international caps lock day

Today is INTERNATIONAL CAPS LOCK DAY, celebrated on June 28 and October 22 each year. Derek Arnold created the unofficial holiday in October 2000 to bring attention to those who abuse the caps lock key and, by extension, everyone who receives their emails, texts, and Internet screeds.

Arnold claimed he had a higher purpose in mind, stating:

International Caps Lock Day is in fact a testament to the small mindedness of certain Western individuals: the majority of the world’s population writes in scripts which have no concept of letter casing. Therefore it is advised to laugh at anyone who invokes this day as an excuse to dismiss local typographical conventions: they are simply making an ass out of themselves.

That’s a lofty goal, but we suspect its popularity has more to do with the joy of hitting the caps lock key and capitalizing with impunity.

With the rise of the Internet has come the evolution of netiquette, which dictates that writing in capital letters is considered shouting: boorish, rude and aggressive. Although many protest this reading, it has become an accepted interpretation of the practice.

Why do we celebrate this twice a year? Arnold added the second iteration to honor Billy Mays, the beloved pitchman who said everything in capital letters, who died on June 28, 2009.

Looking for the easiest possible way to celebrate? If you use Chrome, there’s an extension for that. Designed by Baptiste Candellier, on each holiday, it will make you unable to type in lower case and display almost every web page in upper case.

Or download Billy Mays Caps Lock by John Haller, another fan of the infomercial king. When you hit the Caps Lock key, you’ll hear Billy Mays say:

“Hi, Billy Mays here!”
“It’ll make your whites, whiter!”
“Order right now and we’ll double the value!” or
“Here’s how to order!”

When we first observed this holiday on October 22, 2015, we had a few niggling observations about the site’s HTML listed the title as “internetonal caps lock day home page” and the page itself featured a photo of Billy Mays captioned, “GOOD NIGHT, SWEAT PRINCE.” Arnold also stated he was on SNAPCHET, which we can only assume is a social media network for country western music fans, and pointed out the caps lock key with the description “AT THE BOTTOM, WHERE IT SAY CASP LOCK.”

While we realize that correcting grammar and spelling is considered annoying by many these days, we can’t help but wonder: here are two holidays predicated upon the notion of irritating everyone else, yet there is no International Editors’ Day? THAT AIN’T ISN’T RIGHT.

On November 3, 2015, we noticed that the site had been taken down. With the help of the Wayback Machine, we captured the archived page. The Internet is forever….





Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

June 26 is Barcode Day

barcode day

Today is Barcode Day. On June 26, 1974, at Marsh’s Supermarket in Troy, OH, a 10-pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum became the first product bearing a barcode to be rung up by an electronic scanner.

That historic moment had been a long time coming. In 1952, American inventors Norman J. Woodland and Bernard Silver were granted a U.S. patent for a classification method and apparatus utilizing identifying patterns. Diagrams showed code in straight lines and concentric circles with varying degrees of reflectiveness. Unfortunately, they were ahead of their time and eventually sold off the patent for $15,000.

Railroads began to use bar codes in the late 1960s; companies encoded identifying information onto plates mounted on the sides of each car. Trackside scanners read them and transmitted the results so owners could keep track of their rolling stock on a grand scale.

As usage spread,  the establishment of a universal standard became imperative to avoid confusion between disparate systems.  In 1970, a company called Logicon, Inc. created the Universal Grocery Products Identification Code (UGPIC) for use throughout the retail industry.

The UGPIC evolved into the Universal Product Code (UPC) symbol set, still used in the U.S. today. The first piece of equipment built to use UPC was installed in the Troy, OH, grocery store which, along with that pack of gum, made history.

barcode day

visual approximation

In 2002, Forbes magazine reported that the same pack of gum was on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History. While the scanner is housed there—no longer on view—a staffer has clarified that the 10-pack of Juicy Fruit accompanying it is not the 10-pack of Juicy Fruit, just a representation.

Our guess is that the gum was chewed over 40 years ago without a thought to its cultural significance, which is okay if you think about it. It served its purpose, maybe even got stuck to more than a few shoes—it had 50 sticks in it, after all.

Happy Barcode Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

Single Tasking Day

Today is Single Tasking Day. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to do just one thing at a time, without participating in the sham called multitasking.

single tasking day

Unlike computers, humans are not wired to work on many complex problems at once. Switching focus quickly from one thing to another can make us perceive that we’re managing multiple streams of information simultaneously, but each shift requires energy.

Our overall processing power becomes less efficient, even when dealing with things we do habitually—like scanning our phones, texting and going through emails—that don’t seem to require much attention but are, in fact, tying up the executive functions of our brains.

A study at Gresham College in London found that multitasking caused subjects’ problem-solving performance to drop by the equivalent of 10 IQ points. MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller says our brains aren’t wired to multitask. “When people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost.”

Per McGill University professor Daniel Levitin, “Asking the brain to shift attention from one activity to another causes the prefrontal cortex and striatum to burn up oxygenated glucose, the same fuel they need to stay on task. And the kind of rapid, continual shifting we do with multitasking causes the brain to burn through fuel so quickly that we feel exhausted and disoriented after even a short time. We’ve literally depleted the nutrients in our brain.”

So feed your brain; just do it slowly so you don’t get a cramp. And have a happy Single Tasking Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

February 14 is National Ferris Wheel Day

Today is National Ferris Wheel Day, a holiday that celebrates the birth of George Washington Gale Ferris on February 14, 1859. At age 33, he designed the first Ferris Wheel, which was introduced at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.

national ferris wheel day

The exhibition was also known as the Chicago World’s Fair and commemorated the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ landing in the New World. It was one year late but, considering that Columbus actually landed on an island in the Caribbean, thought he was in Asia and never set foot on what would become the United States, maybe we should let it slide.

national ferris wheel day

The Ferris Wheel was America’s answer to the Eiffel Tower, the jewel of the 1889 Paris Exposition. When completed, the ride stood 264feet high, with a circumference of 825 feet, and had 36 cars, each 24 feet long, 13 feet wide and 10 feet high, weighing 26,000 pounds. Screens were fitted over the glass windows on each side. Doors locked securely; firefighting equipment was included. Conductors rode in each car to answer questions and allay fears.

Cars held up to 60 passengers at a time, with a total capacity of 2,160. It took 20 minutes to complete two revolutions, stopping at six platforms to admit and unload passengers then making a nine-minute nonstop rotation. A guard was posted on each platform to signal the operator when it was safe to resume.

national ferris wheel day

The Ferris Wheel opened on June 21, 1893, carrying up to 38,000 passengers daily. A ticket cost 50¢. More than 1.4 million people rode it over the next 19 weeks. On clear days, it was possible to see the fairgrounds, the surrounding city and countryside of four neighboring states. Three thousand of Edison’s new lightbulbs mounted on the wheel made it a spectacle at night as well. The ride had a perfect safety record.

national ferris wheel day

After the fair closed, George Ferris became convinced he’d been cheated out of his share of the reported $750,000 profits the ride earned for exhibition management. His investors and suppliers pursued him for nonpayment. He was also sued by makers of similar “pleasure wheels” for patent infringement. He spent the next two years embroiled in litigation.

Although he eventually proved himself to be his ride’s rightful inventor, the efforts took an emotional and physical toll on him. In 1895, instead of selling the wheel to an amusement park like Coney Island, Ferris paid to have it dismantled and rebuilt in Chicago’s Lincoln Park, hoping to earn a profit from ticket sales. The venture was a failure.

In what would prove to be his last attempt to pay debts, he sold most of his interest in the business he’d built, G.W.G. Ferris & Company, to his partners. He died of typhoid fever on November 22, 1896, at the age of 37. After his death, it was revealed that he was bankrupt and his wife had left him the year before.

On June 3, 1903, the Chicago Tribune reported that the Ferris Wheel, with $400,000 in outstanding debts, had been sold at auction for $1,800 to a wrecking company called Old Truck, which took it down and reassembled it for the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri. It’s estimated to have carried 2.5 million passengers from its inaugural day in 1893 through its last day of operation in 1904.

In 1906, with neighbors complaining about the eyesore that remained, the Ferris Wheel was reduced to rubble with dynamite. Demolition experts had to use twice the amount of TNT they thought would get the job done. The first 100 pounds brought down the wheel but didn’t destroy the foundation. Workers drilled holes into the concrete and dropped in 100 pounds’ worth of dynamite sticks. What was left was hauled away as scrap.

national ferris wheel day

national ferris wheel day

Perhaps what we should remember about Ferris are his contributions as an engineer to the modern usage of steel in building construction and the experience he gave to millions. As journalist Robert Graves reported in 1893, “It is an indescribable sensation, that of revolving through such a vast orbit in a bird cage.”

Happy National Ferris Wheel Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays