Where Does Your Birthday Rank?

Dear Kids and All Readers,

I think it’s safe to say that all kids love birthdays. I mean, cake and presents! What’s not to like? My attitude is that birthdays are important because they beat the alternative, so light those candles and enjoy that cake.

Did you know that certain birthdates occur much more frequently than others?

Tomorrow is September 9. It is the #1 most popular birthday in the United States! In fact nine out of the top ten most frequently occurring birthdays are in September. The only one that isn’t is July 7.

You’re probably wondering which day of the year has the least births? It’s December 25, closely followed by January 1. Babies are least likely to be born on holidays, including Halloween and the week of Thanksgiving. And few are born on the 13th of the month! (Superstitions?)

The most common birth month is August; the least common is February.

And which day of the week has the most births? That would be Tuesday!

Want to find out where YOUR BIRTHDAY ranks on the popularity list? Click HERE to find out, or go to zippia.com/advice/most-least-common-birthdays/.

The above birthday information was gathered by researchers from aggregated data of the CDC and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics, and the Social Security Administration on the number of births on each day of the year from 1994-2014.

So, get a clue, readers. No matter how popular your birthday is or isn’t, don’t forget to have a great time and eat cake! Those are requirements on your special day.

Crew Helps Crue

Dear Readers and Rock Music Lovers,

I just wanted to share something fun with you today–one of those happenstances that I couldn’t have foreseen when I set off for the grocery store last Saturday morning.

One of our San Diego stadiums hosted a huge rock/punk/heavy and glam metal music concert on Sunday, August 28th. It featured the quadruple billing of Motley Crue, Def Leppard, Poison, and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts on one of the last stops of their 2022 tour.

Imagine my surprise when a stadium crew showed up at my store to do some grocery shopping for the four groups! The guys stopped in “for a few things” for the bands and after buzzing around with multiple carts, they left hours later with so many boxes that they couldn’t take everything in one trip. The crew planned to come back for Joan Jett’s later.

So, get a clue, Readers. You never know when something newsworthy might happen. Keep your ears and eyes open! 




Bloats and Crashes

Dear Kids and Animal Lovers,

Recently, on one of my morning walks, I saw a murder of crows in a tall, otherwise barren eucalyptus tree. The fifty plus large black birds were waiting for . . . um, coffee?

Huh? A murder of crows? What’s that?

That’s the collective name for a group of crows–one of my favorite birds and terms. Seeing those crows inspired me to seek out other animal group names to share with you. This is a great way to build your vocabulary. I found the perfect online site at https://owlcation.com/stem/collective-names-for-groups-of-animals. Click HERE to see if your favorite animal is listed or to learn something new.

At the site, the group nouns are categorized under “Mammals,” “Birds,” “Reptiles, Amphibians, and Fish,” “Insects, Arachnids, and Other Animals,” and “People.”

Here are a few more of my favorites: a bloat of hippos, a crash of rhinos, a cauldron of bats, a parliament of owls, and an embarrassment of pandas!

So, how did these collective nouns originate? According to owlcation.com, the names date back to 1486 England when a nun named Juiliana Barnes aka Berners published them in The Book of Saint Albans. Then, the names were used as hawking, hunting, and heraldic terms, but they have become part of everyday English speech. Many, however, are considered archaic.

So, get a clue, Readers. Which collective names are your favorites? You might raise eyebrows if you use some of them today. But take a risk! Help build vocabulary. You won’t crash.


Table It!

Hello, Readers!

Perhaps like me, you ran across this engaging op-ed by Ellen Jovin on page A11 in the Friday, August 12, 2022, edition of The L.A. Times. It’s available digitally and in print.

Entitled “How Fighting Over Grammar Can Help Fix a Divided America,” it details Ms. Jovin’s goals to set up and run a “Grammar Table” on the streets of New York City to answer grammar questions from passersby. She has a strong background as a professional editor, teacher, and writer, and is a self-proclaimed lifelong grammar nerd. (Yay!)

Ms. Jovin used a folding table and chair and attached a homemade “Grammar Table” sign. Then, she waited for customers. The first arrived within thirty seconds!

Before long, she noticed that “any rancor [generated from disagreements over grammar issues] was mostly feigned and the chats cathartic” as she kept moving the table around the city. Eventually, having answered questions from all ages, races, political parties, socio-economic classes, education levels, and job descriptions, she came to realize that “the disputes that played out at her pop-up grammar advice stand were always friendly and grounded in mutual respect.”

Ms. Jovin and her husband filmed the Grammar Table for a documentary, visiting forty-seven states before being halted by the pandemic. She discovered that her grammar chats helped create tiny bonds between people, which, she believed, could “support the larger connections we need for our communities to thrive.”

So, get a clue, readers. Can your untangling a smaller problem with others help eventually unite a fractured neighborhood or society? Sometimes, little successes can nurture big results!


Dear Readers,
Yesterday, August 10, 2022, was the 50th anniversary of my sweet paternal grandmother’s passing at the age of 88.
Nellie “Gama” Lanyon Johns left us on August 10, 1972. I was lucky to have had her and my grandfather living with us while I was growing up.
Gama (rhymes with “Mama”) was a large-boned, outspoken farm woman who moved to California in the 1930s after living in Iowa, Wisconsin, and North Dakota. I remember her always wearing the latest fashions, including a hat, purse, gloves, fine jewelry, and even dress boots if the occasion called for them.
I still miss her wrapping tiny, timid me in her strong, ample arms, creating an enormous cocoon to comfort and protect me. Both my parents worked, so Gama would have dinner on the table every evening when they came home. She and my grandfather were the ones who greeted me when I came home from school. To this day, whenever I smell Ponds cold cream or lavender, Gama comes flooding back–which is daily.
Gama, I still love you and miss you. You are forever in my heart.
R.I.P. Nellie Mabel Lanyon Johns
December 1, 1883 – August 10, 1972

So, get a clue, readers. I hope like me you are holding those you love close in your hearts and memories.


Whispers from the Tree

Hello, Kids, Readers, and Current and Future Genealogists,

Have you ever researched your Family Tree?

I’ve been having fun this week climbing among the many branches of mine on a helpful site called FamilySearch.org. My friend Daniel put me onto this tremendous resource; thanks, Daniel!

My father’s side of the family is firmly English and Welsh. But I learned this week that we are also Scottish and Irish. The bulk of my family’s records are from this side, thanks to various ancestors who tended the tree, enabling us descendants to trace our family back to the 800s.

And I have just discovered that hiding behind some of the tree’s many leaves are assorted famous ancestors!

Imagine my delight when I found that most of them have literary or artistic connections. So . . .

According to FamilySearch.org and my initial findings, here are some of my distant cousins who were Literary Luminaries: Edgar Allan Poe (“The Raven”); Mark Twain (Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn); The Bronte Sisters (Wuthering HeightsJane Eyre); Agatha Christie (Poirot and Marple mysteries); Lord George Gordon Byron (“Don Juan”); Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice); Louisa May Alcott (Little Women); Mary Shelley (Frankenstein), and Abraham “Bram” Stoker (Dracula).

And since I mentioned Frankenstein and Dracula, I think it’s fitting that another cousin is the late actor Lon Chaney, Jr., who played the Wolfman (as well as the Frankenstein monster and Dracula) in many Universal Studios movies in the 1940s. Oh, and what about actor Boris Karloff, who famously played Frankenstein’s creation? He married my ninth cousin!

All this information has enriched my appreciation of literature, reading, writing, and those old classic monster films! And I have long wondered why I love to write and can effortlessly disappear into magical realms and Gothic musings. Perhaps I’ve been hearing whispers from my ancestors . . .

So, get a clue, Readers. Who could be hiding in your family tree that might add extra dimension to your life? Give it a shake and find out. May you, too, have wonderful discoveries!