Archive | October, 2013

Reptile Awareness Day

October 21 is Reptile Awareness Day!

No one knows how Reptile Awareness Day, or “RAD,” came into existence, but it has become an important day to bring awareness to significant concerns of reptilian life. Reptiles all over the world are facing threats of habitat loss and extinction, so encouraging education about the different types of reptiles, their natural environments, and the ecological challenges they face can help keep these cold-blooded creatures alive and safe.

Living reptiles have scales, are cold-blooded, and (with a few exceptions) lay eggs. They include turtles, tortoises, crocodilians, snakes, lizards, and tuatara. Because they are cold-blooded, they depend on the warmth of the sun to fuel their metabolic rates. Reptiles originated about 310-320 million years ago during the late Carboniferous period where they evolved from an extinct amphibian subclass. Today there are over 6,500 species of reptiles in the world, and it is estimated that there are about 300 reptile species that are considered endangered or threatened. They are some of the most diverse creatures on the planet, and are found on every continent except Antarctica. Since they are both predators and prey, they play an important part in the food chain by performing tasks that are valuable to each ecosystem they live in. These tasks include pollination and seed dispersal, controlling pest species,  and being food for numerous other species.

The main threats that exist for the reptile species today include habitat loss, change of climate, and exploitation through wild capturing for reptilian farming and uncontrolled souvenir and pet trade. Invasive species have also been a threat to native reptilian populations in certain areas of the world.

REPTILES Magazine and have come up with tons of ways you can celebrate Reptile Awareness Day. Here are a few:

1. Donate to a reptile conservation or legal program like Amphibian Ark, Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, and the United States Association of Reptile Keepers.

2. Bring your reptile to school for show and tell! All ages from elementary school to college could benefit from learning about your favorite reptile.

3. If you don’t have a reptile of your own, but have always wanted one, today is a great day to bring home a new pet!

4. Visit your local zoo and check out their reptile exhibit.

5. Write a letter to your local and national representatives concerning legislation that would affect reptile rights, and the health and safety of reptiles.

7. Make plans to go to a reptile show before the next year’s Reptile Awareness Day.

8. Print out some of ReptileChannel’s Fun & Games to share with your friends or children.

9. Join a herptology club or society.

10. Make a check-up appointment for your reptile at your local reptile vet.

Reptiles are an important part of our ecosystem – educate yourself and help make your friends aware of their importance, so they can remain on our planet for many generations to come!

Sources:, Wikipedia, Save Our



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World Osteoporosis Day

Milk glassWhat is World Osteoporosis Day?

World Osteoporosis Day (WOD) was founded by the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) to inform people on how they can prevent this silent bone disease by raising awareness about osteoporosis and the risk factors that can lead to the disease.

Learn more about osteoporosis, symptoms, risk factors, prevention and treatment here.

When is World Osteoporosis Day?

October 20 of each year.

How does IOF raise osteoporosis awareness?

Each year, the IOF focuses on a particular theme related to osteoporosis  and launches a year-long campaign to raise awareness of osteoporosis prevention, diagnosis and treatment. This year’s theme is “3 Steps to Unbreakable Bones: Vitamin D, Calcium and Exercise.” Find out how to build strong bones and prevent osteoporosis here.

Photo Source: By Stefan Kühn (Own work) CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
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National Seafood Bisque Day

October 19 is National Seafood Bisque Day!

With the weather starting to get chilly, the celebration of this warm, rich soup couldn’t have come at a better time.

Seafood bisque is a smooth, creamy French soup made from lobster, crab, shrimp and/or crayfish. Bisque gets its name from the phrase “bis cuites,” which means “twice cooked,” as the crustaceans used in the soup are cooked twice.

Celebrate National Seafood Bisque Day by making one of the recipes below for dinner tonight.

Provencal Seafood Bisque

Spicy Seafood Bisque

Seafood Bisque


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Nobel Prize for DNA Discovery

Watson and Crick with their model of DNA.

Watson and Crick with their model of DNA.

On October 18, 1962, molecular biologists and geneticists James Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. The prize was awarded “for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material,” also known as the structure of DNA.

James Watson, a 23-year-old American research fellow, went to work at Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory in England in the 1950s, and it was here that he met Francis Crick, a 35-year-old graduate student. The two both had a fascination with learning how genetic information was stored in molecular form and began to entertain the idea that they could figure out a molecular model of  DNA’s structure. These ideas were not far fetched – in 1943 medical researcher Oswald Avery suspected that DNA carried genetic information, and that it may actually be a gene. Most thought the gene might be a protein, not a nucleic acid, but still no one knew exactly how it worked or it’s molecular structure. Linus Pauling found that most proteins were alpha helix shaped in 1948, spiraling like a spring coil. A few years later, Erwin Chargaff, a biochemist, deduced that certain nitrogen bases in DNA always occurred in a one-to-one ratio. All of these hypotheses about DNA helped in the discovery of DNA’s structure.

Watson and Crick were not the only people actively trying to break ground on the subject of DNA’s structure in the early ’50s. Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin at King’s College in London were also studying DNA, using X-ray diffraction to beam X-rays through the molecule, creating a shadow picture of the molecule’s structure. Feeling patronized by most men in her field, Franklin often worked alone, and discovered using the X-ray diffraction images that DNA in its higher humidity form had a helical shape, however, she was not ready to make this announcement until she gathered evidence on its shape in its other form too.

Frustrated with Franklin, Wilkins traveled to Cambridge in January of 1953 and shared these findings with Watson and Crick, unbeknownst to Franklin. Shortly after Wilkins shared this data, Watson and Crick made a model consisting of two chains of nucleotides in a helix shape, one going up and one going down like a spiral staircase. They also used the findings Chargaff had deduced about matching base pairs to interlock the middle of the double helix and keep the distance between the two chains consistent.

Watson and Crick wrote about their findings in the April 1953 issue of Nature and explained that because each strand of DNA is a template for another, DNA molecules can reproduce themselves during cell division which allows organisms to accurately reproduce themselves with the exception of incidental errors, or mutations.

In 1962, when Watson, Crick, and Wilkins won the Nobel Prize, Franklin had already died, and the Nobel Prize cannot be given posthumously. Some wonder if Franklin would have been given the award for her findings if she had been alive.

This discovery is known as one of the most important in biological work in the last 100 years, and it opened up a whole new world of scientific discovery.

Sources: wellcometrust: The Human Genome,, PBS Evolution Library, Wikipedia


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Evel Knievel’s Birthday

Daredevil Evel Knievel performing a wheelie in one of his famous jumpsuits.

Daredevil Evel Knievel performing a wheelie in one of his famous jumpsuits.

October 17 is Evel Knievel’s birthday! Evel Knievel was an American daredevil, best known for his 75 ramp-to-ramp motorcycle jumps between 1965 and 1980.

Evel Knievel was born Robert “Bobby” Craig Knievel in Butte, Montana in 1938. He received the moniker “Evil Knievel” after being put in jail for stealing hubcaps where there was also a man with the nickname “Awful Knofel.” Years later, he legally changed it to “Evel Knievel” to match his last name and because he did want to be considered “evil.”

He was an avid thrill seeker and his first motorcycle was a Harley-Davidson he stole when he was 13. His grandmother bought him a Triumph when he was 16. As he grew, he began to participate in local rodeos and ski jumping events. In the 1950s, he joined the army where he was a volunteer paratrooper and became a pole vaulter for their track team. When his time in the army was over, he returned to his hometown and met and married Linda Joan Bork. After returning home and getting married, Knievel spent some time playing semi-pro and professional hockey. To try and make money after his first son was born, Knievel spent short amounts of time helping hunters shoot big game with his guide service called Sur-Kill and selling insurance.

When he was denied a promotion at the insurance company, he moved his family to Washington. In Sunnyside, Washington, he began working at a motorcycle shop, and it was here that he learned how to do a “wheelie” and ride while standing on the seat of his bike. While working at the shop and trying to figure out more ways to support his family, he recalled the exploits of famed stunt-car driver,  Joie Chitwood, and decided he could do similar stunts on a motorcycle.

To attract visitors, he promoted and set up an event himself where he announced that he would jump his bike over a 20-foot box of rattlesnakes and two mountain lions. In front of 1,000 people he performed the stunt, but fell short and hit the box of rattlesnakes. Despite his failure to completely clear the jump, the audience was awestruck and Knievel knew he could turn this into something bigger and better.

In 1965, Knievel formed Evel Knievel and His Motorcycle Daredevils, and they began to tour the West coast performing motorcycle tricks. After retaining a series of injuries, the show broke up and Knievel continued to perform on his own. He performed a jump over the fountains at Ceasar’s Palace in 1968 which was highly publicized, but resulted in Knievel coming short of his landing and fracturing his skull, breaking his hip, several ribs, his wrist and both ankles. He also suffered a concussion and was in a coma for 29 days.

To keep himself in the public eye, Knievel started rumors in 1968 that he would jump across the Grand Canyon, but by 1971, he realized that the U.S. Department of the Interior was never going to allow him to perform such a feat. Since this publicity stunt was foiled, Knievel searched for something just as daring to keep fans interested. He soon discovered Snake River Canyon in Idaho which was wide enough, deep enough, and on private property. He leased 300 acres of land to perform the stunt.

After hiring an aeronautical engineer to build him a rocket-powered cycle he attempted a 1,600 foot jump over the canyon in 1974, but his parachute deployed too early causing him to drift to the canyon floor and sustain some minor injuries. The stunt earned him a whopping $6 million.

Later that year he performed other money-making stunts such as jumping over 13 single-deck AEC Merlin buses at Wembley Stadium in London and an aquarium tank containing 13 sharks in Chicago. Both stunts left him with injuries.

Knievel retired from major stunts after his shark jump and mainly made public appearances to help launch the career of his daredevil son, Robbie Knievel. To this day, Evil Knieval holds a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records as the survivor of “most bones broken in a lifetime,” totaling up to 433.

Over the following years, Knievel went through several lawsuits including one after he assaulted his former press agent and lost many of his sponsorships and another more recent suit with hip hop artist Kanye West who used Knievel’s trademarked image in one of his music videos.

Knievel’s health began declining in the late ’90s due to Hepatitis C, which he contracted after one of his many blood transfusions. In 1999, his liver began failing because of the disease combined with his heavy drinking, and he was only given a few days to live. He received a successful liver transplant, however, and it wasn’t until the early 2000s, when he was diagnosed with diabetes and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, an incurable lung condition, that his health once again started to decline. In 2007, at the age of 69, he died in Clearwater, Florida.

His life legend as “The Last Gladiator” lives on today, as daredevils around the world try to match his motorcycle feats. Watch the video tribute below with some of Knievel’s most daring motorcycle feats!

R.I.P. Evel Knievel Tribute Video by mysteryshopperjob

Sources: Wikipedia, NY Times

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Marie Antoinette Beheaded

Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, in coronation robes by Jean-Baptiste Gautier Dagoty, 1775.

Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, in coronation robes by Jean-Baptiste Gautier Dagoty, 1775.

On October 16, 1793, Marie Antoinette, who was the Queen of France from 1774-1792, was beheaded at the Place de la Révolution in Paris, France.

The future Queen of France was born Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna in 1755 in Austria to Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor and Empress Maria Theresa. As part of a plan to “unite” Austria and France after the Seven Years’ War, and due to the fact that several of Maria Antonia’s female relatives died during a smallpox outbreak, it was decided that she would marry Louis XVI, Dauphin of France. At the age of 14, Maria Antonia married Louis XVI by proxy and was renamed Marie Antoinette, Dauphine of France.

At first, Marie Antoinette was considered to be very popular with the people of France. Her first official appearance at the Tuileries in Paris was reported to have 50,000 people crying out to see her. The general public at this time was swooned by her beauty and personality. The French Court had a different opinion of her due to the long-time tensions between France and Austria.

Since the beginning of her marriage and her move to Versailles, the Dauphine received letters from her mother which were often filled with criticism. These criticisms included how Marie Antoinette could not “inspire passion” in her husband who occupied himself with his hobbies, or that she was no longer pretty and had lost her grace. Because of the lack of attention she received from her husband and the incessant criticism of her mother, Marie Antoinette began to spend money extravagantly on clothing and gambling. This extravagant spending would later work against her and how the people of France viewed her.

Marie continued to perform her wifely duties and finally began to bear children with her husband after they were married for seven years. Her spending habits did not cease, and she became known for her over-the-top fashions in the French court. Louis XVI sent large amounts of money to America to aid the American Revolution, which pushed France into further debt and raised taxes, even further negatively affecting the poorer people of France. This combined with increasing unemployment across France and poor crops caused the French people to be filled with resentment for the French monarchy by the late 1780s. Marie became an obvious target for hatred because of her Austrian heritage and her spending habits while the people of France were starving.

On July 14, 1789, revolutionaries stormed the French prison of Bastille, marking a turning point in the French Revolution. That October, Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and their surviving two children were taken from the Palace of Versailles and put under house arrest at the Tuileries of Paris. In September of 1792, it was officially declared that the French monarchy had fallen. Louis XVI was separated from his family and was executed by guillotine in January of 1793.

Mourning the loss of her husband, Marie Antoinette became severely depressed, refused to eat, and suffered from tuberculosis and possibly uterine cancer. She was charged with treason on the morning of October 16, 1793 after two days of court proceedings and was paraded around Paris for several hours in an open cart with her hair cut off. She was beheaded around noon that same day and her last words were, “Pardon me sir, I meant not to do it,” after she stepped on her executioner’s foot.

Sources: Wikipedia,

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I Love Lucy Day

I Love Lucy DayOctober 15 is I Love Lucy Day!

I Love Lucy, an award-winning sitcom starring quirky husband and wife duo Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, premiered on American television on this day in 1951. The show’s premise revolved around Desi, a Cuban-born singer and bandleader, and Lucy, a housewife with the uncanny ability to get her husband or herself in trouble whenever she tried to break into show business (which was quite often).

The show’s concept was based off of a radio show Ball starred in for two years which was mildly popular called “My Favorite Husband.” Taking this concept to the new media of television and bringing her real-life husband with her, I Love Lucy was born. The show skyrocketed Lucille Ball into stardom after spending years as a B movie actor because of her knack for slapstick physical comedy, and her creation of a character America simply could not live without. I Love Lucy was the first scripted TV show to be shot in front of a live studio audience on 35 mm film. Rather than just shooting with one camera, the show was shot with three, so that the director would not have to retake the same scene several times to get all the different shots needed. Scenes were often not re-shot even if the actors made mistakes with their lines. Instead, they would improvise to get extra laughs from the live audience.

During the show’s run, Desi and Lucy created their own production company called “Desilu” to produce the show themselves and thus have greater control over their own work. Part of Desilu’s legacy in television was the creation of the rerun. When Lucy gave birth to her and Desi’s two children, she needed time to recover, so older episodes of the show were rerun much to America’s approval.

I Love Lucy DayAfter an incredibly successful 10 years, Lucy and Desi decided to cancel the show. The overwhelming pressures of the industry and living a life in the spotlight became too much for the couple, and they were soon after divorced. Ball became the president of Desilu and shortly after made a return to television with The Lucy Showonce again portraying the well-loved character she created and featuring one of her I Love Lucy co-stars, Vivian Vance. Though it never reached the status that I Love Lucy did in sitcom history, The Lucy Show (later called Here’s Lucy) enjoyed a successful combined twelve-year run.

I Love Lucy won five Emmy awards including “Best Situation Comedy” and “Best Comedienne” (Lucille Ball) plus several other nominations. The show was ranked #2 on TV Guide‘s “50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time” in 2002, second only to Seinfeld, and was also listed on Time magazine’s “100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME” in 2007.  Reruns of I Love Lucy are still broadcast all over the world, and it has an American audience of 40 million each year.

Watch a montage of some of the most hilarious moments of I Love Lucy here!

Sources: Every Day is SpecialWikipedia,

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Be Bald and Be Free Day

October 14 is Be Bald and Be Free Day!

Be Bald and Be Free Day is a day for all the bald-headed people out there to accept, appreciate and celebrate their baldness and the freedom that comes with it. Just think…you never have to spend money on haircuts, hair care products, brushes or combs or waste time getting your hair cut and styling your hair in the morning. See? Being bald isn’t so bad. Today – better yet, every day – don’t you dare cover up your bald head. Be bald and be free…and be proud of it!

For those of you who aren’t bald, show your bald-headed relatives and friends respect by laying off the bald jokes today.

Note: Be Bald and Be Free Day is copyrighted by Wellcat.


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National Yorkshire Pudding Day

Yorkshire Pudding 03-30-2008October 13 is National Yorkshire Pudding Day!

Yorkshire pudding isn’t anything like the creamy-textured pudding you’re probably thinking of. Think of it as a combination of a popover (but baked in a pan, not individual cups) and a soufflé, as Yorkshire pudding will deflate soon after you take it out of the oven.

A dish that originated in Yorkshire, England, Yorkshire pudding is made from a batter consisting of flour, eggs, butter and milk. The batter is poured over roast beef or prime rib drippings, baked in the oven and served either before or with a meal of roast beef and gravy.

Celebrate National Yorkshire Pudding Day by making this traditional England dish for your family tonight:

Yorkshire Pudding

Beef Rib Roast with Yorkshire Pudding


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Columbus Lands in the New World

On October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas for Spain. Columbus was born in Italy, but began the first of four voyages from Spain to Americas in 1492 with sponsorship from the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, also known as the Crown of Castile. Columbus’ voyages marked the beginning of the European exploration and colonization of the American continents.

On August 3, 1492, Columbus departed from Spain on his first voyage with three ships in tow – the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa María. Columbus’ first stop was in the Canary Islands, which were owned by Castile, where he restocked supplies and made repairs to his ships. After a five week voyage, a lookout on the Pinta spotted land at 2 A.M. on October 12, 1492 and alerted the crew and the captain of the Pinta, Martín Alonso Pinzón. Pinzón in turn alerted Columbus by firing a gun, although Columbus later claimed he had already spotted land a few hours earlier, thereby claiming for himself the lifetime pension promised by the Spanish monarchs to the first person to sight land.

The land he sighted is now the Bahamas, but Columbus called it San Salvador. The indigenous people living there, the Lucayan, Taíno, or Arawak, were peaceful and friendly and called the land Guanahani. Noting their gold adornments, Columbus took some of the Arawaks as prisoners and forced them to take him to the source of their gold.

Columbus also explored the coast of Cuba, sailed up the northern coast of Hispaniola, and made his last stop in the New World at the Samaná Peninsula where he encountered hostile natives before returning to Spain in March of 1493. Word of Columbus’ findings spread rapidly through Europe upon his return.

Columbus made three more round-trip voyages to the Americas from Spain and brought with him priests, farmers, and soldiers who would be colonists in the New World. They then began launching missions dedicated to converting New World natives to Christianity.

Though still thought to be the true “discoverer of America” by most, Christopher Columbus’ true legacy is slightly different. The indigenous population of America were its real first “discoverers,” and Columbus was preceded by the Vikings at L’Anse aux Meadows as the first Europeans to explore the New World. However, Columbus managed to outshine his viking predecessors by bringing word of the New World back to Europe. By bringing the continent to Western attention, Columbus initiated the relationship between the two landmasses. “Columbus’s claim to fame isn’t that he got there first,” explains historian Martin Dugard, “it’s that he stayed.” Because of the impact of his first visit to America, Columbus Day officially became a federal holiday in 1937.

Sources: Wikipedia,

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