Friday, April 08, 2011

Nuclear Reactor Boy had a Tummy Ache

I’ve been meaning to update my blog for a while now.  But unfortunately I’ve been stuck.  
There are a variety of reasons as to why that has been.  While working on a post a few weeks ago the Sendai Earthquake and Tsunami occurred in Japan.  Being a ‘Nippon-phile,’ I wanted to say something about it, but couldn’t figure out what I could write about that wouldn’t be a rehash of what other people were already saying.  Also, frankly, I’m having trouble with this whole ‘blog-thing’ to begin with.  I hear and read that it’s something I ‘ought’ to do as a writer.  To build an audience, etc.  But how to approach it has been difficult.  Is this like a news report, where I need to verify every statement I make?  On a writing pod-cast, I Should Be Writing, I heard someone say that it should be a dialogue, a conversation between you and your readership.  Having so few things in print right now, and no novels to promote, there is a silliness factor to it as well.  
But the idea of a conversation makes the most sense to me.  I like talking to people.  I like hearing what they think.  I like telling people what I know and have learned.  For the most part, though, I don’t write this blog in the same way I talk to the people I run into in my daily life.  I think that might be part of what is making me stuck.  
So…  I’m going to treat this blog a little bit differently.  I won’t do as much research on what I’m writing about.  Not unless I have some specific point to prove.  I’m going to talk to you more, whoever you might be.  It’ll be more like notes in bottles.  Interactive notes with hyperlinks to videos and pictures, floating in a bottle that will reach every shore of the world simultaneously in the instant I hit ‘publish.’  
Here’s what I’m thinking about now…
I saw this animated video online shortly after the earthquake in Japan, when the problems with the Fukushima nuclear power-plant were beginning to mount.  I believe it was made by TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) that owns and operates the Fukushima plant.  It’s directed toward small children and was made to educate them about what was happening at Fukushima and help allay their fears.  
The video tells the story of Genbatsu-kun (Nuclear Power-plant Boy).  It seems that, after the earthquake, Genbatsu-kun got a tummy ache.  it was such a bad tummy-ache that Genbatsu-kun felt like he wouldn’t be able to hold in his ‘poop’ (nuclear material).  Doctors (the power-plant workers) were giving Genbatsu-kun ‘medicine’ (boron and sea water, to cool the reactors) to make him feel better.  Occasionally, Genbatsu-kun does release a little fart (radioactive isotopes detected in the air), but so far his farts don’t smell that bad.  
I enjoy this little video quite a lot.  It’s very Japanese.  For one thing, I now know the Japanese words for ‘poop’ (うんち or unchi) and ‘fart’ (おなら or onara).  These are words you don’t normally find in textbooks.  The video also assumes that people “trying their best” to fix the problem should be supported, and that with that support they will succeed.  This is also a very Japanese way of looking at things.    
I’ve heard that a few days after this video was posted, Japanese mothers started posting to the site showing it messages that they weren’t going to show it to their children anymore.  It seems that Japanese children who watched the video would strain to prevent their bowel movements for the sake of the people of Fukushima.    
Last weekend, TEPCO announced that they were going to dump 110,000 tons of radioactive containment water into the ocean.  They were doing to do this in order to use the containment tanks to hold the water pumped into the reactors to cool it down.  The cooling water is now several thousand times more radioactive than the containment water, and would be far more harmful to the environment if it got into the ocean.  That’s the reasoning behind the decision.  
For a sense of scale, 110,000 tons of water is about what would fill three of the swimming pools they use in the Olympics.  The Pacific Ocean has about a trillion olympic size swimming pools worth of water.  
I wonder if they’re going to make a sequel about Genbatsu-kun needing to pee.  I already know the Japanese word for ‘pee.’  It’s おしっく or oshikku.  Would they say that Genbatsu-kun’s ‘oshikku’ burned?  That would make it sound like a video on syphilis, wouldn’t it?  That wouldn’t be appropriate for children, I don’t think.  
I was talking with my Dad last week about the trouble with the reactors at Fukushima recently.  He thinks everyone should leave the country.  He believes that the radiation from the reactors will slowly spread across all of Japan and make the islands uninhabitable.  Intellectually, I know that isn’t the case, but it’s hard to argue with the fear.  I sent a message to one of my Japanese friends in Tokyo, asking her how she was doing and if there was anything she wanted.  Her reply was ‘anzen.’  That’s Japanese for ‘safety.’   


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