July 27 – Cross Atlantic Communications Day

Posted on July 27, 2016

Have you heard someone say something like, “My aunt is going across the pond on Thursday”? “Across the pond” is a jokey sort of understatement for “over the Atlantic,” either from the U.S. to Europe, or vice versa. It's understatement because it makes it seem as if the mighty Atlantic Ocean (3 to 4 thousand miles wide) were a mere pond.

Of course, nowadays, anywhere on Earth is just seconds away from anywhere else, when we're talking about communications. Back in the 1700s, the fastest way to communicate “across the pond” was to send written communications by ship – so news from the American colonies, for example, would get to England in six or seven weeks.

Eventually faster ships—and having small, speedy ships dedicated to just delivering mail and news—cut the communication time between America and Europe to just ten days.

Still – multiple days!

And stormy weather could delay ships for weeks.

In the 1850s, people began laying a “transatlantic” (across-the-Atlantic) telegraph cable across the sea floor from Ireland to Newfoundland. It was finished in August of 1858, but it only functioned for three weeks...and during those three weeks, the signal quality became very poor very quickly. The transmission time thus got quite slow (not ten-days slow, of course, but mamy more minutes than it should have taken!).

On the second attempt, starting in 1865, better materials were used, and the connection was completed on this date in 1866.

Finally, people in the Americas could communicate with people in Europe the same day. As a matter of fact, they could get a response back on the same day! What a revolution!

Soon new cables were laid with duplex and quadruplex systems that could relay more than message at a time, and eventually telegraph cables were replaced with telecommunications cables. Of course, now we use satellite signals more often than cable communication! And things are pretty instant!

Hooray for progress!

Hooray for technology!

Also on this date:

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July 26 – New York's Statehood Anniversary

Posted on July 26, 2016

From the skyscrapers of New York City to the powerful Niagara Falls...

From the iconic Statue of Liberty to the glittering lights of Broadway and Times Square...

From prestigious universities to gorgeous gorges...

New York state is home to some of the most admired culture and diversity, some of the most visited tourist spots, and some amazing natural beauty!

The eleventh state to ratify the Constitution, on this date in 1788, New York isn't as large as most of the state in the West, but its population is fourth in the nation. Of course, this is partly due to the one-of-a-kind bustle that is New York City, the largest city in the United States.

I live near a really large city, Los Angeles, but NYC is more than twice as large! (But loads of cities in the world are larger than New York, New York, including FIVE cities in China and even such unlikely cities as Lima, Peru and Lagos, Nigeria.)
Here are some of my very, very favorite things about New York:

I love, love, love Watkins Glen State Park.

Niagara Falls is spectacular. See it from the top, both sides, see it from Goat Island, and of course see it (and FEEL it in every bone in your body) from the Maid of the Mist boat.

Central Park, in New York City, is pretty great. Two favorite things, for me, are the Alice-in-Wonderland statue and the boulders that crop up here and there.

NYC has amazing shopping and food. One thing I loved are the macarons that were as pretty as they were delicious!

My husband, on the other hand, is more of a huge-sandwich kind of guy.

I liked exploring the Adirondack Mountains and the Finger Lakes, of course. We saw plenty of wonderful waterfalls, such as the Ithaca Falls.

This is something I didn't get to see – but would love to someday: New York in the fall!

Also on this date:

The FBI's birthday

One Voice

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July 25 – National Holiday in Cuba

Posted on July 25, 2016

According to a popular Cuban song, "The 26th [of July] is the happiest day in history!"

Actually, the group of revolutionaries who attacked the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba on July 26, 1953, were defeated – but this defeat paved the way for the eventual revolution that succeeded. The insurrection was led by Fidel Castro, and on the same date another group attacked barracks in the city of Bayamo. Together, the attacks are considered the small engine that ignited the big engine of the Revolution.

(You may wonder why Cuba celebrates on July 25 for an anniversary of a July 26 event. Well, the commemoration is so important, it is spread out over three days, from July 25 to July 27!)

Of course, many people in Cuba were terribly upset by the communist revolution that took over their nation in 1959. Many people fled to other nations, including the United States. A lot of the Cubans who came here were the rich people who feared losing – or actually lost – much of their wealth in the Revolution. Some people were fleeing imprisonment, torture, or other horrors.

Since the time of the Revolution until the present, Cuba has been a set of contractions:

Cuba has been an enemy of the U.S. – and it conspired with America's greatest enemy (the Soviet Union), at times; but the two nations are only 90 miles apart.

Cuba has had a bad reputation for human rights abuses and arbitrary imprisonment (in other words, people were imprisoned without good reason), but it has a high ranking in health care and education.

Cuba was off limits to most travelers and had good relationships only with Soviet-bloc nations, for years, but since the collapse of the Soviet Union has cooperated with many nations and has begun to encourage tourism. In 2009 President Obama said that the United States “seeks a new beginning with Cuba,” and in 2014 an agreement called “the Cuban Thaw” restored international relations between the two close neighbors. Obama himself traveled to Cuba in March of this year!

Now the world can flock to Cuba...

Cuba is the largest of the Caribbean islands, so of course it has some beautiful beaches.

And the occasional iguana-infested beach!

Cuba has some great waterfalls...

...amazing diving...

...breathtaking landscapes...

...and colorful culture!


Also on this date:

Foundation of Guayaquil Day in Ecuador 

Constitution Day in Puerto Rico

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