March 31 - National Crayon Day

Posted on March 31, 2018

Do you love crayons?

All the beautiful colors, the slight waxy smell, the shading and color mixing, the use of the tip or an edge or the broad, rounded whole in order to sketch or color or "paint." (People who use oil pastels, which are like elevated crayons, often call their works paintings.) 

Today, take time to renew your love of crayons. Buy a new set, get out your old faithfuls and a sketch pad, or check out a crayon video:

Crayon scratchboard

The white and black lines and shapes in these pieces
(above and below) are made with crayons.
The colors are made with watercolor paint.

And here are a few websites to help you revel in the rainbow of crayons:

There are a lot of ways to make melted-crayon art:

Last but certainly not least, check out Lawrence A. Walker's crayon batik pieces:

Also on this date:

Plan ahead:

Check out my Pinterest pages for:

March 30 – Virtual Vacation Day

Posted on March 30, 2018

What could be better than seeing some of the world's loveliest places?

Plitvice National Park (above) is one of the most
gorgeous places I've ever been.
Bali (below) is still just a virtual vacay for me.

Or the most historic locations - or the most modern cities - or...?

The Roman Forum (above) is one of my favorites of all places
I've visited. Dubai (below) is still just a pipe-dream!

Well, one thing's for sure - it's definitely not better to see those places online. It's not as good to be a virtual tourist - it's not even remotely close to "as good." 


...When you cannot travel, it's fantabulously better to see those places online than to never experience them at all. 

There are so many barriers to travel. Many people don't have the time or the money to travel much or to travel far. Many people deal with language barriers or physical disabilities that would make some travel extra difficult. Most of us will not see most of the world. 

But we live in fantastic times. Not only can we stream amazing documentaries and travel shows, we can also hunt down YouTube videos, tourism websites, Google Earth, and all manner of other internet spots to scratch our "I wanna see..." itch.

Today is the day to take advantage of all this virtual vacation technology - and to look forward to (or maybe even try out) the cutting edge next-step technology. VR headsets are big - and they're hopefully going to get a whole lot bigger! There are even some virtual travel booths in some Thomas Cook stores and some Marriott hotels.

Here are some cool Virtual Vacation ideas:

  • Timelooper is a free app that helps you check out spots today - AND what they looked like in the past!
  • Try the Untraveled Road and the Armchair Travel websites.
  • Google "virtual tour of" everything you have wanted to see. You probably won't find EVERYthing, but you may find a lot!

March 29 – The Hyphen War?

Posted on March 29, 2018

Thank goodness, it wasn't really a "war."

But when a country cannot agree on its name, and passes bill after bill after bill changing the name, angering some people, and changing the name again...

Well, that country might be ready to split.

That's just what happened.

In late 1989, Czechoslovak Socialist Republic became a non-communist country after what is called the "Velvet Revolution." Students and other citizens protested, went on strike - and managed to end the one-party Communist rule over their nation! This change happened without battles and wars, so the revolution was called "Velvet."

This is the location in Europe of the land whose name
went through so many different versions in just a few years.

Some folks thought they should call the new, more democratic nation the Czechoslovak Republic. But Slovak politicians insisted that, coming second in the name, and not having a capital letter, the "Slovak" part waaayyy takes second place instead of being on equal footing.

Their solution? A hyphen: the Czecho-Slovak Republic.

Another suggested solution: the Republic of Czecho-Slovakia.

Apparently, Czech politicians didn't like those ideas, because it reminded them of a painful historical period.

How about the Czechoslovak Federative Republic? The name would be spelled without a hyphen in Czech and with a hyphen in Slovak: Československá federativní republika - or Česko-slovenská federatívna republika.

That's the compromise that lawmakers came up with on this date in 1990. Everyone was happy, right?

Well, I guess not...

In less than a month, the name changed AGAIN to the Czech and Slovak Republic!

The two parts of the nation couldn't even agree on whether the requested bit of punctuation was a hyphen or a dash. Like English, the Slovak language has different names for the two different pieces of punctuation - but the Czech language does not.

Thank goodness, after a peaceful transfer of power from the old communist leaders to a more democratic government, the Czechs and the Slovaks didn't actually fight a war over their name - but they DID eventually decide to split into two different nations: the Czech Republic and Slovakia. That decision was also peaceful, and it's called the Velvet Divorce. It became effective on January 1, 1993.

By the way, the Czech Republic is still futzing around with its name. In 2016 Czech lawmakers decided to shorten the long name ("the Czech Republic") to Czechia, although the long form is still in use for official business. From what I can tell, however, the name Czechia hasn't caught on. And the whole purpose of coming up with the short name was to be catchy...

It will be interesting to see if, a decade or so from now, there have been further changes - or if, perhaps, Czechia eventually does catch on...