strange, bizarre and kooky holidays in February

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

February 18 is Cow Milked While Flying in an Airplane Day

Today is Cow Milked While Flying in an Airplane Day.  This self-explanatory holiday commemorates the first documented flight of a cow. (It’s possible one snuck aboard an earlier flight disguised as a businessman but we can’t confirm it.) On February 18, 1930, a cow known as Nellie Jay to locals in Bismarck, MO (then Elm Farm Ollie to fans of bovine aeronautics), boarded a plane bound for the International Aviation Exhibition in St. Louis, Missouri.cow milked while flying in airplane day

Legend has it that the Guernsey cow was chosen for her high milk production: she required milking three times a day for a total of 24 quarts. She also was selected because of her docile, agreeable nature; loading a half-ton cow onto a plane was difficult enough without adding a surly disposition into the mix.

She was helped onto the Ford Tri-Motor aircraft, accompanied by Wisconsin native Elsworth W. Bunce, who would soon become the first man to milk a cow in flight. (It’s never been attempted during space flight, perhaps because of the potentially catastrophic effect of quarts of milk droplets in zero gravity.)

The feat was supposedly done to allow scientists to observe mid-air effects on animals.  A St. Louis newspaper stated the flight would “blaze a trail for the transportation of livestock by air.” However, there is no evidence of a scientist being onboard.

As a publicity stunt, it gained epic proportions. Nellie Jay produced 24 quarts of milk, which were packaged into paper cartons and parachuted to spectators who’d gathered along the route to watch the historic flight. Charles Lindbergh reportedly drank a glass of it.

There are a few minor problems with this story which has been, ahem, milked for all it’s worth in books, on historical websites and blogs. First, the trip was only 72 miles long. The Ford Tri-Motor has a normal cruising speed of 90 miles per hour. We know the cow was a statistical outlier for her ability to produce 24 quarts per day, but how could it produce that in such a short flight?

Maybe the plane just flew back and forth on the run or circled around for hours so there would be more time for her to do her thing? The Ford Tri-Motor can carry a total of 345 gallons of fuel. At cruising speed, the fuel burns at up to 75 gallons per hour. The tanks would be dry in a little over 4.5 hours, still not enough time for Nellie Jay. It would have required a mid-air refueling.

St. Louis weather in February 1930 ranged from a low of 20° to 81° Fahrenheit, so it’s possible that people would have gathered outside to watch aviation history and get the chance to drink some warm sky milk. But we can’t find any news source that publicized the route. And again, we’re stuck with the implausibility of the airborne cow expressing milk at such a high rate.

And the stuff about Lindbergh? He could have been there. We’ll let you know once we’ve combed through every biography of the aviator for news of his participation in dairy history. Until then, we have the photo of Nellie Jay aka Elm Farm Ollie about to board the plane. After her flight, she was also called Sky Queen. One more and she could have had a name for each of her four stomachs. She lived to be ten but her fame lives on.

Have a happy Cow Milked While Flying in an Airplane Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays