Sunday, April 1, 2018

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IT SHOULD BE A HOLIDAY

My lovely daughter Linda Gail ‘Belew’ LaZar was born in the year of 1959. On April 17, 2018, she will celebrate her 59th birthday at her home in Eugene, Oregon. Born in ’59 – age 59.

Happy Birthday Linda!

We LOVE you
Dad

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

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EASTER and APRIL FOOL'S DAY

April 1, 2018

For the first time since 1956, Easter Sunday falls on April 1 - or April Fool's Day. Since 1900, Easter has fallen on April Fool's Day only four times - 1923, 1934, 1945 and 1956. It won't happen again until 2029.

April 1, 1945, we celebrated Easter by invading the island of Okinawa. That was the last island my First Marine Division invaded while fighting the Japanese. I also celebrated my 20th birthday after almost 3 years in World War II.
 
The time when Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection of Christ, Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the spring equinox. The spring equinox occurs on March 20 this year.
Easter generally falls between March 22 and April 25 each year.

In addition to religious services, Easter is also celebrated with egg hunts, family gatherings and visits from the Easter Bunny, who leaves treats in children's Easter baskets.

The Easter/April Fool's combo isn't the only joint commemoration this year. In February, Valentine's Day fell on Ash Wednesday.

Origins of Easter

While the Bible does not mention "Easter," it's believed the name comes from early celebrations of the pre-Christian goddess Eostre, who was typically celebrated at the beginning of Spring. Eostre's name remained as early Christians marked the time of Jesus' resurrection and the title survived through history, though it was changed to "Easter" by English speakers.

The Easter season coincides with Passover, one of the most important festivals on the Jewish calendar. In 2018, Passover will begin on the evening of Friday, March 30 and ends in the evening of Saturday, April 7. Passover commemorates the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt.

Monday, March 12, 2018

St. Patrick’s Day will arrive, and once again many of my friends in the United States are getting ready for the day’s celebrations. One friend is currently in Savannah, home of the second largest St. Patrick’s Day event in the country. Friends are getting their green shirts ready for the day – for people growing up in certain parts of the United States, a failure to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day may result in you getting pinched!

While living in Dublin I was pretty surprised to find out that St. Patrick’s Day is nowhere near as big in Ireland as it tends to be in the United States, especially since the holiday originated in Ireland. This got me wondering why, so I did a little research.

In Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is a celebration of St. Patrick, and therefore a religious holiday. St. Patrick was the patron saint of Ireland, who lived in Ireland in the late 4th and early 5th centuries. He wasn’t Irish; in fact, he was a Romano-Briton who was captured by Irish raiders and taken to Ireland as a slave. In Ireland, St. Patrick was traditionally celebrated for the missionary work he performed in Ireland and is credited with bringing Christianity to the country; the holiday is therefore a religious holiday, similar to Christmas and Easter – it’s not a celebration of Ireland like it is in the United States. These days you can find St. Patrick’s Day parades, shamrocks, and free-flowing Guinness in Ireland, but it’s mostly there because the tourists wanted it there. If not for them, it would likely have remained a day of solemnity; in fact, up until 1970 Irish laws mandated that pubs be closed on St. Patrick’s Day.

So why did St. Patrick’s Day come to be such a huge deal in the United States? To Americans, especially those 36.5 million with Irish heritage, it represents something quite different than it does to the Irish living in Ireland. When close to a million poor Irish Catholics immigrated to the United States during the Great Potato Famine in the mid-1800s, they were despised for their religious beliefs and had a hard time finding even menial jobs. The first St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the United States were met with contempt. When the Irish began to realize that their great numbers gave them political power, they started to organize themselves into a force. Annual St. Patrick’s Day parades, that started not in Ireland but in New York City in March of 1762, were a demonstration of strength and solidarity among a people who, at that time, were for the most part unwelcome in protestant America.

So to Irish Americans and those claiming Irish American descent, a population that currently stands at about nine times the population of Ireland itself, St. Patrick’s Day means much more than the celebration of a religious figure – it’s a day that came to represent the strength and pride of the Irish people in a foreign land. And as such it has a very important meaning here – tens of millions of Americans are both proud to be American, and proud to be of Irish ancestry. On March 17th comes their chance to celebrate as such.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Turn your clocks back an hour at 2:00 a.m. Eastern Time on March 11, Saving Time wasn't always such a routine idea.
 
The first Daylight Saving Time policy began in Germany on May 1, 1916, in the hopes that it would save energy during World War I, according to Michael Downing, author of Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time. But, though Germans were first to mess with their clocks, they likely got the idea from Britain—and from someone whose ideas about Daylight Saving had little to do with conserving fuel.

William Willett had in 1907 published The Waste of Daylight. Willett was inspired by an early-morning epiphany that “the sun shines upon the land for several hours each day while we are asleep” and yet there “remains only a brief spell of declining daylight in which to spend the short period of leisure at our disposal.” Though he did mention that it would save money to reduce the use of artificial lighting, his main purpose was the increase enjoyment of sunlight. He lobbied Parliament for such legislation until his death in 1915—not living to see the law passed in England shortly after it was in Germany. (Frankfurt’s daily newspaper Zeitung published this dig: “It is characteristic of England that she could not rouse herself to a decision.”)

Across the pond, the first U.S. law on Daylight Saving Time went into effect on March 19, 1918, for the same fuel saving reasons, about a year after the country entered the war. But again, though the official reason was fuel saving, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was the major backer for the policy, Downing argues, because Americans getting off work while it was still light out meant they would be more likely to go out shopping in the evening.

Sports and recreation industries saw the light, too. “Golf ball sales skyrocketed during Daylight Saving Time,” according to Downing. “Baseball is a huge early supporter, too, because there’s no artificial illumination of parks, so to get school kids and workers to ball games with the extended daylight, they have a later start time.” Some even considered Daylight Saving Time a good health policy, given the extra time people had to be outdoors.

But the policy also had its opponents—”the movie industry hated Daylight Saving Time because people were much less likely to go into dark theaters when it was bright outside,” Downing says—and none more powerful than the farm lobby. That farmers advocated for Daylight Saving is a common myth. In fact, Daylight Saving Time meant they had less time in the morning to get their milk and harvested crops to market. Some warned it was “taking us off God’s time.”

“It’s so unpopular when we experiment with Daylight Saving Time during World War I that before the Versailles Treaty is signed [at the end of the war], Congress is forced to sign a repeal to quell the revolt from the farm lobby, it’s that potent a lobby,” says Downing.

There wouldn’t be another national Daylight Saving Time policy until 1942, for the duration of World War II, but New York City, however, continued to observe a metropolitan Daylight Saving Time all along. Because of the city’s position as a financial capital, other places followed. The result, Downing says, was “cities observing Daylight Saving Time surrounded by rural areas that are not, and no one can tell what time it is anywhere.” In fact, TIME’s letters department received a poem from an Ohio man about just that topic: “To miss a train or business deal, / Because our clocks are without keel / Can cause a nation loss of gold / E’en worse than all the misers hold.”

By 1966, the confusion was bad enough to prompt the Uniform Time Act. Signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, the first peacetime Daylight Saving Time law said that the United States policy would be to observe six months of Daylight Saving Time and six months of Standard Time. It required states to either adopt Daylight Saving Time entirely or opt out, avoiding the patchwork of cities and counties that had been so problematic, according to Downing. For example, Arizona opted out because an extra hour of daylight in the summer doesn’t make sense when it’s over 100 degrees already, as a March 1969 Arizona Republic editorial explained.

In 1973, shortly after the oil embargo went into effect, President Richard Nixon called for year-round Daylight Saving Time. A brief trial ended—partly because of fears that children would get hit by cars in the dark—but Daylight Saving Time has nevertheless grown. In 1986, the U.S. started observing seven months of it—an extra month that the golf industry and manufacturers of barbecue equipment claimed was worth between $200 million and $400 million. And since 2005, the U.S. has been observing eight months of Daylight Saving Time.

By now, the original stated purpose of the idea—saving energy—has been called into question.
While a 2008 U.S. Department of Energy report found a 0.5% decrease in total electricity use per day since the 2005 extension, other studies have found that Daylight Saving may actually fuel energy usage. For example, a 2011 study by economists Matthew J. Kotchen and Laura E. Grant found that, after some Indiana counties began observing Daylight Saving, overall residential electricity consumption increased as much as 4%.

But Willett’s original point holds true: an extra hour of daylight is, generally, enjoyable—and as Daylight Saving ends and darkness begins earlier, the U.S. will once again look forward to spring to see all that sunlight in person.

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the President who signed the Uniform Time Act of 1966. It was Lyndon B. Johnson.