Geek. Pirate. Mom

The Life and Times of Whitney Drake

Archive for March, 2011

Where did the week go?

Honestly, this week is flying by. I realized it was Thursday and I hadn’t blogged anything yet, and had a bit of a meltdown.

Strangely, it isn’t for lack of ideas. It’s been lack of time. This week I’ve been bitten by the muse and have been ridiculously busy working on one of my many projects. But now that I feel guilt for not blogging, it would seem I would prefer to be writing everywhere. Both privately and on this wonderful site of mine. Good to know!

I am now on week three of gluten-free, and I’m still alive. Honestly, I’m better than alive! My health continues to improve, and pretty soon I’m going to start back on some sort of regular exercise. I figured I’d wait to see if this was going to help with my fatigue before starting to walk daily.

I discovered that my local Fresh & Easy (Whittier, represent!) now has a gluten-free section. I’m not sure if all Fresh & Easy’s do. Our has a Bakery, where they have freshly baked items ranging from loaves of french bread to croissants. Honestly, the thing I’ve missed the most has been their croissant. Yum.

Right, the gluten-free section. In it, they’ve collected products that are labeled gluten-free but are found in other aisles. Like pretzels, cereal bars, rice flour… which are still found in the other sections. Added to that, they have a bunch of mixes and flours by Bob’s Red Mill, as well as a whole bunch of products by Schär. Schär is a European brand that specializes in gluten-free foods and have for decades. They had loaves, rolls, pizza crusts, and a bunch of crackers and cookies. I’ve tried their white bread loaf, which is satisfying though a little small. If you’re familiar with the size that banana bread is usually made, that’s the size of the loaves. I’ve also tried both their shortbread cookies and their vanilla wafers. Yum!

The Little Kidlet has been talking up a storm, which is odd. Since he didn’t really talk much two weeks ago. But now, it’s hard to get him to stop. Granted, he constantly sounds like he has a cold- and in the moment his dialogue is a bit like Max of “Max & Ruby” where he says one word over and over as he plays… but we’re getting somewhere.

Yes, I have a 3 year old who doesn’t talk much. Yes, I have thought of taking him to a speech therapist. But it’s all him. He can talk. He’ll say full phrases clear as a bell, but he’s so darn stubborn and wants so badly to be the baby that he doesn’t say a word half the time. I’m not sure what changed, but he’s finally talking. And actually conversing, too.

Just do I don’t leave you pictureless, the last couple days, the Little Kidlet has been napping. I blame the suddenly warm weather, but am enjoying the adorable results. And now, so can you.

Girls and Comics.

I wanted to write a long post about how the comics industry fails women as an audience. But then I realized that I don’t have a lot of the scans I’d saved over the years anymore. (Yes, this is the short version)

The big part of why a lot of girls (and for this, I do mean girls 8-17) don’t get into reading comic books is because most of the series are marketed towards men. Batman and Superman are cool, but Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Batgirl and Lois Lane are relatable.

Kate Beaton illustrates the impossible pose often seen in comics

But look at any comic book cover, and if there’s a woman on it, she’s likely to be scantily clad, contorted in a way to show off all her assets (see the image at right for an example). I’m not saying that female superheroes can’t be sexy- but at the same time, upskirt shots of Supergirl and exposed cleavage down to a belly button probably aren’t going to make teenage girls comfortable with even buying the issue. And forget convincing a mom that it’s okay.

Then once a girl/woman has started reading a mainstream comic series, it’s sort of easy to fall out of love with them. Either the female characters start to do all the cliche “girl” things (like being more concerned about their appearance than what they’re there for- which I seem to recall happening in a Supergirl book not all that long ago) or they’re engaging, entertaining… and get killed off/tortured/raped simply to further a male character’s plot. Yes, that happens. It’s been dubbed Women in Refrigerators syndrome after the ’94 Green Lantern story in which Kyle Rayner returned home to find his girlfriend dead and yes, stuffed in a refrigerator. (Admittedly, in an RPG game of mine, I pulled one stunt which was WiR-esque and I’ve regretted it for years. I really wish I hadn’t been talked into it.)

Yes, a lot of women and girls read manga. They tend to read a lot of indie comics as well. And why? Not necessarily because some of them are love and romance- it’s because the characters presented in them, male and female, are usually well written and seem like real people. You don’t have to worry about whether or not Character A is suddenly going to seem as though they’ve been lobotomized and drool over a boy, when it’s unlike anything they’ve done before.

Dean Trippe posted a pitch he’d put together for a YA illustrated novel for DC, titled Lois Lane: Girl Reporter. Knowing his writing, it would have been clever, smart, and great. On Twitter, someone complimented him on his work and said they hoped it would help others do female characters justice. He said, “i’ll tell you my secret to writing female heroes as well as the dudes: i just use female pronouns. :P ” If you have a few minutes, take a look at what DC wasn’t interested in. And then be a little sadder because LL:GR doesn’t exist beyond that pitch.

But the fact that DC wasn’t interested in it? Shows me that they really aren’t interested in having girls (again, actual girls this time) start reading comics. So please, comics community at large- stop writing women as plucky heroines or mere love interests. Just write them as characters that happen to be women. Give them things to do, people to save, and yes… it’s okay to let them get hurt, but don’t make it just to solve a problem you had with someone else’s storyline. But don’t treat them like the mandatory T&A for a cover.

Oh, and learn the difference between skimpy and sexy. Women don’t have to be dressed like strippers to be sexy. Wonder Woman’s original outfit? Sexy. Witchblade? Skanky, and uncomfortable. Poor Sara Pezzani must have gone broke from losing her clothes all the time.

So what do you think, internet? Am I totally off base in thinking that this is what’s keeping girls and women from being a bigger demo in comics?

(Also, Kate Beaton’s website may be found here: Hark, a vagrant. Her hilarious drawing was posted to Twitter, which is a must-follow if you remotely are a fan of her art)

How did my parents do it?

This morning a former colleague of mine posted on Facebook that he was happy he has girls instead of boys (he has two girls, roughly the same age as my boys), because he wouldn’t have to learn about dinosaurs. Ignoring the obvious gender role issue… it annoyed me a bit because, well, I was a girly girl… but I sure loved science!

My sister and I complained if we hadn’t been to a museum in awhile, and it generally didn’t matter what kind of museum. It could be an art museum, a children’s museum, a natural history museum or my favorite- the science museums. The highlight of our trips to San Diego wasn’t trips to Sea World, it was trips to Balboa Park to the museums!

I loved learning. Whether it was dinosaurs, marine animals, extinct mammals… I wanted to learn about them all. I threw myself headfirst into learning about the space program. Once my parents got a computer, I was on it all the time. Not just for typing up my school papers, but I taught myself how to use DOS and even learned how to program in BASIC. My sister was the same way too, though admittedly, I spent more time on space stuff and she spent more time learning about faerie lore. But we collaborated on a simple text based program that had a user walking down a hall and discovering various things in the rooms.

Talking to my mom about the dinosaur post, she said that being my parent was difficult. More often than not, I made them feel stupid- simply because I wanted to know something that neither of them knew much about. I realize now that the encyclopedia set in my room was less about helping me with my school work, and more about giving me a place to try to answer some of my own questions. She pointed out that there were lots of trips to the library or to museums to try to answer questions. When I was old enough, I do remember being turned loose on the microfiche at our library (oh how I love microfiche).

All this was done without the internet. While I have a son who asks just as many questions, I’ve been lucky that they’ve been about subjects I knew about or something that was googleable. I can have answers that are accurate enough to share within minutes.

But I am immensely grateful to both of them for giving my sister and I the opportunities to learn so many subjects, or that they taught us how to get information ourselves.

I will say though, that even with all my knowledge about dinosaurs, it has broken my heart to learn that the names I’d committed to memory have been rendered obsolete by new scientific findings. I am kidding. It’s proof that science is an amazing and ever evolving thing, where we learn more and more about subjects as time go by. Even if it means I have to get used to say pterosaur rather than pteradactyl. So thanks, Mom and Dad. You went through a lot to make sure that we got our answers, and kept us supplied with plenty of books. I really do appreciate all the work!

I am pleased to say that on the gender roles issue of that Facebook status, there were plenty of women who spoke up and said that they forced their parents to learn all sorts of non-girly information. Which is always wonderful to see- that I wasn’t the only scientifically minded girl out there.

ETA*: Always great to see people pop around for a discussion. Last month I posted about gender roles, and some of the damaging things we as a society do.

* ETA = Edited to Add

Two weeks and I’m surviving!

So I’ve been on a gluten-free diet for two weeks now. Honestly, I didn’t expect a simple shift in my diet to change things quickly. Having been on plenty of forums for those with food allergies, I knew that it could take awhile to see changes.

But honestly, I’ve seen a lot of changes for the better. That said, it doesn’t mean it’s been easy. I’m still trying to figure out a balance in my meals to make them be more satisfying. While I’m getting enough food, I find that I’m hungry more often. Then there are the cravings.

I live in a house with lots of people who do include gluten in their diet. So there are boxes of Girl Scout Cookies I can’t eat, and loaves of sourdough bread I can’t have. It’s made things tricky.

Friday night is Pizza night. Without fail, there will be pizza. I bought a gluten-free pizza mix and used an egg substitute to make a crust that both the Little Kidlet and I could enjoy. I had already about Daiya, which is a spiffy vegan/allergen-free cheese. Having been a vegetarian, I can tell you that most fake cheeses are soy based (so definitely not what the kidlet could eat) and usually don’t melt. Thanks to some ingenuity… Daiya melts. And while the mozzarella tasted a bit cheddary, it had the right mouth feel for cheese and the melt factor.

And for the first time in his life, my son ate pizza. This sounds like nothing to most of you- but considering his diet has been limited to a handful of dishes that he loves, anything new is major. Especially since he’s been staring at the regular pizza for the last two weeks with longing in his eyes. He wasn’t too thrilled with it hot, but he did eat a cold slice the next day- and loved it. (I admit, I thought more about how the crust didn’t taste like regular crust to really enjoy it. Which is bad of me, and not the way to approach this at all)

Saturday night, TheBoy took me out to eat. His mother offered to watch the boys, and suddenly I realized that I had to find a restaurant that could accommodate me with more than a salad. I didn’t want to call a dozen restaurants and grill them on a Saturday night, so I started googling. Which led me to a list of chain restaurants in town.

I don’t want to seem like a snob. But chain restaurants don’t excite me any more. I love the town I live in, and TheBoy and I have been making a concerted effort to dine at independently owned restaurants to try to more directly support the local economy. We’ve discovered some wonderful restaurants- I just have to figure out which of them I can eat at now. So I chose Outback Steakhouse off the list, having discovered that they had an extensive gluten-free selection. Seriously. It’s impressive. Even more reassuring, the menu actually broke down how to ask for certain things like salads to be prepared. I downloaded the menu on my phone so that I knew I wouldn’t forget what exactly I was supposed to ask for with my salad.

I had a steak, mashed potatoes and a salad (no croutons and prepared in a separate bowl from other salads). While I believe the sudden revelation that I am on a gluten free diet scared our waitress (who I believe was expecting me to die if anything went wrong with the meal), we had a wonderful time. It certainly gave me the confidence boost for dining elsewhere, as well as asking local eateries what they have that’s gluten free. And asking them if they couldn’t try to make more of their items accessible for those on gluten-free diets.

(That picture up top? That was snapped at our dinner. So’s the one of TheBoy to the right)

Stealing is bad.

This post has been updated- if you already read this, please scroll to the bottom to see the new information.

I was going to write a post about how awesome social media is, and how lame the regular media has been. But I’ll sum it up as this- without Facebook, it’d be really hard to keep in contact with my sister who’s in Tokyo. She’s been able to give friends and family updates without being tied to her phone. (And the day after the quake, she was able to get information on when her train was running from a friend) Meanwhile, most every news station here, network and cable has been having way too much fun trying to scare everyone. I’m really tired of it. Information would be nice, as well as relevant figures. If you say that Tokyo reported 10 times the normal level of radiation in the air, a frame of reference for how much radiation that actually is would be nice. But no… scaring people generates interest.

But now that I summed up my point in one lovely little paragraph, let’s move on to something that’s important as well. Not stealing people’s images.

In 2006, artist Jess Fink had the unfortunate experience of having one of her designs for Threadless ripped off by Todd Goldman and his company “David and Goliath.” She just discovered that Goldman is using the SAME image again.

Not only that, but an etsy user ripped off the same design and when confronted about it again and again has shown absolutely no remorse. In fact she’s just laughed it off.

Let me put this plainly, both cases are out and out theft. There are a lot of regular people who think that if they trace a design or recreate another person’s pattern (for sewing, crotcheting, knitting) that it makes it their own. It isn’t. Just because you’ve reproduced it only makes it your reproduction- it doesn’t make it your intellectual property. In fact, reselling it as your own just makes you a thief.

Art is hard. Coming up with your own ideas and finding your own voice in whatever medium you work in… it isn’t easy. If it was easy, everyone would do it and it wouldn’t be special in the least.

My mom’s on a decorating board and reads responses from women who see modern art done by a non-famous artist… who promptly recreate it for their own homes because they find the cost of an art print too much. They don’t see what they’re doing as wrong, but it is. Even if it’s just to save a buck. (And yes, it is different from doing an art study. Art studies are reproductions of famous artists’ work by an artist so that they can get a feel for the artist’s techniques.)

So yes, theft is bad. And I know it’s wrong to wish for someone’s misery- but I can’t wait until “glitterbiscuits” (the etsy thief) finds out the hard way that there are actual consequences for stealing something.

It looks like Regretsy has decided to help glitterbiscuits learn a lesson. Take a gander at their post on the theft, including some new information on her bitchiness. They’re calling for their readers to flag her shop so that etsy will ban her- so if you have an etsy log in, please take second to report her… and make sure you mention why. Thanks!

The allergy nightmare that isn’t mine.

The Little Kidlet has a laundry list of allergies. Yes, it means that he doesn’t dine out very often. But we’re exceptionally lucky. His reactions are only if he personally comes into contact with the allergen- so if he gets it on himself or eats it. And even then, a dose of Benadryl was done the trick to stop things from getting worse. It also means that I don’t have to force his diet on everyone.

There are plenty of people who have much worse allergies. There’s a small percentage of people with peanut allergies who become violently ill when they’re exposed to tiny particles on other people… which is the case with a Florida girl who is merely trying to go to an elementary school.

In similar cases, schools have banned peanuts entirely, but in this case they set a policy where children would have to wash their hands and rinse out their mouths with water. This is something that’s federally enforced, because her allergy counts as a disability. Confused? The government says that they will try to accommodate any disability within reason. Because there are counter-measures that would allow her to mix with students that are minimally invasive (washing hands and rinsing mouths), they have to put them in place and accept them.

But there are a lot of parents up in arms, saying that this is taking away their kids’ rights… taking away valuable school time and ruining necessary experiences, like school parties.

For anyone who’s a regular reader here, I don’t suppose it’s surprising to discover that I’m siding with the little girl and her family on this one. These parents are complaining about something that takes about 30 minutes out of their child’s day. Which might seem like a lot… but there’s a fair amount of downtime in elementary school. Getting kids to calm down at the start of the day, recess and lunch. Having the routine might actually just take the place of that time.

Now, the school didn’t ban the use of peanut products. They’re simply asking students to wash up, and to not bring in outside baked goods. Yes, birthday parties are fun- but they’re disruptive. As classes get larger, you’re likely to have 20 kids that will actually celebrate their birthdays during the year… and that’s 20 days where you’re going to lose a substantial amount of time. Yes, class parties take up a lot of time. You have to set up for them, get the kids to settle down afterwards… My second grade teacher actually said at the beginning of the year that they were just going to do a monthly party for all birthdays. Cut down on a lot of the parties, and it was still fun. And if there were months that there weren’t any birthdays, it didn’t ruin our month. We got over it pretty darn quickly.

The problem I have with this is that these parents have formed a mob, who are completely overlooking the fact that they’re talking about a child’s health. They’re telling their children that it’s okay to ostracize someone that’s different, if it makes life easier for them. (Don’t get me started on the medical professionals they’re quoting that seem to say it’s an overreaction on the school’s part. I know enough children who suffer from anaphylaxis due to food allergies to know that it is possible)

Food allergies are a part of life. People might say that they’re more prevalent these days, but the reality is that we’re simply better at detecting them. In the past, people used to just get sick and depending on the severity, die. Teaching children to understand that food allergies exist is a valuable lesson. Far too many people don’t understand how dangerous some of these allergies are, and would prefer to think that those with them are simply picky eaters or want to be difficult.

This is what our allergy problem looked like. That is a picture of the Little Kidlet when he was 5 months old (and a bonus shot of my bony knees). I nursed him when he was born, and pumped when I returned to work- determined to what I thought was best as a mother. All of a sudden, he became covered with that itchy eczema. It looked horrible, but he was still the sweetest, cuddliest baby that happened to be covered in scales (this would be our first indication that he was his big brother’s total opposite). Our pediatrician sent us to a dermatologist, who ended up sending us to an allergist… and after a blood draw determined that he was allergic to so many things that it was safer for him to simply put him on a hypoallergenic baby formula rather than put me on an elimination diet (since they’d only tested for the most common allergens, and he’d tested off the charts for all of them- they weren’t sure what else he was allergic to).

One small fortune later (even with insurance covering the bulk of the cost), he cleared up, and we’ve been very lucky. He’s had a few cases of hives where we weren’t entirely sure what was the cause. I caught him eating french bread several months back and we gave him Benadryl and stared at him for hours. We’re lucky. He can be around people who eat the things he’s allergic to, and he’s fine. He’s even had fries from places where I know now that cross-contamination could be an issue… and hasn’t had much of a problem. We’re exceptionally lucky.

However, I completely understand where the parents of this little girl are coming from. They don’t want her to be isolated. They’d like her to have a somewhat normal school experience- with friends, teachers and playgrounds. They don’t want her to be so afraid of her allergy that she doesn’t want to get outside and live her life.

A lot of arguments I’ve seen in favor of the other parents is that she’ll have to face this eventually. True. But keep in mind, this is a kid! No matter how much you try to educate a little kid about allergies and the effects on them… it’s still hard for them to govern it themselves without support. Why not give her a developmental hand and let her have a bit of normalcy because yes, the rest of her life will likely be filled with asking whether or not there are nuts in a dish or if there are nuts used in various kitchens. Flights will have to be picked based on who has banned peanuts from their flights. Let the little girl be healthy enough to get to the point where she can take care of herself, and not come out some damaged little girl who feels like nobody wants her around and that she has to live in a bubble because people are inconsiderate.

As I see it, a lot of the problems I see in our country right now are all related to not caring about anyone other than ourselves. Most politicians care more about their careers and protecting their donors than they do about their constituents. Parents care more about themselves than their children. And those parents who do care about their children, seem to think that only their child matters in this world. We’ve become so self-serving that it almost seems like we’re unable to be compassionate.

They aren’t asking the entire town to ban peanuts. They’re simply asking children to rinse their mouths out with water and wash their hands. In the grand scheme of the world… that really isn’t very much to ask.

The Wired Mom: What’s up with Twitter?

Yes, I am The Wired Mom. Not just because of my addiction to caffeine, but because I don’t seem to go anywhere without my phone or my laptop. Need I remind everyone of my birthday weekend, where TheBoy and I rejoiced because they had free wifi at our hotel?

Anyways, I use Twitter. I joined it 4 years ago, though admittedly, it took awhile before I was using it daily. I see it as an easy way to share thoughts on my mind that wouldn’t fill out a blog post and to share links I find useful.

At some point in time, you get to the point where you have a lot of people you follow. I’m hovering around 190 right now, and it’s everyone- from friends and family, to bloggers I like, artists I enjoy, writers, geek celebs, news agencies, chefs and food trucks. And I like following them all.

Keeping up with everyone through Twitter’s website would be difficult. I’ve come to rely on TweetDeck, which is a third party client that lets you tweet and see your Twitter stream divided up by your lists. You get context all of a sudden, and it makes keeping up so much easier.

However, Twitter doesn’t like these third party apps. On Friday, Twitter sent a note to developers that included this quote from Ryan Sarver (their director of platform), “Developers ask us if they should build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience. The answer is no.”

I love you Twitter, I really do. But it’s statements like this that make me cringe. I have a long dislike of companies that decide that ultimately they know what’s best for you.

I have no options with Facebook. I can post statuses through other clients, but for the most part it’s hard to really interact with people unless you visit its website. With third party apps for Twitter, I can customize my experience so that I’m getting the most out of Twitter and easily keep up with everyone. It’s the beauty of Twitter having such a simple information stream. It’s infinitely tweakable.

I think most people fell in love with that, too. I understand that as a company, Twitter wants to make a profit off its own apps, but unless they find ways to offer some of the features that these third party clients offer- they mind wind up alienating companies and people with much larger fanbases.

So there you have it Twitter. Either find a way to accommodate the features that the 10% who don’t use your own apps want… or just embrace it and focus on making Twitter a great experience. After all, a 90% adoption rate is pretty darn good.

Ch-Ch-Changes, part deux.

Recently, I posted something about changes going on in my life, talking about signing my kids up for school. The Oldest Kidlet at a new school for kindergarten, and the Little Kidlet for preschool.

Well, there’s a lot going on! This week I went to the doctor for some intestinal issues I’d been having. TMI, I know- but I’d had a gurgly stomach, cramping and obviously I’ve been fatigued. I put up with it for awhile, making sure that no organs were tender (I’m not an idiot). I’d had this pop up about a year ago, and my last doctor thought it might be IBS, and if it was stress-related, then there wasn’t much I could do about it.

Then, I was reading Wil Wheaton’s blog, which had a guest post from his mom. Talking about Celiac Disease. Being that I have a son with a wheat allergy and am part of a few communities where there are lots of people with CD, I dutifully went to google it because some of the commenters on the post sounded well… a lot like me. I wasn’t sure it was celiac disease, mostly because I wasn’t being hospitalized- but it certainly made me wonder if I was having gluten issues.

So I started documenting the timing of my cramps, and what I ate… and it seemed pretty clear cut to me. I went to the doctor, and he immediately ruled out IBS because of my notes about the timing (as well as the fact that I’d had some tuna salad, and nothing else, for lunch before the appointment. My bowels were dead quiet). I asked if they wanted to do a blood draw to confirm, and he said that because of my family history (Seester was allergic to wheat), my age, and my extremely thorough documentation he was comfortable having me try a gluten free diet to see if it solves my problem.

I’ve seen a lot of my friends go on gluten-free diets, and immediately become overwhelmed. Because my sister was allergic to wheat (though she could have rye and barley), and because I’m used to paring down the Little Kidlet’s diet… I’m pretty comfortable with what options are out there. I also knew that there are a lot of gluten-free options. Which I wouldn’t have any problem eating since gluten was my only restriction.

Luckily it coincided with our second shopping day. Yes, I shop for food twice a week. Living in a house with 8 people, there is a definite limit to how much food you can keep- even with two fridges. So I bought some supplies, and here I am.

Even already the cramps are gone. Hopefully, as time passes this will help fix some of the other problems that the doctor thinks is linked to this- my fatigue, and even my anemia. (Hard to get your iron when your body doesn’t want to absorb many nutrients)

I’m excited. Gluten-free brings a lot of new challenges, baking wise… and all this happens just as the Little Kidlet has decided that he wants baked goods. In the past, I’d slave on allergen-free cupcakes or pancakes only to have him snub them. But in the past week, he’s been decidedly sad that he couldn’t join in on pizza or have cookies.

And trust me, gluten-free feels like a piece of cake when you’re used to regularly making meals for someone who can’t have wheat, eggs, peanut and soy. So I’m sure I’ll share some successes and failures here.

I heart Caltech

One of the advantages to living in an active fault zone is that you find yourself with quake experts living in the background.

Whenever there’s a wake, the lovely people from CalTech come out and shine. They explain the science and keep people calm.

The Little Kidlet and I are watching a press conference with them, which I tweeted. I’m going to delete a lot of those tweets to share some of the information that they shared. These aren’t exact quotes, but hopefully this will be helpful information to all of you.

Kate from CalTech popped in to remind everyone that while it seems like there have been a lot of large quakes, that the only quakes in recent time that didn’t fall within an expected range have been this 8.9 quake in Japan and the 8.8 in Chile. While there are quakes in the 7.0 range, and those that cause damage- they do happen frequently, and are not necessarily indicative of anything out the norm, seismically.

Another gentleman popped in to talk about the GPS stations set up in Japan, and the actual landshifts. Any time that there’s a quake, the earth does literally move. While all the data is still coming in, they did see one station report a shift of approximately 8 feet to the east. Which sounds like a lot, but there was a greater shift from the Indonesia/Sumatra quake/tsunami event.

Suspender Guy (aka Thomas Heaton, director of the Earthquake Engineering Research Laboratory) then took over to talk about our fault lines and the fault lines in Japan. The reason their fault was able to produce a quake of this magnitude is because of how deep it is (and it’s off the coast). Here in Southern California, our fault lines are fairly shallow and directly under us. Which sounds frightening- but it means that if there’s a larger quake, the damage is mostly confined to the epicenter. An example of that sort of damage is the Christchurch quake in New Zealand, where the shallow fault was directly under the city.

They also discussed the tsunami waves here on the US Coast. The hardest hit area has been Crescent City, which had a surge of 6 feet, which destroyed their docks and many of the ships. Here in our area, there hasn’t been much seen, but because of how we are along the coast… that was expected.

I know that earthquakes and tsunamis are scary. But thanks to people like those at Caltech, they do take the time to explain what’s going on without sensationalizing it. Sadly, a lot of the coverage of this earthquake has been extremely sensational… geared towards scaring people into staying tuned, as opposed to making sure that they’re offering useful information.

Update: Caltech is reminding people that we aren’t necessarily out of the woods with tsunami danger- while there hasn’t been much “action” that could change, so please. Stay out of the water.

Update 12:22 Pacific Approximately an hour ago, a 6.6 earthquake struck Nagano. So far thats really all I’ve been able to find (I just got back from picking up the Oldest Kidlet at school). Since it was inland, there is no immediate risk of tsunami, and no reports yet of damage.

Not a fun wakeup.

I’d already stayed up too late, finishing “The Portrait of Dorian Gray.” I drifted off to sleep, and started to wake when the light went on and off on the stairs a few times (I sleep with my door open a teeny bit for the cat).

Then my door opened, and my mother-in-law informed me that there’d been an 8.9 earthquake in Japan. She kept talking, but immediately my brain started to worry about my sister. You see, my dear little sister is in Tokyo, studying. My mother in law had TheBoy on the phone who explained that it wasn’t near Tokyo, but that there were already reports of tsunamis.

So on went the TV, out came the laptop, and I started digging in. It was a huge quake, but most of the major damage wasn’t near Tokyo. And she’d already posted to Facebook that she was okay. But I was awake. I watched as waves of the tsunami swept through an area far north of Tokyo, dragging cars and destroying buildings…

And it was 1 am before I got back to sleep. Right now I’m trying to wake up as it’s time to get going for our Friday. My sister’s fine- while buses are running, the trains are shut down in Tokyo. Thank goodness for Facebook, though- she can post an update and not be inundated with phone calls from half a world away while she tries to get some sleep.

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