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March 11 is World Plumbing Day

World Plumbing Day

Today is World Plumbing Day, a day of observance established in 2010 by the World Plumbing Council to raise awareness of the vital role plumbers play in our daily lives.

We’re willing to bet that everyone must heed nature’s call. (Call it a hunch.) World Toilet Day celebrates the need for clean water and sanitation. Global Handwashing Day emphasizes proper hygiene. World Plumbing Day recognizes those who install and maintain the facilities so many of us are lucky enough to use.

According to the World Health Organization, 2.3 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation. UNICEF reports that 450,000 children under five die from diarrhea every year. Drought conditions threaten much of the world, including California.

Lead and other contaminants have been poisoning the water supply of Flint, Michigan, since 2014. Three years later, the EPA allocated $100 million for cleanup, a federal judge approved a $97 million settlement, and the state agreed to pay to replace water lines for 18,000 Flint households by 2020.

So the next time you turn on the tap, raise a glass to the plumber who’s always there when you need him to unclog a drain, fix a leak or get the toilet back in business so you can do your business.

Happy World Plumbing Day!

Copyright © 2018 Worldwide Weird Holidays

November 22 is Start Your Own Country Day

Today is Start Your Own Country Day. According to legend, it was introduced at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City with the intention of honoring “those free-spirited souls who dared to hope and believe in a better world where they too could declare any land their own.”

start your own country

We’ve been unable to confirm that account. No matter its origin, Start Your Own Country Day promotes awareness that, within certain parameters, it is possible to form a micronation.

That might sound appealing to anyone who is unhappy about the outcome of a recent election but doesn’t want to move to Canada because it’s too cold up there and packing is a miserable task.

But there is more involved than not paying taxes and designing a fun yet meaningful flag. The new nation must provide and maintain roads, power, emergency services, sewage treatment and waterworks as well as telecommunications infrastructure and Internet service.

The 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States declared that a nation requires four things to exist: a permanent population, defined territory, government and a capacity to enter into relations with other states.

Let’s take a look at two people who’ve pursued their dreams of telling the whole world, “You’re not the boss of me!”

The Republic of Kugelmugel

start your own country day

Lack of building permits for construction of a spherical house turned Edwin Lipburger from an artist to dissident and president of his one-man nation, bordered on all sides by Vienna, Austria, but independent of it. The house itself contained the country of Kugelmugel and its sole inhabitant.

Lipburger was eventually convicted and sentenced to prison for refusing to pay taxes and, among other things, printing his own stamps. Public sympathy for the artist persuaded the Austrian president to pardon him and halt demolition of his house.

Lipburger now lives in exile in Vienna, while his structure has been relocated to the nearby Wiener Prater amusement park, where it has become a tourist attraction. Though barbed wire surrounds the Republic of Kugelmugel, it is still possible to get a glimpse of the spherical nation by looking through the fence.

The Principality of Hutt River

start your own country

Prince Leonard seceded from Australia on April 21st, 1970, founding the Principality of Hutt River as part of an agricultural protest. The sovereign state claims to pay no taxes but donates an equivalent sum to the Australian government each year, which apparently doesn’t care what Leonard writes in the memo line as long as it gets the check.

Like the Republic of Kugelmugel, the Principality of Hutt River issues its own stamps. It also mints coins, prints banknotes and sells commemorative teaspoons, cufflinks, postcards, magnets, tie clips, letter openers and other items online and on location.

What this nation has going for it is its size. Situated 595 kilometers north of Perth, it covers about 75 square kilometers for a total of 18,500 acres of land, roughly the size of Hong Kong. Even if the UN doesn’t recognize the country’s presence, Google does. The Principality of Hutt River is one of the few micronations that shows up on Google Maps.

Visitors pay a small fee and have their passports stamped upon arrival, but there’s no departure tax. Prince Leonard says he hosts thousands of tourists each year. Hutt River’s campground accommodations have been described as “rustic.” TripAdvisor rated it “#737 of 1,035 things to do in Western Australia.”

If you’d like to take a tour of these countries, check out Micronations: the Lonely Planet Guide to Home-Made Nations, the only travel guide of its kind. It was published in 2006, so it pays to call ahead for current travel information if you’re planning a visit to, say, Molossia, which has been at war with East Germany since 1983 and pegs its currency to the value of Pillsbury cookie dough.

If you’re feeling inspired, check out this handy online guide to starting a micronation, complete with Model Constitutional Code. Whether you choose to celebrate today by creating a new country, traveling to one or just relaxing at home, have a happy Start Your Own Country Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

November 21 is World Hello Day

world hello day

November 21st is World Hello Day, also known as Greet Ten People for Peace. It was founded in 1973 by brothers Brian and Michael McCormack, university students at the time,  in response to the Yom Kippur War.

“We wanted to do something to celebrate the importance of personal communication to preserving peace,” Michael McCormack later explained. They wrote to world leaders, asking them to support the new holiday. To date, they have received 83 letters of support from world leaders, Nobel Prize winners, authors and entertainers. Citizens in 180 countries have taken part in World Hello Day.

world hello day

Anyone can participate in World Hello Day. The McCormack brothers’ goal was that everyone say hello to ten strangers to encourage dialogue, understanding and friendship between people of diverse backgrounds.

world hello day

Around the globe, people use World Hello Day as an opportunity to express their desire for unity and peace.  With a simple greeting, they send a message to leaders, encouraging them to use diplomacy rather than force to settle conflicts. The occasion helps each person realize he or she is an instrument of change and can contribute to creating a more inclusive society.

Each time you say hello to a stranger, your heart acknowledges over and over again that we are all family. — Suzy Kassem

Happy World Hello Day! Get out there and say hi to some friends you haven’t met yet.

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

Chaos Never Dies Day: Part Two

In Which I Inadvertently Prove that Chaos Never Dies

Chaos Never Dies Day proved all too true for me today, November 9, 2017,  when I was briefly interviewed by Michael S. Robinson on Microbin Radio. I had been invited to be a guest on the radio show only the day before so I dutifully spent a day cramming the online equivalent of Chaos Theory for Dummies to prepare.

I’d been told I’d be quizzed on how I came to write about weird holidays and asked about holidays taking place before the end of the year. I gathered information on two of the wackiest: Start Your Own Country Day and Tió de Nadal, which involves a Christmas log that craps out presents. I’ve never been on the radio before and was wargaming it all out until three minutes before I went on-air.

What I didn’t know ahead of time was that the guests on the docket before me were scheduled to talk about the mass shooting in Texas and the difficulties of parenting. The theme for the day was “Are we Stuck in a Bad News Hell?”

The Michael S Robinson Show banner

When Mr. Robinson introduced me, I launched into a description of the beauty of the order that dwells in chaos even though we can’t perceive it.

I gave the example of football, which can’t be predicted in strictly linear terms by the sum of the players’ and team’s rankings because of variables like team chemistry, whether it’s a home or away game, the quarterback’s attitude, etc. Since I’m confident that you’ll never hear this, I’m going to say it was brilliant.

But Mr. Robinson wanted to talk about the chaos we deal with every day. Of course. I have a lot to say about the unprecedented amount of chaos we’re experiencing nowadays, but I ended up being woefully unprepared. I should have known that was what he would want to discuss.

How did I make such a mistake and overshoot what should have been an interesting and informative conversation? I didn’t just strike out. I left my bat in the dugout and brought a cello to the plate. I’d like to credit chaos in some artful way, say it created a perfect trajectory I can’t identify. That’s hogwash, of course—or is it? (It is.)

Also, I had feedback blasting my words back at me, making it almost impossible to speak normally. There’s nothing worse than hearing your own voice faltering in near-real time. Again, chaos. I don’t think I’ll get invited back. It’s probably just as well that they spelled my name Kathlene Zaya.

$99,000 Answer The Honeymooners Ralph KramdenAll this reminds me of the $99,000 Answer, an episode of The Honeymooners in which Ralph Kramden prepares to go on a game show where he’ll be required to identify songs by the first few bars.

He rents a piano and has Ed Norton play musical selections all week to prepare for the event. Ed always warms up by playing the first few bars of “Swanee River,” which never fails to annoy Ralph.

The night of the show, the first tune played is “Swanee River,” which he can’t name. He loses in spite of all his preparation. I laughed but felt bad for Ralph, perpetual loser.

It also reminds me of every Curb Your Enthusiasm episode when Larry David does something stupid or thoughtless by misunderstanding the context of a situation—or just because he’s a jerk. (That’s every episode.)

Fictional chaos theorist David Malcom said in Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way.” So do laughs but not always the ones you want or on the schedule you’d prefer.

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays