Posts Tagged ‘Earthquake’

A TV Highlight

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

I caught up on some tv tonight.

The highlight of the 10 o’clock show from last week (warning – as usual it’s a bit sweary, but also contains some really good analysis of the week’s news) must be Charlie Brookers statement that “Nuclear Physics is being explained to me by people who struggled to describe the colour of Kate Middleton’s dress last week”.

Yes, I know, I’m still focusing on Japanese stuff. But it’s perfectly normal; it’s still kind of on my mind a bit.

The Register speaks again

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

I can’t resist drawing attention to another article in the Register which is not so much about the actual problems at Fukushima, but more about the media reporting of it. Having sat in Tokyo for a week and seen some of the hysterical scaremongering that terrified my family, while governmental and other experts told us that we would be fine, I like this. The media has an agenda these days, and it is seldom to provide comfort or reassurance. Of course, the Register has an agenda too (they seldom say anything nice about my company), but I think they are more right than wrong on this.

Oh, and if anyone is interested, my slot on 4thought on Channel 4 will be on Wednesday evening, at 7:55.

Fukushima in context

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Just read this article in The Register, which tries to put some of the ongoing reporting of the issues at the Fukushima nuclear reactors in context. Thankfully, it is quite reassuring.

Yet more crazy media stuff

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

I had assumed that once I got back home from Japan, life would quickly return to normal, and I would no longer be of any interest to the media. But I turned out to be wrong, as Channel 4 were in touch the day I got home, asking me if I would be interested in contributing to their 4Thought series. These are the very short programmes that come on after the news on Channel 4, that cover moral, ethical or spiritual subjects. Starting tomorrow (28th March), they are doing a week of programmes about the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

I really wasn’t sure about this, but when their interviewer called me up and talked to me about it, they seemed very keen to have me. It turns out that they wanted to have a spectrum of views, across various religions and backgrounds, and it would seem that I am the representative of Christianity. I’m sure there must be someone better qualified than me, but I guess I have an interesting story for the tv.

Anyway, off I went to London on Thursday, to record my bit. We talked for something approaching an hour, and the finished programme will be no more than 2 minutes, so there’s a lot of cutting involved! I can’t say I am looking forward to seeing the results – I just hope I didn’t make an eejit of myself, and that I made a reasonable case for my faith. Needless to say, in the face of a tragedy like this, there are no easy answers.

So if you’re interested, do tune in. I don’t know what day I will be on at this stage, but I’m sure they will all be interesting. Well, I’m confident the other four will be interesting anyway! Mine I’m not so sure about…

Tokyo – The way home

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

As yesterday’s post said, my journey home turned out to be more difficult than I had expected. Our reasoning turned out to be correct – Virgin had indeed sent their flight crew to Nagoya rather than keep them in Tokyo.

But that’s not what I wanted to write about.

The flight out of Tokyo was not very busy – there were lots of empty seats on the plane (despite press reports of people fleeing) and once everyone was on board, I was able to move up and take a seat at the exit, with lots of lovely legroom. A Japanese gentleman did the same. He was a former reporter with very good English (and fond memories of Ireland), so we chatted for a while. He couldn’t believe my earthquake story of being up Tokyo Tower. And I couldn’t believe his earthquake story either. I’m sure he won’t mind if I repeat it here.

When he retired, he bought a boat to sail around the world single-handed, which he did. He was still living on that boat, as he hadn’t been able to sell it since his voyage. He was at a shop when the quake hit, and took cover out the back in a garden where there weren’t electric wires to come down (a danger I hadn’t considered, but one that must be significant when you look at the power cables strung along each street in Tokyo). When the shaking stopped, he raced off to make sure his boat was okay in the tsunami he now expected. The first wave of the tsunami broke 4 of the 5 mooring ropes, leaving him with just one, but his boat was still intact. He left the boat again to seek help getting it secured when someone pointed behind him to where the second wave was coming. He saw his boat go into the air, and come down, and break. At that, he ran for higher ground.

He spent a few days in a refugee centre, but not unsurprisingly it was pretty depressing, so he headed for his brother’s in Tokyo by train. He made it most of the way (including detours through the Fukushima exclusion zone), but once he got to Tokyo the trains weren’t running for him to get all the way, so his brother had to come and get him in his car. With the petrol shortages, they weren’t sure they’d make it back, but they did. He then headed for the airport, and booked a flight to London, where I think he has family.

His boat wasn’t insured (apparently you can’t for round the world trips at his age), so this is a man who I guess has lost everything he had. It made me realise that everyone on that plane must have had their own earthquake story, of where they had been, and what had happened. A sobering thought.

But I wish that guy well for the future.

Tokyo Day 12 – a change of plan

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

After speaking to my dad yesterday, and continuing to get messages from people asking why I wasn’t coming home, I decided to talk to Virgin Atlantic yesterday. Previously, I had only looked at their web page, because I wasn’t seriously looking at changing my flight, and it had shown that my flight was not changeable, and I’d have to book a new one for over £2000.

However, when I spoke to an actual human being, and told her I was in Tokyo, she was able to help me, and offer me a flight for Monday at no additional cost. They couldn’t sort out my Belfast connection, but I was able to do that myself. So in the end, better marks for Virgin Atlantic, who were helpful after all.

On to the next question – why am I going home early? I am not leaving because I feel I am in danger from radiation. I am not leaving because I am suffering in the aftermath of the quake. I am going home because my family are worried about me, and it’s probably selfish for me to stay any longer than I have to. Added to that, it is my mum’s birthday on Wednesday, and being home for her birthday seems like a really good idea, under the circumstances.

I do feel bad for leaving early. It’s another person leaving Tokyo, which starts to make the tabloid frenzy about people fleeing Tokyo look correct. But I’m also only one person, and I’m only leaving 2 days early.

And let’s face it, I’m not helping anyone by being here, but it might help people if I go home.

Tokyo Day 11 – Life by the river

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Today, we decided that since we believe it is safe to be out and about, we might as well go out. So we went cycling down by the river (there’ll be more about Japanese bikes in another post). We probably went about 5km down the river and 5km back, so we got a reasonable view of life.

People are back to work, doing the things they usually do. Other people were out walking their dogs:

There were lots of small dogs in silly dog outfits like this one. Other dogs looked more sensible.

This guy spent ages lifting dog poo with newspaper, making sure he got every tiny bit of it.

Meanwhile less disgustingly, other people were stopping to photograph the cherry blossom.

Cherry blossom season is very big in Japan, and under normal circumstances, the media would be tracking the cherry blossom line, as it progresses through the country. A number of people stopped to take pictures of this cherry tree.

And there were lots of other things I didn’t photograph – the folks playing tennis at the tennis courts, the guy practising his guitar on a park bench, the guys kicking a football. Plenty of people out and about, doing normal things.

And today’s shopping update – bread and milk are now back in stock in the supermarket, though there was no chicken or fish (but it was later in the day, and they may have just sold out).

Still no panic, still no empty supermarket shelves here.

Tokyo Day 11 – it’s been a long week

Friday, March 18th, 2011

The quake happened just a week ago. It feels like longer – it’s been a long week.
This morning, we find that for the first time, Japan has fallen to second place in the news on BBC World, which is good news for us. The plant having stabilised isn’t nearly as newsworthy as a plant that might blow up and do something exciting for the watching media
So we’re actually thinking of going further than the shops today!

Tokyo Day 10 – did you feel that?

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

This morning I was introduced to the fascinating concept of the banana equivalent dose, which tells us that bananas are radioactive enough to produce alarms in radiation detectors. Someone told us that the background radiation in Tokyo was “about a banana”, which was hilarious, and puts so much of the media scaremongering into focus. I thought that the comparison with the elevated background radiation in the Mournes was a good analogy, but a comparison with the fresh fruit section in Tescos is even better!

Meanwhile, we are starting to feel some of the effects of the level of shaking that we’ve received – my sense of equilibrium seems to be shot to bits, and I can no longer tell whether I am moving or not. I keep asking “Was that a shake?”, and we don’t know until we check the earthquake web site whether it was a real tremor or not. I hope that will pass when I get home, as it is a bit unsettling.

And yet I still manage to miss the real ones! I thought I heard footsteps in the corridor this morning outside the bathroom, and said hello, but actually it was the corridor flexing in an aftershock. I was almost certain there was one just after I went to bed last night, but I didn’t even get up. But I did feel the large ones this evening that set the building swaying again.

Have also decided to get an early night, instead of staying up until 3 in the morning. G’night all.

Elsewhere on the internet

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Marty wrote a new post here.

And Karen wrote one here.