Year of the dentist

The dentist has been my nightmare this year. And this is coming from somebody who had a heart attack in May and spent a week in the hospital.

In February I started getting sharp pains in one tooth. The first doctor didn’t know what it was after 3 visits. The 2nd doctor didn’t either.

Finally I found a good doctor and his x-ray revealed a hairline fracture in the root of one tooth and he did a half-tooth extraction.

The extraction was awful (I felt like I was in a 19th century barber shop) but when he was done the pain disappeared and I never had to use any pain killers since.

But it’s been going on and on and on and on – one week to clean my upper teeth, another week to clean my lower teeth, another week to check to see how my gum is healing. Endless.

After my twentieth dentist visit of the year I actually walked out in the middle of a “check for gum disease” test and said this is crazy already. I just went home and fell into a depression.

The dentist is a good, professional dentist though, and a good listener, and he called me a week later and after a few weeks break I went back.

I currently have a temporary bridge, and it feels fine, and visually you can’t see anything wrong. But he said the temporary bridge can’t be used permanently and today I went for my next check and he wants to move to the “final stage” of making a permanent bridge after the Obon holidays. So I go back again on August 16th.

Unfortunately, unless I want the metallic type of crowns covered by national health insurance, this will cost me 180,000 yen! I’m still trying to decide what to do. The location is way in the back, but if I smile broadly I think metal from at least the front part of the bridge will be visible.

Not a good day. But I guess I’ll go for the porcelain instead of metal or I’ll become obsessed by whether it’s visible or not.

Too many medical expenses this year…


The diet benefits of brown rice

The Daily Yomiuri has an interesting article on new test results which seem to clearly  show the diet benefits of eating brown rice:

From the article:

“The group gave mice a choice between diets of fatty food and normal food: a high-fat diet consisting of 45 percent lipids, 35 percent carbohydrates and 20 percent proteins, and the other 10 percent lipids, 70 percent carbohydrates and 20 percent protein. The mice chose the high-fat food every time and eventually became obese.

However, after the researchers replaced half of each diet’s source of carbohydrates–corn starch and other substances–with brown rice, the mice opted for the normal food and as a result cut half their increased weight. When the team mixed white rice with the food instead of brown rice, the same phenomenon was not seen.”

An interesting point, besides the results themselves, is that they now seem to want to create supplements based on the ingredient in brown rice which seems to cause this effect. Brown rice has never been popular in Japan, and it’s hard to get people to eat it because it has a history of being a “poor person’s food.”

I actually like brown rice, but almost never eat it because I don’t know how to make it and can’t find any “instant brown rice” here. In fact, I will reveal a shocking secret. Even though I’ve lived in Japan for almost 29 years I have never cooked rice, not even once, in my life. There – you now know my secret.

What I do is heat up microwave rice. But after reading that article I’m going to try to make brown rice. Maybe prepare a week’s worth and freeze it in 200 gm packets I can heat up?


Ex-climate change skeptic: Humans cause global warming

An interesting editorial in the New York Times by Richard Muller, a well-known former global warming skeptic, who even had his research partly funded by the Charles Koch Charitable Foundation (they are climate change skeptics).

He now says,

“Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.”


Antinuke demonstrators form human chain around Diet building

From the Japan times:

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people including ordinary citizens and antinuclear activists gathered in Tokyo Sunday afternoon to form a human chain around the Diet building, calling for the abolition of nuclear power plants and putting more pressure on the Cabinet of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.

In the past, protest rallies around the Diet were usually organized by political parties and labor unions. But like many other rallies organized in the aftermath of the triple meltdowns that erupted in the Fukushima disaster, Sunday’s was attended by many nonactivist citizens.

“This is really a very hot summer, but although none of the nuclear power plants of Tokyo Electric Power Co. are operating, we’re not short of electricity in Tokyo,” said Keiko Ochai, an author who is among the organizers of the rally.

“We have to push for the halting of the Oi nuclear power plant, and need to keep the government from restarting other nuclear power plants,” she said, referring to the nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture at which two reactors have been reactivated following safety checkups mandated in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.

Protesters gathered at around 3:30 p.m. at Hibiya Park in Chiyoda Ward under a scorching sun with hand-made signs and banners in their hands.

After marching roughly 1.5 km through the Uchisaiwaicho district and close to JR Shinbashi station, the protesters surrounded the Diet building holding candles and penlights to put more pressure on lawmakers to stop the planned reactivation of more nuclear reactors.

The organizer, Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes, an association of antinuclear citizens’ groups, initially planned to provide candles to every participant, but with the number of attendees ballooning, they decided to hand them out only to those who were able to stand near the main entrance of the Diet building.

Some of the participants said they were attending an antinuclear rally for the first time.

Maya Yamaguchi, 25, from Tokyo’s Meguro Ward, said she was concerned about the issue and wanted to hear what others were saying. She signed an antinuclear petition and wrote about it on her Facebook page, which was picked up by her friend, Yuri Inomata, 27, who invited her to join her at the rally.

Inomata, from Sagamihara in Kanagawa Prefecture, now believes that many people have changed their attitudes toward antinuclear demonstrations.

“I think more people realize that this issue concerns ourselves,” she said. “It’s important for us to keep raising our voice,” she said.

Kotaro Kikuchi, 22, a student from Iwate Prefecture, said he travelled to Tokyo on Sunday morning with his friend, but with a somewhat different aim than participating in the rallies.

“I guess most of the people who gathered here want to say ‘no’ to the restart of nuclear reactors. But I came here to say ‘no’ to “fuhyo-higai” (the damage caused by groundless rumors) that the Tohoku region has been suffering from” since the triple-meltdown crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, Kikuchi said.

Kikuchi, who was participating in a demonstration for the first time, said the Tohoku region won’t recover if rumors continue to circulate based on groundless fears of radiation, which he says is making people shy away from the area.

“I’ve heard that some boards of education decided not to choose Tohoku as a destination for school trips,” Kikuchi said. “When I heard that, I really thought we have to raise our voices. Otherwise, Iwate Prefecture won’t be revitalized.”

Kikuchi said that the nuclear crisis that led to the rumors and subsequent damage should never be allowed to happen again.

Laurent Mabesoone, 43, a French haiku poet from Nagano Prefecture, said he and his wife, Toyo, 42, and their 4-year-old daughter also arrived in Tokyo on Sunday morning to participate in the rally. Living only 60 km away from the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture, he expressed his opposition to restarting idled power plants.

“If the same kind of accident happens at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, it’d all be over. It would be (like) an area that has been hit over and over by earthquakes. We should not allow the restart of the power plant,” he said.

Mabesoone said he kicked off an antinuclear campaign in Nagano Prefecture on Friday. “Over 100 people gathered. We will continue to hold the demonstration in Nagano every Friday to coincide with Tokyo. . . . From reactions on Twitter and Facebook, I guess the number will grow more,” Mabesoone said.

“I believe it’s time to raise our voices. Otherwise, there won’t be a future for us,” his wife said.

If we continue to raise our voices, our wishes will eventually be heard by the government, she added.