strange, bizarre and kooky holidays in February

February 22 is World Thinking Day

world thinking dayToday is World Thinking Day. It doesn’t mean we get to lay off thinking the rest of the year. It doesn’t mean the Earth is a sentient being. What is it? Read six (very short) paragraphs to find out.

In 1899, Robert Baden-Powell wrote a field manual for fellow British soldiers called Aids to Scouting. The following year, he was declared a war hero for his bravery in conflict and the book became well-known. It was especially popular with boys, who staged elaborate games based on his instructions about observation and tracking.

After learning of this, Baden-Powell formed the Boy Scouts in 1907. The next year, he published Scouting for Boys, a guide stressing the importance of good deeds and morality. He set up a central office, which registered new Scouts and designed a uniform. By the end of 1908, there were 60,000 Boy Scouts.

In September 1909, 10,000 Scouts attended the first national Boy Scout rally at Crystal Palace in London. Many girls showed up, claiming to be members. Baden-Powell founded the Girl Guides, also known as Girl Scouts in many countries, as a separate entity in 1910, eventually appointing his wife Olave to run it.

The Girl Scouts held its first conference in Oxford, England in 1920. It was held every two years until 1954 and every three years since. The 36th World Conference is scheduled to take place in Tunisia in 2017.

At the fourth World Conference in 1926, delegates met at Camp Edith Macy in Briarcliff Manor, NY, a facility owned by the Girls Scouts of the USA. Participants decided to dedicate a day to thinking of their counterparts around the world and expressing thanks to the organization that brought them all together.

They called it Thinking Day and chose February 22 as the date for its annual observance because it was the birthday of both Robert Baden-Powell and his wife, Olave Baden-Powell. It’s since become known as World Thinking Day and millions of girls celebrate it.

Is all this new knowledge making you crave some cookies? There’s an app for that. The Girl Scout Cookie Finder is available on iOS and Android. Who says history can’t be delicious?

Happy World Thinking 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

National Handcuff Day

national handcuff dayToday is National Handcuff Day. On February 20, 1912, George A. Carney was awarded U.S. patent number 1,017,955 for his “swinging bow ratchet-type” adjustable handcuff.

Prior to Carney’s invention, there was no standard style and handcuffs were heavy and awkward to use. His lightweight design features a freely swinging arm that enables law enforcement officers to secure cuffs on a suspect quickly and easily, with one hand. More than 100 years later, most handcuffs still use the same swing-through structure, with some minor modifications.

James Milton Gill purchased the patent, founded the Peerless Handcuff Company, and in 1914 began to sell the first model based on Carney’s configuration.  The company has been innovating and improving cuff design ever since. In 1932, Peerless introduced the barrel-style key which quickly became the universal standard for all handcuffs.

National Handcuff Day was created in 2010 to honor Carney’s invention. Each year, Peerless and Handcuff Warehouse: The Ultimate Source for Restraints sponsor a contest in which the prize is a free set of cuffs. In 2016, they awarded a pair to the entrant who most closely guessed the weight of this pile. Give it a whirl then read on to find the answer.

If you guessed 49.5, it’s a shame you didn’t enter. You’d have won a shiny new pair of handcuffs. (Sheri Barber took the prize with her guess of 49.)

The contest has since returned to its usual quiz format. Click here to enter this year’s competition. (You could use the internet to help answer the questions. Only you, your flexible ethical standards and your Google search history will know for sure.) Please note that we cannot control any ads you may see or email lists you may be added to as a result of your actions.

Have a happy National Handcuff Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays


February 19 is Prevent Plagiarism Day

Today is Prevent Plagiarism Day, created by freelance writer, columnist and “Queen of Holidays” Jace Shoemaker-Galloway to call attention to the rampant problem of high-tech theft of words, images and ideas that is all too easy in the Internet age.

When does copying and pasting from a source constitute plagiarism? The Harvard College Writing Program’s guidelines help students define and avoid both overt and subtle forms of plagiarism. It’s also an excellent resource for writers trying to determine whether or not someone has met the criteria of a plagiarist.

According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, to plagiarize is:

  1. to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own :  use (another’s production) without crediting the source
  2. to commit literary theft :  present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source

These days, it can seem impossible to fight this thievery. But Shoemaker-Galloway refused to accept the use of her words without permission or attribution. When a particular person ignored several polite requests to remove misappropriated material, she informed the company hosting the offending site and it was taken down as a result.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) became law in 1998 to protect content creators. Copyscape gives specific information about responding to plagiarism. It also has advice on how to prevent it and has a free search function to find out if your web page has been copied. Small SEO Tools checks chunks of text at once. IPWatchdog has further information about the steps to take when writing a takedown letter.

How should you observe this holiday? Take some time to visit these sites, learn about plagiarism, its consequences and what you can do to combat it. And, whatever you do, just be yourself. Happy Prevent Plagiarism Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays