Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tsunamis and Swimsuit Models

Scene: A beautiful Spring morning at the Reddoch House: Our protagonist sits on the sofa, reading yesterday’s news and ignoring at least twelve things that need doing.

In my morning newsfeed browse, my Used-to-be-kind-of-an-award-winning-journalist-self found ONE headline that mentioned Pulitzer Prizes being awarded.  I searched “2016 Pulitzer Prize” because I am a super-duper fan of great writing.

Underneath all the headlines that read "Lin-Manuel Miranda Wins Pulitzer Prize for Hamilton"

is a teeny-tiny mention of outstanding journalist Kathryn Shulz (@kathrynschulz) winning a Pulitzer for THIS ARTICLE:

The Really Big One

An earthquake will destroy a sizable portion of the coastal Northwest. The question is when.


READ IT.  Really, go read it right now.


It is a textbook example of a well-researched, well-sourced, engaging article. It is fantastic in every respect.

For those of you who didn’t really read it just now, here is the main takeaway of this Pulitzer Prize-winning article:

“Kenneth Murphy, who directs FEMA’s Region X, the division responsible for Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska, says, “Our operating assumption is that everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast.”
In the Pacific Northwest, the area of impact will cover* some hundred and forty thousand square miles, including Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Eugene, Salem (the capital city of Oregon), Olympia (the capital of Washington), and some seven million people. When the next full-margin rupture happens, that region will suffer the worst natural disaster in the history of North America.”
I read this piece when it was published, and I think about it every single day as I drive over the Altamont Pass into the San Francisco Bay Area.  This article has influenced what geographic assignments I am willing to accept at work, and my thoughts about my (eventual) retirement plans.

My good-natured capacity to ignore/put off/not think about unpleasant truths has sometimes put a strain on my marriage (sorry, Hon), but THIS has wedged itself into my brainspace with a tenacity that even rivals superheroes and supermodels.

Ninety-five percent of the people I love live in this tsunami zone, and this week's earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador haven't done much to calm my worries.  I love you all, even if I never call or write.

Also, just because the Inevitable Apocalyptic Future gets crowded out of our brains whenever we see a commercial for pizza or Pop Tarts, here is something more immediate:

This is a 2015 NPR story (Many Of Oregon's Coastal Schools, Hospitals And Fire Stations At Tsunami Risk) about how Oregon is having trouble building new hospitals because of building codes preventing new hospitals from being built in a Tsunami Zone.  That fairly well rules out Oregon.  Since they can’t build hospitals in tsunami zones, Oregon is violating laws that mandate having hospitals available for every (so many number) citizens.  Oregon is screwed right now by the earthquake / tsunami combo that hasn’t yet hit us.

Which leaves me sitting in my living room sipping my coffee and petting my dog, having ruined your day if you read the article, and using my human capacity to avoid all the bad things by reading some comic books and searching “best Sports Illustrated Swimsuit pictures”*.
  • *Spoiler Alert: there is a very high flesh-to-swimsuit-fabric ratio here that bears further investigation.
    • Also: do these ladies not realize the TSUNAMI DANGER?!


Also also: The New York Times has the BEST article on this year’s Pulitzer Prize Awards.