Tuesday, March 16, 2010


I was in bed but not quite asleep. The gentle rocking made me think, "ah.. the ship is leaving the port". After a moment I thought, "wait a minute... I'm not in a ship!".

For about a minute the room rocked silently and very gently - about 3 or 4 cm back and forth every 5 seconds or so. There were some thumping noises and creaking in the building, like turning the heating on in an old house, but otherwise it was totally silent, gentle movement - exactly like being in a very big ship. I looked out the window but could see nothing unusual, movement too small to see in the other buildings around, cars were driving on the road as normal. Then I went to sleep. There never was any danger.

So I experienced my first earth quake - at least the first I could feel. Actually there have been 7 in Chile since I arrived, all unnoticed until the one last night. It was 6.7 and about 375km away in the South West. More details at US Geological survey. One thing this brings home to me is that (a) earth quakes are very common, and (b) most are harmless and (c) it is about distance just as much as scale - being on top of a 6.7 is no fun I'm sure, but at 375km a lot of people in Santiago didn't even notice it.

It is a different story if you live by the coast. A lot of people in Chile (though not Santiago itself) not only have no homes to return to, either from living near the big one last month, or from tidal waves. Many of the people along the coast are afraid to move back to rebuild their homes. Tidal waves can strike hundreds of miles from the epicenter.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Software for Clear Skies

(No - not an airline post!) In Ireland we have clear skies today and can see things we can't normally see! This is such an unusual event I figured I'd post a couple of recommendations for those people who like to know what they are looking at.


Free planetarium software for your PC or Mac, set your location to Dublin and fast forward to tonight to see what types of stars and patterns you'll be able to see. Download from http://stellarium.org/!

Radar Virtuel

The daylight equivalent of star gazing - plane spotting! This online tool allows you to know where those planes you can see are actually going! A mashup of google maps, so you can zoom in on your own county, and air traffic control and ACARS, it shows you real time information of what flights are where. Check it out at http://www.radarvirtuel.com/!

The Sun

That is what the big bright white thing in the sky is called. Try not to look at it directly. Also, offering it sacrifices won't make it come back more often. Enjoy the Spring!