August 21: Fifty Day

Today is the anniversary of the date that Hawaii became the fiftieth state of the Union. President Dwight D. Eisenhower presided over a White House ceremony welcoming the Aloha State on August 21, 1959. The following is an excerpt from the New York Times story on Hawaii statehood:

Hawaii Becomes the 50th State; New Flag Shown

Washington, Aug. 21, 1959 — Hawaii was officially proclaimed as the fiftieth state of the United States today by President Eisenhower at bipartisan White House ceremonies.

The Presidential action was followed immediately by the unfurling of a new fifty-star flag, which will not become official until next July 4. The thirteen alternate red and white stripes remain unchanged, but the stars on a field of blue are arranged in nine alternate staggered rows of six and five stars each.

The President welcomed the new state along with Alaska, admitted earlier this year. Not since 1912, when Arizona and New Mexico were added to the Union, had any new states been admitted (1).

Known as the Aloha State, Hawaii consists of a chain of 122 volcanic islands, but only seven are populated:

Hawaii (the Big Island)

Maui (the Valley Isle)

Lanai (the Pineapple Isle)

Molokai (the Friendly Isle)

Kauai (the Garden Isle)

Niihau (the Forbidden Island)

Oahu (the Gathering Place)

The state capital is Honolulu on the island of Oahu, which is also its largest city (2).

On the day when American reached 50, it seems appropriate to look at things that come in 50s. A search on the Internet yielded a variety of topics related to things that come in 50:

1. 50 States: A site that provides facts about all fifty states, such as state birds, state songs, and state flags.

2. 50 Things: A site started in 1998 that discusses things that are worth saving in the new millennium.

3. My50: Allows visitors to create a list of 50 things to achieve in their lifetime.

4. 50 Things Every Guy Should Know How to Do: Celebrity and Expert Advice on Living Large: A book on

5. Fifty Word Fiction: A blog devoted to stories that are only fifty words long.

6. 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover: The lyrics of the Paul Simon hit.

7. 50 Reasons to Oppose Flouridation: The Fluoride Action Network seeks to broaden public awareness about the toxicity of fluouride compounds.

8. Fifty Reasons that Golf is Better than Football and Baseball: A list by Rick Woodson of the Rochester Business Journal.

9. National Geographic Traveler’s “50 Places of a Lifetime”: A list of great places at a web site full of all kinds of different lists.

10. 50 Ways to Love Your Liver: Tips for maintaining a healthy liver.

Today’s Challenges: Three for Fifty

Challenge 1: Write a 50-Word Abstract
Writing a summary to an exact word count is an excellent exercise in revision. Select a news or magazine article of interest, and write a summary of the article’s key points in 48-50 words — that’s no less than 48 words and no more than 50! Don’t try to go for an exact word count on your first draft; instead, wait until you have a draft to work with. Revise your draft so that every word counts. Use varied sentences and transitions to connect your ideas and sentences.

Challenge 2: List of 50
Look at the 10 links provided in this post that have to do with 50s. Use them for inspiration to create your own list of 50: 50 reasons, 50 ways, 50 best, 50 worst, 50 things, 50 anything.

Challenge 3: First 50
This is a creative writing exercise inspired by Natalie Goldberg, the author of Writing Down the Bones. Pick a topic and start writing. Just write, don’t judge, edit, or stop. Get at least 50 words down on paper before you look back at what you have written. You might do it with a friend or group of friends. Pick a common topic, write, and compare your compositions. If you are really ambitious, select one topic for each letter of the alphabet and create an Encyclopedia of Fifty-Word Topics. For more on this technique, see the First 50 Words website.

Quote of the Day: It is of interest to note that while some dolphins are reported to have learned English — up to fifty words used in correct context – no human being has been reported to have learned dolphinese. –Carl Sagan

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2 – Aloha State Day. Those Were the Days.