Power for All

So one of the interesting things about Fuji is all the water and rivers running along side the roads. Yet even with the environmental awareness of the country, all of this free kinetic power is just running off to the sea. It makes me wonder why across the world we are just letting very easily used energy resources just go to waste.

Back in the UK before the national grid came into place each town was expected to provide it’s own power needs. While I never lived through that part of history I imagine that much like in Japan now, people were more aware of their power consumption. Yet since the implementation of the grid we can take energy from one place and send it to another. While useful for keeping everyone provided with all the power they need, it removes us from the problem which seems to means for many the problem has also gone. 

People here already use the river to water their gardens, so is it really that big a step to start using these easy to access resources to lower our reliance on burning things for power? I’m always amazed that we still support our civilisation by setting fire to things, even though the technology already exists to move beyond this. 

It would appear that we cannot wait for some large corporation to bail us out of this energy issue. If we could, then we would already see the technology bringing power across the globe. Instead only a few progressive places have made the switch, and that’s just not enough change. Right now there are still companies stealing land from people to mine resources or to make way for pipelines. 

While we cannot all go to stand by these people at every atrocity committed in the name of power, we can limit how much we use and look for alternative ways to power our homes. Remove our need for external energy and these companies will no longer have the funds to ruin lives. This is not an easy thing to do, nor am I by any stretch the first to suggest it, but it is important. Not just for the morality of the situation but for the selfishness of our own survival.

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The Weekly Review

So it’s the end of my first week here in Japan, which seemed like a good point to reflect on the general goings on and life so far in a different country. 

As you may have noticed I’ve only really had positive things to say about the experience so far. So in review, two thumbs up. Would do again.

Seriously though, it’s hard to find a downside to this place. Sure the room I’m staying in is as big as some people’s bathrooms back home, the streets are nearly always busy between 8:00 – 20:00 and on every other street corner on the main roads you will find someone trying to hand you a flier or sell something to you. But there is nothing bad about this. The room is completely functional for my needs and is in a great location for doing my week as a tourist before starting work. The streets are busy but for the most part people are always looking where they are going and I’ve not experienced much in the way of others pushing through crowds to get anywhere, while the people handing out fliers, well they are just doing their job. They are not pushy about it, and only briefly try to get your attention.

The streets are very clean here, not completely devoid of rubbish, but when you consider the population sizes it’s pretty impressive how little there is. The whole time here I’ve maybe seen one bit of gum on the floor and a handful of cigarette ends. You can find that and more in a square foot of Cardiff, never mind any other bigger cities in the UK. 

Cyclists are the only thing so far that I’m a bit mixed on. While it’s good that so many choose bikes over cars to get around the city, a lot of people also cycle at 100 miles per second and I’ve seen more than a few near misses between bikes and people. This includes one guy who was cycling down the wrong side of the road, but really didn’t seem to care. It could just be because everyone cycling seems really proficient at doing so, but when the place is as crowded as it is its a little scary at points. 

Next week I start my job as foreigner #6711098 teaching English in Japan, so expect this blog to be a little less adventurous and more ‘this is my work day!  This is my new home! Here is a dragon I found!’ But will otherwise still be updating as regularly as I can. 

Finally, because I promised Aaron I would after he asked for more pictures of anime girls, here is a short section on that; 

Are you happy now Aaron? Are you!?

Thank you once again to everyone who keeps reading this, I always knew I was pretty great, but it’s good to have the confirmation.

See you next week! じゃ、また!

It’s all rubbish

It’s exam season and I am very fortunate that a) mine are all done and b) my walk to the exam takes me through one of the best parks in town.

Now the park is generally well looked after, and it is clear a lot of people put a reasonable amount of effort in keeping it nice but that partly comes down to the sporting and festival uses the open fields have. The river that runs through it is a whole different story.

I’ve seen a lot worse (having grown up in London and viewed the Thames at least once) but it does seriously detract from the sense of serenity and nature when a plastic bag floats past you, or worse, some sort of rat king abomination of trash that looks like a viable land mass for a micro dystopian society to form.

I get that sometimes rubbish, or trash to our American friends, sometimes gets blown about and has to end up somewhere. Occasionally birds raid bins and things go flying, but we don’t seem to do anything about it once it lands. The worst thing is I’ve seen some perfectly viable solutions implemented elsewhere such as the Balintore Harbour Mr Trash Wheel. This clever project stops floating rubbish from reaching the sea, which is where most of the damage is caused by plastic rubbish, so why don’t we have it here?

Ultimately I don’t have a definitive answer for that, but I do think it has something to do with the lack of community initiatives and the availability of project information. Taking Mr Trash Wheel as an example, if I wanted to make one for my river how do I do it? While more green projects are popping up on sites like instructables, it does take some of the steam out of local projects when it turns out you need to hire a designer. 

Devil’s advocate on this is of course it’s a good thing to have a designer who can tailor the project to the location and know it isn’t going to fall apart a week later and add to the problem, but it would be nice to see people being able to throw themselves in to at least trying to make a difference to where they live, and make it just a little bit less rubbish by doing so.

The air that we breathe

As promised in my last post, this one will be starting with (lets call it what it is) a rant.

Once again the word artisan has reared its head and been slapped all over a ‘product’ that should make any rational thinking person despair over the state of all things before buying a first class ticket on the next flight to Mars and giving it a good go at starting over.

I am of course referring to bottled air. Now I don’t mean the sort that divers and astronauts use, because that’s pressurized oxygen and I don’t begrudge them having that when they are floating in space or somewhere under a few hundred tonnes of water (anything else is fair game though). Recently a couple of people have decided that bottling English country air and shipping it to China for £75 a pop is a great way to make money. Now not only is the concept of trapping air in a jar by waving it around outside for a while nothing more than an over dramatization of pretending to create something, the fact that they are trying to sell it as a national product is somewhat insane. Sure there are different pollutants primarily present in different areas of the world but one of the fun things about air is that it moves around the planet reasonably freely. So while the air in your jar might have been captured in England like some sort of theoretical Pokemon, by this point it has been breathed in by a few billion lifeforms and chemically altered so many times that if it owned a passport and they still did the thing with a stamp you would be hard pressed to work out where it started off. Further more, unless you are planing to perform a chemical analysis of each and every bottle of air (which is at no point filtered before being sold) you have no guarantee that the single breath you might get out of it is any cleaner than the stuff you get for free by simply being alive and living in an oxygen rich environment.

So well done, you conniving thieves. You have managed to find a product that takes almost no effort or skill on your part to make, and sell it to people in a part of the world that are currently experiencing air pollution on a level that makes the London smog look like a Center Parks advert. Sure,  you could argue that it is the rich and gullible who are only effected by this but that’s really not the point. The fact that we are still struggling to live in a world where people’s go to reaction when they see someone else suffering is ‘how can I make money on that’ is disgusting.

Sadly the only solution I can offer at this time is when you see someone in pain, don’t be a #@$&.