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Monthly Spotlight: Holidays!

Other Holiday's- June 24

Hug Your Cat Month

Did you know it is actual science that cats are good for you? Don't believe me? Take a look at the studies done:

  • The health-enhancing effects of animal interactions have been attributed to the stress-reducing effects or calming effects of such interactions on one’s psychological and physiological state
  • Although dogs and horses have been utilized more frequently in therapeutic studies, cats have also been used for therapeutic activities for patients with diverse diseases
  • Interactions with cats can trigger a eustress response in the mind and body of the owner as a moderate stimulus for the owner.
    • A eustress response is a psycho-physiological response brought about by a positive stressor for the stimulus recipient that can lead to increased vitality and health of a person
  • Communication, especially through contact, was found to be a stimulant for the activation of the owner’s sympathetic nervous system.
  • There was also a positive correlation between heart rate and cortisol concentration, and between cortisol and oxytocin concentration, suggesting that interactions with cats at home can even influence the oxytocin system.

 Study: Effects of Interactions with Cats in Domestic Environment on the Psychological and Physiological State of Their Owners: Associations among Cortisol, Oxytocin, Heart Rate Variability, and Emotions by Nagasawa T, Kimura Y, Masuda K, Uchiyama H.

Dinosaur Day- June 1st

What better way to celebrate our dino predecessors than with a bunch of facts and books to help you learn about them?

Facts from the American Museum of Natural History:

  • They lived on the Earth for about 245 million years
  • Dinosaur fossils have been found on all seven continents
  • Non-flying dinos went extinct about 66 million years ago
  • There are roughly 700 known species of extinct dinosaurs
  • Modern birds have a common ancestor with non-flying dinosaurs
  • Until recently it was believed that feathers were unique to birds.
    • Recent discoveries, however, have unearthed evidence for feathered non-avian dinosaurs.

Don't forget to read up on more interesting things:

National Corn on the Cob Day- 11th

  • Iowa has approximately 86,900 farms.
    • More than 97 percent of those farms are owned by farm families.
  • Iowa farmers produced around 2.4 billion bushels of corn for grain and harvested 12.9 million acres according to the U.S. Department of Agricultural Statistics Service
  • Only one percent of corn planted in the United States is sweet corn.
  • 99 percent of corn grown in Iowa is “Field Corn”.
    • When Iowa’s corn farmers deliver corn from the field, it’s “Field Corn”.  Not the delicious sweet corn you might enjoy on the cob or in a can.
  • Field corn is the classic big ears of yellow-dented corn you see dried and harvested in the fall.
    • It’s called “dent corn” because of the distinctive dent that forms on the kernel as the corn dries.
  • Sweet corn is what people purchase fresh, frozen, or canned for eating. It’s consumed as a vegetable.
    • Unlike “Field Corn”, which is harvested when the kernels are dry and fully mature, sweet corn is picked when immature.
  • Corn is in more than 4,000 grocery store items a few examples include: shampoo, toothpaste, chewing gum, marshmallows, crayons, and paper
  • There is one silk for every kernel that grows in an ear of corn
  • The number of kernels per ear can vary from 500 to about 1,200, but a typical ear would have 800 kernels in 16 rows
  • A single corn bushel can sweeten about 400 cans of soda pop

 Information provided by the Iowa Corn Growers Association.

International Day of Yoga- June 21st

  • Yoga can improve your strength, balance, and flexibility
    • Slow movements and deep breathing increase blood flow and warm up muscles while holding a pose can build strength.
      • It can also help relieve back pain
      • The American College of Physicians recommends yoga as a first-line treatment for chronic low back pain.
  • Practicing regularly can help ease arthritis symptoms
  • Yoga has benefits to your heart health
    • Regular yoga practice may reduce levels of stress and body-wide inflammation, contributing to healthier hearts.
    • Several of the factors contributing to heart disease, including high blood pressure and excess weight, can also be addressed through yoga.
  • Practicing can relax you and help you sleep better
  • Yoga can help you manage stress
    • According to the National Institutes of Health, scientific evidence shows that yoga supports stress management, mental health, mindfulness, healthy eating, weight loss, and quality sleep.

 These facts are from Johns Hopkins Medicine, additional statistics can be found if you click the image above.

Pink Flamingo Day- June 23rd

  • Flamingo nests are made of mud
    • And it is big enough for one large egg
  • Flamingos are pink from their food
    • The pigments are from an algae the brine shrimp eat
      • To which flamingos eat this algae and shrimp
  • They are filter feeders
    • Meaning they have their heads turned upside down in order to eat
  • Flamingos' knees DON'T bend backward
    • Also, the joint in the middle of the leg that looks like a knee? That is actually an ankle
  • Flamingos feed their babies crop milk they secrete
    • This is also known as pigeon milk and it is bright red
  • Yes, they can fly
    • They tend to travel long distances when doing this and it is often at night
  • The reason flamingos sleep on one leg can be because it can help conserve energy, can be easier for the bird to do, and can also help conserve heat

 Information from the Smithsonian's National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute

Midsummer- June 24th

  • It's a holiday celebrating the traditional midpoint of the harvest season and the summer solstice
    • It is also the longest day in the Northern Hemisphere
  • Midsummer is celebrated in many countries but is synonymous with Scandinavia
    • This is where it is observed as a national holiday in Sweden and Finland
  • The holiday originated as a pagan celebration to welcome the summer season and ensure a successful harvest.
  • Festivities included dancing, singing, drinking, cleaning the house, lighting bonfires, and collecting flowers.
    • Many of these rituals arose from the belief that Midsummer was a magical time of good fortune and healing.
    • Bonfires were lit and loud behavior was encouraged to drive away evil spirits
  • Some think that due to the time of year’s connection with fertility, love spells were often cast at Midsummer
    • One spell is placing seven flowers beneath one’s pillow on Midsummer’s Eve to conjure dreams of one’s future partner.
  • Along with the traditional activities that have persisted since pagan times, modern Midsummer festivalgoers indulge in drinking (when of age), eat pickled herring and boiled new potatoes with chives or fresh dill and sour cream, and wear flower wreaths in their hair.

 Information from Britannica.

National Meteor Day- June 30th

  • A meteor shower occurs when the Earth passes through the trail of debris left by a comet or asteroid.
  • Meteors are bits of rocks and ice ejected from comets as they move in their orbits about the sun.
  • A meteor that reaches the ground is called a meteorite.
  • Meteor showers get their names from the constellation in where their radiant is located.
    • Perseids come from Perseus, hence the name Perseids.
  • Comets continuously eject material with each passage around the sun; this replenishes the shower meteoroids.
  • Approximately 30 meteor showers occur each year that are visible to observers on Earth.
    • Some of these showers have been around longer than 100 years.
      • For example, the Perseid meteor shower, which occurs each year in August, was first observed about 2000 years ago and recorded in the Chinese annals.
  • Meteors are sometimes observed with red, yellow, or green trails.
    • The colors are caused by the ionization of molecules - like oxygen which appears to be green.
  • A fireball is a meteor that is brighter than the planet Venus.
  • Radar indicates there are 12,000 meteors on a given night that are about the size of a piece of dust.
  • The International Space Station has shielding to protect it from meteors up to an inch wide.
  • When will the next meteor showers happen this year?
    • July 29-30
    • August 11-12
    • October 20-21
    • November 17-18
    • December 13-14
    • December 21-22

Information from NASA and NASA: Meteors and Meteorites.

Donald Duck Day- June 9th

  • He was created (born?) in 1934
    • His debut was in "The Wise Little Hen" as part of the Silly Symphonies series
  • Voice actor Clarence Nash had provided the voice for Donald for over 50 years
  • His full name is Donald Fauntleroy Duck
    • This was revealed in the 1942 film "Donald Gets Drafted"
  • He is one of the famous Disney Fab Five
    • Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Pluto are the other members
  • Huey, Dewey, and Louie are Donald's nephews NOT sons
  • Donald Duck is officially the mascot of the University of Oregon
    • He was adopted in 1947, symbolizing the fighting spirit and determination of their sports teams.
  • Donald Duck has appeared in over 180 theatrical films
  • Donald Duck has his own star on the Walk of Fame
    • Given to him in 2004
  • He has also been in many comic series and videogames
    • He even has his own comic book series named after himself and created by Carl Barks
  • Donald has his own catchphrase
    • "Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy!"
  • Donald Duck appeared in the wartime propaganda film "Der Fuehrer's Face"
    • It's an Academy Award-winning animated short, Donald Duck finds himself trapped in a nightmare-like world under the rule of Adolf Hitler.

Information from Facts.net