|Subject: update from Lonnie in Tokyo
We really appreciate your concern - it means you care and thats makes
me blush ... golly gosh ...
We are fine in Tokyo. Truly. Monitoring the reactor and prevailing
winds situation constantly.
Stored food and water and camping gear. I have set a limits and margins
for error and an escape route and destination.
Yes, stressingly slow progress in controlling the reactor situation,
but progress none the less.
The constant aftershocks northeast and east of us and strong new
earthquakes north and west are most worrisome.
Last night was quiet for once ...
We are experiencing a conservation mode that inconveniences us spoiled
Tokyoites is all.
Electricity. Some train lines, station escalators, and one side or the
other of street lights shut off at night
look like the city is subdued and in mourning.
The razzmatazz of neon and giant
street corner TVs with loudspeakers selling the latest of the latest is
gone for now ...
Store deliveries ... no dairy, rice, bread deliveries etc. Some
department store bakeries offer a single largish loaf of
special emergency bread each AM until supplies run out.
Gasoline - long lines and limited
purchase of 10 liters after queuing up for 40min to an hour.
(that's only 2.65 US gallons!).
Can you imagine the anger and gun brandishing in the USA ... Here,
A quick true story from the evening news*
An Italian rescue team arrived in Tokyo on their way
They pulled out their Geiger counters and took
measurements for the cameras ... the suspense builds ...
via translators they declare to the news team that the atmosphere in Rome is 5 times more
radioactive on average.
(Thanks guys! Obviously you don't work for CNN or FOXBoobs)
Most of the foreign population listened to those so-called news sources
and ran away bleating; the working class,
expat class, and even some corporate heads who sent word via email that
they had fled.
I don't think they realize that colleagues or their staffs will not
regard them the same if or when they return.
Departure lounges still look like
emergency shelters with the frightened working class desperately
waiting for standby flights;
some complaining about the prices of the overbooked "evacuation"
flights. Evacuation? Some governments should be ashamed (names
(a management staffer told me the head of City Bank is a notable
exception - he instructed all to be sure plenty of cash
was available for customers over the long weekend, be sure IT staff
stayed available and assured he wouldn't be leaving
until everyone left - if necessary) I can hate this bank - but I like
With train service normalizing, I stopped by to visit some foreign
friends at a British pub style eatery across town
last night - the Sunday "carvery" had sold out early.
The owner told me one of his female
clients, a young local lady, had stopped by in tears earlier.
Seems her British fiance of 2+ years (name withheld) left a message on
her cellphone saying,
"I am at the airport. Sorry for the short notice. Be well".
At another nearby establishment a
Irishman was holding court mercilessly ridiculing the 'Cut and Run
of foreigners, especially Brits and "those wannabe Brits, the
Even I became a target since I now
travel with a backpack full of emergency essentials (after all, I was
a Boy Scout and an Infantryman). "Gee, what time IS
that last train to Narita (the airport)?" he called after me
with an exaggerated single-eyed examination of his wristwatch as I
packed up and bid the patrons goodnight.
That brings me to those wonderful folks up north in what we call the
Tohoku (Northeast - actually said 'eastnorth' ) area.
They really are amazingly cool and calm under miserable conditions even
by Japanese standards.
The news videos documenting the destruction are interesting to be sure,
but more so are the interviews with survivors and village leaders.
Many small towns were wiped off the face of the earth - so the
survivors are in most cases the bereaved friends and relatives too.
They have no water - a week without bathing or washing, since supplies
at hand are needed for drinking ...
One video showed a family of four bedding down for
the night in their car, no gasoline, so no heat. Pa and little boy
tucked up front;
and the mother removing the little girl's shoes as
she climbed into the back seat with her, a gesture of habit really,
since the soles of her little white socks were filthy ...
They have no power sources for heat
inside the overcrowded city buildings and auditoriums and schools they
now call home.
Outside one can warm up by the fires kept alight so the damp wood will
burn and makeshift BBQ pits cooking what supplies are available.
These fires are fed by the acres of kindling that were once homes and
shops and fishing boats - their lives.
There is no screaming or wailing or accusing or bickering at all.
There is a sense of community, a resigned stoicism and tears; both at
being reunited with family, friends or neighbors
and at getting confirmed news of the dead.
People bring what supplies they have or have scrounged from the
mountains of debris and deposit it at the community kitchen.
A video shows a take-charge looking woman directing
the other volunteers as supplies are set aside to last the next few
while a healthy stew for the daily meal feeding 100s
is readied - more supplies will arrive - she nods assuring all
There are no police or mercenaries or military protecting the
landlords' possessions on the hill with shoot to kill orders.
Instead those with shelter are opening their homes to those that now
In another video a man picks up what looks to be a
photo of a grandmother and her grandson from the roadside, wiping
from it he says, "I'll take this back to the shelter. Now with
everything gone, memories like these may be of comfort to someone."
Cheers and thanks again,
Lonnie in Tokyo
PS. I know since nuclear disaster seems to have been averted and with
the Americans coming to the rescue to protect
Libyan civilians (yeah sure, and I've got a bridge in Iwate) that Japan
will soon fade from the headlines - And I know it
seems that everyone has their hand out everywhere around the world
these days, but if you can, any small amount will help.
I've put links to the Japanese Red
Cross who have the ways and means for the most immediate relief up on
PSS. Other efforts are afoot to put
funds directly into local hands - but that is for later.
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