html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Just doing my duty.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Just doing my duty.

My background in water engineering was man-made irrigation structures, not built and natural flood systems. I'm not in the Flood Management Division, but you can imagine that the whole department is pretty focused on floods these days. We talk about them a lot right now, so I'm just learning stuff that any real fluvial geomorphologist (so hot!) would already know.

The coolest thing I learned recently is that the entire bed of a river drops during a flood event. Of course we knew that the top water level rises, but sediment in the channel bottom is picked up as well. A sandy river bottom can drop by fifteen to twenty feet, and be restored to close to its original profile as high flows recede.

I also learned that most of the flood water in the Sacramento Valley is carried in bypasses. The mainstem only holds about twenty percent of flood waters, which still looks pretty dramatic when it is lapping at the bridge at M St.

This morning I went over to the Joint Operations Center* to get trained in flood response. The training isn't coming any too soon, seeing as how I am working all tonight and tomorrow night. I'll be in the operations section, so I guess my job is to choose and coordinate responses to breaches in the system, and, you know, to save your life!

If something goes wrong, saving your life will involve a flurry of activity, and decisions based on not enough information, and maps and paper everywhere. But things are more likely to go right, so saving your life will probably mean sitting in a cold building with half a dozen other people and nothing to do at three in the morning. I'll have books and Internets but no email, so if you have suggestions for interesting sites with enough content to keep me awake, that would be great.

*Flood fighters like me just call it the JOC.



Anonymous Justin L said...

I know, there's a theme there, but, it's what I like.

there's always
Dilbert and Unfit are all right.

I don't really understand how you can be in front of a computer with internet access and NOT have e-mail.

You can chat on IRC through a web client at

I think yahoo might have a web client now for chat. Gmail does.

You could spend the time looking up something that you're interested in, and learning about it.

You could play games on yahoo.

I don't know, I'm running out of ideas. Take a movie and watch it on the computer?

I give up.

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You could take some time on the internets to learn about debris flows and mud flows. Enough mud makes the water in the river become a non-newtonian fluid. Like blood.

3:39 PM  
Anonymous ogged said...

For passing time without feeling like a complete wastrel, the Library of Congress site has tons of great stuff.

If you have sound (and headphones, presumably), the Smithsonian's Global Sound site has tons of music you won't hear anywhere else.

4:57 PM  
Anonymous justus said...

You could also break away from the computer screen and try cards or a board game with your coworkers. I like Cheap Ass Games' games because they're easy to learn, quick to play, fun, and you don't end up with a $50 game you've only played twice.

7:41 PM  
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3:25 AM  

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