I'm living in Kusatsu-shi, Shiga-ken for an undetermined amount of time and teaching English as a second language at a local high school. This journal is to document my experiences, thoughts, and to stay connected with others at home and abroad.

Friday, July 10, 2009

"Street Farmer"

This is an article that Martin just shared with me today, about Will Allen, hands-down hero, who is changing the world with urban community & soil-enriching farming. Please read about the Street Farmer.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

A message to lobbyists

pray there is no hell

Time's Running Out (aka People before Profits)

Sorry for the long delay in posts. As people probably know by now, I'm in the thick of preparing for the BEE Japan 2009 Ride, which starts in just under a month.

But while I was doing a bit of training earlier today in the hills on Konze earlier today, a thought struck me. My time is running out. Maybe I'm a bit young to be thinking this, but in terms of Japan and this blog, it's true. My job at Kusatsu High School will end at 4pm on July 28th (maybe a few hours earlier :-), and after that my time in Japan will be extended for my final 3 months for the BEE Ride.

So what's next? People ask me this often, and I used to know. "I'm going to go back to school and become a teacher!" I used to answer. But wait a minute, I'm a teacher already now, right? By title yes, and based on the fact that I stand in front of 40-odd students everyday, I suppose I am a teacher. And as the years here have passed, and I've realized I have many more interests that would make me just as apt a pupil as a teacher. And if I go back to grad school to avoid facing rejection in our current depression, what for? Environmental studies? Japanese studies? English or Psychology as I studied before? Music? No, really, I'm asking, I have no freaking clue cause if I could live to 160 I'd do them all...

I know I'm on the verge of losing your attention now, so I'll get to the point. What do we have too much of in this world today? (please take a minute to think about it seriously)...

My answer would be greed and lies and a general lack of responsibility & humanity. Very fun and uplifting, I'm sure you can't wait for the punchline, but I have a point here so please bear with me. Our current lifestyles, our nation and its financial, social, cultural, gastronomical system have grown into the insatiable monster they are today because about 50 years ago (and as humans long, long before) we decided that our personal profit outweighed that of life.

And thus we hunted animals to extinction for the sport, shit all over the enviornment because we assumed it was an infinite resource, and enslaved other humans beings because we had guns and they didn't.

When I first arrived in Japan I read Johnathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, and the section about how the Yahoos were mesmerized by shiny objects (ie precious metals). Again in Thailand I noticed the same thing when the monkeys went for watches, earings, necklaces, and the signs that warned us to take any of these things off before climbing the steps to the "Monkey Temple."

Are humans in our current state still so easily persuaded by the thought of riches that we would commit these same atrocities of social, special, and planet destruction in return for gold (even though practically all our gold has been locked since the Great Depression and our cash magic wanned into plastic and online digits)?

Every time I wake up I am reminded that the answer is clearly yes. And while I recognize we are not all active participants in genocide, toxic pollution, deforestation, third world enslavement, animal commoditization which poisons ourselves and our children,


Well that is going to change, because I've decided what I'm going to do with my life. Through BEE I've realized that people don't want to be ignorant, but honestly just don't think they no better. There's a double-edged sword to watch out for here
1) people don't want to feel scared and helpless, and they will choose ignorance over ambivalence
2) if you give people the options, provide them with the awareness, get them the message, the chance we can start working together to make a better society can only improve.

The information is there, studies show that McDonalds + Coca Cola + WalMart = exponential death via corn and oil.

I want to rebuild this world, because we are the people who live with the consequences, and we owe ourselves and each other a better world. I'm starting by calling bullshit, and showing people what they can do to make things better for themselves, for everyone & thing living in the world, and for the earth. Just a warm-up:

1) When genocide in Darfur continues without significant UN intervention because China and their allies block the intervention votes, millions of people die and are raped and are forced to starve homeless in refugee camps.
RESULT: China gets cheap oil to make shit Americans don't need but buy because it's made with oil imported from unstable govt of Sudan, China's emissions skyrocket over past 20 years.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Don't buy Chinese products (buy local anyway to reduce oil from transportation), write a letter to the UN, tell someone about this vicious cycle and get more people thinking so you are not alone with the burden of knowing

2) When you use products made from inorganic chemicals (that's a long list but think of just about anything in your bathroom cabinet--Old Spice, shaving cream, shampoo, hair dye––anything man-made and not naturally occurring), these chemicals leak endrocine disruptors which are unregulated by the US gov, and seep into the water system, causing frogs to grow 6 legs, male fish to carry eggs, and retard sexual maturity in humans as well.
WHY? Because there is no way to treat for these chemicals, because they never had to be approved before thrust onto the market in the first place.
RESULT: Water quality is deteriorating and incrasing rates of breast & prostate cancers, and well as other unnatural
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Use natural products, which can be just as effective and fashionable as synthetics; what's really more important, physical appearance or providing safe water for yourself and your children?

For more info about similar issues about health, the environment, eating healthy, and cycling of course!--check out the links section of beejapan.org, which has been a major project for social awareness for the past couple months.

And I encourage you to call bullshit anytime you see humans trading people for profits.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Dafur still exists

Why do we allow these things to continue? I've been wondering lately (damn near convinced) if it's the aim of the UN and other developed countries to keep the developing world from improving their situations so we can keep abusing them for cheap resources.

More at The Real News

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

3 new songs available!

Hey everyone!
I just uploaded 3 recently mixed songs from my Kusatsu Tower recording session (a.k.a. the week during spring vacation when I locked myself in the Language Lab at Kusatsu High to record several hours a day instead of not working).
The songs are
"Spring 1930: A Love Affair with America"
"Alexander's Homecoming"
"The Huggily Bear Theme Song"

I'd like to remind everyone that these songs are located on the side-bar here and you can download them for free!!! Of course, any donations you want to make to my Pay Pal account I will promptly donate to an NPO of my choosing--this year beneficiary is BEE Japan.

Enjoy the songs and please let me hear your responses!


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Poisoned Waters: New Frontline Special

Recent PBS Frontline 2-hour special on water problems we're currently facing. I've been reading about these dead zones for years now--please everyone start doing the same and spreading the word. We can't keep pissing in our water supply and expecting to walking away clean-handed.

NPO Musician: 2009: Year of the BEE

NPO musician. Sounds like an oxymoron, but here's the idea:

I've been playing music quite a bit while living here in Japan, actually made my debut as a part-time musician two years ago with another ALT buddy, Mike Bass, I met here. When I'm not teaching and cycling, we play together, and I've written a good number of original tunes over the years. Been recording, mixing, and producing them myself (of course with the expertise help of Mr Bass as well).

I know I'm no where near professional quality at the moment, but I want to share my music and do something good for the world at the same time. I've labeled myself as an NPO musician, because I get pleasure from making music, sharing my ideas and feelings through song, and helping other people. I recognize that my abiility to make music is a privilege, one that many people around the world do not enjoy. Therefore, I am dedicating my earnings to a different NPO every year in order to raise money and awareness for that organization.

As you may have already guessed, 2009 is Year of the BEE (Japan).

If you want to hear my music, and in return don't mind contributing to BEE Japan, please visit look on the sidebar, where you will find out how to download my music and make a donation via Pay Pal (100% of which I will pass on to BEE Japan). I'm using the idea from Radiohead's last album In Rainbows, and opting for the "pay what you want" method. You can download my music for free, but anything you do pledge will go to BEE Japan. The responsibility is on the listener.

Of course, if you want to know more about BEE Japan, just click it.

This is a good chance to listen to my creative ideas and get to know me better through my music as well. And if you want to donate to BEE Japan at the same time, you have until midnight, December 31st, 2009 to do so.

Thanks everyone! Happy listening and happy riding!



Saturday, April 25, 2009

The 60-Minute Team

The 60-Minute Team
60 minutes a week:
Be happy, stay healthy, and keep your neighborhood clean!

The concept is simple enough: combining exercise with community enjoyment mixed with maintenance. I have been organizing and participating in a number of big clean-ups here in Shiga (Japan) over the past year or so. But the trash keeps coming back! Where does it coming from? Are the deer and tanuki playing a nasty trick on us? No, it’s people, us, and it’s our responsibility to keep our home clean.

There are two ends we can meet with this new quasi eco-sport:
1) Exercise! Why spend your hours exercising in a gym, separated from your environment, with an iPod blocking out the world? Thanks to truly marveling technology advancements, we spend less time in our own backyards than ever before. But there’s a stunning world of rice fields and hills, and rivers (concrete bedded perhaps), and edible wildflowers, and so much more than we never see. I’ll bet we can name all of the 7 Dwarves but we couldn’t think of 7 plant varieties that grow just beyond our walls. Please take a walk, a run, a bike-ride at dusk and revel in it. If you want more than just that, work your muscles by curling whatever trash you find along the way, do sit-ups, push-ups, chin-ups on a tree lunges, calisthenics¬¬––the possibilities are endless! In the process of enjoying your neighborhood, you’ll probably realize there’s an obscene amount of garbage floating around…that brings us to point number
2) Take care of your home! Set an example for others to follow or get your neighbors to join you for an evening stroll and bring a couple of plastic bags to pick up whatever junk you see in the process. If you are currently avoiding visiting that park around the corner because of trash problems, this will help create the opportunity to enjoy your home. The trouble is that a polluted sidewalk invites more trash, because no one appears to mind anyway; but a spotless roadside encourages others to keep it unblemished! Best of all, the more people in a community that start working together to protect their shared land, the more effective and beautiful things will be coming. In less than a month there’ll be less garbage to collect, because a more responsible community will trash the place less.

On the surface, the goal for the 60-Minute Team is to get everyone in the world working to take better care of the home on Earth that we all share.

Every person: 60 minutes/week
You can do it at your own pace, whenever you have an hour to spare. Getting a big group together takes a lot of time and energy we could spend better just by getting to work. One day after work, Satruday or Sunday mornings¬¬—best part of joining the 60-Minute Team is that when you participate is completely up to you!

I don’t believe it’s so difficult, and once the ball is rolling will be a force of inertia that drives us to keep things clean for all time. If we get to the point where there’s no trash, we can still benefit from getting outside one hour a week. Doing so will hopefully also spark new ideas of health and community maintenance above and beyond simple exercise and trash collecting. If we want to pass on there beautiful world around us to our children, we can take additional steps: reducing energy & CO2 used by our daily appliances, composting, cutting back on products with packaging or waribashi, switching to organic foods to keep our soil and bodies, engaging more with family, friends, and neighbors¬¬––we can always accomplish more collectively than if we stay looked indoors alone.

Please leave us a comment here and let us know how you’re 60-Minute contributions are going! Let other people know and help them on board too!

You can also join our facebook group for The 60-Minute Team

Friday, April 24, 2009

Inner echos: private musings

Never closer to home, in the Shigaraki mountains

(Looking down at the floor) If guys can't hit this target, what chance to we have of meeting 80% reduction of CO2 emissions by mid-century? Better get used to swimming.

I've got my money on the chestnut...which one's the chestnut (I'm from the US)

pure heart, and she would know best. I'm lucky to be able to hold the hands that created this (drawn by Katie)

Make a wish