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May 17, 2014

Have you heard of Mike, the Headless Chicken?  It was a new one for me too.  Read on and find out all about it.

Lag B'omer – A Jewish holiday, this day represents a break in the season between Passover and Shavuot. This is the 33rd day of the 50 that are between those two events. It is a lifting of the mourning practices that occur during this time.  It begins at sundown and ends at sundown tomorrow.

Pack Rat Day – This is a day to 'fess up. Who, among us, is a pack rat? I admit that I fight the urge to hoard certain things. Every now and then I have to force myself to clean out a closet or a room just so it doesn't get out of hand.

National Cherry Cobbler Day – Cobblers have been around since Colonial days. They are made with a little more sophistication now, of course, but they are still just as popular.

World Neurofibromatosis Awareness Day (NF Day) – This is a genetic condition that causes a wide variety of symptoms including learning disabilities, ADHD, headaches, scoliosis, bowed legs, thickening of the optic nerve, tumors, and more. Researchers are working to invent treatments and, hopefully, a cure.

National NASCAR Day – This day has been celebrated for the last eleven years.   I'm not a big NASCAR fan, but my grandmother was, to my everlasting amazement. Just when you think you know someone, something like this comes out. Today drivers, millions of fans, media, businesses and more will work together to raise money for a variety of charities that NASCAR endorses.

World Hypertension Day – This day was created by the World Hypertension League which is affiliated with the International Society of Hypertension. The purpose of the day is to raise awareness of hypertension, the symptoms and available treatments. People all over the world need to learn how to prevent the onset of this disease or if it's too late to prevent, they need to learn how to control it before it kills them.

O. Henry Pun-Off Day – This is a yearly competition inspired by the writings of William Sydney Porter who lived in Austin, TX in the late 1800s and used the pen name O. Henry. He had a gift for wordplay that is loved to this day so in 1978, pun-offs began to be celebrated. In 1990, Gary Hallock, began organizing and running the competition which takes place at the O. Henry Museum in Austin, TX.

Armed Forces Day – Celebrated on the third Saturday in May, this is a day to honor the men and women who serve in the United States Armed Forces. There will be a wide variety of activities going on all day all over the country from parades to motorcycle rides to educational activities. In the past there were celebration days for each of the branches of the armed forces, but in 1949, Secretary of Defense, Louis Johnson, announced that they would all be consolidated under one day because all of the armed forces had united under Department of Defense. The only branch that has chosen to still have it's own day is the Marines although they support this day as well.

Military-Amateur Crossband Communications Day – On this day, the same day as Armed Forces Day, the Military Auxiliary Radio System conducts a traditional military to amateur crossband communications test and a message-receiving test. This gives amateur radio operators an opportunity to display their skills and receive recognition from the Secretary of Defense. This radio system is in place so that the military, as well as state and local emergency response organizations have access to communications in the event of an emergency.

National Learn To Swim Day – Celebrated for the second year, this day is always and forevermore celebrated on the Saturday of the weekend before Memorial Day weekend. This is a day to become aware of the importance of teaching your children how to swim. Children who cannot swim are far more likely to drown if they accidentally end up in a pool or pond or lake or river. Make sure your child learns this important lifesaving skill and if your child is afraid of the water, as my youngest was when she started learning, don't cave in to their fear and give up making them go to lessons. My daughter cried through nearly 6 months of lessons before she finally started enjoying the water and now she swims like a fish. It's worth it.

Do Dah Day - On this day in 1979 in Birmingham, or so I am led to believe, a bunch of friends decided to have a party and over the years turned it into a fund raising event for local charities involving animals. More and more Do Dah volunteers joined the effort and it has become a festival with a parade.

Mike, The Headless Chicken Day – Celebrated on the third weekend in May, this is a day to learn the story of Mike. Mike was a chicken who was supposed to be dinner back in 1945, but when his owner, Lloyd Olson, chopped off his head (Mike's head, not Lloyd's), Mike just refused to die and carried on his chickenly duties such as attempting to peck for food and preen his feathers. He lived without his head for another 18 months because Lloyd was so amazed, he worked to keep the bird alive by feeding it with an eye dropper. Impossible you say? Well, apparently Lloyd botched the chop job and left behind the lower portion of his brain that was attached to his spinal column. This is apparently a true story that was documented by scientists and you can read all about it and see pictures here:

Syttende Mai – If you do not speak (or read) Norwegian, allow me to inform you that this is Norwegian Constitution Day. The name Syttende Mai means May Seventeenth.  The Constitution of Norway was signed on this day in 1814 at Eidsvoll, declaring Norway to be an independent nation. Interestingly, Norway was under Swedish rule at the time and the King of Sweden didn't allow this day to be celebrated until 1829.

To celebrate today, call your Norwegian friends to wish them a Happy Syttende Mai, then hop in your race car and see if you can beat all the other cars on the highway so you can get to Birmingham for the Do Dah parade first.  Next, make sure you thank all the members of the Armed Forces that you meet on your way to Austin for the Pun-Off before you return home to see if you might be a pack rat in disguise, perhaps the mess is contributing to your hypertension issues. See if you can find your amateur radio so you can participate in the communications test before you head off for your swimming lessons with the kids.  Tonight, enjoy the freedom from mouring by eating cherry cobbler, entertaining your kids with Mike, the Headless Chicken’s story, and checking to make sure they don’t have Neurofibromatosis.

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