Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Celebrate "Big Wind Day"!

Today is known as "Big Wind Day" probably due to the fact that Mount Washington Observatory (in New Hampshire) recorded the highest surface wind ever measured, anywhere on earth: 231 miles per hour!
On this day in 1934, three weather surveyors on Mt. Washington in New Hampshire recorded the highest velocity natural wind ever measured on Earth and found the gust had reached a whopping 231 miles per hour. Ever since then, New Hampshire residents have been known to refer to major news events as, 'The biggest thing to happen since that really big wind we had that one time.' 
The World Meteorological Organization has verified and concluded that a new non-tornadic wind speed record has been set in Australia. The new record of the highest wind speed is 408 km/h during Tropical Cyclone Olivia in 1996.
However, the highest recorded wind speed ever measured by an anemometer was recorded at the Mount Washington Observatory on April 12, 1934 and still holds as the champ! The recorded wind speed was 231 mph (372 kmh). Mt. Washington is a location known for severe weather. Intense cold, heavy fogs, and deep snow makes this location in New Hampshire famous for its weather. Mt. Washington stands at 6,288 feet and is the highest peak in the Northeast United States. The mountain is part of the Presidential Range of mountains which includes Mt. Adams and Mt. Eisenhower in the White Mountains. Air is commonly forced over the mountains, making it a prime location for high wind speeds.

More information on the record: http://www.mountwashington.org/about/visitor/recordwind.php

(Source: Wikipedia, weather.about.com & the ultimate holiday site.com; photo credit: Mt. Washington, bobgrantphotography.com; Earth Global Circulation, Wikipedia; Mt Washington Observatory, mountwashington.org) 


April 12th marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War (1861) 
The American Civil War which lasted four years (1861–1865), also known as the War Between the States, was a civil war in the United States of America. Eleven Southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America, also known as "the Confederacy". Led by Jefferson Davis, the Confederacy fought for its independence from the United States. 
United States map of 1861, show affiliation of states and territories 
regarding the Secession War (Civil War.) 
   States that seceded before April 15, 1861
   States that seceded after April 15, 1861
   Union states that permitted slavery
   Union states that forbade slavery
   Territories, unaffiliated
The U.S. federal government was supported by 20 mostly-Northern free states in which slavery already had been abolished, and by five slave states that became known as the border states. These 25 states, referred to as the "Union", had a much larger base of population and industry than the South. After four years of bloody, devastating warfare (mostly within the Southern states), the Confederacy surrendered and slavery was outlawed everywhere in the nation. The restoration of the Union, and the Reconstruction Era that followed, dealt with issues that remained unresolved for generations.
In the presidential election of 1860, the Republican Party, led by Abraham Lincoln, had campaigned against the expansion of slavery beyond the states in which it already existed. After a Republican victory, but before the new administration took office on March 4, 1861, seven cotton states declared their secession and joined together to form the Confederate States of America. 
Hostilities began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate forces attacked a U.S. military installation at Fort Sumter in South Carolina. Lincoln responded by calling for a volunteer army from each state to recapture federal property. This led to declarations of secession by four more slave states. Both sides raised armies as the Union seized control of the border states early in the war and established a naval blockadethat virtually ended cotton sales on which the South depended for its wealth, and blocked most imports. Land warfare in the East was inconclusive in 1861–62, as the Confederacy beat back Union efforts to capture its capital, Richmond, Virginia. In September 1862, Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation made ending slavery in the South a war goal, and dissuaded the British from intervening.
Confederate commander Robert E. Lee won battles in Virginia, but in 1863 his northward advance was turned back with heavy casualties after the Battle of Gettysburg. To the west, the Union gained control of the Mississippi River after theircapture of Vicksburg, Mississippi, thereby splitting the Confederacy in two. The Union was able to capitalize on its long-term advantages in men and materiel by 1864 when Ulysses S. Grant fought battles of attrition against Lee, while Union general William Tecumseh Sherman captured Atlanta and marched to the sea. Confederate resistance ended after Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.
The American Civil War was one of the earliest true industrial wars. Railroads, the telegraph, steamships, and mass-produced weapons were employed extensively. It remains the deadliest war in American history, resulting in the deaths of 620,000 soldiers and an undetermined number of civilian casualties. (10% of all Northern males 20–45 years of age died, as did 30% of all Southern white males aged 18–40.) Victory for the North meant the end of the Confederacy and of slavery in the United States, and strengthened the role of the federal government. The social, political, economic and racial issues of the war decisively shaped the reconstruction era that lasted to 1877.
More information available online, here are a few links:
(Source: Wikipedia; photo credit: US Secession map 1861, Wikipedia; A Roman Catholic chaplain ministering to Union soldiers during the American Civil War, Wikipedia; US Postage Stamp, Sherman, Grant, Sheridan, 1937 Issue-3c & Postage stamp, 1937 Issue,Generals_Lee_and_Jackson-1937-4c, Wikipedia; Union Regimental Drum Corps from the American Civil war, Wikipedia)

Another food holiday today: "National Licorice Day"!

Licorice is a fun childhood candy, great after a grilled cheese sandwich!
Liquorice is a confectionery flavoured with the extract of the roots of the liquorice plant. A wide variety of liquorice sweets are produced around the world. In the U.S., liquorice is called black licorice (see also spelling differences), to distinguish it from similar confectionery varieties that are not flavoured with liquorice extract, and commonly manufactured in the form of chewy ropes or tubes. Most popular in the United Kingdom are liquorice allsorts. Dutch and Nordic liquorice characteristically contains ammonium chloride instead of sodium chloride, prominently so in salty liquorice.
The essential ingredients of liquorice candy are liquorice extract, sugar, and a binder. The binder is typically starch/flour, gum arabic, or gelatin, or a combination thereof. Additional ingredients are extra flavouring, beeswax for a shiny surface, ammonium chloride, and molasses to give the end product the familiar black color.(Ammonium chloride is mainly used in salty liquorice candy, with concentrations up to about 8 percent. However, even regular liquorice candy can contain up to 2 percent ammonium chloride, the taste of which is less prominent due to the higher sugar concentration.) Some liquorice candy is flavored with anise oil instead of or in combination with liquorice root extract.
Health benefits
The liquorice-root extract contains the natural sweetener glycyrrhizin, which is over 50 times sweeter than sucrose. This ingredient has acts as an expectorant (facilitating removal of mucus from the lungs by coughing) and that it increases blood pressure. Liquorice is also a mild laxative, and has several varied uses in herbal medicine. Alexander the Great supplied his troops with rations of liquorice root whilst marching, due to its thirst quenching qualities.
In Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States, there is also a product known as red liquorice, which is extruded in a way to resemble liquorice, but is made with strawberry, cherry, raspberry, or cinnamon flavourings as the main flavourings rather than liquorice. More recently similar products have been introduced in a wider variety of flavours including apple, mango, blackcurrant, and watermelon, among others. Twizzlers (by Hersheys) and Red Vines are the most well known product brands of this type in the United States; in Australia these are produced by Darrell Lea and several other companies. While the common name for this candy has now become "red liquorice", or often simply "liquorice", this candy has little connection to actual liquorice root in flavour. The term "black liquorice" (or "black licorice") would formerly have been redundant and has become a retronym in North America.

(Source: Wikipedia; photo credit: black liquorice straws, mariescandys.com; soft Salmiakki candy, halva.fi brand, from Finland, 250-gram package, , Wikipedia; a bag of red licorice, flickr, Wikipedia)

Today's food holiday: "Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day"

April 12th is "Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day" while the whole month of April celebrates "Grilled Cheese Month."
A grilled cheese sandwich uses three basic ingredients (bread, butter, and cheese) plus heat and became popular in the Depression as "an inexpensive company supper dish." The traditional sandwich consists of sliced bread that is buttered on the outside with slices of cheese(s) on the inside which melt to the bread. It is toasted, broiled or grilled in a pan or grill which allows the cheese to melt. Variations include typical sandwich additions (i.e., lettuce, tomato, etc.) and sometimes various meats, such as a "ham and cheese sandwich."
Cooked bread and cheese is an ancient food, according to food historians, popular across the world in many cultures; evidence indicates that in the U.S., the modern version of the grilled cheese sandwich originated in the 1920s when inexpensive sliced bread and American cheese became easily available. The "cheese dream"  (open-faced version) became popular during the Great Depression and continued through World War II and into the 1950s. By the 1960s, the grilled cheese sandwich included both slices of bread and was very common as a "comfort food" in the US, often paired with soup as the famous "soup and sandwich" which continues today in many restaurants as a lunch option.

It was estimated in 2001 that Americans consume around 2.2 billion grilled cheese sandwiches yearly. Grilled cheese sandwiches are considered good food on a budget.
Some attribute the French to the grilled cheese sandwich because of the similarity to the French's famous "Croque" (ham and cheese grilled) sandwich. The Croque Monsieur, or “Crispy Mister,” appeared on Parisian cafĂ© menus in 1910. The original Croque Monsieur was simply a hot ham and Gruyere cheese sandwich, fried in butter. (Some believe it was accidentally created when French workers left their lunch pails by a hot radiator and came back later to discover the cheese in their sandwiches had melted.)

(Source: Wikipedia & frenchfood.about.com; photo credit: bronxbanterblog.com, 1957 time capsule.wordpress.com, croque monsieur sandwich still in the oven after broiling, Wikipedia)

Russian Cosmonautics Day (Russia)

Yuri Gagarin (1934-1968) was the first human in space on this day in 1961 and this event is celebrated with "Russian Cosmonautics Day." He became a 'rock star' in Russia! 
Sadly, Yuri died 7 years later, when a MiG 15 training jet he was piloting crashed.

Today's celebrations:

April 12th has a bunch of celebrations to consider:

CIVIL WAR 150: April 12th marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War (1861) *

Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day *
National Licorice Day *
International Day for Street Children
Festival to Preserve Corn
Look Up At the Sky Day
National Be Kind to Lawyers Day
Walk On Your Wild Side Day

Ben & Jerry's Free Cone Day (between 12 p.m. and 8 p.m.) 

Commemoration of first human in space by Yuri Gagarin (1961): Russian Cosmonautics Day (Russia), Yuri's Night (International) ^
Puerto Rico becomes a U.S, territory, by an Act of Congress (1900)
Big Wind Day: Mount Washington Observatory records the highest surface wind ever measured, anywhere on earth: 231 miles per hour! *
Birthday - David Letterman (talk-show host)

Christian Feast Day: Alferius, Blessed Angelo Carletti di Chivasso, Erkembode, Pope Julius I, Zeno of Verona
Children's Day (Florida)
Halifax Day (North Carolina)
The first day of Cerealia (Roman Empire)

(* in posts, previously or to follow)

(^ Photo credit: Google doodle for Russian Cosmonautics Day)