Sunday, May 29, 2011

Typhoon Songda Hits!

From what I can gather, the winds at the peak were about 100mph sustained with gusts to 120-130mph.
My apartment is facing south and on the water which means I take the wind full-on (and serve to knock it down for all the buildings behind mine).  But that also means the likelihood of an object coming through a window is slim (because there are no objects).

It was crazy.  Easily the strongest and scariest typhoon I have experienced (of many).  My window panes were flexing and I was very nervous one of them was going to break.  I had thankfully brought my sit-in kayak in next to my apartment building but it was still getting blown around so I had to keep moving it with the adjusting wind.  This also made me aware that my old sit-on kayak, which is in a very protected spot, might not be safe.  I grabbed my flashlights and ventured out into the storm, finding it challenging to stay upright.  When I got to the kayak spot by the river, it was gone.  It and the tree it was tied to had blown away!  I quickly walked upriver and happened to spot it floating downriver.  I knew if it made it out to the ocean it would be long gone, so I plunged into the river to catch it before it floated past.  I succeeded in grabbing it while simultaneously realizing my phone was in my left pocket.  I grabbed it out and put it in my jacket pocket without any damage.  I retied the kayak to a bigger tree in a more protected place and it was still there this morning.

Lots of videos and pictures so I'll quit with the storytelling:

[flexing window panes]

[saltwater - not rain - blowing up from the ocean and into my apartment]

[power's out till 4am, more water seeping in through every crack in the windows]

[saltwater blowing into the village, as seen in headlights]

[what was left of my chair on my balcony] 

[this sign post broke off] 

[all these plants had flowers yesterday..] 

[this boat was originally centered on the trailer.  They used an excavator to get it back to center before launching it today] 

[the boats that were too big to be pulled from the water - they were saved by these bow lines.  I saw them rocking last night and they looked like toys in a bathtub with an obnoxious little kid] 

[a few of many] 

[my pink kayak is seen on the left where I retied it after plucking it from the river last night] 

[I actually found most of my chair a few blocks away]

Friday, May 27, 2011

Super Typhoon Songda

It's big.  The wave forecast, which I'm hearing is going from 3m waves today to 11-12m waves tomorrow (ELEVEN METERS!). (update: just checked the warning text on JTWC and it says max wave heights right now are 38 feet!)  The main Okinawan island is just left of center on that graphic and my islands are a little left of that.

Winds are predicted to be 95-105 knots (110-125mph) sustained with gusts to 115 knots (130mph), but those predictions have been trending downward in the last few hours.

Here's a prediction graphic from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center:

[The arrow is pointing to about where I live]

The only preparation I had to do was move my kayak from the port to behind a concrete wall at my apartment building.  There is a lot of loose stuff on my balcony but I should have time to take care of that in the morning. Some of the island's preparations:

[tape over the cracks, boarded up, newspaper to absorb water, and everything that was outside is now inside] 

[Everything shuttered.  Funny my old apartment building, which is on the ocean, doesn't have shutters.  Could be in interesting day..] 

[spiderwebs of ropes] 

[even the big fishing boats are being pulled for this one]

Monday, May 23, 2011


I met with Anri on Saturday to discuss future photo shoots.  It gave me a chance to discuss her wardrobe and modeling goals and her a chance to make sure I am not a creep who just wants to photograph her nude.  I took a couple quick shots just before we departed.  I think she has lots of potential.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Japanese Girls Messing Up My Brain

The trouble with being in a room with Japanese conversation and a girl you're interested in is trying to focus on the conversation.  In America I can let the conversation go on in the background and store it in my short-term memory for immediate recall if necessary.  But in Japanese it takes all my effort to be on the edge of understanding the conversation and if I drop out for even a moment it's hard to catch up.  But when I look from the guy on the right to the guy on the left as they speak and my eyes pass over the girl en route, my brain wavers.  And then I lose my ability to impress her by understanding and participating in the conversation.

Fortunately I brought brownies.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Friday, May 13, 2011

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Marlin #9

Yukibo was going out alone on Sunday when I wrote Saturday night to ask, so thankfully he invited me along.  I woke up at 4:30am to prepare for our 5:40am departure.  We began fishing just before 7am.  We had our first hit at 8:15am, then another at 8:45am, then I lose count.  We ended up with eight hits throughout the day, including a big one that took out most of the line on the reel before getting off.  The remaining 7 all jumped after becoming hooked, which was exciting.  Unfortunately only one set the hook well enough to make it back to the boat.  I reeled him in in just 24 minutes.  Being that there were only two of us I did the hand-lining at the end while Yukibo manned the spears and gaff.  94kg (213 lbs.), which is 6kg heavier than my previous marlin this season.  Hooked at 1:10pm, landed at 1:34pm.

[this fish came out of the intestine - note the damage to the fish from marlin's bill (that thing off the front that looks like a spear - they use it to stun their prey before eating them)]

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Parrot Fish

Miserable weather has kept me indoors all week (we're in the midst of nine straight days off due to Golden Week) and today I couldn't stand it anymore so I took my kayak out for a little shallow reef fishing.  Caught this guy and ate him for dinner.  Easily the prettiest fish I've ever caught.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Beach Opening Ceremony, Part Four

This is my favorite beach game.  There are five ropes and two teams.  The first team to get three ropes across their line wins.  The best photos of the day came from this event and will be posted throughout the week.

The little kids:

The big kids:

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Kyushu Shinkansen

The Kyushu Shinkansen was scheduled to open to the public on March 12, which was the day after the earthquake/tsunami.  The video below was shot to promote it, but I am just astounded by the public support that is shown.  I can't help but think if this were in the U.S. that most of those cheering people would have been holding protest signs.

I'm going to give you this comment before the video to provide further context:

A little bit more on why this is such a big deal:
The Kyushu shinkansen is not new. It started construction in 1991 and started running in 2004, but it was incomplete. So you had a long section of the bullet train on the south side of Kyushu and a giant gap to the north.
Now consider the attitude of your average south Kyushu resident. They feel detached from mainland Japan. They feel smaller, less urban, less developed. And especially in places like Kagoshima, there's a general feeling of pride in your own area, but a suspicion that pride isn't shared outside of your area.
Completing the shinkansen meant a great deal to southern Kyushu residents. It would finally connect them with the whole of mainland Japan. They built a giant shopping center at the start of the line in Fukuoka. There was a countdown clock above the Kagoshima city hall, and huge celebrations were planned for the day it opened. It was promising to be one huge party.
And then tragedy struck. The earthquake, the tsunami... And the stages and tents that were erected were quietly disassembled... and at first, some people felt loss and bitterness. They felt robbed.
Soon after, when the true devastation of the tsunami became known, I think the Kyushu shinkansen once again became the symbol of unity it was meant to be. It connects almost the whole of Japan like veins.
This public good unites them.