Sunday, March 13, 2011

Friends in Faraway Places

Even as our planet continues to shrink, we sometimes have difficulty understanding or contemplating disasters that happen on the other side of the globe from where we reside.  It is so remote, so...well...foreign.  However, one of the things about my hobby of amateur radio is that whatever happens and wherever on the planet it occurs, I have probably spoken on the radio with and know someone who lives there. 
I remember a few years ago when the earthquake hit Costa Rica, I was immediately concerned about my friend, Carlos TI8II.  I heard him on the air a few days later and thankfully, he and his family were okay.  He told an amusing story about how his wife was still mad at him.  It seems that as soon as the shaking stopped, his first concern was his 80-foot tower in the backyard.  His wife accused him of checking on his tower before he did her.

Well, the horrible disaster in Japan this weekend was another instance in which I immediately thought of the many Japanese amateur radio friends I have made over the years.  One is Koichi JR1MLT.  I have spoken with Koichi several times and we exchange messages on the reflector group for the hexbeam antenna, which we both use for our shortwave radio work.  He posted this message on the reflector this morning:

It is 11:30AM, Sunday morning here in Yokohama, Japan.  Myself and my family are OK. The antennas and shack are OK as well but many stuffs came fallen down on the floor. Not serious fortunately.
All the trains and public transportations in Tokyo area on Friday were out of operation. It made many people including myself stayed overnight in the offices, etc. I finally returned home Saturday afternoon.
As you heard through the news over one thousand people were killed and/or are missing due to the giant tsunami in mainly JA7 area. It was nothing but unbelievable! But it happened....
Currently the most horrible news is the accident at the atomic power plant in Fukushima (appx. 250 km north of Tokyo) where a very serious conditions at Plant #1 and may be #2 and #3.

The government spokes man is trying to calm down the public but his words smell something wrong....

I sincerely hope things will get well soon but no idea for the time being. Even now some shaking keeps going. I would sincerely appreciate your help and support globally.

Not video on CNN or Fox.  Real words from a friend in a faraway place.  A friend made through this magical hobby of ours.

Don Keith N4KC


Steve GW7AAV said...

Our World as you say is shrinking fast. Not so long ago it would have taken about nine days for the news from Japan to reach the UK. Today it is almost instant and we sit there watching events unfold and we feel helpless.

Without the graphic views on TV, YouTube videos and Twitter messages it might still seem an incident in a far away 'foreign' land, but today it seems personal.

Although I have spoken a few times to ham stations in Japan I could not consider any of them as friends, but no sooner do I go on Facebook but a good friend tells me his brother is in Tokyo and it comes closer to home. Then I remember that an ex-colleague was Australian but his family lives in Japan.

When the earthquake in New Zealand happened a good friend sent me the video his brother had made.

Then when I think back to 911 and almost everyone I knew in the UK knew someone or had relatives who were directly affected.

Globalisation means that when someone in Japan sneezes we all catch a cold. The financial ripples of these disasters are no longer a burden on just those effected but every one of us. We are all effected in some way, I can only hope that it increases our empathy with our fellow travellers on Spaceship Earth. It can be a bumpy ride and a little more understanding might smooth the ride a bit.

Hopefully the nuclear emergency will pass and then maybe it is time for us all to think what could have happened. One day I think someone will realise that although nuclear energy is the future we are still doing it all wrong and as a start we should not be building these plants in vulnerable areas like earthquake zones.

Anonymous said...

Steve, excellent comments, and thanks for stopping by. Yes, we have truly achieved the "Global Village" predicted by Marshall McLuhan and others back in the '50s. When Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon for the first time and people watched live, things changed dramatically.
I remember when I studied journalism, I learned a term called "Afghanistanism," running news stories so remote geographically or culturally that readers or viewers would not identify with it. Now, when I actually KNOW people in Afghanistan, it loses its meaning completely.
We dance on a small orb, my friend!


Don N4KC

Jafar Vieira said...

It's really a sad thing. I couldn't even imagine that happening with Japan. It took me on surprise and I can't handle this sadness I'm feeling for the country! I loved your blog and wish I had the oportunity to buy ur book! Congratulations for the blog