David Chart's Japan Diary

July 23rd 2005

I know there haven't been any updates recently; I've been very busy. After buying the flat comes the work of moving in, which is quite involved. I've also got quite a lot of writing and editing work to do, so I haven't had any time.

I've decided to do a short entry because we've just had quite a big earthquake. It's now 16:50 here, and the main earthquake was about twenty minutes ago. It was large enough that I could see the whole structure of the building here shaking, but I can't see any actual damage, and haven't suffered any beyond an adrenaline surge. There have been a few after-shocks, including one while I was writing this, but they've all been very small so far. I rather hope that the first one was the biggest we're getting, because a bigger one would probably do real damage. I wonder how far we were from the centre. If it was centred a long way away, it was really bad there, so I hope I was pretty near the epicentre.

I think that, once I've moved, I need to go to one of the city-organised earthquake practice days. I know, in theory, quite a lot of what I should do, but actually doing it is a different matter. A large part of the problem is that small earthquakes are common, so hiding under the table every time a small one hits is silly. However, larger earthquakes start small, and build up. (At least so far; I suppose there might be some that start really big.) So there's the question of 'when do I hide under the table?'. Actually, I don't think that's the best place to go in the current place; I think the 'passage' between the two parts of the room is probably the safest place. But I'm not entirely sure, which I why I think I should go on a practice day. At least my Japanese is up to the job now. Mind you, it isn't perfect. There was a public address post-quake, but it was so echoey that I couldn't make out a single word. I suspect it was saying "Not that big, don't evacuate".

One plus: my bookcase, which is freestanding, remained absolutely steady. The fan I have on top didn't even fall over. This is because the bottom shelves are packed with dense books, and the top ones are much emptier, giving it a very low centre of gravity. Isn't physics wonderful? I still plan to attach it to the wall in the new flat though; bits of metal are even better.

As long as I'm here, what else has been going on? Lots of running around to shops to order furniture, and trips the flat to sort things out, of course. We need new everything, because we don't have anything yet. I've also been to see Revenge of the Sith, which I thought was a good film.

I also got new contact lenses, which were very necessary; the old ones were getting old. The opticians advised switching to gas permeable lenses, because they are better in almost every way, once you are used to them. I am getting used to them, as they are no longer uncomfortable, but even after two weeks it still isn't perfect. Still, I remember that it took even longer to get used to soft lenses right at the beginning.

The main problem is that I can't manage most of the ways for getting them out again. That bit of instruction went roughly as follows:

"Hold your eyelids all stretched like you're pretending to be Japanese, and blink hard. That will knock the lens out."

Blink blink. Blinkety blinkety blink.

"Hmmm. That isn't working, is it. OK, try this. Hold your lower eyelid and push down on the upper one."

Push. Push. Pushpushpushpush.

"Can't manage that either? OK, poke this stick in your eye."

Poking the stick in my eye does work, fortunately. It's a special rubber stick with a suction cup on the end, and for some reason my right lens sticks to my eye much more firmly than the left. Still, I'm getting the hang of that now, and I think I'll have another go at the stick-free methods in the future.

Note: the above translation of the instructions I was given is very loose. It's more of an interpretation really.

ENnie Awards

Ars Magica Fifth Edition has been nominated for more awards, this time the ENnie Awards for Best Production Values, Best Rules, and Best Game. I can't really claim to have had much to do with the production values, beyond agreeing enthusiastically with all of John Nephew's suggestions, but the other two nominations are very gratifying. If there's still a voting link on my index page you still have time to vote for it.