Mt. Vesuvius Erupts


volcano-pompei ruins

Vesuvius Day commemorates the epic eruption that had destroyed historic Pompeii and caused the death of about 16,000 people. On August, 24th 79 AD Mount Vesuvius erupted surprisingly after centuries of dormancy and buried the towns around with all the people under a cloud of lava, stones and ash. Mount Vesuvius is still an active volcano in the Province of Naples in Italy and about 4,200 feet high.

The exact dating of Mount Vesuvius Day is possible for the letters of the Roman Pliny the Younger who documented the great eruption. The Italian name of Mount Vesuvius is Monte Vesuvio. Although the danger of another eruption continues to exist, the fruitful earth around the volcano is still the basis of existence for many people. (from



Elvis Presley Day


Elvis Presley Day is a tribute for the “King of rock ‘n’ roll”. Elvis was a singer, musician and actor from the small US-American town Tupelo in the state of Mississippi. He sang gospel, ballads or songs that make you dance. In 1977 Elvis died unexpectedly on August 16 at his Graceland mansion in Memphis, Tennessee, where he is also interred.

Travel to Memphis or Tupelo and spend time in the museums close to the Elvis estate or the souvenir shops. Elvis Week takes place every year, with the biggest celebrations held close to the 16th.

Elvis did not participate in awards shows, did not perform in TV shows and exclusively surrounded himself with well-chosen colleagues. His death hit the headlines and caused a lot of special broadcasts and breaking news. Newspaper headlines the day after his demise proclaimed “The King is Dead.” His death is considered the end of an era and since then his fans recommend him annually on Elvis Presley Day, the anniversary of his death date. (from me and

Smile, You’re on Candid Camera


On this day in 1948, Allen Funt’s popular television show debuted.

Candid Camera is an American hidden camera/practical joke reality television series created and produced by Allen Funt, which initially began on radio as the Candid Microphone on June 28, 1947. After a series of theatrical film shorts, also titled Candid Microphone, Funt’s concept came to television this date in 1948 and continued into the 1970’s.

The show involved concealing cameras filming ordinary people being confronted with unusual situations, sometimes involving trick props, such as a desk with drawers that pop open when one is closed or a car with a hidden extra gas tank. When the joke was revealed, victims would be told the show’s catchphrase: “Smile, you’re on Candid Camera.” (from Wikipedia)

Purple Heart

The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the President to those wounded or killed while serving, on or after April 5, 1917, with the U. S. military. With its forerunner, the Badge of Military Merit, which took the form of a heart made of purple cloth, the Purple Heart is the oldest military award still given to U.S. military members.

The original Purple Heart, designated as the Badge of Military Merit, was established by George Washington– then the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army—by order this date in 1782. The Badge of Military Merit was only awarded to three Revolutionary War soldiers by General George Washington himself. He authorized his subordinate officers to issue Badges of Merit as appropriate. From then on, as its legend grew, so did its appearance. Although never abolished, the award of the badge was not proposed again officially until after World War I.

On October 10, 1927, a draft bill by the Army Chief of Staff Charles Summerall was sent to Congress “to revive the Badge of Military Merit.” Although withdrawn, a number of private interests sought to have the medal re-instituted in the Army. On January 7, 1931, Summerall’s successor, General Douglas MacArthur, confidentially reopened work on a new design, involving the Washington Commission of Fine Arts. Elizabeth Will, an Army heraldic specialist in the Office of the  Quartermaster Geneal, was named to redesign the newly revived medal, which became known as the Purple Heart. Using general specifications provided to her, Will created the design sketch for the present medal of the Purple Heart. The new design, which exhibits a bust and profile of  George Washington, was issued on the bicentennial of Washington’s birth.

The Commission of Fine Arts solicited plaster models from three leading sculptors for the medal. By Executive Order of the President of the United States, the Purple Heart was revived on the 200th Anniversary of George Washington’s birth, out of respect to his memory and military achievements.

The criteria were announced in a War Department circular dated February 22, 1932, and authorized an award to soldiers, upon their request, who had been awarded the Meritorious Service Citation Certificate,  Army Wound Ribbon, or were authorized to wear Wound Chevrons subsequent to April 5, 1917, the day before the United States entered World War I. The first Purple Heart was awarded to MacArthur. During the early period of American involvement in World War II, the Purple Heart was awarded both for wounds received in action against the enemy and for meritorious performance of duty. With the establishment of the Legion of Merit, by an Act of Congress, the practice of awarding the Purple Heart for meritorious service was discontinued. By Executive Order, dated December 3, 1942, the decoration was applied to all services; the order required a reasonable uniform application of the regulations for each of the Services. This executive order also authorized the award only for wounds received. For both military and civilian personnel during the World War II era, to meet eligibility for the Purple Heart, identification of circumstances was required.

After the award was re-authorized in 1932, some U.S. Army wounded from conflicts prior to the first World War applied for, and were awarded, the Purple Heart: “…veterans of the Civil War and Indian Wars, as well as the Spanish-American War, China Relief Expedition (Boxer Rebellion), and Philippine Insurrection” also were awarded the Purple Heart. Subject to the approval of the Secretary of Defense, an Executive Order dated April 25, 1962, included provisions for posthumous award of the Purple Heart. Execute Order dated February 23, 1984 authorized award of the Purple Heart as a result of terrorist attacks, or while serving as part of a peacekeeping force. On June 13, 1985, the Senate approved an amendment to the 1985 Defense Authorization Bill authorized the award for wounds received as a result of friendly fire.

During World War II, nearly 500,000 Purple Heart medals were manufactured in anticipation of the estimated casualties resulting from the planned Allied invasion of Japan. To the present date, total combined American military casualties of the seventy years following the end of World War II–including the Korean and Vietnam wars—have not exceeded that number. In 2003, there remained 120,000 Purple Heart medals in stock. The existing surplus allowed combat units in Iraq and Afghanistan to keep Purple Hearts on-hand for immediate award to soldiers wounded in the field.

The Purple Heart differs from most other decorations in that an individual is not “recommended” for the decoration; rather he or she is entitled to it upon meeting specific criteria. A Purple Heart is awarded for the first wound suffered under conditions indicated above, but for each subsequent award an oak leaf cluster with a 5/16″ star is worn in lieu of another medal. (from Wikipdia)


Champagne … I’ll drink to that!

Sparkling wines are produced worldwide, but many legal structures reserve the word Champagne exclusively for sparkling wines from the Champagne region, made in accordance with regulations. Champagne is produced from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France following those rules, including secondary fermentation of the wine in the bottle to create carbonation. It is illegal to label any product Champagne unless it both comes from the Champagne region and is produced under the stringent regulations.

Wines from the Champagne region were known before medieval times. The Romans were the first to plant vineyards in this area of north-east France, with the region being cultivated by at least the 5th century, possibly earlier. Later, churches owned vineyards, and monks produced wine for use in the sacrament of Eucharist. French kings were traditionally anointed in Reims, and Champagne was served as part of coronation festivities.

Royalty became associated with Champagne in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. The leading manufacturers made efforts to associate their Champagnes with nobility and royalty through advertising and packaging, which led to popularity among the emerging middle class.

Contrary to legend and popular belief, Dom Pérignon did not invent sparkling wine this day in 1693, though he did make important contributions to the production and quality of both still and sparkling Champagne wines. The oldest recorded sparkling wine was apparently invented by Benedictine Monks in 1531. They achieved this by bottling the wine before the initial fermentation had ended. Over a century later, the English scientist and physician Christopher Merret documented the addition of sugar to a finished wine to create a second fermentation, six years before Dom Pérignon set foot in the Abby of Hautvillers and almost 40 years before it was claimed that the famed Benedictine monk invented Champagne. Merret presented a paper at the Royal Society, in which he detailed what is now called méthod champenoise, in 1662. Merret’s discoveries coincided also with English glass-makers’ technical developments that allowed bottles to be produced that could withstand the required internal pressures during secondary fermentation. French glass-makers at this time could not produce bottles of the required quality or strength.

In France the first sparkling Champagne was created accidentally; the pressure in the bottle led it to be called “the devil’s wine” (le vin du diable), as bottles exploded or corks popped. In 1844 Adolphe Jaquesson invented the muselet, the wire cage that sits over the cork on Champagne that prevents corks from blowing out. Initial versions were difficult to apply and inconvenient to remove. Even when it was deliberately produced as a sparkling wine, Champagne was for a very long time made where the wine was bottled before the initial fermentation had finished. Champagne did not use the méthod champenoise until the 19th century, about 200 years after Merret documented the process.

In the 19th Century, Champagne was noticeably sweeter than the Champagnes of today. The trend towards drier Champagne began when Perrier-Jouet decided not to sweeten his 1846 vintage prior to exporting it to London. The designation Brut Champagne was created for the British in 1876.

The 19th century saw an exponential growth in Champagne production, going from a regional production of 300,000 bottles a year in 1800 to 20 million bottles in 1850.In 2007, Champagne sales hit an all-time record of 338.7 million bottles.  (from Wikipedia)