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Earthquake – never thought it’d happen to me

fire after earthquake

I took a 21-hour flight to be at the reunion of my maternal family (Carañgan) in La Castellaña, Philippines. Whilst on stopover in Manila on 22 April 2019 at 5PM, there was an intensity 5 earthquake. I was in a parlor when suddenly the ground trembled and furniture started to shake, then the power went out. The six people in that beauty saloon, which is on the ground floor of a 22-level building, stayed where they were whilst I rushed to the door barefoot and run to the nearby one-level-structure. I was the first person to get out and one of the last to get back as I was worried about aftershocks.

After the earthquake, there was fire two blocks away from where we were. I took this photo from our window.

Aftershocks are tremors that follow the main earthquake. They happen more frequently in the hours and days after an earthquake, but their magnitude and frequency decrease over time. Even though their shaking intensity is relatively small compared with that of the main earthquake, they can destabilise buildings and injure people.

OUNI ルクセンブルグのお店

OUNI shop front door

うちから歩いて3分。ほぼ毎日行く有機食品のお店。名前はウニという。See OUNI's Official Website (in English)

ルクセンブルグ語の ouni ウニは、ドイツ語の ohne、 フランス語の sans 、 英語の without にあたる。日本語で[・・・]なしに [・・・の]ない、を示す。野菜や果物やたまごがバラ売りされていて、プラスティック容器やビニール袋や廃棄物など要らざるものをできる限り、すべからくなくす。 「なし」がウニの名前の由来だ。

小麦粉やお茶も、オリーブオイルやバターも、お菓子やナッツ類も、洗剤もはかり売り。客は容器を持参し、自由に品物を選んでレジで払う。お店の棚に置かれた空き瓶に、入れてもよい。私の場合は・・・くるみチーズを切ってもらってから、容器を忘れたことに気づき、そのまま手持ちのネット編み袋に入れて持ち帰ったこともある。最初はまごついたが、2回目からは過剰包装がなく、すずやかな感じがした。

夕方たちよるのが楽しみで、お目当てはオーガニックのクロワッサンとパン。季節のくだものと野菜。秋にでまわるミラベル(飴色のが一般的だが、ブルーベリー色のもある)が好きで、reine-claude というスモモ種を見つけて毎日通うようになった。

。。。下につづく

OUNI championing the organic packaging-free trend

OUNI front desk and team representatives

This is a little blog about OUNI, Luxembourg’s first packaging-free organic grocery store. Visit OUNI's Official Website. We eat their croissants nearly everyday (or at least 300 croissants a year), though we hardly get tired of eating them… their croissants are simply natural, yet profoundly tasty.

OUNI is a self-service shop, but also a social vision of making community a sustainable better place. I believe that the secret of OUNI’s popularity lies not merely in their concept and their fresh/environmentally friendly products. But also it lies in their positive atmosphere created via face-to-face interactions; the store generates a spirit of connectivity, trust, and shared responsibility for sustainability in the course of community life.

ルクセンブルグの魅力

Clausen banks

ルクセンブルグへの通勤者の数は、一日に約20万人。ベルギー・ドイツ・フランスから、国境を超え毎日やって来る人たちが、労働人口の約半数を占めています。金融危機の2008年以降さらに人口は増え続け、この国に住みたい人たちの数も年々増え続けているらしい。

10年ほど前、フランスのメッツからオランダのハーグまで、車で出かけた時のこと。午前6時に、フランス側はすでに交通渋滞。ルクセンブルグを通りぬけ反対車線を見ると、ものすごいラッシュアワーで、ベルギー側から延々と続く通勤車両のテールランプをよそ目に、すいすいと北上していったことがありました。

その渋滞対策として、現在トラムの延長工事が行われ、2020年の春から公共交通は世界で初めてタダになります。横断歩道を渡るときは、交差点にたどり着く前にたいてい車が止まってくれます。まれに横柄な車両に出くわしたりしたら、外国ナンバー(フランスのF)だったりします。

。。。下につづく

Mediation and negotiation

"Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate".
- John F. Kennedy (35th US President)

Our current society is competitive, demanding and complex that conflict has become a part of modern day living. There are squabbles or disagreements among colleagues, neighbours, friends, family members, and even strangers. The common causes of office disaccord are work style differences, personality clashes, and sense of unfairness. Many complaints made to the Police concern noises, fences, trees, rubbish and stray pets that turn neighbours into foes.

According to www.unifiedlawyers.com, the world's divorce rate has increased by 251.8% since 1960. Nowadays, nearly half of marriages end up in divorce with Luxembourg topping the list (87%) followed by Spain (65%), France (55%), Russia (51%) and the USA (46%). India (1%) and Chile (3%) have the lowest rates. The most common reason given for divorce is incompatibility, which is nearly thrice that of infidelity. When marriage breaks down, in the majority of cases, those concerned knock non-hesitantly on lawyers' doors and rush to tribunals or courts.

The legal system is long and costly, whereas mediation and arbitration involve much less time and money; but why do many people opt for the former? Why don't they resolve conflict by mediation and negotiation?

In mediation, a neutral person helps disputants to come to a consensus on their own. Mediators allow conflicting parties to vent their feelings and expose their grievances, but they don't impose their solution. It's the conflicting parties that decide on the outcome of the negotiation. The mediators can help them come up with a resolution that is sustainable and nonbinding.

The ABC of a lasting relationship

"You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships every day. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity".
— Epicurus (Greek philosopher, 341–270 BC)

While in a jovial mood at last month’s carnival party, I agreed to my Polish friend’s invitation to dinner in a French restaurant five minutes on foot from my residence.

After some minutes of tiptoeing on the snow, my husband and I were ushered to a table in the middle of a room directly in front of a flat stage with standing microphone and sound system. All tables had only two chairs, and we were discouraged from mingling with other couples, including my Polish friends.

On the table was a beautifully cut-out paper in a shape of a turbine with a dozen questions, such as “What’s the best moment you had with your partner recently” and “What do you like most in your partner these days?”

異常気象「世紀の訴訟」

子供の頃に、ペットを飼い始めた人は多いのではないだろうか。

隣の家が火事になり自宅は事なきをえたのだけども、火が燃え移りそうになって水槽の温度が上がり、飼っていた魚が全滅したと友人が話していた。一・二度の温度の上昇が命とりになったとか。

壊滅的な気候変動の影響を避けるためには、今後数年の対処が分岐点だと (国連などの) 報告書に示されている。つまり十余年が、生態系にとって山場となる。

異常気象にどう対処すべきか?気候正義をめぐり、フランスのオックスファムやグリーンピースなどの4団体が、l’Affaire du siècleという闘いを続けている。この団体は、国の温室効果ガス排出量の削減努力は不十分であり、inaction (無活動・無能力) であると主張し、政府に対策を求めるための訴訟提訴を主導している。ジュリエット・ビノシュやマリオン・コティヤールなどの俳優陣や有名人たちも、動画で協力を呼びかけている。

。。。下につづく

Yes to healthy anger but no to violence

On January 19 (Saturday morning) while grocery shopping in our local supermarket, I heard a woman yelling. Since it sounded like she was only an aisle away from where I was, I pushed my trolley aside and had a look. She was pinching and hitting a young man in his early 20s, and I couldn’t believe how calm he was. Was it because there were several of us witnessing it?

I was worried that the young man would eventually lose his temper and fight back, so I hurried to the checkout and asked the cashier to ring security. Some minutes later, two sturdy men arrived and said that they saw it on their camera and thought it was just “problème de couple”. The young man approached and told us that the angry and violent woman had left.

While queuing to pay for my purchases, however, I heard loud voices again. The young woman came back with her two mates, and the safety of the young man bothered me. I turned my head right and left hoping to see at least one of the guards, but they were gone. My nervousness lessened when I noticed that the man was walking towards the male staff at the information/shop entrance. Then, there were piercing voices, but I could only see the staff’s work uniform because of the dozen people around them.

マデイラの大自然

  • Madeira

私の大好きなマデイラの大自然の写真をお届けします (2018年年末に撮影)。

マデイラ行きの飛行機は、午前6時半にルクセンブルグを出発。前回(「太平洋の真珠」礼賛)は気づかなかったのですが。前方の席を見ると、ハイエンドなシニアたちが、遠足に出かける子供のように和気あいあいと朝食を楽しんでました。

空港に降りたち、その場の人たちの後ろ姿を眺めるともなしに見ていたら、皆さん、背筋からお尻まですらりと引きしまり、足元はメンデルなんかのトレッキングシューズを履いていて、そのまま山に行けそうな人たちばかりでした。足元を見るれば、マデイラ旅行の目的と真価がわかるというもの。心ゆくまで自然を感じて楽しむことなんですね。

自然遺産に登録されている山の麓まで、ホテルの電動車を借りて行きました。

  • マデイラ島の照葉樹林
  • 。。。下につづく

コラプソロジー 再考「人類が永遠に続くのではないとしたら」

フランスの抗議運動は、8週目に入った。

マクロン大統領の側近、バンジャマン・グリヴォー報道官の発言がかえって火に油を注ぐことになり、昨夜、黄色いベストを着た抗議者たちが政府施設の入り口をブルドーザーで打壊した。

言うまでもなく、黄色いベスト運動の背景には仏国民の怒りがある。 (マクロン大統領が富裕層を優遇するのは、最初からわかっていたはず。彼はロスチャイルド系列会社の出身ですよね)

燃料税引き上げの反対をきっかけに、労働法の改悪、税制改革、中低所得者へのしわ寄せ、年金生活者の負担、生活費の高騰、格差の拡大など、さまざまな不公平が目に余る。さらに追い打ちをかけるような気候変動・環境の異常さ。人々が現システムのほころびに気づき始め、大統領へのつもりつもった不満や怒りが噴きだしたという感がある。

。。。下につづく

Cheers to the year 2019

Cheers to the year 2019 as it gives us the opportunity to do better at home, work and play.

As in previous years, there were irreproachable and rough moments for me in 2018. The latter has been due to being in France at this time of constant grassroots demonstrations due to economic difficulties caused by political decisions and indecisions, such as regular increases in taxes. Meanwhile, France’s the 2018 World Cup (soccer/football) champion.

During the first two weeks in December I was coming home later than usual and walking a kilometre or so farther because bus drivers were instructed not to enter the city centre to avoid being hit by the demonstrators’ stones. These protesters adopted the name “yellow-vest movement” after a social-media campaign that urged people to go to the streets wearing the high-visibility “emergency” yellow jackets (In France, a yellow vest “gilet jaune” must be carried in every vehicle). Initially, they were against the rise in duties on diesel, which had long been less heavily taxed than other types of fuel. Their causes have since widened to include issues concerning education and employment. Do protests work? Well, the French government was forced to scrap the unpopular fuel tax rise. As well, it promised an extra €100 (£90; $114) a month for minimum wage earners. On the other hand, there were ten deaths and many people were injured and properties destroyed.

The reported sightings of drones caused havoc for about 200,000 passengers a fortnight ago at Gatwick airport (LGW) outside of London. A member of my family was impacted and had to travel the following day at a different destination that incurred additional expenses and longer travelling time.

Urban vs rural ... even in chess

After 12 draws in classical games, Norwegian Magnus beat American Fabiano Caruana 3-0 in the rapid match in London two days ago (29/11/18) retaining his world chess champion title.

This year’s Moselle (France) Regional Chess Championship was held in Bliesbruck from November 1 to 4. Unexpectedly and unfortunately, only a quarter of the usual 80 chess enthusiasts turned up. I felt sorry for the organisers who evidently spent enormous time and resources to make it happen successfully. The main reason I heard was: Bliesbruck is out-of-the-way place. At least one person phoned and asked for the number of registered participants and when he found out that there were only 20, he said “There aren’t many, so I’m not going there”. If everyone had that mentality, there would not have been any tournament.

The newly renovated venue was spacious and well lit, has all the necessary amenities, and is situated in a green surrounding with ample playing fields for the children (e.g. football, basketball and tennis). The playing equipment and materials were comfortable, and everyone was made welcome. It’s an ideal place and condition for a chess competition. But, where were the other players?

Bliesbruck is a small French village located in the north-east of France, in the district of Sarreguemines which has a population of slightly over a thousand. For me, it was an opportunity to be away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Sensible globetrotting

The 29th of September was a fantastic Saturday. It was sunny, which was ideal for outdoor activities, and peaceful. My friends and I opted for a 10-km walk that brought us to scenic, quiet places in three borders (France, Germany and Luxembourg).

We left our dwellings at 1:30 PM for the French village of Contz-les-Bains where we joined the 60 men, women and children eager to do the bush hike. The weather was conducive, the company was great, and the organisation was flawless. Above all, I felt close to nature, especially with the absence of “western” toilet.

Considering that there were some steep and sloping areas, we did fairly well. We got to our destination and came back in one piece feeling proud and wanting to do a similar undertaking soon.

What impressed me most was the Saint-Jean-Baptiste chapel, which was built in the first half of the 15th century and whose choir is classified as a historical monument. We passed by Stromberg, which used to be a place of exploitation of gypsum and dolomitic stones. We also stepped on grounds that lead to a village known for the Schengen Agreements which got rid of borders in most of Europe.

After the walk, I had the opportunity to talk with the organiser, who gracefully explained the principle and modus operandi of "Just Boarded". I liked what I heard. They organise small adventures that respect the environment and give fair remuneration to everyone involved, particularly the local hosts and guides. In short, for me, it’s a sensible tourism in which you are a responsible traveller and not an insensitive tourist.

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