a weblog by Schuyler D. Erle

Wed, 30 Jul 2003

[14:16] Major Quake Likely to Strike Bay Area by 2030

I discovered this little prognostication last night after being woken from a nap by a Richter 4.0 earthquake about 25 miles north of where I live, near Santa Rosa, California. The quake itself only lasted for a few seconds, shaking the house as if a large truck was passing right outside -- except that the house is over a thousand feet from the nearest road that could possibly carry such a truck at the requisite speed to cause that amount of shaking. It was just enough to yield that amazing moment of confusion wherein you can't figure out what the fuck is going on, before it dawns on you that the shaking couldn't be anything other than terra firma suddenly going not-so-firma.

Being the sucker for natural disasters dutiful citizen that I am, I prompted pulled out the laptop and went to the USGS earthquake site, waited for my particular quake to show up, and then filed a report. Having done this, I couldn't resist clicking the link marked "2003 Earthquake Probability Study", wherein it is revealed that the likelihood of a major quake (i.e. Richter 6.7 or greater) in the Bay Area over the next 30 years is, to the best scientific understanding, over sixty percent. Apparently, the relative dearth of devastating quakes in the Bay Area during the last century resulted from the "stress shadow" of the 8.3 Richter quake of 1906, which virtually levelled Santa Rosa (and is the reason there's no courthouse in Courthouse Square). Which means that in the meantime we've been building up to another big one.

So wouldn't you know it but that, according to the USGS, although there would be far worse places for an earthquake to happen around here, the most likely fault to go off in the next three decades, at a predicted magnitude of 7.0, is none other than the Rodgers Creek, which runs smack dab through the middle of Santa Rosa. We're talking down the street from my house, folks. And to think PG&E; wanted to build a nuclear power plant near here.

Thu, 17 Jul 2003

[16:11] Farewell, O Jeep

So they came and hauled away my beloved 1990 Jeep Cherokee this morning, my first real car, bought from San Matejo just after Folk Fest '99, with a mere 117,400 miles under her belt. When she was towed away, she had gone over 207,000 in total, a distance the Goddess in her infinite wisdom never intended a Jeep Cherokee to surpass, 90,000 miles of it in my possession, and that in about three and a half years. Probably half of those were in the first year and a half, too.

The day after Christmas 1999, she was christened "Faith", since it was our expectation that faith alone would get us from Philadelphia to San Francisco in under a week, but that same night she earned the nickname "Jepé", and it was this that stuck, for the most part. But faithful she was indeed: In the three plus years I owned her, we criss-crossed the Northeast, up the lengths of I-95, 93, 89, 87, 85, and 81, to Boston and Concord and Montpelier, taking to the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn like a cabbie in a Crown Vic with a new V8; then down I-95 the whole way to Miami, and thence to Key West; across I-80 and I-40 and I-10 and I-8, clear across the North American continent three times; up and down I-5 and US 101 and California's magnificent Route 1, countless times from Portland, Oregon to down to San Diego; off-road many times, once through California's infamous asbestos hazard area in the Diablo Range; to Death Valley once, and Burning Man twice; and clear to Mexico, also twice. I practically lived in the thing for almost two years.

Time didn't treat her awful well in my care, either; a series of fender-benders, sideswipes, and being outright flipped over once (depicted above, in a photo entitled "Seat Belts Save Lives") pretty much did her in. With her body rusting, roof crushed in, and front fender completely gone, I decided to reward the faithful Jepé Faith with the only appropriate retirement I could think of: Donation to a worthy charity, specifically In Defense of Animals. (To be fair, I thought about donating her to North Coast Earth First! to be used as a logging road blockade, but I was a little dicey on the legality of being connected by VINs and the like with such an action...)

I've meanwhile obtained a diesel 1983 Mercedes 240D, for the purpose of running it on biofuels, of which I'll write more later. You can browse a recent photo gallery of the two vehicles. Anyhow, since many of my friends, both new and old, have ridden in or driven my old Jeep at one time or another, in some cases for vast and epic distances, I thought I'd share the news. My only regret is having forgotten to make off with the Maserati shifter knob that she, for whatever reason, came into my posession with. May the Goddess commend whatever spirit a car has, and may she rust in peace.

My mother, who still recalls her original red 1969 Ford Mustang with fondness after all these years, says that your first car is always your favorite. I'm inclined to agree. I'll probably never really be able to replace my old Jeep Cherokee. But if anyone happens to know of a reasonably priced black diesel sport utility vehicle with four-wheel drive and decent fuel efficiency, do let me know...

Wed, 16 Jul 2003

[22:28] Fear and Loathing in Sacto

Well, my attempts at mophoblogging in Sacramento didn't really work out, granted. Apparently the script I wrote to handle the phone's images didn't handle the parentheses in the image file names all that well. Which is okay, because writing meaningful descriptions on a cell phone keypad while trying to keep up with a moving engagement between police and demonstrators turns out to be darned near impossible. For those of you interested in the concept, you can check out Matt Westervelt's 16photos site, and if you email him and ask real nice, maybe he'll send you the script he uses to pipe mail from. Better still, maybe Collord will remind me the name of the PHP package that'll allow you to upload pics directly without having to much about with this mail attachment crap.

Anyway, Sacramento was fun, wild, crazy, a little disheartening. The police made themselves look absurd by outnumbering us consistently by over two to one and carrying ridiculously overpowered weaponry for the task at hand. The press made themselves look ridiculous by fanning fear of another Seattle across the town, and then when protests failed to turn confrontational to the point of violence, they were forced to actually back down and tell our story for once. Starhawk said afterwards that she thought it was as much of a turning point in the resistance against the WTO, and the subjugation of the rights of the world's people to its multinational corporations, as Seattle itself had been -- a remarkable feat considering that we only numbered a few thousand at best.

The most creative action of the entire mobilization, in my opinion, was the occupation of the former Ron Mandella Community Garden by a dozen activists, most of them friends of mine from Sonoma County. The garden, about a half a block in size, near 15th and Q, had been a mainstay of that neighborhood for over a generation -- until the Capital Area Development Association deemed it a purpose unworthy of that patch of land, locked up the garden, and slated it to be demolished and replaced with pricey condos, under the smokescreen of supposed toxic contamination. Needless to say, the residents of the neighborhood were less than thrilled by this turn of events, and were contrawise delighted when my friends showed up, and with the assistance of certain burlier members of the Black Bloc, opened the gates and brought the community back into their garden for a re-planting party and permaculture workshop. Later that night, when everything had calmed down, the police raided in force, and arrested everyone inside, which by this point was just the dozen still locked down. It took about 100 of Sacramento's finest plus emergency crews to boot to extricate them from the lockboxes -- while we watched on, fearing that law enforcement might resort to pain compliance holds, chanting and singing in solidarity, and smiling when the designer of the lockboxes made pithy competitive engineering style comments like "Oh, they're trying the angle grinders now. Those'll never work." As Patrick from the SmartMeme project commented to the press, the issues surrounding the garden were "a microcosm of the very issues that are going on inside this (conference)." I have photos of the arrests. Everyone inside was out of jail within 48 hours, after some rather brutal treatment by the police, and the court date's on Monday, which is coincidentally the birthday of my friend Cole, who was one of those arrested. "Vegan birthday cake party at the courthouse!" she's promised everyone.

I'd to my chagrin just managed to avoid getting arrested with them because Melissa from Eugene and I had spent all day doing comms dispatch for the affinity groups on the ground, a terrifying disorganized affair that nearly collapsed when it turned out that the radios were using were woefully underpowered for downtown Sacramento's level of urban buildup, but was saved at the last moment by Luke's suggestion that we fall back to using the cell phones. Unfortunately, we only had phone numbers for the cluster medics in many cases, but we and they suffered along. It was grueling work. I sat indoors for five hours and talked on the phone and left feeling like I'd been in the streets all day. I have done a thorough writeup of the comms situation in Sacto, which I may one of these days e-mail around to folks. Before I got back, there were already emails in my inbox wanting to know if I'd be working on Cancun.

Meanwhile, I've just spent a week in Portland, OR at my company's Open Source Convention, but that's a whole nother story I hope to get to soon. Meanwhile, check out the photo gallery I've started to put online, which includes more pictures from Sacramento, some older pics of Remedy before she was de-treed, and some photos from OSCon. Hopefully most of the photographs I've taken over the last two or three years -- not a lot -- will end up here soonish. Thanks for your patience, if you've read along this far. :-)

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