Earthquake RSS

bay bridgeIn the second installment of neurotic, phobia-inducing, end-of-May posts, I’ll be addressing the concerns of an impending earthquake disaster in the San Francisco area. Not that I’m really scared every time I drive across the eastern span of the bay bridge. I mean, it held up pretty well during the Loma-Prieta Earthquake in 1989, and I’m sure all of the repairs probably made it much stronger than before. Which probably explains why they’re building the eastern span replacement at the speed of light.

I grew up in California, and have lots of fond memories of shaking around in bed and seeing things rattle off of shelves. I witnessed the horror of the ’89 quake and have driven through Hollister enough times to know what a building-with-a-giant-crack looks like. I’m not really scared of earthquakes at all, but my friends’ concern has gotten me thinking, and I realized that I know relatively nothing about the frequency and science of earth shaking.

I’ve wandered past the US Geological Service website when looking for elevation maps or pictures of rocks, but had no idea that they had cultivated an all-knowing network of seismic data. Without much work I was able to find RSS feeds of all seismic activity, categorized by size. Since I subscribed this morning, I’m completely hooked on non-weblog RSS feeds. It goes something like this:

“Ooh, Andy posted a link about some idiot eating his Atari 2600 console.”
“4.5 in the Canary Islands.”
“Yay! Merlin posted tips on how to shave precious seconds off of tooth-brushing.”
“3.7 in Northern Alaska.”
“You get the picture.”

Uhh, I mean, you get the picture. So the moral of the day is: if you’re afraid of something, find a constant source of news about it in the form of an RSS feed, and then your fear will go away! With Xanax.

Bedbug status quo

I’ve been hearing a lot of rumor and fact thrown around in conversations about bedbugs. They seem to be entering the popular consciousness in a big way, probably because most people are starting to have real personal interaction with the pests. Until now, they’ve been somewhat of an anachronism, something your grandmother would talk about. This is because we eradicated them from the American landscape in the 50’s with a little toxin known as DDT. Well, guess what, they’re back, and we don’t really have the DDT option this time.

Various news articles around the web report warnings about the recent growth of this trend. CNN cites Orkin having 0 reports in 200 with 390 house calls in 2003. Friends from New York say it’s a growing trend, and I’ve also heard reports of people here in San Francisco that neighbors and friends have had to deal with the pests. The CDC does not have a recent morbidity and mortality report on the subject, nor does there seem to be any nationwide statistics available from a valid health organization. How big is this problem? Inquiring (and frightened) minds want to know.

Assuming that we’re headed towards a nationwide epidemic, Ask Metafilter provides a number of pragmatic solutions to an infestation: throw out your furniture, wrap everything in plastic and put it in storage, or move to New Mexico. And in most cases, they end up surviving. I’d like to have a little peace of mind, anything really to let me sleep tight.

Update: SFist has two articles on bedbugs in San Francisco: Bedbug Army attacks San Francisco and Bedbugs bedbugs whatcha gonna do.

Update: I’ve also posted a question on Yahoo! Answers looking for bedbug statistics.