Thursday, March 31, 2011

No April Fools?!

My company announced a week ago that, due to the sombre mood of the nation, we would be cancelling our plans for an April Fools prank.
What? Is nothing sacred?!
One sad small victim of the catastrophe was my plan to put up an April Fool's

joke on the main page of my company's site. I had given it some thought, it was going to be a fake update to one of our games. The update: "Beard Wars"!

Since I have no place to put it now, and it is April 1st, here you go, my faithful readers. A treat just for you.

So, Tokyo is really really pretty much back to normal. There are occasional scary press releases from TEPCO, or 'The Evil Power Corporation', as we lovingly call them here, but really the feeling is we're itching to return to our regular lives.
Even the TV is seeming to agree. For about a week and a half, there was nothing on but news, and in the commercial breaks, nothing but public service announcements. We, as a nation, were stuck watching the three stock public service announcements the stations had on hand , which included: 1. A dancing animals animated film about the wonders of saying 'hello', 'goodbye' and 'thank you', to a happy song that gets stuck in your head after listening for about 1.3 seconds 2. A voice-over of a gently scolding mother, telling us if we say 'baka' to someone, they will say 'baka' to us, and if we say 'gomen ne', they will say 'gomen ne' in return, to the background music of a whiny violin. 3. A schoolboy looking guilty about not giving up his seat to a pregnant lady, and then later in the day making up for it by helping a granny up some steps.

That's it. Over and over. For two weeks. I think their secret mission was to get us to save electricity by getting irritated and turning off the TV. (naturally the TV sponsors couldn't come out and say 'turn off the TV', although we were given all sorts of other tips on how to save electricity. This is a big deal because if we don't save enough, The Evil Power Corporation will initiate random blackouts.

But now the TV studios are, little by little, gingerly returning to their ordinary shows, and the infuriating public service announcements are being replaced occasionally with the famously weird, bright-and-happy cola and makeup commercials.
Other signs of recovery: A lot of foreigners that left the city for two weeks are now sheepishly returning, which is strange because the radiation is as bad as ever.
People (myself included) have gone slack on power saving, but at least the weather is getting warmer and we don't have to use heaters quite as much.
So, although if you look around carefully you'll see signs that things are still not quite right (the skyscraper down the street where I get lunch at sometimes has cracks on the sidewalk), on a first pass, things are looking cheerful.
My face mask - radiation panic index has gone way down, from 60% of people wearing disposable paper masks from the 13th to the 20th, to about 20% wearing them in the city now. ...of course it's hard to tell how many were just wearing them because of pollen allergy season, which coincided almost exactly with the radiation fears in Tokyo.

So I was 'working at home' for about a week in there, where my company was running around like a chicken with it's head cut off, ordering people in only to send them home in the afternoon, and then gave up and gave us five 'work at home' days. Notice the quotes - our schedules were put on hold and we programmers had no access to the servers, databases, or our source code, thus were given free reign.
I got a lot of work done... on my comic!

Also I've started a new blog to help me keep track of the very strange Japanese vocabulary I've been learning as a direct result of current events. Hopefully it will have other, more normal vocab in the near future as well as I keep learning the language.
Feel free to follow along!

***Announcing the end of the Little Gaijin Emergency Broadcast. We will now return to your regular scheduled programming of funny photos of japan and attempts at witty writing. ****


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