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I've heard stranger explanations, for sure. But, according to the NASA reference, there are Saros 140 eclipses every 18 years or so... what happened to the rest of them? Also, while the Sun-Earth-Moon alignment is only perfectly straight when there's an eclipse (somewhere... not just in Japan), it's not like the planets somehow go orthogonal the rest of the time. There's probably not that much additional pull during an eclipse than what already happens twice every month.

Still, I recall wondering about the relationship myself many years ago so it's interesting to see someone putting some effort into analyzing the data. At first glance it seems to be a serious theory and not just another crackpot prediction. Thanks for posting.

As for last night's quake... if you monitor the JMA site from time to time you'll see that quakes in the 5.x range are fairly commonplace in Japan -- this one just happened to be in Chiba which is why it felt stronger here. We didn't even get an alarm (either from DoCoMo or from the cable company) but it was enough to trip three of my four quake-sensing safety lights (and wake me up, obviously).

BTW, batteries and water are probably more important than chocolate. I don't recall chocolate being in short supply last March ;).
 

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Monday night, actually... 5.2 in Chiba-ken:

Japan Meteorological Agency | Earthquake Information

I agree with your assessment. I've read experts say that Sanriku-oki pushed out the timetable for the next big Kanto quake, some that say it increased the odds and some who say we really don't know enough about the mechanism or have enough data to make a reliable call one way or the other. I'm more inclined to believe the latter.

But, if I'm reading the referred-to web page right, they're claiming they called 3/11 within a week or so and only a few hundred kilometers off. I didn't mount a search on the archive sites to see if they really said that *before* it happened but, if they did, that's a pretty close coincidence.

Of course, with the amount of raw data available today, the chances of finding at least one phenomenon that correlates to large earthquakes is almost 100%, even if the so-called "correlation" is a complete coincidence. I'm skeptical because these guys selected only a specific kind of eclipse and ignored the rest. But we'll see come July...
 

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Apparently, when most people think of "prepare", the image in their minds is one of fleeing the city or living in the local park after their house collapses. The chances of that are pretty slim living in Tokyo (unless, as Rube says, you're in one of those wood shanty districts when the quake happens).

It's more important to prepare for the complete breakdown of the carefully balanced "just in time" distribution system. Combine that with the fact that few people really "prepare" for a quake beyond gathering a few supplies in a backpack (which is OK, it's just not the only thing you should be doing). The result is that as soon as some huge event happens, everyone who's not prepared starts socking away supplies at the same time. That's why we saw bread, water, toilet paper, and batteries disappear off store shelves for weeks after 3/11 -- even though, as far as I know, nobody in the Tokyo area died as a result of the initial quake.

The situation is obviously different if you choose to live near the coast. And no matter where you live, there are likely to be breakdowns in both communication and transportation. But those are just minor inconveniences for most people. And while it's always good to have life insurance if there are others who depend on you -- your chances of needing it because of a quake if you're living in Tokyo are pretty slim. It's the man-made problems after the quake that are more likely to affect you.
 

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Yeah... I seem to recall beer not being a problem. I'm not sure I'd want to rely on beer to keep me hydrated, though, since the alcohol is a diuretic ;)).

One thing that struck me as unusual was that when I was at the convenience store trying to scare up some bread for the wife, I noticed that the bread shelf wasn't entirely empty. There was pretty much a whole box of this one particular kind of stawberry-looking snack cake -- and nothing else. I probably should have made note of the brand or taken a picture. You can't possibly find a better dis-recommendation for your product than having it be the last item left on the shelf after a disaster and still nobody will touch it.

Also, it helps to think outside the box. A day after I struck out on bread, a friend of mine told me she had been buying bread from a small corner bakery a few blocks further down the street and when I checked it out, sure enough... the guy was just pulling several loaves of fresh bread from the oven. Of course, I know I can't rely on that bakery in the event of a huge local disaster but the point is that you also don't have to rely on just-in-time distribution to the chain stores -- pretty much every neighborhood in Tokyo has mom-and-pop shops that supply basic staples and it might be worth getting to know where they are and what they sell (and maybe doing a bit of business there from time-to-time) before the next big one hits.
 
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