Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Allergic to Tokyo

I must be allergic to Tokyo. I sneezed so much today I thought my eyeballs were going to pop out. Can't take any more days like this one!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The end of the day

Trains and subways form a massive web in and around Tokyo, creating the most utilized mass transportation system in the city, if not the entire world. Millions of train trips per day move the people of Tokyo to home, work and play.

This evening, while riding the train for about 15 minutes during rush hour, notices kept popping up inside the compartments, above the train doors. In several languages including English, the alert gave the name of a particular station, information that the station was closed in both directions, and the reason why: passenger injury. 

It was explained to me that "passenger injury," specifically, means suicides.

Suicide by jumping in front of a speeding train as it enters the station is a preferred way to end it all for the shamed or depressed in the world's largest city.

It happened three times, at three different train stations, during our 15-minute train ride. For three sets of family and friends, life will never be the same again.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Tokyo


I'm in Tokyo now! I got here this afternoon and ran into my friend on the train. What luck that we ended up on the same train!

Japan is a very interesting place with an unfortunate history. My dad is not fond of Japan, having lived here a year, in 1954-55, as a draftee of the U.S. army. 

My Chinese friends are not fond of Japan (to put it mildly), due to Japan's WWII atrocities and occupation of China. Nanjing alone saw the slaughter of 300,000 of its citizens within six weeks (starting December 13, 1937) at the hands of Japanese troops. I tell my Chinese friends that the ones who did the atrocities are probably no longer with us, but they still don't like Japan. They say Japanese are taught to hate Chinese and look down up on them. I try to encourage a positive view of Japan and throw around words like "forgiveness," but the wounds are very deep and I cannot change their minds. 

Therefore, I have no one excited that I am in Japan but me!

I like Japan's environment, because it is quiet and clean. When it rains, it doesn't create mud, it just looks cleaner. Unbelievable. 

Tokyo is modern, efficient, and interesting. Seems so odd to me that it is one of the least evangelized nations in the world. 

Good Morning

I'm up, in my hotel in Shanghai, and ready for my trip to Tokyo. Hope you all had a happy Easter and will have a great week to come!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter

When someone says there are many paths to God (as I heard someone say this week), it makes me feel sad … and for those who may not be aware, it is unscriptural. In the Bible, John 14:6 records Jesus as saying: 'I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No man comes to the Father except by me.'

If you could get to heaven by burning incense; visiting a temple/church/impoverished foreign village; memorizing verses; prostrating yourself on a long journey to Lhasa; admiring nature' or any of the other things that some other religions promote as the way to God, then Jesus would have certainly told us to do those easy things and be on our way! If there are lots of ways to God, by all means take the easy route! But he never told us to take the easy route. There is not one. Jesus died as a sacrifice, to pay the price of our salvation. And though he did it willingly, it hurt him deeply. For us to discredit that by looking for an easy way out, or by telling him we found another way to achieve the goal by ourselves, it is an insult to Jesus who deserves so much more from us. Really, why would he bother to die a brutal death (a blood sacrifice) if there is some other way that would reconcile us to God?

God is the one who created heaven, and he gets to make the rules for what it is, who gets in, and how. He decided that the door to heaven is through Jesus. All our deep thoughts and alternative paths that point to anything else amount to foolishness. We humans don't get to make up the rules.

And Easter seems an excellent time to say so.

If anyone wants to know more about how to become a Christian, Romans chapter 10 in the Bible can help you get started. I realize that most people who read my blog already know this information, but, you know, just in case, it seems worth saying.

On a personal note: I have had some crazy stomach bug or food poisoning all weekend, and had to cancel all my numerous weekend activities -- including the Easter ones. Monday morning my time (Easter Sunday evening for those of you in the U.S., around 8 p.m.), I 'll be flying to Japan where I will stay until late Friday. I would appreciate your prayers for the stomach bug to go away, for travel safety (especially on airplanes, but road and rail safety too) and for no earthquakes while I am in Japan this week (They had a relatively small one this past Friday. The whole Pacific Rim of Fire is really active right now with earthquakes popping up every day at one place or another.) I've been through a few earthquakes before, and if I never experience another one, I'm totally okay with that. Thanks so much!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Count your blessings

Blessed is the man who owns a car with a trunk, for he shall be spared such indignities.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

My week in review

 This old rusted pay phone on a university campus isn't getting much use in the age of the cell phone. I saw this when I was invited to a university campus earlier in the week. 
 I went out after dark one evening and saw the beautiful night lights. How I wished I'd had my good camera with me! I got home and discovered my good camera really was with me the whole time. Duh! Too bad I didn't know it at the time. I used my cell phone for these three pics. My phone camera is really only good on close-up shots.
I met up with some young people for coffee one evening. It's close to my place so I go there by e-bike when we meet every week (we used to meet on weekends but now we meet on a weeknight). It's my favorite coffee shop in the whole wide world because of the awesome decor and ambience. And, believe it or not, the pepto-bismol pink e-bike is not mine, the white one is!

Brace yourself. This post is full of random information. It's all over the place, just like my life as of late.

My life is extremely busy these days. I have, uh, let me count ... 7 extracurricular work-related activities during the week. That's nothing if you have a car, but I travel by foot, e-bike, subway, taxi and bus. And I, like the U.S. postal service, travel in rain, sleet, or snow. (I surpass them, really, because I work on weekends too). It is not so easy. 

And of course I have my "desk job" to accomplish too. I just finished a major work project -- a website! -- that has consumed most waking hours that I wasn't at a meeting in the past two months. Yeah, I was working on the work website, so I didn't have much time to work on this one. I tell ya, that thing was a nightmare. The enemy was working overtime. It's over now though, so I hope to resume normal postings on my blog now.

Since I finished the above mentioned work website, I have had abnormal waves of sleepiness every day. And by waves, I really mean I am sleepy all day long. Am I just worn out from overwork? Is there something in the air? Am I anemic? Is it the weather? I have no idea. I remember being sleepy in the spring before, but this year it is ridiculous. I can down two pots of tar-like coffee and still fall asleep.

Friday night, an American friend who lives across town had chest pains, and I was awoken from a deep sleep in the middle of the night by his wife to go translate for them at the Chinese hospital's emergency room. Of course I was glad to help despite the unfortunate timing; no one seems to have chest pain at lunch time. The hospital is half an hour away by taxi. It's not a place you'd want to go when you are having any kind of sickness, but it's the best we have in the middle of the night (we have better options by day). Tests indicated no heart attack, so we all went home. I was gone over two hours. When I got home, we had torrential rain and thunder, which means Mimi kept me up the rest of the night. A gal suffering from extreme sleepiness got a sleepless night. Not a good thing!

The spring flowers and greenery are just gorgeous right now, but I have had two weeks of sneezing fits and watery eyes from allergies. It's hard to see how pretty everything is when your eyes are watering (and you're about to fall over from lack of sleep). Is this the price you pay to live where it's pretty?

The weather is still kind of cold and damp here. I stopped wearing long johns this morning. Unfortunately, that lasted only until lunch time. I either had to put on long johns or re-start the heater. Long johns are cheaper to operate than the heater (electricity is expensive in these parts). So layers it is!

Mimi got a bath earlier today. She loves the whole spa treatment of a shampoo and blow dry. She LOVES it. Especially the blow dry part.

Hope this finds you all well. Enjoy your Palm Sunday and the remembrance of holy week.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The grass is greener on the other side

This is the canal that runs through the middle of my apartment complex. Both a pedestrian bridge and a vehicle bridge cross over the canal.
Here's the pedestrian bridge. It has steps leading up to it, so that keeps bikes and other vehicles off of it.  For some reason, Mimi thinks the most fun thing in the whole wide world is getting to cross that bridge and get to the other side of the apartment complex. In fact, we have plenty of space on our own side for her to get exercise and play around. But it's not enough for her. She pulls and tugs if she thinks she has a chance to get across the bridge. The holy grail of doggy-dom is on the other side of the bridge. And what dog doesn't like a challenge?!
Mimi and her bridge. If not for her I'd be a couch potato.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Neighborhood kids





Just some photos of kids and their caretakers as seen in my neighborhood.