Tag Archive for geek holidays

John Venn Day

Born today in 1834, John Venn became a minister, a professor at Cambridge, a tinkerer and had a serious man-crush on logic. He wrote several books on logic and philosophy, but his lasting legacy was the Venn diagram, a method of visually showing the connections and results of different sets of data. He passed away in 1923, but his diagram, used for years in logic, computer sciences and other disciplines, has now become its own meme on the Internet.

While Venn received many tributes, including an obituary in the New York Times, perhaps the coolest is still available for viewing at Cambridge: a stained glass window (shown above) featuring the Venn diagram and his name.

Celebrate today by coming up with your own Venn diagram; extra points if it mentions geeks, bacon or cupcakes.

 

Photo credit/Wiki Commons

Spider-Man Day

Spider-Man, Spider-Man….while you sing the rest of the song in your head, we’ll tell you that today in 1962, Spider-Man made his first appearance in the Marvel comic Amazing Fantasy #15. Creators Stan Lee and Steve Ditko made Peter Parker noticeably different from the accepted superheroes of the day, in that he was a teenage hero without a mentor who had to figure everything out the hard way, from life as an orphan to struggling to make ends meet to dealing with a pesky juiced-up spider bite.

Parker learned and shared each hard-won lesson, including the most-quoted “With great power comes great responsibility,” although “Girlfriends will only bring you pain” should have been a close second. The classic storylines kept Spider-Man firmly against the wall, but we all knew he could climb up it like an angsty champion. True to form, the web-slinging hero has taken many jobs over the years: some of us grew up with him (and a very groovy Morgan Freeman) on The Electric Company, he’s been in countless cartoons, is occasionally teamed up with The Avengers or the Fantastic Four, explored his belly button in a trio of movies, broke dangerous new ground (and occasionally a few limbs) on Broadway and was recently re-booted back to his nerdy roots. That’s a lot of action for one teen to handle, even if he is mutant-powered, but we know the Amazing Spider-Man always pulls through.

Patent Day

When we think of patents, we think of new machines or crazy gizmos, but the first patent, awarded today in 1790, was for a chemical process. Samuel Hopkins received a patent for potash and pearl ash, essential ingredients (for the time) in making soap, glass, dyed fabric and were even needed to make gunpowder. Potash, an alkali, was much in demand during the 18th century, and Hopkins’ new process made it purer and more potent. His patent, signed by George Washington, spurred economic trade within the newly formed country, since people could sell the ashes from their stoves and fireplaces and buy a chemically uniform potash for everyday use.

Today, patents are awarded for everything from flying cars (there are at least five in recent years) to minor differences in software. More than 8 million patents have been issued since that first one by Hopkins, and tech corporations hold thousands of U.S. patents, with IBM holding more than 3,000. Still, there’s always room for the little guy to make a difference, so celebrate today by engaging your brain and coming up with the next big thing to change the world. What will be your potash moment?

Paperback Book Day

Ditch that e-reader today and grab yourself a handful of dead trees! Today commemorates the launch of Penguin Books in 1935, the first time notable authors like Ernest Hemingway and Agatha Christie were published in an affordable, accessible format.

The physical attributes of paperbacks were already around, but were only used for pulp novels designed to titillate rather than inspire; before this day, you needed a sugar daddy or a library card to read the good stuff.

To keep the books affordable, art was stripped down to just a color-coded cover, title and author, along with the now-famous Penguin logo.  Science fiction and fantasy has long been a staple of Penguin Books, and “Erewhon” by Samuel Butler was published in that first seminal year. Other titles in those first years included several H.G. Wells titles, from “The Invisible Man” to “The Time Machine,” John Wyndham’s “The Day of the Triffids” and “1984” by George Orwell. The easy-to-carry books not only enabled secret sci-fi nerds, they also were slipped in the pockets of countless WWII soldiers looking for a few minutes of diversion. Paperbacks went from a trend to a book lover’s necessity. Even though digital reading is the new thing, admit it: you have a stash of beloved paperbacks you pick up time and time again.

Celebrate today by grabbing your favorite paperback book and stretching out under a beach umbrella. Or, if you’re not on vacation, curl up under your desk with a flashlight.

 

 

Photo credit: Flickr/Tim Green aka atoach

System Administrator Appreciation Day

If you’re reading this while shopping online, playing Words With Friends and pretending to work on that spreadsheet shared from the corporate office, take a moment and thank your SysAdmin. As the world becomes so interconnected that we can see each other’s lunch Instagrams before they happen, SysAdmins take it all in stride and keep us all hooked up to the life support we call the Internet.

Celebrate today by taking your SysAdmin out to lunch, buying him or her a little gift, or just supplying them with a regular monthly case of Tums. They deserve it.

Today is also Gary Gygax’s birthday, so if you’re really feeling creative, write up your own tabletop mini-game campaign, and stack the deck so your SysAdmin is the hero. You’ll have the smoothest network in the whole city.

 

Photo credit:Flickr/Salid

Amazing Women Day

Today would be Amelia Earhart’s 115th birthday, but since Dr. Sally Ride just passed away, we thought it would be appropriate to celebrate them both.

Earhart and Ride were incredibly smart women who made history. Earhart was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1928, and she conquered the Pacific Ocean in 1935. She disappeared in 1937 trying to break another record by flying around the world, and her legend grows stronger every year as investigators attempt to piece together what happened.

Sally Ride came back from her history-making flight as the first American woman in space in 1983, and it was so good she did it again the next year. Her astronaut days were cut short by the Challenger tragedy, so after assisting NASA in finding answers, she went the extra mile here on Earth and founded a company that produces educational materials for kids (girls and boys) to get them stoked about science. She was a physicist, an astronaut and an inspiration to generations of little girls who watched her soar into the sky.

Appropriately enough, a third woman from the world of pop culture and TV has a birthday today: Lynda Carter, the Wonder Woman who thrilled us in the 1970s. She also inspired us with a sweet shot of Girl Power back in the day.

Celebrate our three Wonder Women by going out into the world and doing something amazing. Who knows? We could be singing your praises soon.

Typewriter Day

That QWERTY keyboard's looking pretty good now, right?

Today in 1829, a device called the “Typographer” was patented by William Austin Burt, an inventor and surveyor. His typing machine was an ancestor of the typewriter as we know it today.

Touch-typing was a long way off from Burt’s machine, which involved turning a crank attached to a wheel inside a large wooden box until the desired letter lined up, then pulling levers to imprint the letter on the paper. No worries about carpal tunnel with this machine; in fact, it would have been better than Tae-Bo for building those muscles after cranking and yanking all day. (Yes, we hear your snickering.)

Printing with the typographer was apparently slower than writing by hand, but since when has complicated processes ever stopped a geek when the end product was so cool? Still, Burt’s typing device was never commercially reproduced, but it was a vital first step in the evolution of typewriters and keyboards. If the typographer had been a runaway success, we would all likely be Tweeting on something resembling a Salad Shooter.

 

Image: Wikipedia

Moon Day

Today in 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin of Apollo 11 landed on the moon aboard the Eagle lunar module, making history as the first men to set foot on non-earthly soil.

They carried with them eons of man’s curiosity about the so-close-yet-so-far-away rock reflecting light in the night sky. That curiosity received a 21-hour indulgence as the two astronauts walked on the moon and collected lunar samples before finally catching a ride with fellow astronaut Michael Collins aboard the Columbia command module.

While Armstrong and Aldrin made history in the dust of the lunar surface, Collins would never have the chance to walk on the moon. After he played carpool mom for the other astronauts and kept the motor running on the command module, he never went into space again. His two space flights (one previously on the Gemini X mission) would earn him some notable bling, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, an honor also bestowed upon his crewmates.

To celebrate, re-live those first heady moments during the landing with the video above.

Flitch Day

If any family-minded organizations truly want to combat the 50 percent divorce rate, maybe they should fund this holiday!

Flitch Day started centuries ago in England as a reward for happily married couples. If you honestly said you both had been faithful and happy in your marriage, the monks would give you a side (or a flitch) of bacon. Yes, that’s right, FREE BACON! The harmonious (or ham-onious, if you like) duo would totter off to enjoy their well-earned year’s supply of meat. It’s like Santa became real, only he’s a marriage counselor who gives away food.

Celebrate today by serving up some bacon-y goodness to your sweetie and celebrate a year of happiness with a BLT, bacon cupcakes or even a bacon sundae. Mmm, the salty, delicious taste of togetherness.

Foam Rubber Day

You may not appreciate this day, but your tuckus does. Today in 1929, a scientist at the Dunlop Latex Development Labs took a kitchen mixer and some rubber and made cushy history.

The secret to foam rubber is that the mixture is 85 percent air, which gives it that soft, welcoming feeling when you sit down. Within a decade, Dunlop’s foam rubber was used in all kinds of rear end applications, from furniture to motorcycle seats. In time, it was adapted for use as insulation in appliances, home improvement and more. Most gamers will appreciate the fact that foam rubber and its’ descendants give their posteriors the ability to frag the night away with only some shifting and the occasional bout of swamp ass.

Celebrate today by taking a seat and enjoying the fact that those cheeks have something to sink into before they hit wood or steel. Ah, that’s the stuff.