…and the earth moved

Chile Earthquake Moved Entire City 10 Feet to the West

The magnitude 8.8 quake that struck near Maule, Chile, Feb. 27 moved the entire city of Concepcion 10 feet to the west.

Precise GPS measurements from before and after the earthquake, the fifth largest ever recorded by seismographs, show that the country’s capital, Santiago, moved 11 inches west. Even Buenos Aires, nearly 800 miles from the epicenter, shifted an inch. The image above uses red arrows to represent the relative direction and magnitude of the ground movement in the vicinity of the quake.

–via Wired.com

I don’t know what’s more amazing, the fact that this entire city moved 10 feet, or that scientists are able to know that it moved 10 feet.


The Marvelous Magnolia

From my office window, I’m incredibly fortunate to have a view of a variety of trees, with two notable standouts: a sequoia and a magnolia.

While I get to enjoy the massive, evergreen glory of the sequoia year-round, once a year, right about now, the magnolia bursts to life with the most beautiful, luscious flowers.

There’s something incredibly sensuous about the magnolia flower. The petals are large and thick and remind me of some of the succulent cactus species. They feel saturated with moisture and life.

I’m not sure if they are edible or not, but I do have this strong urge to bite into one whenever I see them. And, you know what? Since it’s lunch time right now, I’m half-tempted to go right out there and try one!

Video Fridays: iPad Killer

This video of the upcoming Microsoft Courier device blew me away.

Not surprisingly, reaction in the comments section for the Engadget post from which this video originates is mixed, with some folks ready to buy the Courier now, some defending the iPad, and some saying it’s an apples (pun intended) and oranges comparison.

Time will tell.
Vodpod videos no longer available.


Costa Rica Chronicles: Vol. X

Oh, right, we’re near the equator.
The last installment of the Costa Rica Chronicles had us in the mountains, amidst the clouds, wearing layers, including rain jackets, which is fine for people from Bellingham. That said, as the photo I’ve used for the Costa Rica Chronicles suggests, the main allure of going to the tropics, for us, had to do with hot sun, sandy beaches, warm ocean water… the perfect antidote to winter.

And so, at the exact midpoint of our trip, we boarded a bus that would take us from Santa Elena to the port city of Puntarenas, where we walked onto an hour-long ferry across the Gulf of Nicoya to Paquera, and finally we took a taxi across the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, to our next destination, the surfing mecca of Mal Pais. By the time we got to Puntarenas we remembered, “Oh, right, we’re near the equator.”

It was hot!

We dragged our bags around in the blazing sun looking for a restaurant for lunch, waited without shade in line for the ferry, and even in the shade of a canvas tarp on the upper deck of the ferry we felt the heat draining every ounce of energy from our bodies.

In Paquera, wasted from the already long trip, we were immediately thrust into the unpleasant task of haggling with taxi drivers for the final hour or so drive to Mal Pais. I say unpleasant, not because the drivers are unpleasant, in fact they are mostly incredibly friendly, but because haggling always elicits mixed feelings from me. In many ways, I can’t blame the drivers for trying to earn the best rate they can earn. They work incredibly hard, and most have families to support, so who am I, a relatively wealthy person, to try and talk them down? The sad fact, in the end, is that we couldn’t afford the trip if we didn’t work at trying to find the best deal possible, so ultimately the unpleasantness of haggling, you could say, is like an added tax.

Fortunately, rather than sun stroke, we had a stroke of good luck at the ferry dock. We noticed a grey-ponytailed man carrying a guitar on his back, talking with one driver, hadn’t seen him on the ferry, but then we saw a blonde woman we did recognize from the ferry, joining the ponytailed guy, and as we moved toward this threesome we were asked if we’d like to share a taxi with them, lowering the cost per person significantly.

The ponytailed man turned out to be Jay from Boulder, Colorado, and the blonde woman turned out to be Anna from Sweden, and the taxi, mercifully, turned out to be air conditioned. Hanging out in a cool taxi, driving through the southern peninsula countryside, and enjoying the conversation of two very friendly new acquaintances, was a wonderful way to recover from the hardships of the beginning of the day.

Jay was actually heading to Montezuma, but he decided to go to Mal Pais with us, partly to make it easier on the taxi driver, and partly because, though he’d been to Montezuma numerous times, he’d never ventured 30 minutes west to Mal Pais, and he thought he might like to surf, as it had been years since he’d tried it in Hawaii. Anna was a doctor, traveling around alone on holiday, and it was obvious that she had the kind of inner strength and occasional flares of outer toughness needed to go it alone in a foreign country, where she doesn’t speak much of the language.

In Mal Pais, a dusty, one-dirt-road-town paralleling the beach, we said goodbye to Anna, and we found that Jay was enjoying our company so much, and we were enjoying him so much, that we agreed to meet up for dinner. Then we agreed that we’d meet for breakfast, agreed that we’d meet on the beach, agreed that he might surf with us, agreed that we’d have lunch and then go back to the outdoor lounge at his hotel and play his guitar and sing songs, and then…

We’d eventually spend three days with him, sharing meals and stories and songs, and eventually a taxi to Montezuma, a hotel room there, and a farewell in what would become our favorite town of the whole trip.

Backing up, though, there’s much more to report on concerning our time in Mal Pais, not the least of which would be our very special lodgings…

A tree house!

Up Next: Surfin’ Safari

Costa Rica Chronicles: Vol. I, Vol. II, Vol. III, Vol. IV, Vol. V, Vol. VI, Vol. VII, Vol. VIII, Vol. IX, Vol. X

“Big Chill” weekend…fortunately minus the big chill

Lawrence Kasdan’s 1983 movie, The Big Chill, was and still is a very special film for me.

I was fortunate enough, in 10th grade, to find myself in a circle of friends that would become incredibly close and vitally important to me during those trying, coming-of-age years, through high school and college. When The Big Chill came out, we were in our senior year of high school, and while the friends in the movie were older and at different stages in their lives, we totally recognized and related to the easy comfort they had with each other, how they seemed to spend most of the film doing not much more than sitting around and talking.

We were, and as it turns out still are, VERY good at this.

This past weekend, I flew to, of all places, Dallas, Texas, to meet up with five folks from this circle of friends. No one wanted to go to Dallas, as it turns out none of us cared for the place in the least, but it was fairly equidistant for a group coming from the east and west coasts, and by the end of the weekend we all agreed that, in some ways, it makes more sense for us to choose a place that we have no interest at all in, since we spend most of the time hanging out in some room or another yapping. It sadly had been 10 years since we’d all been together, so we had a lot to cover after all.

We’re now in our mid-40s, and there were the predictable mid-life topics, like marriage/divorce, career, and health, along with 45 years to reminisce. And, as always, it was so comforting to share our stories with each other.

Now, don’t get me wrong, like the friends in The Big Chill, we had our moments of tension. We’re from New Jersey for crying out loud, so it’s in our DNA to argue, even at the risk of things getting heated.

But, as Tom Beringer’s character, Sam, said, after an intense exchange with William Hurt’s character, Nick:

I don’t care what you say. I know I’ve loved you and everyone else here. And I’ll believe that ’till I kick.

Every time we see each other, we mourn the fact that we don’t get together more often, act clueless as we wonder why we can’t seem to make it happen, and recommit to trying harder in the future. It’s really not that complicated. We live in five different states — New Jersey, New York, Maine, California, and Washington — our lives are busy and filled with work, family, and other friends, and it truly isn’t a reflection of the strength of our bonds that we can’t all seem to make the time.

Still, unlike The Big Chill, no one had to die to bring us all together, and I do feel a renewed sense of connection, and I already miss them. I, for one, am going to try harder. They are more than worth it.