Sunday, April 22, 2012

Switching To Flowers

The plan of growing my own food has taken a bit of a detour thanks to the ongoing Nuclear crisis. The wife (rightly) put her foot down and said: "No more garden or local vegetables for the children or me."
As much as it pains me to admit it, she is right. The Japanese Government allows ridiculously high levels of contamination- up to 100 Bq/Kg.
I found this online-
Given several uncertainties in the data basis for risk assessment we must recommend that infants, children and adolescents be given no food or beverages with a contamination of more than 4 Becquerel of the leading radionuclide Cesium-137 per kilogram.We recommend that grown-ups refrain from consuming food and beverages with a contamination of more than 8 Becquerel per kilogram of the leading radionuclide Cesium-137.
 I of course plan on having my crops tested at the city testing station, but they can only measure down to16Bq/Kg. What if there are 15 in my food? They would come back as "clean".

I have a pathological need to grow things. I can't help it. So I am switching to growing flowers mostly. Of course, I will grow the most wonderful flowers in the world- Sunflowers! Giant ones! 2m and more! (insert joke about men always thinking about size here) I will also grow some pumpkins for Halloween, and a few vegetables for me and me alone. They say as a rule of thumb, that 1% of the soil contamination will enter your crops. I have 400Bq/kg in the soil, so I can expect about 4 in the crops. But since I can't prove that it is less than four, so I won't feed them to my kids. I am 40 now, and think I can probably take that chance.

As an added bonus, I plan to test the garden soil again before the sunflowers, and again after I take them out by the roots. I will also test the roots of the flowers to see how much Cesium-137 they suck up. In the control plot I will fertilize with heavy N and P, but no extra K. I hypothesize that the plants will take up extra Cs, thinking it is Potassium.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Pipe Cut

Well, we decided to make it official. Three is enough. So I went to the urologist and said "I have three lovely, active children, and a fourth would probably drive my wife off the deep end." So last Saturday I went in and had some very minor surgery on a very very delicate piece of equipment. In Japan, they call it a "Pipe Cut." And if you haven't guessed by now, in English we say vasectomy.

(Feel free to look at a different post if you are squeamish. 
I write this for other men who are thinking of the procedure.)

It all started the week before that. I took the train up to the hospital, saw the doctor, and told him what I wanted. He gave me a few forms to fill out, and some papers with procedures to follow- shave the area, no dietary restrictions, shower that morning, have your wife sign the forms, etc... So then I went back home with a bit of a queasy feeling. Wow, I am really going to do this..... I thought.

So all week long, I was a bit distracted. I looked over the forms time and time again, thought about what kind of underwear to bring (Definitely bring briefs- boxers were a big mistake).

And finally, it was Saturday morning. We got in the car and drove up to the hospital in the rain. The wife and kids played in the car while I went into the hospital at 1:00. By 1:30, I was upstairs, being guided by a nurse to the surgical wing. I took off my shoes and put on slippers. They gave me a bag to put my clothes in, and a light cotton yukata (a kind of kimono) to wear. Felt weird. Then the nurse guided me to the O.R., and I got up on the table. They draped a towel over my legs, and propped another one up as a screen over my waist. Then they opened up the kimono and liberally doused me with betadine or something like that.

Then the surgeon came in, and explained the procedure again. Two cuts under local anesthetic, he fishes the pipe out, cuts out 1cm or so, ties off the ends. I may feel a dull ache during the procedure. Then the needle went in- I thought, "Hey, that didn't even hurt..." The doc was pretty stingy with the anesthetic though. Maybe Japanese people don't need so much. But I did. Cut and give another shot. Then again, and again.. Apparently my scrotum and vas defrens have a lot of fat on them. I could hear him telling the nurses that (I wonder if that is why Rocky Mountain Oysters are supposed to taste so good, because of the fat?). It felt very strange. Kind of like I got kicked, but also a feeling like the pipe down there was a guitar string that was being tightened. Very strange. Anyway, the right side took about 25 minutes to do. Finally I could sort of feel the stitches closing up, and that side was done. Then the left side. He knew how much local to give that side, and in less than ten minutes, it was done. Then the nurses washed the disinfectant off and helped me up, and told me about post-op care. I was amazed that I could walk almost normally, and felt no pain other than the dull ache that he warned me about.

I had to go back downstairs to pay the bill- 80,000 yen. (about $XXX). Then we went to the drugstore and got some kind of pain pills and an antibiotic. On the way home the ache remained, and I could feel a bit of a sting, both inside and outside. But the pills kept it manageable. I went to bed and stayed there for 13 hours. When I went to the bathroom, I looked at my scrotum and it looked like an heirloom eggplant. Purple with streaks (no green stem though). The next day, we had the Spring PTA meeting, followed by an open classroom at the kids elementary school. That night, I again slept about 13 hours. Then it was Monday, back to work.

As I said, it doesn't hurt as much as it aches, and even the ache is not so severe. Just annoying. Wear briefs or a jockstrap for a week at least. Aspirin doesn't touch the ache, but ibuprofen will. Don't overdo it! Rest is best. It is now a full week after the surgery, and the ache is still there sometimes, the stiches still pull a bit, but I can walk normally and carry my kids on my shoulders. The heirloom eggplant bruise is now more of a rainbow of blue, green, and yellow, with some red thrown in, but getting better every day. And it still works.

Yesterday I went to the hospital for the one week post-op check. It was all good. The doctor told me to use contraception for a month, until the lab can say that it is free of sperm. He gave me a vial and instructions. Try to ejaculate as many times as possible for the next three weeks, then save up for a week and bring in a sample. The instruction sheet says it should be less than 30 min old.... The hospital is a 45 min drive away.... That could be dangerous...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Almost Ready To Throw in the Trowel

I am at my wit's end. Everything I have planted this year has been destroyed by wild boars. Strawberries, potatoes, lettuce (twice), carrots (twice), onions, peas, fava beans, spinach (twice)..... Every single carefully sown crop has been rooted up by the hundreds of boars roaming around. They have rooted up the yard to within a meter or two of where the dog is. Fences don't work. Traps are illegal (and didn't work). Japanese boar hunters are less than worthless. I don't think I can plant a garden this year. Only the square foot garden by the house. But I think the boars will get that too, they are just waiting for me to get my hopes up. The only thing that is getting my hopes up is this guy and his awesome 80 pound draw longbow made of PVC pipe!  I hear that burying a radioactive boar in your garden by the full moon is excellent fertilizer. Hopefully, I can tell you if that is true or not in a few weeks...

Also, I found out that radioactive rainwater ran off our roof and contaminated the soil below our eaves at more than 10 times (in places 20x) the level of open spaces. So I am busy scraping off the top 5 cm, putting it in sandbags, which I place in plastic bags, then bury and cover with 30cm of subsoil. Around our house has that muddy moonscape look that is so attractive.
Before- full of old leaves and mulch 0.4 microsieverts/hour

After- bare subsoil. 0.18 microsieverts/hour

Ok, enough whining. Sorry about that. In good news, our geiger counter is registering much lower numbers, the Japanese plums finally bloomed. We are still waiting for peaches, cherries, apricots, etc....