The beginning of spring

A blog about my work, where international development meets tech, and my life, where food, books, design, dogs, and friends (and the occasional pig) make appearances.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Rules in Japan: II

The other amazing thing about Japan, besides the fact that there are so many rules about what to do and not to do, is how many of them don't have to be written up, let alone have some sort of enforcement mechanism. Take a look at this elevator in the Tokyo See how everyone is lined up on the left? In London, there are signs everywhere about standing on one side to let others walk up the escalators. In Washington, there are no such signs and the local papers are filled with complaints about how people don't remember to stand to one side. In Japan, no signs, no deviations from the rule. Even by unsuspecting tourists. Amazing. But then, take a look at the transportation map (combined metro and trains). Can you imagine navigating that everyday, let alone actually making it run on time? They apologize when their trains are running 2 minutes late.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Order in the universe: Japanese style

Every time I come home to Japan I marvel at how they keep this incredibly dense , complex society not only together, but humming at enviable rates of efficiency. Some of it is regulatory-there are rules for everything. But the regs don't always come from the top--the sign above the cat door here says: "Please don't feed this cat. He has plenty to eat inside."

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Only connect: Mother's Farm

Sometimes a donor comment on a project will make me smile. More rarely, a donor comment makes me want to read it out loud to anyone who will listen. And perhaps even more infrequently, a donor comment will make me come back to my dormant blog and restart the blogging engine. This is one such comment--here's an excerpt:
I am glad that the ladies started with sorghum this year as conditons are very condusive to sorghum harvest ... I am really proud of the way Ms. Fathima has been able to do the work necessary. Please continue this work to enable women to do better and educate them as well in agricultural practices. I for one am willing to help.
E.M. Forster was right. Only connect.

Happy Mother's Day!

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