X_Zachary_Wright
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Krakatoa
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This morning I left home at 7:15 am and got in to our parking garage at work just after 9:00 am. The 14-mile drive takes just under 25 minutes with no traffic, and when I leave the house by 7:15, it usually takes about 35 minutes.

Today there was a massive problem on the 405 freeway, three lanes closed, which meant that the freeway and all nearby surface streets were jammed up for miles.

As I watched a freeway construction worker *walk* with a large wooden beam on his shoulder, along the side of the 405 this morning, covering at least 50 yards in the time it took me to drive 10 yards, I realized that I should have run to work today. You don't have to be a great runner to cover 14 flat miles in 1:50; I can do that without too much training.

Anyway, I got to listen (on CD) to the rest of "Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded" by Simon Winchester. (Read by Mr. Winchester in his authoritative British accent.)

Such a promising title, but a bit of a disappointment because it went overboard on the irrelevant details (I resemble that remark). As long as I am re-naming books this week, I say that this one should have been called "A Primer on Indonesian History, Early Economy, and Geology, Plus Some Extra Stuff on Plate Tectonics and Volcanology, and For Good Measure, Some Very Interesting Stuff on Krakatoa Thrown In." There, I'm sure that would sell well.

There were some fascinating parts about the 1883 explosion. There were consistently brilliant, fantastic sunsets all over the world for a few years after the explosion, and some people originally thought it was the "end times," only to learn that it was caused by the dust from Krakatoa. Once, at sunset, a fire department in Poughkeepsie, New York, thought there was a giant fire just at the horizon, so they rushed to it, only to find it was too far away. The local papers had a good laugh at that the next day.

The actual explosion was so loud that there were (well-documented) examples of people hearing it almost 3,000 miles away. Can you imagine something so loud in Los Angeles that you could hear it in New York?

Among other interesting facts, the last one I will mention is that for most volcanoes, like Mt. St. Helens, etc., there is some of it left after a big explosion. Not so much with Krakatoa. In an "orgy of self-destruction" Krakatoa simply blew itself up, leaving barely anything behind. You can actually learn most of this stuff from the Wikipedia entry on Krakatoa.

And finally, thank you Wikipedia: For years, I had the vaguest memory of Peter reading a children's fiction book to me, based on real events at Krakatoa. I remember being enthralled with the book (I was maybe 7 or 8) but I could never remember the title. I haven't spent a lot of time looking for it, but there it was on the Wikipedia page, "The Twenty-One Balloons" by William Pene DuBois.

Now, back to work.


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