Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Separable Fastener? Just Zip It Up!

On this day long ago, the fashion industry was changed. It didn't actually recognize that such a change was happening when Gideon Sundback patented the zipper in 1913.

The fashion world first took notice when the zipper was used for children's clothing twenty years later. But I'm jumping ahead of myself. Let's look at the beginning.

The history of the zipper began with Elias Howe of sewing machine fame, patented, but did not market, the "automatic, continuous clothing closure" in 1851. Then Whitcomb Judson of pneumatic street railway fame, actually sold a "clasp locker" that he patented in 1893. When Gideon Sundback's wife died, he focused on improving the previous designs and came up with the "Separable Fastener," which was really the zipper, almost the same one that we know today.

Sundback's fastener was first used in rubber boots until the 1930's when the aforementioned children's clothing came to market. In 1937, flies finally graduated from button-up to zippered. And, well, I guess you know about zippers today.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Olympics, 100 Years Ago

The Games of the IV Olympiad opened one hundred years ago today in London.

The modern Olympics were still young, and of course there were sports as we know them today. However, they hosted sports that are no longer part of the Olympics, such as polo, rugby, golf, and water skiing. Read about the Olympic Sports of the Past.

One fun fact was the list of events no longer included. For example, the 1908 Olympics saw countries battling it out in Tug of War. It was contested as a track and field event, but remained with the Olympics until 1924. I can see how it was considered a sport because it took strength and skill, but I was just surprised.

Even more surprising was croquet! By the time the 1908 Olympics were held, croquet was no longer on the list of contests. France won that event the only time it was included, but it might not have been such a victory since only Belgium sent a player to compete. No wonder they did not continue.

The Olympics this year are in China, continuing the world's tradition to play games. I wonder if there will be any games that will be questioned in 3008.

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Tai Chi or Qigong Anyone?

Today, the last Saturday of April is World Tai Chi and Qigong Day.

This special day recognizes medical research concerning health benefits of these similar disciplines. There has been interest in helping seniors, Parkinson's disease, and fibromyalgia.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a section of the National Institutes of Health, has a web page dedicated to tai chi. It provides a general overview of this "moving meditation," including health, beliefs, and research information.

The Qigong Institute has a short documentary and an interview with the founder. The site tells how qigong and energy medicine improves longevity and stress reduction.

Both of these ancient Chinese martial arts are finding growing popularity in the US. They combine discipline and low-impact exercise building inner health.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

To the Top of the World

Frederick Cook claimed to reach the North Pole on this date in 1908.

His claim was generally believed until his rival explorer Robert Peary claim to have reached the North Pole in April 1909, then launched a campaign to discredit Cook's claim. Cook was a controversial figure in his adventures. He was accused of faking a Mt. McKinley climb in 1906. He was convicted in a Texas oil scandal in 1933, but later pardoned by FDR.

Peary was instrumental in all of Cook's controversies. Cook had never published navigational data substantiating his North Pole claim, and although his McKinley had been earlier than his arctic expedition, the controversy erupted only after the polar conflict began. Even the judge in the Texas oil court case was a friend of Peary's. Peary, who also omitted to produce any credible data. Although the Royal Geographical Society awarded him a gold medal, neither the American Geographical Society nor any others have recognized the North Pole claim.

Who was the first to reach the North Pole? Maybe neither Cook not Peary, but today is the anniversary of Cook's claim to be the first person to reach the North Pole.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

I Remember This Day

I will not forget that time. The Branch Davidian siege had been going on in Waco for 49 days when I got the call - my dad had died. I called my manager to tell her I was going to Waco, and she asked me if my dad was in the compound. I thought it was strange at the time, but I know people are often at a loss for words and the wrong thing comes out. It happens to me often enough.

The thing about that particular gaffe is that it forever connected my father's death with that terrible time in our history. My dad actually died a couple of days before the fire that ended the siege, but I think of him every year on the day the siege ended. I wish it was not so.

I would like to forget the siege and just remember my dad, the way he was, even
in the last few years. I like his expression in the last picture I took of him. I wish it was a better picture, but it reminds me of him.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Did You See the Movie?

If you didn't see Titanic, the movie, you are one of a few. It was very, VERY expensive to make, but it has earned more than $1.8 billion and swept the Oscars with 11 wins. Wow. Was it real? Well, yes and no.

Of course the real Titanic was a real ship that sank this day, April 15, 1912. The movie was based on the true story of the passenger liner, but James Cameron wrote the fictional love story of Rose and Jack. Many characters seen in the movie were based on real people who were on the ship for her maiden voyage.

Here is a site comparing the truth of the real thing and the movie, or as they say, comparing real to reel. For some interesting Titanic movie facts, check out this menu.

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Take a Minute To Look Up

I remember one time driving down the highway with my son James. He told me he felt sorry for some people because they never really looked at the sky.

Today is Look Up At the Sky Day. What do you see?

Did you ever look up trying to see different shapes in the clouds? Are you still delighted when a rainbow indicates the weather is clearing up? What about star gazing at night?

There are so many things to see and the sights change with the weather and time of day and even who you're with. It can be pretty, interesting, exciting, or relaxing. If you are one on those people James felt sorry for that day long ago, today is a good day to give it a try. Look up at the sky.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Honorary Winston

Today is Winston Churchill Day. On this date in 1963, President John F. Kennedy declared Winston Churchill to be an Honorary Citizen of the United States. Kennedy's remarks and Churchill's response is on this page.

Honorary Citizen? What does this mean? How does someone get to be an Honorary Citizen? It takes a Congressional proclamation and a Presidential signature to get this done. Apparently there are no special privileges that go along with the title. It is strictly honorary, but it is quite an honor, and not given too freely.

Churchill was the first to be so honored. A total of only six people have been named Honorary Citizens, three of them posthumously. A seventh name was approved in the Senate in March, 2007, but is still being considered in the House. Clearly this honor is not taken lightly.

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Twinkie, Twinkie, Little Cake

On this date in 1933 (I read 1930 in one article, but I'll go with the history site) the Twinkie was introduced to a junk-food snack loving public.

It was filled with banana cream until bananas were rationed during WWII and the vanilla cream-filled cakes have been popular ever since.

Twinkies are not only a favorite dessert or snack. It is a staple on TV since it was featured advertising on the Howdy Doody show and became Archie Bunker's favorite snack on All in the Family.

Try the strawberry Twinkie shortcake recipe on the Hostess cakes website.

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