[As I was trying to finish this up, I got word of a massive earthquake that has struck Japan, along with a subsequent tsunami affecting much of the Pacific basin. My thoughts go out to everyone in its path.]

Two and a half weeks ago on February 22, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch, New Zealand’s third largest city. They were hit last September by a 7.1 quake, but this time it was just three miles from the city, at a shallow depth. My first reaction was a very personal one – a deep concern for my dear friend Lizi, who started as an online ‘pen pal’ and quickly became, by virtue of her down-to-earth nature and wicked sense of humor, the sister I never had. I visited her in 2003, she visited me several years later one summer, and we pop in and out of each other’s lives from time to time with lengthy emails. Thankfully she and her family were ok, though dealing with an enormous mess and the tragedy of many lost lives. What followed once I heard back from her was that terrible realization of the fragility of our lives, dancing on the head of a pin as we all are, deeply immersed in the silliest of concerns, and how in an instant, our world can be turned upside down and we’re living inside of a news story instead of watching it passively on CNN.

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