A trip to Fukushima

This week end, I and my wife will visit a hot spa in Fukushima Pref, where we will spend the weekend. On Sunday PM, we are planning to  see our second son there. He is studying medicine over there. My wife is so cheerful like a pupil before going for a school excursion. I should have had such a trip with her before. A friend of mine made fun of me, when I told him about this trip, saying that the toilet paper roll runs faster when it is run out. I was not very happy with that comparison with our lives. But it is true the blessed time left for us is getting shorter. I am pleased I could compensate the loss of our lives from now. We are planning to attend the W7 FOC event in the last week end of next July as well. It would be the trip abroad first ever for us.

Fukushima Pref is a farming as well as a fishery area. It is a very beautiful countryside with grand view of mountains as shown in the picture. I have driven up there often for the past couple of years. One reason of the frequent visits was to see my old mother in a facility in Miyagi, north of Fukushima, who passed away this spring. I also have been to Fukushima itself to meet my son. The scenary was always overwhelming to me. The mountain range looked not sharp but broad and gentle. I felt as if I were embraced by them whenever the mountains appeared before me. I was always feeling relaxed and soothed watching them.

As it was repeatedly reported, Fukushima Pref , especially the coast area, has been very badly damaged by both the big tsunami and the nuclear plant accident Mar this year. The area surrounding the plant was seriously contaminated with the fallout. The people in the area could not come back home yet. Maybe, a town or two might disappear with the habitants evacuated somewhere far away. It is a too sad  event. We should never forget this fact. The mountain area, inland from the ocean, is less contaminated. But the habitants are struggling against the fallout as well as the critical situation for the economy etc. I feel so sad that this peaceful area should undergo such tragedy. My wife and I will see the area up there this week end.  Have a nice week end, everyone!


The governmental predicition system hasn't worked out.

Yesterday, a mother with a couple of children, one infant and the other toddler, has come to see me at the office. She was worrying about the radiation to her children due to the nuclear plant accident. I told her this area has been relatively spared with the fallout of the radioactive substances through the nuclear plume.  Around the time of the accident, however, she has had the children stayed at her parents' home south of here. That area turned out to be relatively heavily contaminated with the radioactives as the contamination map in this post shows the flow southward.

There is no data published of the contamination for the 10 days or so after the accident. It is highly suspected that there has been heavy contamination occuring in the areas in the two directions from the nuclear plants; one is the most disastrous contamination in northwest direction. The people around the crippled nuclear plants were told to evacuate this way at that time. That is, they went to the most densely contaminated area. The other direction of the plume headed to south along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. It was not so dense as the first route but still made spotty fallouts down to Chiba and Tokyo.

Wasn't is possible for them to avoid being contaminated by the fallouts? Yes, the SPEEDI system could predict it in the beginning. This system acts for radiation contamination prediction in case of severe accident of nuclear plants.  It had been designed, established and maintained by a governmental agency spending over one hundred million Yen for years. It could work for this case. But they haven't published the data for the people involved. Later, the governmental agency excused that they hadn't had enough data to make accurate prediction. This could never be the reason. Later inspection revealed the prediction by the SPEEDI at the time of the accident had been fairly accurate and reflected the actual contamination. If they had had the data enough, it should  not have been a prediction but an actual measurement. The prediction was really necessary for the evacuees to lessen the chance of radiation.

 In reality, some evacuees had gone, as told above, to the northwest area that has been revealed to be contaminated in the worst manner later. In the southern area, the people did not know the fallouts were occuring on them  and have never evacuated anywhere or, at least, haven't taken any measures to avoid radiation while the fallout went on, like this mother and her children.

Why did the bureaucrats or the politicians let them know the prediction? There could be a few answers. Our bureaucracy has been a tight system where they won't do anything without precedent cases. They could not do any thing in such a disaster which they had not expected. They are willing to publish least facts or data to the people in a kind of paternalism. They are apt to control the people by the biased information. The most probable reason may be that they tried to lessen the apparent external radiation level, that is closely related with the compensation for the late sequelle of the radiation.

The government or the governmental agency responsible for this predicition has kept their mouth shut regarding this issue. The person responsible for this issue should be brought to the suit. It is a crime of non compliance to their responsibility.

 I was pleased to know this mother became aware of the danger to have nuclear plants in our earthquake rich country and she had started action against any nuclear plant. It seems the people has learned what they should do at present.  


On QRP operation

Tom, W0EA, raised a question in the reflector of CWops. His question is explained in detail in his blog. He wonders if QRP operators could not go QRQ. He seems a young CW lover operating only QRP. I have replied to him in this way shown below.

QRP singnals are always weak in DX. Their signals could be buried in noise. The dots are especially vunerable to static noise. QRS enables the receiver to copy those signals since the dots won't synchronize with the pulsatile noise. The same thing occurs in the low band DXing where signals are not very loud while the noise level is pretty high. With the long span QSB, QRQ is beneficial to be copied. But it is an exceptional situation.

Tom's will to learn QRQ is very precious. He might be a leader in CW communication in the world in the future. I would like to recommend him to listen to QSOs in QRQ. It is not a fun at all in the beginning. But listening actual operation in QRQ is the most fundamental and effective to learn copying QRQ. Reception ability is much more important for CW communication than transmission. If one can't receive and understand the message from the sender, there won't be any communication. Listening actual QSOs in QRQ may be tough due to QRN or QRM but could be the only place one could be accoustomed with the real QRQ. The PC program or the other modern methods of learning code won't give this kind of chance to learners.

In addition, I would emphasize that QRP operation requires much knowledge of operation, for example, the band conditions, the way to get through the noise, the simplest way to give the necessary info to the station being worked with  and so forth. It might be the ultimate technique of operation on CW. Rather few QRP operators, I guess, realize this fact. Signing /QRP after own call might be an example that the operator is not aware of this. For receivers, this excess of info is quite a trouble to copy the call of QRP operator. QRP operators should imagine how their signals go through to the other side. The relationship between them is not even but much biased.

I always feel thrilled to work with QRP guys and would like to seek Tom somewhere.



Until our 2nd son left home for his study in another university last year, we had asked a lady to prepare supper every plain week day for years. We owe much to her. Our children might recall her recipe as their "mother's taste" in the future.

Since then, I decided to prepare supper for my wife and myself everyday. It is sometimes difficult for me to get back home early enough to do that. But I still find it quite interesting to cook meals by myself. I am cooking only as the recipe tells. How efficiently I spend the time for each process depends on me. It requires an ability like that for an experiment in science. Cooking and eating meal together with family also make me feel deeply bound each other. It might be a hidden recollection that our ancestor has harvested crops or hunted animals for meal together with family members in old days. I feel I surely live together with my loving ones when I cook and take dishes together.

One of my latest dishes is shown below. Mackerel boiled with soybean paste and sake etc. Soybean paste brings out the rich taste of Mackerel. It is a typical home recipe in Japan at this time of a year.

If you are not cooking by yourself, I believe, you are missing one of the most delightful things in your lives.


Decontamination process and its problems

The wide areas of Fukushima Prefecture and the adjoining Prefectures have been polluted by the radioactive substances from the crippled nuclear power plants. It is tricky the pollution has occured in a spotty manner. Even if one place turns out to be free from heavy contamination, the adjoining spot a few hundreds meter away could be highly contaminated with radioactive substances. Since the detailed measurements of radioactivity has been done, contamination maps are available in many areas now.

The people of the contaminated areas have started decontamination procedure with the assistance by some groups or NPOs. I believe they were striving for the safer environment for the children or the pregnant women. Some areas turned out to be really hazardous for living even 50 or 60kms away from the disatstered nuclear power plants. The local or central governments were, again, slow in taking this action. However, taking it as an important issue, the governments have started it as well. The expence for this program is estimated up to over a trillion JPY.

It could be a hard way to accomplish this decontamination process. One problem is that the present procedures like washing concrete or the other structures with high hydropressure water could not be enough to lower the contamination. The recent research by Prof Uchiyama of Kobe Univ has reavealed. it and has proposed to replace the surface of the concrete structure and so forth. It means replacing the infrastructures of the areas to new one. It might cost an astronomical amount of money. I am afraid if this observation is true, in some areas they should give up living for many years.

The other problem is where and how to keep the contaminated materials. Our government has determined to maintain them at the contaminated areas. It is puzzling if it is possible to do that for decades or more than hundreds of years without any secondary contaminations. We still need technical break through for this issue. At present, it is still a quite tough problem, I believe.

I hope the peoples in the other countries to learn that the nuclear power plant is made up with a real defective technology and that once it suffers from a real severe accident, it may burden you in this way. We should support the peoples in the affected areas for a long time from now on by ourselves here.     


Accept it as it is.

I have repeatedly written that there used to be a number of old timers, mainly in the US, who were willing to work on CW with the beginners in the other parts of the world. Slowly and with much patience. A lot of beginners might feel that the window was open to the world for them. It was in 1960s for me. Whenever I watched 40m CW late in the afternoon or late at night, there were some old timers from the US on the band. They were never reluctant to let me join the round table or to start QSO with me.  Even though I was a real beginner as for the command of English as well as CW proficiency, they were patiently spending sometime with me. They were real elmers for me. I could remember a number of those people instantly with fond memories, like Ed WA6UNF, later, K6NB, Ralph WB6BFR or Ray WA6IVM and so forth.  I am sure there were a lot of newbies who enjoyed the QSOs with those old timers and were kicked to be good CW operators.

Nowadays, there are much less elmering old timers. I scarcely hear any long lasting chats or round tables on 40m when it is open to DX. It is only the contest style QSOs, or at best, the rubber stamps going on. I won't complain of this fact. This might be a trend in amateur ham radio activities nowadays. No one can do much for this change. But I just wonder what has brought forth it. And all we could foresee is losing the human aspect of CW communication in amateur ham radio.

The elmer-generation, that is, the retired people at present, might have spent the days of computer and internet evolution in the societies before they get retired. CW could be only a series of symbols for them. CW should be too slow to communicate with and has had too many uncertain factors as a communication method. They could use it as a tool of game. In games, it is not involved in anything human. Just competing the speed and the quatity of QSOs. The guy whom he/she is working with could be replaced to a software in such situation, I am afraid. In stead, they could communicate with the others by e mail without any uncertainty now. Those retired might have this type of past and present histories. I suspect this is the reason why the old fashioned elmers have gone away.

It might sound to have been repeatedly discussed again and again everywhere. For those remembering the good old days, with sigh and disappointment. No solution for this problem. Rather, it is not a problem we should do with but just a historical phenomenon. Whenever I fail finding anyone for a decent QSO on the air, I am feeling this way. Accept it as it is.


The financial crisis

I was interested in the news of the demonstration in the Wall Street in NY. A thousand of people have been going on demonstration over there, as the news says. No detail of their claim etc was reported. But the fact it is the financial center of US where they are may mean that they are against the bank/investors as well as the government and its agencies.

There are so much amount of defective credits dispersed everywhere by the modern financial technologies. No one knows where and how much they are. It results in the shrinkage of the credit in US and the related countries. Despite that the US government is pouring a big amount of USD into the enterprises in financial crisis, it won't work out. The financial system acting up due to the shrinking credit in addition to the recession cycle seems responsible for the mess at present.

The drastic financial crisis cycle hurts the lives of those in the developing coutries as well as of those in retirement anywhere. We may need to look for a paradigm different from the market fundamentalism which is ruling US and the other developed countries.

Do I misunderstand the present situation of the mess? This issue seriously involves my life in retirement.