July 25th National Merry-Go-Round Day

Who of us hasn’t ridden a Merry-Go-Round at some time in our lives? The horses bobbing up and down as we go in a never-ending circle to nowhere but enjoy every second of getting there. The brightly colored animals, the lights, and that carousel of music that we seem to hum to ourselves for the rest of the day.

Did you know that the merry-go-round is actually one of the oldest rides in the world, if not the oldest. The first known merry-go-round discovered was in 500 AD in the Byzantine Empire. Baskets were attached to a metal or wooden pole that spun them around in a small circle. No where near as fancy as the first one ever built in the United States by Franz Wiesenoffer in Hessville, Ohio sometime in the 1840’s.

William Schneider of Davenport, Iowa was able to secure the first patent on a carousel  in 1871. From there the attraction has gone on to appear in nearly every circus, carnival, and side-show ever to open its gates. Even Disney theme parks contain merry-go-rounds, but only for princes and princesses naturally.

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The horse is nearly always the focus of the merry-go-round. These horses are called gallopers, jumpers, horseabout, flying horses, and roundabouts. Words, for the most part, only found in carousel corrals. However not all merry-go-rounds are horses.

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A variety of animals are beginning to appear across the carousel world. Tigers seem very popular, giraffes are begin to appear, and even a few creatures that we aren’t sure exactly what they are…

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Compared to these elaborate modern day versions, the original merry-go-round was very simple. It was people powered and could go as fast as the people that pushed it could go and were often found on playgrounds.

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Merry-go-rounds  aren’t found much in city parks anymore like they use to be. They have gone the way of swing sets and teeter-totters. Somehow society has found these too dangerous to allow children to play with anymore. Instead we give them rock climbing walls, little battery operated cars of their own, and giant spiderwebs. Really?  Who is kidding who here?

I will never forget getting on the merry-go-round and pretending like I was in the old west or one of King Arthur’s Knights (in fact, I still do when I can!) and letting my imagination run wild. In the land of make believe, it truly is a small world after all.

How to celebrate – Find an old photo of yourself on a merry-go-round to show your kids. Go on a carousel yourself!  Even though you are all grown up now doesn’t mean you can’t still dream. Defy conventional wisdom and treat your kid to a well deserved ride on a merry-go-round, if you can find one.

 

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July 24th National Drive-Thru Day

Wow, not only have we gotten so lazy that we hardly ever cook our own food now we tend to not even have to get out of the car to fetch it. I mean, I do understand convenience, but there is a point where you have to recognize just how far we have let it go.

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Of course we had to wait for the car to get invented but by the 1930’s fast food restaurants and banks were beginning to pop-up all over the place. In fact, the reason drive-thrus were even created was for banks. I have to assume it was to make things easier for the bank robbers since cars weren’t as fast back in the 1930’s, they sort of needed a running start so not having to stop at all was probably really good for them, but I digress… LOL!

Today we all use drive-thru tellers to do a great part of our banking and there are some 211,000 drive -thru fast food restaurants in the US. (frankly I thought there would be more). Add to those modern conveniences – we have drive-thru coffee shops, dry cleaners, pharmacies, and liquor stores (guess drinking and driving takes a back seat here).

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We also have drive-thru churches for those who need a quick saving or prayer said for them. I am not sure how God would view this but I guess it’s better than nothing. You can get a free Bible and a bottle of water here. And no, I do not believe it’s Holy Water.

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We have drive-thru zoos as well where you really had better not get out of your car since you are more or less the one in the cage and the animals roam free.

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And apparently, even though you can not walk up to a drive-thru window in some states, you are allowed to ride your horse.

I can envision a day when you never have to get out of your car to do anything. Which means you had better have a nice car, maybe even one of those that drives itself so you can take a nap while you go to pick up that fast food. And it better have really nice seats since you will be growing larger and larger as time goes on.

The first fast-food operating drive-thru was built by Jack-In-The-Box restaurant back when burgers sold for 18 cents each. They are also the creators of National Drive-Thru Day.

How to celebrate – Well, go to a drive – thru, or even make a day of it visiting a lot of drive-thrus. Try walking into the business you are trying to buy something from. Make your own drive through out of card board boxes and have your family meal this way today!

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July 23rd National Day of the Cowboy

When the American Civil War came to and end the west opened up to all sorts of people. Many were settlers, some miners, many just looking to start life over again. A lot of men, and women, came west with some unusual skills. Some of them joining the cavalry during the Civil War, learning how to ride hard and long, a skill the Old West could use.

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Texas was overflowing with cattle and the northern states were craving beef. The problem was getting the cattle to the people who wanted to eat. Thus, the cowboy was born. Vaqueros had long been in use in Mexico, driving cattle to the markets since 1519, but there had never been a particular need in the US until after the war. So many of those unable to find work in the east moved west and proceeded to drive over 5 million cattle north.

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A cowboy’s life was hard work, starting before sun up,  and more often than not stopping only after the sun had set. Food was bad, the weather brutal, and at times it was the loneliest job in the world. Constantly in the saddle with no real place to call home, a cowboy’s imagination could run wild.

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Many grew tired of the trail and decided to look for a better way to make a living.  Since the army had taught them how to move fast and shoot, it seems only natural that they often turned to lawlessness. The cowboy, turned outlaw, would roam the west spending what they had stolen on wine, women, and song. If they lived long enough, without getting caught, most would look for a home to settle in. At that point, what better job was there for a cowboy turned outlaw but that of the local town sheriff or marshal. After all, they new what the outlaw would do since they had done it themselves, and they knew the cowboys that would turn to the outlaw life since they had done that themselves as well.

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Oh and I mentioned women. Well, many outfits hired women to drive their herds north. In many ways they were more reliable and honest. Since most of them had been abandoned by the men in their lives they had to learn a trade of their own. If they could ride a horse, throw a rope and read a map, they were qualified. Shooting and fighting wasn’t all that important on cattle drives. Native Americans normally did not bother the cowgirls and their war had turned further northwest.

The 4th Saturday in July was designated the National Day of the Cowboy by the National Day of the Cowboy Organization. It was begun in 2005 and is celebrated in 11 states currently.

How to celebrate – Dress up like a cowboy and ride around the neighborhood on your bike rounding up cats. Watch an old cowboy movie. Serve beans for dinner tonight.

July 22nd National Hammock Day

The hammock is one of the oldest beds in history, maybe even the oldest (other than rock). If mankind came from Africa originally, and that’s what experts seem to believe, then it would make sense that the hammock was in use long before anyone could claim it as their invention.

In the dense heat of the jungle, only a hammock would make sense. It would allow any air flow to come not only from above but from below as well. We already know the hammock was in use by the Native Americans found in the US.

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Hammocks can be made from nearly any material, are simple to put up, and they last forever. They were no stranger to the sailors that discovered America.

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Hammocks were the only practical way to make any sort of bed for all the sailors on board the tiny vessels they sailed. Hammocks could be stored overhead when not in use, making room for the other activities required to keep the ships sailing. The hammocks would gently rest the sailors to sleep, swaying with the ship as it was rocked by the ocean. It is also said, whether it’s true or not I am not sure, that rodents and other creatures tended to stay away from the hammock since they do not like the movement. There were times food was kept in a hammock like sling to avoid creatures that might otherwise make a meal out of it.

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While we view the hammocks as a sign of leisure on warm summer days, much of the rest of the world sees them as their actual bed. It’s hard to resist a hammock in the shade, gently swaying in the breeze, whether it is for a couple of hours or for an entire night.

How to celebrate – Find your own hammock and two trees. Try and make your own hammock from materials you have laying around the house. See if you can spend an entire night on a hammock.

July 21st National Junk Food Day

Junk food is often referred to as “Comfort food” because we normally turn to it when we are unhappy or sad about something. It probably does make us happy for the moment, that sweet taste or salty goodness tastes so good… it’s what happens afterwards that makes us even sadder and unhappy.

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Sure that ice cream smooths things over for a few minutes, that bottle of beer (which by the way is junk food as well) makes the troubles disappear, and that bunch of french fries makes us forget about anything else while we are eating them. But whatever drove us to those comforts will come back shortly and haunts us, reminding us daily as we look at our stomachs, our thighs, and those frightening man boobs!

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The thing is, it’s not the junk foods fault! It’s ours! There’s nothing wrong with junk food, as long as we don’t get carried away. Diets don’t work because when we are on a diet, all we can think about is what we can’t have instead of what we can! Under normal circumstances given the choice between an apple or a candy bar we might actually choose the apple, but when we are denied the candy bar, that is what we crave.

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Junk food does have a place in life today. It is convenient, it is fast, and it does taste good. Used when we don’t have time or other choices it serves a purpose. The problem is, in life today we find those conditions more the rule than the exception. A soda will cool you down, but it will also increase the sugar in your body which heats you back up! Diet sodas are known to mimic serious desease. Pizza really isn’t all that bad for you, as long as you don’t eat the whole thing by yourself. Hamburgers aren’t all that bad either, though red meat does have its drawbacks,  it’s more all the bread and condiments we add to it. And fries, well.. there isn’t really much good about them at all. There is nothing wrong with a potato but fry it in grease, add a lot of salt, and shove that in your mouth, it’s a different story.

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Cereals are more often than not filled with sugar. Donuts, brownies, chips, and candy have little redeeming quality to them either. It’s not that eating them is so awful for you, its eating so many of them that causes the problems. But for today you can forget all of that as we celebrate junk food day. And tomorrow, we will pay the price for our celebration.

How to celebrate – visit a candy or chocolate factory. Maybe replace that candy bar with a piece of celery or that hamburger with a turkey sub (after today if course). Don’t worry about it and eat what you want which is probably what you are going to do anyway.