Tag: Japan

Lessons Learned from a Cemetery

There are a lot of valuable lessons I learned while recently traveling to Japan.  However, the Japanese culture for burials is one that fascinated me.  Hubby and I spent quite a bit of time in Kyoto in a massive cemetery. This one was close to the Gion district in an area known as Higashiyama-Ku / Kiyomizu.

There is true beauty in the way that the Japanese organize their cemeteries.  Like much of Japan, there are clean lines (architecturally), symbolism and a deep sense of tradition. I was taken aback by the amount of small gifts left at so many of the tombstones.  From cups of green tea, flowers and even Saki bottles!  Many had hanging Ojuzu (Buddhist prayer beads), as well.   As a practicing Jew, I am accustomed to leaving stones at the gravestones of beloved family.  But, a Saki bottle – well that kind of took me by surprise and frankly, made me smile.

I decided to learn about the Japanese customs for caring for their cemeteries. This was a very useful  link,  if you are so inclined to read more, too. ( Funerals, which I did not witness, is about honoring the deceased’s ancestry. )

Related: Burial practices for the Shinto and Buddhist Religion



When the Earth Shakes and Spins! How to be prepared for Earthquakes and Tornadoes!

source: Wikipedia

source: Wikkipedia

If a hurricane hit your home today would have an evacuation plan? If you awoke in the middle of the night to the earth trembling and your home shaking violently- would you know what to do? Green skies are often the first warning of a tornado coming – where should you go?  Dangerous chemicals were let in to the air following a train derailment near your home – would you know what to do and where to get credible information for either evacuation or sheltering in place?

It has been my privilege to work with disaster specialists throughout the United States. They work tirelessly on all of our behalf.

Therefore, in the interest of public safety I will be posting as series of articles about how to PREPARE for potential disasters AND also offer resources for you to learn more.

To start I would like to discuss two very REAL threats to our personal and property safety-  earthquakes  and tornadoes.


 You may think that earthquakes are only on the west coast of the United States or in remote mountain regions of Asia.  But, that simply is false. Earthquakes happen in almost every state in the US and throughout the world, from the islands of Japan to the mountains of China.  In fact, earthquakes can occur anytime, anywhere. Just ask the people of Washington DC who experienced a good size earthquake of a magnitude of 5.8  in 2011 (The epicenter was in Virginia).

Click here to find your area and see if you are in a location of where more than one million registered earthquakes occurred this year. (Approximately 13,000 were a 4.0 magnitude or higher).  States with the most earthquakes? Alaska and California  have the most (no surprise) but you may not have thought of Utah as a top earthquake location?

So how can you prepare for an earthquake?

 What to do during an earthquake?  We use to think that standing in a doorway was the best idea. NOPE.  What about running outside? Not the “A” answer, either. According to the United States Geological Service (USGS) the best idea is to DROP, ROLL UNDER something STURDY and HOLD ON! (View demo video here)

This new safety information is so important that an effort known as the SHAKE OUT will be conducted this coming Fall.  What is SHAKE OUT? Simply it is a designated date and time where as many US and Canadian citizens participate in a  mock “earthquake drill”.  The SHAKE OUT drill will be on October 17th at 10:17 in the morning. (Interesting piece of trivia – October 17th is the anniversary date of the Oakland earthquake of 1989)  To register your family or business for the drill or learn more click here. 

Also relevant and related to earthquake safety is to learn about tsunamis. A tsunami is a wall of water that is created following an earthquake, meteor or other disruption to the ocean.  A devastating tsunami hit Japan in 2011 and resulted in mass casualty and loss of property.  (Read about recovery efforts here )

What to do if there is a tsunami?

 Many coastal areas in the United States now have tsunami warning systems.

However, the most important thing to know about a tsunami is to prepare in advance as where you can that is safe, elevated and within fifteen minutes of your home. This packet of information was very helpful to understand tsunamis and be prepared:  Tsunami Preparedness by NOAA


Tornadoes are a real and present threat to life and property.  Like an earthquake, tornadoes can strike anywhere at any time. We only need to read the headlines of recent events to see how a tornado touching down for a few minutes can cause profound heartbreak.  Moore, Oklahoma now joins the ranks of other towns, such as Joplin, Missouri, Granbury, Texas,  as a place where  giant tornadoes have  pummeled through communities, schools and farmland.

How to prepare for a tornado?

What are considered the “best practices” if you know that you are in an area experiencing a tornado watch or warning?  First, recognize the “signs” that a tornado is coming.

  • HAIL
  • LOUD NOISE, described by some like a “freight train”

What should you do if you know a tornado is a true threat?

Take shelter immediately! Go to a basement, storm cellar, interior room or closet. Stay away from windows. Try to shield yourself from potential flying debris by having something over you. Be sure to have a cell phone (if possible), flashlight and battery operated radio with you.  Here is more information about planning and safety from the CDC


Again, let planning be your friend. The Humane Society published these guidelines for pet owners.

You also can read more from the SPCA by clicking on the photo above or this link.

What if your family member has special considerations, such as uses a wheelchair, has Autism or lives with Alzheimer’s? 

There are many websites and videos (open and/or closed captioned for those with hearing loss) that can be of great assistance and a wealth of information . There are many sites to review, but these are some of my favorites.







What information can I share with my family that is “child friendly”

I really liked this website (in addition to the child resources from the sites mentioned above)

USGS KID INFO (including science fair project ideas)

In the next post we will discuss safety and preparation for Hurricane Season.   Please feel free to share YOUR disaster preparation safety information below. Thank you

 Stay safe everyone!



Louise Satter is a Psychologist who  created the SIGN LANGUAGE FOR EMERGENCY SITUATIONS Series – ASL, ENGLISH and SPANISH.  Read more about how to connect with Louise for speaking engagements, including the DISASTER PREPAREDNESS FOR SPECIAL POPULATIONS PROGRAM (including sign language) and other programs related to safety and the well-being of children and adults with exceptional needs.

CLICK HERE for more information.

411 VOICES Supports Ongoing Relief Efforts in Japan with a Silent Auction

Akiko Yamazaki lost everything on March 11, 2011.  Gone  were the lives of her mother, daughter and countless other relatives when the torrential tsunami  hit her village of Otsuchi,Japan on that fateful day.  Lost were the hopes and dreams of many, including an exchange student who had visited the United States as part of a sister city educational experience with community members from Ft. Bragg, California.  Sharon Davis was one of the many who opened their homes and their hearts to students from Otsuchi and then months later felt powerless as the raging waters left destruction and death to those they had met.  Their story was recently chronicled on a CBS 60 Minutes broadcast.  (Watch below) Sharon is my colleague via the 411 VOICES media network. I also proudly call her my friend.


This Fall Sharon received a few keychains from Akiko. They are made from debris of her home.  This brave woman took what strength she had after such a catastrophic loss and decided to persevere by helping her community and giving them hope. Sharon Davis and I decided to expand her efforts by offering the above pictured keychain (or ornament) as an item for SILENT AUCTION via 411VOICES.com.

In order to place a bid for this keychain (which is about half the size of a credit card), simply send  an EMAIL with your name and the amount you wish to bid to INFO@411VOICES<dot>com  (unusual typing is to stop spammers). The bidding will conclude  at 11:59pm on December 16th (EST).  The winner  will be the person who made a bid of the highest monetary value.  The winner will be contacted the next day via email.  The keychain will be shipped priority mail within the United States by December 20th.

All proceeds go back to Akiko to help survivors in Otsuchi, Japan.

I thank you in advance for your consideration and perhaps your bid. If you are unable to bid at this time, please feel free to share this story with others. (http://wp.me/pSDlj-By)

Read more about Sharon Davis’ experience here

Newspaper article from Ft. Bragg can be found here

Let’s Hear it for the Men! Two great reads: A SPY AT HOME and MAN SHOES

I was on vacation this past week and couldn’t help but notice how many dads (sans moms) were sitting with kids in restaurants, in museums and shopping. Perhaps they were single dads spending their “divided” holiday time with their children.  Or maybe they were dads who were raising kids without moms.  And yet, they could simply just be dads hanging out with their kids while “mom” was doing other “stuff”.  Whatever the reason, it was a pleasure to see dads having real conversations with their children. In honor of hard working and fun loving Dads everywhere- I dedicate this blog.  Also, Moms take note.. there great holiday recommendations here, too!

First up.. two great reads about dads negotiating life through good times and bad .  One if fiction and the other is based on true life.. both compelling and worth your time.

AND.. please take a minute to read the last and most important information on this blog. Thank you.

A SPY AT HOME is written by Joseph Rinaldo who is a parent of an adult daughter with Down Syndrome. However, this fun (with huge exclamation point) read is based on a father-son relationship.   I loved that A SPY AT HOME had loads of “CIA intrigue” while also a human story element revolving around the central character, a father, and his, Noah who has Down Syndrome.

Easily written and a wonderful story, a great addition to any holiday gift list. Best yet.. it was a real find for my new Kindle Fire and made my flight cross country really enjoyable!

You can read more about A SPY AT HOME and perhaps order it here via AMAZON ( I had the Kindle edition): http://www.amazon.com/A-SPY-AT-HOME-ebook/dp/B0033WSVVC

Tom Watson is the Founder of Your Better Life, a company that focuses on empowerment. His personal journey from survival of abuse and foster care to becoming a young stroke victim is the backbone of MAN SHOES, but certainly not the whole story.  It is no wonder that he wrote this inspirational read dedicated to his sons.  MAN SHOES, is written to inspire and help men become better husbands, fathers and sons.

This book swayed from being poignant, heart wrenching, empowering, heartwarming to humorous and quite frankly…simply genius.  Another book with many, many layers… it reads as a love story one moment and a “how to succeed in business” book the other. Easy to read, hard to put down.

Again, ADD THIS book to the list for that hard to buy for man in your life. Here is how you can order it: http://www.manshoes.net/

Read an excerpt here: http://www.manshoes.net/download_form.htm

And, if you are looking for another great tech gift for the men in your life- consider the new KINDLE FIRE.  Easy to use.  Great battery life.  Fun, fun, fun!  And way cost effective at $199 vs. the steeper iPad.  


I am proud to be part of 411 VOICES, a collective of women dedicated to helping others through education and resources.  This holiday season we are hoping to raise awareness and monies for Tsunami relief for Otsuchi, Japan.  411 VOICES member, Sharon Davis (recently featured on 60 Minutes) has been helping her Fort Bragg, California sister city (Otsuchi) with Tsunami relief.  The keychain / ornament featured below is made of wood from a destroyed home. This house belonged to a friend of Sharon’s who lost everything, most of all her mother and sister’s lives.  Yet, she had the presence of mind to help her community to heal by making these wonderful keychains.

We are offering a SILENT AUCTION for this keychain.  The bids can be sent privately to INFO@411VOICES.com  Add your name and email to each bid (plus the amount you wish to bid).  The winner will be announced in a few weeks.  





PLEASE VOTE DAILY HEREhttp://bit.ly/eDy1Jg (simply pick daily reminder)

I has been a really long time since I “campaigned” for any competition. I think my last run for an office was in the seventh grade. I lost- badly. This time I am hoping to compete in something a little bit more hefty than my Jr. HS student council race. I am hoping to have my company, SIGNING FAMILIES™ recognized as one of the Start Up Nation 2011 best mom owned businesses. While it would be terrific to win- it would be even more wonderful to receive exposure for American Sign Language as a beneficial mode of communication for not only the deaf community but those who are within perhaps the Autism, Down Syndrome and Speech Impaired communities ( to name a few).

To date SIGNING FAMILIES™ has donated thousands of dollars of product and instructional workshops to people within the special needs community who could not afford to attend ASL classes or purchase materialsfor their classrooms or homes. We also have taught up close and personal- scores of educators, families, medical personnel and First Responders nationwide. Our DVD- Sign Language for Emergency Situations in ASL, English and Spanish has been heralded as a one of a kind DVD to meet the ASL and Spanish communities needs for fast communication during a natural or manmade disaster.

Our BABY, TODDLER and PRESCHOOL Sign Language DVD was designed to meet the needs of people who want to learn how to promote or augment communication with children by using sign language. It recently won the KIDLUTIONS Preferred Product Award and was represented at Mac World for KIDS 2011.

Here is what we are working on now-

Create a large pocket folder with signs for basic communication on the front and emergency/medical signs onthe back. This folder was requested by people within both the medical and educational communities. We heard the requests and are now in production. Available May 2011.

– In order to help promote literacy among deaf children and foster friendships between children who are hearingand those who are deaf we are creating multiple bookmarks. Our first two focus on school words and social-emotional development words with ASL, English and Spanish. The third will substitute Hebrew for Spanish.  (Have an idea- submit to us anytime!)

Also, SIGNING FAMILIES™ proudly teamed with abcteach.com to create downloadable flashcards and movies for their terrific educators website. To date, we have created for videos which help students and teachers learn COLORS, the ALPHABET and NUMBERS and COMMON SCHOOL WORDS in ASL. Next we will be developing a video for WH? question words.

…And if we can find people who know sign language for Japan we will gladly put together for First Responders and the Red Cross a quick chart to use on site to help communicate with the deaf population in Japan. (Please send any info about JSL – Japanese Sign Language to info@SigningFamilies.com)

THANK YOU FOR READING… now please vote.. today and every day until the competition ends in mid- May. It would be so groovy to get more people taking a sign language journey with us!


ABC News Now, INC, MSN.com, Entrepreneur.com, BizJournals

p.s. A very special Thank You to Karen Geary, my biz mentor, – without her, I would never have had the courage to pursue SIGNING FAMILIES on an international level!


Show Buttons
Hide Buttons
%d bloggers like this: