The Woman behind Thanksgiving

Every year millions around the United States celebrate Thanksgiving on the third Thursday in November. Thanksgiving doesn’t just land at the end of November by chance. At this time in the mid-1800s Thanksgiving was celebrated throughout different times in the fall, depending on when the harvest season ended. Modern day Thanksgiving has a set date, and is all about things that make most holidays special; food, friends and family. We all know the story about the pilgrims and Indians, and what Thanksgiving was about originally. How did it become a national holiday though? Here’s a little background.

Although history gives credit to politicians, there is a little known story about a writer named Sarah Josepha Hale, and how she relentlessly lobbied to turn Thanksgiving into a national holiday. Sarah Hale was a published writer and prominent editor of women’s magazines for most of her life, on top of being a widowed mother of five. Hale spent nearly seventeen years writing letters to U.S. Presidents persuading them that Thanksgiving should be a national holiday, as at the time only George Washington’s birthday and Independence day were celebrated. Hale finally got the attention of President Abraham Lincoln, and folklore suggests it was one of Sarah’s letters that led him to establish Thanksgiving as a federal holiday in 1863. This time frame was right in the middle of the Civil War, and Lincoln stated that the United States would “set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving, to unify and attempt to heal the wounds of a nation.”

Peace, Love and Pop Art

Today’s Google Doodle was confusing, a rectangle of abstract pop art spelling out the Google name; looks almost like an Andy Warhol painting. When you click on the doodle it gets even more baffling, as it redirects you to a page with a picture of a nun. But this is where it gets interesting.Turns out that this woman, named Corita Kent, was a nun with the Roman Catholic Church and was also a pop artist throughout the 60’s and 70’s. Her artwork had heavy “peace and love” tones, which were quite popular at the time. She even designed  the post office’s “Love” stamp in the 1980s. When you think of Pop Art, most get the vision of Warhol’s “Factory” and all the drugs and strangeness that surrounded it. So it is surreal to think of a nun having anything to do with that type of art. Kent specialized in silk-screening, and helped establish it as a fine art.

You learn something new everyday.


Not-so-Smart Speaker

Amazon released their new smart speakerlast week to little fanfare with limited marketing. The Amazon Echo is considered “smart” because it is interactive, and similar to Siri, it will play music, make lists, appointments and answer random questions. Amazon’s version of marketing this speaker was a full-length, cringe-worthy video of a family’s awkward interaction with the speaker, which they named “Alexa,” although it seems you can pick whichever name you please. The video was almost four minutes long and difficult to sit through. The one thing that the video did not address is how the iPhone in your purse or the Android in your pocket can also tell you the temperature, make you shopping lists and give you random trivia.

Another baffling thing that Amazon did was that they included “invite me” underneath the cost of the speaker. Is an invitation really needed? Why do we need to be invited to buy your product? That’s annoying. Is this speaker that exclusive? It’s a strange concept.

The Echo is being sold for $199 to non-Amazon Prime members; $99 to those who are Prime members. The speaker might do well if they drop the price tag down to $99 for everyone. I can’t imagine why anyone would spend $200 on a speaker when they could spend the same amount on a phone that does so much more. $99 is pretty in-range with other higher-end speakers that are being sold out there.