Tuesday, 12 April 2011

7.1, 6.3 .6.3 ....

A busy day on the tectonic plates. After last evening`s shake and a couple of hours of aftershocks, overnight there was almost nothing and then we started the morning with a 6.3. It was a bigger shake than last night, not because the magnitude was higher (because it wasn`t, it was lower than last night`s 7.1) but because it was pretty much a direct hit, right under Tokyo. Chiba to be exact which is the eastern part. Narita airport closed immediately, I heard. I was getting ready to go to yoga class and was slightly concerned that the quakes could continue all day but, to be honest, I really wanted to do something relaxing so I headed out at 9am. Several of the city`s rail lines had been temporarily knocked out by the quake but I got a train OK - albeit one that stopped before Chiba - and enjoyed a nice, relaxing class. I`m still very stiff though. It`s one thing to be out of condition, but I feel like a heavy stone, due to being slightly tense all the time. We must be alright though. If Ishihara is correct and this is divine retribution then we`re in the clear. Our class has a photo of the Dalai Lama in the changing room. Could do without the giant crack in the wall though, a reminder of the big one last month.

That reminds me that right after the quake last month one of our class members tried to volunteer for the relief effort at Saitama Super Arena but was turned away. Many, many people turned up to help out but at that point they really needed people with skills, in particular forensic dentists to help identify bodies. Today one class member had a petition which she asked people to sign. It was a petition demanding the closure of Hamaoka nuclear power station which is on the coast in central Japan. "So what then will we do for energy?" asked the other western class member. "We must change our lives" she answered. I can`t see Japan being able to survive without nuclear power. Japan is resource-poor (which is why they invaded the rest of Asia in the Second World War). The only viable alternative would be to buy gas from Russia, and since Japan and Russia are still technically at war, that would be a big loss of face for Japan. I didn`t sign, even though Fukushima is now a Level 7 disaster.

After class I met a student in a coffee shop to write her a reference. In all the time I`ve worked in Japan this has been the worst year for graduate jobs and many students even had their job offers rescinded after the big quake last month. So hopefully this student will be successful in her application to get an internship abroad. I was on my way back home when there was another 6+, this time back up Fukushima way. I didn`t feel it though as I was walking at street level. I recall a colleague telling me that her parents went out very early morning for their walk and when they returned, she was crouching in the destroyed apartment of their 11th story home. They, being at ground level, had noticed nothing. That was in Osaka and it was the Great Kobe Earthquake. We had a 5 a few days ago but I was on a train and no-one noticed anything. Yet when I am at home, I notice all the tremors because I am always sitting at my computer. I get a few seconds` warning because my computer monitor starts to sway.

Marketing opportunity: I have noticed that in any office footage of quakes, people make a grab for their computer monitors. Can`t someone come up with a way to clamp them to the desk? I had mine taped down but it`s inconvenient because I can`t move it around. How about weighing them down with bags of rice? I will try it.

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