Monday, 19 September 2011

Chimney sweeper moth

This is the Chimney sweeper moth, Odezia atrata.  In June and July the fields near my house were full of them, but I couldn't get a decent photograph.  They are too fast, small and nervous.  Also I wanted to show the white edging to the wings.  So I brought on home to photograph it on my dirty study window.  They are lovely little things, and I'd always thought they were butterflies until I looked them up in books.  They are actually in the Geometridae (loopers and inchworms) family, so I've added this on to that page.

I'm just finishing Peter Hadfield's 60 seconds that will change the world.  It is about the unpreparedness of Japan for the "big one" that is supposed to hit Tokyo.  It is a really good book.  It was written way back in the 90's before even the Kobe earthquake, but knowing the Japanese I wonder if much has changed even after the recent quake.

When I lived there I remember talking to some old people who lived through the 1923 Kanto earthquake.  In that one fire was the big killer, as it was during the bombing in WW2.  But when I moved to Niigata both fire and tsunami were the things to worry about if you survived the quake.  Many of my friends had been in the 1964 quake that caused widespread liquefaction of the ground, so being outside on bare ground was also seen as a hazard to avoid.
They told me that after the 64 quake many in the city centre made their way to the city office as quickly as possible, to try to get onto the roof and out of the way of the expected tsunami.  The city office was only 3 or 4 stories high, but it was solidly build and one of the few concrete buildings in the area.  Of course the tsunami, when it came, was only 2 metres, so they were all OK.  But as they waited they could see the river flowing backwards, and those who had been near the sore saw the sea disappear (apparently it went out 2 miles).  It was an anxious time for them all.

When I lived there is you wanted anything done to your house or apartment - insect screens fitted for example - one of the fist questions you would be asked was jishin mae ka jisisn ato (was it built before or after the quake).  I lived in a house built before the quake for a few months and soon learned that no right angle was 90 degrees, and no floor or wall was truly flat.  So it was impossible to get anything to fit exactly.

Now I'm looking for an even older book - Japan sinks by Sakyo Komatsu, but cannot get one at a decent price anywhere.  Oh well, I'll wait.

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