April 30 – Vietnamese Celebration!

Posted on April 30, 2020

There are several names for today's holiday in Vietnam. One name is Liberation Day - the anniversary of the day in 1975 when North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces captured South Vietnam's capital city, Saigon.

Another name is Reunification Day. Again, this is about that anniversary - this time emphasizing South and North Vietnam becoming one nation.

On April 30, 1975, Vietnam went from
being North Vietnam and South Vietnam (above)
to being simply Vietnam (below).

A final name for today's holiday is Victory Day. Same anniversary, but emphasizing that the North triumphed over the South.

Of course, historical events are never simple, and there were South Vietnamese people who were terribly upset that the North won. 

As a matter of fact, around a million Vietnamese people left within the first two years of that "victory."

Today a united Vietnam can perhaps celebrate another victory - because that country is doing surprisingly well against the global pandemic. COVID-19 may have been eliminated there, thanks to the nation's swift action of closing borders, "contact tracing" (testing and quarantining EVERY person exposed to the virus from a known infected person), and lockdown / social distancing.

According to a news story from April 24, 2020, there have been no new cases of COVID-19 since April 16, and the numbers of cases and deaths in Vietnam - a nation that shares a land border with China! - is remarkable: only 270 confirmed cases and zero deaths!!

One reason that the Vietnam has done so well is that it is a single-party state, an authoritarian state.

Because of this, the nation's government is not as oriented on people's rights and liberties as many are. The government was able to use security forces and military personnel as well as police officers to enforce lockdown, mask-wearing, etc. Also, people in Vietnam are used to following orders and reporting to the government if neighbors aren't doing so.

Still, it's exciting that someone is doing great against this tiny worldwide invader...

April 29 - International Noise Awareness Day

Posted on April 29, 2020

Really loud sounds can, obviously, damage our hearing.

And noise can cause stress - which is bad for our health.

Noise is one of the big complaints of living in at least some parts of some cities. Honking, whistles, sirens, construction noise, road work, industrial noise, noisy vehicles, too-loud music, shouting and crying and barking - all of these noises can be a problem by themselves, and when you experience all of them together - yikes!

Today's the day to pay attention to noise pollution in your worksite, schools, neighborhoods, and wider community. And to do something about it! Write letters to city council members and other governmental officials. Complain to companies that are filling your ears with clangs and booms and other loud noises. 

Did you know that walls and plants - especially hedges and bushes like hollies and junipers, with lots of thick branches relatively low down - are good at reducing noise?

Also, running water can mask quite a lot of bothersome noise. 

If you are in a noisy place or doing a noisy activity, protect your ears with ear plugs or noise-cancelling headphones. 

Of course, you should make sure you are not adding to noise pollution! Wear earbuds rather than blasting your music to all during a walk. Maintain your vehicles. Keep your voice down outside and the TV volume down inside.

If you live somewhere fairly noisy, try to add some quiet minutes to your day. Can you go to a large park where the only sounds are soft nature sounds? Make one room extra quiet by hanging tapestries on the walls and thick curtains at the windows. 

April 28 - Workers' Mourning Day in Canada

Posted on April 28, 2020

There are dangers everywhere, I suppose - although certainly police officers, fire fighters, soldiers, and miners encounter more danger at their jobs than, say, executives, computer programmers, and musicians.

Today Canada honors the memories of those who have been killed or even injured while at work - and because of work.

The holiday started because two labor activists were delayed on the road by a funeral procession for a fire fighter who had been killed in the line of duty. They really liked the fact that this person was being honored, but they worried that some workers who die - or are injured - in the line of duty get no similar honor. They ended up deciding that a once-a-year opportunity for each of us to remember and honor people we know who died or were injured at work would be a valuable thing.

All over the world, people are applauding
medical workers from a safe distance at
shift changes. This is a great new tradition!
Right now, in the face of the global pandemic, nurses, doctors, and other medical staff are putting their lives on the line for the rest of us. Also, many people who work in the production and delivery of food and other essential services - plumbers and sanitation workers, for example - are not able to #StayHome and stay safe like so many of us; by continuing to go to work, they are getting more exposure to the virus than most of us are. 

These people are heroes, and we should be treating them as such - and certainly those medical personnel and essential workers who have fallen ill and especially those who have died from COVID-19 should be honored today.

Today is also a chance to dedicate ourselves to make every worksite, every industry, every field as safe as possible!