The fall is lovely in cottage country. The dog and I have gone for several hikes, trying to catch fish in the bog swamps.
Here you see the floating bog in the background, which covers about half the lake. New plants grow on top, and the old organic matter slowly sinks until it fills up, and becomes solid land. A great carbon sink! Life on the bog is interesting because it is nitrogen-limited. It's very acid, since the main component is Sphagnum Moss. As such, there are little plants which try to eat insects for nitrogen. As well, there are biting insects which need a blood meal to get enough protein to lay eggs.
Here's the dog.
The trouble with the fall is that I need a lot of inspiration to keep going. My blog-girlfriend ;) over at Science Notes tries very hard, and I love her for it, but lately there hasn't been much in the way of nuclear-follies to get me going. Finally, I am inspired by the fun over in Japan.
As we know from our Hollywood movies, the Japanese like to live in paper houses with open flames everywhere (* never been there!). This may be a gross exaggeration (what else is new from me!), but history has show that the biggest threat from an earthquake in Japan comes from the ensuing fires.
Perhaps giving up on this problem, Japan has invested heavily in the '10 second solution', which is a brief warning before major earthquake shaking. These earthquake warning systems are probably good for bridges and trains, but are difficult for the masses, mainly because they give so many false alarms. They can work two ways: either by having seismic monitoring right at the source and beaming the warning directly, or by detecting the leading P-waves, which come shortly before the main body S-waves.
I had an example of this, the day before my wedding. I was in the second floor of an old frame house, when I heard a buzz. My brother-in-law had amassed the biggest collection of glass air-line booze bottles you ever saw! (now they're all plastic, so this won't work anymore). These bottles were all buzzing against each other, making quite the racket. It was a good 10 seconds, 5 of which it took me to wake up and realize an earthquake shake was coming, which it did. Not enough time to jump, so I rode it out in the bed, but the earthquake was so far away that nothing happened.
That's the problem with these earthquake warning thingies. The best warning comes from earthquakes that are too far away to do anything. The killer earthquakes come from right underneath! I would hope that new houses in Japan are more fire-resistant, and come with automatic gas cutoffs. I would hope that these earthquake warning systems don't lead to false hopes....