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12 minutes 28 seconds ago Nepal Earthquake by jshannon


There may be deaths in Everest Base Camp. I slept there two nights over Easter weekend, just a few weeks ago. Yipes.


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04/23/15 09:51 PM Dam Disasters by Dagny

Would you have time to grab your BOB?

In Googling the nearly catastrophic failure of southern California's San Fernando Dam during the 1971 Sylmar earthquake, I came across this interesting overview of major dam disasters done for the state of Oregon.

I had forgotten about the Teton Dam disaster in Idaho in 1976. Now vaguely recall news reports of it.


Had no knowledge of California's "St. Francis Dam Disaster" -- the "worst civil engineering failure of the 20th Century" (according to a Smithsonian magazine article). Very interesting article that chronicles southern California's water wars and the remarkable trajectory of one William Mulholland.


"Completed on May 4, 1926, the St. Francis Dam stood nearly 200 feet tall, 700 feet long and covered 600 acres. Built into a sparsely populated mountainous canyon about 47 miles northeast from downtown Los Angeles, the area’s residents consisted mostly of farmers and workers at the dam or hydroelectric power plants, known as Powerhouse #1 and Powerhouse #2. It was the largest arch-supported dam in the world, with the ability to hold over 12 billion gallons of water, about two years worth of water for the city of Los Angeles. It cost $1.3 million to build, which was actually under budget - a tendency for a Mulholland-led project. It was Mulholland himself who opened the gate on the morning of May 13 to fill up the reservoir at a rate of 70 million gallons a day.

Less than two years later, the dam collapsed."


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04/23/15 06:39 PM 1971 San Fernando, CA (Sylmar) Earthquake by Dagny

Anyone else here live through the 1971 San Fernando (Sylmar), California earthquake?

Last night I stumbled upon a YouTube vintage video of the aftermath and it conjured some memories. My family lived in Torrance at the time (I was 8 years old). I remember waking up when it hit at 6:00 a.m. and subsequent aftershocks that would send a swinging lamp in our living room swinging a lot more than it was ever intended to. I also remember the pickup truck flattened under the freeway overpass and a subsequent school field trip to a damaged mission.

Torrance was a ways from the epicenter and I don't remember any fear but it may have been the beginning of my flirting with a career as a geologist (a road I ultimately did not travel....)

I did not realize until Googling the quake today that if the damaged San Fernando dam had collapsed approximately 100,000 people could have perished.


"The 1,100-foot dam held 3.6 billion gallons of water on the morning of Feb. 9, 1971, but it was only half full; the water level was 36 feet below the lip.

"The top 30 feet of the edifice crumbled, leaving the water only six feet from the top and fresh chunks of earth falling off with each aftershock."

"...A year to the day before the quake, the dam held 6.5 billion gallons of water, and its level was eight to 10 feet higher than the level to which the top of the dam slumped in the quake. Engineers recognized that had such a vast quantity of water spilled over the top, the entire dam would have quickly been washed away."

"...Later, a UCLA study estimated that collapse of the dam would have brought flooding that could have killed between 71,600 and 123,400 people."

"...Lucy Jones of the U.S. Geological Survey commented, "San Fernando clearly nudged the Northridge plane toward having an earthquake. It didn't happen for 23 years, but it could have happened almost immediately as an aftershock.

"For some reason, Northridge wasn't quite ready to go, and we were fortunate it wasn't, because had Northridge occurred right away, then it's pretty clear we would have killed a lot more people."

Retrospective - 41 years later:


"Quake damage also forced four freeways to be closed: Interstate 5, Highway 14, the 405 Freeway and the 210 Freeway."

Vintage video of the emergency response to the quake:


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04/15/15 03:06 AM How long? by hikermor

"in case of a large scale disaster the Internet/data centers might be down" This relevant comment by Alex begs the question, "how long (in the "average disaster") does it take to reconstitute necessary services? What has been recent experience?

To bring it home, when the Big One comes to southern California, for how long will the rest of you be deprived of the insightful posts of those of us living in the affected region? I know it will be tough,but hang in there....

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04/09/15 02:56 PM Another review... Fenix's new LD75C LED Light by Alan_Romania

This last week in Albania has given me some downtime to do some reviews that I have been on my to-do list for a little while. Normally when I am here to teach, I have no free time but a group of German Paramedics have been here the last 4 days teaching so I have some time to get caught up.

Recently, I was given the opportunity to review a new flashlight from Fenix. The LD75C doesn’t fit in the category of lights I normally review but its somewhat unique features intrigued me so I requested and received permission to test one. Typically, I am interested in lights that fit into the EDC category, those that can be carried unobtrusively in a pocket so it is always there when it is needed. The LD75C is on the other end of the spectrum, no one is going to consider this an EDC flashlight but it isn’t ridiculously large as to make it impractical.

Initially, when I opened the package containing the Fenix LD75C it reminded me of something out of Star Trek. Especially in the Next Generation series and later often members of Star Fleet can be seen using various bright lights in form factors that differ from common flashlight design. Similarly, the LD75C is an extraordinarily bright light in a format that is a change from traditional flashlight design; this isn’t really something new for Fenix.

Before I go into the LD75C, I think I should explain my general outlook towards flashlight. The two most important questions I ask myself when deciding on a flashlight is: First, is the flashlight suitable for the purpose I intend to use it for and second, will it be durable enough to fulfill that purpose when I need it. It wasn’t all that long ago when looking for lights that fulfilled the second question there were only a few light manufactures to choose from. Today, more and more companies are producing durable lights in an ever-increasing selection of options.

When I first saw the capabilities of the Fenix LD75C my initial thought was that it would be a great “truck light”. The idea was that it would be a great light to be kept in the center console of my truck to be used when I need a high output spotlight that isn’t tethered to my truck by a power cord. As it turns out, the LD75C fulfills this role and some other perfectly. I actually found myself using it at work in place of the door-mounted spotlight on our engine. Not only was it brighter than ANY light on our engine, it was much easier to direct at what I wanted to illuminate.

How bright, Fenix advertises that the LD75C has a maximum output of 4000 lumens of white light when set to Turbo (disorientating strobe) or Strobe setting. Now, I was skeptical (as I always am) about the output in lumens advertised by flashlight manufactures and I was with the LD75C. So, the very first thing I did with the light after installing the 8 CR123 batteries it requires to run is to point the light at a wall about 5 feet away from me and activate TURBO mode. Five feet wasn’t far enough away, I would have no doubt that the LD75C would disorient an assailant at least for a few moments. I have no method to actually test the output of the LD75C, but I have no reason to doubt the outputs advertised by Fenix.

As I mentioned already, LD75C isn’t small but it is a reasonable size that makes it practical. The light is 16cm (6.3in) long with a body diameter 52cm (2in) and a bezel diameter of 74mm (2.9in). Too big for a pocket, and for most people a belt pouch would be cumbersome. However, it is perfect for a glove compartment or the center console of a vehicle and it any pocket that will hold a typical 500mL water bottle. Using CR123 batteries, the light weights 566 grams.

Users have the option of utilizing either 8 CR123 batteries or 4 rechargeable 18650 batteries. While reading through the literature that I was given with the LD75C I discovered that you can run the light at a reduced output with only 4 CR123 batteries or 2 18650 batteries… unfortunately I discovered this on the way to Albania, and the light is at home in Phoenix. I would highly recommend using the rechargeable 18650 batteries for cost efficacy.

Operating the LD75C is done using 3 rubber push switches. Thankfully, Fenix didn’t try to build a one button light for all the functions the LD75C has. The bottom center light is for maximum output settings only, if you quickly press and let go of the bottom button the TURBO mode is activated. A press and hold of the bottom button causes the maximum constant output mode to be activated. The top left button cycles through the secondary LEDs, starting off on which ever setting was last used. A double press of the top left button activates the battery level indicator which uses the green, blues and red LEDs to indicate battery level. The last button, the top right button activates the other primary White light functions starting at 40L and working to to maximum output and STROBE.

4000 Lumens is almost ridiculously bright, but in TURBO and STROBE modes it is effective for the given purpose of disorienting assailants (TURBO) and signaling (STROBE). The 1800 lumen maximum sustained output is a much more reasonable level of light. The beam shape of the LD75C has a solid bright focused center beam that makes it a good spotlight but it also as a significant amount of throw that easily can illuminate a large open area or very large room. At the maximum setting, the LD75C builds up some heat but has a safety feature built into it that causes the output to be reduced if the light over heats. In my experience this happened after approximately 15 minutes of constant use at 1800 lumens, once it reduces output you can hit the power button again to return to high power if needed (at lower output settings, I never ran it long enough for it to reduce output). At 1800 lumens, Fenix reports that the light will run from about 3 hours with increasing runtime at lower settings (the primary white lights can also be set to 800L for 11h, 200L for 35h or 40L for 175h). I used the LD75C quite a bit for over three weeks and the batteries were still good according to the lights built in battery level indicator (verified with a volt-meter).

The primary white LED of the LD75C alone makes it a very useful large format flashlight. But, to add function and some fun to the light Fenix added colored secondary LEDs to the light. The secondary LEDs are red, green, blue and another white LED. You can cycle through these LED in various functions using a separate switch from the primary switches. All four of the colors are available to use in constant on with the red LED available in a STROBE setting and a red/blue combined STROBE setting. The constant settings output varies for each color (140L for red, 190L for green, 45L for Blue and 200L for the secondary white LED). To be perfectly honest, I really didn’t use the secondary LEDs much at all except the green. At 190L the green LED was too bright to read a map, but it was bright enough to illuminate a room or a trail while still maintaining some night vision. I do like the fact that a red STOBE setting is available, in some settings an extremely bright white strobe may not be the best choice for signally. For example, 4000L of white light would be too much light when signaling an aircraft whose crew is using night vision equipment a lower output red light would be more appropriate (but even 140L in this situation is overkill). Most of the people I showed the light to were more enamored with the colored LEDs than I was, and I am sure I would find more uses for them as time goes on.

Since I only used this light for 3 weeks, I cannot really comment on it’s long term durability except to state that it seems well built and it did survive a number of falls to hard surfaces from 4–5’ without a flicker. Fenix reports the light is IPX–8 waterproof standard, meaning it should remain working in 6–8 feet of water for 30minutes. I wasn’t able to test this, but I did submerge the light in a 5-gallon bucket for an hour and no water got inside the light.

My conclusion is that the LD75C is probably not the right light for everybody, however if you are looking for a well built light, extremely bright light in a format that makes it easy to carry in a pack or vehicle the LD75C is a light you should consider. With a MSRP of $220 it is significantly less expensive than other in the same performance, size and quality category as the LD75C. You can find more information at the Fenix Website.

I apologize for the lack of images and videos demonstrating how bright the LD75C is, it seems I left the camera and video card with those images on them in the United States. When I return I will post the missing images.

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