What's going on here?

I've made a commitment: to do one good deed per day. Large or small, it doesn't matter. Self-sacrificing or not, extraordinary or mundane, it doesn't matter. Just one thing every day, that's all.

The more I do good, the better I feel about myself. Truly, to benefit others is to benefit yourself. I hope this journal may inspire others who also yearn to do good. So join me on this journey, if you will, and think about the difference you can make in your own life.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Everyone makes mistakes

Today there was a festival in my town, and the brass band from Onishika Junior High played.  One member, the trumpet player, is particularly good.  Everyone is always amazed.  But today he completely choked.  Afterward, I saw he was almost ready to cry.

ONE GOOD DEED:  Give my student a pep talk -- everyone makes mistakes.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Need a ride?

On my way home from Rumoi I noticed an elderly lady from my town waiting at a bus stop.  She's a rather eccentric one, wearing kimonos everyday rather than for special occasions, so she's hard to miss.  She's also a devoted member of the community, always helping out in school and town events.

ONE GOOD DEED:  Give an elderly lady a ride home.

Oh, you so did not want to drop that...

Walking home from work, I happened upon a lone photograph lying in the side walk.  It had writing on the back like it was meant for somebody.  "Oh great, I'll deliver this and that'll be my good deed!" I thought.  I picked up and what do you suppose it was?  A picture of a fat, hairy condom-covered cock!  The writing on the back was to some girl, commenting on how to use spermicidal jelly.  "Yikes!" I thought.  "Somebody really does not want this floating around."  I tore it up, and that was my good deed.

ONE GOOD DEED:  Get rid of someone's very embarrassing lost photo.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Trash in Onishika

I'm sure it looks rather funny when I show up to work with an armful of empty beer cans.  "No, really, they're not mine!"  Right...

ONE GOOD DEED:  Pick up beer cans from the side of the road on the way to work.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Nature-based religions survey

I got this survey request and was happy to oblige.

ONE GOOD DEED:  Fill out a survey on Nature-based Religions for the University of Sydney.

Giant plastic thingies magically appear

Maybe they're covers for some kind of garden plant?  Who knows.  Whatever they were, they weren't supposed to be in the ditch.

ONE GOOD DEED:  Pick up trash in the neighborhood ditch.

Monday, May 25, 2009

And pay it forward again

Keep spreading the love.

ONE GOOD DEED:  Give to a neighbor some nice bath salts I got from my friend's wedding.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Pay it forward

...which is better than saying "regift it."  Why do people look down on regifting?  It's a great way to spread the love.  If you get something you can't use, why not give it to someone who can?  It's economical and redoubles the joy of giving.

ONE GOOD DEED:  Give coffee cake and foot massager I got from my friend's wedding to a neighbor who wasn't able to go.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

My student's wedding

A former student of mine got married today. The wedding was in Sapporo at the elegant Keio Plaza Hotel. Like most Japanese weddings today, it was almost entirely Western in style. Yet to the trained eye, a few vestiges of tradition stand out. For example, the bride changes dresses--white for the wedding, and then half-way through the reception she appears in a red dress. This preserves an old tradition where brides wore a white kimono on the first day of wedding celebrations, then red the next day, and another color on the third (now condensed into a single day). I was told this represents how the bride is initially pure (white), and then is colored by the groom with the colors that make her happy. I can't help but suspect this is a vestige of a still earlier custom, where white would have represented physical virginity and red the blood spilled on the bed sheets through consummation.

ONE GOOD DEED: Support my student by attending her wedding reception and giving the traditional monetary gift.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

An open letter to President Obama about Darfur

The following is from the Save Darfur Coalition:

It's become clear that the Bashir regime is not committed to peace—and that peace is dependent on President Obama's leadership.

That's why 41,938 people have already signed our citizen open letter and sent it to President Obama, and why Darfuris from across the country will march in front of the White House Friday and call on the Obama administration to act.

If we can get to 50,000 signatures by midnight tonight, we'll bring copies of the letters with us to the White House. Don't delay!

Just hours left—sign on to the letter now.

In the last two weeks, the Sudanese government prevented Darfuri delegates from traveling to a peace conference in Ethiopia, and appointed a man wanted for war crimes in Darfur as the governor of South Kordofan, a critical border region between North and South Sudan.

And Bashir's regime has yet to make good on promises of unfettered access for humanitarian groups to provide clean water, sanitation and essential health care services.

But our movement is refusing to be silent. Actress and activist Mia Farrow stoically undertook a 12-day fast in support of the people of Darfur. Richard Branson, Peter Gabriel, Representatives Donald Payne and Ilena Ros-Lehtinen, and hundreds of people worldwide carried on when her health forced her to stop the fast.

On Tuesday, members of the Congressional Black Caucus announced they are joining the fast in support of the people of Darfur. And on Friday, Darfuris and Sudanese from across the United States will march in front of the White House and call for action.

These courageous actions are bringing awareness of the crisis to millions. Now, it's up to us to transform that awareness into a powerful message for the White House: we need bold action now.

Sign our citizen open letter—if we get to 50,000 co-signers by midnight tonight, we'll bring copies to the White House!

Thank you for all that you do.


Suzie Armstrong
Save Darfur Coalition

P.S. For more about Mia Farrow and the committed Darfur activists and members of Congress joining her fast, click here.

Donate to Help Save Darfur
Help build the political pressure needed to end the crisis in Darfur by supporting the Save Darfur Coalition's crucial awareness and advocacy programs. Click here now to make a secure, tax-deductible online donation.

Sign an open letter to the president to help Darfur.

Miss the bus--pick up trash

Well, what else are you gonna do with an hour's wait?

ONE GOOD DEED: Pick up trash after missing the bus home from Onishika.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Great Plains Institute for Sustainable Development

This nonprofit works toward accelerated the process of adapting our society to renewable-energy, low-carbon technologies. They bring together key public and private leaders to facilitate exchange, develop consensus, and catalyze change.

ONE GOOD DEED: Raise awareness for sustainable living on Facebook.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Oops, you dropped this...

Sometimes good deeds are simple. You might not even think them worth mentioning, but they mean something to the other person.

ONE GOOD DEED: Alert a person to his dropped glove.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Play Oligarchy for peak oil!

Explore and exploit!

Search, drill, and rape the world's oil fields. Ignore environmental protesters, bribe the Nigerian government, and hire mercenaries against Iraqi insurgents. Oh, and you can the rig the livin' daylight out of elections, too! All from the comfort of your home PC browser.

Play Oligarchy! (and wake up to how this is really happening in our world)

This game was brought to you by Molleindustria, an Italian team devoted to delivering serious messages through games. "Don't hate the media, become the media."

ONE GOOD DEED: Raise awareness for the peak oil crisis by promoting a related browser game.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Trash in Dad's Woods

A retired forester took my friends and I to a place he calls "Dad's Woods." It's a picturesque area deep in the forested hills of this part of Hokkaido. There we picked wild vegetables and mushrooms and took them home for a delicious sukiyaki lunch. I hauled away a bag of trash. It's amazing--so deep in the woods, you wouldn't think there would be much garbage. But so deep in the woods, there are few to pick up what's there. So it stays till you come along.

ONE GOOD DEED: Pick up trash in Dad's Woods.

Down by the river

I feel so lucky to have a river almost in my own backyard. It's public property and lots of people walk or jog down there. Of course that means... plenty of trash.

ONE GOOD DEED: Pick up trash down by the river.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Broken glass

Yikes! Don't want kids to be stepping on that!

ONE GOOD DEED: Clean up broken glass on the sidewalk.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

And more trash

Still plenty of trash around here. Does it grow out of the ground like weeds?

ONE GOOD DEED: Pick up trash around the neighborhood.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

More peak oil

After watching another good documentary called The End of Suburbia, I did some more raising of awareness on Facebook.

ONE GOOD DEED: Raise awareness for the peak oil problem through Facebook.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Trash around the neighborhood

You go by it everyday, and you just keep staring at until you finally decide to do something about it!

ONE GOOD DEED: Pick up ugly trash along the walk to work.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Education survey

For today's deed, I helped out a university student who was doing a survey on education in Japan. I reported my experiences as an Assistant English Teacher here in Hokkaido.

ONE GOOD DEED: Fill out a survey for a university student's project.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

It's Mother's Day

Have you talked to your mother yet today?

ONE GOOD DEED: Call mom on Mother's Day.

Trash over the place

Trashmonkin', trashmonkin'...

I should write a song.

ONE GOOD DEED: Pick up trash at the beach, by the river, and all over.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Peak Oil Awareness

What happens when the world's oil runs out? Oh... uh... well, heh heh, cross your fingers, I guess.

Nearly everything in our modern society is based on cheap energy provided by oil. The gasoline in your car, plastics in your computer, petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides in our fields-- the list goes on. The ramifications for society when oil production passes its peak will be vast, and we could face a long period of serious economic hardship. Extreme scenarios even predict wars, famines, and other symptoms of civilization in decline.

Peak Oil Awareness is a facebook group that is waking people up to this problem. Donations through it benefit the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO-USA).

There are many interesting presentations of the issue, including a documentary called A Crude Awakening and a podcast with expert James Kunstler. And while most discussions on the subject are depressing at best, a note of hope can be found in The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil.

ONE GOOD DEED: Raise awareness and donate money toward the problem of peak oil.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Orangutan Outreach

I am moved whenever I contemplate these lumbering cousins, so like us. I was lucky enough to be able to visit the Rehabilitation Center when I was in Sabah (Borneo), while visiting a friend. I feel so calm watching these giant, peaceful orange Buddhas.

ONE GOOD DEED: Raise awareness for the facebook group Orangutan Outreach.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

PET bottles on the beach

The folks at the convenience know me well. As I bought my lunch I asked for an extra-big bag, and the checkout person said, "Gonna pick up trash on the beach, huh?" (in Japanese, of course).

ONE GOOD DEED: Pick up PET bottles on the beach.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Trash on the way to Ebetsu station

After staying at my former student's house, finally it was time to go home. While walking to the station, I didn't forget to indulge in my favorite hobby.

ONE GOOD DEED: Pick up trash on the way to the train station.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Hokkaido-ben karuta cards for a former student

And today I visited a different friend, also a former student. She's not entering university, in fact she and her husband are now enjoying retirement. She's still got a bit of an old-fashioned Japanese flair -- staying at her house was like staying at a traditional Japanese ryokan (inn).

ONE GOOD DEED: Give a former student a set of karuta cards themed with Hokkaido-ben (Hokkaido dialect, which provokes the same giggles as any good regional accent in America).

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Hokkaido karuta for my Japanese teacher

It's Golden Week -- a consecutive series of national holidays when many Japanese travel. I went to Sapporo to visit a former student who is now getting ready to go to university in California, and my Japanese teacher.

ONE GOOD DEED: Give my teacher a set of karuta cards themed with Hokkaido sightseeing spots.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Trash in the woods

My friend invited us to go picking wild vegetables to use in tempura. While my friends snagged vegetables, I took care of the trash. I'm much better at that anyway. We didn't tempura the trash, by the way.

ONE GOOD DEED: Carry trash out of the woods.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Amazake for the Superintendant

Isn't Amazake a Shinto goddess? No, that's Amaterasu. Amazake is a kind of alcohol brewed from the dregs left over after making Japanese rice wine. It's white and thick like runny oatmeal. Personally, I'm not a fan. Which is why when I received a bottle as a gift, I was happy to pay it forward.

ONE GOOD DEED: Give amazake to the superintendant.