Honolulu vs home

Being here in Honolulu for a few weeks has highlighted some differences from being at home in upstate New York, other than driving:
*  Today, there was the monthly test of the tsunami warning system. E’s neighborhood is higher in elevation, so she lives above the evacuation zone. When we were staying in the hotel in Waikiki, the first several floors of the hotels were mostly dedicated to parking. This allows them to keep people safely on the upper floors in case of tsunami.
*  A heat wave here is not as hot as in most of the rest of the US.  We have been having a heat wave with some records tied or broken, but it is only 88-91 degrees F. (31-33 degrees C.)
*  There are microclimates everywhere, but they are much more noticeable here. For instance, in E’s neighborhood, you can be walking in what seems to be a rain shower – while there are no clouds overhead and the sun is shining.  The rain is falling in the  Palolo valley and being blown into Kaimuki.
*   At home, I’ve never had a tiny chameleon show up in the bathroom, matching its color to the bathmat.
*  There is much more coverage in the news on climate change and renewable energy.  Despite Hawai’i being the most remote islands in the world, the effects and the threat of more effects are real.
*  Because the angle of the sun is higher here, solar panels can often be placed on more than just the south-facing slope of a roof.
*  Unlike home, there is almost never a basement here. It ‘s strange to me to see water heaters just sitting outside under the eaves.
*  There is a lot more discussion and coverage of homelessness and affordable housing.  Rents and real estate prices here are very high and there are many people who can’t afford them, even when they are employed. While there are single people who are homeless, there are also many homeless families.
*  The tension between the indigenous Hawaiians and the state is obvious. There are demonstrations almost daily against development of certain areas. While these problems are also present in New York, they are much more hidden.

The Tohoku Earthquake Four Years Later

Sending thanks to Jay Dee Archer for this astonishing and heartfelt post about the earthquake/tsunami in Japan four years ago.

I Read Encyclopedias for Fun

It’s now March 11th.  At 2:46 pm Japan time on March 11th, 2011, the fourth most powerful recorded earthquake struck northeastern Japan off the coast of Tohoku.  I was in Yokohama at the time, and never in my life have I felt such violent shaking of the earth.  It’s an experience I will never forget.

Looking back, I’m amazed that it’s been four years since the earthquake and tsunami.  15,889 people died, most from the tsunami.  The buildings held up to the 9.0 magnitude earthquake remarkably well.  It was the tsunami that was devastating.  Not only did it destroy or severely damage numerous villages, towns, and cities, it also crippled the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and caused a level 7 meltdown.  The surrounding area was evacuated and is still restricted.  Few are permitted to enter the vicinity of the power plant.  60% of the people who lost their homes…

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