Since Spring is Almost Here, That Means SPRING CLEANING, YEAH! (Not!)

 

HOMEMADE CLEANERS: FOR CARPET, FLOOR, GLASS, DRAINS

January 23, 2010

Here is advice on how to make homemade cleaners and stain removers for your home. If you have any great tips, please post your own comments below!

FLOOR CLEANERS AND POLISHES

  • Need to polish the floors? Try polishing with baking soda to make them sparkle.
  • Wash away grease spots and dull, greasy film on no-wax linoleum floors with a solution of ½ cup of white vinegar and ½ gallon of water. Your floor will look sparking clean.
  • For linoleum, damp-mop using a solution of a mild detergent and water for day-to-day cleaning. Keep water away from seams and edges to prevent loosening of the tiles. To preserve the floor, add a capful of baby oil to the mop water.
  • For brick and stone floors, mix 1 cup of white vinegar into 1 gallon of water. Scrub floor with a brush and vinegar solution, then rinse.
  • For ceramic tile floors, mix ¼ cup of white vinegar into 1 gallon of water. This solution removes most dirt without scrubbing. Soap doesn’t work well if you have hard water.

CARPET CLEANERS

  • Blood: Sponge the stain immediately with cold water or club soda, and dry it with a towel. Repeat as necessary.
  • Ink: Soak ink stains in lemon juice.
  • Muddy footprints: Sprinkle salt on the mud and let it dry before vacuuming.
  • Urine: Dab the area with a towel, wash it with suds of liquid hand-dishwashing detergent, and rinse it with ½ cup of vinegar diluted in one quart of warm water. Lay towels over the spot and weigh it down to absorb excess moisture. Let it sit for 6 to 8 hours; then remove the toweling, brush up the nap, and let the carpet dry completely.
  • Vomit: Mix one part white vinegar to eight parts water in a bucket or spray bottle. Spray onto the stain and allow it to set for one to two minutes. Then blot up the remaining vinegar with absorbent paper towels until no more moisture comes up.
  • Soot: Sprinkle the area generously with salt. Allow the salt to settle for a least 15 minutes before vacuuming.

FURNITURE POLISH

  • Mix 2 parts vegetable or olive oil and 1 part lemon juice. Apply and polish with a soft cloth. This leaves furniture looking and smelling good.

GLASS AND WINDOW CLEANERS

  • ½ cup vinegar to 1 gallon water (or 2 tablespoons per quart)
  • ½ cup ammonia to 1 gallon water (or 2 tablespoons per quart)
  • To clean cut glass, sprinkle baking soda on a damp rag and clean the glass. Rinse and then polish with a soft cloth.
  • Remove stains on glass by rubbing them with toothpaste. Polish with a soft cloth.

GREASE REMOVERS

  • For grease on kitchen floors, immediately pour salt on the spot to absorb the grease and prevent staining.
  • If you spill grease on a wood floor, immediately place ice cubes or very cold water on the spot. The grease will harden and then can be carefully scraped off. Finally, iron a piece of cloth or folded paper towel over the grease spot to soak up any remaining grease.

ALL-PURPOSE CLEANERS

  • Mix together vinegar and salt for a good surface cleaning.
  • Dissolve 4 tablespoons of baking soda in 1 quart of warm water for a general cleaner. Or, use baking soda on a damp sponge. Baking soda will clean and deodorize all kitchen and bathroom surfaces.

DRAIN CLEANERS AND OPENERS

  • To avoid clogged drains, use a drain strainer to trap food particles and hair, and collect grease in cans rather than pouring it down the drain.
  • Weekly, pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain to melt fat that may be building up, or pour some vinegar and baking soda down the drain to break down fat and keep your drain smelling fresh.
  • To open a drain, pour ½ cup of baking soda down the drain. Add ½ cup of white vinegar and cover the drain if possible. Let it sit for a few minutes, then pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain to flush it.
  • Another way to open a drain is to pour ½ cup of salt and ½ cup of baking soda down the drain. Follow this with 6 cups of boiling water. Let it sit overnight and then flush it with water. The hot water wil help dissolve the clog, and the baking soda and salt serve as an abrasive to break through the clog.

 

Published on The Old Farmer’s Almanac

 

 

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The Old Farmer’s Almanac for March 18: FULL MOON ON THE SPRING EQUINOX

 

FULL MOON ON THE SPRING EQUINOX

March 15, 2019

This is one of those rare years when the full Moon lands right smack on the spring equinox—on March 20, 2019, in North America. This only happens three times a century, on average.  And it’s the third and final “supermoon.” Enjoy the extra-bright equinox full moon Wednesday night!

  • For most people, the equinox’s main significance is that it’s the start of spring, so to be exact, you can wave flags and pour extra treats into the bird feeders at 5:58 PM EDT Wednesday afternoon, March 20.
  • It’s also the day when the Sun rises and sets precisely due east and due west. So on Wednesday you can rotate and calibrate your sundial, that job you’ve been putting off for so long.
  • It’s the day when the Sun moves across the sky in a laser-straight line. It’s when the noonday sun stands in its medium or average height above your southern horizon.
  • And, yes, the days and nights are sort of equal for people throughout the world. Not exactly equal, but close enough.

FULL MOON ON THE VERNAL EQUINOX

The Full Moon of March happens just a tad less than four hours after the equinox, at 9:43 PM EDT on March 20 2019, so it will indeed appear perfectly round Wednesday night.

This is the closest coincidence of the vernal equinox and full moon since March 20, 2000. For the Northern Hemisphere, this March full moon ushers in the first full moon of the spring season; in the Southern Hemisphere, this is the first full moon of autumn.

Further, this is the third and final “supermoon” of 2019—which is just a catchy term for a full moon closely coinciding with perigee, the moon’s closest point to Earth in its monthly orbit.

MOONRISE AND SUNSET COINCIDE!

The equinox and full Moon are a close enough match that you can look for moonrise at very nearly the same moment as sunset!  Both of our major sky lights hovering opposite each other—the sun setting just as the full moon is rising.

Very cool, and yet their opposition is not perfectly precise. The Sun will do its job and set at the true west spot on your horizon. You’ll be able to ascertain how your home is oriented to the cardinal directions. But the Moon’s orbit is tilted five degrees from the Sun-Earth plane, so the trio of celestial bodies is rarely aligned in all three dimensions, which is why total solar eclipses are so uncommon.

On Wednesday evening, at the time of moonrise, the Moon will be four degrees north of the ecliptic plane, which will make it come up a whopping eight full moon diameters to the left of due east.

Yet, if you want the Moon to guide your eyes to true east, it’s doable. But you must wait 40 minutes after moonrise, as the Moon slowly glides up and to the right. Then it will hover precisely due east. We can’t give you an exact time because we don’t know where you live. But roughly speaking, when you see the Moon just a few degrees above the horizon that evening, it’ll be hovering true east.

And that’s the full Moon equinox story. We’re out of room, which is why we neglected eggs balancing on edge, squirrels speaking French, and all the other supposed effects you find on the Web.

 

ABOUT THIS BLOG

Welcome to “This Week’s Amazing Sky,” the Almanac’s hub for everything stargazing and astronomy. Bob Berman, longtime and famous astronomer for The Old Farmer’s Almanac, will help bring alive the wonders of our universe. From the beautiful stars and planets to magical auroras and eclipses, he covers everything under the Sun (and Moon)! Bob, the world’s mostly widely read astronomer, also has a new weekly podcast, Astounding Universe!

Published on The Old Farmer’s Almanac

The Old Farmer’s Almanac for March 18: FIRST DAY OF SPRING 2019: THE SPRING EQUINOX

 

FIRST DAY OF SPRING 2019: THE SPRING EQUINOX

CELEBRATE THE VERNAL EQUINOX AND THE START OF SPRING!
March 15, 2019

The spring equinox (also called the March equinox or vernal equinox) falls on Wednesday, March 20, 2019, at 5:58 P.M. EDT. This event marks the astronomical first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Enjoy our spring equinox facts, folklore, photos, and more!

WHEN IS THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING?

Spring begins with the vernal equinox, which always occurs on March 19, 20, or 21.

Year Spring Equinox (Northern Hemisphere)
2019 Wednesday, March 20, at 5:58 P.M. EDT
2020 Thursday, March 19, at 11:49 P.M. EDT
2021 Saturday, March 20, at 5:37 A.M. EDT

A FULL MOON ON THE SPRING EQUINOX!

The last time the Full Worm Moon happened less than one day of the March equinox was 19 years ago, in 2000, and the next time will be 11 years from now, in 2030.

But that’s not all: March’s full Moon will also be a supermoon, meaning that it will be slightly larger than most of the other full Moons this year.

What an extra-bright way to greet spring!!

 

WHAT DOES THE EQUINOX MEAN?

The word equinox comes from the Latin words for “equal night”—aequus (equal) and nox (night).

On the equinox, the length of day and night is nearly equal in all parts of the world.

With the equinox, enjoy the increasing sunlight hours, with earlier dawns and later sunsets.

 

WHAT HAPPENS ON THE MARCH EQUINOX?

On the March Equinox, the Sun crosses the celestial equator from south to north. It’s called the “celestial equator”  because it’s an imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator.

If you were standing on the equator, the Sun would pass directly overhead on its way north.

Equinoxes are the only two times a year that Sun only rises due east and sets due west for all of us on Earth!

While the Sun passes overhead, the tilt of the Earth is zero relative to the Sun, which means that Earth’s axis neither points toward nor away from the Sun. (Note, however, that the Earth never orbits upright, but is always tilted on its axis by about 23.5 degrees.)

After the Spring equinox, the Norther Hemisphere tilts toward the Sun, which is why we start to get longer, sunnier days

 

SPRING EQUINOX FAQS

Q: IS THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING ALWAYS MARCH 20?

A: No, it’s not always March 20. And your answer also depends on your definition of the “first day of spring.”  Both are accurate; they’re just from different perspectives. We’ll explain …

Astronomically speaking, the first day of spring is marked by the spring equinox, which falls on March 19, 20, or 21 every year. The equinox happens at the same moment worldwide, though our clock times reflect a different time zone. And, as mentioned above, this date only signals spring’s beginning in the Northern Hemisphere; it announces fall’s arrival in the Southern Hemisphere.

Interestingly, due to time zone differences, there isn’t a March 21 equinox in mainland U.S. during the entire 21st century! Plus, we won’t see a March 21 in the world again until 2101.

Meteorologically speaking, the official first day of spring is March 1 (and the last is May 31). Weather scientists divide the year into quarters to make it easier to compare seasonal and monthly statistics from one year to the next. The meteorological seasons are based on annual temperature cycles rather than on the position of Earth in relation to the Sun, and they more closely follow the Gregorian calendar. Using the dates of the astronomical equinoxes and solstices for the seasons would present a statistical problem, as these dates can vary slightly each year.

Q: ARE DAY AND NIGHT EQUAL ON THE EQUINOX?

A: No, but they are close to equal. In reality, day and night are not exactly equal at the equinox for two reasons: First, daytime begins the moment any part of the Sun is over the horizon, and it is not over until the last part of the Sun has set. If the Sun were to shrink to a starlike point and we lived in a world without air, the spring and fall equinoxes would truly have ‘equal nights.’

Q: ACCORDING TO FOLKLORE, YOU CAN STAND A RAW EGG ON END ON THE EQUINOX. IS THIS TRUE?

A: Folklore or not, this egg trick sounded like fun to us. One spring, a few minutes before the vernal equinox, several Almanac editors tried this trick. For a full workday, 17 out of 24 eggs stood standing. Three days later, we tried this trick again and found similar results. Perhaps 3 days after the equinox was still too near. Perhaps the equinox has nothing to do with it. Perhaps we just don’t like to take ourselves too seriously! Try this yourself and let us know what happens.

Q: WHICH DAY HAS THE MOST SUNLIGHT IN NORTH AMERICA?

A:  The Summer or June Solstice is called the “longest” day of the year! The date of the longest day actually varies between June 20 and June 22, depending on the year, and the local time zone. By “longest day,” we mean the day that gets the most daylight (versus darkness).

HOW DO YOU CELEBRATE THE VERNAL EQUINOX?

The vernal equinox signals new beginnings and nature’s renewal in the Northern Hemisphere! Many cultures celebrate spring festivals, like Easter and Passover.

Observe nature around you!

  • Worms begin to emerge from the earth. In fact, the March Full Moon is called “The Full Worm Moon” for this reason.
  • Notice the arc of the Sun across the sky as it shifts toward the north. Birds are migrating northward, along with the path of the Sun.
  • Speaking of birds, did you know that the increasing sunlight is what triggers birds to sing? Cool, eh?
  • Trees, shrubs, and flowers are sensitive to temperature and day-length, too! Since ancient days, people have used them as indicators of when the weather is right for planting. For example: Blooming crocus are your cue to plant radishes, parsnips, and spinach.
  • Of course, the longer days bring warmer weather! Both we and the animals around us strip off our clothes and heavy coats!
  • Ready, set, plant! March is time to start gardens and sow seeds in many regions.

ANCIENT EQUINOX TRADITIONS: THE SNAKE OF SUNLIGHT

Scientific explanation aside, our ancestors were more connected to the Sun than we are today. They observed its pathway across the sky; they tracked how the sunrise, sunset, and day length changed, using the Sun (and Moon) as a clock and calendar.

There are many ancient sites that mark the equinoxes (and solstices). One of the most famous ancient Spring equinox celebrations was at Chichen Itza in Mexico. The Mayans built a huge pyramid around the year A.D. 1000.  The play of the Sun’s light on it signals the beginning of the seasons. On the spring equinox, it looks like a huge snake is slithering down the steps. Mayans called this day “the return of the Sun serpent.”

SPRING VERSE, QUOTES, AND SAYINGS

Verse

  • For glad Spring has begun,
    And to the ardent sun
    The earth, long time so bleak,
    Turns a frost-bitten cheek. 

    – Celia Thaxter, American poet (1835–94)
  • Spring-time sweet!
    The whole Earth smiles, thy coming to greet. 
    – Unknown
  • Never yet was a springtime,
    Late though lingered the snow,
    That the sap stirred not at the whisper
    Of the southwind, sweet and low.

    – Margaret Elizabeth Sangster, American writer (1838–1912)

Quotes

  • Spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party!”
    – Robin Williams (1951–2014)

Sayings

  • Bluebirds are a sign of spring; warm weather and gentle south breezes they bring.
  • One swallow does not make a spring.
  • In spring, no one thinks of the snow that fell last year.
  • When the dandelions bloom early in spring, there will be a short season. When they bloom late, expect a dry summer. 
  • Don’t say that spring has come until you can put your foot on nine daisies.

 

Source

The Old Farmer’s Almanac

The Old Farmer’s Almanac for March 8: SEE WHEN DST STARTS AND ENDS, PLUS THE HISTORY OF DST

 

5 TIPS TO ADJUST TO THE TIME CHANGE!

HOW DAYLIGHT SAVING AFFECTS YOUR SLEEP AND TIPS TO ADJUST
By Catherine Boeckmann

When does Daylight Saving Time 2019 begin and end? Find dates here—as well as the history of Daylight Saving Time, which highlights the seemingly endless debate about saving daylight and changing our clocks.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac (around since the beginning of time or, at least, Benjamin Franklin’s day) answers your frequent questions …

WHAT IS DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME?

Daylight Saving Time (DST) is the practice of moving the clocks forward one hour from Standard Time for the summer months, and changing them back again in the fall. The general idea is that this allows us all to make better use of natural daylight. However, DST has many detractors.

Note that the term is “Daylight Saving Time” and not “Daylight Savings Time” with an “s” at the end of “Saving.” (The word “saving” is singular because it acts as part of an adjective rather than a verb.)

WHEN IS DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME IN 2019?

To remember which way to set their clocks, folks often use the expression, “Spring forward, fall back.”

DST begins on Sunday, March 10, 2019, at 2:00 A.M. Remember to “spring forward” in the spring and set your clocks forward one hour (i.e., losing one hour).

DST ends on Sunday, November 3, 2019, at 2:00 A.M. At this time, we “fall back” in the fall by setting clocks back one hour (i.e., gaining one hour).

Note: Since the time changes at 2:00 A.M., we generally change our clocks at Saturday bedtime.

DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME DATES

(The exceptions to DST are Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.)

Year Daylight Saving Time Begins Daylight Saving Time Ends
2019 Sunday, March 10 at 2:00 A.M. Sunday, November 3 at 2:00 A.M.
2020 Sunday, March 8 at 2:00 A.M. Sunday, November 1 at 2:00 A.M.
2021 Sunday, March 14 at 2:00 A.M. Sunday, November 7 at 2:00 A.M.

THE HISTORY OF DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME

Does changing the clocks really provide benefits? We’ll let you be the judge.

BLAME BEN?

Benjamin Franklin’s “An Economical Project,” written in 1784, is the earliest known proposal to “save” daylight. It was whimsical in tone, advocating laws to compel citizens to rise at the crack of dawn to save the expense of candlelight:

Every morning, as soon as the Sun rises, let all the bells in every church be set ringing: and if that is not sufficient, let cannon be fired in every street to wake the sluggards effectually… . Oblige a man to rise at four in the morning, and it is probable that he will go willingly to bed at eight in the evening.”

DST’S TRUE FOUNDER?

The first true proponent of Daylight Saving Time was an Englishman named William Willet. A London builder, he conceived the idea while riding his horse early one morning in 1907. He noticed that the shutters of houses were tightly closed even though the Sun had risen. In “The Waste of Daylight,” the manifesto of his personal light-saving campaign, Willet wrote, “Everyone appreciates the long, light evenings. Everyone laments their shrinkage as the days grow shorter; and nearly everyone has given utterance to a regret that the nearly clear, bright light of an early morning during Spring and Summer months is so seldom seen or used… . That so many as 210 hours of daylight are, to all intents and purposes, wasted every year is a defect in our civilization. Let England recognise and remedy it.”

Willet spent a small fortune lobbying businessmen, members of Parliament, and the U.S. Congress to put clocks ahead 20 minutes on each of the four Sundays in April, and reverse the process on consecutive Sundays in September. But his proposal was met mostly with ridicule. One community opposed it on moral grounds, calling the practice the sin of “lying” about true time.

WORLD WAR I LED TO ADOPTION OF DST

Attitudes changed after World War I broke out. The government and citizenry recognized the need to conserve coal used for heating homes. The Germans were the first to officially adopt the light-extending system in 1915, as a fuel-saving measure during World War I. This led to the introduction in 1916 of British Summer Time: From May 21 to October 1, clocks in Britain were put an hour ahead.

The United States followed in 1918, when Congress passed the Standard Time Act, which established the time zones. However, this was amidst great public opposition. A U.S. government Congressional Committee was formed to investigate the benefits of Daylight Saving Time. Many Americans viewed the practice as an absurd attempt to make late sleepers get up early. Others thought that it was unnatural to follow “clock time” instead of “Sun time.” A columnist in the Saturday Evening Postoffered this alternative: “Why not ‘save summer’ by having June begin at the end of February?”

The matter took on new meaning in April 1917, when President Woodrow Wilson declared war. Suddenly, energy conservation was of paramount importance, and several efforts were launched to enlist public support for changing the clocks. A group called the National Daylight Saving Convention distributed postcards showing Uncle Sam holding a garden hoe and rifle, turning back the hands of a huge pocket watch. Voters were asked to sign and mail to their congressman postcards that declared, “If I have more daylight, I can work longer for my country. We need every hour of light.” Manhattan’s borough president testified to Congress that the extra hour of light would be a boon to home gardening, and therefore increase the Allies’ food supply. Posters chided, “Uncle Sam, your enemies have been up and are at work in the extra hour of daylight—when will YOU wake up?”

With public opinion in its favor, Congress officially declared that all clocks would be moved ahead one hour at 2:00 A.M. on March 31, 1918. (Canada adopted a similar policy later the same year.) Americans were encouraged to turn off their lights and go to bed earlier than they normally did—at around 8:00 P.M.

FARMERS DID NOT FAVOR DST

Many Americans wrongly point to farmers as the driving force behind Daylight Saving Time. In fact, farmers were its strongest opponents and, as a group, stubbornly resisted the change from the beginning.

When the war was over, the farmers and working-class people who had held their tongues began to speak out. They demanded an end to Daylight Saving Time, claiming that it benefited only office workers and the leisure class. The controversy put a spotlight on the growing gap between rural and urban dwellers. As a writer for the Literary Digest put it, “The farmer objects to doing his early chores in the dark merely so that his city brother, who is sound asleep at the time, may enjoy a daylight motor ride at eight in the evening.”

The Daylight Saving Time experiment lasted only until 1920, when the law was repealed due to opposition from dairy farmers (cows don’t pay attention to clocks). No fewer than 28 bills to repeal Daylight Saving Time had been introduced to Congress, and the law was removed from the books. American had tolerated Daylight Saving Time for about seven months.

DST RETURNS

The subject did not come up again until after the attack on Pearl Harbor, on December 7, 1941, and the United States was once again at war.

During World War II, Daylight Saving Time was imposed once again (this time year-round) to save fuel. Clocks were set one hour ahead to save energy.

After the war (which concluded with Japan’s final surrender on September 2, 1945), Daylight Saving Time started being used on and off in different states, beginning and ending on days of their choosing.

LOCAL DIFFERENCES AND INCONSISTENCY

Inconsistent adherence to time zones among the states created considerable confusion with interstate bus and train service. To remedy the situation, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act in 1966, establishing consistent use of Daylight Saving Time within the United States: Clocks were to be set ahead one hour on the last Sunday in April and one hour back on the last Sunday in October.

That was the rule, but some state legislatures took exception via a loophole that had been built into the law. Residents of Hawaii and most of Arizona did not change their clocks. Residents of Indiana, which straddles the Eastern and Central time zones, were sharply divided on Daylight Saving Time: Some counties employed it, some did not.

In 1986, the U.S. Congress approved a bill to increase the period of Daylight Saving Time, moving the start to the first Sunday in April. The goal was to conserve oil used for generating electricity—an estimated 300,000 barrels annually. Still, some resistance remained:

  • In 1997, a bill was introduced to end Daylight Saving Time in Nevada.
  • In 2001, the California legislature requested that its state be allowed to enact Daylight Saving Time year-round in order to eliminate rolling blackouts caused by the electricity crisis in that state.

Neither of these proposed changes came to pass.

DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME TODAY

The current daylight saving period was established with the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which went into effect in 2007. As a result, most Americans now spring forward (turn clocks ahead and lose an hour) on the second Sunday in March (at 2:00 A.M.) and fall back (turn clocks back and gain an hour) on the first Sunday in November (at 2:00 A.M.).

However, even today, farmers’ organizations lobby Congress against the practice, preferring early daylight to dry their fields and a Standard Time sunset for ending their work at a reasonable hour. Some farmers point out that the Daylight Saving Time is deceptively misnamed. “It is a gimmick that changes the relationship between ‘Sun’ time and ‘clock’ time but saves neither time nor daylight,” says Katherine Dutro, spokesperson for the Indiana Farm Bureau.

Most of Canada is on Daylight Saving Time; only portions of Saskatchewan and small pockets of British Columbia remain on Standard Time year-round. However, the practice has its detractors. In the words of a current-day Canadian poultry producer, “The chickens do not adapt to the changed clock until several weeks have gone by, so the first week of April and the last week of October are very frustrating for us.” Similarly, one Canadian researcher likened an increase in traffic accidents to the onset of Daylight Saving Time. Other experts insist that the extra hour of daylight reduces crime.

 

–Old Farmer’s Almanac

 

The Old Farmer’s Almanac for March 8: DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME 2019: WHY DO WE HAVE DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME?

 

DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME 2019: WHY DO WE HAVE DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME?

THE STRANGENESS OF DAYLIGHT SAVING

This weekend brings the long-awaited start of Daylight Saving Time, which suddenly fills our evenings with brightness. The way our clocks “spring ahead” is a strange business.

DST begins on Sunday, March 10, 2019, at 2:00 A.M. We are told to “spring forward” in the spring and set our clocks forward one hour (i.e., losing one hour).

It means that this Saturday night, you cannot have an appointment with anybody at 2:30 AM because that simply does not exist. Or, you could boast that in solidarity for World Peace, you will remain balanced on one leg from 1:59 until 3:01 AM.  Mr. Spock and other logic-loving Vulcans still might not be too enthusiastic, for the way our clocks “spring ahead” is downright illogical.

It didn’t have to be; In fact Daylight Time starts off being a wonderfully sensible idea.

WHY WE CHANGE OUR CLOCKS

In a nutshell, we modify our clocks so that an hour of brightness that would fall in the generally unusable realm of five in the morning gets transferred to a time when we’re all awake.

  • Changing the clocks does not create extra daylight; however, it causes the Sun to rise and set at a later time by our man-made clocks. When we spring forward an hour this Sunday, we add 1 hour of natural daylight to our afternoon schedule.
  • A century ago, DST was supposed to save energy because it used less artificial light. However, today, the amount of energy saved is negligible or even non-existent, due to modern society’s use of computers, TV, air conditioning units, etc. When the state of Indiana decided to introduce DST in 2006, a study found that the measure actually increased energy use in the state.

But being human we apparently found it impossible to make the project fully rational, so we’ve added a wild, screwy twist.

  • We advance the clocks now, 11 days before the spring equinox. So far, so good.
  • Common sense then demands that we set them back again when the Sun and length of day symmetrically return to their present positions, which will happen soon after the autumn equinox, specifically October 1. Instead, however, Daylight Time is bewilderingly set by Congress to end over a full month later, on November 3.
  • If for some reason we couldn’t bear to give up November’s date, then the start of Daylight Time, for balance and logic, ought to be the first week of February! Nobody has ever offered a syllable of justification for the current system; It just is, like raisin bran and the bow tie.

It used to be worse. Before 1986, Daylight Time began even later, on the last Sunday in April, which made even less sense. Alternatively, one might opt out of the whole thing, the way Arizona and Hawaii do. And Africa. And most of Asia. Or one could keep fooling around with it, the way Russia did when it had year-round Daylight time until 2014, and then switched to year-round standard time.

Odds are, no one’s finished screwing with this.

 

ABOUT THIS BLOG

Welcome to “This Week’s Amazing Sky,” the Almanac’s hub for everything stargazing and astronomy. Bob Berman, longtime and famous astronomer for The Old Farmer’s Almanac, will help bring alive the wonders of our universe. From the beautiful stars and planets to magical auroras and eclipses, he covers everything under the Sun (and Moon)! Bob, the world’s mostly widely read astronomer, also has a new weekly podcast, Astounding Universe!

Published on The Old Farmer’s Almanac

The Old Farmer’s Almanac for March 5: HOW MARDI GRAS STARTED: HARD WINTERS AND CHARITY

 

HOW MARDI GRAS STARTED: HARD WINTERS AND CHARITY

It’s Mardi Gras time in New Orleans. Can spring be far away?

It’s hard to believe that Mardi Gras started with long hard winters and acts of charity. However, before it was a day for parties, Mardi Gras started out as a day to help the hungry and the poor.

Most people know Mardi Gras as the last extravagant day before Lent. Even the name, Mardi Gras, translates to Fat Tuesday suggesting the last feast of rich food before the self-denial some Christians observe before Easter. However, before it was a day for parties, Mardi Gras started out as hungry day near the end of winter, when people needed charity.

In the past, the last six weeks of winter could be very harsh and food supplies frequently ran short. In Medieval France, Mardi Gras became a traditional day when the poor were allowed to visit their wealthier neighbors and beg for food. In return, they would sing, dance and entertain their hosts. As traditions evolved, the beggars began to wear costumes, hiding their identities and salvaging their pride. They formed parades and a painful begging process evolved into a party.

 

Local communities in Louisiana celebrate old-fashioned Courir de Mardi Gras, closer to the original days of sharing food, drink and hospitality. Source: Wikipedia

Today, rural Louisiana has the costumed parades from house to house, as neighbors share food, drink and hospitality. These Courir de Mardi Gras usually end with gumbo and contests in a community center. In cities, it has evolved into more of a spectator sport with parades, parties and extravagant costumes. In memory of the older days of charity, necklaces and tokens are thrown to spectators.

Different versions of this celebration occur around the world, from Carnival in Europe to North and South America. Pity me, gentle reader, as I shovel snow this February and correspond with my student son in Brazil. I shiver in the cold, while he is wearing shorts and has a week off for Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Called “The Greatest Show on Earth”, their carnivals combine European, African and Native American traditions to become citywide festivals, filled with samba, feasts and parades.

 

Brazil calls its Carnival “The Greatest Show on Earth.” Source: Wikipedia

Yet behind all this glorious fun lies a simple truth: Winter was hard and people were kind. The parties of Mardi Gras celebrated charity and generosity

 

ABOUT THIS BLOG

Are you a weather watcher? Welcome to “Weather Whispers” by James Garriss and until recently, Evelyn Browning Garriss. With expertise and humor, this column covers everything weather—from weather forecasts to WHY extreme weather happens to ways that weather affects your life from farming to your grocery bill. Enjoy weather facts, folklore, and fun!

With heavy hearts, we share the news that historical climatologist and immensely entertaining Almanac contributor Evelyn Browning Garriss passed away in late June 2017. Evelyn shared her lifetime of weather knowledge with Almanac editors and readers, explaining weather phenomena in conversation and expounding on topics in articles for the print edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac as well as in these articles. We were honored to know and work with her as her time allowed, which is to say when she was not giving lectures to, writing articles for, and consulting with scientists, academia, investors, and government agencies around the world. She will be greatly missed by the Almanac staff and readers.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac

The Old Farmer’s Almanac for March 5: WHEN IS MARDI GRAS 2019?

 

WHEN IS MARDI GRAS 2019?

LEARN THE HISTORY BEHIND THIS TRADITIONAL FEAST DAY

When is Mardi Gras 2019? Why is this day—also called Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday—celebrated? Read what The Old Farmer’s Almanac has to say about this festive holiday.

I think that I may say that an American has not seen the United States until he has seen Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
– Mark Twain, American writer (1835–1910)

WHEN IS MARDI GRAS?

Mardi Gras takes place

Year Mardi Gras
2019 Tuesday, March 5
2020 Tuesday, February 25
2021 Tuesday, February 16

WHAT IS MARDI GRAS OR SHROVE TUESDAY?

Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday” and is the final feasting day before the Christian season of Lent, which begins on the day after Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday.

Fat Tuesday is also called Shrove Tuesday, a name that comes from the practice of “shriving”—purifying oneself through confession—prior to Lent.

For many Christians, Shrove Tuesday is a time to receive penance and absolution. It is the last day to finish up the eggs, milk, and fat that are forbidden during the 40-day Lenten fast, which begins the next day (Ash Wednesday) and ends on Holy Thursday (three days before Easter Sunday).

In England, where the event is also known as Pancake Tuesday, festivities include flapjack-related activities. The pancake race held by women in Olney, Buckinghamshire, dates back to 1445. Legend says that the idea started when a woman cooking pancakes lost track of the time. When she heard the church bells ring, she rushed out the door to attend the shriving service while still wearing her apron and holding a skillet containing a pancake.

Serve up some Shrove Tuesday Pancakes to celebrate.

In 1950, Liberal, Kansas, having seen photos of the English pancake race, challenged Olney to a competition: The International Pancake Day Race has been held annually ever since. The two towns run their own race, after which the scores are compared and the international champion announced. Each contestant, wearing a head scarf and apron, holds a pancake in a skillet while running a 415-yard course. She must flip the pancake at the beginning and end of the race, without dropping it.

Other cultures also cook up rich treats and fried foods, which was traditionally based on using up all the butter, flour, and fat in the house.

  • Among the Pennsylvania Dutch, the Tuesday is called Fastnacht (fast night), and everyone enjoys the traditional fastnachtkuchen, a rectangular doughnut with a slit in the middle.
  • In Polish communities, the Tuesday is called “Paczki Day,” after the puffy jelly-filled doughnuts traditionally enjoyed.
  • In Sweden, the Tuesday is calledsemmeldagen, semlans dag, or fettisdagen. They enjoy a sweet cream bun called semla. Happy Semlans Dag!
  • In Louisiana, the favorite treat is the beignet, a pillowy fried dough concoction.

In countries with large Roman Catholic populations, Mardi Gras is also a day of revelry with festivals, parades, masked balls, and lavish dinners. In the United States, New Orleans is the most known for its Mardi Gras celebrations with marching bands, decorated floats, colorful costumes and masks, lots of beads, and King Cakes.

LEARN MORE

In the spirit of New Orleans, try cooking up some great Cajun food for Mardi Gras, such as this soul-warming Jambalaya.

Discover more about the history and traditions of this holiday on the City of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras Website.

 

The Old Farmer’s Almanac

 

 

 

The Old Farmer’s Almanac for March 4: HOW MARDI GRAS STARTED: HARD WINTERS AND CHARITY

 

HOW MARDI GRAS STARTED: HARD WINTERS AND CHARITY

It’s hard to believe that Mardi Gras started with long hard winters and acts of charity. However, before it was a day for parties, Mardi Gras started out as a day to help the hungry and the poor.

Most people know Mardi Gras as the last extravagant day before Lent. Even the name, Mardi Gras, translates to Fat Tuesday suggesting the last feast of rich food before the self-denial some Christians observe before Easter. However, before it was a day for parties, Mardi Gras started out as hungry day near the end of winter, when people needed charity.

In the past, the last six weeks of winter could be very harsh and food supplies frequently ran short. In Medieval France, Mardi Gras became a traditional day when the poor were allowed to visit their wealthier neighbors and beg for food. In return, they would sing, dance and entertain their hosts. As traditions evolved, the beggars began to wear costumes, hiding their identities and salvaging their pride. They formed parades and a painful begging process evolved into a party.

Today, rural Louisiana has the costumed parades from house to house, as neighbors share food, drink and hospitality. These Courir de Mardi Gras usually end with gumbo and contests in a community center. In cities, it has evolved into more of a spectator sport with parades, parties and extravagant costumes. In memory of the older days of charity, necklaces and tokens are thrown to spectators.

Different versions of this celebration occur around the world, from Carnival in Europe to North and South America. Pity me, gentle reader, as I shovel snow this February and correspond with my student son in Brazil. I shiver in the cold, while he is wearing shorts and has a week off for Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Called “The Greatest Show on Earth”, their carnivals combine European, African and Native American traditions to become citywide festivals, filled with samba, feasts and parades.

Yet behind all this glorious fun lies a simple truth: Winter was hard and people were kind. The parties of Mardi Gras celebrated charity and generosity.

ABOUT THIS BLOG

Are you a weather watcher? Welcome to “Weather Whispers” by James Garriss and until recently, Evelyn Browning Garriss. With expertise and humor, this column covers everything weather—from weather forecasts to WHY extreme weather happens to ways that weather affects your life from farming to your grocery bill. Enjoy weather facts, folklore, and fun!

With heavy hearts, we share the news that historical climatologist and immensely entertaining Almanac contributor Evelyn Browning Garriss passed away in late June 2017. Evelyn shared her lifetime of weather knowledge with Almanac editors and readers, explaining weather phenomena in conversation and expounding on topics in articles for the print edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac as well as in these articles. We were honored to know and work with her as her time allowed, which is to say when she was not giving lectures to, writing articles for, and consulting with scientists, academia, investors, and government agencies around the world. She will be greatly missed by the Almanac staff and readers.

Old Farmer’s Almanac

The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Mar. 4: WHEN IS MARDI GRAS 2019?

 

WHEN IS MARDI GRAS 2019?

LEARN THE HISTORY BEHIND THIS TRADITIONAL FEAST DAY

When is Mardi Gras 2019? Why is this day—also called Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday—celebrated? Read what The Old Farmer’s Almanac has to say about this festive holiday.

I think that I may say that an American has not seen the United States until he has seen Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
– Mark Twain, American writer (1835–1910)

WHEN IS MARDI GRAS?

Mardi Gras takes place

Year Mardi Gras
2019 Tuesday, March 5
2020 Tuesday, February 25
2021 Tuesday, February 16

WHAT IS MARDI GRAS OR SHROVE TUESDAY?

Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday” and is the final feasting day before the Christian season of Lent, which begins on the day after Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday.

Fat Tuesday is also called Shrove Tuesday, a name that comes from the practice of “shriving”—purifying oneself through confession—prior to Lent.

For many Christians, Shrove Tuesday is a time to receive penance and absolution. It is the last day to finish up the eggs, milk, and fat that are forbidden during the 40-day Lenten fast, which begins the next day (Ash Wednesday) and ends on Holy Thursday (three days before Easter Sunday).

In England, where the event is also known as Pancake Tuesday, festivities include flapjack-related activities. The pancake race held by women in Olney, Buckinghamshire, dates back to 1445. Legend says that the idea started when a woman cooking pancakes lost track of the time. When she heard the church bells ring, she rushed out the door to attend the shriving service while still wearing her apron and holding a skillet containing a pancake.

Serve up some Shrove Tuesday Pancakes to celebrate—or choose from any of our favorite homemade pancake recipes!

In 1950, Liberal, Kansas, having seen photos of the English pancake race, challenged Olney to a competition: The International Pancake Day Race has been held annually ever since. The two towns run their own race, after which the scores are compared and the international champion announced. Each contestant, wearing a head scarf and apron, holds a pancake in a skillet while running a 415-yard course. She must flip the pancake at the beginning and end of the race, without dropping it.

Other cultures also cook up rich treats and fried foods, which was traditionally based on using up all the butter, flour, and fat in the house.

  • Among the Pennsylvania Dutch, the Tuesday is called Fastnacht (fast night), and everyone enjoys the traditional fastnachtkuchen, a rectangular doughnut with a slit in the middle.
  • In Louisiana, the favorite treat is the beignet, a pillowy fried dough concoction.
  • In Polish communities, the Tuesday is called “Paczki Day,” after the puffy jelly-filled doughnuts traditionally enjoyed.

In countries with large Roman Catholic populations, Mardi Gras is also a day of revelry with festivals, parades, masked balls, and lavish dinners. In the United States, New Orleans is the most known for its Mardi Gras celebrations with marching bands, decorated floats, colorful costumes and masks, lots of beads, and King Cake.

LEARN MORE

Discover more about the history and traditions of this holiday on the City of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras Website.

 

The Old Farmer’s Almanac 

 

 

 

 

The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Mar. 4: ALL ABOUT THE MONTH OF MARCH

 

ALL ABOUT THE MONTH OF MARCH

March brings with it the promise of gardening and warm(er), sunny days, as Earth turns its frostbitten cheek to winter and springs forth from the vernal equinox. Read about this month’s holidays, happenings, seasonal recipes, gardening tips, Moon phases, folklore, and much more!

The brown buds thicken on the trees,
Unbound, the free streams sing,
As March leads forth across the leas
The wild and windy spring.

–Elizabeth Akers Allen (1832–1911)

MARCH CALENDAR

The month of March was named for the Roman god of war, Mars. Traditionally, this was the time of year to resume military campaigns that had been interrupted by winter.

  • March 5: Mardi Gras (“Fat Tuesday”) or Shrove Tuesday.
  • March 8: International Women’s Day.
  • March 10: Daylight Saving Time begins at 2:00 A.M. Don’t forget to “spring forward” and set your clocks ahead one hour!
  • March 15: The Ides of March. Legend surrounds this ill-fated day. Beware the Ides of March!
  • March 17: St. Patrick’s Day. Read more about St. Patrick’s Day.
  • March 20: The vernal equinox, also called the Spring Equinox, marking the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, occurs on Wednesday, March 20, at 5:58 P.M. EDT. On this day, the Sun rises due east and sets due west. In the Southern Hemisphere, this date marks the autumnal equinox.
  • The Borrowing Days: According to lore, the last three days of March have a reputation for being stormy.
  • Easter Sunday: This year, Easter Sunday will occur on April 21, culminating the Holy Week for Christian churches and commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Read more about Easter Sunday and why the date changes every year.

“Just for Fun” Days

Did you know that March is National Umbrella Month? Here are some more wacky things to celebrate this month:

  • March 3: What If Cats and Dogs Had Opposable Thumbs Day
  • March 9: International Fanny Pack Day
  • March 13: National Ear Muff Day
  • March 16: National Panda Day
  • March 21: Absolutely Incredible Kid Day
  • March 23: World Meteorological Day
  • March 31: World Backup Day

March Quiz

The March equinox occurs on March 20 at 5:58 P.M. EDT this year, ushering in the spring season in the Northern Hemisphere. At this time, the Sun’s position will be at which of the following coordinates on the celestial sphere?

A. 0 hour right ascension, 0° declination.
B. 6 hours right ascension, 23.5° North declination.
C. 12 hours right ascension, 0° declination
D. 18 hours right ascension, 23.5° South declination

.

.

Answer: A. B describes the Sun’s position during the June (summer) solstice; C, during the September (fall) equinox; and D, during the December (winter) solstice.

Photo Credit: Sergii Kononenko/Shutterstock

GARDENING

  • Planning a vegetable garden? We’ve done all the research for you—from how far to space plants to seeding dates to best crops to plant together.
  • Wondering when to plant what? Check out our free location-based Planting Calender to see when to start seeds and transplant in your area.
  • Just getting started with gardening? Check out our Vegetable Gardening for Beginners Guide, as well as our numerous veggie, fruit, flower, and herb Growing Guides for more advice.

RECIPES FOR THE SEASON

  • In celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day, try making some traditional Irish food—from Irish Soda Bread to Corned Beef and Cabbage.
  • March is the start of spring! Enjoy this delicious Spring Risotto recipe, as well as this recipe for Cream of Fiddleheads Soup.
  • See our Spring Recipes collection for more delicious recipes using the season’s best ingredients.
  • Now is the time for making maple sugar.

EVERYDAY ADVICE

  • According to folklore, wear a sprig of rosemary in your hair to improve your memory!
  • March brings rain and mud! Sprinkle salt on carpets to dry out muddy footprints before vacuuming.

BIRDS & FISHING

According to Henry David Thoreau, the call of a bluebird is a song that “melts the ear, as the snow.”

Check birdhouses for damage and give them a spring cleaning before tenants arrive for the season.

Spring means fishing!

FOLKLORE FOR THE SEASON

  • A wet spring, a dry harvest.
  • On St. Patrick’s Day, the warm side of a stone turns up, and the broad-back goose begins to lay. 
  • March comes in with adders’ heads and goes out with peacocks’ tails.
  • Thunder in spring, Cold will bring.
  • So many mists in March you see, So many frosts in May will be.
  • In beginning or in end, March its gifts will send.
  • Bleak winds assault us all around;
    Dances aloft, or skims the ground:
    See the school-boy—his hat in hand,
    While on the path he scarce can stand

March’s birth flower is the daffodil or jonquil. The daffodil signifies regard or unrequited love. The jonquil means “I desire a return of affection.”

March’s birthstone is the aquamarine. This gem is a type of beryl; its color can be pale to dark blue, greenish-blue, or blue-green; deep, intense blue versions are more valuable.

March’s Zodiac signs are Pisces (February 20 to March 20) and Aries (March 21 to April 20).

 

The Old Farmer’s Almanac