Category Archives: News


The aftershocks continue (Sendai Earthquake)

The last few days have been surreal. As most of the world knows by now, the northern part of Japan was slammed by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake on March 11, around 14:46. Even as I type this out, my computer monitor is wobbling from yet another aftershock (have experienced 5 today so far), one of dozens that continue to jolt Japan.

When the earthquake hit, I had taken a day off from work to drive my family to the supermarket. We had just rented a car and were sitting idling in the rental car lot setting up the GPS when suddenly the car started shuddering. I initially thought it was because of a train passing underground, but the shaking just got worse. We were all getting more and more alarmed but I still didn’t think much of it until I looked across the street and saw the building in front of me literally rippling and swaying hard enough almost hit the neighboring structures.

The electric cables were swinging madly, the traffic lights and street signs rocking back and forth, and everything just became overwhelmingly chaotic as dozens of people ran out of their buildings. It only lasted for about 3-4 minutes, though with the constant aftershocks, it felt like it kept on going forever.

Believe it or not, after the worst of it was over, we still decided to head to the supermarket, figuring that was the end of that. It was only after we arrived at the supermarket that we saw live on TV the devastation that the tsunamis were causing. By this time, email and cell communications were down and we were having difficulty getting in touch with others.

(Some Before and After images of the Japanese landscape.)

We didn’t spend too much time at the supermarket. The sobering images on TV, as we saw the water sweep houses and cars away, made just want to head back home as soon as possible. It took us a solid 4+ hours to drive the 7km back to the apartment. Traffic was packed so badly it sometimes took us an hour to move 500 meters. Off in the distance we could see the smoke from the fires that had broken out at an oil refinery.

We now know that this earthquake was the largest to hit Japan (in recorded history), and that the shocks were felt as far away as the United States. The 9.0 quake was enough to move the entire main island of Japan some 16 feet/5meters to the east, shift the earth’s axis by almost a foot, and increase the speed of the earth’s rotation.

Today, the 3rd day after the quake hit, it feels almost like it’s back to business in Tokyo. People are at work, I’m in the office, and if it weren’t for the frequent tremors and the news that power blackouts will be starting soon, it would almost feel like a normal day. However, the news on TV shows us how bad it is just a few hours north, with entire towns washed away by 30-foot waves, the leaking nuclear reactors, and thousands missing or dead. I can only pause to thank God how lucky I and my family and loved ones have been, and to continue to pray for those who have are still struggling to recover from this tragedy.



I can’t believe it’s already been almost 2 months since my last post!  I really have no excuse save for the usual “it’s been busy”…

Last month was especially hectic – J4 dropped by Tokyo to visit for a week before heading to visit the land down under, immediately after he left I was sent on a working trip (emphasis on “working”) to Singapore and was there for 2 weeks, working my derriere off.

Oh, and just before I left, my laptop display gave up the ghost, leaving me essentially computer/internet-less for almost a month.  And did I mention it’s been busy?

Things don’t look to be calming down at work any time soon, but at least I have a new computer now (will post on that later) and can get online!  Will also have to get back to the picture challenges, and I also have more pictures I need to eventually upload to the gallery section.

Though posting is still going to be sporadic, at least I’m back. 🙂


Challenge will be posted tomorrow!

Sorry all, I’ve been out of Tokyo on work-related duties, and haven’t had much time to do anything personal lately.

I have a couple of submissions, and will try to get them up by tomorrow evening.   Check back then!


Officially hottest summer on record

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, this year is officially the hottest on record in Japan (since they started keeping records in 1898).

It’s certainly felt like it – I don’t think I’ve ever run the A/C so long or so frequently.  It also doesn’t look to be cooling down anytime too soon yet either – weather forecasts predict a heat index (ie “real feel”) hovering around 37 degrees this week…


10+ day traffic jam may go for another 2 weeks

It’s insane, but there’s a traffic jam in China that stretched nearly 100km long at one point, and has lasted for over 10 days now – and it’s expected to go on till possibly mid-September.

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Humor News

Cute alert!

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This isn’t particularly newsworthy, just something to make you go “d’awwwww”. 🙂

The Telegraph ran an article a few days ago of what is becoming a yearly tradition of duckling rescues by the employees of a Spokane bank.

Click on the link above to read more, or click HERE for a slideshow (hover your mouse over the picture to see arrows that will bring you the next picture in the series).

News Thoughts

And salvation for humanity shall be delivered in a bomber’s cargo bay

Iranian president Mr. Ahmadinejad was quoted in today’s news as saying: “The jet, as well as being an ambassador of death for the enemies of humanity, has a main message of peace and friendship.”

This wonderfully oblique statement is in reference to the unveiling of Iran’s first “domestically built, unmanned bomber aircraft”.  I get the “ambassador of death” bit, but where does the “peace and friendship”, (or as the NY Times translates it, “Salvation for humanity”) come into a play?  It is a bomber after all, whose sole purpose is to rain death and destruction on a population somewhere.

The statement is absurd.

Unless Mr. Ahmadinejad sincerely equates his new bomber with both peace and death (in which case I’d really like to catch a glimpse of the thought process at work here), he is most likely attempting (and failing) to gloss over the fact that Iran is simply building up their capabilities for warfare.

This is a shame, because Iran sounds like a culturally fascinating nation (if the information on Wikipedia is anything to go on).  I say it’s a shame, but again I kinda-sorta understand the need for a nation to be considered one of the “big boys”.  I just hope that someday we’ll be able to get over associating a nation’s military capabilities with their perceived “worth” in terms of world affairs.


In the news… June 2nd

I don’t think I’ll make a regular habit of this, but I thought I’d repost a few news tidbits (which I’m sure most have already seen).

Giant Sinkhole in Guatemala

I know this has already been said, but this image is really unbelievable.   From this angle, it literally looks like a hole stretching down to the depths of the earth’s center.

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And, while I’m not trying to be insensitive to the tragedy that is taking place in Guatemala and the rest of Central America, I have to admit that one of the thoughts that first crossed my mind upon seeing this picture was, “Did Harry Dresden just visit that town?”.

Apologies again… not trying to make a joke of anything, and my prayers go out to the inhabitants of the city.

Japanese PM resigns – 4th in a row to quit in less than a year of taking office

For pete’s sake – Yukio Hatoyama has just announced his resignation as PM.  This marks the 4th PM in as many years to quit in less than a year at their job.

First was Shinzo Abe from 2006 to 2007, then Yasuo Fukuda from 2007 to 2008, Taro Aso from 2008 to 2009, and now Yukio Hatoyama from 2009 to 2010.

I know that I know nothing about being in politics, but really… I feel that if they’re going to spend the time campaigning and raising the hopes of the people, then they should at least try to stick things through.  At least try not to make promises one can’t keep, and don’t bow out when the going gets rough!

Out of office message ends up on road sign

This is just plain goofy, but officials in Swansea, Wales mistook an out of office message to be the translation they requested for a road sign – and actually put it up.  Check the right of the linked article for more stories about Welsh signs that were lost in translation.

Experiences News

Driving with a GPS

Just came across this story about a woman who is suing Google for giving her “bad directions” and directing her to walk out onto a highway.   Unsurprisingly, she was hit by a car and claims to be suffering “physical” and “mental” injuries – though I don’t know that she had much in the way of brains to injure in the first place!

It’s not the only GPS-related incident I’ve come across in the past – here are a couple about people who have nearly driven over cliffs, and another of a woman who literally drove off a bridge into a river.

Being a new driver myself, I can completely understand the reliance on GPS.  It is particularly invaluable in a city like Tokyo, with so many twisting roads and small streets.  However, I do agree with  the observation my parents made when they visited, that it would be better for me to learn the roads – that depending too much on the device doesn’t help me learn anything.  Yet, it’s hard.

The sheer convenience of being able to plug in a number or address and have a route laid out for you trumps having to open up a paper map and figure a) where you are in relation to your destination and b) what is the best way to get to where you want to be.  Again, this is especially true for me in Japan since I usually go driving way out of Tokyo, typically 150+ km outside of the city.

Nonetheless, I like to think that I do try to exercise a little common sense.  Yes, I do take wrong turns from time to time, but rather than follow the GPS recalculation (which tacks on another 5-10 km), I just look for a place to pull into and turn around.

My most recent goof was just this weekend on my way back into Tokyo from a day trip to Nikko with S and her sister (pictures and a post on that will  eventually be forthcoming).  Just before reaching a fork in the road, the GPS piped up and told me to “take a left”.  However, just as I was turning, S pointed out, “hey, the sign says Tokyo is on the right!”.  By then it was too late to change lanes, so I drove around until I was headed back to the fork again.  Once more the GPS prompted me to “take a left” but I just told it shut up and headed right, whereupon it then asked me to continue going straight ahead.  So much for GPS logic.

Even though the GPS goofed, there’s no way I’m blaming it for guiding me the wrong way, particularly when the road signs were so prominent.  I should have looked at the road signs more carefully.

So… chalk it up to a learning experience.  I’m sure I will still make more mistakes in the future, but I hope I never stop trying to use common sense.  As for that woman suing Google – I hope her case gets tossed out as soon as possible so that she stops wasting everyone’s time.