Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The calm AFTER the storm

After the hellish weather we had yesterday, it was quite nice to find nice blue skies when I walked out this morning.

Yesterday was simply miserable. How miserable? I took out my kotatsu and hid under it for the evening because my apartment was so damp and cold from the pummeling rain and winds. All day, the region was hit with extreme winds, oftentimes up around 100 kilometers an hour according to some of my students. I believe the exact measurement I was quoted was 27.4 meters per second, which is just 2 categories down from hurricane on the Beaufort scale for measuring wind. Incredible! Evidence of the storm was everywhere. On the way to work, I first noticed the fence across from my place had been ripped apart. Lord knows how many typhoons that thing has withstood, and it's in a fairly protected place too.

If you look up in the centre of the picture above, you'll spot this crew working on the power lines. I saw about 4 of them on the way to work today, that's the problem with having wires all over the place people... BURY THEM!

This building across from work had its roof damaged as well... vacant and obviously not well maintained.

So I took advantage of the clear weather today to really try out the new S3 I picked up last weekend. So far so good. Halloween is in the air on Union Street with inflated pumpkins lining the street.

Just for fun, I popped in to the 10th floor of the building and got a few pictures. Here is Tsukuba-san in the distance, with the Kanto plain stretching out as far as the eye can see.

From up here you can also see the almost completed Utsunomiya Castle, which is set to open up soon I think. Big huge waste of money as far as I'm concerned, plopping a castle in such an ugly neighborhood in the shadow of a coms tower... but I guess it's hard to compete with Matsumoto-jo after all.

Parlour Beat is a local Pachinko parlour whose slogan is "Parlour Beat: The Beat Ringing High" and it's always packed with gamblers. If you're unfamiliar with Pachinko, you can think of it as slot machines but with about 10 times the noise and smoke. And since gambling for money is illegal, you win these little metal beads which you can then trade in at the counter for a gift such as a Teddy Bear or something. What's the point then you ask? Well then you take that gift to the little shack outside the building you can see here on the left of the building and exchange it for money. Gotta love being able to run around the law like that, must help that the police are involved in the operation...

Fooling around with my stitching mode here... here is the lovely city of Utsunomiya, looking south towards Tokyo.

On my break, I managed to get a nice shot of the sunset too... camera is holding up it's end of the deal, I just need to figure out more things that I can do with it.

So that was the day, only 3 more work days to go before the weekend. I've started looking into my Visa Application process for Vietnam, with any luck I can do it by mail and not have to pay a travel agency to do it, but I don't know yet. I'll give the Vietnamese Embassy in Tokyo a call tomorrow and see if someone speaks English... hope so!


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