Johnson I mean come on, it was only about 1,000 years of literature covered in 4 months!) But, about Milton, I remember my professor reading a part of Paradise Lost and thinking that someday, when I had the time, I needed to read the whole thing.
I haven't read it Paradise Lost. This April I will have been graduated with my English degree for ten years. Yep. Should have read it by now. Maybe after Christmas and can start that.

Anyway, since it is Milton's birthday, I should be focusing on him. It looks like the majority of Miltonian celebrations are taking place across the pond, and have happened already, so getting to a live celebration might be tricky. However, there is this really cool website with lots of information about Paradise Lost. I've just played with it a little bit, and I plan to come back later.

Of course, Paradise Lost is not Milton's only work. If you like your Restoration poetry set to Baroque music then you should check out Handel's L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, which is based on L'Allegro and Il Penseroso, two of Milton's poems.

If you don't want to do any of that, you could just give a random gift to someone today and say "Happy Milton's Birthday!" If you plan on doing the random gift thing, here are some gifts that I do not recommend for Milton's Birthday, or for the entire gift-giving season.

  • The Yodeling Green Pickle (Now, why does this exist?)
  • The Houseplant Twitter Kit (Yes! Now for only $99 your plant can Twitter you when it needs to be watered! Or, you could look at it every once in a while.)
  • The Pet's Eye View Camera (Do you ever wonder what your dog does all day? Now you can have pictures taken every 15 seconds while you are gone! Personnally, I don't even want 15 second updates from my nearest and dearest friends and family! Sorry, love ya all, but there is a reason why I don't Twitter!)
  • Owl Pellets (Now, I am all for educational gifts but... there are just no words for my thoughts. So, here's the blurb from the website:
"See what this owl ate for dinner. Just unwrap the foil from the pellet and
carefully us the probes provided to dissect the pellet and extract the owl's
dinner. Then use the bone guide to identify what the owl ate."
  • Heartshaped Mouse (I always recommend against heartshaped anything, but especially against heartshaped things that should be ergonomic. Happy Milton's Birthday! I hope you don't get carpel tunnel! )

Anyway, have a Happy Miltonian Quartercentenary everyone!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day! Vote! Vote! Vote! November 4th

Although I am emotionally exhausted by all the political rhetoric over the last 20 months, I am thrilled that the candidates of this election have inspired so many people to become engaged in the political process. (Also, I am as excited as Neel Mehta is to see what will happen to the business-as-usual political process) and if this election will scare baby boomers out of their comfort zone in any way. Really, the combination of engaged young voters, and disengaged senior voters... suddenly, baby boomers don't have as much political power as they have held for years and anything could happen. Anything. I mean anything! Even to the point that I could even give ol' George W. some credit for Obama's success! (Credit via Don King. Thanks! Soccer Dad for the info!)

For the record, I will be voting for Obama. (Happy Birthday Mister Fob) and I would encourage everyone to do the same. Most because my birthday was last week, and it would be a wonderful gift to have someone I vote for win an election! (Especially since my vote is a throwaway vote.) I have not had a single person that I have voted for in the last three years win. I work in the most conservative City, and live in the most conservative county, which is in the most conservative state of these United States. I have absolutely no voice!

Regardless of who you vote for, after you vote, you deserve a treat; especially after dealing with 20 months of rhetoric (Edgy, it's almost done!) without letting it beat you down into an abyss of depression and catatonia. So, while wearing you "I Voted" sticker, treat yourself to:

So, go forth, and have a Happy Election Day!

Friday, September 19, 2008

International Talk Like a Pirate Day, September 19th

International Talk Like a Pirate Day

Arrrgh! It's another International Talk Like a Pirate Day. I be a little late be lettin' everyone know, but it's not too late t' start talkin' like a pirate! Shiver me timbers!

If ye be needin' some help talkin' like a pirate, here be an English-to-Pirate translator.

If ye want ta read the Almanac o' Merriment in pirate talk, click here.

And if ye be wantin' to be findin' out yer pirate personality here be a Pirate Personality Test.

Ahoy, apparently, am a borin' pirate. Aye. Me think tis' because Me answard one o' the questions with: "I am seduced by the charms of middle management."

You are The Pirate

Do you remember the last time you took a chance? It was when you decided to leave the security of your mother's womb and headed for the bright light. It's time to head for the next bright light, my friend. Creativity is not your strong suit. You are good at doing what you are told to do and that, in itself, is a gift. It's not a gift to you, mind you, but a gift to those who will be there to tell you what to do. You like long walks on the beach and cuddling, but would never admit that to your pirate pals who think you are okay but can't always remember your name. Tapioca pudding seems a bit extreme for someone such as yourself, what with all the bumps and stuff. It's a good thing you are on a pirate ship, otherwise, you would be walking because you are positively pedestrian. Have a nice day.

What's Yer Inner Pirate?
brought to you by The Official Talk Like A Pirate Web Site. Arrrrr!

Ahoy all ye mateys and go out t' have a great pirate day!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Constitution Day, September 17th

Constitution Day

What? You haven't heard of Constitution Day? You probably missed the USA Today article; it's a little small. If you want an article with a little more substance, check out The Washington Post, which is mostly an interview with Chief Justice John Roberts. (Or, here is also this article, which isn't so neutral about the state of the nation in relation to the Constitution.)

Personally, I think it's interesting that this holiday is not celebrated much in the press, because this holiday came into being at the request of William Randolph Hearst. The press should be all over this holiday! All in all, since we don't get a day off, Constitution Day has probably become just an elementary school holiday, an opportunity to teach about the Constitution. But, I think that there should be more.

Constitution Day is also known as Citizenship Day, which was Hearst's original intention when he promoted the day. I know that I take my citizenship for granted sometimes, and I think that I don't understand totally what citizenship means. In school we were evaluated with every report card about our citizenship. But, I wonder how good of a citizen I am without the reminder every six weeks? Does being a good citizen require that I drive the speed limit, as it once required that I not run in the hallways? Does it require that I recycle, constantly, always, even when it's not convenient, as it once required that I keep my desk clean? Does it require that I be kind and respectful, to everyone I encounter, even if I might be the Utah State Senate Majority Leader and I am dealing with a pizza delivery girl, as it once required that I be kind and respectful to my teachers and fellow students? I wonder, in our society do we demand more of our children as citizens than we do of our adults?

I'm not sure why I feel so strongly about this today. Maybe because yesterday I heard this story on NPR about "silent raves," where large groups of people get together to dance to their own music on their i-pods. It seems like a excellent example of American freedom... you don't even have to listen to the same music as the person next to you at a dance, yet it seems so isolated, so detached, and I am afraid that we are losing our concept of "we the people..."

Saturday, August 2, 2008

So, what happens when Absent doesn't blog for three months...

A rooster haunts her apartment complex!

And it won't leave!

Apparently, I'm the only one who can see the rooster, because the management says no-one else has reported it. For three days!!! The management has called out Animal Control, when I told them there was a rooster running around the grounds, and Animal Control told them that there were not any visible signs of the rooster. But, I see the rooster every time I leave my apartment, and every time I come home. It wakes me up at 4:30 with its crowing. How can I be the only one who sees the rooster, and is bothered by the fact that it is there?

Is there a reason that I am being haunted by domesticated fowl? Are the fates trying to tell me I'm a chicken?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Administrative Professional's Day, April 23rd

Administrative Professional's Day

You may have heard the rumor that Administrative Professionals Day is celebrated on the same day as National Remembrance of Man's Inhumanity To Man Day. And while that may seem ironically appropriate, that's not so true, at least this year. And being an Administrative Professional isn't really that bad, at least most days.

Anyway, it used to be called Professional Secretaries Day, then Administrative Professionals Day, and then was expanded to Administrative Professionals Week. I think a day is enough, I mean, does anyone really celebrate Administrative Professionals Week? I think we will just celebrate the day here at the Almanac. So, if you are an adminstrative professional, or if you have one, or if your daily duties are similar to one, here are some quotes to get you through the day, especially if your boss might forget to celebrate you today.

"Responsibility without power, the fate of the secretary through the ages." -Ariel Dorfman

"Accomplishing the impossible means only that the boss will add it to your regular duties." -Doug Larson

"And so while the great ones depart to their dinner, the secretary stays, growing thinner and thinner, racking his brain to record and report what he thinks that they think that they ought to have thought." -Arthur Bryant

"You're no good unless you are a good assistant; and if you are, you're too good to be an assistant." -Martin H. Fischer

"It’s always been and always will be the same in the world: The horse does the work and the coachman is tipped." -Anonymous

"Time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so." -Douglas Adams

"If you have a good selling idea, your secretary can write your ad for you." —Morris Hite

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

International Children's Book Day, April 2nd

It's Hans Christian Anderson's birthday! Which also means that it's International Children's Book Day!

Now, I know that I should talk about how no-one reads the good fairy tales anymore, like "The Fir Tree" and "The Leap-Frog", but instead I just have to share my favorite new children's book: Waking Beauty, by Leah Wilcox.

Just read it. You'll love it. I promise. It comes recommended by both a 33 year-old and an almost 3 year-old.

Monday, March 31, 2008

March 31st

Yesterday, when I woke up it looked like this outside: \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\

Today, it looks like this:

I think Punxsutawney Phil was wrong.

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick's Day, March 17th

St. Patrick's Day!!!

It's no secret that I love St. Patrick's Day. I love it because I get a little thrill every time I see my name somewhere, even if I know it's not really for me.

Nevertheless, I was shocked when I read today that St. Patrick's Day had been moved to the March 15th, because the Catholic Church didn't want to celebrate the holiday during Holy Week, which I completely understand, since St. Patrick's Day is, after all, a Catholic feast day, and as such they have every right to move the celebration, so as not to take away from Holy Week, but I was so sad that I had missed it! And I didn't know because I didn't get the memo, because I'm not Catholic!

Anyway, I still must celebrate St. Patrick's Day today, and if you would like to celebrate along with me, here are a few tests to see how "Irish" you are.

Your Irish Name Is...

Maura MacSween

What Your Shamrock Says About You

You express yourself well - you are very verbal. You are good at perceiving the world and understanding people.

At times you can be moody and lack direction. You have an artist's temperament.

You consider yourself a lucky person. Luck always seems to be on your side.

You are traditional, easy going, and appreciative of the simple things in life.

You're 50% Irish

You're probably less Irish than you think you are...

But you're still more Irish than most.

Your Leprechaun Name Is:

Freckles O'Gold

You Are A Fig Tree

You are very independent and strong minded.

A hard worker when you want to be, you play hard too.

You are honest and loyal. You hate contradiction or arguments.

You love life, and you live for your friends, children, and animals.

A great sense of humor, artistic talent, and intelligence are all gifts you possess.

You Are Emerald Green

Deep and mysterious, it often seems like no one truly gets you.

Inside, you are very emotional and moody - though you don't let it show.

People usually have a strong reaction to you... profound love or deep hate.

But you can even get those who hate you to come around. There's something naturally harmonious about you.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Pi Day, 3-14

Pi Day

It's another Pi Day! The day devoted to eating pie and celebrating pi! Because, really, if we didn't have pi, we wouldn't understand, well, lots of things about our natural world. And, by the way, it's also Albert Einstein's birthday today, which is kinda cool. So, you can celebrate with a birthday pie, or you can calculate the perfect slice of birthday cake by using pi.

So, if you feel like you already know enough about the history of pi, or you have already memorized pi to the millionth digit, or that you have read enough pi limericks and pi haiku on past pi days, then you can check out these posters that help you calculate the area of your pizza pie, or you can calculate your age with pi, or you can find the bianary equivilant of your name in pi, all of which are cool Pi Day activities.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

National Grammar Day, March 4th

National Grammar Day

Oh, my goodness, I almost forgot! Today is National Grammar Day! And I would not have known about National Grammar Day, if Soccer Dad, had not given me the heads up about it! Now, even though I have my B.A. in English, I haven't ever formally taken a grammar class, so, I do feel a bit insecure around some people when they talk about nonrestrictive modifiers and future perfect tenses. However, I do love language, and can appreciate grammar and those whose skills are above my own, and today I will pretend that I have the best of grammar skills, and as long as Edgy doesn't tell on me, no-one will be the wiser. Just, no-one comment on the run-on sentence, please.

Anyway, I found this delightful article about the ethics of grammar, which tells me of the four situations where it is permissible to correct a person's grammar. And, I have discovered that according to SPOGG (Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar) voters, President George W. Bush is the celebrity with the worst grammar. (Sorry Soccer Dad as a Democrat, I felt morally responsible, to point that one out.) And, I have discovered that SPOGG has a blog!

I feel as if I am witnessing the development of a real-life-English-major-e-version of S.P.E.W.!

Anyway, thanks again Soccer Dad!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Sharp Days, March 1-3

The first three days of March are called "Sharp Days" in Greek tradition. When I first read about this, I thought it was in reference to perhaps the sharpness of the air, despite the fact that it seems like there is more sun, and therefore more warm... but, no. The first three days of August are also "Sharp Days." Sharp Days are considered a transitional time of year. The Sharp Days in March are the beginning of warmer weather, and the Sharp Days in August are the beginning of cooler weather.

During the first three days of March you should not wash any clothes or they will wear out too quickly, or chop wood or because it will rot before it's time, or bathe because your hair will fall out. If you must do laundry, you must put a nail in the water to take the sharpness out. I haven't found a solution for chopping wood or bathing. Maybe stick a nail in your shampoo bottle.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Day, February 29th

Leap Day

Leap Day was always exciting to me when I was a kid. It just seemed cool that it was a day that only came around every four years, and then when I discovered Pirates of Penzance... wow, my love of Leap Day quadrupled.

But, then I found out that in Scotland, Leap Years, the whole year, are generally considered unlucky and Leap Year Day is a particularly bad day because it was Job's Birthday, and he cursed the day that he was born. All this Job information is according to The Perpetual Almanack of Folklore. Poor Job. I almost want to make a birthday cake in his honor. And for all of us who have to work an extra day this year. I mean really, this year we have to work an extra day! There is something wrong with that! If we have to add an extra day to the year, that just might be an unlucky day, we shouldn't have to work, we should make it a National holiday!

The fifth century Irish single gals liked Leap Day because St. Patrick gave them permission to ask men to get engaged on Leap Day only. If the man said no to the proposal, he was required to give her a gift, or pay a tax, so either way, score for them!

Anyway, we should all head out today with a petition to get Leap Day designated as a National holiday! I am sure we can make a change! You know you want an extra holiday every four years... come on. You do!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

National Polar Bear Day, February 27th

Mr. Fob said "Wednesday is National Polar Bear Day. I expect a post." So, since I am feeling neither inspiration nor creativity, this is going to be one of my lesser posts. But the blame is entirely mine. Do not go complain to Mr. Fob about lackluster Almanac posts, he is busy right now working on a request for a submission of 5o pages of his novel. Yea! for Mr. Fob! Happy! Happy! Joy! Joy! Joy! So send many happy thoughts Fob-ward, and think about the polar bears for him too, as he probably won't have time to think about them.

But anyway, there are many holidays to choose from for this Wednesday, February, the 27th.

First and foremost in importance is of course International Polar Bear Day This is the most important Wednesday the 27th holiday, because Mr. Fob wishes it to be recognized. Probably, we should all go and learn a little bit about Polar Bears. And maybe we could learn about the diminishing habitat of Polar Bears, and how we should STOP GLOBAL WARMING for the polars bears... and for us.

No Brainer Day I just don't want to think about, because if we promote it too much, what kind of chaos will we be encouraging in our lives? Traffic accidents? Idiot store clerks who put a milk carton in the same bag as the soft bread? That one question that you hate when you answer your phone? "Sweet Pumpkin Potato Farms, How Can I Help YOU" "Hello, is this Sweet Pumpkin Potato Farms?" ARRRGGGG!!!! Yes, we should not in any way advertise No Brainer Day.

Inconvenience Yourself Day Why? Aren't there enough people out there trying to inconvenience you? Why would you want to make your life harder by making your own trouble. Unless, you are going to inconvenience yourself by doing something nice for someone else. Then, you have my support in your celebration.

Feast day of St. Gabriel Possenti St. Gabriel is the patron saint of Students, Youth, Clerics, Seminarians, and Abruzzi. So, if you are young,a student, a cleric, a seminarian, or are from the middle part of Italy, then you should feast today.

Flip a Pancake Day If it's not your patron saint day, or if you don't believe in patron saints, of if you just don't feel like feasting today, you can just flip a pancake. Pancakes are easy. Pumpkin pancakes are my favorite. With pecans. And real maple syrup.

MMM... I think I found my celebration.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Charles Dickens Day, February 7th

Charles Dickens Day

I am sure Charles Dickens would say to my coworkers, "if one were to try to sabotage a coworker, one should make sure of ones dates. One shouldn't make accusations and display "proof of misbehavior" that happened on a day which the accused has real proof that she was out of the office. Such lack of fact or evidence and with obvious proof of malice, it just makes one look stupid, hateful, and just plain ugly. So, one should just go about one's job, working with the purpose assigned to one and go effect some social change. And go vote for Obama."

Yup, that's exactly what I think Charles Dickens would say.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

World Nutella Day, February 5th

World Nutella Day

Nutella. Day. I don't know how I have missed this day my entire life.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

National Inane Answering Message Day, January 30th

National Inane Answering Message Day

Unlike last year, this year the U.S. Census Bureau does not have a message for National Inane Answering Message Day. The U.S. Census Bureau employee with a sense of humor must have quit his job.

So, we must turn to other venues for Inane Answering Message Day hilarity, even if we think they didn't quite get the point of what an inane answering message is. Alors, we must just laugh at what we can.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day, January 28th

Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day

It is again the last Monday in January, and so it is Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day! I know that everyone looks forward with anticipation to Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day, that special day where you are required to spend at least 30 seconds relieving your stress by popping bubble wrap.

Just in case you don't have a roll of your favorite colored bubble wrap to celebrate with today, here are a few virtual Bubble Wrap sites you can visit to work out some extra angst. This site is my favorite virtual Bubble Wrap Game. It's my favorite because the bubbles come back. This one is timed, (Bubble Wrap Game II) so you can limit yourself to just one game...if you are one of those people who are good at controlling personal gratification. And then there is this one (Bubble Wrap Game III) which looks like real bubble wrap, and therefore can have more satisfaction.

If you are looking for a something beyond virtual bubble wrap games, you could discover your personality type by taking the Bubble Wrap Personality Test, or you could test your knowledge of bubble wrap history by taking the Bubble Wrap Quiz. Either, or both, are short and quick ways to spend your fifteen minute break, and they are far less addicting than popping bubbles.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Apparently, if you want your house to have a lingering scent, try one little burnt baked potato. The scent will linger for three days at least... so far.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Kiss A Shark Day, January 10th

Kiss A Shark Day

Okay, so for me realizing that Hanson's "MMMMBop" is #20 on VH1's list of the 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s, beating out The Cranberries "Linger" (#86), Sheryl Crow's "All I Wanna Do" (#61), Ricky Martin's "Livin' la Vida Loca" (#28) and Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun" (#25) which were important songs of the 90s, much more important that "MMMBop," is much like kissing a shark. Also, realizing that all three members of Hanson are now married and have kids, makes me feel really, really old.

Also, I protest any list of best songs from the 90s that doesn't include more Collective Soul. And why they chose

instead of December,

or Needs...

I just can't understand.

But, I do understand VH1's pick for the number 1 song of the 90s, and I fully agree with it. I remember the first time I heard this song, and it is a significant memory for me. It was September of 1991, my senior year, I was sixteen and younger than most of my class. It was at the end of the first pep assembly of the year, and I think someone had gotten into the sound system when they shouldn't have, because we generally didn't end pep assemblies with teeny grunge music, mostly we ended with walk back to class quietly music. As soon as the music started, people started to mosh all around me. I didn't mosh. I couldn't. I was too stunned by what I was hearing. I loved it! I stood still trying to understand the words, because I felt like the song had just reached out at me with all seventeen of its tentacles and embraced me into the grunge movement. After that experience I started listen to the AM alternative stations, and I bought myself a flannel shirt or two. It only seemed right since I was attending high school in Oregon. But, I never did the black eyeliner thing or the clove cigarettes. Just in case you are were getting worried that you didn't truly know me.

Anyway, the number one song of the 90s is...

It's a great song, so don't go kissing sharks about it!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Earth at Perihelion-Moon at Apogee, January 2nd

Earth at Perihelion-Moon at Apogee

Although it might not seem like it, because it is winter, and pretty darn cold outside, the earth will be at its closest point to the sun at about sunset this evening. Then in the morning the moon will be the farthest that it can be from the earth.

If you live near the coast than this information can be important because the position of the earth in its orbit of the sun and moon's position in its orbit of the earth both affect the level of tides. Check out this page to read about how the perihelion affected the Boston Tea Party. It's really interesting.

Well, at least I thought it was interesting.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Banned Words for 2008

Every year Lake Superior State University (read here for the history of word banishment) listens to complaints and comments from the American public about overused words and phrases in American usage and they compile a list of words that are to be banned for the next year. The list for 2008 includes: Perfect Storm, Webinar, Waterboarding, Organic, Wordsmith/Wordsmithing, Author/Authored, Post 9/11, Surge, Give Back, 'Blank' is the new 'Blank' or 'X' is the new 'Y', Black Friday, Back in the Day, Random, Sweet, Decimate, Emotional, Pop, It Is What It Is, and Under the Bus.

I agree with the banning of "Perfect Storm," "Post 9/11," and "Decimate" and hereafter you will never see these phrases appear on my blog because I do believe that "perfect storm" is way overused, I don't live my life according to a 9/11 timeline, and I never reduce anything strictly by one tenth. I can't promise about the other words and phrases, because either I like them, or I still find them useful or ironic.

If you are looking for a "random" resolution for the new year, you could check out the complete list of banned words. It would be a major accomplishment to remove them all from your vocabulary... or even just your blogging vocabulary.