Thursday, April 12, 2007

April 13th -- Friday!

Fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskavedekatriaphobia a specialized form of triskaidekaphobia, a fear of the number thirteen. The history of it is way too involved to mention here, but it goes back hundreds of years. Just for fun, I looked up events that happened on April 13th. Following are a few: 1633 Galileo was convicted of heresy. 1861 Fort Sumter, SC surrendered to rebel forces starting the American Civil War. 1945 President Franklin D. Roosevelt died. 1961 First man flew into space. 1981 First launching of the space shuttle. 1970 Oxygen tank on Apollo 13 exploded putting the crew in peril and inspired an award-winning movie years later. 1983 Harold Washington was elected first African-American mayor in Chicago's history. 1997 Tiger Woods became the youngest golfer to win the Masters. Some famous births: 1506 Catherine de Medici 1743 Thomas Jefferson - 3rd US president and inventor extraordinaire 1852 F.W. Woolworth 1866 Butch Cassidy 1906 Samuel Beckett - Irish writer and Nobel Prize laureate 1907 Harold Stassen - American President Candidate; lost nine times 1919 Madalyn Murray O'Hair -- American atheist activist 1951 Peabo Bryson - American singer 1963 Gary Kasparov - Russian chess player 1970 Rebecca Cummings - American porn actress (no, never heard of her!) Something to contemplate: 2029 Asteroid (99942) Apophis will come extremely close to Earth with an estimated 1 in 45,000 chance of a collision with our planet. Today is also my birthday and here's why I don't worry about it: I turned 13 on Friday the 13th and I had my 15 minutes of fame when my school principal announced it to the entire student body. I stayed in room #1313 in the Bellevue Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia the week before the Legionnaires held their convention there and unfortunately had a new disease named after them. So. . . . . happy Friday the 13th. But -- don't walk under a ladder or cross the path of a black cat and be sure to hold your breath when you drive by a cemetery. . .

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