I’m back

Posted in Uncategorized on September 27, 2013 by Trip Jennings

I want to start a blog again. Go back to 2006, when they were all the rage. Part of it is I want to find a place not so crowded as Facebook or Twitter. I love me some social media. But sometimes sitting in your own little ignored corner of the Internet is nice.

9/11, 10 years later

Posted in news on September 11, 2011 by Trip Jennings

What to say. It’s been 10 years. It hardly seems possible. More than 3,650 days have passed and words still can’t express what I felt that day, or in the months after. I just remember stumbling around in an emotional fog, clawing at this veil that turned everything hazy and gauzy, frustrating my every attempt to see clearly what it all meant — 3,000 lives snuffed out in the space of a morning. I’m not talking about the political meaning of the attacks, or its geopolitical counterpart. That all became abundantly clear in the months, and years, after.  I mean the existential truth of that many people who were alive one moment, and then not. I still can’t wrap my head around that one.

The morning of Sept. 11, 2001 didn’t mark the end of the suffering. It was just the start. Weeks and months went by as families and friends of the missing waited for word on whether their loved ones had been found, or their remains identified. I talked to a few of them, a reporter trying to put words to the emotions they were feeling as their insides knotted up in inexplicable grief. It was horrific, this all-too-public reminder of the terrible power of the unknown and the unknowable-ness, at times, that life throws at us.

I was just a bystander to all this of course. No one I knew was killed. Or even injured. But I was affected. You couldn’t live that close to New York City and not be. A pall fell over the city as well as the Tri-State Area, and it hung there, making even sunny, cloudless days gray and mournful. And it hung there. And hung there. And that pall steadily eroded something in me, a belief that I had my own special bubble, that tragedy somehow had blinders on when it came to me and mine. No, I wasn’t hurt in the attacks. But all those people were. What separated them from me? Nothing, except they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I wasn’t. It’s terrifying to intuitively grasp how fragile life is and to realize how inadequate all those defenses you’ve built up over the years seem at that moment.

It took nearly three years before I could bring myself to visit Ground Zero, and even then it was for work. It’s not as if we lived far away. We lived an hour-and-a-half away, in Connecticut. It’s trite to say 9/11, and the weeks that followed, which included anthrax attacks in NY and Connecticut, were so traumatic as to transform a visit into something like picking at an open wound.  But I think that’s what it was, at least for me. A few months after the attacks, I remember walking in Union Square, which isn’t even close to Ground Zero by Manhattan standards, and it almost bent me over. Posters fluttered in the autumn air, adorned with faces of people I had never known personally but who suddenly were bound together in this terrible thing.

Today, I sit 2,000 miles away from New York City. Ten years have peeled away most of the pain and some of the befuddlement, but not all. I still don’t know what to feel. I’ve worked through a cycle of emotions. Anger. Sadness. Despair. Exhaustion. But I know this: I think mostly about the people who died. Not about why they were killed. Or the political or geopolitical meaning of their deaths. I grieve over them, and the lives that ended too suddenly and too early. And I wish I could visit Ground Zero. Just to pay my respects.

What I learned this summer about the use of social media during a crisis

Posted in social media, tech on August 4, 2011 by Trip Jennings

I’m a big social media user. Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Tumblr — name a networking site and I either have it or have heard of it. Social networking sites, as we’ve discovered in recent years, do much more than keep us in touch with old friends. They can, and have, become forums for people in various situations, from protesters in Egypt to reporters covering a jury verdict in a high-profile trial. But I didn’t really understand social media’s full power until this summer, when a massive wild land fire threatened Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

People from all over New Mexico, and the United States for that matter, started tweeting and updating their Facebook status reports to share information about the fire and its fallout, including attempting to find hotel rooms and homes for total strangers — the Los Alamos residents who were evacuated from their residences. It was amazing watching the online community come together. Here’s a story I did on the social media aspect of the Las Conchas fire in New Mexico. Hope you enjoy.

Different energy, different damages

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on March 20, 2011 by Trip Jennings

This is an interesting blog from Pro Publica

Amplify’d from www.propublica.org

Charting the Human Cost of Different Types of Energy

Nicholas Kusnetz

and Marian Wang
ProPublica, March 18, 2011, 4:25 p.m.

Since this time last year, we’ve seen a deadly mine disaster [1], the worst oil spill in U.S. history [2], and now a nuclear crisis in Japan [3]. That got us wondering—how does one compare or quantify the human cost of different sources of energy?

As it turns out, a Swiss research organization, the Paul Sherrer Institute, has been doing just that. Using data from the institute, we pulled together a few visualizations.


The top part of the graph shows the actual number of deaths from severe accidents in developed countries [4] from 1970 through 2008. The bottom part of the graph shows the number of deaths that might result [5] from a catastrophic event at an average site in the developed world. This does not show the worst case scenario for any situation, but it gives a sense of the relative risks associated with different sources of energy.

These numbers represent deaths in the developed world from severe accidents only, where at least five people were killed. The accidents have occurred at many stages of the energy supply chain, from coal mining to shipping oil to accidents at actual power plants.

It’s important to note that every-day energy use from fossil fuels kills far more people than accidents. By one estimate from 2000, pollution from power plants results in at least 30,000 premature deaths every year [6] in the United States alone.

We have excluded renewable energy sources because there is a shorter history of their use, because they make up a small percentage of our energy, and because so far they have not shown as great a potential to cause catastrophic damage.

We looked exclusively at the developed world because the great disparity in safety standards between developed and developing countries make them hard to compare. Our chart shows no lethal major accidents at nuclear plants. That’s because the only one was the meltdown at Chernobyl [7] in the then-Soviet Union—not considered a developed country in this study. There have not been any catastrophic dam failures either.

To adjust for this, the Paul Sherrer Institute used projections to estimate what would happen if there were a catastrophic failure at an average site (the models are in Switzerland, but are generally applicable to the developed world). This stuff is complicated, and if you’re still curious about the assumptions behind the Institute’s projections, they’ve told us that they welcome any and all questions, so just ask [8].

Read more at www.propublica.org


I’m feeling like Saturday night!!!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on March 20, 2011 by Trip Jennings

OK, I worked — hmmm what was it, oh yeah — 70 or so hours this week. And the week is over. So now I’m feeling like a party. Which at my age means listening to music on my laptop while I nod off quietly. So enjoy the video. But remember … quiet please. Middle-aged man partying here.

Posted in Uncategorized on March 15, 2011 by Trip Jennings

The situation at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in northern Japan is worsening, according to the New York Times. And a full meltdown could likely happen. Here’s to hoping that doesn’t happen. That’s the last thing the people of Japan need right now.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/15/world/asia/15nuclear.html?pagewanted=1&hp http://amplify.com/u/budjp

Oscar’s Night ends with no surprises

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on February 28, 2011 by Trip Jennings
Amplify’d from www.latimes.com
By Susan King and Rene Lynch | 8:41 p.m.
Nominated for 12 Oscars — the most of any film — it wins four, including honors for Colin Firth for lead actor, Tom Hooper for director, and David Seidler for original screenplay.

Read more at www.latimes.com