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continuing thoughts...


Topic Today: Update on Typhoon Mangkhut. As the death toll continues to rise in the Philippines, and China recovers in the aftermath of Typhoon Mangkhut, my thoughts continue to be with those affected there as well as the many affected by Hurricane Florence. Fortunately for Ha Noi, the weather forecasters were wrong and all we have received are light winds and light to moderate scattered rainfall. In the provinces to the north and west of Ha Noi, however, rains have been heavy. Today, it was reported by PhilStar Global ( that "Filipinos should brace for four to five more tropical cyclones that could be as powerful as Typhoon Ompong (international name Mangkhut) in the last quarter of the year, an official of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said yesterday."  Sigh...

On the brighter side... As a member of the generation who invented "Earth Day", ever since 1970 I have always tried to do my part to fight pollution: "think globally, act locally" as we used to say back in the day (or as Woody the Owl used to say in 1974: "Give a hoot! Don't pollute!"). In case you are unaware, Viet Nam is one of the top contributors of ocean plastic pollution. Knowing this, I have been doing my part here in Ha Noi to reduce that pollution; albeit, to the extreme amusement of the Vietnamese merchants in my local market and bakery. Imagine if you will, me bringing my plastic bags back to the market (or bakery), presenting them in the customary two-handed presentation gesture, and politely miming that I would like them to reuse my bags to pack my "new stuff". Imagine them looking at the strange "foreigner with the used bags" coming back every other day, calling out to their peers, pointing (at me), and giggling behind hands. I find it charming that they react in this way. They seem to find it inconceivable that anyone would do this? and by their looks, they cannot understand why I am doing such a thing. I wish I spoke enough Vietnamese to explain the concept. For now, I'm glad I can brighten their day and sleep at night knowing that I have done my part to fight global ocean pollution. The U.S. Embassy is doing their part as well. It is against policy to use U.S. Embassy money to purchase bottled water (except the 5 gal reusable jugs) for use at the Embassy or to pay any hotel to provide bottled water at any U.S. Embassy function/meeting/conference. All water provided by hotels at Embassy functions must be served in glass bottles or pitchers. Go team U.S. Embassy!!

It's all about perspective, I suppose... A Vietnamese colleague at the U.S. Embassy pointed out the concept of "perspective taking" at our "Welcome to Viet Nam Fulbright Orientation" the first week in September: "My daughter went to live in America as a high school exchange student". "I said to her, you are lucky to live in America, they are so clean. My daughter said: "No Mommy, you are wrong they wear their shoes in the house." I said, no you are wrong, they are very clean in America, and she said: "No, no Mommy, you are wrong. They let animals sleep on their beds."

I bid you a fond "tam biet"


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