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What (not) to do in an Earthquake

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011 Leave a comment

In this post I outlined sources of information to use for guidance in preparing for, and responding to, an earthquake.   It appears that some misguided information is also finding its way around the internet once again: the Triangle of Life promoted by Doug Copp.   It may apply in some third world countries, but guidance in North America still says to drop, cover and hold on.  Follow these links to learn more:

The problem here is not Doug Copp, it’s folks who do not take the time to verify the validity of information.  Google makes this easy now, and a simple search will quickly give you guidance as to whether the information is credible.  So the rule is: don’t pass on any advice on any life/safety issue unless you’ve verified it with a couple of credible websites, or it comes directly from someone who you know personally is an expert.

As an aside, I was surprised to see people standing around or running out of buildings in videos of the recent Japanese earthquake.  That’s the wrong thing to do, and in any case don’t think you’ll have that much mobility.   The earthquake was well offshore and the ground shaking in Tokyo (where much of the video was from) was much LESS than we might experience.  You may not be able to walk or even stand.  Most injuries occur (according to the American Red Cross statement above) when people try to run out of a building: stepping on broken glass, being thrown about or falling down stairs.

This article shows that Tokyo was subject to ground accelerations peaking at 0.16 g (VII on the USGS scale).    To put this in perspective severe ground shaking (X+) was recorded of up to 2.7g in Miyagi prefecture, more than 15 times higher.  A human would be thrown about like a ragdoll at such accelerations.  Unless they had dropped, covered and held on.  Tight.

Could it happen here?

Saturday, March 26th, 2011 Leave a comment

Coastal British Columbia is in an active earthquake zone, and recent events have raised awareness of the risks.  Although in Victoria and Vancouver we are largely protected from Pacific Ocean tsunamis, a damaging tsunami from a near-shore earthquake may occur, and it’s worth restating that your best protection is to be prepared and know how to respond.  In BC, the organization ultimately responsible for your safety is your Local Authority (municipality, district or First Nation) so contact them with any questions, and lots of useful information can be found at the Provincial Emergency Program site, with particular attention to their Earthquake Preparedness and Tsunami Preparedness documents.

The Silly Season

Saturday, November 14th, 2009 1 comment

Between poorly managed 2010 Olympic protests and H1N1/vaccine hysteria there’s a lot going on these days. Add to that even more buzz recently (maybe because of the movie?) on the impending doom of 2012.

Here’s a differing view on the calamity.

Homehunting continues

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008 1 comment

So I’ve been hunting in earnest for about a month, and I’ve looked at perhaps 25 properties.  Mostly condos, but a few townhouses and one duplex.  I found three or four places I really liked, but all had some sort of showstopper.  Prices are dropping slowly on condos over the past 6-8 months, not so slowly on townhouses.  What is changing dramatically is the number of properties sold.  Filtering out the market-speak of the Victoria Real Estate Board and looking at the hard data, the ratio of properties sold to properties listed is falling dramatically: from 27.9% in May 2007, 21.4% in October 2007, 19.9% in April 2008, to 6.8% in October 2007.  So the pressure on sellers must be intense, and I’d expect to see prices start to drop more.  Sales of very expensive properties (over $1m) are even slower, only 7 selling out of 176 on the market in October, or 4%.

It’s a bit tough to judge by the stats month to month, as different types of properties are sold each month (condos for example can vary dramatically in quality and price), so I track a 6-month moving average to give better guidance.  The most expensive 2-bedroom condo now available is asking $1,250,000, while the least expensive is $149,000.  If a few of the 39 condos priced at over $1m sell, the numbers can be quite biased.  With the smoothing of the 6-month average applied, the average condo in the City of Victoria has dropped from $339k in March to $293k in October, a drop of 13.6%.  Prices in other areas of Greater Victoria have behaved differently, but I didn’t track them.

In Vancouver, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver has a much more factual summary without the mushy verbage of the VREB (they say “drop” not “soften”), and they use benchmark properties to measure true price variations.  I can’t find where they provide the excellent detail that Victoria does though.

Overall I’m eager to get out of my tiny (540 sq ft, 50m2) rental apartment, but I do like the short walk to work and it’s an odd time to invest in real estate.  Predictions vary of course on what will happen in Victoria.  It must be tough on the agents right now though, with reputedly 1,366 of them in the area, there were only 316 sales in October.

All stats quoted here are publicly available.  As a buyer, my realtor gives me access to more detail on property listings in my scope of interest, and I can see how much people are selling for vs. asking price, and what properties are selling or not.  I can’t comment on those stats.

Sustainability

Thursday, March 8th, 2007 Leave a comment

At a meeting of Organizational Development professionals the other day, Michael Keller kindly led us through a process called Freelisting, using the term “Sustainability” as the seed term.   Learning about the process was fascinating, and the session brought up varied issues for people.   I was reminded how strongly I feel that (a) sustainability is an important concept to many people, (b) the anger many people feel towards the damage we are inflicting on our planet is misdirected and (c) how the divergent forces have the potential to lead to a better life for everyone.  

Periodically a large meteor strikes the Earth, the last being the Chicxulub Impact of 65 million years ago.  This impact is estimated to have released two hundred thousand times as much energy as all the nuclear weapons on the earth simultaneously exploding, and air pollution on a scale thousands of times greater than what we are producing.  The majority of the Earth’s species were wiped out.  

And these events pale in comparison to the creation of Earth and its ultimate destruction as the Sun ages and expands.   

So if you believe there is a higher power, or Creator or God, I suspect he/she does not believe we are destroying the Earth; rather it is our playground, our school, our home.  We can no more destroy the earth than we can destroy a thought.  The Earth does not need us as stewards; it will continue with or without us, regardless of what we do.  The most we could do is alter it in ways that are trivial compared to the transformations it has seen in the past and will see in the future.   

The Earth provides a microcosm in which we can learn to manage our resources and maximize our quality of life.  We have the option of making life quite miserable for ourselves, or improving it dramatically.  But it’s not the earth we’re saving against some demonic external force.   It’s not short-sighted politicians, or greedy capitalists or intolerant environmentalists that are these demons.  

If anger comes up when you think about the environment, are you aware of who you are really angry with?  Who are you really saving?   

What are you personally doing to improve the quality of life on this planet that does not blame others, but focuses on personal responsibility and action?    

References 

Carnegie Endownment for International Peace
http://www.ceip.org/files/nonprolif/numbers/default.asp
Total world stockpile of nuclear weapons: 5,000 Megatons  

University of Wisconsin – Stout, Department of Physics.
http://physics.uwstout.edu/geo/asteroid_local.htm
Energy released by meteor that killed the dinosaurs:  5×1024 J (or about the energy equivalent in 80 billion Hiroshima size (12.5 kiloton) bombs   

American Geophysical Union
http://www.agu.org/sci_soc/sharpton.html
More on the Chicxulub Impact  

John C. Lahr Consulting
http://jclahr.com/alaska/aeic/magnitude/energy.txt
Comparison of earthquake energy to nuclear explosion energy.J.C. Lahr, Revised 8/28/00   

P.S. on Botanical Beach

Saturday, April 22nd, 2006 Leave a comment

What's this little guy?

Thingy

My daughter reminds me that we saw a large black bear, a sea otter frolicking on the rocks, llamas, horses and smallish brown furry thing (ferret-sized) that skittered too quickly across the path in front of us to be identified.

Categories: Nature

A visit to Botanical Beach

Saturday, April 22nd, 2006 Leave a comment

We took advantage of an unusual mid-afternoon low tide at Botanical Beach, Port Renfrew to search for mysteries in the tidal pools. And I took a few pics. You can find a few more pics at my Botanical Beach Pics page
beach goodies

Categories: Nature
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