Sunday, December 26, 2010

Earthquake Science Continues to Evolve

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to my readers! I should be able to put together another architectural feature sometime this week, but for now, I wanted to share an interesting article from JPL in Pasadena. Remember the Easter Sunday earthquake in Mexico from earlier this year? I remember how we were all at the dinner table, and most of us felt something weird, like the air pressure in the room had changed, but none of us understood what it was, until my sister pointed out the swinging chandelier. "Guess that was a little earthquake." Turns out, it was the largest earthquake in the region in the last 120 years, (Mag 7.2) but we were just about 200 miles away, in Moorpark. As far as I understand it, what my family felt were only the quake's primary compression waves, which are just like really big sound waves moving through the rock. We were (happily) too far away to feel the secondary waves, which roll and twist the rock, and make earthquakes so much more fun!

Anyway, that very well-monitored earthquake has apparently provided scientists with a big pile of new data on the system of faults in the southernmost part of the state, and revealed that it's a good bit more complex, and bigger, than they had ever known. If you're interested, check out this article:

Mexico Quake Studies Uncover Surprises for California

Also, have a look at this video. I don't know for sure, but I think it was filmed alongside the Laguna Salada Mountains, where the quake's main fault is.

7.2 Mexicali Earthquake.MOV


Now, this earthquake did some damage in Mexicali/Calexico, but most of its force was spent in the uninhabited deserts of the region. The scientists at JPL, Caltech, and the US Geological Survey have been reminding us for years that the San Andreas fault and dozens of other significant faultlines run all across the densely populated region of greater Los Angeles. There is no way to specifically predict when an earthquake will occur, but we do know that the southern segment of the San Andreas has historically ruptured about every 150 years. But that makes it about 150 years overdue right now. The USGS created a simulation, called the Southern California ShakeOut, of the force of a rupture along the entire segment, and the damage it could do. You can view the simulation videos on this page, and they're somewhat horrifying, when you consider that the area affected is home to about eighteen million people:

ShakeOut Videos

Now that you're good and scared, here's a handy link:

USGS Earthquake Preparedness FAQ's

California: The world's biggest roller coaster! (You can get off in Alaska in just 250 million years!)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Yay! Snow!

Looks like these storms we're having are building up a good bit of drought-relieving snow in the Sierra Nevadas:

That's nice news for those of us that live down in the dry flats. Less awesome for the folks that actually live up in the mountain towns, but hey.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Favorite Inland Empire Buildings and Places

In today's post, I'm featuring a collection of some of my best photos (click on them for a larger view!) of my favorite places in Southern California's Inland Empire, where I live currently. The Inland Empire is defined as the entirety of San Bernardino and Riverside counties. With an area in excess of 27,000 square miles, it is home to well over four million people, about half in each county.
First, in San Bernardino county:

Fontana, where I live, just a few years ago completed this spectacular new library, and it has since become a symbol of the city. The Lewis Library and Technology Center is the largest public library in the San Bernardino county library system, at over sixty thousand square feet. In addition to its vast collection of literature, it has an auditorium, a below-grade parking garage, a cafe, city offices, homework/meeting rooms, computers everywhere, and a beautiful reading rotunda overlooking Sierra Avenue, Fontana's main street. It is the heart of the city- I've never gone in there when there weren't a hundred or more people using it for all it offers. I think that its thoughtful design and construction really demonstrated the heartfelt desire of the city council, and the local businesses that helped fund it, to improve the lives of the families of Fontana. I love the exterior's modern take on traditional Spanish architecture, too.
It's my favorite place in the city.

As seen on a rainy day:

And on a summer day:
(California has a cool flag, even when it's backwards!) 

Architectural details:
Clock tower:

this metalwork is a repeated theme throughout the building. It reminds me of the intricate details found in Islamic buildings, like the Alhambra in Spain:

and inside the skylit main hall, looking towards the entrance:

Next, some photos from Redlands, which is considered to be "The Jewel of the Inland Empire."

This pretty building is on the corner of Cajon and Vine streets, downtown. It contains a theater, among other functions. I love everything about the exterior: the shape, the colors, the details like the awnings... It exudes classic, small-town urban style.

 This is the A. K. Smiley library. I've not been inside, but the exterior and the grounds are fantastic:

This is the main administration building at the University of Redlands. Classical, stately, ivy-covered, and just beautiful.

The Redlands, California Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. One of our newer and smaller temples, but no less sublime. Just the other day, after the wind and rain had cleared the air (the best part of winter in the Southland), I caught a rare glimpse of this gleaming spire from afar, as the late-afternoon sun broke through the clouds and lit it ablaze, while I was driving home from work along a freeway about twelve miles away. My eyes were just drawn toward it, if only for a split second. It was amazing, and it totally made my day.

 Here's my favorite place to buy stuff, at the Victoria Gardens "lifestyle center" (which is developerese for "better than a regular mall") in Rancho Cucamonga.

 I love clocks of all sorts, especially when found in architecture, because they are so useful and functional, but they can also be beautifully decorative, too. This is one of my favorites, found in downtown Rialto:

This is obviously not one of my favorite places, but I included it today because it's one of the coolest shots I've ever taken of a piece of infrastructure. From the "Falcon Ridge Town Center" shopping center in Fontana.

Now on to Riverside:

This shot is of a "Heritage Flight" that was performed at the AirFest show at March Air Reserve Base, east of Riverside. This was just one of the coolest things I've ever seen. Over sixty years of service separates the modern F-22 Raptor at upper left from the WWII-era P-38 Lightning at upper right. Lower left is a Korean War-era F-86 Sabre, and a mid-Cold War-era F-15 eagle at lower right.

Here's the cool old main building at the base, with an ancient control room atop.

Now in Riverside proper:
 These next shots are from the Mission Inn, which is probably the most famous building in the Inland Empire. It's an especially awesome hotel, begun in 1876 as an adobe boarding house, then dramatically expanded between 1902 and 1935, in a variety of styles. It's now considered to be the largest Mission Revival style building in the United States. Now, I don't think that any number or quality of photos can express the awesomeness of this building. It's amazingly intricate, complicated, eclectic, and is simply astounding. I recommend reading the Wikipedia article for more information and history.

Here's just some of the details I liked most:

Here's a shot of Riverside's California Tower, which houses many state government offices. I love the orange stripe. This photo was taken from the roof of a parking garage, which is my absolute favorite vantage point for architectural/cityscape photos, anywhere.

Riverside's gorgeous county courthouse:

Riverside City Hall! It is SO 70's, I love it! The structures on the roof are a more recent addition. The building straddles the pedestrianized portion of Main Street.

The brand-spanking-new Regency Tower, an office block that reminds me vividly of the designs of the buildings of downtown Washington, D.C.

A ground-level shot of the California Tower, from the Main Street Plaza:

This is the Loring Building, which served as city hall before the 70's-tastic one was built, and now contains the Riverside branch of Citizens Business Bank, my former employer.

This is little Mount Rubidoux, which I once climbed. It's a very easy, popular hike, and the summit is nicely terraced and landscaped, with monuments such as a cross (not pictured, as I was standing beneath it) dedicated to Fr. Junipero Serra at the peak.

And this is the spectacular view of Downtown Riverside from the top of Rubidoux, with the sunset at my back. That was a very nice way to end a day.

In future posts, I'll feature each of these places, and others, with even more photos!

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Here's what I've decided to do. I like writing, but I don't actually write anything nearly often enough. I like taking pictures of buildings and places, but I don't do anything with the photos. I have been a member of art-sharing websites like deviantART (which just isn't for me) and Panoramio, which I still use sporadically.

I really, really like California. I've lived here all my life, and the sheer variety of landscapes and people and the abundance of natural and man-made beauty never fail to amaze me.

So here, I'm going to post pictures of the places I love, or otherwise leave me slack-jawed with awe. Most will be from California, but I may throw in some Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Italy, England, France, Spain, Morocco, or Portugal, once in a while. Some of the photos date back several years, but I will still be going about my world armed with my little red Samsung SL620, looking for good new shots.

I'll write in amounts ranging from one-line decriptions of said photos, to essay-length posts of news commentary, on issues affecting my family and myself, my city, county, state, and country.

I'll attempt to post at least once per week for now. I may be able to post daily, sometimes.
I tried blogging once before, but without a clear objective, and so I lost interest in it. I think this will not be the case this time. I have many subjects in mind, and some free time coming up, so here I go!