Thursday, December 17, 2009

Let Me Introduce: The Future!

I've been waiting for almost a year and a half for a postcard. Last month that postcard arrived. It announced that today I'd be among a chosen number of people (not unlike Charlie Bucket) who are allowed to buy a bousai radio, a disaster-prevention radio. Or for those who don't like that translation, a disaster-preparedness radio.

Basically, its job is to warn me when an earthquake is about to occur. Yes, only mere seconds before the devastation, but theoretically enough time to dive under the kitchen table and save my life.

Here is my absurdly simple understanding of how the thing works: before any large earthquake, primary waves shoot from deep within the earth; those waves are picked up by a bunch of scientists sitting and gazing raptly at their computers; one guy makes a phone call or two; another guy presses a large red button and voila' all the bousai radios in the area to be affected take notice and at full volume announce, "THERE'S GOING TO BE AN EARTHQUAKE. TAKE COVER!"

And this is what the puppy looks like.

This morning I took my postcard and my 1,200 yen (exact change, thank you) to the community center arriving fifteen minutes before it opened. That's okay there were already twenty elderly men and women outside, a postcard in one hand, money in the other. They looked just as excited as I'm sure I did. This was an event! (Despite there not being a single Gobstoppers to be seen.)

We were taken in and made to watch a video about things like lengthening the antennae, changing batteries, and making sure we placed it in a room where we're most likely to be.

I learned some interesting things. Not only do I get the pre-earthquake warning, but every day at 7:30 and 16:30 it will play music letting me know that it is indeed 7:30 and 16:30. Note: they do this anyway from speakers around town, but those are relatively far away and I barely hear them. So sometimes I'm not exactly sure when it's 7:30AM.

My device will also click on and promptly inform me of other important notices any time of the day or night. Again this is something that goes out via those speakers which I hardly ever hear. Now these news flashes are 99.9% of the time announcements from a family who has noticed that dear grandma or grandpa has wandered off and they don't have a clue where he/she is. I'll get a description of how tall the missing person is, what he/she is wearing, and any other vital information deemed important in their capture--"Last seen with beloved pooch, Koro."

If, the fireman explained to us, these broadcasts are too loud, we can put a cushion over the speaker. Remember, volume control goes to FULL when these bulletins come on. We cannot, however, turn the machine off. That would defeat the purpose, right?

Look, here it is again.

What I really like is how deceptively analog it is. Just get a load of those dial-y things.

Ha ha, you laugh now. But when the Japan-breaking Tokai Earthquake goes down, I'll be snug under my kitchen table most likely praying very enthusiastically that no fires break out nearby, oh, and also no tsunamis. Please no fires or tsunamis.

And also, that nuclear power plant they built down the road. The one they built ON the fault line, yeah, if that would just remain in tact, I'll be good.


Virginia Lee said...

You don't do things by half, do you, goob?

We're pretty fatalistic about the New Madrid fault finally freaking out. Living this high off the ground in a century old building so near the river? Oy. If the big one comes, we're pretty much done for.

I wish you'd taken photos of the people in line and during your presentation. It's the anthropologist bits of me that want to see that.

I cannot help but wonder how often this thing is going to go off in the wee hours about things other than earthquakes.

And seriously, they built a nuke plant on a fault line? WTF?! Gah!

Kappa no He said...

Virginia, what was interesting to me about the line was that they automatically drifted into two very neat lines despite no one telling them to and there being only a single man to take their postcards. I was curious why. At the station people line up by twos. Maybe that?

And so true about the Nuke Plant on a fault line. They swear up and down it's safe. But just recently they found some "leaking" and that last big earthquake we had caused quite a bit of cracking and crumbling. Safe my ass.

I'm thinking of you guys way up there. Just think, you're totally safe from any tsunami that might happen to whoosh in.

Pat said...

OMG - I guess it's all a matter of degree in the end, eh?

If an earthquake or hurricane should hit Charleston - yes, we get both! - we'll be relatively's the downtown area on the peninsula that's going to melt into the ocean (earthquake or storm surge) or be flattened (hurricane winds). Out here in West Ashley we'll just be out of food, clean water, and power for months. Like I said, just a matter of degree.

Maybe I should order a bunch of those radios to sell at really high prices in the market downtown. They look pretty cool. For your sake, I hope they work well - I'd cry to hear that anything happened to you, your family, and Cha!

Kappa no He said...

Pat, thank you! That's right you are right there in Charleston. Let's wish for a 2010 that is free from any major natural disaster.

Right now my husband hasn't noticed it yet. He hasn't been around when it does the time thing. I am really looking forward to the first time he hears it.

Hilary said...

I was going to ask what your family thought about this radio speaking to them at odd times but I see by your last comment that your husband, at least has no idea yet. Too funny. Having a nuclear plant in this zone gives me the quakes..

I'd apologize for that line.. but it's not my fault ;)

Mary Witzl said...

If I were there, I'd want one of those radios too. I just wouldn't take it on the train: I don't think I'd want to know...

(Sniff) When I lived in Kyushu, I had a faithful pooch called 'Koro'. For real.

Kappa no He said...

Oh, Hilary, you crack me up.

Mary, true! There are some instances where it's better just to, well, not know.

In my old dorm there was a Koro-chan on the way to school. He was so rolly-polly and cute. We became good friends. But alas, one day...