Archive for January 2009

9th Anniversary Quake

4.5 quake rattles Puget Sound area

By KOMO Staff & News Services
SEATTLE — There were no immediate reports of damage from a 4.5 magnitude earthquake that rattled the Seattle and Puget Sound area early Friday, but it was a reminder the urban area is sitting on shaky ground.

The quake at 5:25 a.m. was centered 14 miles northwest of Seattle near Kingston, in Kitsap County, at a depth of 36 miles.

The U.S. Geological Survey initially reported it as a 4.6 quake, but a University of Washington report on the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network listed it at 4.5.

The network shows it was felt throughout the Puget Sound area in Western Washington, and people reported feeling it in Victoria, British Columbia, 71 miles to the north.

Network director John Vidale said the quake was from the same general source as the 6.8 magnitude Nisqually earthquake on Feb. 28, 2001.

That quake, under the Nisqually River delta between Tacoma and Olympia, was the largest quake to shake the area in more than a half-century. It disrupted operations at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and damaged the Capitol in Olympia and buildings and the Alaskan Way Viaduct in Seattle.

Vidale said such quakes are not the type of “megathrust” quake that would catastrophic damage on the West Coast. A megathrust quake would involve the breaking of a tectonic plate – a piece of the earth’s outer shell – and would have a magnitude of about 9, he said. The last one happened in the Northwest in 1700.

The state Department of Transportation said technicians are inspecting the I-90 and SR-520 bridges, as well as other roads throughout the area, but have so far found no damage.

Small earthquakes are common in the Pacific Northwest. The Friday morning shaker was the largest in Washington since a 4.6 in October 2006 near Mount Rainier.

“It shook the house like something had hit the roof,” said Robert Lyden on Anderson Island south of Tacoma in Puget Sound. “It just woke us up.” Other than knocking a water fountain off his deck there was no damage, he said.

Lacey Menne says it shook her home as she was preparing to go to work at the Coastal Cafe in Kingston.

“It wasn’t strong enough to make anything fall,” she said. “It was like, what is that? I think it might be an earthquake. It’s totally an earthquake!”

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RIGHTSIZING THE WORKFORCE

RIGHTSIZING THE WORKFORCE

AREA OFFICES TO REDUCE STAFFING LEVELS

As the national economy continues to decline, the Postal Service must continue to rightsize its workforce. And among those efforts, as announced yesterday by Postmaster General Jack Potter, are planned reductions in authorized staffing levels for the nine area offices.

This follows a similar workforce reduction at headquarters and headquarters-related offices announced last fall.

With this action, some vacant area-office positions will be eliminated and other occupied positions will be affected. Employees occupying impacted positions will be notified and given information and guidance.

On Feb. 24, a series of job postings will be available to place qualified employees in vacant positions. Area employees interested in competing for these vacancies — whether or not they are affected — can create a profile now by going to http://ecareer.usps.gov on LiteBlue. Some additional positions will become vacant as a result of regular and voluntary retirements.

Additional information will be released as it becomes available. Details also will be posted on the Organization Change Management website beginning Feb. 2 and will be updated on an ongoing basis.

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CONGRESS TO CONSIDER USPS REQUESTS

POTTER TESTIMONY

CONGRESS TO CONSIDER USPS REQUESTS

PMG Jack Potter Wednesday shared with a Senate subcommittee the financial difficulties facing USPS caused by the current economic situation and asked for assistance in addressing these problems.

Potter requested legislative change to reduce the crippling cost burden imposed by the Postal Act of 2006 that requires USPS to prefund future retiree health benefits in addition to paying for current benefits. He stressed we have every intention of meeting our obligation to retirees, but just wanted Congress to stretch out the payment schedule. Last year, the combined $7.4 billion cost accounted for nearly 10 percent of the USPS operating budget.

The PMG also said worsening economic conditions may make it necessary to “temporarily reduce mail delivery to only five days a week.” He added, however, that a five-day delivery week would be a last resort and that it would take place only during periods of seasonal low volume when it would have the least effect on customers. He asked Congress to give the USPS Board of Governors the flexibility to make such a change.

The PMG’s testimony received nationwide media attention — focused primarily on the prospects of five-day delivery — but the real story is the Postal Service’s current economic situation and the need for some relief on retiree health benefit payments.

USPS will continue to focus on providing the excellent levels of service its customers expect, while keeping employees informed about actions the Postal Service will implement to meet its economic challenges.

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Speed Pipe Smoking Contest

There are a lot of contests about who can smoke a single pipe the longest, but here’s a strange video of a speed pipe smoking contest, where the winner is the person who can smoke a pipe the fastest. Go figure.

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