Archive for the ‘current events’ Category

East Coast people, first, let me be honest: yes, we’re all giggling about your 5.8 earthquake on this coast.  And no, it isn’t fair, but you probably laugh at our occasional funnel clouds.

Second, it’s still very important to go report what you observed if you felt the earthquake; use this USGS link:

USGS: Did You Feel It?

Why? Because it helps geologists map exact earthquake soil response for specific types of seismic waves, and it helps engineers assess actual and potential damage. I makes everyone safer in the long run.

Even with itty-bitty little quakes…  (Kidding!)


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Around 7:30 pm, PDT on Friday night  (Aug. 5, 2011), we simultaneously lost our Internet connection, long-distance phone, and cell phone service.  Since these are provided by different companies, it surprising.

We turned on the radio and tried some of the local radio station.  They mentioned in passing that Internet was down as far as Garberville at least, and KMUD said they weren’t getting many calls from their listeners (but it might have been because their show really sucked.)  No big fuss and everybody just continuing with their regular music programmes, but then they might not have been able to get any info either.

By midnight we still saw no change, but this morning (Aug. 6) when I let the cats out just after 6 am, I noticed that the router was flashing normally again so I tried and found we had Internet again.  The cell phones are still telling us we’re roaming, though.  I looked online and found no mention on any of the local news sites or Google News.

We thought it might be related to the strong solar flares we were getting yesterday, but that’s just a WAG.  Anybody know anything?

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I’m 45 now, I’ve been an engineer for over half my life.  Bit by bit, I have passed into the second half of my career without ever seeing the change coming.  Every once in a while I run into a discussion, in person or online, about the Millenials as the “Me Generation”, about how young people today are all about their entitlement and their toys, and not about what they can do your their country — or, more likely, for their employer.  As some like to sum it up, “Millenials want bags of money or praise.”

The first time it happened, maybe five years ago or so — I guess by then I was considered elderly enough not to be considered one of the young whippersnappers anymore — I was quite shocked.  I was trying to recognize the young people I know, and failed.  I asked myself whether it was because I was so disconnected from them, but it just so happen that a good number of my friends are in their mid-twenties.

Now I’ve gone back to teaching and I look at even younger people in our Engineering Department.  Do these complaints reflect what I’m seeing?

In a word, no.  I think it’s absurd.

I’m not saying that there is no difference between young people in 2011 and those I taught in the late 90s, or my cohorts in the late 80s, let alone my parents’ generation.  Particularly in the way they have learned to learn, the way they work, their expectations of how things work, they obviously have been shaped by a different context.  They have grown up with different technology.

But I find the descriptions that have been attached to their supposed sense of entitlement and air-headedness completely unfair.  Do they have unrealistic expectations?  Of course — it’s part of that stage of life.  And let’s face it, the world they have been raised to expect changes even faster with each passing decade.

Do they need to learn critical thinking, hard work, self-reliance, initiative, resourcefulness?  About as much as 20-year-olds ever do, and maybe less than my students from the late 90s.

Do they have an inflated sense of entitlement?  Ha.  Less so than the Baby Boomers.  In fact, if anything the Millenials’ flaw in the eyes of most employers is that they aren’t quite naive enough about being taken advantage of.  I still wouldn’t call them savvy — that’s something that take more years of experience — but they don’t come in with the expectation that they should sacrifice everything to the altar of The Job.  I say good on them.

No, what I’m seeing is young people who want their choices to have a meaning, who want try many things, who want their efforts to be appreciated, and who are doubtful about how much they can trust what they hear from older generations.  Employers, give them a chance and give them some reasons to love what they do!

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The Foodie Shuffle

Recent news for a couple of good eating places in Humboldt:

(1) Curley’s Grill, formerly in Ferndale and chased out last fall by sky-rocketing rent costs, just re-opened at 320 Main Street, Fortuna last week.

(2) Cafe Nooner in Eureka just started this week will start in a few days offering breakfast items in addition to its customary lunch.  I can’t wait to try it this Sunday.

These are two quintessential “comfort food” places in the area, quality served with pride but without pretention.

(3) In addition, I’m awaiting with curiosity the re-opening of Go Fish, the fish & chips cafe on 1st Avenue in Eureka, at the corner of Commercial Street.  A sign was recently posted, announcing the upcoming opening, but giving no date.

(Edited 12/20/2009.)

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Montreal, where I come from, looks like this today:

The office courtyard here looks like this:

The temperature here is about 7 C (45 F), while it’s -2 C in Montreal (28 F).

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Sigh.  I’m sorry, I don’t actually want to be a cynic and suspect scams everywhere, but I think last Thursday’s “Courage Night” may have been one.  Ostensibly, the event was about gathering money and attention for the fight against breast cancer; however, I have serious reservations about the tenor of the event.

Key guests were Berny Dohrmann and Susie Carder, best known (and actually not that widely) for writing about, and pushing, “The Secret”.  The central tenet of this pseudo self-help book and the movement it generated is that “positive thinking” is all it takes to change your life, to ward off the bad things and instead receive wealth, health, and happiness.

While it seems fair to say that, all else being equal, strong morale is usually beneficial and helps sustain one through challenges, this is not sufficient.  I really hate philosophies that ultimately place the blame for ill fortune on the victim: if you are not wealthy, healthy, and happy, it must be because you don’t want it badly enough, right?  Big comfort and help for someone who, after a goodly dose of The Secret, or certain New Agey versions of the concept of karma, or firm belief  in the power of prayer alone, is still wrestling with cancer, unemployment, or depression.

I’m very, very fortunate, and I have always been.  Sure, there have been times of sadness and struggle, but in the end I’ve had a wonderful family, husband, and friends, good health, a career I love, and many other interests to keep me in love with life.  However, I am acutely conscious that all of this is a result of great luck.

I also know, and we all do, much worthier people with fantastic attitudes who have suffered the outrageous slings and arrow of fortune, who can’t seem to get an even break, and who die early of disease or accident.  I do not believe that lack of a positive attitude explains that.

Let’s face it: sickness, ruptures, and reversals of fortune happen because ours is a stochastic universe — in other words, shit happens.  Not because you’re a bad person or because you had a negative attitude, but because it’s random bad stuff.

The way to act against this is to develop compassion for one another, to install social and personal safety nets, to help one another, to fund research into medicine and beneficial technologies, to pick ourselves up and try again.  Magical thinking, the idea that if we wish hard enough everything will be all right, is not only silly, it’s downright dangerous and callous.

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Port of refuge

The Hawaiian Chieftain, a ketch, took refuge at the Bonnie Gool public dock in Eureka Tuesday and will probably leave today. We stopped by last night to snap a few pictures with the camera-phones; I have 14 of mine posted online here but this was my favourite. I’m quite pleased with the effect.

The Hawaiian Chieftain sails out of Grays Harbor in Washington, and is operated by the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority for “educational cruises and ambassadorial visits along the west coast.”

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