Nov. 27-29,’16 ~QofDay~ Earthquake

Have you ever been in a significant earthquake? Tell us about it.

Hi All,

Thanks for thinking of me FOS, and others, and I am fine – in my element you might even say.

I moved to Kaikoura in the full knowledge that these magnificent mountains are created by earthquakes, so I knew it was almost certain that I would experience at least one major quake in the first 50 years – so I was well prepared.

Waking up to a 7.8 30 miles away was interesting.
The books on my bedside table landing on my face got my attention – Luckily I had taken the biggest of them (John Gribben’s History of Science) out to the lounge to use as a reference, as I had just finished reading it. That would have really hurt.
There was no way I was going to try and get out of bed, wouldn’t have been able to stand up. Too shaky.
I was very confident the house would handle it, so I just sort of relaxed and enjoyed the ride.
And we live on fractured limestone, which is about the best material possible if you are in earthquake country. It has a very high wave velocity, over 2,000 m/s. A friend of mine had his house down by Lyell creek, on fine alluvial sediment, where the wave velocity is under 100m/s – so the shaking for him was about 20 times what it was for me, as all the shake energy that is spread over 2km at my place was concentrated in 100m at his place. He woke up as he was flying through the air, having been thrown from his bed, and crashed into a wall, then some piece of furniture flew across the room and hit him on the head, and when he woke up about 20 minutes later it was dark and quiet, and none of the doors worked, and he eventually managed to get out through a window. His house is beyond repair. Mine has hardly a crack in it.
If you live in earthquake country, check what the wave propagation speed is in the material you are intending to build on – the faster the better.

The response of people here in Kaikoura has been amazing.
I have only the deepest praise for the many Kaikoura locals and others from nearby who have done amazing work restoring power, communications, water and sewer systems.
So many people working to repair the many leaks and systems not quite working as they did.

The first response by the local people in caring for frightened tourists was amazing.
Great people, wonderful effort.

What I have far less respect for, bordering on contempt, is the response from roading agencies and centralised (rather than local) civil defense.
We are being told that the road is unsafe.
And in a sort of sense it is – unsafe for tourists and people not used to traveling in this country.

And this is a rural place.
Most people here are well used to traveling on roads and tracks that would give most city people heart failure. We do it safely every day because we have learned how to judge what is safe and what is not.
City bureaucrats have decided that we who travel in rural conditions safely every day, cannot travel a road that is much safer than many we use every day, because tourists from foreign cities may put themselves at serious risk.
That response is entirely inappropriate.

Sure, keep self driving tourists out, but don’t do so by putting locals in prison.

As to the rest of it – it is interesting.

I took my mountain bike and cycled up the road with my cycling buddy Murray. Took more than a few photos.

The uplift at home is clearly visible in a page I did for the boating club:

Other than the fact that we can’t go anywhere else, we are remarkably good. I’m happy enough because I don’t really want to go anywhere else. Many people do want to go elsewhere.
I wouldn’t mind a shopping trip to Christchurch, but we’re remarkably well supplied really.

This afternoon I wrote a submission to select committee on behalf of the Kaikoura Marine Guardians, and then spoke to it briefly this evening.
So life is a crazy topsy turvy sort of whirlwind at present, of things normal and things out of left field.

I guess that’s what happens when the earth moves😉

[Followed by]

Hi Judi

I don’t live as if disaster is going to strike, I live for the beauty in every moment.

And I have plans thought out for anything I consider a significant risk. Most often I have plan A, plan B, and plan C – and I am always willing to go with whatever seems most appropriate – so I am not limited by my planning, but rather informed and assisted by it.

When I am out on the deck watching the Dolphins cavorting in the bay below – that is all that is there for a few seconds, then I might start thinking about their sonar systems, and the neural networks of their brains that allow them to perceive their world in 3D xray type vision, or the amazing circulatory system they have, ….

When I watch the monarch butterflies – that is what I see, then I start thinking about the biochemistry that has coevolved between them and the swan plants they live on.

When I look at the mountains, I sort of cant help overlaying the plate tectonics, and the fault planes I know about, and sometimes, for a few seconds, they are just mountains.

I guess I just have this weird Ted brain, that does its thing, flitting from subject to subject, testing multiple scenarios, for everything I encounter.

For me, it is fun, it is what I love doing.

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Grass is greener

The Grass is Greener

Have you ever had a case of the grass is greener on the other side?

Hi Laurie,

With the horses, rather than any sort of pining for something they cant have, it seems far more likely that it is simply the fact that being ungrazed, the grass definitely is longer and greener, and thus requires less effort to get a full belly. Evolution will have strongly selected for neural networks than deliver full bellies with least effort – hence the attention on the grass that is longer (and evolution will not have encountered fences over deep time, they are a very recent invention).

Lots of other complicating factors in there also. Evolution probably selected quite strongly in wild horses for grazing and moving on, to reduce the risk of picking up some disease from the leavings of other herd members. We haven’t been keeping them in paddocks long enough to have entirely selected out such behaviours.

And sure, there will be a curiosity factor, and a nervousness factor, both of which will have been determined by the long term balance of risks and rewards of such behaviours over deep evolutionary time and the variety of contexts encountered over such time. And all the many other aspects of behaviour we see in complex animals like us and other mammals.

And we humans are much like that too.
Our tendencies to different types of behaviours are very much determined by context, though we bring added dimensions to the social and intellectual aspects of our contexts and behaviours.

Recursion is a marvellous thing, being part of both abstraction and creativity, at potentially infinitely extendable levels.

Any level of any infinity can be explored for infinite time, so all of us who are involved in exploration of anything at any level can be said to bring a “grass is greener” aspect to our being.
We really are “spoilt for choice” as the old saying goes.

And every new level has its own sets of risks, and requires the development (ongoingly) of effective risk mitigation strategies.

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November 20-23,’16 ~QofDay~ Observation

Does observation alter an event?

I understand that some people have the interpretation of quantum mechanics that FOS described, and I’m not one of those. From my understanding, an observation doesn’t alter an event in an of itself, and nor can an observer be totally isolated from an event. So being an observer, is being part of the system, and will have influences on the system (whatever system one is observing). Such influence may be minor, and it may be significant.

So from my perspective, strictly speaking, alter the event, no; alter the system within which the event occurred, yes.

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An issue to die for?

November 14-16,’16 ~QofDay~ An Issue You Would Die for…

What issue would you be willing to die for?

Like others here, I have thought about this a lot.

I’d rather live.
I’d rather everyone lived, and sometimes sh*t happens.
Just had a 7.5 quake quite close, with many aftershocks. The house is rocking and rolling a couple of times an hour at present. Two people died, and quite a few injuries, and a lot of houses that will never be lived in again.
We were lucky, and got power back on the same day (cell phone towers are right beside us – they gotta be good for something), over half the district still don’t have power.
We lost our big TV and a mirror and some glassware, but not much really. Those bookcases not anchored to the walls went over (now they’re all anchored to the walls).

Most of the town is also without water, but we have a 700 gallon reserve tank for just such emergencies.

All roads are out.
Have had lots of helicopters around. Two navy vessels arrived today and are taking most of the tourists out. Could be over a month before the main highway opens again – massive slips. Could be 6 months before they get the rail link reopened.
Most people have been amazing – helping each other out, looking after each other – great community.

Quite an experience.
Wasn’t possible to stand in the original quake.

We have a geologist staying for the night, just heard him come back – better go.

[followed by]

Hi OM,

In some aspects it is degenerating into something of a bureaucratic nightmare, in others things are going remarkably well.

Officially, the one passable road is closed due to hazards.

Yet every day convoys of “official” vehicles pass over it.

Quite a few people who are much more skilled at 4WD over rough terrain than any of the “Officials” are starting to get more than a little upset at the bureaucratic nonsense.

Now 8 days since a road was officially passable. (Yet every day some people make it past the official blockades and get out and back in – every one of them safely – yet officialdom learns nothing – just sit an cover their backsides and pass the buck – yes certainly the road is high risk, and requires a much higher than average skill level, and this is rough country, with a lot of skilled off-road drivers.)
All officials are “passing the buck. Civil defense say it is Transport Agency ban, Transport Agency say it is s Civil Defense ban.
All of us who know the road know it is easily passable by someone with good off-road skills, in a good high clearance 4WD (all of our mates who have been across it tell us so – now numbering close to a hundred). I’m no longer in the group, as the engine on my Hilux dropped a big end shell last month, so is awaiting some serious attention I don;t have time or money to give it.

Fortunately a little bit of sanity has prevailed, and some unofficial channels have allowed some traffic to sidestep the ban without threat of prosecution.

And it is starting to get a bit beyond a joke though.
Some really annoyed individuals in town.

Ass covering bureaucracy working to the lowest common denominator, rather than a bit of common sense and devolved judgment.
If it continues much longer, it will be economic and social chaos in this town.

Fortunately, most of the people on the ground here have done great things for most people here. And it is always the exceptions that get noticed.

It is a great example of where rule based (process based) systems fail, and we simply need to devolve decision making to experienced people on the ground, with ability to make exceptions on a case by case basis. Anything less than that leads to hugely suboptimal outcomes.

And most people are not skilled off roaders, so this isn’t really an issue for them, but it would be really nice to have some of those guys going out and coming back with things that official channels are not supplying. I just bought the last piece of plumbing waste pipe in town, we could use a lot more, and a lot more people are going to start waking up to that fact soon – I’m rejigging my plumbing so that I can run my dishwasher and clothes washer without anything going to the sewer system – currently there is a ban on dishwashers and clothes washers that will probably remain for months.
People are starting to smell quite third worldly.

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Change quote

November 10-13,’16 ~QofDay~ Enoch Arnold Bennett

Enoch Arnold Bennett once said “Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.”
Do You Agree?

Like most things – some truth in it.

As OM says, we are in part beings of habit, and while we need our habits, we also need novelty, to a degree.
Too much novelty can overwhelm us.
For each of us, what constitutes an acceptable balance will vary from domain to domain.

And reality has the habit of throwing new instants of time at us with great regularity (until it doesn’t, meaning we have ceased to be) – so novelty in this sense is an essential part of being.

So it seems that there is a degree of truth in the saying, and what it doesn’t explicitly say is that very often the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks and discomforts – even if those benefits are separated by quite substantial periods.

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Honda fit

Honda Fit — Barely!

What was your most recent barely fit, tight squeeze situation?

Hi Laurie

When I first met Ailsa she a full blood English Mastiff “Shandy” that was heavier than me and almost twice Ailsa’s weight. Now we have “Sandy” who is a mastiff lab cross, and Huia who is all lab. Putting the two of them in the back of Ailsa’s little Diahatsu is often something of a tight fit.

Having the two of them on their couch can be something of a tight fit also.

One of my close friends used to have an Irish Wolfhound “Finnigan”. Fin would greet me by walking up to me, and putting his front paws on my shoulders and resting his chin on my head. I’m 6’2? – Fin was a big boy.

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New AntiMicrobial agent

New antimicrobial peptide kills strains resistant to existing antibiotics

Resistant strains of E. coli and Staph finally meet their match

This article is weird.

It reports a new anti microbial approach, which is great, then goes on to suggest “The clavanin-MO peptide could also be embedded in surfaces such as tabletops to make them resistant to microbial growth, as antimicrobial coatings for catheters, and in ointments to treat skin infections” – which is pure insanity.

Biological systems are probabilistic, they evolve resistance in proportion to the opportunity for exposure.
If we want to prevent resistance developing, then we minimise exposure.
We certainly don’t put it on general surfaces.

Just another example of where economic incentives and economic thinking are directly opposed to the interests of human beings.

It is easy to prevent biofilms developing on surfaces like tables, keep them clean and dry.
Don’t, EVER, waste a precious effective strategy against microbes by exposing them to it generally.
Evolution works by semi-random chance. It requires exposure.

To retain effectiveness we MUST limit exposure.

We have lost the effectiveness of most anti-microbials by introducing them to the feedstocks of factory farmed animals. That makes great sense from the perspective of a drug company trying to make profits by selling more product. It makes no sense from the perspective of human beings trying to stay ahead of microbial evolution and have an effective suite of tools to use against microbes that manage to evade our natural personal defence systems.

To me this is like saying – “Look we have found this amazing new treasure. And look we are going to destroy it as quickly as possible for short term profit.”


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