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18 Offbeat Holidays to Celebrate in January

It’s a New Year, which means 12 new months to observe some offbeat, obscure and just plain odd holidays. Like these!

January 7th: National Old Rock Day
Have you thanked a veteran rock today? Though no official creator has stepped forward, paleontologists must be behind this holiday honoring the fossils and rock formations that are as old as time.

January 9th: National Static Electricity Day

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Grab your balloons and sweaters! It’s time to build up your static charge and conduct some electrons. This is the perfect holiday to occur in the dead of winter, when the air is extra dry – the optimal conditions for storing up those negative charges that shock you at the most unexpected times.

January 10th: Peculiar People Day

This holiday commemorates the unicorn in all of us. Although there is no official origin story, National Whatever Day theorizes PPD may have spun off from an obscure Christian denomination in England known as “The Peculiar People.”

January 14th: National Dress Up Like Your Pet or Dress Up Your Pet Day
There are conflicting reports as to the specifics of this holiday, but January 14th is definitely either a day to make your beloved pet extra fancy or a day to dress up similarly. For the latter, it is unclear whether this means matching outfits or literally donning a full fur suit.

January 16th: National Nothing Day
A non-holiday created in 1972 by journalist Harold Pullman Coffin, National Nothing Day requires you to not observe, celebrate, honor or commemorate anything. Which might prove tricky this year as it coincides with Martin Luther King Day. However, for most Americans it is a work holiday, providing the perfect opportunity to at least do absolutely nothing.

January 17th: Kid Inventors Day
The Kid Inventors Day website attributes television, water skis, earmuffs and the Popsicle to the minds of brilliant minors. Technically the man who invented the first working television, Philo Farnsworth, applied for the patent at age 21 in 1927. But, he showed an early design for his TV to his teacher at age 14. The purpose of Kid Inventors Day is to celebrate and encourage the ingenuity of children — so the Farnsworth blueprint counts!

Fun Holiday Fact: the name of the holiday makes the acronym KID.

January 18th: Thesaurus Day
On this day in 1779, British lexicographer Peter Mark Roget was born. He is most famous for publishing The Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases (aka “Roget’s Thesaurus”) in 1852. This holiday is a day to honor, celebrate, extol, laud, praise, revere or salute his contributions.

January 20th: Penguin Awareness Day
Not to be confused with World Penguin Day on April 25th, this holiday encourages you to cultivate even more knowledge of the Spheniscidae family. For example, there are between 17 and 20 species of penguins in the world. Or were you aware that contrary to popular belief, some penguin species are only monogamous during mating season – not for life? There’s so much awareness to go around!

January 22nd: National Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day
If animals could talk, what would they say? We may never know the real answer, but January 22nd is a day to remember the thoughts and feelings of your domestic feline. Don’t worry if cat whispering isn’t your forte. Cat-oriented websites like Cat Channel offer some great icebreakers to get the conversation started. For example, “Are hairballs a common malady? What can my human do to prevent them?”

January 24th: Beer Can Appreciation Day
77 years ago to the day, the first beer was sold in cans. Since then the beer can has become a barbecue staple, a collector’s item and a maligned receptacle for some beer snobs. Today, pause before chugging, shotgunning or crushing and take a moment to reflect on what your beer can means to you.

January 25th: National Opposite Day
January 25th is definitely not national opposite day.

January 27th: Thomas Crapper Day
Often incorrectly credited with inventing the toilet, Thomas Crapper was a plumber and businessman who did, in fact, champion the modern wash closet and also invented the ballcock — that floating ball in the body of your toilet. His apropos surname was just a coincidence; the word “crap” already existed in the English language at the time of his birth.

January 28th: National Kazoo Day
Founded by Chaplin Willard Rahn of the Joyful Kazoo Band, National Kazoo Day celebrates 162 years of this plastic instrument. The organization behind the holiday, Kazoo America, hopes to one day make the kazoo “America’s official musical instrument.” They ask that you please remember the kazoo is definitely NOT related to the Vuvuzela.

January 30th: National Inane Answering Message Day
Officially, this holiday’s purpose was to assign a day for people to clean out old and pointless voicemails on their answering machines. However, some people have since interpreted it as a day to leave inane voicemails for others. With the proliferation of text messages and decline of landlines, take the opportunity to observe this holiday now before it becomes as obsolete as home answering machines!

For Next Year...

January 1st: First Foot Day
A Scottish New Year tradition, the first person to step into someone’s home is called the “first-footer” and is thought to represent good fortune entering the household—in the form of gifts including coal, whiskey, cash and/or cheese and bread. Sorry ladies and blond men, in order to be considered lucky the first-footer should always be a dark-haired man.

January 3rd: Fruitcake Toss Day
Although it may sound like a culinary Olympic event, Fruitcake Toss Day just marks the time when it is finally socially acceptable to trash all of the holiday fruitcakes you received. If you choose to turn the event into a throwing contest, make sure to have paper towels handy.

January 4th: World Hypnotism Day
According to the official website, World Hypnotism Day was created to educate the people of the world that hypnotism is more than just staring at a swinging gold watch whilst being told how sleepy you are getting. To further your learning, you can download audio clips from the site or search for events in your area.

January 4th: National Trivia Day
Here's how we celebrated this year: 119 Amazing Facts for National Trivia Day.

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Foreign Relations: 12 Notorious, Alleged UFO Incidents
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Long before Leonardo da Vinci sketched a flying machine or the Wright Brothers took flight at Kitty Hawk, there were reports of aircrafts soaring through the sky. Though some of those stories of Unidentified Flying Objects (or UFOs) may date as far back as Ancient Egypt, they are firmly ensconced in today's pop culture and accounts of their sightings remain fascinating for believers and skeptics alike. Here are 12 of the most intriguing incidents of alleged UFO sightings.

1. EGYPT // MID-1400S BCE

According to the Tulli Papyrus—the reported writings of Thutmose III, who reigned in the 1400s BCE—something unexplainable was spotted. An excerpt from the annals detailing the incident reads:

In the year 22, in the 3rd month of winter, in the sixth hour of the day, the scribes of House of Life noticed a circle of fire that was coming from the sky. From the mouth it emitted a foul breath. It had no head. Its body was one rod long and one rod wide. It had no voice. And from that the hearts of the scribes became confused and they threw themselves down on their bellies, then they reported the thing to the Pharaoh. … It was recorded in the scrolls of the House of Life.

His Majesty was meditating upon what happened. Now after some days had passed, these things became more numerous in the sky than ever. They shone more in the sky than the brightness of the sun, and extended to the limits of the four supports of the heavens … Powerful was the position of the fire circles. The army of the Pharaoh looked on with him in their midst. It was after supper. Thereupon, these fire circles ascended higher in the sky towards the south … The Pharaoh caused incense to be brought to make peace on the hearth … And what happened was ordered by the Pharaoh to be written in the annals of the House of Life … so that it be remembered for ever.

The validity of these writings remains uncertain. The original papyrus was lost and only copies of copies of it remain.

2. ROME // 218 BCE

One of the earliest reported UFO sightings can be traced back to about 218 BCE. Around 200 years later, Roman historian Livy recorded a number of strange incidents, likely using some lost list of those earlier sightings. One of the historian's writings included “A spectacle of ships (navium) gleamed in the sky” in Rome. In a report on UFOs [PDF], NASA’s Richard Stothers deemed these sightings "trustworthy and accurate," due to the time-consuming and costly nature of investigations into omens during this era.

3. SPAIN // 1433

On January 5, 1433, the entire court of King Juan II of Castile allegedly claimed to have seen a UFO. Fernán Gómez de Cibdarreal, the king’s physician, reportedly detailed the sighting in a letter. While its authenticity is uncertain, here is an excerpt:

I shall not tire your lordship with this narration, since we had just arrived [to Ciudad Rodrigo] when, walking on Wednesday the 5th of this month of January [1433], we suddenly saw a great flame of yellow fire attached to the sky move from one end to the other; it had inside like a black root and all its borders were more whitish than the middle; and it left with a great roar, causing horses and mules to ran in fear, and my own mule didn’t stop until it touched another mule.

4. NUREMBERG, GERMANY // 1561

BY HANS GLASER, 1561. IMAGE CREDIT: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS // PUBLIC DOMAIN

This famous alleged UFO sighting is documented not only in words, but in a woodcut by Hans Glaser. The piece shows the sky full of strange objects and “immense” smoke rising from the earth. Glaser and many others reportedly claimed to have witnessed the occurrence in Nuremberg on April 14, 1561.

The artist included a description with his work as well as a message to skeptics. He wrote: "Although we have seen, shortly one after another, many kinds of signs on the heaven, which are sent to us by the almighty God, to bring us to repentance, we still are, unfortunately, so ungrateful that we despise such high signs and miracles of God. Or we speak of them with ridicule and discard them to the wind, in order that God may send us a frightening punishment on account of our ungratefulness."

5. TEXAS // 1897

"Texas’ most famous UFO crash" occurred in April 1897. On that day, a cigar-shaped object reportedly crashed into a windmill in Aurora, a small town just north of Fort Worth. The legend has conflicting claims. Some say the alien inside the craft survived, while others believe it died and the residents of the town gave it a Christian burial.

At the time of the crash, E.E. Hayden (sometimes reported as S.E. Haydon), a reporter from the Dallas Morning News, wrote that the spaceship “collided with the tower of Judge Proctor's windmill and went into pieces with a terrific explosion, scattering debris over several acres of ground, wrecking the windmill and water tank and destroying the judge's flower garden. The pilot of the ship is supposed to have been the only one aboard and, while his remains were badly disfigured, enough of the original has been picked up to show that he was not an inhabitant of this world."

6. MISSOURI // 1941

One 20th-century incident became a hidden family secret. In April 1941, Rev. William Huffman of Red Star Baptist Church in Cape Girardeau, Missouri was asked to minister at the site of a plane crash. There, Huffman said, he found a saucer with three alien bodies. His granddaughter later recounted the story to local news outlet KFVS, claiming that her grandfather had been sworn to secrecy after the incident.

7. WASHINGTON // 1947

Kenneth Arnold’s reported 1947 sighting is well-known for many reasons, including coining the phrase "flying disc." Just weeks before Roswell—one of the most famous incidents of all time—Arnold was flying his plane near Mount Rainier in Washington State when he said he observed a line of crescent-shaped objects in the sky. He estimated that they were clocking 1700 MPH and described their movements as being like "a saucer if you skip it across water."

8. ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO // 1947

Arnold’s sighting was the first in a series, which also includes the famous Roswell UFO report. According to CNN, the Air Force initially claimed to have found remnants of a flying saucer at the site in New Mexico. Later, they claimed the debris was from a weather balloon and then, much later, that it was an apparatus to detect Soviet nuclear tests. Today, the sighting has cult status, inspiring movies and TV, including the show Roswell. Conspiracy theorists consider it to be one of the most famous UFO cover-ups in history.

9. WEST VIRGINIA // 1952

From UFO reporting to urban legend: As the tale goes, on September 12, 1952, a fireball reportedly fell from the sky and a monster with fiery eyes was found at the crash site in Flatwoods, West Virginia. Descriptions of the Flatwoods Monster vary, though it’s believed to be 10 feet tall, with a glowing green body.

10. BRAZIL // 1957

Antonio Vilas (sometimes spelled "Villas") Boas’ report is one of the first recorded alien abductions in the modern age. On October 16, 1957, Boas, a Brazilian farmer, was working alone in a field when he says a reddish light in the sky zoomed toward him. He ran toward his tractor, but four small figures lifted him off the ground.

He gave a long, detailed description of the encounter, including the way the creatures communicated: "No resemblance whatever to human speech ... I can think of no attempt to describe those sounds, so different were they from anything I have ever heard before ... Those sounds still make me shiver when I think of them! It isn't even possible for me to reproduce them ... my vocal organs are not made for it."

He also claims to have had sexual relations with a naked female in the aircraft, although the two did not kiss. He reportedly was returned to his field about four hours after the abduction and was found to have suffered from radiation poisoning.

11. NEW HAMPSHIRE // 1961

Married couple Barney and Betty Hill also claimed to have been abducted by aliens. Under hypnosis, the pair shared similar accounts of the incident. Betty said, "I was taken on board. Barney was taken into one room and I was taken into another. The one who did the testing we called 'The Examiner.' First, they put me on a stool and they checked my eyes, ears, nose, throat. They put me on a table and said they wanted to check my nervous system. Then, they tried to insert a needle-like instrument in my navel, which caused pain so they stopped doing it. Barney's exam was very much like mine in the beginning except they were interested in his bone structure."

Betty also claims the creatures showed her a star map depicting where they came from. She even redrew it under hypnosis, but at the time, it didn’t correlate with any known area of space. However, years later, statistician David Saunders claimed her drawing resembles the Zeta Reticuli system in the constellation Reticulum, confirming (at least in the eyes of her supporters) some of Hill’s story.

12. KENTUCKY // 1976

On January 6, 1976, three women claimed to have been abducted from a car. In 2010, Mona Stafford, the only living witness, recalled her story to Central Kentucky News. She claimed the three women were driving when they thought they saw a plane crash. Wanting to help, they drove closer, only to find an object in a treetop. The car seemed drawn toward the craft, and hours later the women came to the Hustonville city limits. Their eyes and skin were burning, and the hood of the car had bubbled up.

Separated, the women each detailed identical accounts of the incident. And under hypnosis, they recounted the same tale of being removed from the car and examined.

In the years that followed, Stafford claims she and one of the other women were unable to use the telephone. The women were drawn to high places and often watched the sky, with Stafford explaining, "I still feel like that. Like something’s calling me, and I go out. I’m not a prophet, I’m not predicting nothing, but there’s something in me that says something’s going to happen this time."

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9 Hacks to Help You Snap the Perfect Selfie
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For some, selfies seem self-indulgent; for others, they're a just a regular part of daily life. In honor of National Selfie Day (June 21), these nine tips could help upgrade your personal pics from so-so to standout snaps, regardless of whether you're a novice or a pro at capturing the perfect self-portrait.

1. ENHANCE YOUR JAWLINE.

Photographer Peter Hurley explains that taking photos up close can capture jawlines in unflattering ways—what many people call the "10 pounds" added on by cameras can often be attributed to the appearance of a slight or accentuated double chin. Luckily, you can fix this in a pinch with a simple trick: adjusting the angle of your head. Pushing your forehead out and down tightens skin around jawline, diminishing the appearance of sagging skin while defining the neck and adding contrast between the two.

2. INVEST IN A SELFIE STICK.

Selfie sticks might have gotten a bad rap when they blew up the market a few years ago, but the public stigma has mostly subsided (especially now that no one is trying to rebrand them as "monopods" or "narcissticks" anymore). Selfie sticks can be particularly useful when traveling alone or for trying to catch the perfect background view when your arms just won't reach. Plus, these simple contraptions make selfies with groups of friends so much easier and higher quality.

3. GET OUT OF THE BATHROOM.

Woman taking a selfie.
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If you tend to take a lot of mirror selfies in the restroom, it’s time to pick a new backdrop. Ditch the MySpace-era bathroom selfie for a brighter, less soap-scummy room. Also, the fluorescent, yellow lighting in bathrooms can make you look prematurely aged, while mirrors will reflect unflattering lighting in all directions, essentially creating the worst possible filter.

4. BE AWARE OF YOUR LIGHTING.

Lighting truly makes a selfie, so swap out fluorescent overhead lights for more natural light that makes you glow. Larger, diffused bulbs are softer on your complexion than smaller bulbs, which create harsh, direct lighting. Portrait photographer Sarah Sloboda also recommends facing your light source (whether that be an open window or a soft-lit lamp) and keeping lights at eye-level—the most flattering position for face-on selfies.

5. ADD MORE CURVES TO YOUR POSE.

Model Tess Holliday recommends striking a pose to add more definition to full-body snaps. Placing a hand on your waist and popping a knee can add curves and visual dimension, especially in billowy or non-form-fitting clothing. While at first the photo pose can feel a little unnatural, it’ll soon become second nature when selfie after selfie looks great.

6. USE THE RULE OF THIRDS.

Woman taking a selfie with a camera.
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Just because you're taking a selfie doesn't mean you can’t keep to the rules of photo composition. The Rule of Thirds—which divides photos into a three-by-three grid—suggests that you can take flattering and visually interesting images by moving the subject off-center. For a new take, position your face in the left or right upper-third of the photo, with your eyes about one-third of the way down.

7. EXPERIMENT TO FIND YOUR BEST ANGLE.

Finding the right angle for your face can make all the difference. Selfie aficionado Kim Kardashian (she did publish an entire book of selfies, so we trust she knows what she's talking about) recommends her trick for slimming down her face: chin tucked down, with the camera held slightly above face level. This angle can soften round faces while eliminating neck rolls. If your arms are feeling a little short, the selfie stick can really help here.

8. EMBRACE FILTERS.

In the world of selfies, retouching isn’t vain. In fact, photographer Ryan Hebert says you shouldn’t be afraid to "smack a filter on it," simply because it makes selfies more flattering. If you're not a fan of adding full filters, it's still OK to retouch certain areas by softening harsh lines or adding more shadows. But if you're simply looking too good for a filter, don't forget to add that #nofilter hashtag.

9. REALLY, JUST DON'T OVERTHINK IT.

Man takes a selfie with the Eiffel Tower.
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If your camera roll is full of attempted selfies, stop and think about what your end goal is. Are you wanting to document the moment or are you aiming for a model-esque headshot? A good selfie should be uplifting and easily sharable with friends and family to let them know that you're experiencing something fun or unique, or that you're just looking really fly. The longer you take to compose your photo, the more likely it’ll look forced or unnatural. It’s just a selfie—so don't stress it. There are plenty more to be had.

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