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20 Offbeat Holidays You Can Celebrate This Month

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June 1st: HEIMLICH MANEUVER DAY

Named after the doctor who invented it, the Heimlich maneuver has seriously curbed the hazards of choking since its introduction in the 1970s.

June 2nd: NATIONAL ROCKY ROAD DAY

While this iconic ice cream flavor is generally associated with feelings of happiness and pleasure, its inception was the result of some pretty dire times. Recognizing the “rocky road” ahead for Americans after the Stock Market Crash of 1929, ice cream purveyor William Dreyer dreamed up this recipe as a temporary salve to the economic ills in the United States. Though some naysayers contest whether the credit for this cream-marshmallow-almond-chocolate chip recipe belongs 100% to Dreyer, few people will contest that Rocky Road ice cream is 100% delicious.

June 3rd: NATIONAL REPEAT DAY

June 3rd: National Repeat Day

June 5th: NATIONAL RUNNING DAY

Whether you passionately love it or passionately hate it, few people feel neutral on the subject of running. In light of the positive passions, runners around the country take to the streets on the first Wednesday of every June to express their love of optional physical duress.

June 6th: NATIONAL YO-YO DAY

Donald F. Duncan had more to celebrate about his life than an amazing name; he helped popularize the Yo-Yo. Though technically invented by a man named Pedro Flores in the late 1920’s, the Yo-Yo didn’t hit the mainstream until an entrepreneurial Duncan purchased Flores’ Yo-Yo Toy Company, mass-produced this circular piece of plastic and string, and introduced it to the world. June 6th is believed to be Duncan’s birthday.

June 7th: NATIONAL DONUT DAY

Believe it or not, the Salvation Army is behind the creation of this sweet holiday. According to their website, “the first National Donut Day was celebrated in Chicago in 1938 to help raise needed funds during the Great Depression and commemorate the work of the 'donut lassies' who helped make the donut what it is today by feeding the tasty confection to American soldiers during WWI.” In modern times, companies like Entenmann’s are donating a portion of their donut profits to the Salvation Army while Dunkin' Donuts is donating calories to your waistline.

June 8th: Name Your Poison Day

Although this holiday is widely open to interpretation, we recommend no one take it literally. Instead, muster up the courage to boldly acknowledge the one vice in your life that you simply cannot resist no matter how terrible it may be for you. Unless said “poison” happens to be arsenic.

June 10th: Ballpoint Pen Day

Put away your quills, fountains, and felts, for today we honor the gravity-dependent ink dispenser we know as the ballpoint pen. It may not have the panache of a gel writing utensil, or the precision of a roller ball. But when it comes to getting ink onto paper and the bottoms of shirt pockets, ballpoints certainly get the job done.

June 15th: NATIONAL HOLLERIN’ CONTEST DAY

Since 1969, a growing number of folks have traveled to Spivey’s Corner, North Carolina, on the third Saturday of June to let out their heartiest holler. A distant cousin of the yodel and even more distant cousin of the smoke signal, “hollerin'” is believed to have originated among rural folks prior to the advent of technology like the telephone. Some hollerin’ contests now take place in September as well, but the original National Hollerin' Contest Day always takes place on the third Saturday in June.

June 16th: Bloomsday

In case you're not a James Joyce aficionado, June 16 is the day the events in Ulysses take place. The name comes from Leopold Bloom, the main character in the novel. To get ready for your Bloomsday party, here are 10 fun facts about James Joyce.

June 17th: National Eat Your Vegetables Day

We are unsure whether PETA or the PTA is more responsible for this holiday, but you better be prepared to finish those Brussels sprouts today if you know what’s good for you! Like Brussels sprouts, for example. They’re a great source of dietary fiber and vitamin C.

June 18th: International Picnic Day

Since it falls during the workweek this year, IPD may also have to stand for International Personal Day. But a basketful of goodies, domestic or international, and a nice patch of grass will definitely be worth calling in with a mysterious “summer cold.”

June 19th: World Sauntering Day

A man named W.T. Rabe, an allegedly rampant self-promoter, is said to have conceived this holiday in the 1970s on Mackinac Island, Michigan. According to Merriam-Webster, to saunter one must merely “walk about in an idle or leisurely manner.” So for all of you who balked at a running holiday, thank Rabe for providing a much more casual holiday for getting around.

June 21st: Summer Solstice

Pencil in some sun on your calendar today, because the top half of the Earth is getting all up in our star’s grill. Welcome to summer, Northern Hemisphere.

June 21st: World Handshake Day

PURELL could have a field day with this one, but don’t let germs stop you from reaching out and touching a stranger’s hand. Let the subsequent uncomfortable look on their face be your true guide.

June 22nd: National Onion Rings Day

National Onion Rings Day: for those of you who like your holidays deep-fried.

June 24th: International Fairy Day

A relatively young holiday for a relatively old mythical creature, International Fairy Day was created by artist Jessica Galbreth for “believers, collectors, and the young at heart to celebrate all that is Fae and reconnect with their imagination and child-like wonder.”

June 25th: COLOR TV DAY

While everyone is declaring the end of traditional television as we know it, take a moment today to reflect on the advent of color TV in our lives. Then marvel at the fact that it has only been 62 years since the first color television broadcast ever. On June 25th, 1951, CBS aired a variety show that was only available on color-ready TV’s. According to Geek Book of Days, black and white TVs missed the party entirely, not technologically savvy enough to even receive the show.

June 25th: NATIONAL COLUMNISTS DAY

This holiday was intended to extol those hardworking newspaper folks who keep us abreast of all the news in a serialized format. But in light of recent technological advancements, we think we can extend the honors to online columnists as well. Such as the ones who bring you great daily trivia and interesting facts. You know, like offbeat holidays. For example.

June 28th: Insurance Awareness Day

Do you have insurance? If you answered that question, you just observed this holiday.

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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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Here's How to Change Your Name on Facebook
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Whether you want to change your legal name, adopt a new nickname, or simply reinvent your online persona, it's helpful to know the process of resetting your name on Facebook. The social media site isn't a fan of fake accounts, and as a result changing your name is a little more complicated than updating your profile picture or relationship status. Luckily, Daily Dot laid out the steps.

Start by going to the blue bar at the top of the page in desktop view and clicking the down arrow to the far right. From here, go to Settings. This should take you to the General Account Settings page. Find your name as it appears on your profile and click the Edit link to the right of it. Now, you can input your preferred first and last name, and if you’d like, your middle name.

The steps are similar in Facebook mobile. To find Settings, tap the More option in the bottom right corner. Go to Account Settings, then General, then hit your name to change it.

Whatever you type should adhere to Facebook's guidelines, which prohibit symbols, numbers, unusual capitalization, and honorifics like Mr., Ms., and Dr. Before landing on a name, make sure you’re ready to commit to it: Facebook won’t let you update it again for 60 days. If you aren’t happy with these restrictions, adding a secondary name or a name pronunciation might better suit your needs. You can do this by going to the Details About You heading under the About page of your profile.

[h/t Daily Dot]

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