Found this parked outside the bus depot in Nagasaki last week.
Found this parked outside the bus depot in Nagasaki last week.
This morning’s brunch was interrupted by the building gently quietly swaying, without any warning. It started gently enough, and because I’ve been on enough trains recently, I didn’t think there was anything wrong with the room doing that. At first. Then I wondered maybe it was a train/truck driving by, until I remembered that despite all the nearby traffic in this large busy city, I’ve never felt any vibrations/rattles in the hotel at all.
Oh, that’s right. They get earthquakes here too.
Um. Wait. I’m on the 12th floor. In a city where I don’t speak the language. For lack of any better plan, I quickly finish getting dressed and put on my shoes. By then its all over. So I sit back down and finish my coffee.
Quite an unusual experience. Small little boat, with one low cabin of all glass windows. Freezing cold outside. Roasting hot inside. Crowded, with groups of 4-6 seated on the floor around a small low table, all packed close to each other. There was a cooking surface in the middle of the table. The cooking surface was gas powered (you could see the flames), with a plastic hosepipe heading under the mats – it looked like we were all sitting on stockpiles of fuel. The crew politely warned us to not put anything under the table as it got hot and would burn. Once everyone started cooking, the cabin heated up *fast*.
You cooked the meal yourself with bowls of ingredients that the crew on the boat gave you. The joke was that no matter how you cooked it, or what ingredients you were given, it all tasted the same! It was all the food you can eat, and all the beer you can drink – but you dont get any more until you have proven that you have finished what they gave you already. It was oddly yummy, and lots of fun. At our table, most of the cooking was done by Gen and his wife, but I managed to cook one without burning it – anyone who knows my cooking skills understands the enormity of that!
The conversations were great, and it was really interesting to meet others in the Tokyo software business, including some expats. The background of the water-level views of Tokyo made it even more wonderful.
Randomly while we waited for our boat, there was a guy standing there blindfolded, with his hands tied behind his back – in a giant chicken costume! Turns out he was on our boat. Something weird about watching a guy nervously being walked down the gangwalk to a boat at night tied up in a chicken suit. His group were taking good care of him but we never figured out if it was a birthday party, some work initiation/promotion party, or the beginning of some bachelor party.
(Here’s a quick photo Gen took of us all heading back to the train afterward – with Gen invisible behind the camera!)
Great great evening, and many thanks to Gen for making this happen.
No trip to Tokyo would be complete without a few hours wandering lost inside a DonQuijote store. Best done late at night, after food and a bar or two. Their website doesn’t give you any idea of the madness that awaits you – and there’s no real way to describe it! You have to see it to believe it!
Last year while I was in the same store, my favorites were
Walking the back streets near Shibuya, in Tokyo, I found this immaculate Morgan +4 parked on the side of the narrow street, outside a crowded barber shop.
Really spectacular, especially in this setting of narrow streets where even the delivery vans are super-compact. For anyone curious for more details about this Morgan +4 car click here
On the bus from Narita into downtown Tokyo, I noticed the traffic signs show real-time traffic updates. By contrast, in the San Francisco area, traffic signs are fixed displays, so most people use Google maps to get live traffic updates on their phones.
Both approaches use yellow (slow traffic) and red (stopped traffic) indicators, so they felt very similar to each other. Having the info displayed on traffic signs seems safer – after all you don’t have to look down at your phone while driving. But I wonder how the Tokyo signs display info about traffic outside the immediate area.
Anyway, the differences and the similarities, struck me as noteworthy. Click the thumbnails for more detailed photos, and let me know what you think!!
Some friends of mine had these last year, and they were great. Obviously, well insulated means warm at night, and cool in the day – all wonderful things at BurningMan. However, they also kept the dust down, and kept the light out, so you could actually get some sleep after the beginning of sunrise.
Lets see how this experiment goes. So far, we’ve got all the parts cut, and taped. We’ve even tried some initial test placements, but never yet actually put it all together yet. Just in case, we’re still bringing tents from last year – after all, “what could possibly go wrong”!?!
Stay tuned – I’ll let you know how it went.
Every year at Burning Man, Emergency Services handles a range of incidents. Here’s an infograph showing incident data for the last 3 years, broken down by incident type.
The source data is freely published on afterburn.burningman.com, but I really like how they visualize the data. This layout is immediately familiar to burners and is visually intuitive – more incidents of a specific type == larger area for that type. Click on the thumbnail for a larger version, and spend a few minutes skimming details; it was interesting reading!
The authors (GOOD and Hyperakt) end with “Try not to get flown out by helicopter”!
The Burning Man Film Festival was in the Red Vic theatre on Haight Street this weekend; I almost missed it, but stopped by tonight to watch a few hours of assorted short films. This was a good way for me to remember the sights and sounds of it all – and of course, there was the inevitable mix of funny, sad, strange and very personal stories.
One story that struck me particularly was “Burn on the Bayou” about Burning Man 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast. This brought memories flooding back of people leaving Burning Man as news of the destruction spread; some driving all the way from Burning Man in Nevada, some flying to the nearest still-working airport, then figuring out something; some people trained disaster professionals going to do what they’d been training for, some people just going because they had to do something to help. Most ended up living there for months – one person from my camp moved there for a few years – and this became the start of Burners Without Boarders.
Five years later, the reconstruction continues. There are still BurnersWithoutBoarders helping along the Gulf and now facing the new problems caused by the BP oil spill. There are also BurnersWithoutBoarders in Haiti and other locations. If you are able to donate time or equipment or money, check out their website; these are hardworking folks in very trying circumstances making a difference each and every day.
The Icelandic volcano eruption is still causing significant travel disruptions in Europe, and looking to get worse. The news is covered with stories of entire countries closing their airspace for the first time, photos of stranded travelers in airports, stories of people taking taxis from England to Switzerland – all sounds bad. Even RelEng is impacted by these flight disruptions: we’re all meeting in Toronto this week, but sadly Rail is stuck in Moscow.
This picture from flightradar24.com posted a more understandable summary of the scale of the disruption. The combination of flight data with maps summed up the situation in a very intuitive way, and I really liked how they did this. Nice job, flightradar24.com .
(Oh, and before you ask why close entire country airspace for “some dust”, you should check out the stories about BritishAirways Flight#9 and KLM Flight#867 during other volcanic eruptions. Both ended well, but still…)
Watch this space – at some point focus of news will shift from the flight and economic disruption of this eruption to how this will change weather patterns.