October 30 – Mischief Night

Posted on October 30, 2014
This is not something that happens everywhere, and I am pretty sure that it is something that shouldn't happen ANYwhere.

Mischief Night is the night before Halloween, and it is (in just some places in the U.S. and world) a time for minor pranks and mild vandalism.

We're talking about toilet papering yards, egging things, setting off fireworks, smashing pumpkins, throwing rotting vegetables, soaping windows, and playing Ding-Dong Ditch by ringing doorbells and then hiding.

Some of these practices are not particularly bothersome or dangerous, but others are pretty bad. In Detroit in the early 1990s, Mischief Night escalated into widespread arson (setting fires) – destruction that was completely unnecessary.
Egging a car or building can cause costly damage (raw egg can damage a car's finish, for example), and egging a person can cause serious eye injury. Smashing someone else's property – even if it is just a pumpkin – is like stealing from them. Maybe that person put a lot of time into carving the pumpkin. Maybe he or she wanted to make a pumpkin pie.

Of course, many of these so-called pranks are strictly against the law! Silly mischief that could result in fines or jail time seems ridiculous, right?

Finally, I find the idea of causing problems for homeowners one night and then begging from candy from the same people the next night troublesome. I would hope that Mischief Night takes a turn for beautiful-and-non-harmful pranks or dies out altogether. 

Beautiful and non-harmful pranks?

Even in places where toilet papering is against the law, or police officers nab those who TP trees and houses on grounds of littering, TP-ing can be lots of fun and is (at least here in my community) totally okay if the homeowner has given approval. So ask the parents of the kid you want to surprise (secretly, ahead of time), and then have fun fun fun – in the dead of the night - decking out the place with loads of toilet paper!
This beautiful teepeed interior was created by artist Şakir Gökçebağ.

The folks at Disney World once teepeed their own castle!

Teepeed car

Also on this date:

Anniversary of the radio show “War of the Worlds”

Haunted Refrigerator Night

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October 29 – Internet Day

Posted on October 29, 2014

A loong, loong time ago, there were dinosaurs. Did you know that, at that time, there was no internet?

Have you ever wondered when the internet was first created? Or what that even means?

Today is Internet Day, sometimes called International Internet Day, and it celebrates the very first time two far-away computers communicated electronically. It happened on this date in 1969 – just a few months after the world was shook up by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landing on – and walking on – the moon.

But this much less grand even shook the world up, arguably, even more.

Here's how it went down:

UCLA student Charley Kline tried to send a message to a computer around 350 miles away, at the Stanford Research Institute.

The message was, perhaps, not the earth-shaking sort of message you might hope for. As a matter of fact, it was just one word:


Here's what happened, in Kline's words:

So I'm on the phone to SRI, and I type the L and say, “OK, I typed in L, you got that?”

Bill Duvall, the guy at SRI, is watching his monitor, and he has the L.

I type the O. Got the O.

Typed the G. “Wait a minute,” Bill says, “my system crashed. I'll call you back.”

So, yeah. This world-shaking event was the transmission of TWO LETTERS! The one-word message didn't get through, because one of the computers crashed partway through the attempt!

Still, this half-success was the beginning of something big. ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) was a system developed under the auspices of the Department of Defense to connect four university departments that were working on military R & D.

About an hour after “LO” was transmitted, Kline and Duvall tried again and were able to transmit the entire word “LOGIN.” And

Now, the Internet is:
  • worldwide
  • publicly accessible
  • a series of interconnected computer networks
  • networks that transmit data by packet switching, or breaking up the message into parts that are sent independently, and then reassembled at the other end
  • networks that use standard Internet Protocol (IP)

And of course, the Internet is:

  • videos of kittens

  • social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

  • millions and millions of blogs, in which we publicly journal our days or review local restaurants or otherwise self-publish our self-esteen

  • about a billion live websites – a milestone that was just reached last month! (September 2014)

  • bajillions of searchable images of everything from green thermos flasks to Ancient Egyptian-themed birthday parties for kids

  • irreverent and often ridiculous memes, most of them involving grumpy cats, Ted of Bill-and-Ted, the Dos Equis guy, or someone face-palming

Also on this date:

Creole Day in Dominica

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October 28 – Happy Birthday, Edith Head

Posted on October 28, 2014

Today's famous birthday holds a record for most Academy Awards in Costume Design.

Eight times she won an Oscar for her movie costumes!

Edith Head had a long career, of course – she worked in the industry for 57 years! That's more than half a century!

So...let's see if we can figure out how to copy the amazing success Edith Head had. Like, how did she get her start in the movie-costume-making industry? Did she get degrees or specialized training?

Brief Bio

In Head's case, the answer is “no.” No degree in costume design (or fashion design), and no specialized training.

Edith Head was born on this date in 1897 in San Bernardino, California. Her name was Edith Claire Posener. She did get degrees: a B.A. In French from UC Berkeley and an M.A. in romance languages from Stanford. (In case you don't know, those are both top schools.) She began to teach French and art, and she married a man named Charles Head. Unfortunately, the marriage didn't last, but her new name – Edith Head – did last from 1923 until her death in 1981.

In 1924, Head tried out for a job as a sketch artist for Paramount Pictures in Hollywood. And even though she had no experience in art, design, or costume design, she got the job. 

(Later, she admitted that she had done a really bad thing – she had borrowed others' sketches for her job interview!! Yikes!)

But she must've had talent, and she must've worked hard, because she quickly became one of Hollywood's leading designers. And this was back when movies were just starting to have sound!

  • Check out Edith Head's work here!

  • Dabble in design yourself! Do you want to draw costumes for the good guys and bad guys in a fantasy movie (the elves, orcs, and so forth)?
Or for a futuristic science-fiction movie? How about a movie set during Ancient Egyptian times...or during the 1400s in China?
  • Did you notice that the character Edna Mode, in the Pixar movie The Incredibles, is an homage to Edith Head?

  • Not necessarily meant for kids, the website Clothes on Film gives some interesting info on movie costume design. 

Also on this date:

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October 27 – World Day for Audiovisual Heritage

Posted on October 27, 2014

 Here is something you may never have thought about: protecting our audiovisual heritage.

There are old tapes and records and movies that we may never get to see or hear again because their media is falling apart. Wouldn't it be wonderful to make digital copies of all of this stuff before it is gone?

And, remember, sometimes “gone” means “gone for good”!

The U. N. website promoting this special day talks about “archives at risk” and assures us that there is “much more to do.” Films, radio and television programs, and other recordings are humanity's common heritage, containing the “primary records” of the current and past century.

What can we do to help? Apparently, the organizers are calling on the people of the world to urge their governments to take steps to preserve audiovisual “documents” and to provide access to them to scholars and, when possible, the public.

Some activities held today include competitions, panel discussions, special film screenings, and local programs.

Also on this date:

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October 26 – Austria's National Day

Posted on October 26, 2014

On this date in 1955, Austria adopted its Neutrality Constitution declaring the nation permanently neutral, like Switzerland, during times of war between nations...

Austria is no stranger to war... For hundreds of years, it has been embroiled in one or another war – wars with Egypt, the Ottoman Empire, Hungary, even England and Sweden and France and Spain! During World War I, Austria was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and fought—and lost—on the side of the Germans. In 1938, Austria was annexed by Nazi German, so once again it fought on the losing side of a world war. At the end of World War II, Austria was occupied by the Soviet Union, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France.

It was able to finally become free and independent again only by committing itself to neutrality.

This declaration of neutrality is so important to Austrians that they celebrate the anniversary of the declaration of neutrality as their national holiday. The country's neutrality is explicitly stated in both the nation's constitution and in international law.
This Google doodle celebrates Austria's
Neutrality Constitution.

Did you know...?

There are 12 neutral nations, plus 5 more nations who claim to be neutral. Also, there have been many nations who have declared themselves neutral for a period of time – but then abandoned their neutrality to enter into NATO or some other protective treaty.

The U.S. formally declared neutrality for three years before WWI and for one year before WWII. It abandoned its neutral stance when U.S. ships were attacked (WWI) and when Hawaii was attacked (WWII).

Beautiful Austria...

  • Want an American view on some of the more surprising things about Austria? Check out Real Life of an Expat Wife's list. I found it interesting that dogs are allowed to go everywhere (even movie theaters!), most people learn to ski when they are still kids, and kids only have to go to school until they are 14!

  • Vienna has several unusual museums, including one devoted to globes and another to the artificial language Esperanto.

At the Esperanto museum, kids can plan Pac Man
and learn the language at the same time!

Also on this date:

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October 25 – International Artists Day

Posted on October 25, 2014

Art is a priceless painting hanging in a museum...and a well-designed computer.

Art is a gorgeous dress...and a statue made of finest marble.

Art is an amazing dance number...and a soaring building.

Art is so many things: paintings and drawings and photography, sculpture and ceramics and collage, metalwork and textile / fiber crafts, literature and performance arts, fashion design and architecture, jewelry making and glass blowing and industrial design and book binding and interior design and and and...

Today, take the time to enjoy the works of your favorite artist (from whatever field of art)! Or write a fan letter to someone who doesn't yet know how her or his work touches you. Or explore galleries and craft shops to discover a new favorite!

Here are some artists whose work I like...and they are from all around the globe:

Ugandan artist Maria Naita

A Maori meeting house in the Auckland War
Memorial Museum in New Zealand

Danish architect Bjarke Ingels

Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes

U.S. glass artist Dale Chihuly
Interior design featuring Bambara
sculpture from Mali

Australian choreographer Wade Robson

German mixed-media artist Tilman Hornig
Korean photographer Ahn Sun Mi
Thai fashion designer Vickteerut
Canadian weaver Barbara Heller

Paraguayan folk artist Fermina Benitez has created an estimated 100,000 of these chickens!

Also on this date:

St. Crispin's Day  

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