Short one today, only 9 minutes left before midnight. The specter of radiation escaping in the water has everyone worried. More than before. Bottled water is scarce again, and the government is pleading for people to remain calm. I underestimated the number of foreigners leaving. It is 8 times the normal rate of 20,000 a month for last year. I don’t know anyone that has left Japan because of this, but all my friends really consider this home, as they have been here at least 20 years (26 for me, and 33 for our longest-termer). We are starting up the new school year on Friday (the Fool’s day). We have hired 3 new part-timers. Wonder if they will show up.
Today we had a greatly curtailed graduation ceremony, with the 200 from our department only, and in a venue for 600 instead of 3,000. The ceremony was mercifully short, only 45 minutes instead of the bladder-busting marathon of 150 minutes (2.5 hours).
Oddly, I found it much more intimate, relaxed and fun. The students were enjoying seeing each other and they didn’t have megaphoned cattle herders yelling at them for pictures and the like. We broke down into seminar classes, which are small, and said our goodbyes. I only had one student this year, a real firecracker, and she said, “Let’s hang out when I come down to Tokyo.” She lives about 100 km (60 miles) away from the Reactor, and lost her job because of the earthquake. She landed on her feet, though, and snagged one that paid better and had less hours, with more chance for advancement in the long run. Nimble pays.
The other negative feeling is the energy situation. There simply isn’t enough electricity to go around. All of the non-essential escalators have been turned off. Lots of ad signs are being darkened, and the rolling blackouts are having a big effect on business. The scheduling of the blackouts is getting better, but people know things will change soon, but not for the better. The electric bill we now pay had a hike in the rate (I think it is 15%), and they are looking at using daylight savings time. Did you know there is a whole line of wind generators right next to the Fukushima nuclear site? They swayed in the earthquake, slowed, and automatically stopped. They a few minutes later automatically started up again (except for the one nearest the plant). That is not being advertised a lot here. Geothermal is another resource.
Nuclear, though, is, overall, a very safe source of energy. Much safer than coal per btu. Kind of like airplanes and cars. But the focus in the near future will be on conservation. I teach all my classes in a computer lab. I wonder if I’ll have to start sharpening up the chalk and banging erasers [shudder].
The steak at Outback’s defeated Julia, but she finished her dessert. Last day of being a teen. She is ready to move on. Making the application to Leeds is proving to be more difficult than expected. The university makes her do all the forms, then confirms with Leeds that she was accepted and then pays the tuition. So she has to read something very carefully, and with big consequences. That increases comprehension tremendously. She has chosen a very light schedule, which I think is wise. Best place to learn is outside class. She saw a video of a prof there, and could not understand a word of his accent. She is wondering what she got herself into…
My sister Ginger took my daughter Anri to the airport in Denver, and put her on a plane to her cousins in Portland. Haven’t heard from them, so it looks like she made it.