Wednesday, March 31, 2010

No Way Out

This is a spot near my neighborhood where they are building at least five houses, two in the front and three in the back (pretty much standard). The street wasn't wide enough for me to get a wide angle shot, which is why they had to park the cement mixer truck two blocks over and pipe in the foundation over the rooves of the existing structures. I'm wondering if that will be the same access route for the people who live in the houses that are sandwiched in the middle.

I don't know what the word for claustrophobia is in Japanese but I'll bet nobody around here ever heard of it anyway.

Not all of the streets are this narrow and densely populated, some are even more so. My mother-in-law's house sits on a fairly big plot of land. She owns the house but not the land underneath it. She used to rent stairways on both sides of her house but the landlord changed the terms of agreement without her knowing and now she just has the right to use one set of stairs. My uncle-in-law's house is situated catty-cornered across from her place. He has to use my mother-in-law's walkway and stairs to get in and out. If my mother-in-law ever sells her house, he'll literally have no way out.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

This Way Out

This pictogram sign indicates the way out (in an emergency) in Japan and other places around the world.

Read more about it in Slate.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Road Ahead

Most of the following was taken directly from the website of the Independent Transportation Network® (ITN).

"Life's a journey" and the national NPO, ITN is providing "rides with door-to-door, arm-through-arm service to thousands of seniors nationwide. It's a truly innovative solution with unique programs that allow older people to trade their own cars to pay for rides, and enable volunteer drivers to store transportation credits for their own future transportation needs. ITN's Road Scholarship Program converts volunteer credits into a fund for low-income riders, and the gift certificate program helps adult children support their parents' transportation needs from across the street or across the nation."

Some interesting aspects of ITN's ride program include a feature they've dubbed, Ride & Shop™, where "merchants such as super markets and shopping malls help to pay for rides. The payment is electronically integrated into ITNRides technology so there are no stamps or stickers for consumers to collect. It is a consumer-friendly paperless system." Another feature that caught my eye was Healthy Miles™ in which "health providers help to pay for rides. It is similar to Ride & Shop." Then there is CarTrade™. If "an older person has a vehicle they can no longer drive, the ITN CarTrade program helps them convert this depreciating capital asset into a fund to pay for their rides. In a way, CarTrade allows people to continue to benefit from their automobiles. Participation in CarTrade is a benefit of ITN membership, and there is no charge."

ITN is looking into a number of innovative ways around the road blocks to senior mobility and as their tag line says, "the quality of our lives is riding on it."

Saturday, March 27, 2010

New Toyota Theme Song?

Playing in the Street

Tsurumi-ku, Yokohama, Japan

I think I had a cute little backhoe toy like this too when I was little.

Maybe mine was a little bigger.

(I know this is a loader.)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Stemming the Tide

Bad to the Last Drop by Tom Standage, author of A History of the World in 6 Glasses.

"Whenever I blow a dollar on a bottle of water I have Perrier."
- Robin WIlliams from:

(Remember when that line used to crack everybody up, except yuppies of course. I used to have this album. Now I just have the memory of it, which may be a little faulty.)

Friday, March 19, 2010

More Craic Agus Ceol

According to  author, Berne Biege one of the  "Top Ten Irish Words Everybody Needs," is craic agus ceol.  Berne says, "pronounced "crack agus col" (with a drawn-out o)," the phrase "means 'crack and music' and is the usual description of Irish nightlife. The word craic is not Irish - the English "crack" was simply re-written in an Irish form. The original meaning is 'fun."

More from and about Tinsmith, the performers of the (edited) tune in the video can be found at

For more on St. Patrick's Day Go to the Stuff White People Like blog.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Today was St. Patrick's Day in Japan. I didn't know what to do so I rode this train all day. It seemed to be outfitted for the occasion.

Japan Railway plays different music at each station to herald the arrival and departure of every train. Even if you can't read the signs or understand the announcements, you can tell where you are just by listening to the music. Anyway it was a great day, craic agus coel all the way.


Friday is St. Joseph's Day and I don't know what I'm going to do to celebrate. I was thinking about taking the kids to the Salon de Joe barber shop for haircuts or maybe enrolling them in the St. Joseph's Academy (SJA)just right around the corner from where we live but I don't think  the uniforms are a good fit for them. They like to keep their knees warm. Anyway nothing is set in stone just yet. Maybe I'll just ride the train again.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

For the Angst Ridden

Get even more mortified now.

Breaking Barriers

Here is a clip from a segment of a Japanese TV show that is sweeping the globe with local versions in Russia, Italy, Lithuania, England and elsewhere. Using variations of the same basic sight gag, the show has been able to break down the language barrier and find its way into homes around the world. This one's for you M&M. Enjoy!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Forging Hope

This is an inspiring story of hope and perseverance focused on a group of aging metal rockers with hearts of gold (and don't miss the Japan connection - the land of second chances for waning musical careers).