August 25 - Celebrate Paraguay and Uruguay

  Posted on August 25, 2022     

This is an update of my post published on August 25, 2011:

Today is Constitution Day in Paraguay! The nation celebrates its revised constitution, adopted on this day in 1967.

It's also Independence Day in Uruguay! The nation celebrates its independence from Brazil in 1825.

Can you sort your -guays?

For each question below, answer Paraguay or Uruguay.

  1. Which country is landlocked (has no seacoast)?
  1. Which country has a populace that is primarily (around 88%) of European descent?

  2. Which is one of the most economically developed countries in South America?

  3. Which country has the capital city that is most southerly of the Americas?

  4. Which country has two official languages, Spanish and Guarani?

  1. Paraguay is located in the very center of South America (and is sometimes called the Heart of America). It has no access to the ocean and is, therefore, landlocked. Uruguay, on the other hand, is located on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean.
  2. Uruguay's population is almost entirely white, with very few mestizo people (mixed Native / indio and white). In contrast, Paraguay's population is 74% mestizo, with white, Black, and Native minorities.

    Above and below, folks in Uruguay

Above and below, folks in Paraguay

3. Uruguay is highly advanced in economic development, industry, and human rights. It has been ranked one of the least corrupt countries in Latin America and THE most “green” (environmentally sound) country in North and South America. Although Paraguay has always been poorer than Uruguay, its economy was the fastest growing on the continent from 1970 to 2009.

4. Uruguay's capital city, Montevideo, is farther south than any other capital in South America. This vastly surprised me, since I always think of Uruguay sitting “on top” of Argentina—thus, I would think, more to the north. However, Uruguay is actually on the east side of the top portion of Argentina—and its capital is slightly south of Buenos Aires, Argentina, as the map above shows.

5. Paraguay has both Spanish and Guarani as official languages. Uruguay only has one official language: Spanish.

Check out Paraguay's spectacular sights:

Check out Uruguay's sights:

August 24 - Mt. Vesuvius Erupts! Pompeii Buried!

   Posted on August 24, 2022     

This is an update of my post published on August 24, 2011:

On this day almost two thousand years ago, the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were destroyed—flash-fried, and then buried—by heat, ash, and pumice from a volcanic eruption.

Luckily, most of the people of those two ancient towns were able to flee when the volcano showed signs of erupting. There are estimates that 2,000 out of about 15,000 to 20,000 people died. In other words, about 10% to 13% died, and between 87% and 90% fled to nearby towns or even farther.

Still, even the folks who lived lost their homes and probably most of their possessions.

Some wonder why people would live so close to a dangerous volcano—but Mt. Vesuvius had been dormant (inactive) for hundreds of years before this eruption.

It is sobering to realize that, although Pompeii and Herculaneum were never rebuilt, people still do live near Mt. Vesuvius! There are almost one million people in the nearby city of Naples, and another two million living elsewhere are close enough to be in danger if there were a really big eruption.

And that is possible. Vesuvius is definitely not extinct, and it's not even dormant.

Instead, scientists consider Vesuvius an active volcano. It has erupted again and again (although not as strongly) since the 79 C.E. eruption: fifteen times between the years 79 and 1000 C.E., eight more times in the next 500 years, once in 1500, again in 1631, six times in the 18th century, eight times in the 19th century, and in 1906, 1929, and 1944!

No wonder scientists consider Mt. Vesuvius to be one of the most dangerous volcanos in the world!

Although it is incredibly sad that so many people died in Pompeii and Herculaneum, it would be even more sad if we hadn't discovered their remains. Buried beneath six meters (18 feet) of ash and pumice, Pompeii was actually forgotten for almost 17 centuries! In the 1700s, the city was accidentally rediscovered, and archeologists got busy excavating the buildings and the remains of humans and other animals.

During the 1800s a man named Giuseppe Fiorelli realized that the occasional open spots in the ash layer were holes left by decomposed bodies. He injected plaster into the holes to perfectly recreate the people or dogs—even the terrified expressions on their faces. This technique has not given us a freeze-frame picture of what people did in their daily lives, because of course people were trying to escape death or sheltering in buildings. Still, scientists have excavated many different tools and instruments, frescoes (murals) and toys—all of which have helped them recreate what daily life must've been like at that time.

Take a look at this video about excavating and movie making - in and about Pompeii.

August 23 - Ukrainian Flag Day

   Posted on August 23, 2022     

This is an update of my post published on August 23, 2011:

Ukraine was one of the nations that had been absorbed into the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. When the USSR collapsed in 1991, Ukraine became independent. The blue-and-yellow flag of earlier times, including a short-lived republic in 1918, was resurrected.

People explain the colors by saying that the blue represents the sky over a yellow wheat field or a field of Ukraine's national flowers - the sunflower. Another explanation is that the yellow represents golden roofs of churches and the blue the river Dniper. More simply, some people say that blue and yellow represent water and fire.

Above, churches in Kiev.
Below, the Dniper.

Other nations with blue-and-yellow flags include Sweden (a yellow Scandinavian cross on a blue field), Palua (a golden full moon on blue sky), and Kazakhstan (a golden sun and eagle on blue sky, plus some more golden decorations on the hoist side).

One of the most important flags in the world is the European Union:

Tomorrow Ukraine will celebrate its independence!

Of course, we cannot talk about Ukraine without AGAIN saying that the horrific invasion by Putin and the Russian military is wholly wrong; Ukraine is wholly innocent; and it must stop!

Like other nations, Ukraine has
beautiful scenery and buildings
- and we hope it will soon be a
peaceful place that Ukrainians
can enjoy again!


Also on this date: