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Skimaster P?

February 2012 will go down in history as the month that I started to enjoy skiing, which is to say, I stopped falling every 37 seconds. Thank you very much Squaw Valley ski instructor Lawrence for finally teaching me the basics.

February 19, 2012

A collection of maps and photos from Australia

After a marathon 18 hours on a plane (DRW-SYD-SFO), I’m back from Australia, and seeings how I can’t sleep (stupid GMT +09:30), I thought I’d post some photos and maps from Oz. The trip spanned ten days, from 2/5/2012 to 2/15/2012, with the first 6 days spent in Sydney working out of our Sydney office, and 4 days in Darwin on vacation ahead of the 70th anniversary of the “Australian Pearl Harbor” (2/19/2012). Overall, an outstanding visit, I really enjoyed Sydney and Australia, and can seeing myself going there again (for next time: snorkling, national park’ing, outback’ing, Melbourne’ing, etc).

Assorted photos from Sydney and Darwin


Album link: here!

2/9/2012 — A walk from Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach

View Coogee to Bondi walk in a larger map

2/11/2012 — A Kayaking adventure in Sydney Harbor, where we got caught in the middle of significant thunderstorm and just barely survived 🙂

View Kayaking Sydney Harbour in a larger map

2/14/2012 — A tour of World War II-related sites around Darwin, scene of the February 19, 1942 surprise air attack by the Japanese.

View A WWII Tour of Darwin in a larger map

February 15, 2012

Pics from Myrtle Beach

Some photos from my trip out to Myrtle Beach last month for Coastal GeoTools, the “Best Coastal GeoTools Ever.”

View photos in Google Earth or Google Maps

April 11, 2011

Notes, Links, and Photos from my trip to Christchurch

Having just arrived back from New Zealand as part of a work trip (’s Crisis Response Team) to visit post-earthquake Christchurch and the surrounding areas (to learn and to help), I wanted to share some things I learned and saw while they were fresh in my head.

On February 22 2011, Christchurch, NZ suffered a 6.3 magnitude aftershock, which followed a 7.1 magnitude earthquake in September. The February quake caused significant damage to the city and the deaths of >160 people, whereas the initial September quake resulted in no fatalities (but billions in damage otherwise).

The September quake was totally unexpected, up until then, no fault was thought to exist near the city.

Peak acceleration (lateral movement) in the February Christchurch earthquake was 2.2G. For context, last year’s earthquake in Haiti which killed 300k+ “only” measured .5G. Per Wikipedia, a recorded lateral acceleration of 2.2G is the largest ever recorded.

Larger scale disaster (given unknown fault and scale of earthquake) was avoided by New Zealand’s stringent building codes (a pretty significant fault line runs through nearby Wellington and SW-NE through the rest of the country).

The effects of the earthquake upon the silty Christchurch soil were pretty pronounced, in the form of liquefaction. Liquefaction is the conversion of soil into a liquid upon stress (i.e. that from an earthquake) which causes the soil to lose strength and stiffness. This subsequent weakness in the soil was in large part responsible for the collapse of myriad Christchurch buildings, along with the large scale depositing of soil on the ground — liquefaction being forced through weak spots in road/surface.

Here’s a great video from Christchurch demonstrating the liquefaction effect:

Proving the power of the 7P’s, the September quake (with no fatalities) proved an impetus for creating detailed earthquake response plans, which ultimately saved an untold number of lives when the February quake occurred.

In meeting with people affected by the Earthquake, the individual stories they told were pretty astounding, and often heartbreaking. To meet the effects of the quake, we saw humor, charity, and the community coming together.

One example of this coming together, the Student Volunteer Army, really amazed me with the work they were doing. Organizing >15,000 students, the Student Volunteer Army was able to respond to citizen requests for help (jobs), sending teams of students to help out people in need (delivering water, removing silt, etc). Ultimately, thousands of jobs are being done daily to help recover from the earthquake. Louis Brown from the SVA was truly inspiring:

While there, a 4.8 magnitude aftershock happened while eating dinner at a friend of one of our team members. The house swayed for 10-15 seconds, and caused a little bit of excitement among our group (not the case for our NZ hosts, who talked through the whole thing, old hat I suppose).

Some photos from Christchurch and other links:

Aerial photographs from The Press, here.

Google’s Crisis Response page and GeoEye satellite imagery, here

The Christchurch Ushahidi mapping instance for the earthquake, here

More discussion on the power of the quake, here.

Some background on pre-Earthquake Christchurch:

And some photos I captured from the trip:

View all

Or for the more map inclined, a KML of the photos I took here.

Overall, a really good and informative trip, the spirit of New Zealand coming together to assist those in need really was something I’ll remember for a long time.

If you’d like to help, please donate to the Student Volunteer Army, or the NZ Government Appeal.

2 Comments March 8, 2011

View from Google Zurich


Snowy and tree-y, as seen from the Sky Lounge

December 1, 2010

Back from NYC

I’m back from New York City, my first trip there, and a very fun experience overall. Some thoughts/highlights:

  • The subway system might be the best I’ve experienced so far (even better than London?). Not only do the trains run very regularly (~5mins, all day/night), you can get almost anywhere in the city you’d like. Contrast this with BART/Caltrain, which runs every 30 minutes, ends at midnight, and gets you to only a few spots in the City.
  • It was refreshing to see people “try” in New York — everyone dresses up and looks great (maybe I’ve just been on the West Coast too long).
  • For any Minnesotan, Bar None is a must-visit. Being a MN sports bar, I went to watch the Vikings game there, totally insane.
  • Assuming consistent 3g coverage and a gps signal, My Maps is a godsend. I was able to identify all the sights I wanted to visit beforehand via My Maps, load them onto my mobile phone(s) via Maps, and using Navigation, get turn-by-turn walking directions if I got lost (which I actually never had to do). The My Map I created (and kept updated throughout the trip) is included below.
  • NYC has a cornucopia of Dunkin’ Donuts; having none in California I made sure to have a Boston Kreme donut (or two)
  • Rain/work thwarted my attempts to see a Yankees/Mets game. Next time!
  • I almost wrote off Delta airlines after my flight was delayed for 5 hours, and they were to strand me in Salt Lake City overnight with no lodging. But at the 11th hour (on final approach), the flight attendant came on the intercom to say that all stranded passengers would get lodging, and $14 in meal coupons.
  • Some other random fun experiences: USS Intrepid, Goog NYC office, penthouse party in Tribeka, Greenwich Village, and having a 4-course dinner at the Iron Chef’s Buddakan restaurant.

Pictures/map below:

View New York 9/24-10/1 in a larger map

October 3, 2010

“Checking in” from the bottom of the bay

Some pictures and a map from my bike ride along the Stevens Creek Tidal Marsh trail tonight, which took me to the bottom of the San Francisco Bay.






August 25, 2010

“Welcome aboard Air Force One”


2 Comments August 7, 2010

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