Monthly Archives: May 2010

Memorial Day Trivia

Today is Memorial Day in the USA, and I thought the following trivia appropriate, courtesy of the US Memorial Day website (http://www.usmemorialday.org/)

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women’s groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: a hymn published in 1867, “Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping” by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication “To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead” (Source: Duke University’s Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920). While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it’s difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860’s tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in Gen Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868. It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 – 363) to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays), though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19 in Texas, April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 (Jefferson Davis’ birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.

In 1915, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” Moina Michael replied with her own poem:

 

We cherish, too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

 

Traditional observance of Memorial day has diminished over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country.She then conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. Later a Madam Guerin from France was visiting the United States and learned of this new custom started by Ms. Michael and when she returned to France, made artificial red poppies to raise money for war orphaned children and widowed women. This tradition spread to other countries. In 1921, the Franco-American Children’s League sold poppies nationally to benefit war orphans of France and Belgium. The League disbanded a year later and Madam Guerin approached the VFW for help. Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later their “Buddy” Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. In 1948 the US Post Office honored Ms Michael for her role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red 3 cent postage stamp with her likeness on it.

There are a few notable exceptions. Since the late 50’s on the Thursday before Memorial Day, the 1,200 soldiers of the 3d U.S. Infantry place small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing. In 1951, the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts of St. Louis began placing flags on the 150,000 graves at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery as an annual Good Turn, a practice that continues to this day. More recently, beginning in 1998, on the Saturday before the observed day for Memorial Day, the Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts place a candle at each of approximately 15,300 grave sites of soldiers buried at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park on Marye’s Heights (the Luminaria Program). And in 2004, Washington D.C. held its first Memorial Day parade in over 60 years.

To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.”

Where will you be and what will you be doing at 3:00 today?

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Trivia of the Day – Sunday

What produces cobwebs?

“Cobweb” means a spider web; “Cob” is an old English word for spider. It is a common given name to the formless webs spun in buildings by certain species of spiders as well as the larvae of some insects. Most of the tangled webs which annoy people are produced by the small house spider.   Cobwebs on the ceiling and in the corners of some houses (not mine, of course) are typically not noticed until they become covered with dust.

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The Weekend Update and Random Thoughts

Most of the subscribers to this blog are reading it on their Kindle’s.  I posted the following to one of my other blogs, Free Kindle Books Plus a Few Other Tips, and I thought it appropriate to share with you.

As I sit here this weekend, I have a couple of random thoughts I wanted to share (hey, you are my captive blog audience!):

Next Generation Kindle Coming Soon?

If you believe the folks over at Business Week, the next generation Kindle 3 will be released in August: click here to read the full article.

Here’s a couple of highlights on this rumor:

  • Thinner than the current version
  • A more responsive screen
  • Sharper picture

The article also speculated 3 million eBook readers were sold in 2009, with Amazon controlling about 60% (or about 1.8 million) of that market and an estimate 6 million eBook readers will be sold in 2010.

One hint I thought was interesting commented on Amazon’s previous purchase of a company called Touchco, which specializes in touch-screen technology.  Interesting….

Harry Potter Books Coming to Kindle?

Author J.K. Rowlong has long been opposed to digitizing her successful Harry potter franchise to the eBook format – I won’t go into all of the reasons but if you do a Bing search (click here) you can read some of her reasons.  If you read this article from The Book Seller website (click here), maybe that will change and she can realistically make another $100 million or so.

Amazon Removes Charge for Free Books for non-USA Customers

This one, to me, is pretty big – Amazon used to charge a wireless download fee (equivalent to about $2 in US currency) for its free book offerings if you are a Kindle owner and didn’t live in the USA; they would even charge it for books you happened to be reading on the Kindle for PC application.

That doesn’t really sound like free.

As I said in my lead-in to this section, Amazon “used to charge” this fee – they quit doing that this past week.  I think that’s great, and should lead to more market penetration and sales of Kindle titles across the globe.  Why do I think that is great?  The more purchasing power Kindle owners have, maybe it will apply more pressure to the publishers who are insisting on charging more than $9.99 for digitized books or, worse, those publishers who somehow are charging (don’t know if they are able to get it) as much or more than the paper version of the book for your Kindle copy.  Simple economics on the cost of the publication hurts my brain on that rationale.

Memorial Day Weekend

Monday is Memorial day here in the USA.  If you are a Kindle subscriber or web reader of my Trivia of the Day blog, I was planning on posting a special trivia article about the history of Memorial Day.  If you see a veteran while you are taking your holiday from work and about to enjoy a grilled burger or dog, or know of a family who has lost a family member while serving, please stop and thank them for their service.  We may not have it all right in our particular corner of the world, but at least we are free to complain and do something about things we don’t particularly like!

Have a great weekend!

Michael

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Trivia of the Day – Saturday

Humans and dolphins are the only species that have sex for pleasure.

The Ramses brand condom is named after the great Pharaoh Ramses II who fathered over 160 children.

The word “samba” means “to rub navels together.”

Charles Lindburgh took only four sandwiches with him on his famous transatlantic flight.

Donald Duck’s middle name is Fauntleroy.

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Trivia of the Day – Friday

 

Does a baby elephant suck with its trunk?

Nope. A baby elephant sucks with its mouth, not its trunk. Two teats between the forelegs of the female elephant supply the baby elephant with nourishment; as the baby elephant sucks it curls back its trunk.   It is a common mistake to imagine elephants drinking through their trunks: the use of the trunk in drinking is only by sucking up water and then squirting it into their mouths.

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Trivia of the Day – Thursday

Alaska has the highest percentage of people who walk to work.

The cost of raising a medium-size dog to the age of eleven is $6,400.

Banging your head against a wall uses 150 calories an hour.

A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds.

A pregnant goldfish is called a twit.

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Trivia of the Day – Wednesday

 

What does the phrase “of that ilk” mean?

The majority of people who use this phrase have no idea what the word “ilk” means. It does not mean kind, sect, family, or race, as often supposed. The word “ilk” comes from the Anglo-Saxon “ilc” and identifies identical or same. In Scotch the phrase “of that ilk” denotes a person’s surname is the same as the name of his estate.

“Knockwinnock of that ilk” simply means “Knockwinnock of Kconckwinnock,” the name of the landowner and his property being identical. The incorrect usage in which “ilk” is used to mean kind or sort most likely originated in carelessness or facetiousness and has been perpetuated through ignorance of the true meaning.

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