MONDAY BRIEFINGThe Sixth Month
Aug. 2 - If you read Friday's bloggish—such as it was—you know that our daughter finally came home from the hospital Friday. She was a month old Saturday. It was a weekend of disruption—disrupted sleep, disrupted meals, disrupted plans—and I loved every minute of it. (Almost every minute of it. Things I don't like: pulpy yellow feces, like country-style dijon, being shot at me from the cannon of Molli's bowels.)
This is a period of adjustment for all of us. The bloggish and almanac may or may not be irregular. The important thing is, don't panic.
I'm including August 3 almanac info in today's almanac as a provision against the possibility of not getting around to it tomorrow.
August, The Sixth Month
It's August, which means it's National Catfish Month. It's also National Golf Month, National Eye Exam Month, National Water Quality Month, Romance Awareness Month, Peach Month, and Foot Health Month.
How did a single month become so important? Like almost everything else that's difficult to understand, the history of August begins in Ancient Rome.
The Roman calendar was a mess. Not just because there were VII days in a week and XXVIII days in a month, but also because the calendar was being managed by a high priest. In 46 BC, for example, autumn began in January. This irritated Julius Caesar, who demanded that the calendar be reformed to make sense—and that the priests assigned to manage it stop getting high.
Caesar's new calendar went into effect on January 1, 45 BC. The fifth month of the year, Quintilis, which was actually been the seventh month of the year, was renamed July—short for Julius—in honor of his work on the calendar. (Calendar professionals still refer to July as the "Caesarian section.")
Years later, after Caesar's grand-nephew defeated Mark Anthony and Cleopatra and became emperor of Rome, the Senate decided to name a month after him. They chose the month of Sextillus, the sixth month (and therefore eighth), and renamed it Gaius Octavianus. Fortunately the Emperor renamed himself Augustus before any calendars had been printed.
The Emperor was not entirely pleased. His month had only 30 days, whereas his grand-uncle's had 31. The Senate immediately added another day to August, removing it from February in the hope of losing one day of winter to gain one of summer.
The Wild Kilo
On August 1, 1793, the kilogram first appeared in France. Developed by priests and scientists, the kilogram flourished as soon as it was released into the wild and can now be found thriving throughout the world. The kilogram can be found in parts of the United States, but has encountered too many indigineous predators to establish dominance.
El Rio de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula
In 1769, Spain sent an exploratory expedition from San Diego to Monterey to survey the area and identify places worth sending more people. The expedition was led by Gaspar de Portola, nephew of the celebrated Spanish comedian Uncle Porky, and included a number of religious missionaries assigned to impose afternoon naps upon the heathens.
Camping on some fertile ground beside a river on August 2, Father Juan Crespi suggested they name the river El Rio de Padre Juan Crespi. As the laughter subsided, he suggested El Rio de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula, "The River of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of Uncle Porky." It was agreed, and the merry band continued on their way.
Twelve years later Mexico's Spanish Governor, Felipe de Neve, began dispatching settlers to establish pueblos in the name of the Spanish King. These settlers were called "Los Pobladores" on account of their penchant for Poblas. One such group, led by Captain Rivera y Moncada, settled in the area by the previously mentioned river. They named their new community "Our Pueblo by the River of Our Lady of the Angels of Uncle Porky."
The settlement grew, and came to be known as "The City by the Pueblo by the River of Our Lady of the Angels of Uncle Porky."
In 1822, Mexico took California from Spain. In 1846, following two years of hostilities, the United States took it from Mexico. Many Americans were injured attempting to pronounce the name of El Ciudad del Pueblo del Rio de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula, which they therefore renamed Los Angeles in 1850.
California was admitted to the Union later that year.
Los Angeles retained that name until the middle of the last century, when even that became too difficult for most American tongues, at which point it finally became L.A.
On August 2, 1887, Rowell Hodge patented barbed wire. Mr Hodge had been inspired by the maxim that "good fences make good neighbors." He believed that barbed wire fences would make good neighbors even better while shredding the flesh of bad neighbors to bloody ribbons.
Half an hour before sunrise on August 3, 1492, Christopher Columbus famously set out to cross the ocean blue in a fleet of three ships: the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula.
Holidays and Birthdays
August 2 is the Anniversary of Uprising in Macedonia.
August 3 is Independence Day in Niger and National Watermelon Day in the United States.
Born on August 2: Victoria Jackson (1959), Judge Lance Ito (1950), Peter O'Toole (1932), James Baldwin (1924), Carroll O'Connor (1924), and Myrna Loy (1905).
Born on August 3: John Landis (1950), Martha Stewart (1941), Martin Sheen (1940), and Tony Bennett (1926).
© 2004, The Moron's Almanac