Digital copy of Quakebook now free

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That was something I definitely didn’t see coming.  The digital copy of Quakebook available on Amazon US, UK, DE and the Sony Reader is now free.  With over 3,000 downloads from Amazon in the 2 months since it was published, the Quakebook team has decided to make the ebook free.  In 12 hours after doing so, over 3000 more people downloaded the book.

The plan was laid out in a recent blog post on Quakebook.org.  Here’s the section that outlines why this decision was made.

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What to pack and pre-departure prep for New JET Programme ALTs

The JET pack

Here’s part 2 of my little series of blogs/rants about the JET programme and what to expect.   If you’re looking for the first post on general advice, scroll down, or for the lazies in the crowd, click here.  Feel free to scroll past the what to pack section if like MacGyver you’re ready to go with a paper clip and the plastic ring from your last six pack of Coke Zero, pre-departure prep will be below it.   For reasons why you should take my senpai advice like the word of God himself, the second paragraph in the first article gives my JET bio.  Ok, moving on…

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Advice for New JET Programme ALTs

That's you, standing in the E

Last night I attended a JET Programme Orientation at the Japanese Embassy in Ottawa and did a Q and A section for a group who will be heading out to Japan in August.  It was interesting to see them all wide eyed and unsure.  It got me thinking to when I was ramping up to leave for Japan and how anxious I was about going.  So over the next few days I’m going to try and blog a little bit about the JET programme, I’ll probably break it all down into a little series informal of blogs/rants.   Today’s section is the advice section from the 26 page letter to my successor.  Yes, I wrote her 26 pages, because my predecessor left after only 8 months and left me a note that was only 3 sentences long.  Note to new JETs, don’t do that to whoever comes after you.  It’s won’t have all the answers you’re looking for, as it was the conclusion, but it should give you a few things to think about.

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Pedaling to normalcy in Tohoku.

It seems that even in a time of crisis (yes, it’s still a crisis 2 month after the earthquake), Japanese bureau-crazy still reigns supreme.  There is a serious need for bicycles in Ishinomaki, Miyagi and while the government there has bikes at their disposal, they won’t release them to individuals in need.   A request must be issued by a neighbourhood organization or a shelter in order to receive bikes from the government.  There are quite a few other prefectures that have access to bicycles as well.  But Ishinomaki hasn’t asked these other prefectures for help, even though they are in need and because of that, no one is helping them because the proper protocol isn’t being followed.  This is Japanese pride getting in the way, while it’s commendable, it isn’t helping anyone.  Attempting to circumvent this government system are Bikes for Japan and Free Tohoku, written by OurWomanInAbiko, who I’ve blogged about earlier.  OWIA wrote about the issues facing those who want bikes on the Free Tohoku Blog, here and here.

I was drawn to the plight of those in Ishinomaki who need bicycles by the flutter of tweets from OurManInAbiko.  They sum up the problem succinctly.

Fukushima International Association publishes “United We Stand Fukushima”

Image via Fukushima International Association

The Fukushima International Association has just released the first issue of  Gyro: United We Stand Fukushima, a newsletter to keep people abreast of what’s going on in Fukushima with up-to-date information.  The first issue covers some questions about the nuclear situation and highlights a few different organizations involved in Japan.  Of these groups, The People, a group based in Iwaki that I’ve linked to previously is covered.

In the inaugural newsletter, the Chief Managing Director, Mitsuo Yamakawa writes:

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Fukushima/Japan Update 05/11

When this started I never thought I’d write 05 (May) in the subject line.  But here we are.  A couple things I’ve seen over the last few days are as follows.

OurMan

First up, OurManInAbiko (editor of Quakebook) has teamed up with his wife OurWomanInAbiko, yet another silhouetted Twitterer, to create the Free Tohoku blog and the #freeTohoku hashtag on Twitter.  A Japanese and English language blog about the efforts of OurWomanInAbiko to help those in Ishinomaki, Miyagi.  She’s recently made a trip up to Ishinomaki from Abiko, Chiba to bring the people there goods that she had accumulated through fundraising and donations.  The blog has been set up so that OurWomanInAbiko can tell the world about what is really going on in Ishinomaki.  So far there are only two posts, but looking at OurMan’s twitter feed over the last few days, it’s clear to see that it will eventually outline the issues volunteers and people who wish to donate are having with the bureaucracy in Japan. Continue reading