There Must Be Something In The Water

You usually hear the phrase “there must be something in the water” when people or animals display peculiar behavior patterns, but we never really take it literally because we assume that the water we are drinking is safe and free from contaminants.  But in light of recent events, we really can’t be too sure anymore that there isn’t something strange in the water.

The Japanese government announced today that the tap water in the Tokyo area and surrounding cities is not safe for infants, as the level of radioactive iodine in the water exceeds what is considered to be safe for consumption by infants under the age of 1.  Since we are in Yokohama, we are still pretty safe; our levels have yet to reach the high numbers that Tokyo is getting, but is it a matter of time before we’re affected too?

Personally, I don’t trust the Japanese government to tell me the full truth, and  I do believe that there is a cover up to prevent an onset of widespread panic.  Having said this, am I really that concerned?  The answer is yes, and no.

I don’t believe that there is an immediate concern.  We aren’t going to die tomorrow, or from drinking one, two, five, ten, or hundred cups of water.  However, I am very concerned over the long term effects that this may have on Haru.  Although she is hardly an infant anymore, she is still a growing child and susceptible to long term effects from contaminants (especially radiation) that she consumes now. I don’t want her to have thyroid cancer ten or twenty years from now from having consumed radiation tainted water, so in that respect, I am very concerned over the long term effects to her health.

Tonight for the first time ever, we allowed Haru to drink soft drink with her dinner.  99.9% of the time, we drink water, but since we can’t trust the government enough to tell us the truth about the safety level of what we’re eating or drinking, and I  don’t believe that the water is 100% safe to drink, we made this exception, which made her of course, very happy.




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Haruka’s Nuclear Homecoming

Haruka and her mom came home tonight.  It was a very difficult decision to make as to whether I should allow them to come back considering the circumstances.  As it stands, food and water is pretty scarce, and radiation levels from the damaged reactors in north-eastern Japan are showing some affects in this area as well.  Additionally, aftershocks and scheduled blackouts still plague the whole region, so making the decision to have them come back was not done lightly.

Although Haruka seemed to be having a lot of fun visiting her grandmother and her cousins in west Japan, apparently she was homesick most of the time.  I really didn’t understand the reasoning behind her homesickness, since her mother was with her along with our two dogs, but apparently she missed me, and that was main reason for the homesickness.  Right now, we are all pretty much on standby mode.  If the situation gets any worse than it is now, we plan to leave the region and stay with my wife’s parents.  I really don’t want to do this because it really does turn our lives upside down.

So how grave is the situation?  No one really knows.  The Japanese government reassures us everyday that situation is under control, and that although radiation levels are higher than normal, its still well in the “safe” range.  However, I see conflicting reports saying that there is  cause for concern, and that people should be wary of consuming food from certain regions.  I am not so worried about myself as I am worried about Haruka.  There may be very little short term effects on her health, but there is plenty to be concerned about on the long term effects.  Most likely, if I see any more reports of raised radiation levels in my area, I will send Haruka and her mom back to west Japan, and stay her to try to finish up my work.  Once my work is done, then I will also leave.



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OT: In the Midst of Chaos

It”s been crazy, to say the least. It’s amazing how one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, can become a third world nation overnight. No food or water at the stores, long lines to get supplies, power rationing and scheduled outages, no gas, public transportation crippled during peak hours, and bone shaking aftershocks in the middle of the night currently sums up the situation now.

Japan has gotten a lot of praises for being a nation of model citizens in times like these because there has been no violent crimes or looting, which usually takes place after major disasters like this. As a matter fact, there have been reports of vending machine owners opening up machines and handing out free drinks to people to help out. For the most part, I agree that Japan is a very admirable nation in that respect. However, there is one thing that Japan is extremely guilty of which is really starting to affect the many, and that is hoarding.

Within 12 hours of the first M9.0 earthquake, it became absolutely impossible find bottled water ANYWHERE.  It’s wasn’t as if buildings crumbled  and that the water was shut off, and yet people here felt compelled to run to the super market and hoard.  I agree that in the aftermath of a natural disaster, it is important to reasonably stock “enough” food and water so that you can survive a week or two, but there are bounds of reasons for everything.  Buying out whole shelves of milk for example is completely illogical.  Milk is a perishable food that cannot be stored for long periods of time, so whoever decided to stock milk is a complete idiot and just made it difficult for everyone else who really needs it.

Transportation has been steadily getting worse, because the company that owns the troubled nuclear power station in Fukushima prefecture, started rationing power to different areas of the country, while other areas are left completely without power for 3 hour blocks.  Being a very power hungry nation, Japan highly depends on electric power to run its vast network of commuter trains.  Without these trains, the nation is pretty much crippled. People are unable to get to work or home, traffic lights cease to function cause mass gridlock on the roads, and homes are without heat and electricity for several hours at a time.

Luckily for me, I live in an area which seems to be exempt for the schedule outages.  I am not sure what the reasoning behind this is, but I am not complaining.  Some have speculated that its because there’s a large community of senior citizens in this area, including senior citizen homes, so a three hour outage may cause too much grief and hard-aches among the elderly.

Unluckily for me, I depend on the bus system to take me to the station every morning, and this morning I found a sign at the bus stop saying that they were limiting service from this day forward.


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M8.8 ⇒ M9.0!

We had a MAJOR earthquake today.  I am so use to earthquakes in Japan, that even moderately big earthquakes that make some people cringe with fear, don’t phase me.  But today’s earthquake was different.   I actually feared for my life as I crawled underneath my desk and just hoped that the ceiling didn’t fall on me.

Since our three executive managers were in Singapore on business, the head of Operations, the HR director, and myself (the head of IT) were effectively senior management for the Tokyo office, therefore it was our responsibility ensure the safety of everybody in the office and lead the building evacuations, and business contingency operations.  I remained pretty calm through the ordeal on the surface level, but in reality, I was fearing for my life as the building rocked and swayed for what it seemed like an eternity.  Even when the big one stopped, several little ones continued to turn our building into a swaying monster as it creaked and crawled for several hours.  People were on the verge of panicking as images 20 ft tsunami’s swallowed whole entire neighborhoods as we all helplessly watched it live as it happened on the news.   Luckily, the only real damage that happened in our office was a few ceiling tiles that fell, but it was enough to frighten several people.  As I write this, the building continues to vibrate and shake at times, but not as nearly as bad as it did earlier today.  Unfortunately, the people up in Miyagi prefecture are  not as fortunate, as they continue to get pounded with fierce aftershocks and tsunamis.


Luckily, my wife and daughter are safe on the other side of the country, where they are visiting family.

Miyagi…our hearts and thought are with you!!

just to give an idea of how much these buildings sway.

Fast Tube by Casper

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