August 31 – Independence Day in Kyrgyzstan

Posted on August 31, 2014

Another “-stan” nation that used to be part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), Kyrgyzstan is landlocked and mountainous and politically unstable.

Like most of the nations that became independent when the USSR broke apart, Kyrgyzstan declared its independence in 1991. Since then there have been ethnic and political party conflicts, two different “colored revolutions,” and general unrest.

You may be wondering, what's a ”colored revolution?”

These are widespread movements that have used nonviolent resistance such as demonstrations and strikes to protest authoritarian and corrupt governments. Students tend to big in these protest movements. The reason that they are called “colored” is because each revolution adopted a flower or color as its symbol. From the Yellow Revolution in the Philippines in 1986 to the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004 Lotus Revolution in Egypt in 2011, there have been many of these movements worldwide.

Kyrgyzstan's colored revolution is called the Tulip Revolution, or sometimes the Pink Revolution. It rose up in response to an unfair election in 2005, and unfortunately it was more violent than many colored revolutions. It suffered from less communication and coordination, with students in one area adopting the color pink as a symbol and students in another area adopting yellow.

Still, the movement did succeed in forcing the president to resign, and a new government was formed. However, the capital was looted during the demonstrations, and the new government fell prey to conflicts between various factions and, probably, a connection to organized crime.

There were more protests in 2010, and another president eventually left his job (and the country). Unfortunately, the transitional government was not able to control the violent clashes occurring around the country, and the nation seems to be hanging onto its status as a parliamentary republic by a thread.


Horse riding is important in Kyrgyz culture. It is said that Zyrgyz people are born on a horse, and an ancient proverb maintains that horses are the “wings of the Kyrgyz.”

One reason that the horse is so important is that the traditional Kyrgyz life is nomadic, and people go from place to place with their herds and their horses and their yurts.

The national sports of Kyrgyzstan reflect the importance of horses in that culture. In one sport, teams of horse riders wrestle for possession of the headless carcass of a goat; in another, riders try to shoot at and break a thread, dropping a metal jumby to the ground, as they gallop by. In one sport a man chases a girl to win a kiss, and in another riders try to pick up a coin on the ground while at full gallop.

Tourists often take treks across the
beautiful Kyrgyz landscapes on horseback.

Also on this date:

  Independence Day in Trinidad and Tobago

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August 30 – Constitution Day in the Turks and Caicos

Posted on August 30, 2014

I thought I had written about every single island nation in the Caribbean Sea and the nearby portions of the Atlantic Ocean...but there are so many! The Turks and Caicos Islands are an autonomous overseas territory of Great Britain, celebrating self-rule and a written constitution since August 1976.

I was surprised to read that Canadian government leaders have on occasion expressed interest in annexing the Turks and Caicos. Like, several occasions: in 1917, 1974, 1980s, and 2013. Obviously, I'm not talking armed invasion here; instead, I'm talking about leaders of Canada nicely approaching leaders of the Turks and Caicos, and inviting them to join the nation (or T&C leaders approaching Canada).

The Turks and Caicos Islands includes eight main islands and more than 299 smaller islands. Most of the islands are fairly flat, made of limestone, and covered with marshes and mangrove swamps. The weather is generally sunny and fairly dry – but with a high chance of hurricanes during the season (official hurricane season in the Caribbean is June 1 to November 30...although a few hurricanes occur in May and December).

Apparently, the Turks and Caicos
have the only commercial conch
farm in the world.

The T&C Islands feature lots of gorgeous beaches, of course, and also coral reefs and diving and snorkeling and kayaking and all the other lovely things one can do with water! Tourists can visit conch farms and lighthouses, go on a whale watching trip or an eco-safari, tour former cotton plantations or swim in one of the largest pools in the Caribbean...

Learn more about conchs here.

Also on this date:

Frankenstein author Mary Shelley's birthday

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August 29 – More Herbs, Less Salt Day

Posted on August 29, 2014

Heart health and taste buds agree: we should all be eating more herbs and less salt.

Most herbs belong to one of two families:

The Mint Family

lemon balm

The Carrot Family
cilantro (aka coriander)

However, let us not forget that onions and garlic (along with chives, shallots, and leeks) are super important flavor providers that sometimes are classified as vegetables and sometimes as spices (garlic powder or onion salt, for example). You can use more of them and less salt, too, as you work to obtain more flavor and better health!

Celebrate herbs!

  • Learn about the best herbs for certain kinds of dishes. For example, seafood is delicious with a blend of fennel, dill, parsley, and tarragon, whereas poultry is especially yummy with a blend of sage, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, nutmeg, and black pepper. 

Here are some unexpected herb suggestions from Mass Appeal:

  1. Mix poultry seasoning in with ground beef when making hamburgers.
  2. Add ginger powder to the yolks when making deviled eggs.
  3. For a potato salad that has no hardboiled eggs, add lemon zest OR mint to the salad.

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August 28 – Crazy Computer Holidays

Posted on August 28, 2014

Today we celebrate two different computer-related holidays: Crackers Over the Keyboard Day and Race Your Mouse Around the Icons Day.

For Crackers Over the Keyboard Day, we are dared to eat crackers and other crumbly food right over our keyboards – but only in jest, I hope. It's SO not a good idea!

For Race Your Mouse Around the Icons Day, we are encouraged to spend the moments when something is downloading, uploading, or otherwise hourglassing or pinwheeling our computer, instead of just sitting there patiently, by using our mouse to dart around all over our monitors and desktops, trying to “touch” every icon. 

I'm not positive this is such a great bright idea, either. When we do unnecessary computer stuff while impatiently waiting for our computer to do some other stuff...well, maybe it slows the first, important task down?

I don't know that – I'm asking!

When I say "nurture your computer"...
I wasn't thinking of cuddling it!
Instead of torturing your computer today, maybe you could do a 180 reversal on the holiday names and spend the day nurturing your computer.

    this is what my cool wireless mouse
    looks like...It looks like the future!
  • Go wireless, if you can! I love my wireless mouse and keyboard!

Also on this date:

Anniversary of MLK's “I Have a Dream” speech

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August 27 – Moldova's Independence Day

Posted on August 27, 2014

Today Moldova celebrates its Declaration of Independence from the Soviet Union on this date in 1991.

Moldova is located between Romania and Ukraine, and its location was both fortunate and unfortunate in that it was strategically positioned on a trade route between Asia and Europe. The region was made part of the Roman and Byzantine Empires during ancient times, and much later the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. In between, it was invaded again and again: by Goths and Huns, by Tatars and Turks, by Bulgarians and Mongolians and Magyars and many other groups.

Moldova is landlocked (it does not touch any ocean or sea), but it is close enough to the Black Sea to enjoy a mild, generally sunny climate.

Unfortunately, Moldova is the poorest country in Europe. I think the breakup of the Soviet Union particularly affected this region, as it experienced energy shortages and decreases in industrial and agricultural output. The service sector now dominates the economy; the service sector includes things like entertainment, computers, communications, health, media, tourism and hospitality, banking, gambling, education, and law. That sounds like everything, right? What the service sector does NOT include is growing food (farming, ranching), mining, and manufacturing goods.

Some of the things I might want to see, if I were ever to visit Moldova, include Emil Racovita, a karst cave that is one of the longest caves in the world, which has 20 underground lakes and whose rooms are covered with soft, colorful clays in green, blue, red, black and white.



Orheiul Vechi
Another cool thing is the medieval walled cities such as Bender and Soroca. I would also have to check out the rock-hewn churches and other structures of Orheiul Vechi. 

And of course I would want to eat some stuffed cabbage rolls and sauerkraut! Mmm...

Also on this date:

Artist Alexandra Nechita's birthday

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