Archive for March, 2011

Honshu, should they have seen it coming?

I’m from Southern California, and lived most of my life in the San Fernando Valley.
I’ve been through a few quakes.
Being an engineer, I have a passing interest in these seismic events. Today I went to the USGS site and extracted the earthquake event data from 3/6-3/13. Of course most of the data was dominated by Honshu after shocks. In all there were 561 events over this period, I greped the data for Honshu, resulting in 385 of the data points.
What was I looking for? Simple,  I was looking for pre-quake events.

What I found:
There were 36 seismic events > 4.6 that preceded the 3/11 5:46AM 8.9 mega-quake. This swarm started with a 7.2 event on 3/9 2:45AM.

Honshu201103

Honshu Seismic Events 3/9-3/13

Did they think that the 7.2 pre-quake was a rogue event? Followed by after shocks?
Or, was it a signal of more to come?
Sadly, I guess we know the answer now.

Landfill Hill, the wind, Tibetan Prayer Flags??? No…

Friday was a blustery, cloudy day.  Not the best of days to be running the trail blower and cleaning the Silver Comet Trail.   It’s difficult to work against the wind.  Like riding a bike in windy weather, you learn to take what the road will give you.  It’s all good if your head is right.  Just part of the challenge.  Like learning to love the rope.

Early in the day I planned a turn around on Landfill Hill.  Why? It’s one of two, steep, winding sections on the Comet, with a couple of sharp downhill turns.  It’s a bad spot for less-experienced riders where they have, in the past, let the speed get away from them. Debris on this section of trail can be a serious hazard.

Land fill Hill isn’t a pleasant place with winds out of the South like they were Friday, not the usual north-westerly winds.   The sun had peeked out in the last hour and warming the ground, and with recent rains, the humid stench of landfill was over whelming.  Fighting the wind I increased speed and edged to the left to avoid lifting and blowing debris adjacent to the trail.  Rounding the second, outside corner I spotted the turn around.   The second hump and top of Landfill Hill.  Still working against the wind I edged over 2 ft from the left and increased speed, leaving me just enough room to use the wind on the return pass.

I cruised to a stop at the top, jerking the ATV to the left for the turnaround.   It was then that flashes of color caught my eye.  What the he**??  My first impression was colorful tattered Tibetan prayer flags, fluttering in the wind,  like I had seen in movies.  Puzzled, I stopped the ATV and walked up the ridge.

Landfill Hill flags.

A multi-colored array of plastic shopping bags,  lofted from the landfill and into the air had snagged on the brush in a make-shift pattern, as if strung together when viewed at distance.  Yes, it was just trash, snagged by the brush and trapped by the wind, but I can’t shake that lingering first impression of prayer flags fluttering in the wind.  I still find the incident a bit haunting.  The other side of the trail, I looked, there were no flags.

Tibetan prayer flags.

Tibetan prayer flags.