Tuesday, July 29, 2008

If the House is Rockin', Don't Bother Knockin'

Pretty interesting times up in the fluoro suite on 5th this morning, when a 5.4 Richter earthquake set things shaking. Apart from my patient deciding she didn't want to be secured to the table in any way despite being five feet from the floor, it was all pretty surreal. There was about a second-long pause while the phenomenon registered in my brain like the answer to a quiz show Question: What makes entire buildings bounce up and down and sway continuously, without any warning whatsoever? Um...let me see...ooh it's on the tip of my tongue...I'll have it in another two tenths of a second...AHA! An EARTHQUAKE! But of course I was too busy trying to keep the patient from falling off the table to say much apart from "That's an earthquake" in response to her "WHAT'S THAT!?". In an odd sense it was nice to have a patient freak out about something objective - generally it's the misplaced expectation of great anguish that is most difficult to manage. With an earthquake, there's no doubt: something weird is definitely happening. Fear is entirely appropriate.

Fortunately, steel girders and modern structural engineering being what they are, the whole works just gets going like a big spring and oscillates for awhile. At least this time. Someone said "maybe this means we won't have a big one for awhile", but I'm not sure there is any reason to feel confident with seven or eight local active fault lines crisscrossing the immediate area overlying a convergence zone between two techtonic plates.

Phones are worthless immediately after a quake. We couldn't even make calls within the hospital there were so many people on the phone. Someone should really make a public service announcement: IN CASE OF EARTHQUAKE, UNLESS YOU ARE PHYSICALLY TRAPPED BY FIRE, DEBRIS, RISING WATER OR OTHER IMMEDIATE LIFE-THREATENING EMERGENCY, KINDLY STAY OFF THE TELEPHONE SO THAT PEOPLE WITH REAL PROBLEMS CAN USE IT. Instead, all the lines get tied up by people calling their friends in New York or vice versa to tell them they are OK. Let's just presume, disasters being what they are, that barring a major pyroclastic flow or tidal wave in your particular zip code, if there is no immediate structural damage to anything around you, the vast majority of people are LIKELY TO BE JUST FINE. No need to call and reassure each other - this is not Chixulub, a nuclear holocaust or the Permian extinction, it's just an earthquake. Assume the best and if you're wrong, well, there's likely not much you can do about it anyway. You'll find out soon enough. In the meantime, do your job.

I did learn however that text messaging is a great way to keep people in the loop. Apparently, from a data standpoint it puts far fewer demands on the system, and even at the height of the post-EQ hysteria I was able to receive and send text messages without any problem whatsoever. Pretty robust stuff.

After they took us out of "EXPECT MASSIVE CASUALTIES TO FLOOD YOUR DEPARTMENT MOMENTARILY" mode, life went pretty much back to normal, except the news stations couldn't stop talking about it all afternoon. They found one brick wall somewhere that fell over, and kept playing the image in a continuous loop to indicate the scale of the disaster. All that was missing was a headline: "Brick Wall Falls Over In Garment District - Mayor Holds Sidewalk Memorial Service for 127 Fallen Cockroaches and one Rat". Said one surviving Roach: "I've lost everyone - brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, my 54 babies - all gone in an instant. As though being a cockroach weren't enough of a sign, I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that There Is No God. There is only Franz Kafka."

I halfway expected the Moth to have jumped off the sawhorses or been crushed by falling paint cans, but it was still sitting there when I arrived home, waiting patiently for me to install a final bulkhead. We're on the back stretch now and for the first time in several weeks hydrofoiling is starting to look halfway plausible again, which is always a good inspiration.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Zeno's Paradox

Just like the Australians to bust out with the Moth Blog Worlds and appoint all Australian judges. I suppose it should rationally go to the country with the highest top three finishers at worlds, and nobody else seems to be taking the initiative, so I say more power. To the people.

Funny thing about virtual mothing - it's a lot like a parallel universe to real mothing, and we know that parallel lines never meet. Stuff happens over here, but nothing happens over there, and vice-versa. So while I'm sitting here typing I should really be out in the garage trimming bulkheads, but after working eleven hours sticking sharp objects into people I stopped off and had a nice meal and a beer at the local watering hole, and now it's 9pm and I just want to chill out and do a little virtual mothing while my brain decompresses. Perfect. It's like somebody said - those who can, do, and those who can't, write. When impossibly charismatic and beautiful barmaids introduce themselves and tell me to have another beer, I do. But it interferes with my writing.

There have been a lot of hints here about stuff happening in my garage. When I am done with them and have had a chance to see how they work, I will post about it, but not until then. It might cost me a place on the podium at Blog Worlds, but whoever said that stuff about swords and pens has obviously never been in a swordfight. I mean, where is the Amac blog about the development of the Bladerider? Speaking of which, if you should venture out to Skye, be sure to look this guy up. It's in a little industrial park, but well worth the trip. And be sure to order yours about a year in advance - just like your Moth.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Mothus Interruptus

Feeling like a Gary Larson cartoon in the garage today, the one where the surgeons are operating and one says to another, as the stomach goes flying onto the floor, "Save that bit. We might need it". If a moth had a stomach, it might well be the daggerboard trunk, and there it was in pieces on the floor. Beautiful foil-shaped hole in the bottom of the boat - pretty, but not fast. Oh dear. Negative space, right there in my Moth.

Fun to see the posts from the boys at Worlds; much more real-time posting this year so far than last. It will be interesting to see who can keep their blogging together during the racing - the mark of a true Jedi (assuming of course you managed to con Virgin Atlantic into thinking your Moth is in fact a windsurfer, which is the first level of proficiency). As I recall, WPNSA's internet access was not fantastic, though that will likely have changed since 2005. Any number of internet cafes in town though.

I must confess I am secretly enjoying my self-imposed moth hiatus. Right now mothing every day for two weeks sounds like a bizarre form of torture, like being on a crack binge (not that I would know what that is like).

George had a great idea today - sort of like a Netflix of moth foils out of Annapolis, except you send them your foil, they tow it up and down a tank, and then they paint it for you instead of paying you $5/month. Sounds like a pretty good deal, especially if your boat happens to be disemboweled at the moment. Sign me up!

Switched over to mountain biking while the Moth recovers from surgery. LA is actually a fantastic town for it; climbing up my favorite trail is one of the few things I do that gets my heart rate up higher than mothing.