Tag Archives: News

Photography Thoughts

A brief update, and more pictures from Yasukuni

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Things are slowly regaining  a sense of normalcy (in Tokyo at least).  While train stations and stores are still darkened in efforts to conserve power, the general mood and atmosphere is much more upbeat.  The fact that the weather is warming up with flowers blooming all around contributes greatly.

There are still concerns about radiation, both in the air and the water, but there haven’t been any alarms (aside from the ocean water) and stories like this seem to indicate that even the media is starting to tone down their frenzied stories of doom and gloom.  I honestly believe that things are ok.  I am still drinking bottled water, y’know, just in case, but aside from that I’m just grateful that things are as good as they are.

I’m uploading a few more pictures I took at Yasukuni last week, which can be seen at the usual place.

News Photography

Update, links, a couple of pictures

Things are quiet in Tokyo this week.  My family left on Saturday, and this Monday I started my regular commute to work (I was staying at their apartment while they were here, which was only a 10-15 minute walk away from the office).  The Tokyo Metro seems to be running almost normally for the most part.  However, the darkened areas (due to efforts to minimize electricity usage) of the underground are a reminder that things are not back to normal – and are not likely to be for a while yet.

Efforts to contain the damaged nuclear plants in Fukushima continue, though right now it seems to be progressing at a rate of 2 steps forward, one step back as the radiation dangers around the immediate area force workers to proceed with extreme caution.  There’s a sense of helplessness (at least from my part) since there is really nothing the average person can do expect hope and pray that things will come under control soon.  We in Tokyo are safe, but not far away are people putting their lives on the line.

This is probably old news for all Japanese readers, but still thought I’d post the English information pages on the possible power blackouts.  Energy usage now is fairly stable and the power blackouts are minimal, but as the humid summer months come, people are expecting that electricity outages will resume again in the near future.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company site (English)

Google Crisis Response Blackout Information (English)

General advice from Yahoo on how to conserve power (English)

Metropolis documentation of Iodine-131 and Caesium-137 in Tokyo tap water

The English NHK website

Spring is definitely on its way, and the weather is getting nicer every day.  However, just about 250km away, people are struggling to contain a crisis that has the potential to impact not just Japan but the rest of the world.  It’s rather surreal.

I’ve uploaded a couple of pictures I took of early spring buds while my family was here.  It is odd to realize how much more I appreciate their beauty in times like these.


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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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.


Aerial images of WTC on 9/11

Came across this link of images taken from a helicopter during the attack on the WTC buildings.  There aren’t that many (only 13) but are a reminder of the devastation on that day.  It’s hard to believe that almost 9 years have passed since then.

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Rest of images can be found here: http://www.reuters.com/article/slideshow?articleId=USTRE6195G920100210#a=1

News Thoughts

Minor volcano eruption in Japan

It turns out that a volcano erupted not far from Tokyo almost 3 days ago – and I never knew.  It’s just so easy to be oblivious even to events that occur in the country you happen to live in!  Though I guess my lack of a television probably contributes to why I tend to be a little behind on current events.

In general, I don’t mind the lack of a TV – no time to watch even if I did have one, and I get my TV shows and cartoons using… “alternative” means (^^;  This suits me fine most times.  However, every now and then I worry that something will happen (Gojira might stomp on Tokyo, aliens might invade earth… or volcanoes might erupt.  I think I am most definitely going to get a TV of my own whenever I move into my own place.