Adjusting To A New Sleeping Schedule

I have never had any trouble sleeping, whether it was at home, or visiting some place new or even in the car. Usually when I fall a sleep at night, the next time I wake up is when my alarm is going off — I have been fortunate enough to not have the need to get up for water or bathroom break at night and sleep comfortably enough to not wrestle myself awake.

Additionally if you were to talk those closest to me, they would tell you that I can sleep on command which is often very helpful when I am traveling. When I used to work in Canada and would travel back and forth to New Jersey every month or so, I would often fall asleep on the plane before take off and be jolted awake when the wheels of the plane hit the ground upon landing.

My typical routine within the last year or so was getting five to six hours to sleep at home coupled with power naps on the train (each way) while on my 90 minute commute to/from work. So when I was moving half way around the world, I didn’t think that adjustment to a new timezone would have much of an impact on my sleeping schedule.

My travel time to work is a bit shorter here with no room to sleep while commuting but in theory, if I go to bed at roughly the same time, I should be getting more time to sleep. However, three weeks into this assignment, I still find myself waking up at odd times during the night and still not getting a complete night’s sleep on a consistent basis.

Typically I don’t need a lot of sleep but I do need the consistency and am hoping to get that sorted out pretty quickly. As for those of you international travelers that might be reading this, any suggestions?


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Earthquakes

Naturally Japan has a long history of earthquakes and seismic activity because it is located near major tectonic plate boundary and is also on the Pacific Ring of Fire.

As of about an hour ago, here are the latest statistics from the United States Geological Survey regarding earthquakes (greater than magnitude 1.5) that have occurred relatively near Tokyo, Japan:

1 earthquake today
3 earthquakes in the past 7 days
8 earthquakes in the past month
66 earthquakes in the past year

Since we landed 7 days ago, there have been three of magnitudes 4.5, 4.9, and 4.7, although I have not felt any of them personally. Given the fact that the first one this week happened on my first day of work here (it was a magnitude 4.9), it is probably a good thing. Using the statistics above of the previous year, that comes about to an earthquake every 5 or 6 days… which pretty much means that we have already had more than our fair share of the week so hopefully some quieter weeks to come.

Japan has definitely taken extraordinary measures over the years and requires most households to keep a survival kit (ours included) which consists of essentials like a radio, a flashlight, a first aid kit and enough food and water to last for a couple of days. Our introductory packet included a notice about an early earthquake detection program that notifies if an earthquake is imminent and cautions the residents to take cover.

By no means does this mean I am walking around waiting for the next earthquake to happen but it also doesn’t mean I am oblivious to the fact.


Welcome to Japan: A Peek Inside My Stay In Tokyo 3   Recently updated !

Table of contents for Faraz In Japan

  1. Welcome to Japan: A Peek Inside My Stay In Tokyo 3   Recently updated !
  2. Earthquakes 3   Recently updated !
  3. Adjusting To A New Sleeping Schedule 3   Recently updated !

As promised, here is an update from my first 72 hours since leaving New York on Friday morning. I will add some pictures in this post to highlight some key things I am writing about but visit this page for my entire photo album from my stay here in Tokyo.

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A ‘Welcome to Japan’ sign is one of the first things you see at the airport after getting off the plane

 

Saturday morning, we were guided through a short tour throughout our community in Tokyo and were shown local supermarkets for our everyday needs, some places to eat/shop and how convenient it is to take the Tokyo Metro to move about the city.

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This is a view of what a typical living room looks like in our building.

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There was a nice welcome Starbucks package containing coffee, popcorn and pretzels when we first arrived into our rooms.

Prior to even considering a role that would move me half way around the world, one of the first things I did was do a little research on the availability of halal restaurants here. I found that there were specific restaurants that only served halal food but I was not prepared to see halal items on menus at your regular, local restaurants and supermarkets here. This welcomed surprise will certainly make it easier to have a more balance diet here.

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I have been more than surprised at how conveniently halal items have been available whether at the supermarket or at a restaurant.

Since we have been taking the metro during off-peak hours, it has been relatively easy to figure out our way around the various lines and where to transfer/exit. Based off of a mere two days of experience riding the metro, I think it has been a relatively easy process to figure out way around the various lines and there are probably two main things that our subway system can learn from the process here:

1) They have very clear signs indicating which train cars are ideal for you depending on your destination or transfer point and

2) There are glass walls/doors on the newer platforms that restrict passengers from accidentally falling onto the tracks while they wait for the trains to arrive. Once the train has ‘docked’ into the station, only then will the doors open allowing you to enter the train with no access to fall onto the train tracks. I can only imagine the number of lives that could be saved and injuries that could be reduced if the MTA and the Port Authority were to implement this back home.

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A nice, calm view looking out from my apartment.

 

As a preview/teaser for my next post, we were greeted with this welcome present on our first day of work. Something to get accustomed to in Tokyo, I suppose.

 

 

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The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You a Terrorist 1

I am going to summarize some pretty terrible and revealing information on how the government develops and handles the names on the “terrorist watchlist system”. The system does not require “concrete facts” nor “irrefutable evidence” to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist, according to a key government document obtained by Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux.

 

Regarding things you post on Facebook or Twitter…

While the guidelines nominally prohibit nominations based on unreliable information, they explicitly regard “uncorroborated” Facebook or Twitter posts as sufficient grounds for putting an individual on one of the watchlists. “Single source information,” the guidelines state, “including but not limited to ‘walk-in,’ ‘write-in,’ or postings on social media sites, however, should not automatically be discounted … the NOMINATING AGENCY should evaluate the credibility of the source, as well as the nature and specificity of the information, and nominate even if that source is uncorroborated.”

 

Profiling categories of people…

While the nomination process appears methodical on paper, in practice there is a shortcut around the entire system. Known as a “threat-based expedited upgrade,” it gives a single White House official the unilateral authority to elevate entire “categories of people” whose names appear in the larger databases onto the no fly or selectee lists. This can occur, the guidelines state, when there is a “particular threat stream” indicating that a certain type of individual may commit a terrorist act.

This extraordinary power for “categorical watchlisting”—otherwise known as profiling—is vested in the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, a position formerly held by CIA Director John Brennan that does not require Senate confirmation.

The rulebook does not indicate what “categories of people” have been subjected to threat-based upgrades. It is not clear, for example, whether a category might be as broad as military-age males from Yemen. The guidelines do make clear that American citizens and green card holders are subject to such upgrades, though government officials are required to review their status in an “expedited” procedure. Upgrades can remain in effect for 72 hours before being reviewed by a small committee of senior officials. If approved, they can remain in place for 30 days before a renewal is required, and can continue “until the threat no longer exists.”

 

Ridiculous amount of unnecessary data collection…

In addition to data like fingerprints, travel itineraries, identification documents and gun licenses, the rules encourage screeners to acquire health insurance information, drug prescriptions, “any cards with an electronic strip on it (hotel cards, grocery cards, gift cards, frequent flyer cards),” cellphones, email addresses, binoculars, peroxide, bank account numbers, pay stubs, academic transcripts, parking and speeding tickets, and want ads. The digital information singled out for collection includes social media accounts, cell phone lists, speed dial numbers, laptop images, thumb drives, iPods, Kindles, and cameras. All of the information is then uploaded to the TIDE database.

Screeners are also instructed to collect data on any “pocket litter,” scuba gear, EZ Passes, library cards, and the titles of any books, along with information about their condition—”e.g., new, dog-eared, annotated, unopened.” Business cards and conference materials are also targeted, as well as “anything with an account number” and information about any gold or jewelry worn by the watchlisted individual. Even “animal information”—details about pets from veterinarians or tracking chips—is requested. The rulebook also encourages the collection of biometric or biographical data about the travel partners of watchlisted individuals.

 

What happens after you have passed away…

Not even death provides a guarantee of getting off the list. The guidelines say the names of dead people will stay on the list if there is reason to believe the deceased’s identity may be used by a suspected terrorist–which the National Counterterrorism Center calls a “demonstrated terrorist tactic.” In fact, for the same reason, the rules permit the deceased spouses of suspected terrorists to be placed onto the list after they have died.

 

How do I take myself off the list…

For the living, the process of getting off the watchlist is simple yet opaque. A complaint can be filed through the Department of Homeland Security Traveler Redress Inquiry Program, which launches an internal review that is not subject to oversight by any court or entity outside the counterterrorism community. The review can result in removal from a watchlist or an adjustment of watchlist status, but the individual will not be told if he or she prevails. The guidelines highlight one of the reasons why it has been difficult to get off the list—if multiple agencies have contributed information on a watchlisted individual, all of them must agree to removing him or her.


Amazon Smile: Donate to Charity for Free

I started using AmazonSmile about a month ago and thought I would share it with you. It is a pretty easy and free way to support any charity of your choice when you shop with Amazon. I currently support the Muslim Center of Middlesex County (MCMC) but you’re able to pick any registered charitable organization and have Amazon donate 0.5% of your purchase price to them.
The only thing you have to do is make the purchase through smile.amazon.com instead. The website will look exactly the same, with the same products and prices but a portion of your order will now be donated to charity instead.
A screenshot of the age is here:
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amazon smile pic
amazon smile pic