stumbling on

This crazy awful week brought Phantom back to her blog, and I guess it’s brought me back, too, although this is going to be a bit of a rambling post.  I heard about the earthquake first reading friends’ Facebook posts last Friday morning, and I feel like I’ve spent much of the past week obsessively hitting the refresh button on my browser, trying to find new news.

I can’t seen to find answers to the questions that I’m most interested in.  The nuclear worries seem to have pushed out the stories about the people in the shelters, and now Libya seems to be pushing the coverage of the reactor off.  But I can’t stop thinking of all those people in shelters — I don’t have a good sense of how many people are still in them, and if they’re getting regular food and water now.  It seems like some of those towns are going to take years to rebuild, if ever.  I didn’t think I’d ever say something good about the response to Katrina, but putting people on buses to Houston did make a lot more sense than putting them up in tent cities in Louisiana.  Is anything like that happening?

Living Social is doing a 1:1 match of $5 donations to the red cross, so I did that, but I haven’t donated otherwise yet.  It’s not clear to me that money is what’s preventing aid groups from doing what’s necessary.  If you can’t get into the devastated areas, what can you do with money?  Haiti may still be the higher need.  I just don’t know.

I’m fascinated by the “there’s no looting in Japan” meme.  Well, for one thing, there’s not much left to loot in the worst hit towns.  But I thought this take on it from Slate was interesting.    At least some of the  versions of the meme have clear racial overtones.  Does anyone remember seeing stories one way or the other about whether there was looting in China after their big earthquake?  I don’t.      (As contrasted with Japan, China is NOT a country that prizes waiting on lines — or at least that ‘s what I gather from reading American Family’s very funny take on Hong Kong Disneyland — does that translate into looting during a crisis?  beats me.)

As it happens, we have tickets to go to China and Japan this summer.  We also have trip insurance.  We’re obviously waiting to see what develops, but at this point unless the radiation and the power shortages get a lot worse, I assume we’ll go ahead.  We weren’t planning on going anywhere north of Tokyo.    Yes, there’s a detectable level of radiation, but my house also has a fan venting the radon out of our basement.  People don’t freak out about having CT scans, which are higher levels of radiation.  (Actually, maybe they should freak out a bit more, especially about the “whole body” scans sold to perfectly healthy people as a precautionary measure.)

So, it’s been a hard news cycle week. And then we all took turns with the stomach flu.  But we’re all better now, and it was a gorgeous sunny warm day today, and we worked on the tree platform in our yard (the lumber for which has been in our garage since October) and N rode his bike without training wheels for the first time.  So, I guess I’m cultivating my garden.  (And Candide was written in response to the Lisbon Earthquake of 1755, which just goes to show that people have been struggling with the question of how do you keep going in the face of horror for an awful long time, and will presumably be doing so in the future unless we actually succeed in blowing ourselves up.)

2 Responses to “stumbling on”

  1. Phantom Scribbler Says:

    Oh, it’s nice to see you back in more than 140 characters!

    I threw an initial donation at Oxfam, because it looked like they were partnering with local groups who serve particularly vulnerable populations (including nursing mothers). My next one will probably go to Second Harvest Japan.

    But I’m still making monthly donations to Partners in Health, based on the assumption that the need in Haiti (and Rwanda, and the other places PiH serves) remains at crisis levels. Which should surprise no one, since the need in Haiti was at crisis levels even before the earthquake struck.

    (If we’re freaking out about medical-test radiation, can we take a minute to freak out about mammograms? Radiation amounts comparable to a CT scan, and aimed at the same body part once a year every year for decades! What a fabulous idea!)

  2. kathy a. Says:

    it has been so frustrating trying to find the news you want. i’m also very worried about those in shelters — i see figures between 350,000 and 450,000, and there have been recent reports about shortages of food, medicine, and especially heat.

    it is still very cold in northern japan — we were in the north about a year ago, and there was plenty of snow. so much infrastructure is out — trains, roads, electric power. other kinds of fuel — people still use kerosene heaters many places — are in short supply.

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