Thursday, May 28, 2009
Am I crazy for thinking this? The high-level multi-national legislative wizards who crafted NAFTA would not possibly have misnamed such a crucial trade agreement. Central American and Caribbean nations must be part of South America. Otherwise our agreement would have been called the North American (Except: Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Cuba, Dominica, Granada, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and, maybe, Greenland) Free Trade Agreement.
The US Geological Survey reports that the 7.1 magnitude quake hit 39 miles northeast of Roatan, and had a shallow depth of 6.2 miles.
The NOAA website has issued the following warning:
... A LOCAL TSUNAMI WATCH IS IN EFFECT ...
A TSUNAMI WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR
HONDURAS / BELIZE / GUATEMALA
THIS BULLETIN IS ISSUED AS ADVICE TO GOVERNMENT AGENCIES. ONLY
NATIONAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT AGENCIES HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO MAKE
DECISIONS REGARDING THE OFFICIAL STATE OF ALERT IN THEIR AREA AND
ANY ACTIONS TO BE TAKEN IN RESPONSE.
AN EARTHQUAKE HAS OCCURRED WITH THESE PRELIMINARY PARAMETERS
ORIGIN TIME - 0825Z 28 MAY 2009
COORDINATES - 16.7 NORTH 86.3 WEST
LOCATION - NORTH OF HONDURAS
MAGNITUDE - 7.3
A DESTRUCTIVE WIDESPREAD TSUNAMI THREAT DOES NOT EXIST BASED ON
HISTORICAL EARTHQUAKE AND TSUNAMI DATA.
HOWEVER - THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY OF A LOCAL TSUNAMI THAT
COULD AFFECT COASTS LOCATED USUALLY NO MORE THAN A HUNDRED
KILOMETERS FROM THE EARTHQUAKE EPICENTER. AUTHORITIES FOR THE
REGION NEAR THE EPICENTER SHOULD BE AWARE OF THIS POSSIBILITY.
AREAS FURTHER FROM THE EPICENTER COULD EXPERIENCE SMALL SEA
LEVEL CHANGES AND STRONG OR UNUSUAL COASTAL CURRENTS.
ESTIMATED INITIAL TSUNAMI WAVE ARRIVAL TIMES AT FORECAST POINTS
WITHIN THE WARNING AND WATCH AREAS ARE GIVEN BELOW. ACTUAL
ARRIVAL TIMES MAY DIFFER AND THE INITIAL WAVE MAY NOT BE THE
LARGEST. A TSUNAMI IS A SERIES OF WAVES AND THE TIME BETWEEN
SUCCESSIVE WAVES CAN BE FIVE MINUTES TO ONE HOUR.
LOCATION FORECAST POINT COORDINATES ARRIVAL TIME
-------------------------------- ------------ ------------
HONDURAS PUERTO CORTES 15.9N 88.0W 0848Z 28 MAY
TRUJILLO 15.9N 86.0W 0856Z 28 MAY
BELIZE BELIZE CITY 17.5N 88.2W 0908Z 28 MAY
GUATEMALA PUERTO BARRIOS 15.7N 88.6W 0919Z 28 MAY
ADDITIONAL BULLETINS WILL BE ISSUED BY THE PACIFIC TSUNAMI
WARNING CENTER FOR THIS EVENT AS MORE INFORMATION
It was super freaky. Now, we're both wide awake because we can hardly believe it! Ezekiel slept right through it all. Must have been his cuddly pjs.
***UPDATE***We just learned that the initial USGS measurement was 7.3 for the earthquake off the coast of Honduras. AND we're in a Tsunami watch! But NOAA doesn't believe that the earthquake was the type that typically would produce a tsunami. Just in case, they've issued a watch and would predict that the tsunami would make landfall around 8:45am. Wow.
USGS Info -- HERE
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Here's a picture of our cute little guy tonight just before bedtime. These pajamas are hand me downs courtesy of his big cousins Sam and Christopher. Zeke is so good when bedtime rolls around. I just put him in the crib, say goodnight to him, put his special blanket on him, and within about 5 minutes he is fast asleep. I can only hope this lasts.
Someone out there is saying: How could you not know whether your understanding of a word’s proper usage was developed on two different continents or three? What kind of person doesn't know what continent they are on when they make a major lexical breakthrough?
An apology by way of confession: Sometimes I am unsure whether or not I am currently situated on the North American continent. So to answer your question. I would like to think that I generally know what I am talking about. I sometimes do not know where I am talking about.
An event occurred in Lucerne, Switzerland in the early 1990’s which expanded my understanding of the word. The particular direction of denotative expansion is demonstrably germane to the current whirlwind of controversy whipping around my usage of the word grill in the “Dmitri Shostakovich: Part Time Fireman” piece.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Was grill the most problematic word from yesterday’s potentially multi-problematic post? There are certainly other candidates. Fecund. Not a big fan of that word. I tossed it in there on a whim and dared myself to leave it in. The word means productive, but it communicates more essentially, I believe, a writer’s earnest desire to be perceived as smart, lexically advanced, a real wordsmith. If I were a casual reader of “Dmitri Shostakovich: Part-time Fireman” instead of the author I would have jumped ship at fecund. For real.
What exactly is a high quality Russian, by the by? How does one differentiate between a high quality Russian and a Russian of, say, medium quality? If a Russian is of unquestionably high quality, who is it who wouldn’t dare question the quality of the Russian, and who is qualified to qualify this Russian’s quality as unquestionably high? It would have to be a real connoisseur of Russians. And what the hell is that? Does it even exist? Probably not.
Before I get to the nitty-gritty about the word grill as used or abused in yesterday’s post, let me first say a few words about David Foster Wallace.
Somebody somewhere said that Wallace was a once in a century talent. We’ve had ourselves a country now for two centuries and change, which means as a nation we’ve only had two of these guys. Mark Twain, I’m guessing, would be the handicapper’s favorite for our first century’s once a century. That puts David Foster Wallace in some heavy duty company. And the rest: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ernest Hemmingway, E.B White, Don DeLillo, Toni Morrison, -- all of them great writers, smart, lexically adventurous wordsmiths. Well, they’re nice, but they aren’t Mark Twain. And they are not David Foster Wallace.
Holy armpits! That’s a very serious endorsement from someone somewhere. What do I think? I’m 230 pages into my first David Foster Wallace experience, Infinite Jest. I think somebody somewhere might be right.
Monday, May 25, 2009
I'm not goofing when call DS my number one Russian. If I had a ranked list of Russians tucked away in a secret notebook somewhere he'd be number one. I'm not writing this only because I couldn't find a picture of Rimsky-Korsakov in a cowboy outfit or Sergei Eisenstein wearing ninja pajamas.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
On Saturday, we went to our friends' house to watch the big parade in the afternoon. Our friends have an apartment with balconies overlooking San Isidro- the main street in town and also the name of our patron saint. We enjoyed watching the bands, dancers, and floats from above.
Our friend, Julie, was the dancing cowgirl in the back of the Sula Milk float.
People were throwing beads off the balconies across the street and it had a Mardi Gras feel.
Today, we're just resting up and taking it easy. Zeke is completely Carnivaled out.
Tom is making shrimp gumbo tonight. Food plays a pretty big role in our lives down here since we have to get creative and make everything pretty much from scratch. It's lots of fun though, and has provided us with many nights of entertainment and yummy dinners too! We're toying with the idea of creating an illustrated cookbook of our favorite recipes. Would anyone be interested in seeing this?
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
A couple of psychologists have proven that people who live and work abroad are more creative that those who stay at home. They used science to figure this out. By science I mean a candle, some matches, and a box of drawing pins.
It was in the Economist, so its got to be true.
Warning to those who would take a short-cut on the path to creativity:
"Merely traveling abroad, however, was not enough. You do have to live there. Packing your beach towel and suntan lotion will not, by itself, make you Hemingway."We used our hard-earned creativity to decipher this cryptic stick figure drawing hung above a toilet in Tela, Honduras. It means don't throw your poop in the toilet.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
The artist's name is Burial. The album is called Untrue. Its a piece of electronic music composed and produced by one man using a computer. The genre is called dubstep. Someone somewhere said it sounds like South London underwater.
I first encountered dubstep in the winter of 2006. Karine and I were living in a beautiful second floor apartment near Minnehaha Creek in Minneapolis. Hardwood floors, vaulted ceilings, art-deco tile in the bathroom. The place was a dream. On Friday nights we would curl up in front of the fireplace drinking red wine from the giant burgundy glasses I gave her the afternoon I asked her to marry me. When the snow was falling gently outside and the wood piled high beside the fireplace I wanted to listen to dubstep. It was the perfect music for those moments. It sounded like snow sifting down through a cone of light cast by a streetlamp in the empty night.
That's what I thought anyways. Karine was never really into Scuba, the dubstep artist we listened to on those wintry nights. She preferred Johanna Newsome for those moments.
Dubstep has been on my radar since then. But my radar is a lazy radar. Burial is the first thing dubstep since Scuba to ping. I bought Untrue during the rainy season and have been digging into it ever since. Burial makes a lot of sense during the rainy season. I would not recommend using it as the soundtrack for a sunny day barbecue.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Saint-Saens also left us with the most well known double bass solo in orchestral literature. It's from the Carnival and it's called "The Elephant." Here it is performed by an orchestra of basses in Kyoto, Japan.
I felt better on Saturday, with both nostrils functioning at about 70% capacity. Still, Karine decided to ground me from my bicycle for the weekend. You can see La Ceiba and Olanchito on the map below. In between lies the gloriously rain-forested, mostly unexplored Sierra de Nombre de Dios mountain range.
View Larger Map
The trip has been rescheduled until after Carnival.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
In Latin, by University chancellor Lord Curzon, our Mark Twain was addressed thus:
"Most amiable and charming and playful sir, you shake the sides of the world with your merriment!"
Saturday, May 16, 2009
"A person untrained in shoemaking does not offer his services as a shoemaker to the foreman of a shop – not even the crudest literary aspirant would be so unintelligent as to do that. He would see the humor of it; he would see the impertinence of it; he would recognize as the most commonplace of facts that an apprenticeship is necessary in order to qualify a person to be a tinner, bricklayer, stonemason, printer, horse-doctor, butcher, brakeman, car conductor, midwife – and any and every other occupation by which a human being acquires bread and fame. But when it comes to doing literature, his wisdoms vanish all of a sudden and he thinks he finds himself now in the presence of a profession which requires no apprenticeship, no experience, no training – nothing whatever but conscious talent and a lion’s courage."I picked this picture because in it he looks kind of mean. If you squint your eyes a little when you look at it he looks like he might just be ready to bite someone's head off for being stupid.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Despite sneezing and congestion fits, Ezekiel has actually been pretty cute. Here's a little video of him talking to me and telling me all about his woes.
I am contacting her people to see if she wants to take a quick trip to La Ceiba to enjoy a beer or whiskey with some homesick fellow Americans. Also considering a trip to SPS to either roast wienies in the parking lot of the General Assembly venue or protest something. Interested gringos can contact us through this blog.
When he died in 1910, he left us with several hundred thousand words in no particular order.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Here’s what he had to say about the situation:
“If I live I can pay off the last debt within four years, after which, at
the age of sixty-four, I can make a fresh and unencumbered start in life.”
By the end of 1898 he paid off his creditors in full.
In the meantime, I'm going to be writing about Mark Twain until futher notice. Because nothing feels more like home than Mark Twain. He's everybody's American grandpa. And we still have a lot to learn from him.
I am a librarian. I have five biographies of Twain sitting on my desk right now. I also have his autobiography, which is mostly lies sprinkled with the truth here and there.
Alright then. Here we go.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
We had a fantastic Mother's Day here in our house. It started with breakfast in bed, freshly juiced juice, flowers, and gifts. The day just got better from there! Zeke and Tom are pretty great. I love being a mom!
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Turboprop. That is a fun word.
If you like these pictures, you can contact the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation at the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. I could also put them on a t-shirt, hat, or decorative plate and have them sent to your home.
Friday, May 8, 2009
While in the airports, we were screened for pork flu and we witnessed several people wearing masks. We do not have pork flu. We did encounter something even more exciting than pork flu in the San Pedro Sula airport though. During our 2 hour layover, we wanted to take Zeke for a spin, but we hadn't brought the stroller. Luckily, the waiting area was equipped with several wheelchairs- just the right size to take Zeke around!
This was the only picture of Ezekiel we were able to take on our visit to Tegucigalpa. The Embassy took our camera as we entered- they don't allow pictures. I had dreams of taking a picture of Zeke between the American flag and the Honduran flag on his first day as a dual citizen, but my dreams were crushed. Oh well. We all know that he is an American now. He's got a passport on the way to prove it!
Thursday and Friday were a blur as we got back to school and Tom prepared for a big night at school with the Mother's Day program and Book Fair in the library. Tom was accompanied by his pop band and 25 7th grade dancers as he sang a sweet version of "You Are My Sunshine" to the crowd of students, teachers, and families. Tom's number one accessory tonight was his son. He held Zeke and sweetly explained to the audience that Zeke had written the words to this version, but being only 3 months old had asked Tom to sing it for him. They all did a fantastic job. Of course I forgot the camera at home! Que triste!
To make up for the lack of documentation of our week, I'm posting a cute video from this week. Ezekiel has discovered his hands and realized that his entire fist can fit in his mouth. It's pretty darn cute!
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Most moms I know say that the one thing they want more than anything else for mother's day is for their families to be safe and happy. The number two thing that most mothers want: bonsai trees.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
We objects accelerate towards the earth until we reach terminal velocity. Terminal velocity is the rate at which surface resistance (friction between the surface of the object and the air, water, or Jell-O) cancels out the acceleration due to earth’s gravity. Once terminal velocity has been achieved, bowling balls, pennies, and people fall at constant rates of speed. To determine how long it would take my rock-self to reach the bottom of the deepest part of the ocean I needed to determine the terminal velocity of a rock falling through sea water.
The cute little equation below is called Stoke's Law. He's gonna help me figure out what I want to figure out. He says that terminal velocity (Vt) depends on the shape and density of the falling object (rock). Vt also depends on the density and viscosity of the fluid the object is falling through (sea water). I used him to do a quick and dirty calculation for the terminal velocity of a rock-like object falling through sea water.
I came up with a terminal velocity of 8 miles per hour. It's far from exact. I encountered a serious problem in my calculations because the viscosity and density of water vary according to temperature, pressure, and salinity. All three of these factors change quite a bit over the course of a 35,000 foot journey.
How long does it take for a rock dropped from the surface of the ocean to fall to the bottom 35,000 feet below?
About forty-five minutes.
Monday, May 4, 2009
I was a pebble plunging through the gentle currents. It wasn’t a bad feeling. I was aware of my heaviness, my mass, and my roundness. I felt myself slipping through the water. But then I was on the bottom. The stream was shallow and my fall too brief. I got bored.
So I turned myself into a rock and I changed the stream into the deepest part of the ocean. Now I had somewhere to go. Slipping through the vast darkness, feeling my weight drag me down. How far down? Thirty-five thousand feet. That’s the deepest part of the ocean. But I didn’t find sleep as I lay there imagining myself a rock sinking through 35,000 feet of water. Because I was bothered. Its never easy falling asleep when you are bothered. I was bothered by this: I have no idea how long it takes for a rock sink to the deepest part of the ocean.
How long? Ten minutes? Two hours? Twenty hours?
Sunday, May 3, 2009
As I am in the house doing a photo shoot for Zeke's passport photo, Tom hears a street vendor calling out his wares. He shouts in to me, "Hey Karine, do we want anything made out of wicker?" I come out to the street and see this nice gentleman pushing his cart up our street. I've seen him many times before, but have never had cash on me when I see him. I picked out a nice bread basket for $2, a woven mat for Zeke's room for about $7.
While I was in the house getting money, Tom spotted something for himself. I came out and he was trying on cowboy hats. For another $6, Tom became the owner of a nice hat- Ranchero style. (The photo above shows him trying on a Vaquero style hat. I thought that style was too tall.)
This is the best passport photo I've taken so far. We're headed to the US Embassy in Tegucigalpa on Wednesday to get Zeke's US birth certificate and passport. Please keep your fingers crossed that all goes smoothly!
I'm, like, waiting for them to find me. Maybe next year. Here's what Edgar does that's so genius.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
We're happy to announce that Zeke is a huge fan of Bobby McFerrin. We are too! We saw him in concert on our honeymoon in Vancouver, BC. If you ever have the chance to see him, treat yourself. You deserve it.
You can find the album here: