August 31 – Eat Outside Day

Posted on August 31, 2015

Even though a lot of people are probably going to school or work this particular Monday, today is probably all about saying “Goodbye” to summer – one last “Hurrah.”

So grab your picnic basket or get out there to your grill, and eat outside today.

One thing I have never done, except when I am camping, is eat breakfast outside. But Southern California (where I live) can get pretty hot outside during the other mealtimes, so I'm thinking breakfast might be the best meal to Eat Outside toDay!

And of course late tonight, a fire-ring campfire with s'mores would be the perfect end to summer!

Breakfast en plein air...

  • Here and here are some great ideas for a picnic breakfast. 

And campfire goodies...

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August 30 – Rose Festival in St. Lucia

Posted on August 30, 2015

At this time of the year, the Caribbean island of St. Lucia has an unusual sort of rivalry: flower society versus flower society!

There are two rival societies, La Rose and Les Marguerite. The first, as you can imagine, celebrates the rose; the latter honors the daisy. Since the most commonly spoken language in St. Lucia is St. Lucian Creole (a blending of mostly French words with African grammar), I should tell you the name of the two societies in that language: La Woz is “The Rose,” and La Magwit is “The Marguerite Daisy.”

Each group has weekly meetings, and each has a female singer called a Chantwelle. And each Chantwelle has to compose Belairs, which are tunes sung in Creole, that praise her own society and teasingly “insults” the other!

Of course the Chantwelles perform their Belairs at those weekly meetings, in song and dance, and people play along with sax, violin, banjo, or other instruments. Generally all the flower society members join in singing the choruses. The society members play games at these meetings.

La Rose has its festival today – Les Marguerite hold one in October – and there are religious services, parades, feasting, a royal court, and of course a whole lot more singing and dancing.

A rose of any other color...

It's interesting to me that we have a very clear idea of what rose-colored glasses, rosy cheeks, and the color “rose” all refer to: pink!

But not all roses are pink!

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International Whale Shark Day

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August 29 – International Bat Nights

Posted on August 29, 2015

Like Bat Appreciation Day, International Bat Nights celebrates the many, varied species of bats. This year, IBNs are August 29 to August 30 (the last full weekend in August).

I'm sure you know that bats are the only mammals capable of true flight. You might also know that bats range in size from tiny – the bumblebee bat is only a bit larger than an inch long (3 cm) and 0.07 ounces (2 g) – to surprisingly large – flying foxes (which are of course bats, not foxes!) have wingspans up to 6 feet (1.8 m)!

Bats live all over the world, including in rain forests, mountains, farmland, temperate forests, and even cities – but they don't live in polar areas. (Oh, and a some islands are bat-less.)

Most bats prefer warm areas, but those who live in areas with cold winters either migrate or hibernate.

Bat guano
I really like to go on cave tours, and many caves are places where bats like to hang out either during the day or during cold weather. Because of this, many cave tours include pointing out piles of guano (bat poop)! 

At Carlsbad Caverns, NM, summertime visitors can watch millions of Mexican free tailed bats head out of the cave every evening! 

At Kartchner Caverns, AZ, rangers close half of the tours each summer so that the one to two thousand common cave bats who use the “Big Room” section of the caves as a nursery will not be disturbed. The Big Room is only open to people during the time the bats don't use the cave!

Bats in a cave

To find out more about bats, check out this video or some of the bat stuff over at KidZone

Build a bat house to help bats living in your area! Here's how. 

Did you know...?

  • Although different bat species eat different things – from fruit to pollen to insects to blood – most North American bats eat insects. That's one reason people want to help bats survive, and many people build and erect bat houses. Even small bats can eat from 2,000 to 6,000 insects EVERY NIGHT! A single little brown bat can eat 1,000 mosquitoes in just one hour! And colonies of bats commonly eats hundreds of TONS of insects every night.

  • Many agricultural products such as fruits (bananas and mangoes, for example) and nuts (cashews and almonds, for example) rely on bats for pollination and seed dispersal.

  • Bats are the largest group of mammals in the world. About one fourth of all species of mammals are bats!

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August 28 – Anniversary of the Peace Palace

Posted on August 28, 2015

Did you know that, on this date in 1913, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands
opened a Peace Palace in The Hague? (The Hague is the seat of government in the Netherlands.)

The Peace Palace is considered by many to be the seat of international law, because it houses the International Court of Justice. This is the main court of the United Nations. The Peace Palace also houses the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the Hague Academy of International Law, and a large international law library.

Unfortunately, less than a year after opening the Peace Palace, Europe became embroiled in World War be followed not so long after by World War II!

Still, the striving for peace continues. Fifty years to the day after the Peace Palace was opened, Martin Luther King, Jr., gave a speech urging peaceful protest for civil rights, and psychologist and linguist Steven Pinker has documented the fact that violence and war are decreasing and have drastically decreased. Believe it or not, we are living in the most peaceful time in humanity's existence!

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August 27 – Anniversary of Women's Revolt Day in Guinea

Posted on August 27, 2015

Once upon a time, in 1977, the President of Guinea, in Africa, created a new law

that all agricultural products (mostly food) had to be delivered to huge state-run cooperatives, which would then sell the food.

In other words, people could no longer sell the food they grew in traditional markets!

That was going to ruin many people with small farms, and all the vendors in the markets.

Many of these people who were sure to be hurt by the new law were women. And the women decided they were not going to take follow the new law!

The market women protested the law. Protest is good, and protesting unjust laws is very, very good. Unfortunately, the protest turned into a riot – and riots hurt people and possessions, which is bad! Still the protests, which spread all around the country, did end up forcing the president to change the law and to make small-scale trading (buying and selling) legal again.

According to several sources, women's organizations in Guinea hold demonstrations and marches every August 27 to remind themselves that they have power and can exert influence.

The nation of Guinea has a ton of problems, but here are a few of the beauties of the country:

Mount Nimba

Cape Verga

the Grande Mosquee, in Guinea's capital city of Conakry

Islands called Iles de Los

To learn more about Guinea, check out this earlier post.

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