August 1st Spiderman Day

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Peter Parker first appeared in Marvel Comics “Amazing Fantasy #15”. Unlike other superheroes, Spiderman did not have a mentor like Batman or Captain America.

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He made his way on his own via stories by Stan Lee and artwork by Steve Ditko in the Shared Universe.

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He was raised by Aunt May and Uncle Ben in a fairly normal environment using his spider-sense to combat evil in the world.

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How to celebrate: Buy a Spiderman comic book. Go to a Spiderman movie.  Get a Spiderman outfit for your walks around the neighborhood.

July 31st Uncommon Instruments Awareness Day

There are all sorts of musical instruments out there some that have not been used in centuries such as the psaltery, played in the Middle Ages.

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You may have heard a dulcimer in some country music but never knew what sound it made.

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There is a bubble organ which is relatively new on the scene. In fact you may have heard it and never knew it.

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If that’s the case, then this day is for you. It’s your chance to learn what a clackamore is…

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or how a double violin sounds…

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and whether a laser harp is dangerous to play or not.

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How to celebrate: Look up some of the forgotten, and newest, instruments used to make music. Try to obtain one of these instruments and learn how to play it. Amaze your friends with a concert on your newly acquired musical instrument.

July 30th National Cheesecake Day

Cheesecake has been around longer than you may think. It is thought to date back to at least 2,000 B.C. in ancient Greece. There is mention that it was served to athletes in Greece during the Olympics in 776 B.C. because it gave the athlete energy to perform. Made out of flour, wheat, honey, and cheese, it was considered a Greek Wedding Cake. Athenaeus wrote of cheesecake in 230 A.D., professing even then that it had been around for nearly 2,000 years. When the Romans invaded Greece, they brought back recipes that they adapted themselves. They were called “Libuma” as noted in a recipe left behind by Marcus Cato in the 1st Century B.C.

In 1545, Henry VIII’s chef made his own version of cheesecake, soaking cheese in milk for three hours, straining it, and adding butter, eggs, and sugar to the King’s liking. In 1872, a farmer in New York, who has not been named, accidentally created cream cheese which was eventually packaged and sold to customers. The Phoenix Cream Cheese company purchased the rights and began to widely sell cream cheese. By 1912, James Kraft, learned how to pasteurize cream cheese making it easier to sell, not to mention safer! In 1928, he acquired the name”Philadelphia” and the rest is history.

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Nowadays cheesecakes come in many flavors and styles. Among the more favorite flavors added to or topping the cake include blueberries, strawberries, fruit sauce flavors, chocolate, raspberry, pumpkin, key lime, lemon, orange, cherry, whipped cream, and toffee.

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Styles come in New York, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Country, Lactose Free, Chicago, Cheesecake Kludys, and Savory. The difference seems to be in the heaviness, or lightness, of the filling and the make of the crust. Crust comes in crumbled graham cracker, crumbled cookie, or sponge cake.

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The filling itself is generally made of cheese, cream cheese or cottage cheese, mixed with eggs, and sugar or honey.

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Practically everybody likes some form of cheesecake. It can be baked, or it doesn’t have to be cooked at all. It can be a dessert for any type of meal or even a mid-day snack. It doesn’t even have to come in cake style at all, with crumbs and filling just plopped in a cup.

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Here’s a cheesecake recipe for you to try. Just be aware there are hundreds of them to choose from.

How to celebrate – Make a cheesecake you, and your family, can enjoy. Have a cheesecake party where everyone makes a different style of cheesecake so you can sample a little of each. Or just sell out and go to the Cheesecake Factory and buy a pie!

July 29th Talk In A Elevator Day

What do you see in the picture above?  They are people standing in an elevator, but do you see anything more? Do they have anything in common beyond the fact that they are either going up or down?  They all seem to be smiling, probably because of the person taking the picture. They seem relaxed. They do not look like business people but they obviously aren’t tourists going to a hotel room… no luggage. Maybe they are going to a convention, but they look pretty commonly dressed for that. Some have sunglasses, some don’t.

The point is, you really can’t figure out what they are doing, or where they are going unless you are one of them. Even then, unless they are all going to the same place as you, you probably will never know anything about them, nor they you. What a shame. Maybe some one in that elevator is the love of your life! Maybe they could be your future best friend! Maybe they are some one you should watch out for and stay away from at all costs. But you will never know unless you speak up and start a conversation with them. Believe me though, it’s not easy to do. They are just as reserved as you are and even if you do speak up, they may not answer. So how do you get to know someone you just met by sharing an elevator with them?

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Well I don’t suggest this! Breaking wind in a crowded elevator is not a way to make friends. You might get them laughing, or you might even make them sick (depending on what you had to eat). They will, however, remember you and perhaps avoid getting on an elevator with you again.

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Or what if you are secretly a super hero and you see someone else dressed in your outfit?  Or worse, what if you are the one wearing the outfit? This could be awkward at best. So I don’t suggest dressing up as a super hero, or if you are a super hero, don’t ride in elevators (particularly since you shouldn’t need the elevator anyway!) Why would Spiderman need an elevator? Doesn’t he have those web thingys? He should be able to go up the side of the building not taking up the valuable space!

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And what would you do if your elevator got stuck? Would you become friends with those inside or just freak out. I always suggest making friends with someone before freaking out in front of them. They will be much more understanding during all those moments when you really aren’t yourself.

Of the six people in the photo above maybe one of them is a model, another is a contestant on America’s Got Talent, maybe one is a hit man, or a black widow. Maybe one is a famous author or a person down on their luck that needs someone to talk to and help them change their lives around. Once again, the point is you just don’t know.

Well, it’s your choice. Next time you are in an elevator look around at the people you are sharing the ride with. Imagine them as on a bus with you or sharing a taxi. You might say something in those situations, why not in the elevator? Start up some kind of conversation. Maybe about the weather, or the building you are in. Maybe pay a compliment to someone in the elevator about the dress they are wearing or some cologne or perfume they have on. In most cases they will have something nice to say in return. It maybe be the start of a friendship, albeit short, that you wouldn’t have had before.

How to celebrate – Next time you get in an elevator try facing the other people in the elevator instead of the door. That way you can actually see who is there!  While facing them, try smiling and see if anyone smiles back. Pretend someone reminds you of someone you’ve known in the past, ask questions to see if they remember you. They won’t but at least you’ve got them talking! Wear something unusual, not absurd, that may get someone to ask what you are doing.

July28th Buffalo Soldiers Day

One of the most famed cavalry units of the old west was the 10th US Cavalry, an African-American Regiment formed on September 21, 1866.

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The term “Buffalo Soldiers” was given to the 10th Cavalry by the Native Americans. Though we don’t know the exact reason for the name, there are a couple of tales on how they received the moniker.

The first story tells of a private named John Randall coining the term. He was sent out to protect 2 hunters who quickly came under attack by 70 Cheyenne Warriors. The 2 hunters fell quickly but Randall continued to fight, armed with only a pistol and 17 rounds of ammunition. He was rescued when troops from a nearby fort found him with 1 gunshot wound and 11 lance wounds. Private Randall survived and was described by Native Americans on the scene as fighting like a trapped buffalo.

The next story tells of a Colonel laying claim to the name – Benjamin Grierson, a hero in the Civil War who was one of the commanders of the 10th. He clams the term was given to his troops by Apache Warriors in 1871.

It is also noted, that while the term “Buffalo Soldier” originally referred to the 10th Cavalry, it eventually was a term used to encompassed several Regiments during 1866, the 9th US Cavalry, the 24th and 25th US Infantries.

However the name came about, by 1877 “Buffalo Soldier” was firmly ingrained into the Native American language.

They honored the soldiers for fighting so well.

The job of the 10th Cavalry was to protect the settlers moving west, the mail lines, train lines, and to break up gangs of outlaws and raiders, including Mexicans who threatened the US territories.  When war broke out with Spain in Cuba, they were among the first to be sent to fight and continued to serve in the Philippine-American War in 1899. They served in the Mexico Expedition in 1916 and in the First World War in 1918.

They fought the last Native American uprising in Arizona at the Battle of Bear Valley in 1918 and served as peacekeepers during the Johnson County War in Wyoming.  They were among the first forest rangers to serve the US, Smokey Bear actually being patterned after the World War 1 Buffalo Soldiers.

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Originally the “Buffalo Soldiers” were led by white officers. As time passed, they were also led by black officers, including the first African-American to graduate West Point, Henry O. Flipper.

In the 40’s and 50’s, the US Army decided to integrate black and white units. This did not mean everything was equal but it was a start.

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July 28th, was established as a day to honor the Buffalo Soldier by the US Congress in 1992. A monument was built to commemorate their service to this country and stands in Ft.Leavenworth, Kansas, dedicated by Colin Powell.

These men were true heroes in every sense of the word. The last of their unit, Mark Matthews, lived to be 111 year old, dying in 2005 and being buried in Arlington Cemetery.

How to celebrate – Read about the “Buffalo Soldiers” and their accomplishments. Visit their monument at Ft. Leavenworth. Study the service of the African-Americans in defense of America.

July 27th National Scotch Day

Scotch is one of many items the Scots can claim as their own. The best in the world according to the Scots, although the Australians and Canadians make versions of their own they are very proud of too. The Irish claim theirs is just as good, if not better.

Scotch was originally made from fermented malted barley. It is aged for at least 3 years in an oak wooden barrel, called a cask. It must have an ABV (Alcohol By Volume) less than 94.8%.  Most scotch has an ABV of 40-46% unless it is straight from the cask and then it is 60-63%. Undiluted scotch coming out of the cask may be labeled “Cask Strength” and is among the highest sought of all whiskeys.

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Scotch comes in five different varieties. The first is just scotch, made from malted barley.  Single Grain scotch means it was made from a different grain such as Rye or Wheat.  There is blended malt scotch, made from at at least one, malted barley and one other grain, also malted. Blended grain scotch comes from two or more grains, like rye and wheat, mixed together. And last but not least is blended scotch which comes from several grains mixed with barley, all malted.

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The first mention of Scotch came in 1495 in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland. It apparently was distilled by a Friar John Cor at the Lindores Abbey in the Kingdom of Fife. It was only available in malted barley but that changed in the 18th century when it began to be produced commercially where wheat and rye were added. It was called “Ulsge Beatha” or “Water of Life”.

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Today one of the most respected and top awarded scotches is made by Old Pulteney. Some bottles sell for over $800.00. The most expensive I found was Yamazaki which sold for $13,430.00 a bottle.

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Of course there are many choices and even the American brands sell well. It is really up to you which you prefer.

I am told of a tradition that occurred in Scotland for years that I believe is now banned – Partners would team up and have a drink at a pub before moving on to the next, which wasn’t all that far away. The trick was, one partner had to ride in a wheel-barrow while the other pushed it to the next tavern. Upon having a drink there, the partners would reverse rolls and continue on to the their next destination. It would be funny to see this race after the teams had stopped at ten or eleven taverns! (I think it was a wheel-barrow, but it may have been a bathtub).

How to celebrate – Enjoy a shot of scotch, straight up! Taste the difference in the way scotch is made and see which you prefer. Have your own wheel-barrow race, but make sure you get police approval first.

 

July 26th National Bagelfest Day

The bagel, originally called the beigel, dates back to 1610 when the first written record of it appeared in Poland. The bread dough, usually wheat, is boiled first and then baked giving it it’s tough exterior and soft center. It was made in the Jewish communities, particularly Krakow, but rapidly spread throughout Eastern Europe becoming a staple in the diets of Poles, Germans, Russians, and anywhere the merchants carried it.

Polish-Jews moving to America around the turn of the century (1900’s) brought their traditions with them, instantly beginning to serve up bagels in the New York City area. The idea caught on but was tightly controlled by the International Beigel Baker’s Union, Local 338 for decades. You could call it a Bagel Mafia of sorts! If the bagels were not made by one of their bakers, it was not allowed to be sold.

Because of the Union, most bagels were homemade until the 1960’s when Daniel Thompson invented a bagel making machine. Later that same decade Henry and Murray Lender along with Florence Sender, figured a way to freeze the bagel and automate the production and distribution of bagels, shipping them all over the United States, and later the world. Murray, Henry’s son, also invented the pre-sliced bagel saving us all our fingers and time!

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Originally the bagels were served plain but as time went on the bakers began to add such things as cream cheese and lox. Lox is smoked salmon, served salty to add to the overall taste, and make a meal out of the traditional bagel.

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Today bagels come in many flavors: rye, wheat, sesame, coconut, sourdough… you name it and they probably make a bagel out of it. It is also topped with nearly everything under the sun. If you think about it, a bagel is just like two slices of bread that you can put anything on or between.

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Leave it to Americans to make something their own, we have turned the bagel into a breakfast feast of its own.

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National Bagelfest Day was started by Lenders Bagels when they held the first festival in 1986 in Mattoon, Illinois where the world’s largest bagel factory is located. Murray Lender was the host.

How to celebrate – Have a bagel!  If you like them enough, buy a bagel making machine.