Sunday, August 26, 2012

Crying in the Rain

The postponement of the GOP National Convention is not the most ridiculous reaction to the coming drizzle named Isaac. It’s just the most publicized. We Americans love to dramatize our own plight, a tactic which, intentional or sub-conscious, allows us to maintain our self-appraisal as the most important people on Earth.
I had mistakenly thought Isaac had already blown up the east coast; this from one facebook post from someone lamenting the six inches of rain that had fallen overnight in Delaware and another announcing a power outage in Florida. Good Lord above, this isn’t a hurricane, this is Armageddon! I’m sorry God….for everything!!... (Okay I'm exaggerating.)

A check into the situation on, however, explains, in a series of news clips, the situation – in particular, the American inclination to dramatize our plight. (Please do tune in, these clips are well worth it, if for no other reason than to understand just how keenly incisive my thoughts are.)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Staying in the Right Now

United Airlines CEO Jeff Smisek must not have read my post from July 8th because soon after that sharp-witted dagger attack I received notice of my new Premium Silver Club status in the mail.  How he knew to mail my club member card to Japan and not New Jersey is a little freaky; maybe he did read my post and is trying to shut me up by playing nice. Not going to work Jeff, but I’ll take the extra legroom.

I’m sitting in a near-empty lounge in Narita’s Terminal 1. It’s 6:30am, I’m fresh off another overnight bus ride from Fukushima (typically, I got nearly zero sleep), and I’ve got four hours before first boarding call. Perfect. Time to relax and take in my surroundings.

I’m alone by the way; the wife and kids will remain in Japan for a few more weeks. There have been many moments recently when I felt I couldn’t get away from the boys fast enough; the younger one clings to me like shrink wrap and hasn’t learned yet the concept of sharing toys, while the older one, as good as he tries to be in the face of the two-year-old fury that is his brother, can only keep his frustrations at bay for so long. Alone now, I can close my eyes and enjoy the peace of solitude. And I find that I already miss being able to look at my sons.

Friday, August 17, 2012

"It's funny because it's true." -- Seinfeld

The slogan of The Japan Times newspaper is “All the news without fear or favor”. They say nothing of, as sometimes-funny former late-night talk show host Arsenio Hall used to say, ‘things that make you go hmmmm.’ And until Arsenio is back on the talk show stump next September, it is up to me to bring these crucial news items to you.

On the front page of the August 15, 2012 edition a headline reads: Lost school party found safe in Nara mountains. My first thought: what was a safe doing in the mountains? Turns out a group of students and two teachers from Uenomiya Junior High in Osaka ‘got lost because some roads were demolished by last year’s typhoon.’ The group, by the way, were members of the school’s mountaineering and outdoor activity club. I vote F’s all around for those kids. And reassign those teachers to the tea ceremony club. (And give them a canteen and a cell phone along with directions to the tea ceremony hall in Building 2.)
Beginning on page 2 is the ‘national’ – apparently a synonym for ‘delusional’ – news. The lead article is on upcoming talks between Japan and North Korea, who haven’t officially spoken since August 2008. The talks are supposed to center on Japan being able to retrieve the remains of Japanese who died in the North near the 1945 end of Japan’s colonial rule of the peninsula. Overly-optimistic Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujiwara also says the talks ‘will “definitely” include North Korea’s abduction of Japanese nationals.’ After these scheduled ‘preliminary consultations,’ Fujiwara says it will not take many days for the two countries to enter into real talks. Right. The Japanese and North Korean Red Cross Societies (The Red Cross!) hadn’t even spoken for 10 years until they ‘agreed last Friday to ask their governments to join negotiations’ over the remains-retrieval issue. I predict talks will break down by noon of the first day as the two countries will not be able to agree on where to order lunch from.