A collection of various latest things:
Both the French and German embassies have officially recommended (via postings on their embassy websites) that non-critical citizens leave Japan.
American Embassy homepage recommends following local Japanese government recommendations.
For once, the American advice is sensible.

The Fukushima nuclear reactor situation continues to suck. Water level in the #2 reactor dropped significantly, exposing the fuel rods and possibly causing a partial meltdown. However sea water is again being pumped in, and the water level has risen once again.
It is utterly FUBAR, but again the worry of Japan turning into an irradiated lump of char off the coast of Japan is grossly over-stated.

Tremors and earthquakes continue. Anything smaller than 6.0 is now a complete non-event; "Oh looky, building is swinging again...what, call it a 5.5? Nah, 5.3...sushi for lunch?"

Kids' school is closed Monday and Tuesday, just so they can make sure the building is safe. Also huge numbers of foreigners are simply leaving, so some international schools are just closing for weeks at a time, with no students. Will find out tomorrow if our school will open on Wednesday or not. Either way, kids are going to the other day care we always send them too when school is closed, so no crisis.

Scheduled blackouts continue to roll  through the greater Tokyo area. Central Tokyo's 23 wards (with the exception of Arakawa Ward! Who did THEY piss off?) are unaffected. But trains are planning to shut down, etc. so I suspect work will be another ghost town all week.
Market sold off heavily as expected, nice fat 5.3 earthquake in the middle of the AM session didn't help, either. Probability of various trades and deals getting down goes down and down. Everyone believes in the eventual recovery of Japan, but not so many investors interested in buying in right now.

Mighty Mo has no idea what's up and continues to scream "I GOT it!" and wants to do everything himself. He also likes singing, especially the Totoro theme, Itsy-Bitsy Spider, and the alphabet song, sort of.
Tonchan definitely knows something is strange; she is incredibly clingy, wants me to carry her all the time, and needs to sit in my lap whenever I am home. At least I am coming home early enough now to have dinner with the family, put everyone in the bath, and get everyone to sleep. My buddy says his daughter (in the same class as Ton) is the same way. Kids know!


I needed to sign up for twitter in order to follow some interesting developments.
I am @renfieldk
Don't expect much.

another Japan update

(Some facts around the general situation in Japan. Feel free to forward, as much of the international news is confused or often wrong.)

* Earthquake and Tsunami
The earthquake that hit 2:46pm JST on Friday March 11 has been reclassified from 8.8 to 9.0, making it one of the top 5 most powerful earthquakes in recorded history.
Japan has experienced several hundred earthquakes and aftershocks since the 9.0 hit on Friday afternoon Japan time.
Most recently a relatively small 4.9 has struck in the middle of Ibaraki Prefecture, north-east of Tokyo.
Tremblors are expected to continue at least for the week.
The islands of Japan has moved approximately 2.4 meters due to tectonic plate shifting.
After the tsunami on Friday that did most of the damage, tsunami warnings and alerts have been downgraded significantly and at this point there is no immediate concern.
Relief efforts are in full swing, with 50,000 Self Defense Forces rallied together with US military and international rescue teams.
So far an estimated 10,000 people have been saved (including a man found two days after the tsunami, floating on debris 15 kilometers off the coast in the ocean.)
Unfortunately, the official toll of those confirmed dead is 1598, unaccounted for is 1720. The final death toll is expected to top 10,000.
2837 houses or buildings are confirmed utterly destroyed, 2103 partially damaged.
The central 23 wards of Tokyo are generally unaffected, with only 6 casualties reported for all of Tokyo. However transportation and supply lines are significantly impacted, making the movement of goods and people more complicated as time goes by.
Electricity production is also an issue (details below.)
Phone connectivity (both cell and landline) remains sketchy at times; those circuits that are working are generally overloaded. All the phone and cell carriers have delayed billing for at least a week and are providing free messaging and calling services as well as missing persons databases.
Google person finder is also collating information on missing persons: http://japan.person-finder.appspot.com

* Scheduled Blackouts
Approximately 1/3 of Japan's electricity is generated by nuclear power, and the nation's generating capacity has been severely limited. Electricty conservation is a priority at this time.
The greater Tokyo area (EXCLUDING the central 23 wards of Tokyo, where the office is located) and surrounding prefectures will undergo scheduled blackouts in 3-hour blocks starting Monday, in an effort to reduce overall electricity usage.
Market opened on Monday morning as normal (though obviously selling off hard as expected), and now Market Disruption Event has as yet been declared by ISDA, nor is it expected unless the markets close or are disrupted.

* Fukushima Nuclear Power plant
The situation at the Fukushima nuclear power plants is dire but not nearly as catastrophic as is portrayed in the news.
For accurate and timely updates, a good resource is the World Nuclear News Organization homepage:
or their twitter feed:

Reactors 1, 2 and 3 were in operation at Tokyo Electric Power Company's (Tepco's) east coast Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant when the magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck. Three other reactors were already shut for inspection but all three operating units underwent automatic shutdown as expected. Because plant power and grid power were unavailable during the earthquake, diesel generators started automatically to supply power for decay heat removal.
This situation continued for one hour until the plant was hit by the tsunami wave, which stopped the generators and left the plant in black-out conditions.
The tsunami wave that hit the plant measured at least 7 metres in height, compared to the maximum 6.5 metre case the plant was designed to cope with.
The loss of power meant inevitable rises in temperature within the reactor system as well increases in pressure. Engineers fought for many hours to install mobile power units to replace the diesels and managed to stabilise conditions at units 2 and 3.
However, there was not enough power to provide sufficient coolant to unit 1, which came under greater and greater strain from falling water levels and steady pressure rises. Tepco found it necessary yesterday to vent steam from the reactor containment. Next, the world saw a sharp hydrogen explosion destroy a portion of the reactor building roof. The government ordered the situation brought under control by the injection of seawater to the reactor vessel.

Unit 1
Seawater injection continues and it is thought the reactor core is now sufficiently cool. Safety regulators consider reactor pressure of 353 kPa an indication of a stable condition.

Unit 2
TEPCO say restoration work in Fukushima Daini Unit 2 reactor cooling function that was conducted to achieve reactor cold shutdown has been completed and cooling of the reactor has been commenced at 7:13 am, Mar 14th. Fuel rods are covered by about 3.8 metres of water.

Unit 3
Injection of fresh water mixed with boron to inhibit nuclear reactions was started as soon as venting had been completed. However, water levels continued to fall and Tepco began an operation to inject seawater into the reactor vessel.
Operations to relieve pressure in the containment of Fukushima Daiichi 3 have taken place after the failure of a core coolant system. Seawater is being injected to make certain of core cooling. Malfunctions have hampered efforts but there are strong indications of stability.

Measurements around the unit had not detected increased radiation levels. A twenty kilometer evacuation order is in effect and some 200,000 people have been moved from their homes so far. Potential contamination of the public is being studied by Japanese authorities as over 170,000 residents are evacuated from within 20 kilometres of Fukushima Daini and Daiichi nuclear power plants. Nine people's results have shown some degree of contamination.
To protect the public from potential health effects of radioactive isotopes of iodine that could potentially be released, authorities have made preparations to distribute tablets of non-radioactive potassium-iodide. This is quickly taken up by the body and its presence prevents the take-up of iodine-131 should people be exposed to it.
Radiation levels have been monitored across the Fukushima Daiichi and Daini sites. As of 10.00pm Sunday, Tepco said that radiation levels were lower and stable. The maximum level detected on the 12 March was at 3.29pm when levels reached 1015 microsieverts per hour.
At Fukushima Daiini unit 3 one worker received a radiation dose of 106 mSv. This is a notable dose, but comparable to levels deemed acceptable in emergency situations by some national nuclear safety regulators.
A seriously injured worker was trapped within Fukushima Daiichi unit 1 in the crane operating console of the exhaust stack and is now confirmed to have died. Four workers were injured by the explosion at the same reactor and have been taken to hospital. A contractor was found unconscious and taken to hospital. Two Tepco workers "felt bad," the company said, during operations in the central control rooms of units 1 and 2 while wearing full masks.
Two workers of a 'cooperative firm' were injured, said Tepco; one with a broken bone. A Tepco employee who was unable to stand and grasping his left chest was taken to hospital.
The whereabout of two Tepco workers remains unknown.

reality check

Yes, we continue to be fine.
For the record, Tokyo is over three hundred kilometers away from Sendai. The earthquake in Tokyo was big and bad, but thanks to some of the most stringent building codes in the world, anything built in the last 20 years in Tokyo is utterly safe.
But enough about me, let's talk about YOU, and what YOU need to do; two very important things:

  1. Stop wasting precious communication resources. Electricity is lacking and phone service is still quite sketchy. I know that sounds terribly harsh, but no more harsh than a 9.0 earthquake and 10 meter-high tsunami.
    There are thousands of people whose location and status are unknown. THEY need the cell connection more than you. There are literally millions of people with little or no electricity (and no water because the pumps are electric, no gas because the meters are electric, etc.) so stop wasting it.
    If you need to find someone, check the google person finder.
  2. Instead of sending "thoughts" or "prayers" or anything else that makes you feel good, send money. As much as possible, directly to the Red Cross or any other similar agency that turns that money directly and efficiently into saved lives. Again, harsh? My family and I are fine, tens of thousands more are not. Your thoughts don't help, sorry. Send money. Now. As much as you can.
And finally, stop worrying about the imminent nuclear meltdown. It simply won't happen. I am a huge seller of nuclear power, but really it isn't and won't be that bad.
Though it may in fact give birth to Godzilla, the nuclear reactor tragedy will not irradiate Japan. Read this, then read it again. Then filter all the crap on the news through a thick lens of fact, reality, and physics.

Then go donate more money; you have plenty of it, and several thousand families now have nothing but mud and broken dreams.

Mug cakes

Mug cakes
Originally uploaded by renfield