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May 23 is World Turtle Day

world turtle dayToday is World Turtle Day, a holiday created in 2000 by non-profit organization American Tortoise Rescue (ATR) to celebrate turtles and tortoises and to protect their habitats.

Susan Tellem and her husband Marshall have rescued and re-homed more than 3,000 turtles since cofounding ATR in 1990. Ten years later, they started World Turtle Day because, as Susan told the Huffington Post, “Turtles are not as popular as cats and dogs, so interest, awareness and understanding is pretty slim. This day is a good way to educate people about how to care for turtles, and to learn what danger they’re in and how to be more aware of what they need.”

The oldest turtle fossil found to date was unearthed in 2007 in China’s Guizhou province. Discovered in rocks of the late Triassic Period, it is estimated to have lived 220 million years ago, during the age of the dinosaurs. It is considered a transitional creature, an aquatic turtle that had armor solely on its underbelly and a mouth full of teeth, earning it the name Odontochelys semitestacea (“toothed turtle with half-shell”). By comparison, human evolution dates back a mere 2.5 million years.

While researching the connection between dinosaurs and turtles, we noticed several groups that assert the planet is, in reality, only six thousand years old. Here, one website explains how it knows fossil records have been faked:

According to evolutionists, the dinosaurs “ruled the Earth” for 140 million years, dying out about 65 million years ago. However, scientists do not dig up anything labeled with those ages. They only uncover dead dinosaurs (i.e., their bones), and their bones do not have labels attached telling how old they are. The idea of millions of years of evolution is just the evolutionists’ story about the past. No scientist was there to see the dinosaurs live through this supposed dinosaur age. In fact, there is no proof whatsoever that the world and its fossil layers are millions of years old. No scientist observed dinosaurs die. Scientists only find the bones in the here and now, and because many of them are evolutionists, they try to fit the story of the dinosaurs into their view.

The contention that fossils were not buried with labels must be correct since they died before the existence of tombstones and Post-It notes (or did they?). If a person digs into a garbage dump and finds a ham sandwich ten feet down, mightn’t he surmise, even without the benefit of scientific instrumentation, that it is older than the one his mom made for him that morning, in spite of the fact that he has unearthed it in “the here and now?”

It’s also a fact that no scientist has observed a dinosaur live or die. The logic is indisputable. We’ll go on record and say that no one alive today has ever hung out with Abraham Lincoln. Very few of us have met Stephen King. Yet most of us are pretty sure of their existence, even though they aren’t mentioned in the Bible. (We don’t want spoil the surprise, but one of them is working on a new book right now!)

But we digress. Turtles and tortoises are remarkable animals. Both are cold-blooded, breathe air and lay eggs on land. Generally speaking, tortoises live on land, are poor swimmers and have stumpy feet suited to walking very slowly on land. Turtles spend their time in the water and have streamlined bodies and webbed feet or flippers they are unable to retract.

The illegal pet trade puts tortoises at risk; transportation stresses them and many die during shipment from Russia or other far-flung locations. To combat this problem and reduce the demand for illegal imports, ART urges people to refrain from buying them at pet stores and adopt instead from one of the country’s many turtle rescue groups. Petfinder is an excellent resource, too.

All sea turtle species are listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act, mainly due to bycatch, accidental capture in fishermen’s nets and trawls. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) studies aquatic environments, works to reduce bycatch and develops recovery plans with the goal of increasing sea turtle numbers until they can be removed from the list.

In the meantime, everyone can help by keeping the beach free of litter and watching out when boating in an area where turtles live. If you find a tortoise in the middle of the road, carry it to safety and be sure to point it in the direction it was headed. Otherwise, it will instinctively turn around and walk back into danger.

If you find a turtle and can’t release it into the wild, soak it in tepid water and put it in a box with a lid. Keep it away from pets, children and stressful noises; contact an organization like ATR to help you care for it until a pet rescue group can secure it.

If you’d like to learn more about these fascinating creatures, check out National Geographic‘s article about a newly-discovered giant Galápagos tortoise; Live Science‘s turtle facts; and Mother Nature Network‘s post about 19 weird and wonderful turtle and tortoise species.

Have a happy World Turtle Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

April 16 is National Stress Awareness Day

national stress awareness dayToday is National Stress Awareness Day. It was created in 1992 by Dr. Morton Orman of the Health Resource Network, a nonprofit health education organization.

We’re all aware of stress. Many of us are steeped in it right now. Acute stress can be a positive thing, allowing us to react to upsetting or dangerous situations. But when our lives are filled with seemingly endless problems and anxieties, stress becomes chronic, putting us on constant high alert and exhausting our bodies and minds over time.

Sometimes the most stressful—and inadvertently hilarious—advice doctors, friends and strangers can give is that we must reduce stress. Life is undeniably chaotic. If you can drop everything and move to Bora Bora, by all means, do that.

The rest of us can breathe deeply, look at the sky, take a walk, eat a cookie, hug somebody, draw a bubble bath, watch YouTube clips of kittens. It may not be a permanent fix, but we know what calms us down and makes us happy in the moment.

By the way, if you prefer kale to cookies, be our guest. One thing we don’t recommend right now is picking up a book on stress relief. Maybe tomorrow. Today, have a happy National Stress Awareness Day. Unless you don’t feel like it. No pressure.

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

National Day of the Horse

National Day of the HorseToday is the National Day of the Horse. On November 18, 2004, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed S.R. 452, described as:

A resolution designating December 13, 2004, as “National Day of the Horse” and encouraging the people of the United States to be mindful of the contribution of horses to the economy, history, and character of the United States.

The resolution goes on to state that “the horse is a living link to the history of the United States;” “without horses, the economy, history, and character of the United States would be profoundly different;” and “horses are a vital part of the collective experience of the United States and deserve protection and compassion.”

What the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have failed to do is pass a permanent federal ban on the slaughter of horses for human consumption. The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (AHSPA) was passed by the House on September 7, 2006. It had to be approved by the Senate as well in order to become law. But the bill was sent to a Senate committee, where it languished and eventually died because it was never approved for a full vote.

It was reintroduced on January 7, 2007, and sent to the House Agriculture Committee, which failed to approve it for a vote, thus killing the same bill it had passed four months before. On Jan 17, 2007, the Senate put forth its own version; it, too, failed to reach a vote, officially dying on January 3, 2009, when the 110th Congressional session ended. A bipartisan effort to revive the AHSPA in 2011 went nowhere.

While numerous state legislatures have enacted laws outlawing the practice, the federal government has sidestepped the issue, choosing instead to add language to its budget proposals that will indirectly impact businesses that slaughter horses.

A line item that denies payment of federal inspectors for time spent evaluating horses deprives an operation the opportunity to receive a USDA seal of approval. Without it, the meat can’t be sold for human consumption. (In 2006, the USDA countered by issuing CFR 352.19, a regulation that would allow companies to circumvent the funding ban by paying for their own inspections.)

In 2014, President Obama signed a budget that included the prohibition against funding for horse inspections. Although many hailed it as a momentous step, others saw it as just one more in a series of temporary fixes that must be requested and granted anew with each successive budget proposal. It did (and does) nothing to prevent U.S. horses from being shipped to Mexico or Canada for slaughter, their meat then exported worldwide.

The protection of this majestic animal isn’t all that’s at stake. Horses are dosed with compounds that accumulate in their tissues and can be toxic to humans. Phenylbutazone, a pain medication routinely given to horses, is known to be carcinogenic to people, especially children; trace amounts can cause potentially lethal aplastic anemia.

Since horses aren’t raised for human consumption, there are no regulations in place to protect anyone who might one day consume their meat. That is more of a risk than most of us think. Horse meat has been discovered in, among other things, school lunches and hospital meals. It’s possible that we’ve unwittingly eaten some already.

There is a permanent solution called the Safeguard American Food Exports Act (SAFE), its stated goal:

Amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to deem equine (horses and other members of the equidae family) parts to be an unsafe food additive or animal drug.

Prohibits the knowing sale or transport of equines or equine parts in interstate or foreign commerce for purposes of human consumption.

It was introduced in the Senate on March 12, 2013. What happened?

Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

Clearly, there is more work to be done. Each year, approximately 150,000 horses—including pregnant mares and foals—are packed into trucks and taken to Mexico and Canada. Conditions are deplorable as the only goal is to keep the horses barely alive until they are slaughtered and their meat packaged for sale to humans.

It’s not too late to help. The SAFE Act (S. 1214/H.R. 1942) was revived in 2015 and is still knocking around in committee. Find your Congresspeople on govtrack.us and tell them to keep it alive. Someone should take a stand against this big, cruel business. It might as well be us.

Happy National Day of the Horse!

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays

 

 

November 19 is World Toilet Day

world toilet dayWorld Toilet Day

World Toilet Day was established on November 19, 2001, by the World Toilet Organization to raise awareness of the global need for proper sanitation facilities. Since then, it has grown in scope and recognition. In 2013, the United Nations passed a resolution recognizing World Toilet Day as an official UN international day.

Each year, World Toilet Day has a different theme:

  • 2016’s observance centered on toilets and jobs, pointing out that disease transmission at work, primarily due to poor sanitation and hygiene practices, causes 17% of all workplace deaths. It represented several professions with a unique visual aid.

World Toilet Day

  • The focal points for 2015 were toilets and nutrition. Participants were urged to pose on their commodes like Rodin’s The Thinker, take selfies and post them on the World Toilet Day site. While we’re not sure how that relates to nutrition, we applaud the time-honored tradition of reducing this sculpture to a bathroom humor punchline. world toilet day 2015 thinker logo
  • The 2014 campaign emphasized equality and dignity. (In other words, no self-portraits straining on the john, thank you very much.)world toilet day
  • The slogan in 2012 was “I give a sh*t, do you?” Indonesian stars embraced it in this video.

Every year, World Toilet Day calls attention to the fact that more than 2.4 billion people–about one in three–don’t have access to a toilet. Over one billion must defecate in the open. To raise awareness of this harsh reality, a “see through loo” was set up at the September 2015 Global Citizen Festival in New York City.

What You Can Do:

  • Open your door and share your toilet. (The World Toilet Day site respectfully suggests you clean it first.)
  • Host a mass squat. “Stop, drop, squat and share!” Be advised that the World Toilet Organization will not post bail. Plan your plein-air dump locale accordingly.
  • Share informational tweets such as, “The world’s untreated poop would fill Cowboy Stadium in just two days.” (How can they know that? And why?)

No matter what you do today, doo today or number two today, take some time to celebrate World Toilet Day in your own way. Don’t forget to bring a magazine.

Happy World Toilet Day!

Related:
Global Handwashing Day (October 15)

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays