I thought people might be interested to see my progress on completing a million meters in less than 20 days. I'm planning to finish sometime on March 11th or 12th.
Loads of new pics up on my Flickr account mostly of my volunteering with PeaceBoat in the tsunami affected area:
4 months later and the recovery is barely begun in some places. Disaster victims need your help long after the news reporters move on to sexier death and mayhem.
It was hard to hold back the tears when I first arrived in the zone of total destruction. After about half an hour one just gets a little used to it and can see clearly the enormity of the project of trying to get back to something resembling normal life. There were so many heavy trucks and big Caterpillars busy working and yet despite 4 months of work they have mostly just succeeded in clearing debris into massive piles. Something like 7000 people died in this one neighbourhood. Zero houses are in liveable condition for several blocks in from the sea.
In the evening I felt like crying again when I discovered that my video camera must have dirty heads because none of the day's video was usable. :(
I'll be helping with the cleanup efforts in a couple days. We have to wear masks because of the hazardous material (like asbestos) that was so commonly used in the past. Please join the Canadian Green Party's campaign against asbestos.
(I'm on the left hefting a container of miso.)
I went down to Second Harvest Toukyou today to help with boxing up relief supplies. Spent over an hour taping together cardboard boxes then I helped with filling them. Each had 10kg rice, I bowl instant udon noodles, 1L bottled water, 1kg miso, 1L mirin, 1L rice vinegar, 1L soy sauce, a letter of support from a school student, and misc other small items.
Beside me was an American from Ohio who did a lot of relief work including several years in New Orleans. She complained for about an hour about how all the major NGOs were wasting money and churches should be doing all the relief. I tried to steer things in a more positive direction by asking if she had done any sightseeing but no, that wasn't what she was here for. Seriously, she needs a little balance in her life. Sounds like she's burnt out but determined to keep suffering nobly. It was hard not wince at her ignorance of Japan and what effective efforts are being made.
If you haven't already I'd like to ask that everyone set up a monthly donation to a reputable charity for international disaster relief. Not necessarily for Japan but for disaster anywhere. Japan needs help. 2004 tsunami survivors still need help. Hurricane season is coming up. We're still waiting for the Big One in the Pacific Northwest. Think of it as insurance premiums for all of humanity.
I've had a good week in Japan. I camped out during the ride from the airport to Toukyou and didn't get rained on. I went for a 3 day ride through the mountains of Gunma and didn't get sore knees. The weather today isn't horridly hot so I don't mind not using aircon because Toukyou has a restricted supply of electricity due to the Fukushima disaster. WIN!
About my trip to Japan last summer and my trip this summer that starts in a week.
I wrote the following a few days after the Great East Japan Disaster disaster. Next week I am heading back to Japan and a major part of that trip will be volunteering in disaster victim support and recovery.
Japan is the closest to a second home I have. I lived ~100km northwest of Toukyou for 4 years and have done three long bicycle tours in Japan in the last 5 years. Last summer I spent over 3 weeks in the Touhoku region including visits to Sendai, Miyako, Sanriku, and Fukushima.
I was up too late browsing FaceBook just before midnight on March 10th when I saw a live posting about the earthquake (it was already almost 3pm JST) from one of my friends in Japan. I tried calling my sister in Toukyou and couldn't get through. I spent the next 2 hours watching Al-Jazeera online and checking the FB feed. My sister finally emailed saying she had been running beside a river when the earthquake hit and she was fine but there were broken dishes in her apartment. Surprisingly, the rickety cantilevered kitchen and bath section of her building didn't fall off.
I quickly saw many people making donations to Japan for recovery. The amazing power of social networking. Because Japan is a rich developed country, I initially hesitated about promoting donations but very quickly it became apparent this was a disaster beyond anything Japan was prepared for (and they are probably the best prepared country in the world). Still, I kept thinking about the relative lack of international donation support for Pakistan's floods last summer and all the other places in the world that are desperately in need due to our increasingly chaotic world. When many donations get earmarked for a particular disaster there may be a lack of funds for other equally imperative programs to relieve human suffering.
Dou sureba ii kana? (I wonder what I should do?) kept running through my head. I have made and will make several different donations. I donated to the Canadian Medical Assistance Team which provides expert emergency medical support in disasters around the world. I attended a couple fundraisers giving to the Red Cross (I presume that is earmarked for Japan). I am setting up a monthly donation to the Red Cross international disaster fund which they can distribute as they feel is most appropriate based on their experience and expertise. At present some will certainly go to Japan but I will be equally glad if it helps someone in Libya or Sudan. When I encourage people to donate I usually encourage the general donation. Since March there have been several major floods and tornados and wildfires around the world. There may be deadly heat waves this summer. I would hate to say I won't give them support because I blew my whole charity budget on Japan.
Victoria (my hometown) will have a Big Earthquake someday and even if it doesn't happen in our lifetime there are other disasters looming like climate change, peak oil, and financial instability that will affect us directly. Just as Japan needs the international community's support now (and yet they avoided a great deal of damage by wisely preparing ahead of time), we should build community around ourselves while making preparations to reduce the burden we place on others when disaster does strike. Take care of your own emergency preparations (e.g. external document storage, cash on hand, food and water, bolt bookcases to the wall). Talk to people about the lessons we need to learn from the Japanese disaster (e.g. you don't have to suffer damage personally to have problems with supplies running out, be prepared for fuel interruptions by having a bicycle or good walking shoes, know whether you are in a tsunami/flood/landslide zone) so more people will be prepared. Set up regular participation (time and/or money) in organizations that create robust communities (e.g. food and blood banks, community gardens). Take action on climate change (e.g. a storm surge on top of sea level rise could be as bad as a tsunami).
I've been looking over my pictures from last summer with new eyes. I think about the places I went to that would have been covered with water higher than my head; the steep climb to safe hills or the many kilometers across a coastal plain; the ruined homes; the large aged population that couldn't escape and suffer more from the cold. I'm counting my blessings.
It's been a long time since I posted anything publicly. I hope everyone is well. I haven't read much here lately.
I'm in Japan for the summer with the plan to do lots of cycling in the northern half of the country. Right now I'm staying with my sister in Toukyou and enjoying familiar places and getting some stuff organized. We spent about an hour today buying a cellphone.
Here is my trip journal.
Here's a visit to a beautiful temple on the day I arrived.
A Short Course in Human Relations
The six most important words:
I admit that I was wrong.
The five most important words:
You did a great job.
The four most important words:
What do you think?
The three most important words:
Could you please. . .
The two most important words:
The most important word:
The least important word:
The Inventory of Success
Successful athletes earnestly want to succeed, and they do something about it.
They set goals for themselves.
Successful athletes realize that everything worth having in athletics has a price-tag in terms of training and competitive effort. They understand that success has its cost, but they pay their way knowingly, keeping their eyes on their goals.
They realize their future success in the final analysis will depend upon their own personal efforts.
Successful athletes consider work a privilege, not a chore.
They accept personal responsibility for their own success.
Successful athletes don't depend upon luck, They Know that success goes only where it's invited.
They know that willpower, not magic, turns dreams, into reality.
Successful athletes have a high frustration tolerance. They don't become discouraged at temporary setbacks. They learn from these setbacks and look ahead to the next competition with optimism.
They don't waste time thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. They don't complain about what they haven't got. They develop to the maximum what they have.
Though willing to change for the better, successful athletes do not flit from one training method or technique to the other from day to day. They determine a long-range course of action and follow through on it with faith in its effectiveness.
Successful athletes profit by their own mistakes, and they profit by the mistakes of others.
They avoid negative thoughts and defeatist thinking.
Successful athletes don't have head-trouble, but they do have guts.
They are totally reliable and responsible in training matters.
They don't alibi. They know the best excuse is the one you never make.
Successful athletes set examples for others.
They are cooperative with both coaches and teammates.
Successful athletes are by far the easiest to coach.
They are not injury prone. They have far fewer injuries than the less successful.
Successful athletes are enthusiastic. They generate their own enthusiasm. They don't grumble, moan, groan, and complain.
Athletes who fail tend to be cynical. They believe their coaches are not leading them properly. They are unwilling to be impressed or inspired. This is expected of the phony, the snobbish, the pseudo-intellectual, ... but it dooms an athlete when the coach tries to inspire him and he just sits there saying this is a lot of nonsense. The good athlete does not ridicule the capacities and the ideas of the coach ... HE RESPONDS!
I was recently clearing out some old school stuff from the mid 1990s and ran across my badminton course book. The instructor included a bunch of inspirational passages along with the drills and rules.
Thinking (no credit given)
If you think you are beaten, you are;
if you think you dare not, you don't;
if you like to win but think you can't
it's almost a cinch you won't.
If you think you'll lose, you're lost;
for out in the world we find
success begins with a fellow's will
it's all in the state of mind
If you think you are outclassed, you are;
you've got to think high to rise;
you've got to be sure of yourself before
you can ever win a prize.
Life's battles don't always go
to the stronger or the faster man;
but or later the man who wins
is the man who thinks he can.
Equipment Edgar A. Guest
Figure it out for yourself, my lad
You’ve got all that the greatest of men have had,
Two arms, two hands, two legs, two eyes,
And a brain to use if you would be wise.
With this equipment they all began,
So start for the top and say, "I Can."
Look them over, the wise and the great,
They take their food from a common plate,
And similar knives and forks they use,
With similar laces they tie their shoes.
The world consider them brave and smart,
But you’ve got all they had when they made their start.
You can triumph and come to skill,
You can be great if you only will.
You’re well equipped for the fight you choose,
You have arms and legs and a brain to use.
And the man who has risen great deeds to do,
Began his life with no more than you.
You are the handicap you must face,
You are the one who must choose your place,
You must say where you want to go,
How much you will study the truth to know.
God has equipped you for life, but He
Lets you decide what you want to be.
Courage must come from the soul within,
The man must furnish the will to win.
So figure it out for yourself, my lad,
You were born with all the great have had,
With your equipment they all began.
Get hold of yourself, and say: "I Can."
Last night's LotR show was great! Apparently Charles Ross the actor lives in my neighbourhood. O_o
Exciting news today: I can catch a freighter to China on September 1st. ~11 days. From there I'll catch a ferry to Japan. It'll cost more than flying but not too bad considering how much better for the environment it is and I'll avoid all the baggage surcharges plus it's a really different way to travel.
I'm going to Charles Ross's one man Lord of the Rings show tonight. Woohoo! He's off to Britain next so if you are over there you should definitely go.
I've been wasting far too much time lately drooling over all the stuff I want to do in bike trip later this year.
Been looking today at WWOOF Japan and WWOOF Korea. Too little time!
I'll need to be super cheap to make the full 10-12 month dream come true. Even staying in youth hostels all the time (that I'm not WWOOFing) would cost too much so I'll need to suck it up and sleep in a tent quite often. Must try out some models in the back yard and see which work best for my needs.
I don't come on LJ much anymore. I finally got into using FB as a daily thing but I do like the journalling style of LJ better.
I've decided I will go back to Japan for a few months later this year.I plan to do a lot of biking and some hiking. My dad will probably come over for a few weeks to join me.
Major decisions that need to be made over the next few months:
a) late summer if I feel I can take the time off work without inconveniencing the owners or my athletes too much;
b) July/August only if I feel I can't leave work in the lurch too long.
2. How to get there:
- I want to avoid flying unless a boat is ridiculously expensive
- searches for freighter transport so far seem to indicate some obstacles to getting off in Japan or hefty surcharges :(
~100,000 people protesting in the streets of Copenhagen! Fantastic!
Keep the pressure up by finding an event near you. Thousands of candlelight vigils planned around the world tonight. Grab a flashlight and head on down.
There are only 9 days left before the Global Day of Climate Action. Climate change is the single biggest threat to humanity ever. Tens of thousands of dead soldiers in the WWI trenches? A drop in the bucket. Millions dead of the Spanish flu? Maybe a ladleful. One third of Europe dead of the plague? Still only a ladleful.
The bathtub is already overflowing (~300,000 dying NOW every year from climate change) and we are running hoses from the shower and the kitchen sink and the washing machine to make the flood bigger. We need the greatest show of political will ever to get the politicians and corporations to start turning off the taps.
Learn about what we need to demand at 350.org and find or create a public action near you. Be as visible as possible. Go big if possible. Can't do anything on the 24th? Write a letter. Email. Phone your political representatives to make your voice heard. Apply constant pressure.
Are you surrounded by delayers and deniers who argue against action? Read up on how to counter their lies and ignorance.
A brief audio synopsis of the depth of our crisis can be found here (mp3).
Heartfelt and to the point.
Here is a program from 4 months ago that should be required viewing (ignore the first few seconds):
It starts with doom and gloom (quite possible though) and then gets into some really hopeful stuff about how we can prevent the worst case scenarios.
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