Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tricoteuses Sans Frontières*

I was here during the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake . Although, it was a 6.9 serious rumble, caused some damage and collapsed the Oakland end of the Bay Bridge, it was a goddamn picnic compared to the last nine days of Haiti (7.0). I mean this literally; I walked across town a few dusty hours later and rode out the aftershocks with some very nice friends over salmon and candle light. How bourgeois. 63 people died. A couple thousand had to find new digs and a few -boo fucking hoo- quabillion dollar beach chalets took a dive off Opal Cliffs. Over all, we were really fucking lucky.

In the theme of disaster, I moved out of state two months later and for years afterwards the sound of a garbage truck would make me leap under chaises and grab complete strangers. We were lucky, mostly because of the devastation of 1906 across the Bay shook us up (killing 3,000 plus) to now be preparing in earnest for "The Big One", which California drags into the headlines whenever news is slow. So far we continue to be very, very lucky. And sort of willfully stupid about it.


(double click on the photo for the panorama image from wikipedia. It is really something.)

Local Californians have called our preparededness kits both "cute" and "paranoid"; both comments makes me want to punch them in the face.

I am a native and I am not stupid. I very serious about this shit. I have two pair of work gloves ready for action, baby.

So there's the thing. Since moving back, one of the Case Del Leiderhosen preferred iphone apps has been ifeltthat. If you look at craigslist, there's a little link to the usgs.gov Shake Map. When I get jolted awake at the pre-dawn hours by a 4.5 and confirm the bookcase has not fallen on me, I pull it up just to prove to the Steven that yes, shit did go down and no, his AV equipment is still safe.

So I am updating the app, noting the phenomenal size of the aftershocks in Haiti, almost as large as the initial quake. And then I look at the historical data.

You won't have to look far to see that there is no USGS quake data prior to 1/12/10, 21:53:10 for Haiti. None. Nobody bothered to track the data, even though the Caribbean and East Coast of the South American Continent has always been highly volatile. Size 7.0, 10,000+ dead and more dying in the Capitol alone. How many seismic researchers in Haiti? One.

I think it's because all the nearby oil deposits have either been depleted or spoken for. Poverty is so unpretty.

The ground you stand on is always in transition. Even there mid-continent (Oklahoma, 2.5) you are pulled either towards San Francisco or the Atlantic. As much as I would love to see you in SF (we've tidied up since 1906), the next time you are at your hardware store buy yourself two pairs of work gloves. A pair will set you back less than a bagel and a double latte. Two pairs in the right place (don't forget the trunk of the car) end up being used for more things imaginable and you will be thought entirely awesome when the need for them arises, even if it is just to change a tire and be somebody's hero for a day.

Our ground and our destiny is never certain. Be well. Kiss your kids and call your Ma just to pester her. Send some hopeful wishes for the survivors and a prayer for those who were unlucky. Anything you can spare to show support might get you some karmic snaps.

I believe in you and that, when needed, you will know where your gloves are.

*Tricoteuses Sans Frontières supports Médecins Sans Frontières/ Doctors Without Borders, without whom some worthy kids, parents and nanas tonight might be truly and unjustly fucked.

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