Whuh? There's still a blog here you say and people occasionally stumble across it in (what I assume to be) their drunken, lurching quest for distraction on the internet? Shit, balls, expletives, I better start writing it again. Eight months off is probably enough.
PEOPLE! Have you heard about 'The Curious Case of the Non-Existent Centenarians'? I'm sure you have, my folks knew slightly more about it than I do when I spoke to them yesterday, including the juicy tidbit about the dude who was carrying his mother's bones around in his backpack. Aliens have abducted a significant number of the elderly in Japan!
Eh? Not abducted by aliens? Merely shuffled off this mortal coil undetected by local authorities, or had their passing covered up by their offspring due to social security fraud? Oh - well that's a lot more believable. Although rather shabby.
But fear not: Japan listens, observes and finds a way to make things better. Or rather appliance manufacturer Zojirushi does with the Mimamori Hot-Line range of hot water pots:
Some of you may not be following so well, in which case I direct you to the TV commercial on their website here. That too, I admit, is rather confusing, so let me break it down for you. The pot sends an email to a designated address when it's used, thus you know that your granny is still at least alive enough to make tea. In the advert the middle aged son at home checks his mail to find that his mother hasn't used the pot today. "Oh, she must have gone out," he sings (horribly) and of course she's come for a surprise visit, bringing his wife to attention because that whole Mother-in-Law thing is universal.
At work today someone also told me about a town in which these kind of human 'dead man's handles' are attached to TVs in elderly households, so if they don't push the button every day someone will come round and check on them. It's all remarkably smart, and while it doesn't solve Japan's elderly problem it certainly helps to have an idea of extactly how many of them there actually are...