some thoughts today

on the more serious side of my time…

i would like to apologize to my FB friends for ‘spamming’ your walls. i went on autopilot yesterday posting anything and everything i could find on the net about the M8.9 Japan earthquake and the tsunami that followed. it took several minutes before it dawned on me that everyone was just doing the same thing. which brought me to the conclusion that facebook does give me some degree of arrogance and self-absorption. i used to be able to excuse myself because “i don’t post everything i do on FarmVille, unlike some people.” or something like that… until yesterday happened.

i had no authority. i had no ‘power’ or any of that sort of thing. what i posted didn’t matter because everyone was doing the same thing. we were sharing what is already known by most people. it’s like a dozen people standing in front of a house where one says “oh, a door!” and another one says, “a window over there!” and then they just switch lines but are saying the same thing… but to each person, it matters that we have to say out loud that “there’s a door over here!” even when people have already said it and people are seeing it and know for a fact that there IS a door!  (malabo ba? heheh)

second, initial reports are saying that hundreds could be dead in Japan after the quake. for a quake with that magnitude and a great tsunami right after but having such a low number of deaths is astonishing in my book. haiti lost hundreds of thousands to a quake that flattened the whole capital. yes i know, actual reports haven’t confirmed any number of deaths but it could be thousands. yet it still astonishes me how this country is so prepared for these types of disasters that they could minimize loss of life. i guess it boils down to their discipline, cooperation, and strict implementation of guidelines how structures should be built and what to do in any case these hazards occur. there is devastation but i feel that there is no ‘disaster’. it is tragic that there is loss of life but considering the circumstances, i can hardly believe how well-prepared, calm, and resilient the Japanese are. they knew what to do.

here’s a clip where you hear a loud siren, signalling a possible tsunami.

on the science side, though, this got me raring to go! 🙂 my cousin, warning me that i might do a Jacque Bermejo on facebook. it was some sort of inside joke since my workplace is concerned with such events — natural hazards — and that we, researchers in this field, were generally abnormal/weird because we’d be all excited when these things start! my group is excited when we feel an earthquake, my other colleagues’ group rejoices when there’s a typhoon! not because we are happy about the floods, heavy rain, potential landslide, devastation or loss of life but rather because of what we are able to observe during these times. it’s like those storm chasers in that old movie Twister or maybe when Jodie Foster heard anomalies in Contact. the unfortunate part in my field is that more often than not, a huge event leaves destruction and death.

so, today we are seeing more footage of what happened during the quake. i’m trying to control myself not to post anything “new” but still consider these things really fascinating. my only hope that if and when the same thing happens to us here in the beautiful Pearl of the Orient (knock on wood), i could be prepared as well. i could be helpful and useful.