To: Crecente
From: Bashcraft

What a weekend! North Korea launched something into the air, parts of it fell into the Sea of Japan, and newscasters got panicky.

At around 11:30am North Korea fired a missile over Japan — the people of Akita Prefecture were warned that it actually might hit them. There were public service announcements blaster over loudspeakers in Akita, and people there packed food, fearing that things could get very bad.

The other worry: the missile could hit Japanese fishing vessels or a commercial airliner.

Thankfully, the North Korea missile did none of those. But for a rogue nation that isn't exactly know for its technical expertise, those scenario seemed very likely. It's like the government there decided to roll the dice and see what it turned up.

Infuriating, really.

That was Sunday. Today was enrolling Mini-Bash in school. We decided not to put him in the swanky kindergarten with a thousand kids and its own zoo. The zoo is for animals, not the children. Instead we've opted for another school that really impressed us without unnecessary bells and whistles.

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Driving back home to blog, I was coming down an incline when a female cop stood out in the middle of the road holding a sign that said "stop" in Japanese. Another cop flagged me over to the side of the road and told me that I was speeding.

I was asked to get out of the car and walk over to where another female cop was sitting behind a machine and a printer, which printed out a piece of paper saying that I was driving a whopping 9 miles an hour over the speed limit — AKA the speed of traffic. "This is a national effort to crackdown on speeding," I was informed.

The cop that told me to get out of the car then ask me to go over to the tables they had set up on the side of the road. Yes, the cops had set up tables — there were four tables, actually.

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I sat down at a table and a copy had me fill out several forms. While doing this, three more people were pulled over and sat at the empty tables. I asked another copy how many people they had pulled over — he said they had lost count.

After I filled out the forms and had my fingerprints taken (?!), another cop sat at the table and started quizzing me, taking notes on a blank piece of paper:

COP: "There's a few things I'd like to confirm."
ME: "Sure."
COP: "You know why you were pulled over?"
ME: "Yes."
COP: "Ashcraft is your last name?"
ME: "That's correct."
COP: "You're from America?"
ME: "Yep."
COP: "How long have you been in Japan?"
ME: "I dunno, eight years or so?"
COP: "What's your occupation?"
ME: "I'm a writer. I was just asked that by another cop."
COP: "A writer?"
ME: "Yes."
COP: "Why did you come to Japan?"
ME: "Are these questions related to my speeding ticket?"
COP: "Um, no."
ME: "Am I free to go?"
COP: "Certainly."

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Not so infuriating, but rather, annoying. There must be better things than these cops could be doing than raising money for Osaka Prefecture.

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