weird and wacky holidays happening in November

November 18 is Pushbutton Phone Day

On November 18, 1963, the first pushbutton telephone went on sale to the public. It may seem quaint now in the age of mobile phones when many of us don’t even have landlines anymore. But this was cutting-edge technology in its day and remains an integral part of the history of telecommunications.

Industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss, working under contract to Bell Systems, devised the form of the Touch Tone™ Model 1500 telephone with the help of wooden models like this one.

pushbutton phone day

Tone dialing had been in use within Bell Systems’ switching network for several years. With the introduction of the Model 1500, tone dialing was made available to the general public. It featured the same footprint and handset as its predecessor but replaced the rotary dial with a 10-button keypad. (It had no # and * buttons; those keys were added in 1968 with the Model 2500.)

Bell set the stage for the rotary dial phone’s replacement when it showcased the new pushbutton phone’s speed and convenience at the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle, Washington.

The Model 1500 was a natural evolution of the rotary dial telephone, which had represented a transformational piece of technology when it supplanted the old switchboard method of placing calls 44 years earlier. Prior to 1919, operators at centrally-located switchboards manually connected calls by inserting a pair of phone plugs into the appropriate jacks.

pushbutton phone day

A phone subscriber lifted the receiver off the hook and asked the operator to place a call. If the requested number was located on the operator’s switchboard, she would connect the call by plugging the ringing cord into the jack corresponding to the called customer’s line. If that line was on a different switchboard or in a different central office, the operator plugged into the trunk for the destination switchboard or office and asked the operator who answered (known as the “B” operator) to connect the call.

Operators were in the perfect position to listen in on conversations. Their assistance was required for anything other than calling telephones across a common party line. Back then, “party line” did not refer to one of the infamous 900 numbers that pegged credit card limits in the 1980s: compilation here. Party lines were shared by residents, especially in rural areas, where demand outstripped supply, and were notorious for neighbors monitoring each others’ conversations for gossip fodder.

pushbutton phone day

First dial phone–1919

Rotary dial service eliminated the need for human switchboard operators. An “off-hook condition” was immediately detected when a caller lifted the handset. The sound of the dial tone signaled that the automatic exchange was ready to receive dialed digits. Pulse tones defined by the length of each rotation of the dial were processed and a connection established to the destination telephone.

Pushbutton Phone Day

The touch tone system introduced in 1963 greatly improved upon the speed of the rotary dial’s pulse method of routing calls. It also entertained teenagers who enjoyed keying songs into their parents’ phones using its musical notes. This sometimes resulted in huge phone bills when one of those tunes happened to begin with a 1 or a number within a local area code that incurred long-distance charges.

The Pushbutton Telephone Songbook was published in 1971 to address the problem with instructions about how to safely play songs without running up long distance charges. The book sold more than 500,000 copies.PushButton Phone Day

Today’s cellular phones don’t need a dial tone because they parse and send whole phone numbers at once. Some include a simulated dial tone as a familiar aural cue to the owner that a “line” is available. Jitterbug phones, marketed directly to seniors, incorporate this comforting feature.

For the most part, these technologies are rapidly fading from memory. The phone is more ubiquitous than ever, having made the leap from our homes to our pockets. Many young people have never touched a rotary phone or heard a dial tone. So today we take time to remember the innovations that brought us to this moment in time.

Happy Pushbutton Phone Day!

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays

November 12 is Guinness World Records Day

Today is Guinness World Records Day, when hundreds of thousands of people around the globe will try to make it into the famous book.

Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday said, “Guinness World Records Day unites people across the planet from all walks of life, all of whom have one common goal – to become the greatest in the world at something.”

While today’s records are now being set, let’s take a look at a few recent successes.

Skateboarding Dog

In Lima, Peru, a skateboarding bulldog named Otto passed through 30 pairs of legs, earning him the Guinness World Record for Longest Human Tunnel Traveled Through by Skateboarding Dog.

guinness book of world records skateboarding bulldogguinness book of world records skateboarding dog tunnel

Thirty people faced in one direction and stood with their feet apart to allow the three-year-old English Bulldog, to freely pass through the human tunnel without being led or touched.

A crowd gathered to watch the cute canine’s record-setting attempt. The video clearly shows that Otto was not simply rolling along. He was steering, leaning and course-correcting with his paws.
guinness book of world records day skateboarding dogGuinness World Records adjudicator Sarah Cusson witnessed the event and presented Otto and his proud owners Luciana Viale and Robert Rickards with an official certificate. The record has yet to be broken.

Basketball Wizardry

Exhibition basketball team The Harlem Globetrotters celebrated Guinness World Records Day 2015 by achieving seven incredible world record titles at the Talking Stick Event Arena in Arizona, USA.

Farthest Kneeling Basketball Shot Made Backward–60 feet 7.5 inches (18.47 meters)

guinness book of world records day harlem-globetrotters-furthest-kneeling

Handles Franklin

 Longest Underhand Basketball Shot–84 feet 8.5 inches (25.81 meters)
guinness book of world records day Harlem-Globetrotter

Hammer Harrison

 Longest Basketball Shot Made Blindfolded–69 feet 6 inches (21.18 meters)–Thunder Law

Furthest Blindfolded Basketball Hook Shot–50 feet 3.5 inches (15.32 meters)–Big Easy Lofton

The Globetrotters also set records for Most Basketball Three Pointers Made by a Pair in One Minute, Longest Duration Spinning a Basketball on the Nose (7.7 seconds) and Most Basketball Slam Dunks in One Minute (19).

Find these and many more basketball world records here.

Stunt Parking

On November 12, 2015, Alastair Moffatt successfully reversed a classic Mini Cooper into a parking space, leaving a combined distance of just 34 centimeters between his car and the vehicles in front and behind.

Pedal to the floor, Alastair performed a dramatic J-turn, then a hand brake turn, to slot into an almost impossibly small space and break one of the most competitive records in the stunt driving field:

Tightest Parallel Parking in Reverse

An on-site official confirmed that Moffatt bested the previous record of 35 centimeters by 1 centimeter. (That is less than 13.39 inches!) The video is short, amazing and definitely worth watching.

Puppy Love

Let’s bookend the fun with another talented pooch. Purin, a nine-year-old Beagle, earned her place in the 2015 Guinness Book of World Records when she “saved” 14 mini soccer balls, smashing her previous record of 11.

Most Balls Caught by a Dog with the Paws in One Minute 

She also holds the record for Fastest 10 Meters Traveled on a Ball by a Dog, after she balanced on an inflated ball and crossed the finish line in 11.9 seconds.
most-balls-caught-by-a-dog-with-the-paws-in-one-minute-fastest-10-m-on-ball

Check out thousands more records in the Guinness Book of World Records 2016 print edition, on its official website and YouTube page. Have a chart-bustingly great day!

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays

November 11 is Air Day

Take a deep breath. Air keeps us alive. With the notable exception of anaerobic bacteria, living things need oxygen to survive. Not pure oxygen, mind you. That would be too much of a good thing. Air (usually) has just the right mix of gases and, for that, we owe it a debt of gratitude. If Air were sitting on the barstool next to you, you’d slap it on the back and buy it a drink.

But Air Day doesn’t celebrate Earth’s unique blend of gases.

Air DayNovember 11, 1929, was named Air Day by Governor Lawrence Judd to commemorate the first commercial air service flights between the Hawaiian Islands. Two Sikorsky S-38 planes flew from John Rodgers Airport, later renamed Honolulu International Airport, to the Big Island with a stop on Maui. Forty-nine military planes escorted them as far as Diamond Head; six accompanied them all the way to Hilo. 

Four planes were put into service on the route. More than 10,000 passengers flew on Inter-Island Airways in 1930, its first full year of service, an astonishing number considering there were only eight seats on each plane. Cruising at about 110 miles per hour, the flight, including the stop, took about three hours. 

Impressive. We suggest a couple of other air-related festivities worth celebrating.

Air Guitar Day – Air guitar is a form of dance and movement in which a performer pretends to play a non-existent guitar, including riffs and solos. It requires exaggerated strumming and picking motions and often includes lip-synching.

Air guitar is used to simulate loud electric or acoustic guitar music. The 21st Annual Air Guitar World Championship was held August 26, 2016, in Oulu, Finland. American air guitarist Matt “Airistotle” Burns won first place.

Air Hockey Day– Two players compete to score goals on a special low-friction table. Traditional tables blow a cushion of air through tiny holes onto the surface to increase play speed. Others eschew machinery and use a slick, often plastic, surface to reduce manufacturing costs.

Touchscreen tables are available but are not yet recognized by the United States Airhockey Association, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in October with the 2015 World Air Hockey Championships at the University of Houston, Texas.

Would you like to help make Air Guitar Day and Air Hockey Day official? Use this directory to find the phone numbers of your Congressmen and call now.

Have a happy Air Day!

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays

November 10 is International Accounting Day

international accounting day pacioliWhat’s so exciting about International Accounting Day? On November 10, 1494, Italian mathematician and Franciscan friar Luca Bartolomeo de Pacioli published “Summa de Arithmetica, Geometria, Proportioni et Proportionalita” (Everything About Arithmetic, Geometry and Proportion).

It included a detailed description of double-entry bookkeeping, called the Method of Venice. Although this technique had been practiced for centuries, Pacioli’s treatise was the first of its kind in print and earned him the title of “Father of Modern Accounting.”

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Many in modern times have followed in Pacioli’s footsteps, with varying degrees of success.

Chuck Liddell is a former UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion whose fighting skills have helped make mixed martial arts a mainstream sport. He also is a trained accountant, with a BA in Business and Accounting from California Polytechnic University. No one will be making any “boring bean counter” jokes to him.

Kenny G. is a world-famous saxophonist whose smooth jazz sounds have sold more than 75 million records worldwide. He also graduated magna cum laude from the University of Washington with a degree in accounting, which he credits with helping him manage his finances early on in his career and paving the way for future success.

John Grisham earned a degree in accounting, intending to become a tax attorney. Instead, he decided to pursue criminal law. His first novel, A Time to Kill, was based on evidence he observed at trial. He has written 27 legal thrillers, 9 of which were made into movies, and has over 300 million copies in print.

In 1962, Mick Jagger was studying accounting and finance—on scholarship—at the London School of Economics when he formed the Rolling Stones with Keith Richards and Brian Jones. We think you’ll agree that worked out for the best.

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Need more proof that accounting is cool? Click here to apply for a job at the FBI! According to the site:

Accountants have been woven into the fabric of the FBI since its creation in the summer of 1908, when a dozen bank examiners were included among the original force of 34 investigators. Today, around 15 percent of agents employed by the Bureau qualify as special agent accountants.

How many are there, exactly? We could tell you, but then we’d have to kill you. (Not really; we just don’t know.)

Happy International Accounting Day!

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays