Friday, July 25, 2008

Whole Lotta Shaking Going On

Another earthquake in Tohoku, this one resulting in over 130 injuries but luckily no deaths and rather limited damage compared with the previous one, has reminded me that I should review the contents of my earthquake kit and other post-quake survival gear.

One of the reasons that I had a deep well dug on my property in Kumagaya, and the main reason that I had a manual pump installed in addition to an electric one, is to ensure the availability of water in the event of a really serious earthquake. I'm told that the local fire department uses well water for their fire hydrants, which suggests that they don't want to rely on the city-supplied water mains any more than I do.

If you're going to live in an earthquake-prone place like Japan, it's certainly a good idea to prepare for a really big one that will probably result in a week or more without reliable supplies of water, food, gas, or electricity.

I've got lots of camping gear and plenty of stuff to keep me pretty comfortable and healthy for quite a while roughing it until the authorities get their act together. Assuming I survive the quake itself, I should be OK afterward, and could probably offer a fair bit of hospitality to my less well prepared neighbors.

I really should ensure more often that the canned and freeze-dried food has been rotated so that I'm not forced to live on stuff that's too far past its "best by" date, though.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It's a Hassle

I subscribe to an e-mail newsletter called This is True, the owner/author of which also runs some other interesting sites. One of them is devoted to "Bonzer Web Sites of the Week".

The site featured this week is called "HassleMe", and it provides a simple and clever solution to everyone's occasional need to be nagged...ah...reminded to do some things. I particularly like the fact that the reminders come at rough--not regular--intervals, making them just unpredictable enough to be effective.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Grumbling at Straw

This article in Japan Today provokes some interesting thoughts, as do some of the comments.

Certainly it's not easy to do any serious paperwork in most inn-type tatami rooms, and sleeping on the floor is an acquired taste.

Nevertheless, in comparison with the plight of some of the starving folks whose fates are supposed to be decided by the decisions and plans that come out of this conference, sleeping on tatami in an inn is luxurious.

I'm most amused by the fact that this reaction wasn't expected and planned for in advance. For such good logistics planners, the Japanese can certainly fail spectacularly in predicting human behavior...even behavior among Japanese, but especially that of foreigners.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Planting Weed

In a follow up to a story I discussed elsewhere, it has become clear that what was first portrayed as one-time aberrant behavior by one customs agent has in fact been common practice by several of them, multiple times.

Three of them have planted "cannabis resin" (I assume hashish) in the luggage of unsuspecting travelers through Narita airport 160 times since last September. At least, three that they know about and/or choose to make public. I'd bet that it has been going on much longer and much more frequently.

One of them (who had done it 90 times) got a three-month suspension; two others (10 times for one and 60 for the other) got 10% pay cuts; and the head of Tokyo Customs was among nine senior customs people who got pay cuts and/or warnings.

They should all have been fired, it seems to me.

I'd rather that my taxes not be spent to support stupid and irresponsible officials, and perhaps serious penalties would at least somewhat deter others from similar idiocy.