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Friday, Mar 18, 2011
Life after the quake and tsunami in Tohoku is not easy at all. Cut off from them, as I am now, with no working phone service and much of the Internet down, I can only pray for the people I left behind on that day.

“You’re so lucky!”


That’s the line I’ve heard repeatedly over the last two days. Along with: “wow, you must be a cat.”


Of course, for the people left behind, in Sendai city, in the Tohoku region, life has been nothing like that. No luck for those who have survived. For them, there is no charm in being stuck in the wake of Friday’s massive 8.9 earthquake, and the multiple aftershocks of Mag-6 or more that have followed. For them, at the moment, there is debris in the roads, days and nights spent in refugee centers, no running water, or open gas lines, or electricity. Life after the quake and tsunami in Tohoku is not easy at all.


Cut off from them, as I am now, with no working phone service and much of the Internet down, I can only pray for the people I left behind on that day.


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Thursday, Mar 17, 2011

It started without any pretense or clear definition on Friday, March 11th, with this post:


Chris Doran created the group

A week later, Friday, March 18th, 2 a.m., and the group now has 654 posts. It also has a name:


“SENDAI EARTHQUAKE FRIENDS & FAMILY LINK



and a description:


Euan Millar THIS GROUP WAS SET UP TO LINK PEOPLE TO MISSING PEOPLE. It is run by English teachers who work, or used to work, in Sendai and Miyagi. ALL MEMBERS please check locations of missing and provide as much information as you can. First names, Last names, Location (address if possible), link to an image uploaded to your Facebook photos of the missing person. We will do our best with what we have, but the more info you offer, the better.


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Thursday, May 31, 2007




I know that this is a column about travel, but you know from being such faithful readers that voyages of the body, the soul, the mind . . . they all qualify. Still, even by that liberal definitional standard, this entry will be a stretch, since this entry is about journeys of a moral kind. It is a topic that came up recently over here in Japan (where my peripatetic feet generally roost) and I hope you agree it’s worth consideration, at least for a paragraph or three.







If you haven’t heard, a “baby drop box” was put into operation May 10 by a Roman Catholic hospital in Kumamoto. It was designed for unwanted infants however it made the front page of newspapers when a father dropped off a preschool-aged child on the service’s first day.


This abandonment aside, Kumamoto’s so-called “konotori no yurikago” (stork cradle) plan has generated both praise and criticism. Is this an example of social engineering noble and visionary, or of a society dissipated and retrograde? Is this a human community committed to the principle of “no child left behind” or, rather, of any child potentially tossed by the wayside?


 


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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Riding cabs is the mode of the realm for travelers in any city not their own. Rental cars and trains and trams work, with more money or a bit of initiative, still, cabs are probably the cheapest means of purchasing mobility and possibly even scoring quick information about the local bests in eats, attractions, edification, and sundry merry-making.


Or not . . . depending on whose back seat you end up occupying.


Of course, it isn’t always a back seat. Since, in certain venues, custom dictates taking the shotgun seat. However, without a guidebook in hand (and then why pay for the cabbie for those choice informational tidbits?), it is not always clear which seat to take. It seems to me that once in Dresden when I took up the seat in the back of a cab, the driver did a double-take. Like: “who do you think I am, pal? Your chauffeur?”


Some people adopt the weirdest points of view.


 


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Tuesday, Mar 13, 2007

There’s a song I have played to death over the years. Still do. One by John Martyn, about “a man in the station/he’s takin’ the next train home”. Actually, Martyn has a couple of versions of it: the original, with his distinctive acoustic six-string, played like it’s a percussive instrument, backed by a slow-burn jazz combo that makes its points with a Gretsch guitar with most of the treble removed, a Fender Rhodes sounding haunting and subdued to start—beginning like the one in John Klemmer’s “Touch”—but then becoming pulsing and insistent—ending like Billy Preston’s work at the close of “Let It Be”. All this held together by a heavy vise of bass and drums. The other version is much more up-beat, Martyn’s voice sounding much less like before, when it seemed to have captured a dude struggling up the back slope of a cocaine ride run its course.


Still, both commendable efforts, worthy of your time.



This time ‘round, though . . . this time when I actually am in the station, I actually encounter a man in the station . . .  and this time, it is all quite different.


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