Tsunami? Oh, wait…

by Suw on June 15, 2005

Geeks + Beer + Tags = Technorati Tag Tuesday

Fairly simple concept – get a bunch of people interested in tags in a bar with beer and let them mingle. Kevin Marks and Stewart Butterfield of Flickr were both gonna give a informal talks just to get people thinking.
The original venue was way too loud, so we migrated out onto the bayfront, down on Embarcadero, just north of the Bay Bridge. It was a lovely evening, although with a chill breeze, but it was fun to sit and talk as the sun went down.
Then, around 9.05pm we heard from a nearby loud speaker the following announcement (remembered as best I can):
“There has been a magnitude 7.2 earthquake off the coast of Northern California. A tsunami is expected at 9.20pm.”
The loud speaker was a bit far away, so I didn't hear the whole announcement, but the repeat of the word 'tsunami' got everyone milling around nervously, before promptly deciding to get the hell away from the water. Despite the fact that we were on the other side of the peninsula from the ocean, tsunamis still refract around headlands so it seemed sensible to leave.
As Maciej and I were walking up towards his car with his friend Vicki, I found myself uttering words I never would have expected to hear myself say. Vicki was describing how her house was inland and up a hill a bit, and I heard myself quite calmly say 'Oh, you should be fine from the tsunami there'.
Maciej turned on the car radio as soon as we got in it, and we were relieved to hear that the tsunami warning had been cancelled. No tsunami today. Phew. Left us a bit jittery all evening though, all the same.
Apparently this is the first time that the newly-installed tsunami warning system has been used. The people on the radio seemed to think that it had been successful, but I am not really sure that if it had been a real tsunami whether we would have survived. We were still hardly any distance from the water when the expected time of impact came and there was precious little between us and the bay. But all that's just postulation – there was no tsunami, just a very surreal end to what had been a very interesting evening.
The weird thing was listening to the radio afterwards and hearing the newscaster explaining the difference between strike-slip and thrust earthquakes. I got a sudden flashback to first year geology lectures. Strange.
Anyway. No tsunami. That's good. (Despite the disappointment felt by the little voice in my head that kept saying 'Oh cool! You get to see a tsunami!)

Anonymous June 15, 2005 at 2:16 pm

Sheesh, all the fun happens right after I skip town, doesn't it?

Anonymous June 15, 2005 at 5:01 pm

Suw, I'm glad all was fine. And thanks for the report. It was like being there. 🙂
Here is possible tsunami of another kind: Did you suspect that Apple and Intel are merging? See http://tinyurl.com/e2a9y

Anonymous June 15, 2005 at 5:10 pm

Hi Suw, I live in Santa Cruz, CA, right by the sea ocean. Your blog entry is the first place I heard about the tsunami warning from. Looks like they need to put the volume up a bit on those speakers. Post barbecue, beered up and watching Firefly with mates would have been a good way to go, mind… cheers-

Anonymous June 15, 2005 at 5:32 pm

Anonymous, you might want to read John Gruber's debunking of Cringely:

Anonymous June 15, 2005 at 8:03 pm

I just want to say I enjoy reading your blogs and I have linked your blogs to mine. Thanks.

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