Update – 4/14

April 14th, 2011

Well, no news is good news, and there’s no news to report here, hence my lack of updatey blog entries.

Life in Tokyo appears back to normal. Last time I went to a supermarket, they were short on yogurt and natto (fermented soybeans). The other day on TV they explained that this was because making yogurt required uninterrupted power, and Tokyo was having scheduled power outages, so yogurt facilities were shut down. The temperature outside has warmed up, though, so people are using their heaters less, and they’ve eliminated the scheduled power outages, so I’m assuming stores are back in stock with yogurt. I don’t know why there were (are?) natto shortages, but as I dislike the stuff, I’m not too concerned.

Lots of places have every other light turned off to conserve power, so the town is kinda dim, but other than that, everything seems normal. People are acting normal, stores carry goods, kids run around, scuzzy looking touts annoy the modern-day equivalent of valley girls in Shibuya.

Cherry blossoms are in season, meaning the river two blocks away from our house is looking awesome. I’m taking today off from work to go to a big park for cherry blossom viewing.

Oh, and I went to Shibuya two weeks ago. The place was busy (hopping, as the young folks say?) as usual, but as we approached the station at night to get the train home, I noticed that the ambiance around the station was somehow…better. Better than pre-earthquake. I couldn’t figure out why, until I realized that all the massive outdoor video screens were turned off to save electricity, so all you could hear were other people talking and trains running, and no blaring advertisements. The lack of electricity during the summer will mean less air conditioning, which will kill me, but it would be awesome if, forever, the amount of electricity could be limited to “enough to power A/C across the city, but not enough to power A/C and outdoor advertising”.

There have been reports here and in the foreign media of “earthquake sickness”, which isn’t really “sickness”, but like a really mild form of sea sickness or car sickness. Not enough to make one nauseous, but enough to make one think that the ground is moving even when it isn’t. Before we went to Okinawa, I had a bit of that, but not since. I have (finally) installed one of those programs on my computer that tells you when an earthquake is coming, so if I do feel shaking, but I haven’t got an alert, I can realize that it’s the room shaking because the kids are running around upstairs, or a big truck has driven by, or I have the bass turned up too loud on my stereo.

Speaking of early-alert systems, neither my wife’s phone, nor mine, have been getting early earthquake alerts. I looked into it, and apparently it’s because our phones are just plain too old. They are coming on 5 years old now (!), and we have been getting letters from our phone carrier saying “We’re changing phone infrastructures, and that won’t affect most people, only those with ancient phones, and, hey, guess what? We’re talking about phones as old as yours! Switch to a new phone now, and we’ll give you a discount. We even have some models we can give you for free! Just, for christ’s sake, switch phones, because come next year, your phone will no longer function!” So I guess it’s time to get a new phone. Hopefully they’ll come out with an impact resistant and waterproof smart phone soon.

So, yeah, that’s an update. A whole lot of words, but very little of importance.

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