March 30, 2011

Hints of Happiness

Today is major league baseball's opening day, traditionally a jubilant day for me. It is especially true this year amid all the tragedy and anxiety over the past few weeks since the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami hit northern Japan. So I thought I would focus on some of the small pleasures of being alive rather than take on the more disheartening reality.

Baseball is a light in an otherwise gloomy time
Credit: ESPN

I’m no Roger Angell. I didn’t grow up playing organized baseball but instead fell under the thrall of the game around junior high school age, on my own terms. Once under the spell, for me the game morphed into leisurely relaxation in an increasingly busy life: the warm sun on my skin, slow afternoons watching Bob Costas and the NBC Game of the Week, listening to the Blue Jays on the radio on summer nights, and Strat-O-Matic baseball with the boys here in Hiroshima. Baseball appears to be regular men doing extraordinary things with fast reflexes, speed and agility. And right now, I think that idea of ordinary people doing extraordinary things is apropos as we see more stories of tragedy and triumph against the odds since the disasters of the last few weeks. In the near future, I anticipate we’ll be hearing dramatic tales of heroism about the TEPCO workers toiling away at the Fukushima nuclear power complex to keep the reactor cores from melting down, and aid workers doing amazing things to help the victims of the tsunami.

Japanese pro baseball had been scheduled to open its season on March 25, but that has been pushed back to April 12 due to the effects of the earthquake and natural disasters, power shortages and so on. But once it does start, I’m sure the ballgames will help lift peoples’ spirits. Japanese people love baseball as much as anyone around the globe. And for whatever reason, the baseball season signals that life is resuming a semblance of normalcy—at least for me it does.

Direct from the Disaster Zone
My co-worker S.C. introduced me to a blog created by Ms. Anne Kaneko, a British lady who lives in Fukushima, who has been writing detailed reports on what daily life has been like near the disaster zone over the past few weeks. Her personal account of the damage from the quake and its aftermath, including the nuclear crisis and fears of a radiation leak, is a great read. It’s a very personal and lucid accounting which contrasts nicely with the more sensationalist tenor to the larger news organizations’ reporting. Please have a look:

Humor is still allowed amid tragedy
On March 12, the day after the earthquake and tsunami, Lady E’s school festival went on as scheduled even though at that point no one really knew the extent of the catastrophe. The kids had been practicing for this event for months. Prior to starting the show, the school principal came out on stage in front of the assembled parents and the room grew hushed. She called for a minute of silent prayer for the victims up north and everyone respectfully went quiet, which only magnified the volume of the background music which the staff could not shut off in time. Specifically, we all said our prayers for the repose of the dead with hyper-cheerful Disney theme music in the background:
There was a farmer who had a dog,
And Bingo was his name-o.
B-I-N-G-O , B-I-N-G-O, B-I-N-G-O.
And Bingo was his name-o.

It was poignant and comical, and I was not afraid to enjoy the random element afforded by this ill-timed AV problem. Humor heals.

In any case, Elena’s class performed Cinderella, and it was a great show! She was one of the nasty stepsisters and I was once again very proud of her performance.

Perigree Supermoon
To you and me, Supermoon means that on March 19 the full moon appeared much brighter and larger than an average full moon. This is because the moon was at its closest distance to the Earth since 1992 due its slightly elliptical orbit around our planet. The storyline of natural forces that dwarf our individual lives ties in here if you think the periodic appearance of a Supermoon correlates with increased incidences of earthquakes and volcanic activity due to the moon’s more powerful gravitational force.
I just consider the photo below awesome!
Credit: CNN/NASA

Sunday afternoons babysitting Marina
It’s still chilly so we either bundle up our budding cosmonaut and take her out with us
or I sometimes am placed in charge while Naomi and Elena head out for some female bonding time. It is during this time with our toddler that I discovered that, by some miracle, she has very similar tastes in music to me. So we have been spending hours on Sundays listening to Otis Redding,

The Supremes, John Mellencamp, Van Morrison and The White Stripes. We grow bored easily, so I devised a way to further entertain Marina and myself: kiddie toy surfboard races.

Flinging Food Fiesta
And every time we feed Marina these days it is quite the show for the eyes and ears as she screeches her delight while eating solid foods and pitching the food around with sheer glee.

So, despite the challenges of late, time keeps rolling along and so do we.

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