Our own CrossLoop engineer Joe Wein is located in Japan. Internally CrossLoop is a fan of Skype and the whole team joins conversations as we are working from various destinations around the globe. Last Tuesday a normal testing workflow (technical and very hard to understand for a marketing person) pretty much became understandable as this conversation evolved:
Tuesday, March 08, 2011(time according to PDT)
Our Finance manager joined the conversation informing: “7.2 earthquake in Northern Japan, hope all is well with you Joe."
Another colleague: Holy Moly, That’s a big one! There’s also a Tsunami alert.
Joe W.: It was 400 miles from here but I could still feel it! It was shaking really long though not very strong here, so I assumed it was far but big, which it was. Quake map by the government and news.
Colleague: I’m glad you’re still typing Joe!
Joe W: It was a fair distance from the coast so hopefully the Tsunami won’t be so bad.
Colleague: What is your elevation? Water danger is low right? You're quite a way from the open ocean.
Joe W.: I'm on the other side. Where I am there won't be a tsunami problem, because Tokyo bay faces south and the epicenter is up north. I'd be more concerned about the local coastal cities up there, like in Sendai, Miyiagi prefecture.
Two hours later Joe W is thinking that the Tsunami was just a warning that didn’t materialize.
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
Joe W: We just had the biggest earthquake I ever experienced but we're OK here. All my usb harddisks knocked over (Editors note: This is the first thing an engineer could mention?) Stuff falling off the shelves. The epicenter is 200 miles from here, can't imagine what it looks like there. Most of our wine glasses lie broken on the floor in the living room. The cupboard stood wide open, with much of its contents spilled onto the floor.
Joe W [10 min later]: Aftershocks are continuing, and again doors and shelves are rattling.
Colleague: Whoa, looks like it's a big 8.8. Glad you're alright, Joe.
Friday, March 11, 2011
The team is again discussing technical issues of testing version 2.75 when Joe W. agree to test it out before he add to the conversation as the most natural thing to mention: “live TV here is showing houses, cars, trucks being washed away by a tsunami. 7.3 m wave (24 foot). Had Skype contact with my wife on her iPhone, but text messages don't go through to her or my son. Mobile network must be overloaded. Can't call by mobile. Perhaps they reserve the network for emergency calls.”
Then Joe W. continues: I am testing the fix for IE7/8....
Colleague: News now
Joe W.: Aftershocks for the quake have been rolling in again and again for about two hours. There was a big one about half an hour after the first. No tsunami warning in California I saw. This is my location.
Colleague: I've never seen anything like it. Your jp pm is mostly talking about the nuclear power risks. But the videos make it look like the waves are the real problem. I was three miles from the loma prieta 7.0 quake, but it was on land and no waves.
Joe W: They had a fire in a nuke power station after a quake a few years ago. It's rocking again right now.
Colleague: Dozens of quakes, nothing under 5.0, listed in japan. Biggest earthquake in 300 years (paroting the news here) in Japan. See list.
Joe W.: it's rattling again right now. They felt the quake in Beijing (says Al Jazeera), more than three hours by plane from here. The quake was strong enough in Tokyo to trigger the automatic shutdown of the gas pipes. I can't use the gas cooker, they have a mercury switch.
Colleague in California, US: We here are participants in the ring or fire... similar overall probability of major earthquakes. But I've never seen video like this where it looks like cities are being washed away. I'm hearing talk about the "next big one" around Tokyo. We have the same thing here around SF and LA. You never know.
Joe W.: We have three fault lines intersecting near Tokyo.
Colleague: Joe, I'm glad to read you're all right, this is scary.
Joe W. : The fix seems to do the trick. I haven't had any IE errors since then.
1 hour later
Colleague: Are you still hanging in there Joe W?
Joe W.: Still experiencing after-quakes a couple of times per hour.
Colleague: Has your family been able to get home yet?
Joe W.: Yes, my wife and my son both walked home. My daughter is on her way back from a ski trip with her school, stuck in traffic jam (because all trains are stopped the roads are chaotic) but should be here later today.
Colleague: Glad they are all well.
Joe W.: Yes, we’re very relieved. Got email from the embassy, they’re checking on all registered nationals. Swept up all the broken glass. Some of the after-quakes were centered much closer to Tokyo than the big one. There's nothing but news broadcasts on TV now. Sort of like 9/11. The last death count I saw was 61, but that's sure to rise a lot by tomorrow.
Colleague: The video of the tsunami looks pretty bad.
Joe W.: Seeing those farmhouses washed away, it's awful, cars and vans. Wife calling for dinner!
[Editors note: after dinner] The official death count is now at least 90, but they just mentioned something about 200-300 bodies in Sendai.
Colleague: We have tsunami warnings for the west coast and Hawaii. Are you still getting aftershocks?
Joe W.: Yes, pretty steady. These are the local times of afterquakes listed on the government meterological website:
Colleague: That must be quite a test for already stressed buildings.
Another colleague: Watching the morning news! Glad you are OK Joe. Did all of your family make it home ok?
Joe W.: My daughter's bus just arrived back at the school from the ski trip. It's 11:16pm. We're going over there now to pick her up. The roads had been gridlocked with traffic after all the trains shut down. Shigeko (my wife) and Shintaro (my son) walked home. My son was initially stuck on a train that had been stopped automatically due to the earthquake. It had half entered a station, but hadn't quite pulled up to the platform yet. If the sensors detect an earthquake they report it to the rest of the country and the signal travels faster than the shock wave, so there can be a few minutes of lead time before the quake hits, which they use for halting trains. So they aren't caught in motion, in case rails get damaged. One local train up north with 4 wagons is reported missing, perhaps hit by the tsunami.
Colleague: Thankful that all is well with you and your family. Life will be upside down for awhile.
Another Colleague: Is this deja vus? Didn't you have an earthquake just a little while ago?
Joe W.: two days ago. As it turns out it was a pre-quake. Same location, same fault line. It increased the pressure on the rest of the fault line. We've been having after-quakes for the last 9 hours, several times per hour. Lamp shade starts swinging, TV starts rocking, the stand of our flatscreen TV has been tied down with safety straps to the metal rack it stands on, so it was not in danger of toppling. Drawers opened in the living room and kitchen during the big one. There's another aftershock right now.
Colleague: I was traveling from London to Eindhoven the morning of the Loma Prieta earthquake ... and I wasn't able to reach my wife (and our kids) for several days. That was stressful!
Joe W.: wow! I can imagine... at least now we have the internet. Shigeko could Skype me from her iPhone even when SMS and mobile calls were out. I could email Shintaro on his Gmail account which he can read on his iPhone. I sent some tweets too this time. Family and friends have been calling and skyping me. I am glad I can tell them we're safe. But I feel sorry for the tsunami victims. My broken glasses can be replaced, the people who lost their lives can not.
Colleague: Not much warning, how long between the big earthquake and the tsunami?
Joe W.: up near Sendai they say essentially 0 minutes, further away 10 minutes, 30 minutes or several hours. But a large bit of coastline in the worst affected region had essentially no warning. Miyagi Police Say 200-300 Bodies Found In Coastal Area Of Sendai City.
SENDAI (Kyodo)—“The Miyagi prefectural police said Friday they have found 200 to 300 bodies in Wakabayashi Ward in the city of Sendai. The police believe the bodies are those of residents who were hit by a tsunami after the strongest recorded earthquake to hit Japan rocked the northeast of the country including the prefecture. The police said they believe all of the 1,200 households in the area had been hit by the tsunami.”
Joe W.: It's rocking again now. They evacuated people within two miles of one shut down nuclear power station where the backup power for the cooling system failed.
Colleague: The news here is reporting that they have closed 4 nuclear power plants.
Joe W.: and rocking again.
Colleague: Joe W., Maureen called to see if you were OK, she got a "reverse 911" call a bit ago ... they have the tsunami forecast to hit Monterey Bay at 7:45am, in about 15 min. ... only expecting 3-4' waves.
Joe W.: I should try to catch some sleep now. 1 am.
If you have inside stories from Japan that you want to share send them to us: Monica@crossloop.com