Saturday, March 26, 2011


The current project up to the beginning of the week. I have had to stop work on the main section of my extension and focus on the area where my roof joins the main building. This junction was not well handled by past artists so I am having my own go at creating a weatherproof joint. At top right you can see a steel fence arrangement with a cross shape. The bulk of that has now gone and I have made a cut into the entire frontage of the concrete and tile veranda into which I will pour a new sill with a lead flashing embedded into it. This will spill any rain onto my roof and thence harmlessly onward. I am also constructing a roof over the small veranda to keep most of the rain from getting to the surface. If you look in past the curved bones of my new frontage you can see the existing set of glass doors, which will eventually be ripped out to give way to a new aluminum sash that will run most of the width of my new bit. I was standing on the terrace when the recent big earthquake hit, and as I said I thought at first that it was the force of the wind on my cover tarp hoisting the whole deck skyward.
I found that I had some really unreliable panorama software from canon and after searching for a substitute found ICE from microsoft, which proved to be very easy to get going. I reduced the image to 20% for the blog, but perhaps once the work has progressed I might put up some more detailed pans. The frontage of my new roof section is about 8.6 meters and the height to the fish bones of the new roof about 2.6 meters. In Forefox click on the picture to zoom in and then click again to zoom more.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Minor ranting

Off to work as usual in a moment. Just wanted to share this link. It is a Japanese page run by a guy with his own Geiger counter in Hino. There is a recent reading chart and a reference from last year. So far some spikes and waves, but nothing to panic over.
I don't want to be a pacifier, the situation is dire in certain areas here, but neither do I want to be spreading panic. My subconscious led me to a 10% investment in solar power I think that was an accurate representation of my lack of faith in the government run system actually continuing to function. Glad of the power during power cuts now. I am down to 50% faith and will act accordingly.
I suspect those with grid tied solar panels on their roofs are seriously regretting not learning how to disconnect and use the power at home. Why it was not government policy to make these homes a store house for energy in the case of an emergency is beyond me, but they did not and all the power generated is now being dumped in to a dead grid during power cuts for the provinces to keep Tokyo fed with power, |I bet there are some panels lying idle where the devastation is at its worst.

If you are in contact with people in the disaster area, here are a few things I think I would be doing if I were there.
Gathering anything dry as insulation for sleeping in school gyms, drying wet stuff for later use. Also hanging that around the walls of the refuge and on the floor to keep warm, usually these buildings have no insulation. Don't be dumb, consider the fire hazard, but keep warm.
If you are without power, look for some insulatory gloves and a spanner or pliers and go out hunting for intact car batteries. Ask the local forces on the ground for help to do this, if they don't give permission find somewhere to do it anyway, but suggest that they make areas from which property can be removed for use and keep a log of what is moved if necessary. You might want to check for cars with inverters too. Small inverters are more common these days, they will power normal AC 110v equipment. Phone chargers are very common. Dry out all electrical equipment before attempting to use it. If you have no phone charger etc, look for wrecked bicycles with dynamos for lights and get pedaling. You can put pins through the wires of the positive and negative leads on the dynamo and then through their buddies on the battery you want to charge or figure out some way of holding the wire ends on to the battery terminals, clothes pegs etc. Lithium ion batteries all have protection circuits in. If you are worried for the owner, leave a written message with contact details.
If you have no drinking water make a wood burning brazier by whacking holes in a steel can or bath tub, boil snow or collect rainwater in the cleanest thing you can find, steam out the stuff you are going to drink from first. If you are not blessed with precipitation, look for steel or aluminium sheet and errect that where steam from sea water or urine at the worst being boiled will condense on it and collect drips for drinking. As long as it is cold enough plastic pipe will work too.
There are a lot of resources around and the forces on the ground with authority should be liberating these for the use of civilians when the government is not performing. This is not looting it is survival.
Tsujimoto Kiyomi, one of our treasured government ministers complained that American forces should have asked before performing an air drop of food and emergency supplies in the midst of the devastation. The term baka onna (idiot woman) is not normally used in polite circles, but she deserves it. She should have been asking for air drops not complaining about not being asked for permission to drop. Apparently air drops are against the law here. Seriously. She will be complaining about the people eating food in the school gym next. They are refugees misses this is not a back to normal next week situation.
Here is that link again for direct information on radiation in the Tokyo area.
By the way, I think France should be ashamed of their attitude of flying out their citizens while others are flying in assistance, perhaps this didn't happen, but it was reported on the news. Afghanistan sent 4 million yen in aid to the worlds third biggest economy, how human is that? I am back from a day working on building what I hope will be something beautiful, I am doing what I can. Please do what you can to help where you are even if it is not at all related to what is happening here.
I believe it is time for an end to the battle for power over which taxable infrastructure will be next and a new start where we all have a piece of the whole to take care of so that when it all goes pear shaped we can help each other out with what we have left.
I hope that Japan will see that this is a huge opportunity for this country to lead the world into a better considered way of being, at present it is a slagging match of blame between those in power who are just as much in the dark as we are a week after the earthquake struck. Much of which they have probably spent without sleep. Their job is to keep calm and consider what is to come next, not panic about who gives permission to whom.
News agencies are also in my black book, they could be doing a lot to help out by broadcasting solutions to the problems that exist on the ground, not just gawping at them. What do you do if you find a body, how can you best prevent or intervene in hypothermia, let's review our CPR technique, all valid topics. Instead the most frequent question for the refugee"What do you not have that you need most". Some kind of ironic humor there for the chaps in the warm studio.
Ah well, more ranting tomorrow I guess.
PS, to Mr Hogg on the BBC, people in Tokyo are wearing face masks to keep out the cedar pollen, not the radiation. They are eating seaweed for the iodine to keep the radiation out of their thyroids, but apparently they should stop that as it can be bad for you to eat too much, and as shown in the link, radiation is not yet at harmful levels. Please broadcast something useful.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Sorry for the lack of posting on here. My mind is being compartmentalized by the events around me. Thankfully my family is currently intact. The area where we live suffered severe quakes, they were of a different kind than I have experienced before. Like the experience of being in a big quake while in a tall building. Large slow movements. These caused a minor tidal wave in the reservoir nearby and I guess all bodies of water will have been affected as severely, from the sloshing I witnessed in our garden pond to the wide pacific.
There has been no mention of damage to hydroelectric facilities as the nuclear situation is taking all our minds for a walk into hell, but I surmise that there are men in helmets with probing fingers creeping through tunnels to check the nooks and crannies under dams across the country.
Meanwhile in other mental compartments we are buying yeast to make our own bread as shortages in those kind of easily consumable food stuffs emerge here. Hopefully this is because these resources are being channeled up to where people are in need. I may have to abandon traveling to my job site in the 600cc petrol driven truck and commute on the electric bike instead as petrol shortages are becoming more severe and I want to keep a little in reserve for emergencies. The fuel oil we use for heating water is growing short also, so I may have to bring my workshop boiler that runs on firewood online for home use.
I have been getting on with the building project I have on hand at present and there too the logistics of obtaining what I need are playing through the mind while I watch the events unfold in Fukushima.
One of the lesser problems is the lack of decision making power among those with their fingers on the switches. So far we have only lost power after the initial quake, when we were blacked out for 12 hours. We have been promised rolling power cuts, but so far the scheduled time has come around and the power has remained on. So planning work around them is proving to be frustrating. For me this is not a big issue as the work will get done in the end, but if you are turning yellow waiting for your next trip to the dialysis machine it must be a cause for finger tapping at the least when you are told to stay home only to find that the power was on after all.
The last major quake to the south of us back in 1995 was very badly handled and at that time I was working on the renovation of an old house a hundred kilometers or so away from the epicenter. We saw the damage on TV and the way that people were failing to make any headway in getting to those trapped in rubble and seriously considered driving down to help out with crowbars and whatnot, but we would have had to stock up on food for ourselves and may even have been a burden. In the current emergency there is little hope of survivors as the major damage was from water and the subsequent fire. A more complete devastation it is hard to imagine, but perhaps nuclear fallout is our next fate.
The way the wind blows may give some relief and hopefully the design of the reactors will help to limit damage, indeed it may prove to be the west coast of America that suffers most in the long term , but there can be little doubt that we are in the shit when the prime minister is assuring Tokyo Electric that he will make it his mission to see them bankrupt if they withdraw their technicians from the site, which appeared to be their intention at one point. I think he was miffed that TEPCO had released information to the press before him, we are teetering on the edge of impoliteness, which is saying a lot in the land of the inscrutable.
I sincerely hope that the events here will not be labeled as only applicable to earthquake regions and the nuclear option will be crossed off the list forever. Whatever spurred the uprising in North Africa should spur all to oppose the magic cure worked by the genie in the bottle that must never be let out.
Geopolitical turmoil is as nothing to the threat from this invisible enemy. How meaningless is the exchange of national debt when one is in danger of soiling ones planet unto ashes.
The first frogs began to chirp yesterday and I can't help wondering if they had delayed their actions with some sense of premonition. They are usually out singing in February. The pestering of the pretty plum blossom by Mejiro and other small birds in search of nectar is also a source of some balm. The regular Great tit nesters are going away with empty beaks in their search for dog hair to decorate with this year after the demise of our homely hound but they are moving about in pairs in a most admirable sense of fervent optimism that we must strive to emulate.
P.S. another trial passed by the roof structure, still standing intact.