Photo Friday: Earthquake Pancake

Posted by Ted on Oct 21, 2011 in Events, Memories, Photography

San Francisco shook twice yesterday, and it wasn’t from a Giants game.

Almost 22 years to the day after the Loma Prieta earthquake rattled the Bay Area during the 1989 World Series, two quakes occurred yesterday along the Hayward Fault, with epicenters several miles below the UC Berkeley campus. At 2:41p, I felt the first one (4.0) from our lab in the SoMa district of San Francisco – a rumble that jiggled parked cars on the street. At 8:16p, I felt the second one (3.8) from our much closer second story apartment in Oakland and did a mental double-take as I truly felt the house shake for a moment. Of course, Facebook and Twitter had a flurry of status updates as people all across the Bay Area shared their experiences.

When my wife and I moved here from Boston three years ago, we traded snow for earthquakes. I personally don’t mind these relatively small earthquakes, in that by relieving fault pressure they delay “The Big One“. Even when that one hits, I have some faith that it may not be as bad as what I saw in Haiti last year.

The second floor becomes the first - Jacmel, Haiti (March 2010)

Here you can see a bit of earthquake physics you might not have realized – that on multi-story buildings, it is actually safer to be higher up. Notice that the first floor has been completely crushed and the third floor is comparatively unscathed. My faith that California will weather a large earthquake better is due primarily to the three following things that Haiti does not have;

  1. Higher quality building materials – What I saw in Haiti was cement that crumbled to the touch and woefully thin rebar
  2. Better building techniques – California in particular practices seismic design principles
  3. Adherence to building codes – Perhaps most important, for without this the other two become meaningless

This is not to say that Californians should be complacent, but our awareness and continued engineering advances should give us a decent chance of avoiding the devastation that I saw in Haiti.

(Related pictures of Haiti 2010 can be found here.)

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So close I could almost touch it..

Posted by Ted on Apr 17, 2010 in Biking, Technology

After discovering a couple of key new connections, I explored unridden territory today, and avoided both Alameda and the Oakland Hills by riding up to Cesar Chavez Park in Berkeley this afternoon.  A mostly urban ride, but with more bike paths than I was expecting, I went up the Embarcadero and through Jack London Square, and then around the Port of Oakland and past Emeryville, to a small park jutting into the bay. My route is below, using Google’s new ‘Bicycle Directions‘ feature which I can tell I’m going to like a lot. Clicking the map will take you to the saved route.


I had meant to go all the way up to Point Isabel, but the wind and fading light turned me around. Without Alameda or the port to block the view, San Francisco was so close that I could almost touch it. The Bay Bridge was extending into the bay to my left and curving in to Yerba Buena Island. The City itself rose above the glistening water and Treasure Island. The Golden Gate bridge framed Alcatraz, and the sky behind the Marin Headlands and Mount Tam were turning orange.

It was windy out on the water, but the view was amazing. I look forward to exploring farther up the coast.

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