My thoughts on the massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan

We’ve all seen photos and videos of the 8.9 earthquake and tsunamis that have devastated Japan. My heart goes out to them. I hope as few people as possible died, and they recover as quickly as possible from this tragedy.

What bothers me more than the event itself is the unfeeling coverage of the event, exemplified by this video from CNN, which I can’t even embed here, because of their crass commercialism during a disaster.

There were people clearly dying under their very eyes, their cars engulfed by the tsunami wave, yet the two reporters covering it were blabbering on about how difficult it is to escape the wave, and what its speed might have been. This, more than anything, exemplifies what I hate about today’s news coverage, and why I seldom watch news on TV.

It’s that, and the endless pundit parade that goes on for days after something like this. All the old bags start foaming at the mouth thinking about appearance fees, dust off their suits, powder their rotten faces, and instruct their agents to start booking them anywhere they can go. Once on camera, they’ll spout off about anything, trying to look caring, slowly killing the viewers’ brain cells, one by one, with tripe and nonsense about what might happen or could happen. Meanwhile, the news stations will re-run the same clips, over and over, hour after hour, milking every second of coverage until it’s bone dry. It’s disgusting.

Want to read something worthwhile about the Japanese during this time of crisis? Don’t bother with the TV. Read this article by Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times, then imagine them at work, rebuilding their communities. It’ll be a far better image than what you’ll find on TV.

For example, you can see their “gaman” at work in this video. Even during the earthquake’s aftershocks are threatening to topple store shelves somewhere in Japan, they’re busy propping them up and have already started to clean up the store.

I’d like to wish them a heartfelt “ganbatte kudasai”!

Events, Places

Tea ceremony at the Morikami Museum

We attended a formal tea ceremony, a sado, at the Morikami Museum’s Seishi-an Tea House, in Delray Beach (Florida, USA). A Japanese tea ceremony involves the ceremonial preparation and presentation of matcha (powdered green tea) to an honored guest, and is governed by four words: harmony (wa), reverence (kei), purity (sei), and tranquility (jaku). This particular sado, or chanoyu, that we attended, lasted about 30 minutes. I had to edit the video down to just under 10 minutes so I could put it on YouTube.

This video was recorded in HD (720p) with the Olympus PEN E-P2 and the Micro Four Thirds 14-42mm compact lens, which I am currently testing for an upcoming review.

Watch it on | YouTube

More info on Morikami Museum and their tea ceremony is available at, and detailed information about the Japanese tea ceremony is available at


1978 ad for Hagoromo Foods, spoofing Star Wars

1978 ad for Hagoromo Foods, spoofing Star Wars. Goofy, silly, weird and fun. Looks to be an ad for what they call “sea chicken“, which I’m guessing is tuna.


Music with veggie instruments

YouTube user heita3 from Japan has been making wind instruments from vegetables and eggs, and he’s been posting videos of himself playing those instruments online. So far, he made 50 videos, most of which are quite popular, having garnered well over 10 million total views.

In addition to playing the instruments, he shows people how to make them. Here are just a few videos that show the results of his interesting hobby.

(Carrot pan-flute, “Moon on the Ruined Castle”)

(Carrot ocarina, “The Legend of Zelda”)

(Apple ocarina, “Mary Had a Little Lamb”)

(How to make egg ocarinas)

(Butterbur oboe, “Lightly Row”)

(Radish slide whistle, “Grandfather’s clock”)

(The piece-de-resistance, Carrot ocarina trio, “Lightly Row”)


Helping the giant salamander breed

In their effort to control flooding, the Japanese have dammed up their rivers. But that move shut out giant salamanders from their natural breeding places and have made it impossible for them to get upstream. Scientists in Japan have worked out a way to allow their legendary giant salamander to get around dams, through elaborate staircases and small waterfalls that preserve the salamander’s natural surroundings. Now they hope the species will thrive in the wild once more.