Not much happened yesterday, so there was no Update Day 8.
Was there mismanagement at the nuclear facilities?
The facilities were built up over the years, with the first one being installed by GE, and others by other companies like Toshiba. Tokyo Electric has followed all the government regulations. The 50 guys staying on are seen as heroes right now, and are a result of the Prime Minister putting pressure on Tokyo Electric. The plants may have been constructed too close together. There is a saying here in Japan, “Fix the problem before you fix the blame.” We are still in the first stage on that one.
Is it deserted there?
Even though all the businesses are up and running in Tokyo, the blackouts and uncertainty have caused a great reduction of normal living activity. I liken it to New Year’s here. You wake up on the morning of Jan. 1, eat a very nice (but cold) breakfast and drink some rice wine, and then hang out for 3 days, sitting under the short heated table with a blanket and watch really boring foot races, and contemplate the past year and the year ahead. You eat a lot of tangerines (in season and delicious), and more of the cold food (so the women don’t have to cook). You might venture out to the local hot bath place in the afternoon, but stay at home otherwise. It is kind of like that here. The constant Earthquake coverage on TV is now yielding back to the silly contest shows and melodramatic series. Trains are back up and running at about half the frequency of normal. People will be going out soon.
Are you getting on each other’s nerves?
Maki had us tape up all the windows, then after a shower opens the bathroom to get the steam out. There was a booming sound the other day with the wind, so I had to go buy a fricking ladder and climb up on the roof to see if there might be something loose. I have discovered I don’t really like heights any more. I fall off, try to find an ambulance? Ha. Julia continues to drop her coat on the floor, mistaking it for a hangar. Julia and Maki insist on getting Dexter the cat a harness and leash, and torturing him to try it out in case he needs to go out if there is an earthquake. Me: He’s not a dog. There won’t be enough time to get that on if there is an earthquake. He’s not a toy. Sheesh. Julia: Yeah, but at least we should have some fun preparing for a nuclear explosion.
And complaints from everybody at home. Not out in public, mind you, but at home. Just have to remember we have it really good compared to the people up north. We feel lucky.
How can we help?
There are a lot of organizations out there that are lending support to Japan right now. There are also a lot of fake places accepting money. Stick to the ones you know. Doctors without Borders has been mentioned. While most of the local information is in Japanese, there is ourteacher’s organization that is organizing support on many levels.
Do you see any light at the end of the tunnel?
We are all hoping for a resolution to the nuclear problem soon, and it looks like the reactors are cooling, finally. But the overall effects will be felt for weeks, months and even years. But they are not insurmountable.
Well, better get this off. It is getting dark, and the power will be cut 6-9 tonight. Reading by flashlight under the covers in order. Makes me feel like a kid again. Tomorrow will be in the 70’s. Maybe time try out the new Weber.
Six days since the earthquake, and things are looking very uncertain. Last night Julia and I stayed up until about 2 AM watching TV, and then some House and Glee we got off the web.
We had a much cooler day today, dipping to about 35 degrees (F) at 6 AM when we had our power cut for the first time. Maki had made coffee by then so we had a little warmth as I got up at 7, and as the day progressed. Power on at about 10 AM. We watched in the morning news with the baptism of the reactors by helicopter. It looked very ineffective. It was also just in time for Julia to get up. Maki cleaned and then I took her to the closest shopping center. Shopping here in Tokyo is usually more vertical than horizontal. You get free parking for 2 hours if you spend at least $20 in the stores. The roads were eerily quiet, and for the first time ever, I got a parking place on the bottom of the 8 floors. The bank was having problems with their computers, so I could only deposit the $2,400 in coins (they have a $6 coin in Japan, and Maki has been collecting them for 5 years) to spend on the trip in Hawaii. Have to look forward.
I bought cheese from Europe, and we got a wonderful nice warm baguette, as bread has reappeared for the first time since the earthquake. We got back home to turn on the TV to get the announcement that because of the cold weather, people were using too much electricity, and a second black-out was due at 2. I finished off the book “Reality is Broken” by Jane McGonigal, while bundled up and at the window with the most daylight. I reminded Maki that we had lived just like this in China 20 years ago, when volunteer teaching in Nanjing. After the lights came back on at 5 we sat down with a nice bottle of wine, some soup, and the cheese and bread for dinner, and hung around in the kitchen, with the gas heating, to avoid using electricity.
The temblors continued throughout the day, a little wiggle right now, but with 3 significan shakes in the afternoon, all of which were mercifully short, not enough time to get to the door. The electric company guy said that we are still using too much electricity, and they may have to shut off all the power across the area later tonight. Let’s hope people go to sleep early,as Maki has done.
Now starting the new book by David Brooks about brain, physiology, emotions, and society, called “The Social Animal”. Will curl up under the covers and get up early tomorrow to get stuff done before our blackout from dinner time to 9PM tomorrow. We get blacked out at different times each day. I may ride the bike into my office, which doesn’t have any blackouts (the capital is exempt) to get some work done there.
We got our electricity back in the middle of the night last night. I went to work today. When I returned, I finally was able to see the devastation.
A new worry comes today, but it is still at a significant distance, about 300 miles away.
Radiation in Japan
One of the six power plants next to each other in Fukushima exploded at 4 PM this afternoon. The authorities are still “measuring”, but have expanded the area of evacuation from 10 km to 20 km radius.
Currently the radiation emitting is about 1,000 microseiverts, or 1 seivert, per HOUR. Normally there is about 1 seivert per YEAR. Each Seivert is equal to 100 rems. That is about 10,000 xrays. (1 chest xray = 10 mrem, or .01 rem)
There is a long history of the authorities massaging the data and outright lying to the public in cases like this. We are all watching carefully.
They may have to cut our electricity about 3 hours each day because they have closed most power plants. Nuclear accounts for about a third of electric power in Japan. Gas and water are also rumored to be under discussion for rationing, but those are only rumors.
The Foreign Service institute, the school that teaches diplomats languages, has free courses available. These courses were developed with government money and are old enough (before 1989) to be in the public domain. Although dated, these courses include texts (in pdf) and tapes (in mp3), all ported to the Internet by a wonderful non-profit group. Via BoingBoing. The site was mentioned by LifeHacker and so too many people tried to download at the same time. When the servers are available again, you should check it out, or even Czeck it out. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)