March 31 - Kintsugi!

Posted on March 31, 2020

There is this indie rock band named Death Cab for Cutie, and they released an album on this date in 2015 that is named Kintsugi

I don't really know the album or the band, but I jumped on this anniversary to be able to discuss kintsugi, the Japanese art of mending pottery with gold dust.

Kintsugi means "golden joinery" - another term for this translates as "golden repair" - and of course the powdered gold is mixed with lacquer in order to work as a sort of glue holding broken pieces together. 

As you can see, using gold dust to make a repair actually calls attention to the repair! I have always tried to mend broken pottery with the kind of glue that is invisible when dried...

But kintsugi isn't just a method of repair, it's a philosophy. It treats breakage and repair as an important part of the history of an object. In a way, the idea of not just tossing an object, but fixing it and continuing to use it, is like the English proverb "waste not, want not." However, kintsugi is also part of the larger Japanese idea of embracing and even celebrating the imperfect. It's a part of the philosophy of mushin, "no mind," of not being too attached to things or to the current state of one's life, of being accepting of change and of fate.

March 30 - Virtual Vacation Day

Posted on March 30, 2020

I have already written about Virtual Vacation Day...

But this year, while the planet is largely shut down because of COVID-19, I think this holiday is way more important than ever.

You might already know about "staycations" - which used to mean staying home on one's vacation, and taking day trips to enjoy local museums, amusement parks, and other attractions. If you're living in a lockdown region of the world, you CAN'T go on day outings. So...the new sort of staycation could be staying at home and:
  • doing all sorts of relaxing and fun at-home activities, from jigsaw puzzles to painting watercolors, from streaming Netflix to reading novels.
  • getting chores done that you don't usually have time for, like cleaning out the closets, one at a time. Fun! (a bit of sarcasm here...)
  • starting a garden or doing a DIY project in the yard. No sarcasm here - this really can be fun and rewarding.

 But a staycation COULD involve virtual vacationing. If you don't have and can't afford the latest in VR technology, try watching travel channel shows, going on Microsoft Educator Community field trips, using Google Expeditions and Google Tour Builder, or researching the Internet for special places you'd love to go some day - and really digging into their history, geography, geology, biology, etc.!

Here are a few places to check out:

Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia

Rainbow Mountains in China

Roman Forum in Italy

Yellowstone National Park in the U.S.

Pamukkale Hot Springs Terraces in Turkey

Kirkjufell in Iceland

Rainbow eucalyptus forest in Maui, Hawaii, U.S.

Pink lakes in Australia

Hanging Lake in Faroe Island

Banff National Park in Canada

March 29 – Youth Day in Taiwan

Posted on March 29, 2020

This is another sad holiday - the commemoration of the unsuccessful Yellow Flower Mound Uprising, when Huang Xing and many fellow revolutionaries forced their way into the home of the Qing viceroy of two provinces of China. The uprising was a surprise attack and was at first successful... But then Qing reinforcements arrived, and the revolt turned into a disaster. 

Many of the dead revolutionaries were never found, but 86 bodies were discovered in a single grave on the Yellow Flower Mound. (Hence the name of the uprising.) Of those 86 bodies, only 72 were identified, and these 72 are considered martyrs and celebrated by name.

All of this happened in late April, 1911, but for some reason Taiwan celebrates the 72 martyrs in late March, as Youth Day.

The Yellow Flower Mound Park

The Mausoleum of the 72 Martyrs - notice the Statue of Liberty on top!