Many of us by now have dropped our New Year’s Resolutions, but that doesn’t mean we still don’t attempt to find time to go the gym or eat. Despite your best efforts, you still might not have made it to that first work out session. Next time, when you’re on the bus or the train or stuck in traffic, you can get some exercising in instead of just staring at other passengers or carousing the radio stations.
There are estimated to be 128.3 million commuters in the United States with an average travel time of 25.1 minutes. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that the average person try to get in 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity aerobic exercise in addition to 2 hours of strength exercises. Even though its not possible to have a full work out session on the subway, you can get in that extra activity during your 30 minute commute. You’re also a bit limited if you drive, which most of us do, but there are simple things such as stationary crunches and arm routines you can do behind the wheel when stopped at stoplights or on the highway waiting for lanes to unclog.
You can check out the article and full list of exercises here.Posted in For Your Health, Fun Stuff, Tips and Tricks | Comments Off
March 16, 2012
It’s that time of year when the snow is beginning to melt, the temperatures are beginning to warm, and everyone has green on their minds. Maybe that’s why we’re so excited when St. Patrick’s Day creeps closer and closer on our calendar. Or it could just be that we’re happy for the opportunity to boast about having Irish ancestors.
But what is St. Patrick’s Day really about? Well, firstly, it’s not about leprechauns hiding pots of gold under rainbows. Secondly, it’s not about him literally driving the snakes from the Emerald Isle.
Like St. Valentine’s Day, there was actually a St. Patrick. Historians believe he was in 385 AD in the area we now call Wales. Patrick was initially a pagan, as much of the culture was at that point in time. He would not convert to Christianity until after his capture and subsequent enslavement by Irish marauders when he was 16. He escaped after six years and spent the next 12 studying in a Gaulish monastery. It was here that Patrick believed it was his mission in life to convert Irish pagans to Christianity and he returned with that goal in mind. For 30 years, Patrick traveled around Ireland, founding monasteries and converting pagans along the way. He died on March 17th, 461 AD.
Some of you might be asking, ‘Where do the snakes come into play?’ The snakes are not actually snakes at all. The act is a metaphor for his wide-spread conversion efforts among the Pagans. It was also his actions that created another important tenet of the holiday: The shamrock. St. Patrick, however, did not use a four-leaved clover. Instead, he used the three-leaved clover to explain the Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) to those he encountered. The shamrock was then adopted as a symbol of St. Patrick’s Day.
Irish immigrants brought the tradition with them when moving to America and the first St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated in Boston in 1737. The Boston St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are one of the largest held in the country. In Chicago, the river is dyed green and a big parade is held usually somewhere around the Loop. Other celebrations of the holiday are held throughout America, which is no surprise, as 11.9 % of Americans identified themselves as being of Irish-American descent in the 2008 Census.
Will many of us celebrate St. Patrick’s Day the traditional way? Probably not. It’s one the biggest drinking holidays around. If you’re planning on celebrating the luck of the Irish with a Guinness, remember to be safe and you know a reliable, designated driver.
Erin Go Bragh!Fun Stuff | Comments Off
March 14, 2012
You may remember reading back in mid-February about Dr. Maureen McBeth participating in a mission to Colombia to help those with lymphedema. Here’s a picture she just recently sent us of one of the patients being helped there:
Posted in Charitable Events, Fun Stuff, International | Comments Off
March 8, 2012
Have you ‘googled’ anything today? If not, you might not have seen the colorful Google animation above your search box.
So what is this particular doodle celebrating? Today, March 8th, is International Women’s Day.
The concept of a Women’s Day was borne out of the 20th century’s tumultuous beginnings. The world was expanding, science and industry were rapidly growing, and women had began to grow restless as they saw opportunities for men increase while their own remained stagnant. In 1909, the Socialist Party of America declared February 28th to be the first National Woman’s Day. Women in other countries observed the day as well after it was unanimously approved at the 1910 International Conference of Working Women. It was subsequently celebrated on the last Sunday of February until 1913 when it was moved to March 8th after Russian women started celebrating it as a way of rallying for peace before World War 1. The day was used to hold rallies for women’s rights, including the right to vote, to hold public office, and equal pay. Currently, it is a time for celebrating advancements in women’s right while bringing attention to inequalities still not balanced.
International Women’s Day is an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China, Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Zambia.
Here’s a link to the International Women’s Day website, where you can see events happening by country and read more about the history and mission: http://www.internationalwomensday.com/default.asp
Posted in Fun Stuff, International, Uncategorized | Comments Off
March 1, 2012
We just loved this story and thought we’d share it with all of you out there. A Solaris customer sent us pictures of a project her ten year old daughter works on in her spare time. She creates flowers out of duct tape to be donated to a senior care home. Each one takes about an hour to make. Take a look at some below!Charitable Events, Fun Stuff, International, Uncategorized | Comments Off
February 29, 2012
Has anyone said Happy Leap Day to you yet? Don’t worry, it’s still early! But don’t wait too long…Once the day is over, you won’t get to say Happy Leap Day for another four years…or so.
We’re used to months having a 29th day so you might not realize the significance of February 29th. It’s a day that only happens in a ‘leap year’. A leap year is a calendar year in which an extra day is added at the end of February. Why? Well, it’s an issue of mathematics.
There are 365 days in a year, right? Wrong. Don’t start Googling just yet. There are, essentially, 365 days in a year, but that’s because we round to the nearest hundred. In reality, there are 365.2422 days in a year, the time it takes for the Earth to make a full rotation around the sun. This fact birthed the concept of the leap year, which can be traced back to 46 BC when Julius Caesar commissioned the creation of the Julian calendar. We don’t use the Julian calendar anymore (most countries replaced it with the Gregorian calendar way back in the 16 and 1700s) because it added a leap day every three years. In 1582, it was nearly 134 days out of alignment and Pope Gregory XIII advocated the Gregorian calendar in order to keep Easter in line with the March equinox. That is why we have leap years, to keep our holidays and seasons properly aligned with our calendar. If we didn’t have this, our days would continue to move forward, and we’d be celebrating Thanksgiving in April.
That’s also why not every fourth year is a leap year. Doing so consistently would create the same problem the Julian calendar did. In general, leap years happen every year that can be divided by four…generally. The exception is that the rule doesn’t apply for years that are multiples of 400. I wasn’t kidding when I said it was a matter of mathematics.
Some scientists think the calendar system can be simplified and the need for leap years could be eliminated. Richard Conn Henry and Steve Hanke, both professors at John Hopkins University, presented their idea for a new calendar that would keep each date on the same day of every month. The proposed system would make our years only 364 days long and add an extra week to December approximately every six years. An extra holiday week sounds pretty cool, until you consider the fact that your gift shopping would be complicated by no longer being able to gift those clever little desk calendars.
We also want to say Happy Birthday to everyone who was born on February 29th. Their day only comes around once in a while, so we hope they have a great time celebrating. Happy Leap Day!
Sources: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/leap-day-today-feb-29-answer-timely-questions-article-1.1030304?localLinksEnabled=false http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_calendar#From_Julian_to_Gregorian
Posted in Fun Stuff | 2 Comments
February 21, 2012
Break out your masks and beads because today is Mardi Gras!
Also known as Fat Tuesday, today is the last big celebration before the Lent Season beginning with Ash Wednesday. Today, people around the world will celebrate by participating in carnivals and partaking of rich, fatty foods, like Paczkis, for instance!
Paczkis are deep fried doughnuts filled with some type of fruit filling, like cherry, raspberry, and even prune. They’re typically covered in a sugar, glaze, or something else yummy. These treats can be found year-round in some parts of the country, but for many others, they are only offered on Fat Tuesday.
There are many notable Mardi Gras celebrations throughout the world, but perhaps the most well known to us is the parade held in New Orleans, LA and the Carnivale in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. Other festivities are held in Belgium, Sweden, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands. Each region has their own set of customs and traditions, as well as different start times and dates. Some Mardi Gra festivities start in mid-Janaury and continue after Ash Wednesday.
Laissez les bons temps rouler!Posted in Fun Stuff | Comments Off
February 14, 2012
There are definitely mixed feelings when Valentine’s Day comes around. Some love it, others loathe it. However you feel, it’s still a major holiday, celebrated not only here in America, but also in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia.
So how did Valentine’s Day begin and evolve into the celebration of romance we know today? It’s not an easy question to answer. The origins of the holiday are a bit unclear. There was a St. Valentine, three in fact, all recognized by the Catholic Church and all martyrs. Which one is directly responsible for St. Valentine’s Day is a mystery, but there are a couple of different legends people attribute to him and his association with romance. Both stories take place in Roman times. In one version, St. Valentine is a priest who conducted secret marriages after Emperor Claudius II declared only single men could serve in the army. He is eventually found out and put to death for his actions. In the second version, St. Valentine was caught and imprisoned for trying to help Christians escape Roman prisons. While awaiting his death, he fell in love with the jailor’s daughter. Allegedly, he left a note for her right before his death, signed ‘From Your Valentine’. The phrase should sound familiar; it’s still in use today.
However, before St. Valentine, February was believed to be a month to celebrate love and fertility. The Roman festival of Lupercalia took place in the middle of the month on the ides of February. The ceremony began in a cavern where the Romans believed Romulus and Remus, the founding figures of their city, were taken in and cared for by a she-wolf. A goat and a dog would be sacrificed and skinned. The Luperci, a specific order of priests, would then use the goat hide to slap blood onto women and crop fields. It was believed the blood would increase the fields’, and the women’s, fertility. The day would end with all the names of young women being randomly picked by the town’s bachelors. They would be paired together for the following year, a match that more often than not ended in marriage.
It is thought that at the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius decreed St. Valentine’s Day to be celebrated on February 14th in an effort to outlaw the Lupercalia festival. However, St. Valentine’s Day would not become completely associated with romance until the Middle Ages. Valentine greetings were exchanged then, but it wasn’t until after the year 1400 that written greetings appeared. The oldest Valentine on record was from Charles, Duke or Orleans, written in 1415 to his wife during his imprisonment in the Tower of London. Despite the romantic notion, Valentines Day still would not be widely celebrated until the 17th century. Then, halfway through the 18th century, it was commonplace for friends and couples to give small tokens and handwritten notes to show their affection. After vast improvements to printing technology, ready-made cards became the easiest way for people to communicate how they felt. The tradition remains in place today; it is guessed that over 141 million cards are sent annually on Valentine’s Day, second only to Christmas, when 2.6 billion cards are thought to be sent.
85% of Valentines are purchased by women.
50% of Valentine cards are bought within a week of the holiday.
Over half of Americans celebrate by sending or giving greeting cards.
The most common Valentines gifts? Chocolate, Flowers, and Jewelry!
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February 6, 2012
We’re sure many of you tuned into Superbowl XLVI last night. Regardless of the outcome, it’s a tradition for many families to come together and watch ‘The Big Game’. However, do you know the origins behind it?
The idea for the Superbowl as we know it was conceived in the 1960s when the NFL began talks to merge with the AFL. The agreement made between the two leagues was set to take effect in the 1970 season and included a championship game to be played between two teams. The title ‘Superbowl’ was coined by Lamar Hunt, owner of the Kansas City Chiefs (AFL). It was inspired by two things: the first being a toy his children played with, and the second being the term for post-season college football games, such as the Rose Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, and the Orange Bowl.
Super Bowl I was played on January 15th, 1967 at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, CA. The Green Bay Packers went on to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10. They also won Super Bowl II against the Oakland Raiders 33-14 in Miami, Florida on January 14th, 1968. Two more Super Bowls would be played before the NFL and AFL merger was completed. After the merger, the two leagues transformed into two different conferences, the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC). The champions from each conference would then be the ones to meet at the Super Bowl. Winners receive the Vince Lombardi Trophy, which was named after the Green Bay Packer’s coach. Lombardi’s team also won the league championship three times prior to the two Super Bowl victories, in 1961, 1962, and 1965. The trophy wasn’t named for him until after his death in September of 1970. The first team to receive was the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl V.
The Pittsburgh Steelers hold the record for most Super Bowl wins (6), with the Dallas Cowboys and San Franciso 49ers following with five. The Minnesota Vikings and Buffalo Bills have played in four Super Bowls without winning a single one. Teams that have never been to the Super Bowl include the Cleveland Browns, the Detroit Lions, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Houstan Texans.
The game itself is important, of course, but how about the advertising? The Super Bowl is typically the most watched television program of the year and averages close to 80 or 90 million viewers. The last Super Bowl in 2011 had about 111 million viewers, a record that made it the most viewed television broadcast in American history. That kind of publicity is a gold mine for advertisers but comes at a price. In 2009, a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl cost $3 million! Perhaps one of the most well known ads was Apple’s ‘1984’ commercial and set a trend for companies to create expensive, high-concept commercials.
Though we know where the next Super Bowl will be held (New Orleans, LA), we don’t know who the two lucky teams will be. Good luck to them all as we look ahead to the 2012 football season!
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February 2, 2012
It’s February already, and for a lot of us, that means looking ahead to spring! The weather here in Wisconsin has been pretty mild, but we’ll see what Punxsutawney Phil has to say about that.
Groundhog Day actually began in the 18th-19th century and was celebrated in certain regions of Pennsylvania by those of German descent/ethnicity. The idea was that if the groundhog saw its shadow, it would go back to sleep for another six weeks. But, if it saw nothing, it would remain awake. Since then, there are multiple celebrations held each year, the largest being in Punxsutawney, PA. People also gather to celebrate Groundhog Day in Maryland, Virginia, Illinois, Georgia, and in Wiarton, Ontario, Shubenacadie, and Nova Scotia in Canada. It’s even an official university holiday at The University of Dallas in Irving, TX.
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