Mr. Wake

Are you understand?

Location: Kamakura, Kanagawa, Japan

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


This came to be as a bit of a surprise.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Back in Japan

I’ve been back in Japan for a week. I can’t say I’ve been busy, but I just haven’t gotten around to writing.

I arrived in Lafayette on a Tuesday. On Wednesday we did some shopping at the SUPER Target, and on Thursday Mom, Sister, and I drove to the house I grew up in.

All of us were surprised at how little traffic there was. It took about as long as it usually takes to drive from Lafayette to Kenner. About an hour away we started to see evidence of the storm: leaning telephone poles, a McDonalds sign with all the colored plastic blown out (for some reason McD’s signs seemed to take it harder than others). By the New Orleans airport billboards had folded over on their steel I-beam stilts. The traffic lights were out, and the intersections were manned with police and soldiers, humvees at the side of the road.

Our neighborhood looked pretty good, compared to what you see on TV. There were lots of downed trees and a dusting of debris everywhere, but no shattered houses. My mom’s house had lost a gutter. Inside, the carpets had not gotten wet, and the windows were not broken. Nothing had been stolen. There was even electricity and running water, though we weren’t going to drink it. There are two trees in the backyard of the house behind us, and Mom had been worried that they would blow down onto the house. Instead the backyard was full of their branches. There was also what we thought to be a stray garbage can lid, but it turned out to be the cover to our attic fan.

Mom opened the fridge to find that the electricity had been on long enough to re-freeze everything, so it was easy to clean out. Smelly, but not as horrible as we thought. It was hard to tell what was up with the garage. We never used our garage for cars, we used it as a storage free for all. Stuff is stacked on stuff so deep that the easiest way to get from one end to the other is to climb. The stuff in there is in such disarray that it might as well be thrown away (this is before the storm, mind you). So damage in here was difficult to assess. The carpet by the washer-dryer was soaked. It was squishy and slimy with spilled detergent. Deeper into the garage it looked like the bottoms of things had been wet; some clothes were still damp. Maybe rain blew in from the missing fan cover on the roof, though I couldn’t see any water damage on the ceiling.

I chatted with some neighbors. The portly Sicilian next door told us that they had cleared the street with Bobcats. Just shoved everything down and then went back and did it again. He had a gutter blow off and rain ran down the inside of the wall and filled the living room with water. He had not been able to contact his daughters since before the storm. At another house there was a guy attaching a tarp to his roof. The roof had yielded to the rain, and so much water came into the second story that it soaked through the ceiling of the first floor, and was still dripping when I saw it.

The guy behind us with the trees had some roof damage. He had already surveyed his house and had gone back to the family who had evacuated to a place called Opolousas to report. Apparently, a band of roofers had also evacuated to Opolousas and overheard. So now they were on his roof. I asked them if they could come look at the cover of our attic fan when they were done. He said the portly Sicilian already had dibs. On the way to our neighbor’s house they peeked up at our roof. The head roofer told me to find a piece of plywood to cover the hole, and they would nail it on. Our garage delivered. Someone at some point years ago had decided that this was a perfectly good piece of plywood, and that we might need it someday, and the wood sat there until it was called into service. But the roofers lacked a ladder. Their roofing truck was downtown in a parking garage. No telling when they were going to see that again. They had just nails, hammers, and roofing paper. Fortunately, the Sicilian had a high roof, and a good ladder to get on it. So the roofers nailed down the plywood, and fixed some other little spots. The sun was baking those roofs. Sister and I had tried to get on the roof before, and couldn’t do it for the heat. These guys were sweaty and slick like the carpet in the garage. Super nice guys. Though I’m sure the business didn’t hurt anything – the guy who lives across the street was waiting his turn to get a few patches. They had been having a hurricane party when the levee broke. The sister of one of them had to be rescued from her roof. The neighbor of another had drowned. They quoted us a fair price, we paid them some extra, and gave them a bag of non-perishables that mom and sister had bought when they thought they may ride the hurricane out. They didn’t say, but I had the feeling they had big families.

So we were damn lucky. Roofers on demand! Can you image what these guy’s waiting list is now? These hurricanes and things always happen to other people (though I often seem to be pretty close*). Then I thought, no, this one happened to my city. But then I saw that my house was relatively untouched, the neighborhood had not even flooded. But there were other people that this happened to all around us.

Check out the pictures. And I know I have a misspelling in the description of the "photo set" but there seems to be no way to fix that.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Airport Blogging

I'm blogging in Narita Airport. Mostly just because I can. They got an internet lounge here with hookups and PCs. Since I'm lugging my own laptop around with all the requisite cables and spapoop, I thought I would get some payoff. The wireless network costs 5 clams for a day. Don't get me wrong. Someone has got to pay for it, and 5 clams is very reasonable (even in a country where every free-roaming clam is instantly devoured). But they have these two laptops that I can use for free. So I'm using MORE of their resources and not paying ANYTHING. But I still have to carry my laptop. Laptoppy things are the most fun to do. In case I can get a hookup I can spend all day on it. What if I'm stranded in Houston? (That thought seemed less tasteless in my head). The sad thing is that I can not carry only my laptop. Since I will most likely find myself in a place where I can't connect to the internet (like..oh, I don't know...the plane, maybe) I still need the books and magazines. Technology has packed a literllay a world of information into a thing the size of a frisbee, but it has only given me more things to pack. Don't get me started on the iPod.

Every time I travel I tell myself I'm packing slim next time. Just the computer. And a book. And I just got a new Economist in case I get bored with the book. And what a good opportunity to study; 13 hours I can throwaone stinkin hour in between Harry Potter and something with Ewan MacGregor in it at memorizing kanji. So I end up with a full bag. A full bag I don't mind, but I don't like a stuffed bag. When I want something I want it to be right there, and when I put it back, I want it to slide in as if it were covered in mucus -- dry mucus, somehow. I would rather have a heavy, but loosely packed bag than a light one that bounces when I drop it. Wife made me carry a puffy sleep mask and a beansy travel pillow. Plus my little ziplock of Important Documents bloated like Michael Moore. The nuclear option is to unzip the Make More Space Zipper around the outside of the bag. But to do this is to admit failure. I didn't pack well, and now I need to ask my bag for help.

I'm changing planes in Houston, and the only thing my wife knows about Houston is that it contains the Astrodome which is packed with refugees. In her mind, this connection with the Gulf Coast disaster makes Houston like the gulf coast; marauding gangs and famine. So she bought me some Calorie Mate and demanded that I pack bottles of water from Tokyo, in case I get stranded in Houston. We would think of Calorie Mate as distopian food of the future or lembas bread; one day's nutritional requirements packed into a dry cookie. Of course the Japanese eat them when they near passing our from working 16 hours straight without eating.

So with the lembas bread and bottles, my bag is a pork laden as a highway bill. Calling my flight. Gotta go make sure I get space in the overhead for this thing.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Goin' home

Tomorrow I will leave for Lafayette to see mom and sis. I'll stay for about a week, though I can stay longer if I choose. They should be fine. I've talked to them a few times, and they sound OK. They are in a safe place. The house may even be OK, too. I found a picture of my house from space.

It's one of those, and they all look pretty much the same. In fact this picture could just as easily be taken before the storm. But there are others in the series that are more bleak and CNNy. You can check them out here.

Friday, September 02, 2005

But I can't.
I think it's a little early to start throwing blame around.
This offers some perspective.
So does this.
Is it realistic to to expect everyone to receive assistance with this is what the city looks like this? (PDF. check all the pages).

I got all the above links from Brendan Loy.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Charities, webcam

Thanks for the well-wishing emails you guys have sent. I have passed along the sentiments to mom and sis, and they really appreciate it. Every little thing is a comfort now, even someone you've never met hoping you're OK.

I got some weird blog comment spam in my comments yesterday, so now there are great sagging gaps where I deleted them. Blog comment spam. Good candidate for Most Rediculous Phrase if used 10 Years Ago. Also, not a bad band name.

It seems, yesterday was Donate to Charity day in the blogosphere, which it seems, I am in. Instapundit has a vast number of links to charities to donate to. Amazon put a Red Cross button on their home page. It does not seem to have the dramatic money counter that the Tsunami link did, though. I don't have any interesting or dramatic charities. Probably can't go wrong with The Red Cross or Salvation Army. Lowes Home Improvements is matching individual donations, so if you want to feel good about yourself go out to a Lowes and throw some money their way. Pickup a new tape measure or something, so they'll have some incentive to do this again. If Lowes isn't convenient for you, I understand. It's just not convenient.

Since I am farther from the disaster than all my half-dozen readers, I can't imagine I would know something you don't. But I got this: These guys have generators and are blogging from an office building in downtown NO. One of them is apparently hot. They report literal and complete lawlessness. Anyone who is on the streets is in immediate danger of being robbed and killed. It's that bad. These guys report shots being fired at rescue works and police looting. New Orleans is not the least corrupt place in the country, but I'll give the cops the benefit of the doubt when they are stealing guns and SUVs. Bashing up ATMs, is a different story.

They have a live webcam that I get to work off and on, but it's not always interesting.