Bock Beer Day

shiner bockMarch 20 is Bock Beer Day! A bock is a type of strong lager that originated in Germany. There now are many different types of bocks of different strengths in existence including maibocks or heller bocks, doppelbocks, and eisbocks.

Though we couldn’t find out why Bock Beer Day is celebrated on this day, we did find out that bock beers were first brewed by Germans in the town of Einbeck in the 14th century. Upon its first brews, bocks were dark, malty, and lightly hopped. It wasn’t until the 17th century when brewers in Munich adopted this style and changed the bock to be brewed in a lager style. There are a few varying stories as to why the name “bock” was adopted for the beer. Some say because the people of Munich had heavy Bavarian accents, they pronounced the town Einbeck like “ein Bock,” which literally translates to “a billy goat.” Soon it was shortened to just “bock.” As a visual pun, most bock manufacturers put pictures of goats on the labels. Others say that the beer was only brewed during the sign of the Capricorn goat and thus goats were always associated with the beer. The beer became a symbol of the end of winter and the beginning of better times. Doppelbocks were first created to sustain German monks during Lent’s 46 days of fasting, and it soon became known as “liquid bread.” The hearty beer had enough carbohydrates and calories to keep the monks alive, and drunk!

beer calendarBock beers have become popular around the world. Bock beers are stronger than other modern-day lagers, and are known for their dark amber brown hue. Bocks are bottom fermenting lagers, and their strong brew is usually smoothed out by being lagered (kept in cold storage) for a few extra months. They are usually lightly hopped so as not to mask the malty flavor. Several different subcategories of bocks also exist today. The first of these are known as maibocks or heller bocks and are paler and more hopped than normal bocks. Doppelbocks, like those similar to what monks used to drink, are stronger and maltier. The last kind is known as an eisbock, and it is made by partially freezing the beer and then removing the frozen water, making the beer stronger.

Wherever you are in the world, you can celebrate today by tossing back a cold bock beer! Click here to find all the different variations of bocks found in the world.

Sources: Wikipedia, Beer Advocate, Bayou City Sipping

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Bob Dylan Releases Debut Album

bob dylanOn March 19, 1962, American folk singer Bob Dylan released his first album titled Bob Dylan. Dylan’s now famous first album was very different than any pop music at the time. Little did critics at the time know that Dylan would help to popularize and define folk music of the time.

In the early 1960s, “The Twist” was at the height of its popularity, with many charted songs at the time honing in on this dance craze and using it as the focal point of their songs. The Beach Boys had also started to peak in popularity with their charged surfer rock tunes. The Kingston Trio was the most well known folk group at this time, and Dylan sounded nothing like them. He had been performing in coffee shops in New York City for the past year, singing traditional folk songs in his nasal voice, which most didn’t believe would be plausible for radio.

Legendary talent scout John Hammond saw great potential in the young singer after he met Dylan at a recording session for Carolyn Hester in which Dylan was playing harmonica. Shortly afterward, Dylan received a rave review from music writer Robert Shelton in the New York Times. Upon seeing this, Hammond signed Dylan to a five-year contract and a month later, they were in the studio recording. Dylan’s whole album only took six hours to cut and cost $402.

The album contained a variation of old traditional folk songs which were standard in Dylan’s live sets at the time. The only two songs on the album that were original songs written by Dylan were “Talkin’ New York” and “Song to Woody,” which was a tribute to one of Dylan’s biggest inspirations and favorite folk singers, Woody Guthrie. Dylan later reported that he wrote the song a few weeks after moving to New York. Dylan made the trip to New York in part to meet his musical hero (Guthrie), who was living at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in New Jersey.

Dylan’s first album was the only not to make it on to the Billboard charts, and some in the record industry began referring to Dylan as “Hammond’s Folly.” Though the album only sold 5,000 copies in the first year, Hammond was not discouraged and soon brought Dylan back into the studio to begin recording his second album. At this point, Dylan had more original songs under his belt and had shifted to writing about political topics. His songs spoke of the social unrest of the world, and Dylan became a cultural figurehead of the 1960s, chronicling the historical and political happenings of the time in his lyrics.

Sources: Wikipedia, Rolling Stone, The Guardian

 

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Oatmeal Cookie Day

oatmeal cookiesMarch 18 is Oatmeal Cookie Day! Exactly what they sound like – oatmeal cookies are cookies made of ground oats, usually with the addition of nuts, raisins, or chocolate chips.

The origin of this day is unknown, but oatmeal cookies have existed as a tasty sweet snack since the 1800s. Oats themselves were first cultivated in 7,000 BC in ancient China, making them one of the earliest cereals known to man. The predecessor to oatmeal cookies – oatcakes – were carried and consumed by soldiers in the Middle Ages when they needed something to boost their energy before battle. Over the years, the recipe for oatcakes was tweaked and updated and made into the sweeter oatmeal cookies we know today.

Oatmeal cookies are considered healthier than most other cookies because oats are exchanged for most of the flour used in normal cookies, and only one egg is typically needed to bind ingredients together. The addition of other ingredients depends on your specific taste. Sometime honey or molasses is used in place of sugar to sweeten the treats. Other popular additions include nuts, raisins, and chocolate chips. Though oatcakes do differ from the modern-day oatmeal cookie, many of the same spices are still used. These cookies are also known for being a great source of iron and fiber.

To celebrate today, try some of these delicious oatmeal cookie recipes we’ve dug up:

Sources: Punchbowl, CNN’s Eatocracy, Foodimentary

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Alexander McQueen’s Birthday

scan02.tifOn March 17, 1969, British fashion designer Alexander McQueen was born.

McQueen was the youngest of six children born to taxi driver Ronald McQueen and social science teacher Joyce McQueen in Lewisham, London. While in primary school, McQueen began making dresses for his three sisters and announced his intentions to eventually become a fashion designer. At age 16, he dropped out of school and began working on Savile Row, a famous area of London well-known for offering shoppers made-to-order men’s suits. After working for a few different tailors, McQueen finally moved to Savile Row to further develop his career in fashion. He eventually began working for costume designers Angels and Bermans and developed the theatrical and extravagant style he later became known for.

The blossoming designer moved to Milan for a short period of time and worked for designer Romeo Gigli. In 1994, he returned to London and enrolled in Central Saint Martin’s College of Art & Design, from which he received a masters degree in fashion design. His final school collection was inspired by Jack the Ripper and bought in its entirety by eccentric London stylist Isabella Blow. She has been credited with “discovering” McQueen and bringing him into the public eye.

His women’s designs became popular, with his pieces like “bumster” pants (pants with an extremely low-cut waistline) receiving considerable recognition. Shortly after graduating, he was appointed the Chief Designer for Louis Vuitton-owned haute couture house, Givenchy. McQueen worked for the house from 1996-2001, often pushing the limits of what people expected of the house and of the world of high fashion in general. His rebellious nature led to controversy. One famous incident was when McQueen used an amputee model in a Givenchy runway show, who walked down the catwalk with intricately carved wooden legs. Although he felt as though his talents were being held back, McQueen won British Designer of the Year in 1996, 1997, and 2001 – all during his time at Givenchy.

Pieces from McQueen's Fall/Winter 2006 collection.

Pieces from McQueen’s Fall/Winter 2006 collection.

With his full potential yet to be untapped, McQueen was able to strike out on his own when Gucci bought a 51 percent stake in McQueen’s private company in 2000. He left Givenchy the next year when his contract with the house ended. McQueen was honored with British Designer of the Year once more and was named International Designer of the Year in 2003 by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. He opened stores in New York, Milan, Las Vegas, London, and Los Angeles, and his success skyrocketed even more with production of his fantastical and spectacular runway shows. One of his most famous shows was for his 2006 Fall/Winter line which included an ethereal floating hologram of model Kate Moss.

Although he celebrated incredible success and achievement in the fashion industry, McQueen began to suffer from depression after his long-time friend Isabella Blow committed suicide and his mother died of cancer two years later. Haunted by the deaths of these two important figures in his life, McQueen was found dead in his apartment after an apparent suicide.

McQueen’s story is one admired by many, as he came from a lower-class family and skyrocketed himself into international fame. His remarkable designs and runway shows have inspired designers all over the world, and his fashions are worn by many celebrity patrons to this day including the likes of Lady Gaga, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rihanna and more.

Sources: Biography.com, Wikipedia, The Biography Channel

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Everything You Do Is Right Day

March 16 is Everything You Do is Right Day! Could there be a more perfect day than one where everything decision you make is the right one? We think not.

We’re not sure who came up with this holiday, but who cares? We all know that there are certain moments that are terrible and you wish never happened, and other times when everything seems wonderful and perfect. There’s no doubt about it – I think we’d all pick the latter. Life has it’s ups and downs, and today is one where we celebrate all the good because everything will go our way!

It actually happens that yesterday, March 15, was Everything You Do Is Wrong Day, so now that you got all your blunders out of the way, it’s time to pick up the pieces and do everything the correct way.

We hope you got out of bed on the right side of the bed this morning! Now go have an amazing breakfast with someone you love, do everything right at work (or play), and enjoy the day.

Sources: Holiday Insights, Yahoo News, Examiner.com

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Julius Caesar Dies

On March 15, 44 BC, Julius Caesar, Roman Consul, statesman, general, and Latin prose author was assassinated. He played a crucial role in the events leading up to the fall of the Roman Republic and the subsequent rise of the Roman Empire.

During Caesar’s time, Romans were reluctant to give praise to a king. Caesar was a powerful member of the Roman senate, and although he turned down the idea of kingship when it was presented to him, he held steady in the position of “dictator for life.” This action is what turned many against Caesar and plots for his assassination began to take hold. More disdainful feelings started to brew in the minds of many when Caesar’s face appeared on Roman coinage. This angered many because that honor was usually only given to deities.

The conspirators behind the attack on Caesar were called “the liberators.” At the head of this group was Marcus Brutus, who was somewhat torn with his relationship with Caesar. Caesar had spared the life of Brutus and promoted him in office even though Brutus had fought against Caesar in the Roman civil war. Brutus’s family, however, was known for defying those who were power hungry, and thus Brutus’s animosity towards Caesar grew.

Cassius Longinus was also a main conspirator and worked to get Brutus to join him in plotting against the “dictator for life.” Caesar was scheduled to leave Rome on March 18 to begin help fighting a battle, so the conspirators knew they had to work fast. Upon entering a Senate meeting, Caesar was apparently handed a note, warning him of his fate, but he failed to read it. He was soon surrounded by senators holding daggers, and was stabbed 23 times. In all, there were 60 conspirators involved in the attack.

The “Ides of March” has been marked in history as the famous day when Caesar met his demise.

Sources: Wikipedia, History.com, National Geographic

 

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Albert Einstein’s Birthday

einstein tongueOn March 14, 1879, Albert Einstein was born at at Ulm, in Württemberg, Germany. Einstein is a theoretical physicist best known for developing the general theory of relativity which is known as one of the two pillars of modern physics.

Einstein was born into a non-practicing Jewish family. His father was a salesman and engineer who founded a company which manufactured electrical equipment and his mother was a housewife. The future physicist attended elementary school in Munich, where he excelled in his studies. He took up violin, and although he was very bright, he had a hard time dealing with the incredibly strict Prussian education he received at school. He also struggled with speech problems. His slow cadence caused him to pause often while speaking to think about what he was going to say next. When he was older, Einstein made note of two events in his childhood that were of significant importance. The first was at age five when he was shown a compass for the first time and was intrigued by the invisible forces that moved the needle. The second was at age 12 when he found a geometry booked and studied it thoroughly.

In the following years, Einstein fell under the tutelage of a family friend and Polish medical student, Max Talmud. Talmud introduced Einstein to more advanced philosophy and mathematics, and Einstein based his first scientific paper, “The Investigation of the State of Aether in Magnetic Fields,” on his findings in a book about light beams and electricity given to him by Talmud.

When his family’s business began to fail in Munich, they moved to Italy, but Einstein was left behind to finish school. Because of his age he was likely to be drafted soon, so he used a doctor’s note to excuse himself from school and followed his family to Italy. His parents became deeply concerned that he would have no employable skills without a formal education, and would possibly face problems for also dodging the draft. Luckily, he was able to enroll in the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School in Zürich, Switzerland as long as he finished his high school education in Switzerland, which he did at age 17.

Einstein liked to study alone while he was in school, and this preference caused him to skip classes and gain unfavorable recognition from some of his professors. One professor he asked for a letter of recommendation wrote such terrible things about Einstein that he was turned down from every academic job he applied for. Because of this and because of his parent’s disapproval of her, Einstein was not able to marry the woman he was in love with, Mileva Maric, for fear that he would not be able to take care of their family life. Luckily, he was able to find a job as a clerk in a patent office, and his father gave Einstein his approval to marry Maric before he died. The two married in 1903, and they had two children together.

While working in the patent office, he had a revelation. One of his jobs was to evaluate patent applications for electromagnetic devices. He began to think deeply on the transmission of electrical signals and electrical-mechanical synchronization. Einstein had studied physicist James Maxwell’s electromagnetic theories on the nature of light, and discovered something even Maxwell hadn’t – that the speed of light remained constant. This thought violated Isaac Newton’s laws of motion and led to Einstein to form the principle of relativity.

einstein backgammon1905 is known as Einstein’s “miracle year.” This is the year when he submitted his doctorate paper and had four papers published in a well-known physics journal. These papers’ subjects were the photoelectric effect, Brownian motion, special relativity, and the equivalence of matter and energy. These papers dramatically shaped the course of modern physics and brought Einstein into light in the academic world. “The world’s most famous equation” was first brought up in Einstein’s paper on matter and energy. It foreshadowed the development of nuclear power by suggesting that tiny particles of matter could be converted into huge amounts of energy.

His papers were mostly ignored until he was commended by influential physicist of his generation and founder of quantum theory, Max Planck. He then began receiving invitations to give lectures and was offered positions at many prestigious schools. He accepted a position as the director of the Institute for Physics at the University of Berlin, a position which he held from 1913-1933. His busy schedule took a toll on his marriage and he began having an affair with his cousin, Elsa Löwenthal, who he eventually married. He promised Maric the money he would receive from winning the Nobel Prize, if he ever achieved that honor.

In 1915, Einstein completed his masterpiece – the general theory of relativity. In 1921, he received word that he had been awarded the Nobel Prize, but because relativity was still a controversial topic, he received the award for his explanation of the photoelectric effect.

His world travels became even more extensive and he traveled to countries like Sri Lanka and Japan. Everywhere he lectured, he was greeted like a rock star, with massive crowds gathering to hear him speak. As World War II began and Nazism was prevalent, he moved to the United States to spread pacifism, but also to urge President Roosevelt to begin nuclear bomb construction to beat the Germans to the task. This decision was something he later regretted because of nuclear weapons’ great capacity for destruction.

Einstein became a United States citizen in 1940 and began teaching at Princeton University. He was known during the time for his staunch criticism of racism, stating that it was America’s “worst disease.”

His legacy was so great that even after his death in 1955 at the age of 76, Einstein’s brain was removed by the pathologist to try to understand what made him so intelligent.

Sources: The Telegraph, Biography.com, Wikipedia

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National Coconut Torte Day

coconut torteMarch 13 is National Coconut Torte Day! A torte is a luscious multi-layered cake dessert filled with heavy creams or fruits. You can deduce then that a coconut torte is a multi-layered creamy treat topped with coconut goodness. Yum!

What makes a torte different from a regular cake, you say? Tortes differ from cakes in that they are usually made with very little or no flour. Instead, breadcrumbs or ground nuts take the place of flour as the base and sugar, eggs, and other flavorings are added as well. In between the spongey layers of the torte, you will usually find buttercream, whipped cream, mousse, jam, icing, or fruit. The torte is then typically cooled, glazed and garnished. Because today is National Coconut Torte Day, be sure to top your torte with coconut, and maybe add some to the layers in between for good measure.

To celebrate, try one of these coconut torte recipes below, and add a scoop of ice cream on the side if the torte itself is not enough indulgence for you!

Sources: CNN’s Eatocracy, Examiner.com, Wikipedia

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The Cat in the Hat Published

cat in the hatOn March 12, 1957, children’s story The Cat in the Hat was first published. The story, penned by Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, follows an anthropomorphic cat who wears a red and white hat and a bow tie.

The creation of this famous children’s tale began when William Spaulding, then the director of Houghton Mifflin’s educational division, saw a Life magazine article in 1954 written by John Hersey. The article was called  ”Why Do Students Bog Down on First R? A Local Committee Sheds Light on a National Problem: Reading,” and covered a topic that was a major concern of the time – why children couldn’t read. The conclusion of the article was that most children were bored of the story most used to teach children to read at the time – Dick and Jane. In the article, Spaulding suggested that Dr. Seuss write a new book for children to take interest in. Spaulding was intrigued by the idea and issued it to Dr. Seuss as a challenge.

thing1thing2This challenge spurred Dr. Seuss to write The Cat in the Hat, which went on to become a huge success. Dr. Seuss had achieved considerable fame as a children’s author before this, but The Cat in the Hat put him on the map and made Dr. Seuss a household name. The Cat in the Hat was Seuss’s 13th book, and has since become his most prolific.

The storyline of The Cat in the Hat follows an anthropomorphic cat in a large red and white top hat to the home of two children on a rainy day when their mother is out of the house. The cat brings with him two mischief-making friends named Thing One and Thing Two. The three try to impress the children with their various tricks bringing energy and exuberance into the house on what would’ve been a dreary day. Along with this excitement comes some chaos. The children’s articulate goldfish is vehemently opposed to the behavior of the cat and his friends. The children eventually get things under control, and the cat cleans up the mess he’s made in the house and disappears mere seconds before the children’s mother returns home.

This famous children’s story is not only praised for engaging children and making them want to read, but also is praised from a literary standpoint for its incredible feats in writing. The entire story follows a strict triple meter, keeps a tiny vocabulary that is easily understood by children, and weaves an intriguing tale that doesn’t bore its readers. The story only uses 223 different words, with 33 of these words only occurring twice, and 54 only once.

The Cat in the Hat is the 9th bestselling hardcover children’s book of all time and sold over 7.2 million copies in the United States alone.

Sources: Wikipedia, PBS, Seussipedia, NPR

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Worship of Tools Day

OutsetMarch 11 is Worship of Tools Day! If it weren’t for tools, how would we have built the world around us? Celebrate every tool in its glory today!

We can thank our Neanderthal ancestors for the invention of tools, who used tools made from stone, like hand axes and cleavers, to hunt, kill, and skin their food. They also used tools to carve pictures into stone. Though the origin of this strange holiday remains unknown, we can use this day to appreciate the tools we use regularly use (as well as the ones that are lonely in our toolbox) for all the things they have helped us create, build, and fix over the years.

You can celebrate today by carefully thinking about what needs to be repaired in your life, and showing your tools love by using them to complete these old projects. Even if you don’t have anything that needs to be fixed, you can get crafty and think of a new DIY project to use what tools you have at your disposal. Help others celebrate by buying your loved ones some new tools and helping them take on projects of their own.

Happy Worship of Tools Day!

Sources: Holiday Insights, Examiner.com, Delaware County News Network, Zillow

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