December 26th, 2006

NASA_bighead

Juggling Plates, or, Whose Fault Line Is It Anyway?

Today's adventure was a drive through the morning mists into the bright warm sunshine of the San Andreas fault. I've been reading a book called A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906 which is an amazing mix of geology text and history (for example, it includes an aside that our alleged President's great-great grandfather was once rector of San Francisco's Grace Church, which was later destroyed in the quake). It focuses a bit on the middle-of-nowhere town of Parkfield, epicenter of the 6.0 magnitude 2004 quake. Apparently there are tremors almost all the time, and it is the most seismically monitored site in the world, with a USGS station there.

So I decided to go see for myself. I figured if the weather was okay (it was) Christmas would be an easy drive down 101 and into the hills. It took me about 10 minutes to get through San Jose, at 9:45 am, which would have taken an hour or more on a normal Monday. I was doing my usual 65mph + about 10%, which comes out to 69. I 69ed my way most of the way (except for a stretch which had a 70 mph speed limit), and cars were passing me like I was standing still.

I haven't been on 101 south of Gilroy ever, I don't think. Usually if I'm heading that far south I'm on Amtrak or I-5. The road degrades into a poorly maintained 2-lanes in each direction non-freeway for quite a while, but stays at 65mph, then slows to 55 for a stretch, then  to 65 and 70. It's a little over 150 miles to the San Miguel turnoff, and then about 30 miles of back roads to Parkfield. Most of that was safe at 50 mph, give or take 5. Leaving 101, the road starts climbing into the hills, with a steep rise toward the end.

I didn't need a map to get from 101 to Parkfield - there are clearly posted signs at every needed turn. I guess they get a lot of important visitors. It's a tiny town, just a few homes, a school, the USGS cluster of puke-green buildings, a log cabin inn and a log cabin cafe (both deserted today).

But I'm getting ahead of myself.
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About 10 miles south of SJ, an inversion layer hit so hard, wood smoke, that I had to close the vents and turn on the heater and air conditioner to be able to breathe. This lasted most of the way through SJ.

Looking at the USGS web site, I was a few hours late for a small quake:

A microearthquake occurred at 10:56:54 AM (PST) on Monday, December 25, 2006.
The magnitude 1.9 event occurred 1 km (1 miles) SW of Parkfield, CA.
The hypocentral depth is 11 km ( 7 miles).



The whole set of photos of the trip can be found here.
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A Poll

Poll #895407 Choose Your Disaster

I would rather live where there are:

Earthquakes
10(90.9%)
Tornados
0(0.0%)
Hurricanes
0(0.0%)
Planes hitting buildings
1(9.1%)
Shootings
0(0.0%)

I prefer to live where winter is

Tropical
0(0.0%)
Warm and Rainy
2(18.2%)
Cool and Rainy
8(72.7%)
Cold and snowing
1(9.1%)

I prefer to live where summer is

Tropical
1(9.1%)
Hot and dry
0(0.0%)
Hot and opressively humid
0(0.0%)
Moderate
10(90.9%)
Cold & Snowing
0(0.0%)
Colonel Sanders

A Word About Fannishness, Mine in Particular

Thanks to johnnyeponymous for sparking this thought. I his latest issue of Drink Tank, he mentioned me as an SF/SF fanzine contributor, among a group he hoped would continue but might not.

I'll definitely contribute more. Eventually.When I have something to contribute. And the reason for this waffling is based on what kind of fan I am. And some of my shortcomings.

What kind of fan am I? Not much of one, actually. Some of this comes from being a slow reader, some comes from not having an encyclopedic memory and some comes from being a mind self-control freak which, on the one hand, has kept me from drug addiction, but on the other hand limits how deeply I can immerse myself into speculative worlds. And my background as a photojournalist and editor has trained me to be an impartial observer. I'm the guy who took pictures of anti-war protests, marching with the protesters, but staying back far enough to not get tear gassed. My sister, the one who can't be roused from a book until she reaches the end of a chapter, was in the front lines with a wet rag over her face. But note I was in the protest, not on the overpass with the cops and corporate news bozoids.

I go to cons, but I don't go out of my way to go. And if I miss one, I'm not heartbroken unless I'd already bought a membership. And I've never been on a panel, though many of my friends are. I know I could hold my own on several routine con panel subjects, but I would rather take photos and be amused as an observer.

What else? Oh yeah, there's my one "religion". In the computer world, there are people who refuse to touch a Microsoft program or OS, and others who feel the same about Apple or Sun or Linux. We call that having a religion. In the world of fandom, my religion believes with a very strong faith that science fiction is about science, and about "what if xxx scientific truth was changed/negated/warped in some way?". It is not about magic or dragons or elves or witchcraft. That's another genre, and I am deeply offended that the booksellers have chosen to lump these two disparate subjects into one.

Yes, I read and enjoy some fantasy. But not much, because, as I said, I'm not one to immerse myself in a book, I read as if I'm standing outside the action. Fantasy rarely survives impartial scrutiny. However,  as I am with all religions, I have no problem being good friends with those who do not share mine.

Back to the journalist thing. One of the down sides of having been a newspaper editor is I'm used to assignments being handed to me, and I'm lazy about finding my own. That's one reason I'll be a less than regular contributor to the fanzines. Another is I don't have very deep knowledge of SF, or movies or anything else for that matter. JOATMON, for the most part.
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