It’s been nearly two weeks again! Yikes! But I’ve got another excuse. Here goes…
The back trouble I’ve been fighting has taken a more serious turn. Last week, the pain just wouldn’t go away, even with a couple trips to the chiropractor, who usually fixes me right up. So we went to clinic and got some stronger medicine, which helped my back a lot. The next day, I felt much better…until I got into the shower. After three or four minutes, I could hardly stand up. I grimaced through and dragged myself back to bed. An MRI on Friday revealed the bad news: a badly herniated disk in my lower back is pinching a nerve that runs down my leg.
It’s most uncomfortable except when I’m laying on my right side in bed with my legs curled up…which is where I’ve spent about 90% of my time since last Tuesday. We meet with an orthopedic surgeon tomorrow morning, and surgery is almost certain. But if it will get things fixed so I can work from the office (instead of curled up – any idea of how hard it is to type?!?) and get back on my bike again, then I’m okay with it.
Well, it’s either that or “the dog ate my homework.”
When someone mentions “disasters” and “1985” in the same sentence, my mind’s eye immediately sees those barfalicious parachute pants, break-dancing, and those glasses girls wore that looked like they were upside down. It doesn’t get a lot worse than that. But those are fashion disasters. And though the carnage from them was great, I suppose it pales in comparison to a real disaster.
A disaster like, say, the one that hit Mexico City on this day.
The sun had just come up over Mexico’s capital on September 19, 1985, when the calm was replaced by a violent shaking. Some 220 miles offshore, a strong 8.0 earthquake had rattled itself into existence. Now your mind immediately jump to the giant quake that hit Japan in March of last year. That earthquake did very little damage. The massive tsunami that followed shortly after, however, was a completely different story. But tsunamis were not the issue in Mexico City.
So now you might think that, due to the distance from the quake (actually quakes, as this particular temblor was a two-headed beast), Mexico might avoid serious trouble. But, unfortunately, that was also not the case.
The earthquake occurred in an area that’s known for stronger seismic activity, as there are a couple of tectonic plates that conflict with each other. I have an earthquake app on my smartphone, and this region sees small-to-moderate quakes pretty regularly. But in 1985, it had been a while since there was a “relieving of the pressure” in this particular place, so the pent-up stresses were released all at once rather than gradually over a series of smaller quakes.
But the real culprit was Mexico City itself, or rather, it’s location. The city, one of the world’s largest, sits in the Valley of Mexico. Hundreds of years ago, the area was a large lake. The Aztecs built their capital (then called Tenochtitlan) on an island in the middle of Lake Texcoco. Over time, the city grew. Then there was a change of ownership when the Spanish came calling, but still the city grew. It outgrew the island, so over time, the lake was drained for more infrastructure.
I’m no geologist, but I would guess that lake beds don’t make good foundations, because while it may be dry on top, there’s likely still a lot of moisture underneath. The soils below Mexico City were volcanic clay…with a high water content. When the shock waves from the quake hit, those soils actually made the shaking worse. And of course, those soils also settle, which causes buildings on top of them to become very unstable. That’s what happened in Mexico City.
Hundreds of buildings completely collapsed and thousands more were heavily damaged. In addition, the shifting landscape tore up roads and wreaked havoc on underground water, sewer, and gas lines. Sections of the city were completely devastated. The number of deaths varies widely depending on the source, but ranges run from 10,000 to more than four times that number.
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