Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday Musings: 5000th Hit; Story Inspiration; Japan and the World

At some point today, one of my awesome readers will register the 5,000th hit on my blog. (That’s page hits, not unique visitors. I’ve had 732 unique visitors.) It’s taken five months to get there so hopefully I’ll get to 10,000 in less time, but thanks to all of you who read, share and comment! Keep it up!

Over the years, people have asked where I get the ideas for my stories, particularly the one I posted last week. This would be a good future post! As for the latest story, it arose from of a single image that fell into my head. I saw a man in a canoe on a flooded river, steering through debris, with a trail of red leaves floating through the air behind him and landing in the boat. I knew he was troubled and found peace on the river, but didn’t know anything beyond that.

As I wrote the story, the image of him in the canoe gradually moved to the end of the story (it originally opened it) and the leaves never made the printed page. (Maybe they’ll reappear in a new story as I have some other ideas based on the same character.) I realized he was on the Mississippi during the 1993 floods and that he’d been in the first Gulf War where something terrible had happened. The incident with the Iraqi soldier he accidentally kills came out of nowhere and was written very quickly. Only later did I realize the symbolic nature of it.

The appalling situation in Japan should make the world pause. If this kind of devastation can occur in one of the world’s most advanced nations – one where earthquake safety is a national obsession – then what would it do in other countries? Just consider the U.S. Geologists have determined that a magnitude 8.7-9.2 quake took place in the Pacific Northwest in 1700 (called the Cascadia Earthquake). Current estimates are a 37% chance of a magnitude 8.2+ quake in the next years – and a 10-15% chance of a magnitude 9+ event. This would devastate the area, which is not prepared for such an event. Waves of 80-100 feet could be produced by the resulting tsunami.

This is not to suggest we should throw up our hands in despair. Such an event is a reminder of the power and mystery of nature. It calls for respect and planning, not despair. We know what we need to do to prepare for these situations (earthquakes, hurricanes, global warming, etc.), and reduce the impact in the first place, so let’s just get our act together and do it.

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