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Book review On Borrowed Time by Gregor Craigie · Thursday September 30, 2021 by colin newell

On Borrowed Time - Gregor Craigie

Broadcast journalist Gregor Craigie has been on the radio; CBC Radio 1 Vancouver Island, CBS, the British Broadcasting Corporation and Public Radio International in the United States as well as CBC Television as a political reporter…

Audio snippet – the thinking behind the book

Vancouver Island’s largest historic earthquake was a magnitude 7.3 event that occurred at 10:13 a.m. on Sunday June 23, 1946. The epicentre was in the Forbidden Plateau area of central Vancouver Island, just to the west of Courtenay and Campbell River.

This earthquake caused considerable damage on Vancouver Island, felt as far away as Portland Oregon, and Prince Rupert B.C. and brought down 75% of the chimneys in the closest communities, Cumberland, Union Bay, and Courtenay and it inflicted damage in Comox, Port Alberni, and Powell River. Bricks and chimneys were shaken down in Victoria. Remarkably only two deaths were recorded, one due to drowning when a small boat capsized in an earthquake-generated wave, and the other from a heart attack in Seattle.

In 1973, I spoke to a neighbourhood couple who were eye witnesses…

“My boyfriend (and future husband) were 19 years old at the time and working on a farm near Cumberland. We had just wrapped up some morning chores when the ground started moving back and forth and then up and down. My first instinct was to drop to the ground. It was difficult to stand. The ground (and we could see a mile or so in every direction…) was undulating like a Northwest wind pushing waves on a lake. In a minute, maybe two, the worse was over…”

No one, ever, forgets the sensations, sounds and smells following or during a calamity. Earthquakes have that unique ability to wipe away everything we believe in and rely on in the World around us.

My personal experiences with ground shaking have been largely limited to Richter scale 6 temblors on Vancouver Island and in the Hawaiian Islands (during volcanic activity…) – and without exception, these were amongst the most frightening physical experiences of my life.

In Gregor Craigie’s debut book, “On Borrowed Time”, he takes us on an unrelenting journey through the physics and geology, topology and psychology of the earthquake. From San Francisco (1906 and 1989), Christchurch (2011), Alaska (1964), Indonesia (2004) and Japan (2011) and more.

Christchurch, New Zealand, a city that eerily matches Victoria, B.C. in layout, architecture and seismic vulnerability, takes centre stage…

The quake struck in the noon hour, when many office workers in Christchurch’s central business district were out looking for lunch. As earthquakes go, the February 2011 temblor was a relatively moderate magnitude-6.3 event, but that number hid the true terror. Accelerometers near the epicentre measured the peak ground acceleration at more than 2g, or twice the force of gravity. That’s roughly four times the peak ground force acceleration recorded in the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti and roughly twenty times stronger than the force a passenger in a typical commercial airliner might feel during takeoff.

On Borrowed Time - Paperback

Gregor’s tireless research, natural curiosity, and experiences with calamity help shape this masterclass in the consequences of deferring the necessary improvements to infrastructure – action that will, without any doubt, save lives and bring peace of mind to residents of seismically active regions.

A decade in the works, Gregor interviewed scientists, engineers, researchers, disaster victims, civic leaders and city planners on the peril that faces over 100 million citizens in North America alone.

On Borrowed Time is not a breezy read. It is an exhausting and sobering treatise on the very nature of the Earth beneath our feet and the peril of neglecting the individual and collective community preparedness that must take place – if not now, then soon. In example after example (The Christchurch, New Zealand versus Victoria B.C. Canada comparisons for instance…) Gregor reminds us West Coast residents, “You see that place over there? Well, that could be just as easily here…”

The overarching point of Gregor’s work is: “Don’t lose hope or live in fear. Be prepared and take steps for you, your family and community. Earthquakes are inevitable. Staggering loss of life is not.

On Borrowed Time is a runaway train that has to be ridden to the end of the line. My impression after two thoughtful reads is that this is a book that you are not going to want to read – it is a book that you must read – It’s a book that belongs in every school, in every workplace… on shelves that are well secured to the wall. On Borrowed Time is available at all book stores and online.

Colin Newell is a life long resident of Victoria, on Vancouver Island, in British Columbia.

Shake rattle and roll your thoughts to me

The Soul Commotion - photos and music from the 1990's · Friday March 19, 2021 by colin newell

Soul Commotion from the archives!

Download here – Track-1-Small.mp3

The Soul Commotion 1993

Way back in the 1990’s I did a photo shoot for a Gospel R&B band that rehearsed at Glad Tidings Church. The objective was to get some tight band shots for use in promotional materials. I shot a few rolls. The band leader was not excited about the results. So I put them in my film archive with the other 12,000 film images I have taken over the years.

Now 27 years later I am opening the archive. I also have a copy of the bands 4 song EP that I am digitizing for them – and I will scan all the other photos. Above is a sample track for downloading or listening.



Chicken Ramen BBQ for the Thrifty · Monday July 16, 2018 by colin newell

BBQ Chicken Ramen

This Chicken Ramen makes a delicious and flavorful ramen in about half an hour in your Instant Pot digital electric pressure cooker! I used the left over bits from a $9 BBQ Chicken from local grocery Thrifty Foods.


1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 onion, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger root
4 garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced
1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
½ cup low sodium soy sauce
¼ cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup Fresh Miso
4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
1 whole baby bok choy, both white and green parts diced
1 cup of leftover chicken bits.
4 cups low sodium chicken home made chicken stock
2 servings fresh Ramen noodles. We get our Ramen noodles in the produce section of the local Fairways chain.
Optional 1 soft boiled egg.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. When boiling, add the noodles and simmer for 3 minutes. Strain and rinse with cold water. Toss with just a little oil if necessary to keep them from sticking (mine already had a little oil on them, so I didn’t need to).

Set aside.

To prepare soup broth:

Add all ingredients except for noodles and bok choy to instant pot. Set to manual, high pressure for 8 minutes. It will take about 10 minutes to come to pressure. After cooking, use the quick release to release pressure. Open pot and stir in bok choy. Allow bok choy to cook in the hot soup for 2-3 minutes.
Stir in Miso.

To serve the ramen
In a bowl, place a serving of noodles, then pour the soup over them. Top soup with ramen egg (if desired), sliced green onions, cilantro and sesame seeds if desired.


Living with the Instant Pot - Pot in pot steel cut oats · Monday February 12, 2018 by colin newell

Pot in Pot Steel Cut Oats in the Instant Pot

We have had our Instant Pot less than 1 week and we are firmly in love with it. Ours is the 1000W 6 quart. We have a 7.5” Steel bowl that we put to use for a “pot in pot” process classic.

What is pot in pot? Well, you add the requisite cup and a half of water to the bottom of the Quick pot stainless steel insert. Drop in the trivet. And then drop in a suitable bowl that fits well. The 7.5” standard stainless steel bowl is perfect. Doing porridge or oats this well takes a few minutes longer BUT it is as tasty (if not more so) and the clean up is a breeze!

Measure out 1 cup steel cut oats.
Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt into the oats
Add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to the oats
Add 1 tablespoon of brown sugar.


Add 2 1/2 cups of cold water into the mix – stir well.

Peel and chop one apple into small cubes.
Add to mixture.

Add this to your 7.5” stainless steel bowl and put on top of the trivet into the Quick Pot – that already has a minimum of 1 cup of water (I add 1.5 cups water for good measure).

There is a porridge setting for the Quick Pot. So, when you are ready – locked and loaded as it were: Press the porridge preset and you are off to the races. Steam time is 7 – 10 minutes and 10 minutes of natural pressure release.

We add pecans, dried apricot bites and dried cranberries to the oats (and some milk, cream or almond milk) but the options are as limitless as your imagination.

Colin Newell is a Victoria resident and coffee expert always on the look out for something simple and delicious.


Stamping out breast cancer with Erica and Sue. · Saturday January 27, 2018 by colin newell

Run for the cure special event

Join Erica & Sue

– Stampin’ Up! Demonstrators, for an afternoon of stamping in support of breast cancer research.

Make six all occasion greeting cards while learning a few cardmaking techniques.

When – February 25, 1 PM-5 PM
Where – Cedar Hill Recreation Center
How Early registration: $50 / after Jan 31 until Feb 11: $55
Seating is limited so register early

Proceeds to be donated to the Run for the Cure – including 25% of sales (minus material costs)

 supplies by Stampin’ Up!
 bring an adhesive (tape runner or liquid glue)
 materials pre-cut and packaged

You DO NOT have to be crafty to take part. Just come and enjoy the company of friends and have fun.

 pick up Stampin’ Up catalogues
 view sample projects
 hourly prize draws
 thank you gift

Contact Event Coordinators Erica or Sue to register. Erica: 250-686-3402; Sue: 250-661-5680;