March 31 – National “She's Funny That Way” Day

Posted on March 31, 2016

Jessica Williams
We love to laugh. Some of us even live to laugh. Laughter is not always the best medicine, but it can be a great help with fighting pain and alongside other treatments in cases of illness of all kinds.

Celebrating comedians is a great idea, and celebrating female comedians on a special day is a great idea.

Melissa McArthy
This is because there is still a HUGE gender gap in comedy. Some comedy club bookers tell very funny female comedians that “women aren't funny.” Even if women get booked in a comedy gig, they usually get paid a lot less than male comedians. Audiences often say, “I don't like female comedians” before they've even heard a particular woman's act. Comedian Vanessa Fraction says “you have to have tough skin and fearlessness” to be a female comedian.

So today, take some time to watch and talk about and honor funny women!

Here are a few of my favorites:

One of the funniest women in Hollywood isn't known for
playing comedy roles - but she is really fun and funny in
interviews and backstage and on the red carpet: Jennifer Lawrence.

Also on this date:

Cesar Chavez Day

Plan ahead:

March 30 – National Doctors Day

Posted on March 30, 2016

Today is set aside to honor and thank doctors!

These members of the community get far more education and training than most of us – including ongoing training. The perception that doctors are extremely well paid can be misleading – because most doctors get their first job almost a decade after their peers and have a tremendous amount of student debt!

Here is an infographic that talks about “the deceptive salary of doctors.” 

They do such important – vital! – work, we want to make sure that they feel valued. Hopefully the actions taken today can help doctors realize that we know how important they are!

March 30 was chosen as Doctors Day because on this date in 1842, the first ether anesthetic was used in surgery. Eudora Brown Almond, a doctor's wife living in Winder, Georgia, pushed for Doctors Day to be observed. On this date in 1933 she mailed greeting cards to local doctors and she put flowers on the graves of deceased doctors. Ever since then the holiday has been growing. By 1991, President George Bush proclaimed the holiday.

The official flower of the holiday is a red carnation.

I think a nice bouquet of carnations, homemade baked goods, handmade cards – all would be appreciated by your doctor, today or any day!

Here are some ideas to inspire your own cards:

Also on this date:

IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad's birthday

Plan ahead:
And here are my Pinterest boards for:

March 29 – Anniversary of the First Mercury Fly-by

Posted on March 29, 2016

Mercury is one of the four rocky inner planets (and the smallest one - that's it on the far right), so it seems it would be fairly easy to send robotic space probes to this planet. But Mercury is so close to the Sun, it was tricky for the NASA scientists and engineers to design Mariner 10 to be tough enough to endure that environment.

The fact that Mercury is so close to the Sun
makes it difficult for us to see it in our skies.

It tends to be lost -- or almost lost -- in the
Sun's glow during dawns and sunsets.
Even though the Sun is the ultimate resource necessary for all of Earth's life – giving the light and heat that we need – being close to the Sun means getting a whole lot of radiation, including way too much heat as well as punishing doses of high-energy radiation.

So the Mariner needed shielding. It needed thermal blankets and sunshades. The sunshade scientists devised ended up being aluminized Kapton and glass-fiber sheets covered with Teflon! The solar panels, of course, could not be covered – their whole purpose was to soak up the sun's light so that they could make energy that the space probe needed – but solar panels do not work if they get too hot. So scientists created a way to tilt the solar panels so that the right temperature was maintained. Finally, the hydrazine rocket nozzle had to face the Sun in order to work; the exposed parts of the rocket nozzle were painted with special paint to reduce the heat flow to the rest of the probe.

Mariner 10 was launched on November 3, 1973, and it did its first fly-by on this date in 1974.

Mariner 10 ended up flying past Mercury three times. It mapped between 40% and 45% of the planet's surface by taking 2,800 photos. It discovered that Mercury has an extremely thin and unstable atmosphere made up mostly of helium, and it discovered that the planet has a magnetic field, which shows that it has a large iron-rich core.

This is one of the Mariner 10 photos
of Mercury.
The radiometer readings reveal that Mercury has nighttime temperatures of – 183 degrees Celsius ( -297 degrees Fahrenheit) and maximum daytime temperatures of 187 degrees Celsius (369 degrees Fahrenheit). So that's way more than twice as cold AND twice as hot as Earth.

Mercury endures the greatest temperature
extremes of any planet in the Solar System.
You may think to yourself, okay, I get the twice as hot part, since Mercury is so much closer to the Sun. But why are the nights more than twice as cold as Earth?

The answer is that it is Earth's atmosphere that keeps us relatively warm at night, compared to places with little or no atmosphere – like the Moon and Mercury. In those places, the heat from the rocks radiates away quite quickly, and then the cold of space is all that is left...

Also on this date:

Plan ahead:
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March 28 – Mule Day in Columbia, Tennessee

Posted on March 28, 2016

I have already written about “Mule Day” on October 26, the anniversary of the arrival of mules in the United States. 

This is another celebration of “all things mule,” a tradition in Columbia, Tennessee, for almost 170 years. 

It began as Breeder's Day, which was a livestock show and mule market held on a single day once a year. But now it is a week-long festival that includes all sorts of shows and competitions.

Here are some of the things Mule Day festival-goers can enjoy:
  • a wagon train
  • an arts & crafts and flea market
  • Pickin' and Grinnin' (music and dancing)
  • clogging
  • a blue grass music fest
  • a pool tournament
  • a liars' contest
  • a parade
  • a knife auction

And, if that doesn't sound mule-oriented enough:
  • jackpot mule races
  • a mule auction
  • a riding mule show
  • log loading and pulling competitions

  • a miniature donkey and mule show
  • driving and riding mule shows
  • a gaited mule championship
  • and more!

And of course a ton of food! From ham and biscuits to a “Hee-Haw Chili Supper,” from a pancake breakfast to a bake sale, and loads of food booths.

The biology of mules

You probably know that a mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. Horses and donkeys are different species, and they have different numbers of chromosomes. Horses have 64 chromosomes, and donkeys have 62. Mules end up with 63 chromosomes. Because of the different structure and number of chromosomes, most mules are infertile – a pair of mules can't themselves have offspring.

Chromosomes are the threadlike organizing “packets” that contain most of the DNA of an animal (or other organism). A gene is an individual segment of DNA, and chromosomes contain many genes packed together. One way of thinking about it is to say that DNA is in genes, and genes are on chromosomes.

If a male horse and a female donkey have offspring, it is not called a “mule,” but rather a “hinny.” However, it is easier to breed mules than hinnies.

In nature it would be unusual for two species to breed together. So you may wonder why people would bother to breed horses and donkeys. Why do mules even exist?

Because mules are considered by many to have the best of both animals. They are more patient than horses, more sure-footed, more hardy. They live longer than horses and have more endurance for long journeys or heavy loads. They are faster than donkeys, and they are also less stubborn than donkeys (although “mulish” is a word we use for a really stubborn person...hmm...). Mules tend to be larger and more intelligent than either of their parents.

This “best from both” parents is called hybrid vigor.

Also on this date:

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