Tag Archives: Disaster

This is one of the btter views I got after we had finally managed to move to the eastern end of the venue.  It gives an idea of the crush but this end was not as crowded as the western side, probably because there were no food or drink vendors on this side.

200th Anniversary of the Battle of the Nations re-enactment – 20 October, 2013

The Battle of the Nations in and around Leipzig, Germany from 16-20 October, 1813, was the culminating battle of 1813 and the last major battle fought prior to the fighting in France in 1814 before Napoleon’s defeat, abdication, and exile to Elba.  It was the largest battle fought in Europe to that time with over 500,000 soldiers on both sides.  The city of Leipzig spent millions renovating the huge memorial to the battle and planned a week of commemorations coinciding with the 200th Anniversary of the battle.

This past weekend I went to the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of the Nations re-enactment.  This was billed as the highlight of the week-long commemoration of the battle with over 5,000 re-enactors from almost 30 countries taking part in reenacting a portion of the battle on a part of the actual battlefield.  It might have been awesome, I don’t know because while I was there I did not manage to see more than clouds of smoke until it was almost over because of the masses of people standing in front of me.

I have been to several Civil  War reenactments in the States to include Fredericksburg and Antietam as well and many smaller battles like Pea Ridge in Arkansas.  I have never seen one that was so poorly organized or so expensive for people wanting to see living history.

My view of the Battlefield at the start of the show.  We could occasionally see the tops of helmets as troops marched past us and clouds of smoke from musketry and artillery.

My view of the Battlefield at the start of the show. We could occasionally see the tops of helmets as troops marched past us and clouds of smoke from musketry and artillery.

There was supposedly only planning done for 20,000 – 25,000 in the audience, but according to the radio 35,000 were in attendance and judging by the lack of space inside the venue and lack of vendors I would guess more people showed up than that. Here is a list of things that made a potentially great event a horrible experience.

1. My wife & I paid €15 ($20) per person to stand around and see nothing, and I mean nothing for almost the entire show.
2. The event was supposed o start letting people in at 1000 with the re-enactment beginning at 1230.  It eventually started almost 2 hours late at 1410 and the reason for this according to the announcer is that they were still selling tickets and wanted everybody to be able to get inside.
3. There were not enough food vendors, my wife waited in line for almost an hour to get some food.
4. The standing area was so crowded it was literally impossible to move and when we decided to leave there was no way to go past the VIP area because the walkway narrowed so much that it was blocked.

These people had the slick idea to climb a tree so they could actually see something.  I cracked a joke about trees growing people instead of apples when I saw this.

These people had the slick idea to climb a tree so they could actually see something. I cracked a joke about trees growing people instead of apples when I saw this.

5. The announcer kept trying to reassure us that everything was awesome and I am sure it was from where he was sitting.
6. Lastly, My wife paid €1 ($1.50) for the toilets -porta potties, only to find out that the hand-washing station did not work and she would have to stand in line on the men’s side again in order to wash her hands.
7. Parking was essentially non-existent.  We ended up parking a little over 2km away and walking

We got up at 0600 and drove for three hours one-way to be not only disappointed, but angered.  They had at least a year to set this up and then turned what could have been an awesome event of living history into a great advertisement to avoid Leipzig.

Some good pictures of what I might have seen if the organization and planning had been better can be found on the MDR website (in German).  I have posted a few pictures of what I actually saw as well.

I have never been to an event with such high expectations to have them be dashed so violently upon arrival.  Words can convey but not adequately express how disappointed I was at the unprofessional manner in which this event was put together and executed. At least the weather was nice, in the upper 60′s with no rain.  Suffice it say that if the Germans had fought at Leipzig the way they put this together they would have been soundly defeated and deservedly so.

This is one of the btter views I got after we had finally managed to move to the eastern end of the venue.  It gives an idea of the crush but this end was not as crowded as the western side, probably because there were no food or drink vendors on this side.

This is one of the btter views I got after we had finally managed to move to the eastern end of the venue. It gives an idea of the crush but this end was not as crowded as the western side, probably because there were no food or drink vendors on this side.

One of two good pictures I managed to take by stretching my arm as high as I could and guessing where the lens was pointed.

One of two good pictures I managed to take by stretching my arm as high as I could and guessing where the lens was pointed.

The other good picture I managed to take.

The other good picture I managed to take.

If any of my readers were also there, please share your experience in the comment sections.

Illustration of the construction of of a typical GE reactor of the type found at Fukushima

The Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan

I had to post something about the earthquake and Tsunami in Japan last Friday.  First off, I hope that the death toll does not go as high as they currently fear.  Second, everything I have seen so far about the Japanese reactions to the quake inspires nothing but admiration and respect for the Japanese people.  My prayers go out to all the victims and their families.

I am sure that if this disaster had happened in California the news would be full of stories about how the government is not doing enough and where is all the help people are supposed to be receiving from the government as folks sat around in the rubble and complained instead of trying to help themselves.  What I am seeing in Japan is the exact opposite.  People in Japan seem to be getting down to business of recovering, not bitching about why the government is not doing more.  They remind me more of the folks in Mississippi and Alabama after Katrina than anything else.

It does not amaze me how much attention is being paid to the struggles at the nuclear reactor at Fukushima.  What does amaze me is the amount of hyperbole and downright misinformation there is about what is going on.  I do not think it is coming from the Japanese government or power operator either.  Here is a nice alarmist piece from MSNBC.  I am certainly looking forward to hearing the anti-nuclear power crowd goes crazy over the issues arising at a plant struck by both a 23-foot tsunami and a magnitude 8.9 earthquake.  They will gleefully claim that the Fukushima reactors problems mean nuclear power is unsafe regardless.  They will also offer no alternatives for supplying the power generated by these plants.

Illustration of the construction of of a typical GE reactor of the type found at Fukushima, notice how robust the design is.

One thing is clear even after only minor research, the reactor design at Fukushima is very robust and the chances of a “Chernobyl like” explosion even were all safety measures to fail is as close to impossible as human engineers can make it.  What is unsaid is the amount of effort and dedication of the plants workers and engineers who have worked ceaselessly since Friday to contain a looming disaster instead of leaving their posts and seeking out family to ensure their safety.  It is easy to forget among all the talk of partial meltdown that not only was the nuclear plant hit, so was the area around it, the area where the plant workers and their family lived.

No doubt, this will be the story of the week, month, or even spring.  I also do not doubt that within a week, we will begin to see stories about which star is doing what and other petty things creep back into the news.  Modern man is nothing if not easily distracted.  I for one, will be interested in following the news from Japan in the coming months to see how the Japanese recover, a topic with which many will probably get bored very quickly.  How much were we hearing about Christchurch, New Zealand before the quake hit Japan?  The New Zealand quake was only three weeks ago and it had already all but faded from the news, how long until the disaster in Japan is overtaken by the 24-hour news cycle?

 Below are a list of links to articles and information on both the earthquake and the damage to the Fukushima reactors:  Battle to stabilize earthquake reactors, Japan Does Not Face Another Chernobyl, Japan Earthquake: before and after, LA Times slideshow of quake images, Info paper on Boiling Water Reactors from the US NRC