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March 31, 2011

Mona is Awesome

The video is long. Maybe only Mom will like it. I didn't have time to edit, so I just threw everything form the past few days into one video. It is Mona playing drums, Mona playing with chickens, and kids at the shelter playing. I gave them several challenges, like dance while you do the ball game, and use an orange instead of thr original ball, and do it blindfolded. You will have to watch the video to know what I am talking about.

We had several earthquakes yesterday morning. One was very interesting in that instead of shaking, it just "lulled" the house for at least 30 seconds. The biggest was a 3.2. It feels like a back rub.

I decided to make a google map of all the quakes in our area using Yahoo Weathers earthquake data, and Google maps. It is tedious and tiresome. I was wondering if anyone knows of a site that uses google maps to show locations and ratings of earthquakes in Japan? So I don't have to do it manually.

There are many many more, but so far what I have had time to plot is here:

Once again, it is NOTHING like what happened in Tohoku area. Their frequent "aftershocks" are almost as big as our big earthquake! Not to mention the tsunami and nuclear disaster.

Anyway, when I am bored I am trying to plot all the earthquakes with epicenters in our area since March 11.


View Erathquakes in a larger map

March 28, 2011

Mona's Mugshots

Mona's Mugshots

Mona was caught looting another child's candy while in the refugee shelter. She is awaiting arraignment.

Either that, or these are the best of the sixty-some photos we took trying to get just one that fits to the passport authority's guidelines.

Except for that one on the upper right...

March 26, 2011

Read before you watch

completely unrelated to anything that people are probably looking for here, at this time, but I found this just as horrifying as the tsunami, if not more. This is done by man, while the earthquake and tsunami that has probably killed 20,000 people was done by "god".

In Korea (danm you Young-hoon's* people!) (just kidding) , the foot and mouth problem is causing them to bury hundreds of thousands of pigs alive. Don't watch this video unless you are confident in your ability to join PETA or become vegetarian.

How can this still be happening in this day and age?

And you may want to take kids out of the room and turn the sound down.

*By the way, for those that don't know, Young-hoon is my brother-in-law. He is actually quite a nice guy.

Oh, and he is Korean.


via change.org

Pigs are still being buried alive in South Korea, despite reassurance from the Government that such live burials would be stopped. Since November 29, 2010, over 8 million animals have been killed, more than 90% of them buried alive, in one of the worst outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease and bird flu. Over 5,000 Change.org members signed the original petition. As a result of massive protests from private citizens, local and international organizations, the Government pledged that all animals would be ‘humanely’ killed in line with international guidelines. Korea Animal Rights Advocates (KARA) have reported that 900 pigs were recently buried alive on February 21, in Icheon, Kyungi Province. According to KARA, this is proof that the government’s default strategy is still to bury animals alive.

The Seoul-based group Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth (CARE) recently released a highly graphic video of an actual live burial. Pigs can be seen being dumped into a deep pit; as the mass grave fills up, those at the bottom are crushed. Soil is then shoveled on top of the screaming pigs who are subsequently suffocated to death. Quite frequently, air pockets allow some of the animals to survive for several hours, even days, before succumbing to death -- according to witnesses on site, their screams can be heard long after the burial.

March 25, 2011

Pity me men of the world

Still no photos, just news.

We are sitting at home trying to clean, but I have no idea where to start. (of course, it was like this before he quake too).

Why the sudden interest in cleaning the house finally?

Pity me, men of the world. I am about to adopt two more females. One is certain the other is not yet, but from next month I may be living with a 1 year old cute little girl who cries every time I leave the room, a beautiful woman (my wife) who is on the end tail of postpartum stuff, and cries every time I enter the room, an 11 year old girl becoming a woman (Tomoe's niece), and now, possibly, a 33 year old woman with a history of some depression issues (I'm not making a joke out of that, I really feel sorry for her). This is the friend that helps us out a lot and when Tomoe was knocked up she helped me in the rice field. Her house is now unlivable, and we have spare room - if we get rid of the junk we have collected over the years.

And I thought the earthquake was scary...

I have lots more video and photos, but for now just a video of people having fun after a great wrestling show put on by a local wrestling group here. Unfortunatly I didn't get much video of the matches because I was too busy wrestling the big naked guy with muscles painted on his stomach.

I am currently applying for a "job" there (though it is all volunteer). Maybe I can be a ninja and at the end of the match they rip off my mask to reveal a foreigner. But then again, it would probably be more fun for the kids if they see the foreigner right from the start. The possibilities are endless.

Maybe I put up cameras and make a reality TV show.

March 22, 2011

What you have all been waiting for! Nude Men!

Update. A friend of mine wrote me an email that helped to push me in the direction I so deperatly wanted to go. I would like to post it, but I have to get permission first. In the mean time...

Happy Birthday Kaika! There are more videos where this comes from, I just didn't have to to post them all so I picked the most controversial one :)

As it stands, I am trying to be here in the shelter as much as possible to entertain the kids, and when the kids smile the old-folks smile. We have a lot of work to do to clean our house, but I think that can wait. We feel safe enough now, with out emergency evacuation in plan, to do the passport paperwork via mail, so we don't have to leave.

I have seriously starting thinking about starting my/our english teaching school, though I have absolutely no credentials or experience. I would still probably make more than I make with bike tours.

I have been having a blast with the kids here in the shelter, and they have fun with me (except for those I tease too much). The parents have been sending them an hour away for school, but this entire experience has made me much more community conscious. I have big plans for a very innovative english school - despite my absolute lack of experience.

Thanks Ku*t (the astric is to protect the identity of the friend who helped me realize this until he gives me permission :)

March 21, 2011

This is the life.

After another many hours online trying to figure out what is really scary, and what is just scary to sell news, we are still trying to figure out what to do.

This editorial sums up our thought process well, but what is not included in his thinking is the community aspect.

Today we are "allowed" to leave the school, but to tell the truth, I like it here. It is alive and Mona has fun. I have fun. I like to believe that I make it fun for the other kids. I started thinking that this is the way people should live.

Anyway, I think that from today my official fire brigade work (yes, I was too weak to quit... yet) is over, so from now I am a freelance volunteer to whatever old man or old lady needs stuff moved or carried to the dump. I prefer it that way.

I haven't talked with Tomoe yet this morning, but I assume that the plans have not changed and she will be taking Mona to Nagoya by tuesday, at least for the time being. Not because we are scared, but just to speed up the paperwork on Mona's passport.

Other than that, I am in heaven. For some reason spinach prices have dropped to almost free, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE spinach! That is all I have been eating for the past few days. I boil it, I wrap it around fresh cheese, or dip it in milk (also became cheap for some reason), or I just munch it down raw and say "num num num num. Kevin monster love spinach!". This is awesome!

March 20, 2011

I Love Nerds

I feel bad for anyone that is worrying about us. I don't mean to make panic or worry.

I have been sitting here for hours reading news about the plant. The best thing I can find is this slashdot post.

Getting a lot of non-rating-biased viewpoints from people who, while I don't know their credentials, sound kinda nerdy and smart, helps put things into perspective.

Still, I am worried, and we are proceeding with getting Mona her passport - just in case, but I also think we will be fine to stay here (aside from the fact that we will have no business - even the veggies from 150km away from the plant are "radioactive", though I am not a scientist, and what the news calls "radioactive" is probably less than what an average smoker experiences, as someone pointed out in the nerdy slashdot comments). Still, they warn pregnant women and children not to eat the veggies. (so I should?!?) Where supermarkets used to advertise locally grown produce, now they seem to be advertising imported produce.

The current plan is to send Tomoe and Mona to her home in Nagoya, where she can get the paperwork and passport Mona needs. In the meanwhile, I will continue with the firebrigade on a limited basis - only when there is a real need (no sitting around and smoking, talking about tits). This, I hope will make a "heroic" impression, and if something happens, I am ready to hitch a ride, ride a bike, or whatever it takes to catch up to Tomoe in Nagoya, but more importantly, we will be able to return in relativly good standing with the community if it turns out to be OK.

The main thing I wanted to say though, is dont worry about us. Worry about the people who have lost everything, and regards to radiation, if there is a danger, Tokyo is much closer than we are. I would worry most about refugees from Tokyo coming here and taking over our town.

March 19, 2011

It's the thought that counts

So I have cooled down a bit, and apologized to the people I need to apologize to.

Today my main duty is getting our van back from the car dealer we had dropped it off at before the earthquake. Calling the embassy to find out about the evacuation flights (We probably can't catch one so will have to pay if there are any tickets available), and get what we need from our home, and throw away the sex toys we don't want anyone to find.

We hope to be prepared to go to Nagoya tomorrow, get the paperwork we need for Mona's passport, meet Tomoe's parents, and just get out for a while. Not sure if we will go to my sister in Korea or the US obviously US is further, but if there are no plane seats, a boat to Korea is fine.

I know this sounds drastic, but the "officials" are saying that pouring concrete onto the reactors in order to contain the damage is "in the back of their minds" means that it is in the front of their minds - or more. (that is the kind of thing I would tell a client when a server went down and I might have lost all of their data.)

This will be bad for our image in the village, but we will say something about Tomoe's parents or my parents being worried, or having anxiety attacks, etc. Everyone will know it is a lie, but making face-saving lies is an art in Japan. It's the thought that counts.

If it is possible to come back here, I want to. But I also want to be prepared not to.

March 18, 2011

Prostitutes' Tits

Don't tell anyone in our village. We are making preparations to get out of dodge. We don't want to. We like it here, love it here, but we don't trust the news regarding the nuclear plant, and we, unlike many of the people around us, have many choices. Friends in the furthest reaches of Japan, relatives in several places in the US, business plans and ideas up the wazoo. One for every location we might end up.

If it were not for Mona, we might not even be thinking of evacuating, but as they say "shiouganai"

The hardest part about leaving will be that if we do, it will be impossible to come back. We will have lost any of the trust and connection we had with the neighbors.

Oh, and there is the little issue of being stupid and not getting Mona a passport earlier. The US embassy is issuing emergency passports now, that can be granted within the day you apply, but to apply for it we need documents from the Japanese government that take up to three weeks to obtain

I guess that is OK because I have a daily withdrawl limit on my bank account, and it will take longer to clean out.

Of course, now we are just talking about it. We have lots of scenarios running around in our heads. We don't want to leave, but we want to be prepared. Then again, maybe I subconsciously want to leave more than I know, as I basically ruined a good part of my relasionship with the community by effectively quitting the volunteer fire brigade today.

The fire brigade guys all lay around all day in an "official" room, where they mostly just sleep and eat instant ramen. I prefer to spend my time with my family and the other children of the village. I very vocally questioned the logic in having 5 people sitting around a campfire at the intersection when 2 would be fine - especially since there were two policemen making rounds every 20 minutes.

I very vocally questioned their attitude that they don't need to tell me their plans, because I should be sitting there, basically masturbating my ego, in the fire brigade room while there is so much else to do. i.e. help people. i.e. cheer people up. i.e. be with one's family

Today was the third time I missed my "duty". As stupid as it sounds, since the duty was stupid, I feel very resentful because the reason I missed my duty is that no one tells me ahead of time. In order to be a part of the duty (sitting on my ass by a fire in the middle of the night), I have to sit on my ass in the middle of the day in a room just one-hundred meters from my wife and daughter. I chose to sit with my family, as well as help carry boxes of food and play with the kids. I told them where I was, I told them to let me know if there is any unexpected work to be done (though I was outside carrying many boxes, and helping old ladies climb the stairs, etc. while most of the fire squad where napping or texting)

So I quit.

Tonight is my last tour of duty. I go sit on my ass by a bon fire at 5am.

It is liberating. If I don'r evacuate, this year we do less rice. This year no more fire brigade. This year I can actually help people.

There is a woman here, our best friend in the village, one who has helped me out many times with customers despite speaking no english, and being a terrible driver, she is wonderful with people. Don't tell her, but we always think of her on the dull side (I will delete this later). Today it took me 30 minutes to help her get logged in to a social network website she uses. Five minutes was explaining the caps-lock key. But... In situations like this, she shines. She is one of the best people persons I have ever known. She just doesn't know how to use her powers.

Why am I writing about this? Because she alone was doing more good by helping people in the shelter than all of us fire-brigade guys sitting by a fire. She is my new hero, despite all the bad things I have thought or maybe said about her IQ. Today when I quit the fire department, I went to her and told her she was my new boss. With her EQ, empathy, and awareness to people's needs, and Tomoe and my brains, we could make a real difference, help a lot more people.

I just can't sit around by a fire anymore smoking (second hand) and listening to talk about prostitute's tits.

So I quit.

March 17, 2011

Breaking the law

At some point I will upload lots of photos and videos. Nothing as exciting as what you see on the news. For now I am just here writing emails to customers who were supposed to come in the spring, to see if they still want to come.

I have been warned several times that I am "not allowed" to come back to my house, which I payed for, and which has been examined and deemed "OK", as long as I promise not to step on broken glass.

Other business people have been blatantly returning to their places of business to clean up or feed the cows, and I hear nothing about it. But they don't seem to get the idea that the internet and email is crucial to my work.

Just tonight, as I sat around a bonfire with four other guys "guarding" the road (a job that can be done by two, or even one with a radio), I asked about why I can't go into my own home. Answer: "Because the mayor said so".

I turned to four-year-old-mode and asked "Why?" to everything I was told. Why did the mayor say so? answer: "because he is the mayor. He knows best."

Me: "Are you serious????"

Answer: "Its a Japanese thing. You wouldn't understand."

There was more that I am sure I will rant about later, but at any rate I am officially an outlaw sitting here writing this post. I feel so liberated, but I know they will see the tire tracks in the snow and know that I came home.

March 16, 2011


View March 11 Earthquake and Tsunami in a larger map

I snuck out of the refugee area and have a few minutes to check mail and call people. for some reason they wont let us use their internet connection at the school where everyone is now sleeping (5am)

So this is a map that Kurt, a friend of mine, made to show where **he** (the red marker) is in location to what is going on. He also put a mark showing where I am (The blue marker closest to the northwestern coast).

As I write this, I just felt another aftershock which, before all this happened would have had my heart beating and turning on the news, etc. Now it is just like "OK lets just get it over with."

March 11, 2011

Safe Here

First, we are safe. We felt the quake, and even had time to discuss, while it was happening, if we should tuck Mona under the table or go outside. It was long.

There is a mountain between us and the coast, so no tsunami here.

Anyone looking for more info, I have been watching ustream NHK reports (no TV in the house).

Apparently this is equivalent to "The Big One" that has been predicted to strike either Tokyo or Nagoya within the past thirty years. Several hundred kilometers broke off the plate - the biggest since observation has begun.

There are burning oil refineries, a nuclear power plant in danger of being damaged, and of course lots of cars and possibly people being washed away by the wave.

On my scale of experience, it did not feel like too much to me, but I am far away from the epicenter. The shaking was however, long enough to realize that someplace in Japan this was BIG. Big enough that the first thing I did was write a mail to my parents to let them know that we are OK.

There is a chance that either Tomoe or I will be called to help out someplace, as I am in the volunteer fire-brigade, and Tomoe is a volunteer red-cross worker. The tsunami area is only an hour over the mountain from us, and I suspect everyone there will have their hands full.

1234, Don't throw Brewster on the floor.

I've been going through the Sesame Street youtube videos with Mona. I really love this version of Fiest's 1234. Mona has always reacted well to the original 1234 video and Mushaboom, (both below) and both on Mona's playlist, so it was not a surprise that she likes this Sesame Street version too.

Along the way, however I accidently watched Ernie singing "rubber Ducky". This was not good for Brewster. Great song, bad video if you have a little yellow chick running around your living room all day. If you wonder how the first Brewster died, it may very well have been because Mona held her (very tightly) just like Ernie holds rubber ducky around his neck. That is the last thing I want to teach or reinforce in Mona.

Mona does know "gentle" as can be seen (based on how you look at it) in the video below, where she gently strokes and then gives Brewster a poppo (Korean for kiss), but has not quite mastered the "don't be not-gentle", and gets a bit too carried away with the poppos.

Mona and I also became fans of Tilly and The Wall after seeing their alphabet song and searching for more of their work and finding their cover of Violent Femmes' Kiss Off

March 10, 2011

Tanuki

Sick TanukiSick Tanuki

Yesterday Tomoe saw from the window what she thought might be a baby tanuki (usually translated as raccoon due to the black eye-liner, but it is actually an entirely different species) wandering around across the river in broad-daylight. I went over, making sure there was no evil protective mother around, to see if the pup needed help. Maybe I will take it home... And I wanted to see if the rummers of its enormous testicles was true.

It turns out it was a sick adult, with patches of baldness - a sign of some sickness - hair loss, and being out at day, and not running away when I came - that I have seen in tanuki before. You rarely see healthy tanuki walking around in daylight, so that should have been a signal.

In the end, I just left it go - no need to bring a sick wild animal home, and besides, we already have a wild cat and also our very own wild tanuki (healthy) living rent free in our basement. I am not sure which of the two killed several of our chickens.

Speaking of chickens, since the death of Brewster, there has been another hatching. The new Brewster is similar to the first, little, yellow, abused by Mona. Punky is getting big. Much faster now so Mona is no threat. I have pried Brewster from Mona'a hand at least three times today, but she is healthy and strong.

March 01, 2011

Mona plays piano

So we found this old electric organ in a neighbor's garage. Mona loves it. The letters written on the keys are "do re mi fa so la ti do" (the previous owner is the local grade-school teacher). I have video of her playing the guitar too, but I didn't want to overdo it on the oyabaka

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