Josh Muggins's Blah Blah Blah


March 16 - 28, 2011

The Tsunami Diaries

Note: I composed these posts during Japan's natural and nuclear calamaties in March 2011. Some edits have been made to the original posts, which were written in some haste. -- JM

March 16 (5 Days After): Quake 'n Bake

March 20 (9 Days After): Praise the Lord and Pass the Irradiated Radish!

March 23 (12 Days After): Fantasy Takes a Beating

March 28 (17 Days After): Back in the (Oddly Luminiscent) Saddle

Japan in Crisis! Panic Buying Everywhere!! (Just look at that panic!)
Radiation at 12 Billion Times Normal Level!!
We! Are! All! Going! To! Die!! And!...and...
Oh, never mind...

March 16, 2011

Quake n Bake

You cant imagine how many times I started writing this, either on paper or in my head, only to have events trample whatever fundamental assumptions I was riffing on and force me to start over again. Forget content; even tone was a tough call. I contemplated trying to be funny, taking a somber Walter-Cronkite-pronouncing-Kennedy-dead approach, and everything in between. At this point (Wednesday noon, March 16, aka Day 6), Im throwing out the rule book. To hell with consistence of tone. Screw coherence. There are times when coherent, sensible writing is almost in bad taste, and this is one of them.*


My story

At 2:46 p.m. on Friday, March 11, I was napping. I continued napping as perhaps tens of thousands of my fellow Honshu residents were erased from existence. By pure dumb luck, I was at our farmhouse in rural western Japan, nearing the end of a weeklong visit. More than 400 miles from the worst-hit area in northeastern Japan, we felt not so much as a jiggle.


Our home is a TV-free zone. It was an hour or so after the event that I would first read of it online. The Mugginses back home, Mother in particular, tend to overreact to these little tremors we get now and then, so I fired off a light-hearted email to my sister. After waking up that Friday morning in the Midwest, she would in turn reassure the rest of the clan, as usual. By dinnertime in Japan, reports were beginning to indicate something more than just one of our little tremors, so I sent a less flippant but still reassuring follow-up message to big sis.


None of this matters to you, I know, but for me, the answer to the question Where were you when the Big One hit? will from now on, for the rest of my days, form part of my profile and identity in the eyes of every Japanese person or resident foreigner that I meet, just as their answers to that question will color my perception of them.


Those early hours were a period of exhilaration that I now look back on with nostalgia. Yes, the news was dreadful, but the senses were so overwhelmed with Wow-look-at-that! images as to temporarily short-circuit empathy. The video clips seemed torn from the fever-dreams of a hyperactive nine-year-old recently taken off his Ritalin: Oh, look: houses being dragged across farmland on a wave of muddy water with their upper floors aflame. My, my. You dont see that every day. No-sirree.



Keeping Up

In the absence of TV (and that has been a blessing, I think, all things considered), I soon found the BBC live news feed the most sensible source of news. I have often asserted that, occasional reviews of male-oriented sex toys notwithstanding, this site strives to be family-friendly, so I hope you will take circumstances into account and forgive me when I note that Matt Drudge can suck my cock. And Arianna Huffington can line up behind him. No, scratch thatlet me chew on this a while until I come up with something for Drudge to do that he wouldnt actually enjoy. (Then again, Arianna is holding up pretty well for an older white lady, so Ill leave her where she is.) These two, it seems, will never be satisfied until every single resident of Japan is as properly terrified as they seem to think we ought to be.


Drudge will casually throw up links like Confusion, Chaos Spreading! the oddly hopeful How Bad Can It Get? or Is Josh Muggins And Everyone He Cares About Fated to Die Screaming?”—okay, the last one hasnt appeared yet, but you just waitthough if you can find the courage to click on any of his links, you more often than not find a balanced piece devoid of references to spreading pandemonium or racial extinction.


The Beeb site, in contrast, is thorough, professional, non-hysterical, and oh so teddibly British. Its like the apocalypse filtered through Mary Poppins. I grew particularly attached to the dispatches of a correspondent improbably named Damian Grammaticas. Without a visual to go with that moniker, I pictured him roaming the devastated northeastern countryside in a tuxedo, a martini in one hand and a blackberry in the other. As the focus of the news shifted from nature to nuclear, however, Damian Grammaticas wandered near the problematic Daiichi Power Station and has not since been heard from.


Anybody here seen my old friend, Damian? Can you tell me where hes gone?



My Dark Passenger Speaks

The BBC feed also allows for contributions from Japan-based readers. Several Westerners chime in to report the situation in their part of the country, and before long the expats began to do what expats in Japan always do best, bicker among themselves.


Meanwhile, from some dimly lit corner of my mind came a squeaky whisper: You should say something, it chided. Dont be too cute, but file some reports. Put forth a message every couple of hours. Get the name out there. Sell some books.


I was repulsed by the squeaky whisper. I ignored it, silenced it, and now would like to disavow it. But it was there. I have to admit that, for a few seconds, it was there.



Turning Point

Sunday, aka Day 3, was the turning point. Until Sunday, an unscathed Old Japan Hand like myself, monitoring events from a safe haven, could digest everything the media were throwing at us, unpalatable as it all was. All right, an earthquake has ravaged an area far from where I live. Weve seen this movie before: Kobe in 1995, Chuetsu in 2004. True, this is bigger and nastier, what with the tsunami and the mud-surfing houses. But we know how this plays out: Eventually the aftershocks die down and the cleanup begins. People in the afflicted area have to live in metal sheds for several months, so life pretty much sucks for them. But for the rest of us, life goes on.


Even when the theme of the drama shifted to the nuclear power plant, there was still a jaded sense of been-there, done-that. The phrase Tokaimura Incident of 1999 resonates. Lots of scary news for days, three plant workers seriously contaminated (two of whom would die), beaucoup recriminations after the factbut no real harm. 


To be sure, we had never had the earthquake-cum-power-plant-breech combo platter before, but, well, these things have a way of working out.


That was the carefree thinking up through mid-day Sunday, the day I was scheduled to return to Yokohama but decided not to.


It is hard to pinpoint exactly when the tide turned that Sunday afternoon. It seems so long ago now. Was it the first explosion at the power plant? Probably, but in fact that happened on Saturday. Was it the announcement of electricity rationing? The evacuation from the plant area? The announcement that at least one enormous aftershock was all but guaranteed? Perhaps it was an accumulation of those things.


Somewhere in that mix, a rusty whisperan entirely different voice from the one that had wanted me to exploit the tragedy to promote name recognitionchimes in with the message: This isnt like those other incidents. This one is different.


How different? I ask. Will Mrs. Muggins and I be affected? Even here in the countryside?


You mean, directly and physically? Probably not, comes the reply.


I dont like that probably.


Nothing will ever be the same again.


Thats a pretty lurid, blanket statement. Almost Drudge-like.


Nothing. Ever.



Back to the Present: Day 6

Here in the western countryside, supermarkets are still uncrowded and fully stocked. Tsunami warnings were lifted three geological eons ago, it seems, and since then the local government has made no loudspeaker announcements regarding ocean waves, radiation clouds, or anything else.


At the farmhouse, we have hosted a niece for lunch and a sister-in-law for dinner in recent days. (We cant have them at the same time because they despise each other, dont you know.) In both instances, talk of the disasters consumed roughly ninety seconds before conversation inevitably segued into the usual local gossipy bullshit.


Despite the eerie calm, theres a palpable sense of moving through history. I sip a beer while perusing the Beeb and answering email, frequently pausing to note that I am sipping a beer, as though even such mundane actions assume great weight.


I have kept in touch with my students and, to a lesser extent, with colleagues in Tokyo and Yokohama. Girls admit to crying through the night when the aftershocks hit. Otherwise, they claim to be holding up well. But I sense the stress is wearing them down. They cant take many more days on which the news is worse than the day before. We all seek that golden Day That Sucks Less Than Yesterday, we always wake up expecting it, and always, so far at least, end up disheartened.


Ah, Ive got ita melting nuclear rod: Thats what I want Matt Drudge to suck on. And now that thats resolved, Ill sign off for a while.



* And before any wise-acre can snag this zinger out from under me, yes, yes, to be sure: I am a writer eminently suited to an era that rewards incoherency.



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March  20, 2011

Praise the Lord and Pass the Irradiated Radish!

Lets get this out of the way up front:


In my last post, written during what we can now dare call the Darkest Hour of Japans still-unfolding catastrophe, I made an observation to the effect that internet daimyos Matt Drudge and Arianna Huffington could suck my cock owing to the salacious and exploitative headlines they were posting in a cynical bid to enhance their web traffic. Further along, I bumped Arianna up to the lead-off slot on the basis of her being such a well-preserved older white lady and gave the odious Drudge something less agreeable to suck on instead. (Scroll up for previous post )


Thus far, no regular reader has called me out for this vulgar departure from form; however, as my own traffic has (ironically enough) spiked of late, I can only assume that many visitors, including first-timers, were put off by the comment. Perhaps some have already dismissed me as just another of those foul-mouthed self-absorbed blogger types whose discourse is so famously coarsening our modern world. I can only speculate on your reaction, but would like to apologize anyway to my readers in general and to older white ladies in particularmost especially to those unable to match Ariannas prodigious cosmetic surgery budget. 


But not to Drudge or Arianna, who are both still going at it, hot and heavy. [Apologies for the mental image.] Below are Drudges lead links, archived from the tippy-top upper-left corner of his site on Saturday night, March 19 Japan time, along with an explication of what the intrepid reader actually encountered if he could summon the fortitude to click on them.



Drudge-concocted Link

What it actually links to


Japan govt finally admits radiation leak serious enough to kill

The Daily Mail, a sort of British Drudge Report. The Mail article bears a similarly lurid headline, but offers not a single factoid or quotation to support that headlines claim. Heres the actual quote of the managing director of the power company that runs the reactors, buried far down the page: In hindsight, we could have moved a little quicker in assessing the situation and coordinating all that information and provided it faster.Ooooh! Scary...


Drives back crews attempting to rein in reactor

An outdated, one-paragraph Reuters article in the LA Times. Workers indeed had to retreat from the site a few days before Drudge got around to posting his link. In the meantime, new video at the link shows crews very actively, effectively, and courageously engaging with the reactors.


Very Grave”; Winds Shift

A decent Bloomberg piece that balances good news and bad. Semicolon notwithstanding, Drudge obviously wants us to believe that the shift of the wind is a very grave development, when in fact the quote (by PM Naoto Kan, urging people not to get too optimistic too soon) has nothing to do with weather.


AP: Minuscule fallout reaches USA

REUTERS: Very low radiation detected on west coast

Strip away the scare quotes, and these links become fairly accurate summations of the wire service articles they are linked to, both of which emphasize the utter lack of danger to US residents. By casting doubt on the modifiers "minuscule" and "very low," Drudge milks his first excuse to rattle Real Americans Living in America with what remains in fact a highly localized tragedy.


Rads Whitewash?

Ill admit, this one had me stumped. By Saturday morning, concerns had been raised (by credible authorities) that vegetables raised in the vicinity of the power plant ought to be consumed with caution, so I took this as an admonition to scour our radishes good and hard. But it turns out to be the crackpot website of some crackpot radio host, a varmint even farther down the celebrity food-chain than I am, who is selling the line that governments are conspiring to conceal the REAL TRUTH of the radiation threat from ALL RIGHT-THINKING PEOPLE and that WERE ALL GOING TO DIE TOMORROW!


Storage pools big worry

This uninformative Reuters article bears a nearly identical headline and Well, the phrase a big worry actually isnt a hysterical overstatement of the status of the storage pools for the spent nuclear fuel. Drudge must have been tired. He could have done better by this one. 


That was Drudge on Saturday night. By Sunday morning, the Japanese citizenrys irritating failure to die in a sudden and flamboyant fashion or even to panic photogenically has apparently moved a frustrated Drudge to back-burner us. Also, President Obama ordered missiles fired into Libya overnight, god bless him, thereby reminding Drudge who his Real Enemy is.


Enough of this dreary media criticism. Here are some odds and ends at the outset of Week 2 of Japan in Kinda, Sorta, Quasi-Turmoil.


I remain at the farmhouse in western Japan, where people continue to behave as though the earthquake/tsunami/partial meltdown fiasco took place on Venus in the mid-sixteenth century. Stores are well-stocked, the customers are few in number and not at all frantic to snatch up all the dry goods, the clerks are bright and chipper.


In Yokohama, the panic buying has been the greatest plague but reportedly is abating as I write this. Aftershocks are fewer and farther between, but no one has any delusions about being rid of them any time soon. (To understand my perspective here in the west, first imagine that you are a giant standing in Fukushima. Now, get out of there, you stupid giant! Youre making the ground shake, and people are sick of that. So you take one 165-mile step, which lands you in the neighborhood of Yokohama where I live and teach. You pivot right and take an even larger, 240-mile step andVoila! You are here at the farmhouse. I should be grateful if you would now pee on the chicken coop of our neighbor across the road, as those roosters get up awfully early.)


My university has stopped canceling events and now vows to start the spring term on schedule in April, meaning that I will be obliged to return after another week or so here in the lap of luxury.


Deprivations have I none, but frustrations many. Chief among these is an inability to be of any immediate use whatsoever to the homeless and truly needy. Over the weekend, our local government finally announced the establishment of a mechanism for collecting blankets and other necessities to be shipped northward.


It occurred to me just this morning that I have not viewed any pornography for two weeks now, dating back to nearly a week before the earthquake. We have two computers here at the farmhouse: one is Mrs. Mugginss and the other is a university laptop primarily designated for student use, which I brought with me. So at first, I was just terrified of inadvertently leaving any unseemly traces on either machine. Since the earthquake, theres has been neither the time nor the temptation for such indulgences.


So I think this period finally resolves the issue of whether or not I have a porn addiction, one of those questions that seemed important (at least to me) long ago, in the proverbial galaxy far away. But Ill tell you what has been validated in the past week, and that is my addiction to Japanese chicks.


Having confirmed the well-being of all my key people in Yokohama via email, I set about calling some of them last week. To be sure, I called a few dudes, too. But mostly I called chicks, especially the thoroughbreds, the cool and calm ones who have all the boys licking salt cubes from their hands (present company included). By chance, two of them were in the middle of important job interviews when the quake struck. One, who was on the twelfth floor of a vivaciously square-dancing building, reported that she made a good impression, she thought, by not screaming.


It was the ultimate tonic to hear the ready laughter of these chicks again after all that they have been through in Yokohama. They laughed at the panic-buying in the supermarkets. They laughed at exaggerated reports of radiation clouds headed their way. Above all, they laughed at the thin pretext that I was calling to make sure youre okay. They understood long before I did that I was really calling to make sure that I was.




1. Im not expert on charities, but non-Japan-based readers really cant go wrong by giving to Save the Children, which is soliciting funds to help the youngsters left homeless in northern Japan.


2. Heres a by no means less significant way to help out: Stop believing and, if possible, stop patronizing parasitic news aggregators like Drudge and Arianna Huffington who sow fear and reap paranoia for their own personal gain.


3. That said, feel free to scour any Japanese radishes that may come your way before preparing and serving them. Its only civilized.



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March 23, 2011

Fantasy Takes a Beating

At this writing, more than a week has passed at the crippled nuclear power plant in Fukushima without any of the pretty splosions that cable news networks do love so much. Vegetables grown in the area can no longer be eaten and our ultimate protectorsthe US Navyare drawing up contingency plans for removal from their base in Yokosuka, south of Yokohama (!).


Most of the reactors have fallen into line and are behaving themselves, but Reactor 3 persists in acting up: smoking, spitting out puffs of radiation, and generally behaving like a dick. People are ganging up on #3, though personally Ive always had a soft spot for it. They say #3 is rotten to the core and needs to be buried in cement; I say its merely misunderstood.


The mood here in Japan near the end of Week 2 weirdly parallels the situation of the rebels in Libya. They, too, thought that their ordeal would be over by now. It didnt take this long for the Tunisians or the Egyptians, you can hear them whining. And now you say that we might not even win? Nobody said anything about losing when I signed on…” Yep, just two peas in a pod: me, and your average Libyan rebel.


Im still in western Japan, far from my main computer and from most of the documents I need to get on with any meaningful work: hence, the blitz of posts of late. The lengthy lull we’re enduring now in the battle to get the reactors under control allows for some more general reflections on the earthquake danger in Japan.


It was in 1992 that I began to live separately from Mrs. Muggins in the earthquake-prone Kanto area, and in these eighteen-plus years I have lived in three apartments in Yokohama. When shopping for a room, the survivability factor always comes into play. How tall is the building? Which floor would I be on? Are there taller and heavier buildings that could fall down on mine? How far above sea level is it? Is there cable? 


Earthquake anxiety is like that, you see. Its the spooky organ music that plays on a loop underneath our day-to-day lives. 


The Big One in (My) Literature

In two of my three books, How To Pick Up Japanese Chicks And Doom Your Immortal Soul and Wussie: In Praise of Spineless Men, weak-willed and self-centered men yearn for a killer earthquake and the attendant plummeting slab of concrete to put them out of their misery. The Big One is sure to come anyway, so why cant we get it when we need it? Such are the ruminations of a selfish man living the prime of his life in the Kanto region. 


In contrast, there are times when, from an equally self-centered perspective, an author may pray for the forestalling of the Big One. In January of this year, for example, just prior to the launch of Wussie, I fretted that a massive quake would strike just before I could finish the submission process, thus forever denying the world this latest glimpse into the bottomless well of my genius. Please, God, oh please dont let that earthquake strike until I can be sure that Wussie turns up on the first page of a Google search... Narcissistic? You bet. But I'm not the only one living around the Rim of Fire who launches such prayers.


The Big One in My Fantasy Life

Similarly, so very many of us, whether or not we admit it in blogs, have fantasized about the inevita ble Big One and our supposedly valiant reactions to it.


In my version of the fantasy, I would hack my way out the rubble of my apartment building and fight my way up the hill to my university, the designated evacuation site for my ward of Yokohama. Along the way, I would charge into a couple of flaming buildings at the behest of wailing young mothers to extract their infants. (In my imagination, these earthquakes always conveniently took place at midday. Were I to fantasize the earthquake occurring at night, I would also have fantasize myself performing these heroic deeds in Fruit of the Loom briefs and a baggy t-shirt, and nobody wants that in a fantasy. That image just throws you off your game.)


Once at school I would debrief my students, only to learn that one of our prettiest members was unaccounted for. I would promptly recruit a crack team of youthful and dispensable Red Shirts. Their two-fold purpose: leading me to the damsels apartment and getting killed in gruesome ways in the process. (I already have one male student earmarked for selflessly throwing himself on a compromised propane gas tank.) I alone would survive to extract the target from the twisted wreckage of her shower and gallantly drape my jacket over her to preserve her dignity. And I alone would receive the full brunt of her gratitude, though that episode would be spun off into a fantasy of its own.


The Big One in My Family History

A Muggins in Japan during a Big One is not unprecedented, though we Mugginses do have a Paulie-in-The-Godfather-like knack for being off duty when bad things happen.


Great-grandfather Muggins, who came to Japan in the 1870s as a missionary, was still merrily missionarying away at age sixty-eight when his generations Big One struck in 1923. It was late summer so Great-grandfather had fled sticky Tokyo for the resort town of Hakone well to the west the day before the quake hit.


His report to the home office of his church highlights his fears at the time for his two spinster daughters, missionaries themselves, who were scheduled to follow him out of Tokyo on the very day of the quake. Hearing of the disaster that had befallen Tokyo (over 100,000 would perish, mostly from fires), he immediately thought of a rickety bridge that my great-aunts train would likely be crossing at just that moment. If the main jolt had not collapsed the ancient span, surely the ongoing aftershocks would. He writes that the bridge did in fact collapse, leaving his God-fearing American readers in suspense before adding that this occurred just after his daughters train had made it across.


I suspect some poetic license in my forebears account. Reading Muggins Senior, you are led to imagine the tracks crumbling in the very wake of the train as the daughters, clutching the railing of the caboose, watch in horror. I somehow doubt that it was that close a call. Then again, in those pre-Internet days when fact-checking an account from a foreign land was a tall order, he could safely have stretched things a lot more egregiously than he did. If I were telling the tale, for example, I might have concocted a second train following close behind the one carrying my aunts, and sent that vehicle and its unfortunate passengers screaming into the abyss.


But thats just me.



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March 28, 2011

Back in the (Oddly Luminescent) Saddle

I will confess to stocking up on batteries before leaving the west to return to Yokohama, where over-buying of such items continues apace. For the notorious rolling blackouts, don’t you know.

Regular readers will know, without being told, that when I say “batteries for the blackouts” I do not mean that the batteries are for a flashlight. They were purchased for the Rolling Fella Bomber.

During my exile in the west, I clung to a highly romanticized notion of the blackouts and how they would impact my whole lifestyle, including its prominent masturbatory aspect. For hours on end, there would be no computer access, no online or archived porn to view. I would have to masturbate as our ancestors did, under a cold and starry sky with no inspiration apart from some of the more erotic constellations (gotta love that Ursa Minor) and my imagination.

On such a night I might imagine myself Grog, son of Knog (with a hard K), conjuring images of my beloved Brylcreemia, whom I had by chance spotted that morning daintily defecating beneath an escarpment, as I unashamedly rubbed one out. Ah, Brylcreemia! She of the flaring nostrils, the full set of molars, the not quite as copious backhair as her many half sisters! She, oh wondrous she! Unnngahhh! I would grunt at the climax, just as the ancients grunted, and just as I normally pretty much grunt anyway.

Of course, I would be ejaculating into a battery-powered, vibrating and gyrating hunk of polyurethane rather than into the unsullied air of the antediluvian world. So it wouldn’t quite be just the same as the way our ancestors diddled themselves. Still, I yearned to achieve some sort of connection.

What Lies Between
Returning to Yokohama reduced the distance between me and the troubled reactors by more than half. This made me think of South Park, of all things.

I can’t place the episode, but it was one of those in which the little Colorado town is being ravaged by some relentless menace. (Which, I realize, is like saying, “I can’t remember which Japanese guy it was, but he had black hair.) At one point, Randy Marsh pleads for military aid via video conference from an unperturbed Governor Schwarzenegger of California. “If we can’t contain this menace here,” argues Randy, “what stands between it and California?”

“Yoo-tah,” intones the governor.

“Okay, yeah,” concedes Randy. “But what if it gets through Utah? What is there to protect you then?”


Here in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Tokyo is our Yoo-tah and Chiba Prefecture our Ne-vah-dah. That’s about all we got. And unfortunately, prefectures are more the size of New England states than western ones.

Of course, the town of South Park always seems to rebuild itself from these attacks by mechanized Barbra Streisands or Crab People or what have you. So I was pretty sure that Yokohama—the greatest city I’ve ever lived in—could rebound from this. And arriving in the city yesterday--seeing the calm demeanor of its people--made me feel that way more strongly than ever.

Things On Top Of Things
And while I’m reminiscing about classic comedy, there’s this Monty Python sketch of which I’m particularly fond: the annual meeting of the Royal Society for Putting Things on Top of Other Things, in which a group of pompous British gentlemen publicly berate one of the society’s members because his branch has, during the past year, “not succeeded in putting one thing on top of another thing!”

I have thought of this bit often since coming to live in Japan decades ago because, what with our cramped living spaces, we’re all members of the Society for Putting Things on Top of Other Things around here. When I left Yokohama for the west prior to the earthquake, my relatively new flatscreen TV rested precariously atop a cable box much smaller than the TV’s base, which in turn rested upon an ancient cabinet, which was set precariously close to a slightly lower coffee table.

Once the frightful novelty of the catastrophe had worn off, I found some time to fret about that flatscreen TV. I could imagine it, all alone in the cold living room, shuddering, shimmying, teetering, and finally lurching forward in a screen-first bellyflop onto the sharp corner of the coffee table and thence into oblivion.

When I arrived back home yesterday, I was greeted at the entrance by my bicycle tire pump, which had gone horizontal. That did not bode well. But then, I slid the living room door open to reveal the flatscreen TV, fully upright and not a centimeter askew.

I rushed forward and kissed it several times. You will think that I exaggerate, but no, not a jot. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I kissed my flatscreen TV. It was an emotional moment between man and major appliance.

Later in the evening, I was able to contact the two students I had most worried about. Both stalwart lads had fled the safety of Yokohama to be with their families in the danger zone. Both, it turned out, were in great spirits and looking forward to the start of the school year. I suppose I would have kissed them, too, had I had the chance.

Spring is in the air here, I tell you. Don't believe what you read in the sensationalized press. Spring is most definitely in the air, along with maybe just a faint, spritely touch of iodine. And I, for one, am going to celebrate tonight like Grog, son of Knog.

Thank you if you have stayed with me throughout this series of disaster-in-Japan-related posts. You must be getting weary of this topic because I know that I certainly am.

I shall resume fortnightly posts now, and expect to get back to the usual material when I do, eschewing all this talk of calamity and meltdown and bellyflopping appliances.

Save the Children and the Red Cross could still use your help.

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