This Week's Facts:
Today (July 20th) marks the beginning of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, in 2012. Based on a lunar cycle, Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is determined by the appearance of the new moon. Because of this, there is generally some disagreement as to the official beginning: some Muslims begin observing Ramadan when they see the new moon, while others wait until it is observed in Mecca. While there are many ways to observe the holy month, one major aspect involves fasting; Muslims abstain from eating or drinking during the day and break their fast with a group dinner, known as an iftar, each night after sunset. The White House has a history of hosing iftar dinners; the first was held over two hundred years ago in 1805! President Thomas Jefferson hosted a sunset meal for Sidi Soliman Mellimelli, en envoy of the bey of Tunis. You can read more about this event from the Department of State.
In addition for being a time for prayer and reflection, many people use the holy month as a time to help others. Read this article from the US Embassy to find out some of the charitable activities that Washington DC-area Muslims promote during this time.
Friday Facts Editorial Team:
New data about the drought in Indiana is available in GIS. The Indiana Geographic Information Council’s blog for GIS News released a current ArcGIS map this week detailing the conditions in all Indiana counties. The Current Drought Map was contributed by Purdue University’s Terrestrial Observatory. Take a look and compare the two GIS maps of the state – one for this week and one for last week. You can zoom in to the county level and view the map’s key which helps indicate the level of drought. The Indiana GIS News blog is located on the IGIC website.
Indiana and the rest of the United States have been breaking heat records this summer. Most people try to adhere to weather warnings and advisories, but there are many others who don’t. When temps reach 90 degrees or higher, overexposure to the heat can be extremely dangerous. Add the humid conditions in Indiana and that adds further danger. Extreme temps can cause heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and even death. The Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) would like to remind Indiana citizens just how dangerous extreme heat can be. If you must be outside during the extreme heat, please remember the following: drink plenty of water, avoid long periods of high temps, slow down from your normal pace, spend time in air conditioning, and cool down with cool baths or showers. These and many other tips can be found on the IDHS website or you can download and print the fact sheet. Please remember to check on elderly neighbors and relatives as heat can be especially dangerous to them. Have a safe summer season!
Late July and early August often bring with them that scourge of children everywhere: the bee. While many people have bee-fear, we also realize the importance of bees. They pollinate flowers, not only ensuring the survival of existing species, but also helping to create new ones via cross-pollination. Of course, they also make honey, a favorite of people around the world. However, ecologists and other scientists are using them for other purposes, too: monitoring climate change. According to HoneyBeeNet, climate and land-use changes could disrupt important plant-pollinator relationships. They are studying colonies of honeybees in the Mid-Atlantic region to determine if pollination is happening earlier than in previous years. Be sure to check out the Site Data page to learn more about the project.
You can also use this website to learn more about honeybees! For example, did you know that a bee can fly about 20 miles per hour? Or that the average beehive holds nearly 50,000 bees? Visit Beekeeping 101 for these and more interesting facts. If you have young patrons concerned about “killer bees,” this site can also be used to provide some clarification. Officially known as Africanized honeybees, these hybrids of European honeybees and tropical African bees developed in South America in the 1950s. They are primarily found in the south, and although they do tend to sting in greater numbers than honeybees, they do not have stronger venom nor are they able to sting a person more than once.
When it comes to having a healthy lifestyle, eating fruits and vegetables is just one piece of the puzzle. For a long-term healthy lifestyle, you’ll need to find a balance between good eating habits and physical activity. That’s the message from the “Let’s move!” campaign, a nationwide initiative designed to fight the growing rate of childhood obesity, and promote a healthy lifestyle for people of all ages.
Here are a few simple tips to help you and your children live a healthier life:
This article is brought to you by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) via the USA.gov blog.
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