We recently had an earthquake incident, which is really not so common in our area, although not rare as well since we are after all along the ring of fire. The earthquake cancelled our afternoon class.
On my way back to the dormitory I was shocked to see a mob of people coming my way. I thought they were my fans, but no. When they were getting near, I noticed the expression on their faces - panic, despair, uncertainty.
I asked one of those rushing towards uptown Cebu and she said, "The tsunami's coming!"
I was like, seriously?
Apparently, an unknown guy cried wolf, and with the people's fears reinforced by an earlier tsunami advisory by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Philvocs), it was not hard for massive hysteria to ensue.
But then Cebu (together with the part of Negros Oriental that's been pointed as the epicenter of the earthquake that would supposedly trigger the tsunami) is located between two islands with a narrow strip of sea separating the islands. This unique geographical characteristic makes it impossible for a tsunami to develop in the area, particularly that which would hit Cebu City or Dumaguete City.
So, I was like, why then did Philvocs issue the advisory? It seems that it caused more damage, with the panic it fueled, than good. Still people argue that it was better for Philvocs to issue the advisory rather than be blamed afterwards if something would really happen.
But then, nothing would really happen, not unless you take off the map the other islands that buffers Cebu and Dumaguete City from the deluge of a giant wave, and that would take like a hundred more strong earthquakes, God forbid.
Of course, the earthquake, per se, caused a lot of damage with a few casualties, especially in areas near the epicenter, as this picture represents:
But with regards to the tsunami, I think Philvocs was being irresponsible in issuing a warning for something that is so unlikely to happen. Yes, in some places a tsunami may occur following an earthquake, but this is not Japan or Aceh which is exposed to the open sea, this is Cebu and Dumaguete, places hidden from the ocean where their is a likelihood for the water to be vacuumed into its vastness only to be spewed back with such a force that would qualify for a tsunami.
I guess they were trying to save face for not having said something of the earthquake that shook the region.
I couldn't avoid the temptation of posting this once-in-a-lifetime event that made me laugh, cry, and burn in anger for having to put up with an incompetent government office.
Forgive me, its just that this advisory did not only affect a few people, but a whole metropolis. There were lots of scenes that are funny, yet, the sincerity of the people's intent makes it heartwarming.
A friend related to me that one time she saw two person arguing whether to bring the coffin of a loved one with them to the higher ground so that it won't be swept away by the tsunami. While there were those who had to rush to schools to fetch their kids, dashing in panic not caring whether they get bumped by approaching cars. It was really a terrible scene.
Well, here's some funny moments:
A friend was riding a jeepney when the earthquake happened. She noticed it and immediately told the driver, who candidly replied:
"Of course there's an earthquake, we're passing by a motel (where people go to get laid)!"
This next three or four months, I will be very busy reviewing for me to get my license to practice as a Physical Therapist in the US. Although this does not mean that I would take the exam (but I'm hoping), because this would all depend on the US embassy and if they would grant me my green card in the next year. Last time I was denied my tourist visa because of my pending petition with the US Immigration, thus was not able to take the exam May last year. Ann (@hesacontradiction) and I were already planning on having a good time in Florida where I planned to take my exam as I have relatives there. Still, this year, I am hopeful.
I have told myself that this would be the last effort that I'll be making in trying to fulfill my American Dream, but if it won't push through, then fate has something better in store for me. Regardless, I will be quite busy with the review. It's been nearly a decade since I became updated on the new trends in my profession, since for the last years I've been working on different fields: media, sales, and just recently, government service. This is because PTs have no place in the Philippines. Our profession is not respected here and the amount of money that our family would invest in our education is not justified if we work as physical therapists here. Sadly, people still see us as plain masseurs - massage parlor therapists - or fitness instructors. We are more than that, of course.
So, anyway, I'll be very busy this next three to four months so I might not be coming to Xanga as often as I used to this past year. But from time to time I will check on you guys because I would really miss you and your posts.
My deepest gratitude to all of you who have constantly showered my page with your thoughts and loving words.
All the best,
P.S. Here's my parting song, although I'm not really leaving... I just love this song...
Honestly, at first glance I thought it would be cool because I don't need to remember a lot of things, passwords and all. But when I read this piece from NPR, written by Eyder Peralta, I started to realize that this new policy is not just about convenience and a better experience for me, it is also about Google banking on my personal information for their personal gain.
People have been saying how Mark Zuckerberg had become one of the world's richest people by selling people's information he got from his Facebook (I'm an avid Facebook and Twitter user, by the way), now, this could be a more elaborate money making venture for Google. But then again, getting free services would entail some form of payment.
Peralta, in his article, quoted Common Sense Media chief executive James Steyer's Post interview:
"Google's new privacy announcement is frustrating and a little frightening. Even if the company believes that tracking users across all platforms improves their services, consumers should still have the option to opt out — especially the kids and teens who are avid users of YouTube, Gmail and Google Search."
He also quoted a USA Today article where Rep. Ed Markey's (D-Mass) expressed his concern on this new policy, further adding:
"Critics worry the tech giants will open fresh opportunities for cybercrooks to prey on users of the sites."
"'Both are racing to monetize our private information and in doing so creating collateral damage,' says Alisdair Faulkner, chief product officer at security firm ThreatMetrix. 'They are essentially indexing more and more private information and, in doing so, serving it up on a platter to cybercriminals.'"
On the other hand, the American Civil Liberties Union, also expressed their concern on this new policy in their site Blog of Rights.
"...have you ever Googled something you didn’t want to tell your parents/spouse/friends/doctor about? Have you ever had a personal conversation over e-mail that you didn’t want broadcast to the world? With this new integration, your e-mail content won’t influence only what ads you see in Gmail, and your search terms won’t influence just what ads you see when you’re searching. As of March 1, your e-mail content and search terms could influence ads you see on any Google site. So, imagine watching a YouTube video with friends or family and suddenly having an ad based on what you assumed was a private e-mail conversation or a personal Google search appear. Yikes! And short of signing out of your Google account, there is no opting out."
For them, the integration policy of Google is their right, however, users must be given the option to opt out of this new integration policy and that it not be made mandatory.
The products, by the way includes Google Chrome, Google's web browser. This means that it is not just your search history that's being monitored, but your browsing habit is also recorded by Google. Now ain't that creepy? Is this fair price for free access to the world?
If you think that Google should allow its users to opt out of integration, then better have your voice counted by checking out DotRights.org, or send Google a feedback.
Doesn't this make you thankful that we have such a beautiful planet?
Let's take care of it.
If you are curious what that video is about, here's the backgrounder from Russia Today, the source of the video:
"The skies over northern Europe have been illuminated with an intense display of the northern lights after a week of massive solar storms showered the Earth with radiation."
"Video shot last weekend in Norway showed the eye-catching effect of the Aurora Borealis in the skies above Birtavarre. The lights are a familiar sight for Scandinavians, but even experienced stargazers were stunned by the intensity of the aurora borealis that swept across their night's sky on Tuesday, after the biggest solar storm in more than six years."
"An aurora appears when a magnetic solar wind slams into the Earth's magnetic field, exciting electrons of oxygen and nitrogen. Even before particles from the solar storm reached the Earth on Tuesday, a different aurora on Monday night was dancing across the sky as far south as Ireland and England, where people rarely get a chance to catch the stunning light show."
I remember Jill (@babyboomerjill) talk about fracking in one of her posts. I didn't really mind it because I was appreciating the beautiful picture that was the subject of her post (and the earthquake, of course). It wasn't until recently that this natural gas drilling practice really caught my attention.
Just what is fracking? Some cool NYU students made this video based on ProPublica's reports on the subject:
And how would you know you've been fracked?
Fracking further came into attention when President Barack Obama revealed during his most recent State of the Union Address that his administration hopes to maximize the country's rich natural gas reserves, underlining the need for companies to be transparent on their operations especially on the chemicals they use.
Now, if you still want to know what fracking is and how this would affect you, well, check this wonderful in-depth interactive report from Aljazeera.