Daily Archives: October 20, 2011


Berkeley’s 4th quake of day a 3.8 at 2307 Piedmont Ave

Thosen House
Print Friendly

Update, 10.22.11: This just in from Lisa Carlson: Thursday night at Rita Moreno’s one-woman show about her extraordinary life as a performer at the Berkeley Rep, about 10 minutes into her opening, we had a strong earthquake, around 3.9, the second one of the day here — an aftershock, we were told. Loud and deep. I was sitting high up in the mezzanine, 5th row back, with three friends, George, Beth, and her husband David, and we all held hands … Continue reading »

Tagged , ,

The Berkeley Wire: 10.20.11

Print Friendly

A fire more destructive to Berkeley than 1991 Firestorm

On the day we remember a catastrophic fire that affected many people’s lives locally, it may also pay to recall another fire which happened 68 years before the 1991 Oakland-Berkeley Firestorm and which was far more destructive to Berkeley.

The 1991 fire razed 63 Berkeley homes out of a total of more than 3,300. On September 17, 1923, however, a raging fire consumed some 640 structures, including 584 homes in the densely built neighborhoods north of the campus. Although the exact cause was never determined, the fire began in the undeveloped chaparral and grasslands of Wildcat Canyon, and was pushed towards the south west by a strong, gusty, and intensely dry northeasterly wind.

The Berkeley Fire Department, aided by a number of UC Berkeley students, was unable to stop the fire as it approached the north edge of the campus at Hearst Avenue. … Continue reading »

Print Friendly
Tagged , , , ,

Quake hits Berkeley: 4.2 downgraded to 3.9, then 4.0

Epicenter of today's earthquake: Berkeley's Clark Kerr campus
Print Friendly

Update, 5:36pm: The Berkeley Police Department reports receiving a “minimal” number of calls regarding ringing alarms from both community members and from various security/alarm companies’ monitoring services. There are no reports of damage or injury to this minute. BPD also did a roll call directly following the quake to check the status of each of its Officers in the field/patrol and Parking Enforcement Officers and all were OK.

Update, 5:05pm: There have been two small aftershocks since the 2:41pm quake. The latest, … Continue reading »

Tagged ,

Cal brainiacs’ robot roach could save lives in quakes

A team of researchers at U.C. Berkeley’s Biomimetic Millisystems Lab has created a robot that imitates the movement of cockroaches. Its latest version, unveiled on Monday, could potentially help find survivors in the ruins of an earthquake.

Called the dynamic autonomous sprawled hexapod, or DASH, the robots were designed to survive falls and unstable conditions. Kevin Peterson, Paul Birkmeyer, and Professor Ron Fearing submitted the original paper on DASH in 2009. On Monday, the researchers, along with Professor Robert Dudley, released an update which introduced “DASH + Wings”.

The robot can move at 1.3 meters per second and climb 17 degree inclines. Watch the Smart Planet video above to see the roach in action. … Continue reading »

Print Friendly
Tagged , , , , , , ,

In Berkeley: Trumpeter Erik Jekabson, singer “El Cigala”

Print Friendly

Trumpeter Erik Jekabson isn’t among the Berkeley High Jazz Band’s best known alumni, but that says more about program’s glittering roster of graduates and Jekabson’s far-ranging musical interests than any deficit in talent or imagination.

Since graduating in 1991, Jekabson has collected several degrees from conservatories (Oberlin and San Francisco Conservatory of Music) and extensive first-hand knowledge from veteran masters in New Orleans and New York City. Equally comfortable composing chamber music or West African-inflected funk, he possesses a lustrous, singing tone and an expansive rhythmic vocabulary. He also has a knack for assembling interesting ensembles.

Jekabson performs on Friday at Berkeley’s Hillside Club (a venue with a fascinating story itself), accompanied by largely the same cast featured on his impressive 2010 CD, “Crescent Boulevard”, which he released on his own label: Jekab’s Music. Featuring ace bassist John Wiitala, pianist Grant Levin, drummer Smith Dobson V, and special guest John Santos on percussion, the band is focusing on new Jekabson pieces conceived specifically for these players. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Loss assessment: Building anew after devastation

Photo: Allen Geller
Print Friendly

By Kurt Lavenson

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Rainer Maria Rilke

The fire missed me that day. I was alone in my fiancée’s kitchen, up near the ridge line of the hills, drinking coffee and reading the Sunday paper. The heat and winds were unusual. Pine needles blew from the trees and whipped sideways past the windows. I noticed smoke in the distance, in a corner of the view to the north, comfortably far away and just mildly interesting.

But it didn’t stay that way for long. Soon I was packing family photos and boxes of files into my truck for an evacuation. When we returned hesitantly the next day, the house and neighborhood were fine. The winds had stopped before pushing the fire into our canyon — and that was all it took to separate us from the others. A mile or so north, there were 1,500 acres of blackened devastation. … Continue reading »

Tagged ,