May 26 – Paper Airplane Day

Posted on May 26, 2017

Today is about enjoying the little things. 

It's about doing little things for and with each other. 

Little things like making and flying paper airplanes.

Little things can add up to big things! To important things, like fun memories and good relationships and...

Here is a short-short movie about how much joy you can give when you make a paper airplane for someone!
Here and here are videos about how to make a great paper airplane. 

Of course, paper airplanes are educational. Why do some designs fly better, faster, or farther than others? Get your physics and aeronautics on today! For help, try this and this other website.

Also on this date:

Astronaut Sally Ride's birthday

(May 26 - 28, 2017)

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May 25 – May Revolution Day in Argentina

Posted on May 25, 2017

The date: May 25, 1810.
The place: Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The event: The start of a revolution!

Once upon a time there was a large region in South America known as the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata. It included land that is now carved up into four nations: Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Bolivia. 

Buenos Aires was the capital of this Viceroyalty.

Ever since the Viceroyalty was formed, in 1776, there was unrest and a growing desire by the people to rule themselves. This desire for independence came to a head in Buenos Aires, and the Viceroy was deposed. This was considered the first step to Argentine independence, and soon the country was embroiled in a war with Spain.

Independence was declared in 1816, although the fighting continued until 1818.

The May Revolution was so important, the entire week is celebrated for all of the events that led up to May 25. It's called Semana de Mayo (Week of May).

Speaking of Buenos Aires....

The current capital of Argentina, Buenos Aires is very beautiful:

Check out this neighborhood, called Caminito, which is pretty much a street museum. Argentine artist Benito Quinquela Martín took an eyesore - an old railroad line that was becoming something of a landfill - and he slowly painted the area in a variety of pastel colors. Now local artists use the street as a great place to see their works.

Other neighborhoods in this city are famous for their street art and graffiti. There are even graffiti tours!

People in Buenos Aires love to drink mate, which is a hot beverage a bit like green tea, made from the yerba mate plant. People drink if through metal straws in silver-rimmed gourds.

The Galarias Pacifico is a shopping mall that is housed in a building that has been used in many ways. There was a shopping area, an art museum, an office building for a railway company... And, from the late 1970s until the early 1980s, basement rooms in the building were used as a kind of torture chamber! That's right, the military dictatorship that then ruled Argentina used to hold "interrogations" in the deep-down bowels of the mall!

In 1945, the amazing cupola of the shopping mall were painted with frescoes by twelve different artists. 

This is surely one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, if not THE most beautiful! The El Ateneo Gran Splendid is located in what used to be a gorgeous theatre. Most of the theatre seating has been removed and replaced with bookshelves, but the theatre boxes are still intact and can be used as reading nooks. There is a café on the back of what was the stage, but the red stage curtains remain! 

Also on this date:

Anniversary of Hands Across America

May 24 – Independence Day in Eritrea

Posted on May 24, 2017

Eritrea is that teeny nation,
colored green here,
in Northeastern Africa.
Eritreans fought a 30-year battle against Ethiopia!

After all that fighting, on this date in 1991, Eritrean People's Liberation Front forces moved into the capital, Asmara, and declared independence from Ethiopia.

And then there were a couple more years of fighting between an independent Eritrea and Ethiopia.

AND then there were skirmishes between Eritrea and two other neighboring countries.

AND in all this time - more than two decades! - national elections in Eritrea have been postponed over and over again, democracy, yet.

AND the Eritrean government drafts people into its armed forces for long - actually, indefinite! - periods of time.

AND Eritrea is rated as having one of the worst human rights records and the absolute least press freedom in the world!! 


Apparently Americans are rarely treated to stories about Eritrea in our media, perhaps partly because of the lack of press freedom enjoyed in the nation. Also, there is very, very little tourism in the nation - which is not surprising! With all the grim facts outlined above, who would go there?

But although some refer to Eritrea as the North Korea of Africa, others say that the capital city of Asmara does not seem - at least to a casual and privileged traveler - as repressive or as unpleasant as advertised. Check out this 2014 travel story

The landscapes outside of the capital are often gorgeous!


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May 23 – Happy Birthday, Jewel

Posted on May 23, 2017

Jewel Kilcher - born on this date in 1974 - famously lived in her car while working a barista job and playing her guitar while singing her songs, mostly in Southern California. She was, basically, homeless.

Then all of a sudden, she was discovered.

And at age 21, Jewel released her debut album - which went 12 times platinum and became one of the best selling debut albums of all time.

Yazza-bing! How'd you like to go from being homeless to being a superstar?

Actually, it was probably pretty hard, in some ways, but Jewel withstood whatever pressures there were, and she has released at least seven more albums, has published poetry and an autobiography, has acted in movies and on TV, and has won numerous awards.

Some cool stuff about Jewel:

* She was born in Utah but raised in Alaska, living in a house that had no indoor plumbing and only a simple outhouse, no central heating, no television!

* Her father stars in the Discovery Channel show Alaska: The Last Frontier

* Jewel's grandfather came to Alaska from Switzerland. He made the first recorded crossing of the Harding Icefield and served as an Alaska state senator.

* She learned to yodel and a child and sometimes uses yodeling in her songs! Here is a video of her yodeling.

Check out my favorite Jewel songs:

Foolish Games


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