Kid Inventors Day

On January 17 we celebrate and encourage the creativity of children. The date chosen to celebrate this day is the anniversary of Benjamin Franklin’s birthday. When Franklin was just 12 years old, he invented the world’s first swim flippers, though they were for the hands rather than the feet.

Young people created some important things. (Thanks to Warwick Daily News for these.)

  1. Braille. A 15-year-old Louis Braille modified a military code used for reading messages on the battlefield in the dark and went on to invent Braille, a raised dots system making it possible for blind people to read.
  2. Snowmobile. 15-year-old Joseph-Armand Bombardier invented the snowmobile. It began by him wondering what would happen if you attached a motor to a sled.
  3. Trampoline. At age 16, George Nissen watched acrobats drop into a safety net after their act and thought it would be fun if they kept bouncing. He rigged a canvas tightly over a metal frame, creating something that would give joy to many.
  4. The Popsicle. One freezing night in San Francisco in 1905, Frank Epperson mixed soda water powder and water in a glass and then left the stirring stick in the mixture. After a night out in the cold, the mixture had frozen solid – and the accidental inventor had created the world’s first Popsicle.
  5. Earmuffs. at 19 years of age, Chester Greenwood made a wire frame and had his grandmother sew some beaver skins to it. He created the world’s first pair of earmuffs and went on to patent the invention.

The most creative people on the planet are children. Today is the day to encourage their dreams and crazy ideas, their inventiveness and creativity.

Quotes about creativity

Focus should be to encourage and develop creativity in all children without the ultimate goal begin to make all children inventors, but rather to develop a future generation of critical thinkers.–Faraq Mousa

The only truly happy people are children and the creative minority.–Jean Caldwell

There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.–Edward de Bono

We are born makers. We move what we’re learning from our heads to our hearts through our hands.–Brene Brown

When I’m playful I use the meridians of longitude and parallels of latitude for a seine, and drag the Atlantic Ocean for whales. I scratch my head with the lightning and purr myself to sleep with the thunder.–Mark Twain

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.–Maya Angelou

The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.–Carl Jung

Creative minds are rarely tidy.–John William Gardner

Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.–George Bernard Shaw

Creativity comes with being human; it is the power to think new, to imagine, to see a metaphor. Animals make by instinct. People get new ideas. All you need is an open mind.–Jean Unsworth

Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.–Mary Lou Cook

Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.-–Leo Burnett

Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.–Mae Jemison

Imagination is the spark that ignites the fire of creativity.–Richard Laurence Peterson

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National Hat Day

On January 15, we celebrate hats. It’s no secret to my friends that I love hats. I might only have two sets of shoes, but I always have a wide selection of hats. My latest is a beautiful multi-colored wool hat I bought in Ireland. I wear hats in the winter to keep my head warm, and in the summer to keep the sun out of my face. So this is my holiday.

People have worn hats for a very long time. The first depiction of a hat we have is one from a tomb in Thebes, which is over five thousand years old. It depicts a man wearing a conical straw hat. Hats for women began to be worn in the late sixteenth century.

Folks wear hats for various reasons. Some, like me, just love hats. Workers may wear hard hats for safety, as do sports players and soldiers. Some wear hats for religious reasons. Of course, in the military or sports, hats indicate to which country or team one belongs. And of course, hats are just fashionable. We see the height of hat fashion in the middle of last century with women in the movies wearing elaborate and beautiful hats, and men with top hats and tails. Some hats become associated with particular people such as Sherlock Holmes in a deerstalker hat.

The official term for the designing of hats is millenary, and a hat maker is a milliner. The term is derived from the city of Milan, Italy. The best quality hats were made in Milan in the 18th century.

Children’s books about hats include The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss and Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina. And the various Curious George books with the man in the yellow hat.

So grab your hat, and celebrate this day!

Quotes about hats

You take the lies out of him, and he’ll shrink to the size of your hat; you take the malice out of him, and he’ll disappear.–Mark Twain

Never try to wear a hat that has more character than you do.–Lance Morrow

Cock your hat – angles are attitudes.–Frank Sinatra

Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.–E. B. White

How a hat makes you feel is what a hat is all about.–Philip Treacy

I myself have 12 hats, and each one represents a different personality. Why just be yourself?–Margaret Atwood

I can wear a hat or take it off, but either way it`s a conversation piece.–Hedda Hopper

A hat should be taken off when you greet a lady and left off for the rest of your life. Nothing looks more stupid than a hat.–P. J. O’Rourke

The whole shadow of Man is only as big as his hat.–Elizabeth Bishop

I measure your health by the number of shoes and hats andclothes you have worn out.–Ralph Waldo Emerson

Her hat is a creation that will never go out of style; it will just look ridiculous year after year.–Fred Allen

I have a hat. It is graceful and feminine and give me a certain dignity, as if I were attending a state funeral or something. Someday I may get up enough courage to wear it, instead of carrying it.–Erma Bombeck

I think that a woman wears so many hats, we have so many aspects to us that we’re not just one thing. We represent so much within us and that kind of comes across for me as a designer through mixing prints and colors.–Rachel Roy

If a woman rebels against high-heeled shoes, she should take care to do it in a very smart hat–George Bernard Shaw

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Rubber Duckie Day

On January 13, we celebrate the bright yellow bath toy. I must admit I have a soft spot for these. I own three, one dressed for a night on the town, one dressed like a soldier from Napoleon’s time, and one that is Irish, a souvenir of my time in Ireland last summer.

Like Pasadena, Portland, Oregon has a rose parade. As part of that in the 1980s, there was a rubber duck race. A huge dump truck would pull up on one of the bridges over the Willamette, and dump what looked like thousands of ducks into the river. Each duck was numbered, and had been “bought” by someone for $5.00 if I remember correctly. They would float down the river with their owners shouting encouragement. It is one of my favorite memories of Portland during that era.

Duckies weren’t always the colorful vinyl we know today. The earliest ducks were made from hard rubber in the mid to late 19th century. The ducks were solid and could not float. They were used as chew toys. During the era of the World Wars, rubber was too valuable to be used on simple toys, so plastic and vinyl began to be used. Landon Smart Lawrence was the first to patent a design for these toys, specifically the variety that was weighted so that, while still buoyant, it would always stand up the right way in the water.

So why do we celebrate these on January 13? According to a 1973 Sesame Street calendar, Rubber Duckie’s Birthday is January 13. A friend of Ernie and Big Bird, Duckie made his debut in a February 1970 episode. You can listen to Ernie’s delightful song here.  So celebrate this day by singing along with Ernie, or taking your duckie into the bath and feeling like a kid again.

Quotes about play

Always jump in the puddles! Always skip alongside the flowers. The only fights worth fighting are the pillow and food varieties.–Terri Guillemets

The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.–Carl Jung

Does it not appear to you versatility is the true and rare characteristic of that rare thing called genius–versatility and playfulness? In my mind they are both essential.–Mary Russell Mitford

Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.–H. G. Wells

Fun is fundamental, there is no way around it. You absolutely must have fun. Without fun, there is no enthusiasm. Without enthusiasm, there is no energy. Without energy, there are only shades of gray.–Doug Hall

Go and play. Run around. Build something. Break something. Climb a tree. Get dirty. Get in some trouble. Have some fun.—Brom

Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature.–Tom Robbins

I still get wildly enthusiastic about little things… I play with leaves. I skip down the street and run against the wind.–Leo F. Buscaglia

It is a happy talent to know how to play.–Ralph Waldo Emerson

Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.–Michael Jordan

Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play.—Heraclitus

Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.–Diane Ackerman

lay keeps us vital and alive. It gives us an enthusiasm for life that is irreplaceable. Without it, life just doesn’t taste good.–Lucia Capocchione

We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything than when we are playing.–Charles Schaefer

We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.–George Bernard Shaw

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Learn Your Name in Morse Code Day

On January 11, we celebrate Morse code. First demonstrated on January 11, 1838, by Alfred Vail and Samuel Morse, Morse code soon became commonly used by the military and the aviation industry worldwide. Morse Code was one of the most important innovations of communications the world has seen, serving as the foundation of one of the first high-speed communications networks in the world.

Morse Code is attributed to three different inventors, Samuel F. B. Morse, Physicist Joseph Henry, and Alfred Vail, who all worked together to produce a system of transmitting information via Electric Telegraph. There is an International Morse Code, which is based on the ISO basic Latin alphabet with some additions, including extra Latin letters, Arabic numerals, and punctuation and procedural signals. The inventors decided which combination of signals was assigned to each letter. They studied how often each letter in the English language was used. The most used letters were given the shorter sequences of dots and dashes. For example, the most commonly used letter in the English language — E — is represented by a single dot.

A person who calls herself Brownielocks created the holiday quite recently. She hoped to stir up interest in Morse code, which is falling out of use. (By the way, if you have never visited her site, it is chock full of fun holidays and other things. You can find it here.)

Morse code was critical for communication during World War II. It was also used as an international standard for communication at sea until 1999 when it was replaced by the Global Maritime Distress Safety System.

See and hear how you name – or any other phrase – sounds in Morse Code here. Quotelady looks like this: –.- ..- — – . .-.. .- -.. -.–

Quotes about communication

Everyone who is human has something to express. Try not expressing yourself for twenty-four hours and see what happens. You will nearly burst. You will want to write a long letter or draw a picture, or sing, or make a dress or a garden.–Brenda Ueland

The goal of effective communication should be for listeners to say, “Me, too!” versus “So what?”–Jim Rohn

Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.–Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Increase your personal power through positive and powerful communication. Recognize and eliminate negative self talk.–Caterina Rando

It is easier to communicate with spirits than for one university department to communicate with another.–G. Wilson Knight

Loneliness does not come from having no people around you, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to you.–Carl Jung

A loud voice cannot compete with a clear voice, even if it’s a whisper.–Barry Neil Kaufman

The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.-–Peter Drucker

Once a human being has arrived on this earth, communication is the largest single factor determining what kinds of relationships he makes with others and what happens to him in the world about him.–Virginia Satir

Our most common way of talking is telling: asserting the truth about the way things are and must be, not allowing that there might be other truths and possibilities. And our most common way of listening is not listening: listening only to our own talking, not to others.–Adam Kahane

Precision of communication is important, more important than ever in our era of hair-trigger balances, when a false, or misunderstood word may create as much disaster as a sudden thoughtless act.–James Thurber

Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it and, above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light.–Joseph Pulitzer

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Word Nerd Day

January 9 is a special holiday for me because I am definitely a word nerd. Some sites offer boring descriptions of this day, by saying it is a day to increase your vocabulary. But I think Adweek hits it on the head when they give clues for telling if you are a word nerd. “You love to read. You have at least one “Word a Day” calendar, app or e-mail subscription. You can’t look past spelling and punctuation errors on signs and restaurant menus. You may or may not carry a red pen on your person to correct egregious errors on the fly.” I don’t carry a red pen, but I can’t help noticing grammatical errors whenever they occur. It’s as if my brain is on automatic, correcting the mistake, though thankfully, it almost always happens internally, so I don’t annoy people! Of course, I also get Merriam Webster’s Word of the Day in my email box every morning.

Let me add a few other indications. You search a thesaurus either in print or online to find exactly the word you need, but often get sidetracked by following the relations among words. You are very particular about which dictionary you own. You always do the word or grammar quizzes on Facebook, and most often ace them. You are the go-to person at work to look over emails or other writing. You have a list of favorite words for various reasons. I love ubiquitous and verisimilitude because of the sound, and lath and dun because those are the words that set me on the course of word nerdiness. When I looked them up in the dictionary when young, it was a revelation to me how much richer it made the text when I actually knew what the word meant.

So whether or not you are a word nerd, this is a day to celebrate words.

Quotes about words

I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.–Robert McCloskey

As a poet and writer, I deeply love and I deeply hate words. I love the infinite evidence and change and requirements and possibilities of language; every human use of words that is joyful, or honest, or new because experience is new. . . . But, as a black poet and writer, I hate words that cancel my name and my history and the freedom of my future: I hate the words that condemn and refuse the language of my people in America.–June Jordan

Be careful of the words you say,
Keep them short and sweet.
You never know, from day to day,
Which ones you’ll have to eat.—Anonymous

A great many people think that polysyllables are a sign of intelligence.–Barbara Walters

I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.–Emily Dickinson

I like good strong words that mean something.–Louisa May Alcott

If words are to enter men’s minds and bear fruit, they must be the right words shaped cunningly to pass men’s defenses and explode silently and effectually within their minds.–J. B. Phillips

It’s always a bit of a struggle to get the words right, whether we’re a Hemingway or a few fathoms below his level.–Rene J. Cappon

Kind words are a creative force, a power that concurs in the building up of all that is good, and energy that showers blessings upon the world.– Lawrence G. Lovasik

My task which I am trying to achieve is by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel – it is, before all, to make you see. That – and no more, and it is everything.–Joseph Conrad

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Old Rock Day

On January 7, we are not celebrating Rock ‘n Roll, but rather actual old rocks. It is a day when geologists and others celebrate rocks and fossils. As most of us learned in school, there are three main classes of rocks, sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous.

When I was young, we had a cottage on Lake Ontario. The shore there was made up of sedimentary rocks, that is, rocks formed from sand, shells, and other fragments. Our rocks were mainly sandstone, a reddish stone formed when the area was all underwater.

Where I visited in Ireland along the shores of Lough Foyle, the rocks were metamorphic, part of a shelf of such rocks which extend out from Scotland. They were rugged, but not as hard as granite, for instance.

Volcanic areas like Oregon are rich in igneous rock, molten material which has cooled and hardened. Some, like granite, are rough and useful for building, but obsidian is a beautiful natural black glass.

For the geologist, rocks are useful in several ways. First, by using radiometric dating, they can tell us the age of a particular outcropping. They can also tell the history of an area, particularly in places like canyons where different ages can be seen by studying the walls. Fossils tell us what an area was like long ago.

The graphic I chose for this blog is Stonehenge, aanother fascinating look at old rocks. It is amazing how ancient people managed to build something so massive. Even more than trees, rocks tie us to the past, since they existed long before we were here, as places like Stonehenge attest. It is awe-inspiring to realize stone age people looked at the same rocks.

So appreciate the rocks around you today.

Quotes about rocks

There will always be rocks in the road ahead of us. They will be stumbling blocks or stepping stones; it all depends on how you use them.–Friedrich Nietzsche

Rock is a great master of life. It teaches us this simple philosophy: Stay firm!–Mehmet Murat Ildan

We have forgotten what rocks and plants still know – we have forgotten how to be – to be still – to be ourselves – to be where life is here and now–Eckhart Tolle

In matters of principle stand like a rock.–Thomas Jefferson

A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.–Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Geologists have a saying – rocks remember.–Neil Armstrong

That memorable day died in purple and gold, and just as the last traces of the sunset faded in the west and the star-lilies filled the sky, the full moon looked down over the rim of the valley, and the great rocks, catching the silvery glow, came forth out of the dusky shadows like very spirits.–John Muir

Study how water flows in a valley stream, smoothly and freely between the rocks. Also learn from holy books and wise people. Everything – even mountains, rivers, plants and trees – should be your teacher.–Morihei Ueshiba

All the lessons are in nature. You look at the way rocks are formed – the wind and the water hitting them, shaping them, making them what they are. Things take time, you know?–Diane Lane

As with other phases of nature, I have probably loved the rocks more than I have studied them.–John Burroughs

One billion grains of sand come into existence in the world each second. That’s a cyclical process. As rocks and mountains die, grains of sand are born. Some of those grains may then cement naturally into sandstone. And as the sandstone weathers, new grains break free. Some of those grains may then accumulate on a massive scale, into a sand dune.–Magnus Larsson

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National Screenwriters Day

January 5 we celebrate the folks who write movies, television shows, video games, and other such. Although in one sense a writer is a writer, when you write for the screen, there are different challenges. When you write a novel, everything is done through the power of words and imagination. In writing for the screen, words and visuals work together to make the story. Also, of course, the several media all require something different from the writer. Writing a television show with established characters is very different from a standalone two hour movie, which is very different again from the complexities of a video game. Another difference is that the writer is not writing to please him or herself, but must work closely with others to create a shared vision for what the finished story will look like, and what the budget can handle.

Those who write for the screen face some other challenges. One of them is that the story must fit the rhythm of the show, particularly for television. Each show is put together in a different way. For instance, a particular show may have a few minute teaser before the beginning credits, then each act will be a certain length between commercials. The writer must get the story across in approximately 42 minutes for an hour length show, and approximately 21 minutes for a half hour show and most of that will be dialog. There is also a particular style of putting the story together using particular words and ways of writing. For instance, you may begin a scene with the words INTERIOR SUSIE’S LIVING ROOM.

So next time you watch your favorite movie or television show, give a thought to the talented folks whose imagination created the story that gives us so many hours of enjoyment.

Quotes about screenwriting

To make a great film you need three things – the script, the script and the script.–Alfred Hitchcock

Scripts are what matter. If you get the foundations right and then you get the right ingredients on top, you stand a shot… but if you get those foundations wrong, then you absolutely don’t stand a shot. It’s very rare–almost never–that a good film gets made from a bad screenplay.–Tim Bevan

There’s nothing more important in making movies than the screenplay.–Richard Attenborough

Film’s thought of as a director’s medium because the director creates the end product that appears on the screen. It’s that stupid auteur theory again, that the director is the author of the film. But what does the director shoot—the telephone book? Writers became much more important when sound came in, but they’ve had to put up a valiant fight to get the credit they deserve.–Billy Wilder

Once you crack the script, everything else follows.–Ridley Scott

Give me a good script, and I’ll be a hundred times better as a director.–George Cukor

What has always been at the heart of film making was the value of a script. It was really the writer who could make or break a film.–Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.

There’s no question that a great script is absolutely essential, maybe the essential thing for a movie to succeed.–Sydney Pollack

Screenwriting is the most prized of all the cinematic arts. Actually, it isn’t, but it should be.–Hugh Laurie

I could be just a writer very easily. I am not a writer. I am a screenwriter, which is half a filmmaker. … But it is not an art form, because screenplays are not works of art. They are invitations to others to collaborate on a work of art.–Paul Schrader

You can dress it up, but it comes down to the fact that a movie is only as good as its script.–Curtis Hanson

The script, I always believe, is the foundation of everything.–Ewan McGregor

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