Monday, January 12, 2015

Trains (Japan, Europe, the U.S.)

This was in response to a friend who wrote that the Amtrak carrying her son from Seattle, Washington, to Eugene, Oregon, was 3 hours late.

I feel so spoiled in Japan where, except for delays caused by heavy snow in winter, the trains are generally on time to the minute.  I recall going from Paris to SW France where friends were waiting for me. The train was 5 minutes late (!), and they exclaimed, "The train is on time!"

As for Amtrak, I ended up waiting in a Boston suburb for my mother for a good two hours. Fortunately the weather was not that bad, but the station had no waiting room or attendant, so there was no way of knowing when the train would arrive except for a single station phone on which I finally got someone.

Another time, when I was going to take Amtrak to Chicago from a yoga retreat, I took a cab to the platform in Lenox, Massachusetts.  In this case there was a glassed-in waiting area but, again, no attendants.  There happened to be an older couple in the parking lot, who perhaps had come to wait for someone, and they told me the train wouldn't be coming through Lenox that day.  I had no way of knowing.

They were kind enough to take me to the local bus station, where I was able to get a bus to Cleveland within an hour or so, and then transfer in the middle of the night to a bus for Chicago.  I got there at about the same time I would have if I had gone by Amtrak.

Both of those were several years ago, and it seems as though Amtrak hasn't improved since.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Encounter with a Postal Clerk

Well, this morning I gave a postal clerk an experience that neither he nor I was expecting. I decided to try the post office for transferring money to my U.S. bank account since the transfer costs only ¥2,800 as opposed to ¥4,000 from my bank.

First he asked me to write my address in the U.S.  It took several minutes to convince him that I didn't have an address in the U.S.  He kept saying the address I used when I started the account, and I tried to explain that I receive my statements at my address here in Japan, and that even my checks have my Japanese address.

Then came filling out the form.  Even though it was in both Japanese and English, I ended up having to redo it 4 times because of various mistakes - the confusion of what language to write my address in, the fact that there are about 7 versions of my name in Japan (not counting CA Edington), and the tiny spaces in which to write.

Then, every time I made a mistake, I had to use my inkan (stamp) over the error. In between each time, I had to wait for other customers, so the whole ordeal took me about 45 minutes for a 1-page form.

Oh, and during that time, the dollar rose, so I ended up paying ¥193 more!

The clerk apologized to me several times and presented me with a cheap towel.

I thought it was over, but there was more to come.  Later in the day, my doorbell rang, and it was the postal clerk coming to my apartment, bringing me the form to correct once again.  I had written US$ for the type of currency, and it was supposed to be USD.  Out came my inkan once more after making the correction.

At least now he's seen my classroom and knows that I teach English.  It would be nice to get a new student out of this!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Called to Writing

Woke up with endorphins flowing as they haven't in a long time.  I had been on the phone with not one but two different publishers (even though it was one long continuous phone call) about the possibilities of writing books.  One was a rewrite of a book I had formerly published (with a different company) several years ago called The Way I Say It, about common expressions used by Japanese speakers. The publisher called me because of the recommendation by a Facebook friend who had also written a great deal for the same company.  The other was about my journey in recovery and health.  Oddly enough, it included how I was improving my health by walking to school (which I used to do in Wisconsin, but is not going to happen here, particular since one commute takes more than an hour by subway and bus).

In both cases, talking with the editor of each book was so encouraging and stimulating that I couldn't help but babble on about all my different ideas for what the book might include.  I practically started writing the books in my head as I talked.  I also knew that it was going to be exciting working the entire staff of the publishing companies because they were so warm at all levels, from the receptionist to whom I spoke initially on up to, in one case, the editor-in-chief because he was also - to the surprise of both of us - a Facebook friend.

The phone I was using was a business phone for another company that, near the end of my conversation, was gesturing for me to get off (because they were expecting a fax and I was tying up the line).  When I finally hung up, I explained to them the reason for the call and that it wasn't just chitchat.

I was elated!

The dream probably came from an assortment of happenings, including (1) reading a novel just before bed about a journalist putting together a story; (2) a discussion with my sister about her self-publications on Amazon, including a novel, some plays, and a cookbook, and her suggestion that I could also self-publish; and (3) a promise to some friends in my support group that I would write the story of my drinking and subsequent recovery.  Also, I have a number of friends who have been writing books that have gotten published and are doing well.

There was such a strong message in that dream!  I've got to get writing!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Roger Ebert on Killers Glorified by the Media

‎'The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking sound bites to support it. “Wouldn’t you say,” she asked, “that killings like this are influenced by violent movies?” No, I said, I wouldn’t say that. “But what about Basketball Diaries?” she asked. “Doesn’t that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machine gun?” The obscure 1995 Leonardo Di Caprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office (it grossed only $2.5 million), and it’s unlikely the Columbine killers saw it. The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. “Events like this,” I said, “if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn’t have messed with me. I’ll go out in a blaze of glory.”

'In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, the NBC Nightly News and all the other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of “explaining” them. I commended the policy at the Sun-Times, where our editor said the paper would no longer feature school killings on Page 1. The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy.'

Roger Ebert

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Day at the Tampa Airport (Short Version)

We were already sitting on the Airtran plane in Tampa for the 9:40 a.m. flight to Milwaukee when there was an announcement we were turning back to the gate because of some difficulty in the flight deck.  It wasn’t clear what the inspectors they brought on board were checking.  “The coffee pot must not be working,” I remarked to my fellow passengers.  In a while we learned it was the air conditioning, and light commons flew around the cabin such as, “Pass out the fans,” or “Just open the windows.”

Around 10:30, however, we were told they would be “deboarding” the plane since repairs could take a while.  Everyone patiently collected their bags and filed back into the waiting room.  We were given periodic updates, including that a new part was needed, so there would be further delay.  “They must be flying it in from Tokyo,” was one passenger’s comment, and I replied, “Gee, if I had known, I could have brought it with me.”  According to the next announcement, the part was being flown in from Orlando and, once it arrived, the repair should only take about 15 minutes.

Lunchtime rolled around, and they announced that food vouchers were being provided, so everyone lined up–both at the counter and then at the deli.  Anxious not to miss the announcement about reboarding, because it was now close to 1:00, I took my turkey and Swiss on 5-grain wheat with dark mustard (could never get that in a Japanese airport) back to the waiting area.

Around 1:15 there was a new announcement.  The flight was cancelled.  I was stunned – this being the last day I had planned to spend with my mother until next year – and I burst into tears.  The next half hour was rather chaotic, with long lines at the counter for people to change their travel plans, including staying overnight.  What I hated most was the teasers of 20 seats available on another flight (but too many people ahead of me wanting them) and a possible flight to Atlanta, then Chicago, then Milwaukee.  One of the women near me graciously lent me her cell phone so I could call my mother to let her know.  I said I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get to Milwaukee that day or not, and she said cheerfully, “Oh, you will, you will.”

Then came the announcement that special connections could be made for people who had ticketed through travel agents.  That was me!  Although I wondered if booking through a Japanese travel agent counted.  The few of us who went up to the counter were told us they needed the hard copy of our tickets, and we’re like, “but we handed them in at the counter to get our boarding passes.”  So one of the ground attendants went running back to get them.  Then we were given instructions to go get our bags at carousel 16 in the red area, then proceed to Northwestern where we could catch a flight to Minneapolis, then change planes for one to Milwaukee.  Kind of round about, and we wouldn’t get in until 9 p.m. or so, but at least we’d get to Milwaukee.

No bags at the carousel.  It was taking time to sort out the ones that had been destined for Milwaukee, we were told, but they would be there “shortly.”  At the Northwest counter, I handed over my “hard” ticket, now looking well-used, which had been scribbled on by the Airtran agent.  The Northwest agent peered at it and said, “What’s this?” I explained how the agent at Airtran had directed us there.  She said, that can’t be since we’re fully booked.  My heart sank.  She went into a long discussion with another of the agents.  15 minutes to flight time.  Finally she turned to me and said, “We don’t have any agreement with Airtran, and their agent hasn’t contacted us.  We can’t accept you on this flight.”  I told them at least 3 other people in the same situation were coming, and she said that she’d be telling them the same thing.

I was at a loss but decided to go back down to the baggage carousel so at least I’d have my bags with me.  My Milwaukee flight friends who had been making the rounds with me were by now becoming buddies.  With our luggage, we went to the Airtran counter.  So at 2:30 p.m. I was back at the same place I had been at 8:00 in the morning.  There we got an agent who knew all about the cancelled flight and said she could get us on a Midwest flight, direct from Tampa to Milwaukee, arriving at the fairly decent hour of 7:30.

I gleefully left the counter with ticket in hand and followed signs all over the floor until I finally found a tiny little counter for Midwest.  As I stood there, the clerk from Airtran came running up with my check-in bags and my passport that I had left at the other counter.  In fact, the mother of my by now very familiar Milwaukee flight friends was about to pick them up to bring them to me, but the agent quickly stopped her admonishing, “You can’t do that!”  With today’s convoluted situation, such niceties are no longer permissible.

Finally I had a boarding pass and for the 2nd time that day went to take the tram to Gate E.  At the initial security checkpoint, I was stopped by the guard.  “What’s in this bag?”


“You can’t carry that bag.  Only one bag.”

My attempts to explain that I had purchased the candy at the gate where I had already been before boarding the plane that morning.  He simply kept insisting, in heavily accented English, “Only one carry-on bag.”  It was the rule.  Since I wasn’t going to be able to get to the gate any other way, I knelt down and started stuffing candy in every little nook and cranny of my computer carry-on bag I could find.

At Gate E, I once again saw my 3 buddies, an elderly couple with their son, and went over to talk with them.  They chattered on about  being retired, how he had wanted her as a secretary for his private business, but she had gone to work for a company, and that now he was grateful because they ended up living off her retirement, and how she had worked for the same company for 26 years, then retired but didn’t really enjoy being retired, so had spent 6 more years working at a retirement center.  They had heard me talking about my mother so asked where she lived.  “Hales Corners.  In a retirement center.  Have you ever heard of Tudor Oaks.”

“That’s where I used to work,” exclaimed the woman.

“Do you know Dorothy Martin?”

“Of course!”

So it turned out that my day at the Tampa Airport, from which I was flying to see my mother, was spent with someone who knew my mother very well!  Perhaps the biggest synchronicity of the month.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Frustration with MoodleBuddy

Because there was no MoodleBuddy number on my profile this morning, I wrote a private email to one of the instructors:

Thank you for posting these, Dr. Smirnova.  Yesterday I saw MoodleBuddy 15 on my profile, but it is not there today, and my name is not in Group 15 or any of the groups.

I'd appreciate your help!

Since there was no response to that, I started a new topic on the course support forum entitled MoodleBuddy and posted the following message:

In response to the message: “If you access profile, you will find your Moodle Buddy team number. It will look like this: MoodleBuddy10, for example.”

Once we know our MoodleBuddy number, how do we find the two other participants with the same number? I have been looking for instructions about how to do that but don't find any. mixed

Incidentally, when I accessed my profile last night (Japan time), I recall seeing MoodleBuddy15, but now I cannot see it listed. Where specifically is the MoodleBuddy number located?

Appreciate any/all help!
CA in snowy Sapporo

There was zero response to that thread.  Then one of the instructors appeared on Chatroll, so I was excited, thinking that I'd now have a chance to get my answer.  Here's the ensuing conversation:

Jan 15 2012, 2:51 PM
CAinSapporoLast night before I went to bed, I saw MoodleBuddy 15 on my profile, but it's not there now and I'm not in Group 15.
Jan 15 2012, 2:51 PM
CAinSapporoCan you help me with that? I only have a few more hours that I can do any of the course activities here in Japan.
Jan 15 2012, 2:58 PM
Nellie DeutschHi CAinSapporo, you can view your Moodle Buddy by going into your profile. Have you tried that?
Jan 15 2012, 3:02 PM
CAinSapporoPlease look at what I wrote above: “ Last night before I went to bed, I saw MoodleBuddy 15 on my profile, but it's not there now and I'm not in Group 15.
Jan 15 2012, 3:05 PM
Jan 15 2012, 3:06 PM
CAinSapporoI'm also curious as to why the groups were available for us to view previously, and now they're hidden from our view.
Jan 15 2012, 3:07 PM
Welcome to Moodle for Teachers 2012 EVO!
Jan 15 2012, 3:26 PM
CAinSapporoI guess I'm here all alone now.  Bye.

Finally, in further frustration, I posted this to (what was now) my own private forum:

I looked at a couple of other profiles, and they had a MoodleBuddy number after Group.  I also found the lists of groups at this link: and didn't see my name.  Am I being excluded for some reason?  Wahhhh!  sad

Because group #15 has only 2 people, and I'm fairly sure that's where I belong, I'm going to contact those two people.  It's already Sunday evening in Japan (although it's only 5:15 a.m. in Toronto where the course was set up), so I won't have time to get into actually using the materials, yet.  In fact, if I click on the link to access them, they are still hidden.  With a very full week coming up - my last full week of university courses this semester - I'm not going to be able to accomplish anything until next weekend, at the earliest. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Experiencing 9/11 in Japan

I heard a click on my answering machine at about 11:10 in the evening here in Sapporo, Japan.  I never get calls that late, so I turned it on to listen to the message.  It was a friend in Sapporo who simply said, “Turn on your TV.”  Because I didn't have cable at the time, it was rather difficult for me to understand what was happening or the implications.  Maybe for that reason I was able to go to bed and sleep.

The whole next day (9/12 in Japan) I had the TV on and little by little grasped the horror of the situation.  I had no classes that day and was alone in my apartment, so had no one to talk to about it.  That evening I went to my Japanese chorus, and the everyday chatter was going on as though nothing had happened.  I slumped into a corner, and a couple of friends came over to see if I was all right.  They had no concept of the impact it had on me - or on the whole world, for that matter.  I can recall mumbling something to the effect of, “It's war,” and they more or less pooh-poohed me, saying it wasn't that bad.

Somehow I made it through rehearsal (I stayed because we had a concert a week later, but I didn't have the breath to sing very well).  At the end I asked the conductor if I could say a prayer.  Being Catholic, he agreed.  I gave it in English, so few probably understood, but it was basically a prayer for peace.  No one responded or talked to me afterwards.  In fact, after that a former member - an Alto - gave the announcement of her engagement and forthcoming wedding, and was surrounded by people congratulating her.  I was overwhelmed by loneliness.

The next day I had private classes, and one student in my afternoon class who had lived in the U.S. came over and hugged me as soon as I came in the room.  That was the first time I was able to cry.  Finally there was someone who understood!

A few days later I got an email in Japanese from my chorus.  We were going to add a piece at the beginning of the concert the following week, and some suggestions were given.  I didn't know the names of the pieces in Japanese so asked my private students what they were. One was to the tune of what I know as “What a friend we have in Jesus,” although the words in Japanese are not the same.  I immediately vetoed that one and suggested “Amazing Grace,” which is what we ended up singing.  When we got to the words, “Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come; 'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far and Grace will lead me home,” I nearly broke down.  American friends who were in the audience later told me they were weeping.

Somehow I managed to make it through the concert on 9/19.  It took every ounce of energy that I had.  Afterwards, I collapsed, sobbing, in front of my locker in the dressing room.  No one came over.  The other Sopranos were slowly changing into their street clothes and leaving.  It was a desperately lonely time.

A few weeks later, one of the Sopranos took me aside and talked to me quietly about family members she had lost in the Hanshin earthquake in Japan on January 17, 1995.  She had never mentioned it to me before and tears came to her eyes as she talked.  What it made me realize is how private the process of grieving is in Japan.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

The Clutter Is All in Your Mind

Cathy Anderson's PowerPoint presentation on clutter was posted by a friend just when I needed it the most!
I succeeded in filling two cardboard boxes with recycled teaching material.  Having spent days, months, and years accumulating and organizing it for use in various level classes, it was not easy to just throw all that hard work into a box.  Much of it, however, has been around for several years because either I've refined the material and put it on my computer, or I have easy access to similar - or better - material on the Internet.  In fact, I wasn't even sure what I'd come across in the piles I went through.

I didn't enjoy having to remove all the staples, but I wanted to be sure it was all perfectly recyclable.  The effort was also worth it because I have that much more office space now (a luxury in Japan), and the clutter was taking up mental space as well.  It's great to feel a bit more clear!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Reach Out and Touch Someone - Literally!

“The real action of compassion . . . is touch.”  Dacher Keltner, in Hands On Research: The Science of Touch, gives some profound insight as to not only the therapeutic value of touch but also its social functions. He reports briefly on an experiment showing that the emotions communicated through touch are more easily identified than those from facial and vocal expressions, although apparently this is more true with people of the same gender.

Every time I return to the U.S., I'm so aware of how much more hugging and touching in general - such as pats on the hand or the back - I experience than in Japan.  I often am starving for touch and have to wonder how much that has contributed to my gaining a great deal of weight over the past 15 years.

Fortunately I have my cats, who demand a great deal of touching, but it's not exactly reciprocal.  Even though I have become more keenly aware of the lack of touch in my daily life, through this article and video, I can't exactly run out and start touching the people I come into contact with.  However, at least I can make an appointment with a massage therapist and make sure that I get more healing touch from massage in my life.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

U.S. Lags in School Lunch Makeovers

U.S. Lags in School Lunch Makeovers
The photos in this article show typical school lunches in the U.S. compared with those in other countries. It's difficult finding the vegetables in most of the U.S. school lunches. Also, is the chocolate milk served in order to get the kids to drink milk? I wonder how much sugar it contains.

The worst of it is that children will grow up thinking this is “food.” One of the most important areas where people are lacking in education is nutrition. What a perfect opportunity a well-balanced nutritious school lunch could provide, with the added benefit of less obesity. Go, Michelle!

Friday, March 18, 2011

The New York Philharmonic Honors the People of Japan

A moving message from the New York Philharmonic to the people of Japan.  On the evening of this recording, the orchestra played Requiem for Strings by Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996),  both to honor the departed and as a tribute to Japan's optimism and positive spirit.

The following is a beautiful rendition of the Requiem for Strings showing the ceramic artwork of Carlo Zauli (1926-2002), a native of Faenza, Italy, who was heavily influenced by both traditional and modern Japanese ceramic art.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Al Jazeera English: Live Stream

One of the most comprehensive, reliable sources for news, devoid of the sensationalism one finds in certain other international networks.

Al Jazeera English: Live Stream - Watch Now - Al Jazeera English

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Google Person Finder & Emergency Information

The Google Crisis Site includes information in English on emergency information, transportation, shelters, and places to donate.  There are boards for posting about missing people.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Simple Visual of Nuclear Reactors

For those who need a simple explanation of nuclear reactors, this short video shows very clearly how they work.  This is one educators might find of use.

The “Shindo” Scale Used for Earthquakes in Japan

I cannot attest as to the validity of the following information, but it explains fairly clearly the difference between the “Shindo” scale used in Japan and the Richter scale.  This was useful for me because I've never been able to understand why an earthquake reported on Japanese TV as a “2” felt more like a “3” or “4” to me.

Japan experiences about 1,000 earthquakes each year of a magnitude sufficient to be felt. While the rest of the world uses the Richter scale to measure earthquakes, the Japan Meteorological Agency uses a seismic intensity scale - used also in Taiwan - known as the shindo (literally 'tremor') scale. Whereas the Richter scale measures a quake at its epicenter, the 'shindo scale' measures it at a specific location where the quake is felt. Therefore the effects of a single earthquake have a variable 'shindo scale' reading depending how far the affected area is from the epicenter.

A Shindo Scale 1 quake is the lightest, while a 7 is the most severe.
In detail, the points on the scale are defined as follows:

  • 0: Goes unnoticed by humans. Speed of shock waves on the ground is less than 0.008 m/s².

  • 1: Barely noticable, but only if inside. Ground speed of 0.008–0.025 m/s².

  • 2: Noticable if inside, and sufficient to wake some sleepers. Ground speed of 0.025–0.08 m/s².

  • 3: Felt by most people if inside. Sufficient to inspire fear in some people. Ground speed of 0.08–0.25 m/s².

  • 4: Sufficient to inspire fear in many people, wake most sleepers, and prompt some people to seek escape. Ground speed of 0.25–0.80 m/s².

  • 5−: Prompts most people to seek escape, but strong enough to prevent some people from moving. Ground speed of 0.80–1.40 m/s².

  • 5+: Strong enough to cause the collapse of a few unreinforced concrete-block walls and gravestones. Driving difficult or impossible. Ground speed of 1.40–2.50 m/s².

  • 6−: Will cause collapse of wall tiles and windowpanes in some buildings. Ground speed of 2.50–3.15 m/s².

  • 6+: In many buildings, wall tiles and windowpanes are damaged and fall. Strong enough to cause the collapse of some unreinforced concrete-block walls and gravestones. Ground speed of 3.15–4.00 m/s².

  • 7: Wall tiles and windowpanes are damaged and fall in most buildings. Even reinforced concrete-block walls may collapse. Ground speed of over 4 m/s².

  • Note that you can click on the title of this block to go to the link, but it also has information that might be offensive to some (e.g., love hotels).

    Japanese News Earthquake Vocabulary

    A resident of Japan has posted this useful list on his blog.  This is especially useful for friends who are working as translators or trying to understand the information in Japanese.  He has a number of other useful links about everyday life in Japan.  Thanks, Harvey!

    木造住宅もくぞうじゅうたくhomes built of wood
    中層建物ちゅうそうたてものa mid-sized high rise building
    港周辺みなとしゅうへんthe area around the port
    倒壊した家とうかいしたいえcollapsed houses
    倒壊家屋とうかいかおくcollapsed houses
    建物の屋根たてもののやねthe roofs of buildings
    瓦礫がれきtiles and pebbles, debris

    計画停電けいかくていでんplanned power outage
    核燃料かくねんりょうnuclear fuelLink
    核分裂かくぶんれつatomic fissionLink
    電力不足でんりょくぶそくlack of power
    停電ていでんpower outage
    発電所はつでんしょpower plant
    原発げんはつnuclear power plant
    東京電力福島第1原子力発電所1号機とうきょうでんりょくふくしまだいいちげんしりょくはつでんしょいちごうきTEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant No. 1 reactor
    燃料棒ねんりょうぼうfuel rod (for a nuclear power plant)
    揚水発電所ようすいはつでんしょhydraulic power plant
    電力会社でんりょくがいしゃpower company
    節電せつでんenergy conservation, to conserve energy
    供給不足きょうきゅうぶそくinsufficient supply
    原子炉を冷やす機能げんしろをひやすきのうthe function to cool a nuclear reactor
    格納容器かくのうようきstorage container (refers to the steel container housing the reactor)
    容器を海水で冷やすようきをかいすいでひやすcool the container with seawater
    放射線ほうしゃせんradiation (radioactive rays)
    放射生物質ほうしゃせいぶっしつradioactive materials
    発電施設はつでんしせつpower plant facilities
    Rescue and damage
    孤立こりつto be isolatedLink
    安否確認あんぴかくにんconfirmation of safetyLink
    安否不明あんぴふめいunknown whether (they are) safe or not
    安否確認が進まずあんぴかくにんがすすまずmaking no progress in regards to confirming the safety of…
    炉心溶融ろしんようゆうcore meltdownLink
    爆発音ばくはつおんsound of an explosion
    水素爆発すいそばくはつhydrogen explosion
    壊滅的な被害かいめつてきなひがいdevastating damage
    救助ヘリコプターきゅうじょヘリコプターrescue helicopter
    救助を待っているきゅうじょをまっているwaiting to be rescued
    不明ふめいunclear (missing people) 死者・不明1400人超 (more than 1,400 dead or missing)
    行方不明者ゆくえふめいしゃmissing persons
    軽傷者けいしょうしゃpeople with light injuries
    遺体いたいdead bodies / corpses
    被曝ひばくto be exposed to radiation
    避難範囲ひなんはんいevacuation area
    避難住民ひなんじゅうみんevacuated residents
    救出活動きゅうしゅつかつどうrescue operations
    震度しんどThe strength of an earthquake (shindo, Japanese scale 0 to 7)
    震度6弱しんどろくじゃくAbout shindo 6
    大震災だいしんさいGreat earthquake
    震源しんげんThe hypocenter (of an earthquake)
    揺れゆれto shake
    白煙はくえんwhite smoke
    黒煙こくえんblack smoke
    海面かいめんsea surface
    沿岸部えんがんぶcoastal area
    水没しているすいぼつしているto be submerged in water
    水没した車すいぼつしたくるまsubmerged carsLink
    Transportation and vehicles
    乗用車じょうようしゃpassenger cars (regular cars, as opposed to fire trucks, ambulances, etc.)
    消防車しょうぼうしゃfire truck
    船舶が座礁しているせんぱくがざしょうしているships have run aground
    Government and organizations
    気象庁きしょうちょうMeteorological agency
    自衛隊じえいたいJapan Self Defense Force
    国際原子力事象評価尺度こくさいげんしりょくじしょうひょうかしゃくどInternational Nuclear Event Scale (INES)
    Place Names
    宮城県みやぎけんMiyagi prefecture
    南三陸町みなみさんりくまちminamisanrikumachi (In Miyagi prefecture. Devastate by the tsunami.)
    岩手県いわてけんIwate prefecture
    〜が相次いでいるあいついでいるblah blah is occurring over and over again
    恐れがあるおそれがあるmay occur (something negative) e.g., 停電が続く恐れがある the power outage may continue.
    半径3キロはんけいさんキロa radius of 3 kilometers
    命を落とすいのちをおとすto die (to lose life)
    待機たいきto wait
    状況の把握が難航しておりじょうきょうのはあくがなんこうしておりdifficult to understand the (actual) situationLink
    市街地しがいちurban areas
    拡大する見通しかくだいするみとおしexpected to increase/expand