March 30, 2011

Fraction Liquefaction Parody

Welcome to life in the suburbs of Quakechurch. This is actually the suburb just slightly north east of us...
If you don't know what liquefaction looks like, you will after this. All the images have been mainly focused on the crumbling heritage brick buildings, but large parts of the eastern city had this problem.

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High rises, quakes or tsunami; Wellington here we come...

I am heading north to Wellington this week for a meeting ... will be strange to leave Quakechurch, and I would rather not be heading to another high risk quake zone right now.... but the three of us from here made the decision to transfer the meeting from our usual high rise location to a lower single level on The Terrace. It is still surrounded by high rises that could fall on us, but it avoids our curent phobia about lifts and stairs... shared by many other people here.

Forsyth Barr: One of the CBD buildings where the the stairs collapsed during the earthquake...
Employment lawyer Tim McGinn said he would never work in his level 14 office in Clarendon Tower again, even if it was cleared for use.
"Everyone is a bit gun-shy about large concrete structures. If I was offered something that was modern and about three or four storeys, I think I could cope with it," he said.
Christchurch Central MP Brendon Burns said it was important people were able to overcome their fears and go back into big office blocks.
"Lower-rise options are certainly starting to come into vogue because of the concerns people hold. We need to take account of those fears," he said.
Cities like Tokyo showed skyline and faultline could exist together and most Christchurch structures had stood up well, he said. "If people came out of a multi-storey building, then the buildings have done what they are designed to do."
The continued closure of the central city and loss of confidence in its buildings could not be allowed to turn Christchurch into "a collection of suburbs".
"We need to use and retain every viable building we've got to restore the economic heart of the city, and that means getting people back in there as soon as possible," he said.
There is a good blog page here about someone trapped in that building

This morning, I was reading about the tsunami risk to Wellington. Not just from earthquakes but from underwater landslides.

They are advising people to run up the nearest high rise if they experience an earthquake that makes it hard for them to stand up. Not head for the hills, just run up stairs.
A tsunami generated by an earthquake in Cook Strait could sweep kilometres inland within three or four minutes, putting the lives of up to 170,000 Wellington residents at risk.
There would be no time for any warnings and people need to think now about how they can get to higher ground immediately after a strong quake, says Wellington Region Emergency Management officer Rian van Schalkwyk.
"The magnitude of that quake and tsunami in Japan is the sort of thing we can expect here. The moment there is a big local quake that is so strong that you can't stand upright, you need to get to higher ground or up in a building as quickly as possible. There is no time to hop in a car to drive away – just go up as quickly as possible.
So now we are going to be in a single storey bilding in the tsunami zone. In the event of an earthquake, we are to run next door and climb the high rise we are trying so desperately to avoid....

No wonder we are having trouble coping.

Check out your own part of the world and the risk of rising seawater using this map

Here is the a screenshot from the Christchurch part - but it does the whole world.

March 29, 2011

Primary school is a dog's life |

Nice article if you click on the link... about having a dog in the classroom. The teacher said the students were calmer and working together better when he was in the room. Now he is a regular class member, with the children taking it in turns to be responsible for him in breaks.
Nice idea...
Poppy likes being in my class too - she had only completed her first full day of it before the earthquake hit... but she has started coming to our new venue and also came to Kaikoura on our class dolphin trip. It is great socialising for her and I like seeing her having fun with everyone, except when I am teaching; then she sleeps under the desk.
Does your school allow dogs?

March 27, 2011

Christchurch rescue mission on Yahoo!7 Video

This video shows some of the terrible conditions faced by the USAR teams when they entered after the quake. We are indebted to many countries for their rapid response to send trained teams, and dogs, to search so many shattered buildings.

Hard to believe they describe "ground zero" as the area so close to my work. The route I drive each day... still can;t get my head round that, let alone the rest of the city.

Just had lunch out at Styx and Stones in Northwood with my son and his wife. Some normality... in a normal building away from any sign of potholes, silt, rubble or crushed vehicles.
Life goes on.

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March 26, 2011


Stay as safe as possible during an earthquake.
Be aware that some earthquakes are actually foreshocks and a larger earthquake might occur.

Minimize your movements to a few steps
 to a nearby safe place and if you are indoors, stay there until the shaking has stopped and you are sure exiting is safe.



to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stopsIf there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.
* Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and if you know it is a strongly supported, loadbearing doorway.
Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
* Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.
* DO NOT use the elevators.


* Stay there.
Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.
* Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits and alongside exterior walls.
Many fatalities occur when people are running outside of buildings only to be killed by falling debris from collapsing walls. 
Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury.
Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.


Stop as quickly as possible as safety permits and stay in the vehicle.
Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.
* Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.


Do not light a match.
Do not move about or kick up dust.
* Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.

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March 25, 2011

Quake Brain! | sam i sisifo

Quake Brain!

It’s the term my lovely lady uses to describe those frequently recurring “blonde moments” that have become so common among cantabrians since the 7.1 and even more so since the 6.3.  She’s a very together lady and in many ways she typifies the ideal modern woman; strong willed, intelligent and caring and she can multi-task on a level that is beyond the comprehension of most mere males.  In short, she is a very capable and competent woman with her head screwed on.  And yet she has confided to me that she has experienced these instances that she can only describe as “Quake Brain” moments.  I know only too well what she’s referring to, I’ve had a few of them myself.

I’ve been down to the shops for bread, milk and ciggys and come back with a newspaper and a chocolate bar.

The other day, she noticed an old lady in a distressed state.  It turns out, the lady had forgotten where she had parked.  Barrington Mall carpark is not the biggest carparking area in Christchurch, but it’s big enough when the only description you have of the car you’re looking for is “…it’s silver.”  Given that there are 3 distinct parking areas at Barrington they did well to find her car in under half an hour.  It would have been something funny to muse about at a later date if she didn’t find herself in the same position at the weekend.  She was helping a friend with a fridge and microwave purchase to replace those the 6.3 had decided to destroy.  The purchase was made, delivery of the fridge was arranged, all the necessary papers were signed.  They decided it was coffee time so the friend set off in search of coffee while she went to put the microwave in the car…

Northwood carpark is bigger than Barrington carpark!

Logic set in and she waited outside  the entrance to Harvey Normans for her friend to discover her, but the fact remained that try as she might she was unable to recall where they had parked the car.

In the past I might have set myself a list of things to do, but lately I’m finding it more and more, necessary to actually have that list on paper,  I still have not completed the small list of chores I had to complete at our rental property on the day of the 6.3.  Sure, I have a valid excuse for not getting everything done that day, but it’s been 3 weeks now and as well as that small list of maintenance chores there is the car registration and my own overgrown back yard that need to be tended to.  It’s no coincidence that this blog has had more posts and comments in the last week than the previous 3 years.  People ask me how I’m coping and I’m being truthful when I tell them that I’m ok, but I can’t deny that I have been affected.  It’s easier for me to sit here and ramble through the myriad of abstract thoughts that are pervading the bounds of my conscious mind than to face reality.  And yet, reality itself is not that scary.  It’s just tiring.  It’s persistant and continual and it wears you down and it’s always there.  You can’t escape it.  You can’t escape it, but you can have a break from it.  This is my break from it, I go online and vent.  Sometimes I’ll play poker with complete strangers, other times it’s chess or backgammon.  Sometimes I’ll just exchange witticisms with others who are also in the mood for that kind of release, because that’s what it is…

It’s a release!

…and if we don’t allow ourselves that release then we risk Quake Brain!

Quake Brain (by my definition) is an early onset symptom of stress build up.  It’s a sign that we have human virtues; strengths and weaknesses, qualities and faults.  Whilst we might be able to deal with a stressful situation or circumstance, there comes a time when our mind and body need to rest and rejuvenate.  Quake Brain is our minds way of telling us to slow down (or even step back) that we might refresh our minds and/or bodies in order to gain a renewed vigour and vitality with which to approach lifes many challenges.  Quake Brain should not be ignored.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 16th, 2011 at 1:22 am and is filed under Occassional updates (random ramblings). You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

I have been telling myself it is ok to be feeling unproductive and scattered... Nice to read that I am not alone. Just takes time.

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March 24, 2011

After the bath .... Canterbury colours :)

Sent from my iPhone

Canterbury Quake Live

I see we have now had 5077 quakes...1974 of them over 3 on theRichter scale. This chart shows the largest magnitude each week and how many quakes per week over a 3.
Great site.
Not so great numbers.

Poppy being bathed by the vet nursing students :)

Thx for the text Catie :) sooo cute

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BBC News - Christchurch earthquake: No getting back to 'normal'

My friend sent me this link. I think she sums up the situation for many Christchurch residents, particularly on the eastern side. Our lives are more normal than this now - we have power, water, and can flush poo... luxury!
The original article is at the link above - but here is the wording.
One month after the earthquake, well-wishers from overseas or out of town are leaving messages on our phone and sending e-mails, containing the statement: "Hope you're getting back to normal."
Filling up at the water tanker One month after the quake, Pam still has no running water
"Normal!" I fume. "What's 'normal'?"
I don't recognise that word any more. It will never be normal! It's a new normal.
It's poo-ing in a bucket and remembering the mayor's words: "Double bag it, tie it tight and drop it in the red bin."
Well, red bin is getting very smelly, so often it's dig a hole and fill it in (not near the rhubarb please) and feeling very sorry for our rubbish collectors.
"Normal" is using hand sanitisers with no water and our favourite fragrance of air freshener. The chemical toilet has been on order but not yet arrived. Maybe our road is still too much of a challenge.
Three-cup wash
"Normal" is taking laundry to the people making generous offers of "use our washing machine" - we still have no running water, and collect water every day in bottles, from the water tanker.
Continue reading the main story
“Start Quote
Pam Vickers
'Normal' is, in fact, spending the whole day trying to get back to normal”
End Quote
For personal washing we spread ourselves around on the people who have showers and on alternate days we have the three-cup wash - one for top, one for middle and one for bottom.
"Normal" for us is waking in the night thinking of those who have died and those who still suffer with horrific injuries. It is living with a broken home, broken possessions and sometimes a broken heart. It is getting aftershocks (still) which jangle the nerves and shake plaster from the wall.
The "normal" of now is living with lost income, lost neighbours who have gone to live in other places and lost familiarity of our beautiful city and our suburb.
"Normal" is, in fact, spending the whole day trying to get back to normal. Fixing things we can fix, filling in form after form to make a claim to the EQC (Earthquake Commission), insurance, mortgage, holidays, cancelling tickets and trying to find things among the boxes of stuff we rescued.
It's also reading The Press cover to cover for pictures and stories of the quake aftermath. The noticeboard at the local info centre gets read and re-read for helpful information - our quake brain finding it difficult to absorb it all.
We have got used to our "normal" roads where huge sink-holes and crevices and drop-outs have been filled in with loose shingle, so that we can at least drive over them. Normal is taking three times as long to get anywhere, often in billowing dust and horrendous traffic jams as you get near town.
Prince William in Sumner The prince: A kind and affable visitor
And even our normality is not too bad. My partner, John, and I no longer sleep in the garage but have moved back into a downstairs bedroom.
I have friends and neighbours who have been told to leave their unsafe homes because they are so broken, or because rocks are still likely to fall down on them.
They aren't feeling anything like normal, they are displaced, sleep-deprived and anxious.
And then there is the suffering of the people in Japan. My heart aches for them.
It's also not normal for a prince to visit out city and our suburb - but that bit we really liked.
Prince William was here on 18 March, is very kind and affable and I shook his hand, then shook with delight. He punctuated our lives with warmth and sunshine and we loved it.
But people out there living normal lives, with things in your home in just the right place, with the dog at your feet sleeping happily instead of jumping at every noise and trembling with every aftershock, with your hot showers, flushing toilets and peace of mind - please don't ask if we are getting back to normal, as it's never going to be the original "normal" ever again.
But this is a new normal, and we do cope, and we will move on.

March 23, 2011

Just how bad is the Christchurch red zone? - Campbell Live - Video - 3 News

There is a lot of anger in the city at the moment. Businesses in the centre are still not allowed access a month after the quake. The cordons and army personnel still guard all access points.

In this video, TV 3's John Campbell shows the Press footage taken moments after the quake, and also some taken the next day, before the cordon, when it was still very dangerous. No hard hat... no USAR, not even a high vis vest.. unimaginable today. Why was he allowed in there at all?

I know how hard it has been for us not to have our teaching things from work. Many of the businesses can't relocate without stock and computers... but after our trip up the tower yesterday, I can say I was horribly aware that although the damage was apparently repairable, I really did not want to experience another aftershock up there... and there must be many buildings where access is really not safe in the event of a quake. Perhaps they need to take more video of what is left to show us... for many, the video at the memorial service was their first view of the damage. As we had no power for the first 10 days, we also saw little TV... we knew less than the rest of the world for a long time. Photos do not really tell us enough - I guess nor does video, but people do need some reality to help the grief process. Limbo is hard to move through.

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Zoo's little star passes first checkup |

TINY: The infant pygmy marmoset weighs just 72.61 grams.
EMMA ALLEN/ The Dominion Post
TINY: The infant pygmy marmoset weighs just 72.61 grams.

A Pygmy Marmoset Monkey was born at Wellington Zoo... he is now five months old and weighs in at 72.61 gms. He is [ictured asleep as he was anaesthetised to be checked and microchipped... and they can now confirm it is a boy :)
Click on the link to read the article....
Maybe you can suggest a name?

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March 22, 2011

Mission accomplished

We made it..

Lots of bags - it is only what you can carry so wheels a must - although this one lost both wheels in the rescue
The view from the stairs to the other side of the building - they had lights!!!
The view back down the foyer from the 4th floor -
not sure where the debris was from but didn't appear to be the ceiling above
Sardine effect on the lift door on our floor...
Entering the access point to our office
From the door.. the other two see it for the first time
My desk, and haven at the time - amazing the laptop sailed through it all safely

We managed to retrieve lots... but in the end we also had to leave heaps. I just couldn't find a few things on my list as they are buried in the mounds of paper, or in drawers I didn't get to... but as far as we can see, we can function with what we have for a while.  Perhaps we can make another rescue attempt later if the building repairs are held up, but the tower is not in imminent danger of collapse and has passed engineers reports.  I can't imagine how hard it must be to do this in your home.. it is truly hard to think clearly as everything is not where it should be - there is no order, just chaos and mess to find things. Never even saw my camera.... the trusty iPhone has been doing the job instead for the last month.

I didn't look up at the ceiling in the rush to grab things in our allotted 10 minutes but there was no glass through the papers. Some relief - there must have been power as the laptop was on!  No lights though... not in our side of the building.

A friend found this article full of excellent information and answers on the earthquakes ...

Just click on any picture to see it larger...
The height is related to the number of people affected in the area - the colour shows how intense the shaking was.... I was in the orange zone near the CTV building.

The vertical ground movement - I was in the zone Catholic Cathedral Grammar at work, and Shirley library zone is near our home. 

There is also a horizontal movement comparison in the article... It helps explain the violence, damage and liquefaction issue more clearly...

Well - feeling better now that is over...  :) 
Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

March 21, 2011

New challenges

Thanks everyone.... had an interesting day trying to reorientate three classes in the dusty living space of a nearly finished relocatable house with no furniture. Such fun! At least it was sunny today and we often sat on the grass outside with the classes. The steady hammering of the construction class next door, the trains rumbling behind the house (felt like an aftershock), the steady traffic and sirens passing us on the adjacent road....  The distant golf club might have been a better option but at least we have bus access to this one for the students. My friend was worrying about access to a kettle for her night classes... as we stood at the "bar" in the kitchen, I decided we had our priorities wrong and coffee could easily be replaced with something stronger!

Knackered now.. must sleep for my exciting, early journey up the four flights of stairs tomorrow. So looking forward to re-entering the carnage with suitcases and backpacks.... apparently there are pickled embryos and tapeworms on the classroom floor which is a pain as I wanted the worms for teaching parasites. We also need the bandaging materials so it will all have to be crossed, slippery or not. I know my office is carpeted with text books and file boxes and paperwork, iced with smashed plastic light covers... maybe even glass if the fluorescent tubes shattered; I didn't look up again after sheltering from the deluge under the desk, so gardening gloves are in the bag. Might try and take pictures!

I hear that one of the lifts is cut open like a sardine can...  a lot of people were trapped for many hours in three of them, in the dark, through all the aftershocks. Makes the stairs seem quite attractive really, but when we consider how the stairs in the Forsyth Barr building pancaked down leaving everyone stranded we don't have enormous confidence in those either.  Our technician went up there today doing a grab session for her office and she said she found a restorative gin helpful afterwards... she was still a bit shaky. However, the engineers assure us the building is fine and once the clean up has been performed, and the lifts repaired, we will be back into our offices.  Most of the anxiety is mental and that is a personal journey we all have to work through. The whole city will have the same anxieties.

St Elmo's Court 
I ventured into the fringes of the cordon today, trying to find a way across the city to head North. It was like one of those mazes. Get quite a long way and then there was a cordon; nice army men waving me back. Up and down.. driving very slowly as I took in the scenery, jaw dropping, aghast.  Pictures are not as much of a preparation for seeing it as I thought they would be. A caricature of reality. It just feels so wrong, so savage.  I saw the Arts Centre, St Elmo's Court being demolished,  Cranmer Square, the trees lost in Hagley Park...I finally circled right round the park to get north. I would probably have cried but was just too tired and drained to bother.  It doesn't help.
It could be worse.

March 20, 2011

Kaikoura trip and life in the earthquake zone

So, whether it was the oversized full moon, the moon man's predictions or just the expected aftershock pattern of a 1 level lower shock than the original, we just had a 5.1 aftershock centred very near to our house... the biggest since Feb 22nd. Hmmm. I don't think we will ever really get used to them.  Hope we get  a peaceful night.

Tomorrow we are visiting our new campus and hopefully, getting access to the office back in our usual space to grab some things, strictly under the supervision of security and only what we can carry.  We won't be wanting to risk overloading the stairs I assure you!!!  I am wondering what sort of breathing exercises to do to relax before the foray, but pretty sure the four flights without lifts will make me breathe differently anyway!

Others are having hassles - businesses can't get in to retrieve essential items. Getting your car out of the cordon is a nightmare for those who can. Many carparks are considered too dangerous to enter and the cars will be left. There are thousands of cars trapped!

For selected places only -

Car owners should assemble on the corner of Barbadoes Street and Moorhouse Avenue at 5pm on either day.
They would need to take their keys, ID and proof of ownership. Owners should also register their vehicles at
Police said extra safety precautions would be in place to facilitate the cars' recovery from the red zone areas.
Owners should use this window of opportunity as it could be some time in future before another attempt to retrieve their vehicle could be made.
Police asked for owners to be patient and said they should also note the following:
- No one would be allowed into the cordon area to retrieve their own vehicle for safety reasons.
- Anyone collecting on behalf of the owner should bring a letter of authorisation.
- People should be dropped off as there was no parking.
- Just one person per vehicle as space was limited.
- Owners should consider bringing a chair and a book as the process would take some time.
- Shelter and toilet would be provided.

I wonder if the toilet will be a portaloo or a delicately screened chemical model?

Poppy had a lot of fun coming away with us to Kaikoura. She was in the stair well with my friend when the big one hit last month... a friend who is trained in dog behaviour.  She pointed out that Poppy might be traumatised about stairs after being fallen on and screamed all over. I was just glad they were both alright and that my friend had kept a firm hold of Poppy's lead or she could have been lost in the towers and I wouldn't have been able to get back to her...  anyway, she seemed ok with the stairs at my parent's house, but she did plant her feet, sorry, paws firmly and refuse to climb the flight at the backpackers in Kaikoura this weekend, so perhaps we need to work on that issue as hauling her up on the end of a lead is not a good look. Going to take more than Schmacko dog treats to get me up the four flights this week....

We had a great time in Kaikoura with beautiful weather on Friday, although the boat trip was cold and damp with a good swell.. buckets required for many of the team, but one of them got these stunning underwater pictures of the Dusky Dolphins. They remind me of the awe and magic of my first swim with them. So graceful, beautiful and in their element...

Night.... :)

March 19, 2011

Uplifting video montage ends Christchurch Memorial Service - National - Video - 3 News

Vangelis - Conquest of Paradise. Our own Canterbury theme song... set to a video tribute. The applause of the crowd is for the entrance of the USAR teams to the service - who searched tirelessly for the injured and dying, retrieved so many bodies. It is also acknowledgement of all the support from the people who ensured we all had food, water, toilets, power, cleared roads and driveways, raised money and those who made donations from New Zealand and the rest of the world.

The community of Christchurch recognises all the support and says thank you! It is making this unthinkable situation more bearable.

Our thoughts are with the residents of Japan currently enduring their own version of hell.

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Christchurch Memorial Service

As you can see from my previous posts, I have been away overnight on our annual class trip to swim with the dolphins in Kaikoura (more on that later... ), but yesterday, the Christchurch Memorial Service was held...  I am not sorry to have missed being there in Hagley Park, as I still struggle with crowds and blocked roads, but I am pleased that so many people did make it there; that Prince William visited us all, and Hayley Westenra came home to sing. I was sad to miss seeing them both...  I am sure their presence here has been seen all over the world!

If you missed it - just click on these links to see them all.....

Pics of Prince William in Christchurch

Prince William visit

Pics of Prince William and others at the memorial service

Prince William

A few really good videos have appeared from the service. I want to blog just two of them and will add a couple of links too.

The first is a sombre view of the massive destruction that 20 seconds of massive shaking can do to a city.  Damage from an unknown fault line; a different one to the other previously unknown fault line that ruptured in September last year.  It may only have been a 6.3, but the arrangement of the hills magnified the shaking to 2-3 times the force of gravity, and reduced the "swampland" areas of the city to rubble...

The campus where I have worked for 14 years is in Madras St, still in the "Red Zone" and we have not had access to it for the almost one month since the quake. We are a city campus, on the outskirts of the CBD and the places you see in this video are just up the road from work.  I, like thousands of other Cantabrians, have dined in these restaurants, danced the nights away in these nightclubs, shopped and lunched and been entertained in these streets. Travelled in buses through the city, done a weekly tv show in the CTV Madras St building, now just a forlorn tower. My son was married in the church across the road, the one with the single bell in the broken belfry, also in Madras St.  My youngest son works in a hotel further up Madras St, or did; the building is now almost split in two and he has been made redundant.

I hope you never see your city reduced to this.......

The earthquake has caused massive hardship to so many; still having a massive impact on lifestyles and habits.  You think differently... you now see and hear things that never occurred to you to care about before.  Crowds, tall buildings, verandahs, building facades, tile roofs, brick walls, concrete blocks, in fact, all masonry, bridges, riverside roads, large rocks, cliff faces, lifts, how stairs are secured to buildings, where the escape routes are, carrying torches, water, wondering where the water comes from and does it need boiling, all rumbling noises, all vibrations.... The impact covered both the rich and poor, those living on hill sides and flat lands, homes and businesses. Even if their homes are untouched, I doubt there is anyone in Christchurch who can say that they have not been affected somehow, and will continue to be for a long time too. Whether jobs, schools, tourism, the arts or just travel round the city, no one escapes it all.

On a positive note - check out my next post which has a video a tribute to the USAR teams the community and the recovery process.

You might also like seeing Hayley Westenra sing Amazing Grace

and also them all singing our National Anthem - a tribute to the support of all New Zealand for Christchurch.

When in Kaikoura..... Mmmmm

March 17, 2011

March 16, 2011

Frustrations and changes...looking for silver linings

The overwhelming catastrophe of Japan is everywhere, as it should be. Libya fills the news...  more fear and destruction.  On top of the events here of the past weeks, it is all very depressing.  I have been functioning in a sort of limbo; sometimes taking it all in, other times needing to shut it all out.
The city we knew is being destroyed. About 1500 buildings are "red stickered" and face destruction. The rubble wil be removed and another place will be built. Life will go on...I remind myself that "On The Beach" was a myth.... the equatorial winds will protect us?

Australian USAR team members made a parting gift to Christchurch in the days leading up to their departure. The team has used a beam and other wood from Christchurch Cathedral to build a park bench which has been installed at Latimer Square, home to the international and New Zealand urban search and rescue teams. The gift to Christchurch was accepted at a ceremony in Latimer Square this morning by Anglican Dean Peter Beck and Mayor Bob Parker. Senior Australian and New Zealand fire staff and USAR team members were present for the ceremony.

The place I work is still closed as it is in the red cordon and we are trying to set up at our other local campus...  we might be there for the rest of term, maybe longer. No one really knows yet. We have some space being cleared for our programmes... progress, but we are having trouble accessing our teaching materials and everything takes a lot of time, patience and controlled breathing.  The central businesses of town face it all too so I am trying to see it as an adventure! Like the movie, 127 Hours....

Driving is a frustration - although amazed at the progress made in three weeks, we are all driving slowly along congested ring roads through the potholes.  Journeys require thought to see what will be accessible, open, safe, and not gridlocked while the main central thoroughfares are closed. I remind myself Auckland puts up with this all the time, minus the silt, dust and potholes of course.

The ideal car for our roads...

Today we lost the hosting rights for the World Cup Games. I am sad and yet relieved.... one less hassle to cope with.  Tough for many and also for Dunedin if they don't get pool games.  But would like to see the efforts put back into the people here, not the rugby.

We have portaloos everywhere on this side... sewage seeping into rivers.  If there are no portaloos seen, then there are the large green tanks discretely labelled "human waste", just waiting for the daily delivery from the chemical toilets.
Need a waste tank? -

There are still fresh water tanks around. We still boil all our water, or add bleach; I am impressed how clean my nails are after a nightly deluge of very hot soapy water and bleach doing the dishes! Today, for the first time in three weeks, I put my dishwasher on, using the rarely run non-eco cycle... hoping the steam drying will kill all the greeblies and we won't get the "Christchurch runs". I feel guilty at using power... just needed a break.

Power... yes - the eastern side is held together in a fragile grid of cables and generators... we can expect power cuts. We are all conserving power, and water.   Sigh - no more dishwasher?  The night temps are dropping as we enter Autumn but we are not heating anything. Woollies and rugs are fine. We could use the gas.. but oh that's right - the chimney has gone and we have no flue now and so, no gas heater. Hmmm.... not that it would work in a power cut anyway.  The little portable gas heater off Trade Me waits in the garage as a last desperate measure.  The itty-bitty two stroke generator will give us light, radio, phone, laptops.... no heat though. Somehow I don't think we wil get a heat pump or a log burner installed this year under the local replacement scheme... must get the flue put back though, and soon.

Today the nice men from EQC arrived in their vibrant flouro yellow vests.. we locked the dogs in the bedroom and they checked the house.

I dug out the paperwork from the September claim and they took the details. They looked at the ceiling damage in teenagers room (OMG how does he live in there!!!) and the chaos of books and music in the spare room that my partner has still refused to, or been unable to face tidying up.. I wished I had vacuumed before work. Sigh. The good news - minimal damage to the house and claim forms for the smashed items and tv. I took out my embarrassment in a veritable orgy of dusting and tidying and vacuuming, while the spare room was finally tidied.  Sure they have seen worse!  Too tired to tackle the garden, or the weedy patch that used to be a garden, and now it is raining...

It could be a challenging winter... my son is now unemployed and looks like my partner will be soon too.  His industry will be decimated by the loss of the city, and the world cup. Anxiety flares frequently, but overall, it could be worse.  Belt tightening all round.. I really don't want to go anywhere right now. I feel safest here in Christchurch, my home, familiar territory, with my family.  I might venture up to Wellington for meetings ( already rebooked the upcoming one into a single storey building). I will avoid lifts after hearing a tale of packed people stuck in the dark through the aftershocks for 10 hours. I might shun stairs too after so many collapsed independently in the local high rise towers.  Today someone expressed concern at being on the ground floor of a high rise... our love affair with height is over.

New method of access to buildings?
On Friday I am going to Kaikoura with the students for the night and the annual swim with the dolphins which will be a great time, and I have a short conference in Hamilton in June, but otherwise I am here and staying.  I can handle the adrenaline rush of the aftershocks. I can handle the destruction and loss of all we held dear. I will look for what could be...

Today I saw this and felt a wee stir of excitement! Bring it on...

March 15, 2011

2011 Canterbury Earthquake - Wellington SPCA Rescue Unit


This is the team that rescued our pets from work for us.

Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) usually focuses on the rescue and recovery of human victims. As the Wellington SPCA Animal Rescue Unit recently demonstrated in Christchurch, following the 22 February 2011 6.3 earthquake, animal welfare also needs to be part of emergency response.

The team travelled to Christchurch on Sunday 27 February and returned to Wellington on Thursday 10 March. The eight team members had 10 operational days performing tasks which included:

* Rescuing animals confined within buildings that owners were unable to return to due to damage and/or cordons.
* Assisting rescue teams with animal management while they completed the search of every building in the CBD area (e.g. control the family rottweiler while rescue teams searched a house)
* Establish and maintaining feeding stations for animals within cordoned zones

The crew members deployed to Christchurch were highly trained in technical rescue, animal skills and have a range of USAR qualifications.

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March 14, 2011

Wall Photos

From this mornings newspaper in Japan. One man is reunited with his mud-covered dog that was rescued. Yeah! World Vets is working with a coalition of animal welfare groups near the epicenter. Our colleagues in Japan are headed into the disaster zone again today to rescue animals. Donations urgently needed:

Japan Earthquake Aftermath - Alan Taylor - In Focus - The Atlantic

These photos tell a sad tale of destruction and loss. Just open the link to see them all.

March 13, 2011

Japan Earthquake and Tsunami: How awesome power of tsunami is unleashed | Mail Online


Really good article and explanation in this article. Click on the link below the picture to read more.

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Relief Fund Set Up to Help Animals Affected by Earthquake in Japan | Life With Cats

Interesting article on Cat Island here too - which is on the coast off the main epicentre and probably been washed away with the tsunami.

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Race to cool damaged nuclear plant |


I wasn't aware just how many power plants there are in Japan... when it is comparable in land size to NZ.

You might find this interesting to explain the situation.

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Japan: Second Nuke Emergency


A sombre reminder why New Zealand remains nuclear free...
We can't help having earthquakes
We can't help having tsunamis, although the scale of what we saw with so little notice makes me reconsider ever living near the beach - that wave came in 12km apparently....
We can try to prevent scenes like this one.

The scenes at the evacuation centres and the hundreds of thousands of displaced people needing shelter, water, food and safety... makes our recent experiences seem almost puny ... but the range of emotions experienced are the same for everyone affected. Loss, terror, relief. At least we experienced it in summer; they are in near zero temperature conditions.

The Japanese USAR team has left rapidly to return to Japan after three weeks of massive effort for the earthquake here, particularly at the CTV building where so many people from Japan died. A first NZ team of 48 experts is heading over there now to return the help - no doubt more will follow once the scene in Christchurch has settled further.

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March 12, 2011

Japan devastation...

8000 times more energy was released than the earthquake we have just had.  The number is hard to comprehend.
After last week, I can begin to imagine some of the terror they felt.  The quake was off shore luckily - imagine that happening under a city! The videos taken in the homes and offices creates a deja vu feeling in my stomach.  The length of time it lasted and the continual swaying of the buildings shows how well the buildings were designed and hopefully, a low loss of life in the cities.

I can't cope with the extent, the sheer scale, and the added devastation from the waves. The farms and coastal areas engulfed. Huge ships riding ahead on the leading wave showing the force and depth of the water.

A Tsunami - another coastal fear for New Zealand.  One we are warned of repeatedly and perhaps for the first time we will take this fear seriously... How much time did they get to flee.. obviously not enough as so many people were still seeing trying to escape. Many are trapped on upper levels, on the few structures left standing.

They have no cellphones... the terror of not having one has become almost unimaginable to us all now - no contact with loved ones, trying to get home through a city without power, transport, information.
The whirlpool; the film from the air taps into a primal fear since childhood.

Japan quake

Nuclear power station facing issues due to loss of power!
What next?

We take too much for granted... we assume life will go on the same way each day.
We moan about little things.
The world is getting a wake up call they can't ignore.

Japan has supported Christchurch recently... now it is time to support them.

March 10, 2011

Canterbury Quake Live


This site is great for us to see where the quakes are, how big, how frequent etc. We are nearly at 5000 quakes sine Sept 4. Luckily most of them are small ones! The roads are being resurfaced, sites cleared, schools reopening and businesses relocating. Normal ? No. Bearable? Yes. What can't be changed must be endured :) great to see the communities rallying.

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March 9, 2011

You know you're from Christchurch when....

You know you're from Christchurch when

New Road sign
The emails labelled "You know you are from Christchurch when:" keep coming in. The lists are growing and growing. Some might not be clear to people outside Christchurch but for us it is daily reality. I had a good laugh so check them out

You know you are from Christchurch when …
... you can see irony in claims about houses made of “permanent materials”
... your 4 year old says "that was another cornflake"
... you know you haven’t taken any drugs - but life is sooooo distorted you might as well have!!!
... you can pick Richter scale numbers more easily than Lotto numbers.
... Rangiora is the new Fendalton.
... your Nan starts watching Man vs Wild thinking it will help her get by.
... you have written a list of at least 40 songs that should never be played on radio during earthquakes. Such as "We built this city on rock and roll". "I feel the earth move under my feet..."
... when spring cleaning actually means cleaning the spring that has appeared in your yard!!
… you call her your "Mother Nature Inlaw" coz she causes you stress and shakes things up
… you've nicknamed the 6.3 "Munter"
… Geonet is your homepage
… Even your clothes have been stickered
… looking over the fence, you discover that the grass isn't always greener on the other side
… you work at a bottle store and have a new shelf system; the most expensive bottles are now on the bottom shelf rather than the top
… you have no idea what the value of your house is!
… making mosaics is the HOT new hobby
… when Civil Defence is text spamming you
… your filing system reverts to the 'volcano principle' - a huge pile over the floor, with the most important papers rising to the top
… a doctor recommends having a few stiff drinks before bed to help you sleep
… they close all the welfare centres except the one closest to the epicentre of the after shocks
… when you fly out of Christchurch you see a psychologist, when you fly in you see a psychiatrist
… "Rainy" is the best weather for cycling you've had all week!
… you can spot the recent arrivals by seeing who stops what they're doing during aftershocks
… rather than use the word “God” you replace it with “Bob”. In Bob we trust.
... your partner squeals and squirms in ecstasy again, even more energetically than yesterday. Then you realise its only because the hot water cylinder in now full and hot for the first time in 12 days.
… when fast food is anything that takes less than 2 days to purchase prepare and gather at the table long enough to eat it
… when a Portaloo in the street as your main loo is aspirational
… when you are happy two policemen came for a visit
… it has become the home school capital of the world
… the answer to where anything is ... it’s on the floor
… our 3 year old can say "liquefaction" clear as a bell but couldn't tell you their own address!!!
… all the family are looking forward to going into Rangiora for a big day out!
… when you currently live in London (hence “munted” doesn't enter conversation much) and both your parents have said it at least once to you on the phone (having never heard them use the term before EVER)
… your friends and family want you to move back to Invercargill....and it sounds like a good idea!!!
… you've only shovelled silt for an hour or two but you fully expect to end up with Michelle Obama arms.\
… half the population of children in your city come from 'broken homes'
… the roads home are bumpier than a 13 year olds face
… instead of rushing to the clothes line to get clothes in when it rains, you put dirty washing on the line in the hope that it will rain enough to clean them
… Countdown Hornby, becomes your 'local' supermarket
… you build your wooden balancing elephants into a DIY seismometer and cheer when it comes down
… Metservice includes a graph for dust
… a group of students turn up at your place and leave it in a better condition than when they arrived
… you look up and see your neighbour and realise that he's taking a leak on the same section of fence that you are
… “nothing major” is how you describe losing your chimneys, half your foundation cracking, your tv smashing, most of the contents of you cupboard ending in small pieces on your floor, your white ware relocating itself and making odd noises they never used to and no longer being able to open or shut any door in your house, in fact not even being sure if your house is still liveable … you know, “we got off lightly, nothing major”!
… thoughtful dinner guests bring a bottle of water instead of a bottle of wine
… you find you start 'talking back' to the earthquakes (in a rather impolite manner)
… you've mastered the wide legged brace and surf position with out ever having had surfing lessons
… a bucket with a lid is a new 'must have' item
… the aftershocks have aftershocks
… you have tied the pantry, liquor cabinet and all the cupboard doors closed and its not to keep kids out
… you feel guilty because you have power and water
… you're so happy to get mail, it doesn't matter it's all bills!
… "Christchurch rocks" is a pun
… you go shopping and your trolley fills itself
… you realise this is the first time you've seen inside that church and you're actually driving past it at the time
… you think "It's the weekend, I must get my water boiled for the week"
… when a digger arrives you hear cheers of madness like the crusaders are scoring a try
… Santa has to choose an alternative parcel delivery entrance
… you visit places like Tripoli and admire what they have done to the place!
… you tell the kids off for flushing the toilet
… Hubby can finally say to all and sundry "see told you it would come in handy one day!"
… you don't get out of bed for anything less than a 5
… when Mellow Yellow doesn't make you think of an old Donavon song
… please don’t remain seated – your instructions are under your table mat and helmet under your seat ( new restaurant regulations)
… you're actually JEALOUS when your friends go to work
… discussing toilet habits with total strangers is an everyday norm
… the census forms arrive but you have no address to put on it
… rather than moving house, the house moves you
… your teenagers are only too happy to sleep in the same room as their parents
… when going for a chocolate mission actually is a mission
… the top party game is guess the magnitude of the last aftershock
… you're in the pub for a 4.8 and everyone's main concern in holding on to their drinks!
… you take a plastic bag with you when you go for a walk, even though you don't have a dog
… car enthusiasts raise their cars instead of lowering them
… you know that wheelbarrows come in two basic designs - metal ones which are heavy to lift when filled with silt, and plastic ones which break under the weight of silt
… the new fashion accessory is a spade
… you watch MacGyver re-run's on a mate's tv to get some useful ideas on to get your stuff to work
… you don't think twice when friends come round and ask “Is it ok to go toilet anywhere or do you have special place to do it?”
… you know how to spell "liquefaction" and "seismic"
… the little pre school boys don't get excited when they see (another) digger or a dozer
… you can’t decide whether to finish doing number twos or just get off the loo and run!!!!!!
… you find the price of wine has gone down but the price wine glasses has gone up!
… you have a full length mirror in the garage so you can see if your gumboots match your outfit
… you’re about to have the best lemon harvest ever
… your small children build, to quote them, "munted buildings from the earthquakes" with their lego/megablocks/building blocks
… using a Portaloo is one of life’s luxuries!
… you never fill your hot drinks more than three-quarters full
… you think electronics that have "shock proof" should say to which earthquake magnitude
… you start considering aftershocks as exercise - anything that raises your heart rate that much must be good for you right?
… you suddenly realise what would be the perfect modern "urban camouflage" look for Doctor Who's Tardis: a blue Portaloo
… you've learned the difference between at least six incompatible types of propane/butane cylinder and where you can't use each one - and it's only 11am
… you would prefer to sit under the table instead of at it
… you think the earthquake house in Te Papa sucks
… “munted” and “buggered” are official technical terms
… your 3 year old's latest new words are liquefaction and miracle
... you recognise food immediately because it's all on toast
... the news has become your favourite tv viewing
... you sleep in one suburb, shower in another, collect water from another, go to the toilet where you can, and still smile and greet people like you are one big family
... you know what that extra gear leave in your 4 x 4 is for
... you don’t blame your local council for bad roads, paths or drainage
... liquefaction has become a saying or slang. “That guy is full of liquefaction.” “ I had some takeaway last night which gave me a bade dose of liquefaction.”
... you know and actually understand the terms and conditions of your House and Contents insurance policy
... having a third person under a door frame is no longer an invasion of personal space
... you invite the crew from Mythbusters to challenge the theory of “wet sand or dry sand?” and which is easier to move
... you carry toilet paper and handwash in your car, your handbag, your backpack, or anywhere else you can, and you don’t care who sees it
... you’d rather live in a house made of straw than a house made of bricks
... you stopped joking about turning your undies and socks inside out to get another days wear
... you now understand the hippy lifestyle and all its quirks
... cross dressing is now accepted city wide
... you stop using the term “built like a brick sh*t house”
... its normal to greet people with “do you need a shower?”
... everybody starts to look like that dirty dodgy person that wanders around your neighbourhood
... your en suite has a vege garden, dog kennel and grass
... a self cleaning toilet is a bucket upside down on your garden sprinkler
... choosing your next stable career option, you consider Portaloo technician
... you DON’T call the police when there is a massive group of students in the middle of your street

Thanks Marja
Too good not to share!

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