strange, bizarre and kooky holidays in February

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

National Champion Crab Races Day

Today is National Champion Crab Races Day. How did it get its start?

There’s only one Kentucky Derby, there’s only one Indy 500, and there’s only one crab race – the NCRA.”

So says Jim Morgan, who founded the National Crab Racing Association (NCRA) in 1979. His first act was to appoint himself “Commissioner for Life,” preventing the possibility of being voted out, a problem which plagues other sports.

Next, he went looking for a few good crabs. For six months, he scoured Florida for world-class racers, to no avail. Fate intervened one day on a beach in Siesta Key where he struck up a conversation with the head of Florida Marine Research (FMR), the number one importer of hermit crabs in the world.  Thirty-seven years later,  their business relationship is still going strong.

national champion crab races day

FMR crabs in designer shells

Crabs with the most potential are put through a rigorous training program to develop discipline, skill and a winning attitude. As with all athletes, only the most outstanding racers make the cut.

Crabs with the right stuff join the roster of the official racing circuit. Each year one champion receives the prestigious Morgan Trophy, the NCRA equivalent of college football’s Heisman Trophy.

A racer’s professional career lasts only six months; it’s a physically demanding sport. After retirement, they are adopted by good families to live out their lives in comfort.

Crabs in captivity may live only one year but with regular activity, other crabs to socialize with, and a visually stimulating “crabitat,” can live up to 20 years. See Hermit Crabs for Dummies to learn more.

Since 1979, the NCRA has toured the USA and Canada. (Quarantine laws prevent travel for overseas competitions.) It hosts many races at fairs, festivals, seafood restaurants and corporate events.

Have a happy National Champion Crab Races Day! And don’t keep it to yourself—that would be shellfish.

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

Do a Grouch a Favor Day

Today is Do a Grouch a Favor Day. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary gives this definition of grouch:

Noun /ˈgrau̇ch/: A habitually irritable or complaining person

Origin: probably alteration of grutch grudge; from Middle English grucche, grugge, from grucchen

First Known Use: circa 1895

Synonyms: bear, bellyacher, complainer, crab, crank, croaker, crosspatch, curmudgeon,fusser, griper, grouser, growler, grumbler, grump, murmurer, mutterer, sourpuss, whiner

It defines favor as a kind or helpful act that you do for someone. Today is the day to look around for a grouch. They’re everywhere; sometimes you’ll even find one in the mirror.

do a grouch a favor day

Now, do something nice for that grouch: give up your place in line, reach something down from a high shelf, hold a door open. Don’t expect to melt a grouch’s heart in one day. With any luck, you could start a thaw. The only way to guarantee results? Try doing it every day. But whatever you do, don’t explain why you’re doing a kindness and never, ever use the word grouch!

Have a happy Do a Grouch a Favor Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays