New home, new country, new challenges

temporary officeBy now, most of you would have heard that my home town of Christchurch, New Zealand was hit with another huge earthquake last month.

Although smaller on the richter scale than the 7.1 in September and lasting less than 10 seconds, this 6.3 earthquake on 22 February caused widespread damage and 182 fatalities because it was much closer to the city and very shallow at 5km deep.

According to scientists, the ground accelerated at more than twice the force of gravity – the highest ever recorded during an earthquake in New Zealand and a force that no building is EVER built to withstand. The quake also happened to hit at lunchtime, when thousands of people were out and about in the city.

My beautiful city is completely unrecognizable, with our iconic Christchurch Cathedral lying in ruin and the collapse of many buildings in the CBD causing death, destruction and horrific injuries. The epicentre was less than 1km from my house as the crow flies – in the port of Lyttelton – a few metres from the day care centre my son used to attend.

Needless to say, my house was pretty trashed, both inside and out. My husband and I were home at the time of the quake and could only watch helplessly as plate-glass windows shattered, doors fell off frames and concrete walls tumbled outwards while the floor beneath our feet slid from side to side.

The feeling is hard to describe, but it was as if a clumsy giant had mistaken our house for a toy snowglobe and was shaking it as such. I was sitting in the dining room when it hit and I have matching bruise strips across my thighs from where I was repeatedly thrown up and down in my chair against the dining table. Just one or two plates remained in the kitchen cupboards after the quake – everything was upended onto the floor – food, crockery, glassware, the lot.

We had yet to learn of the deaths and devastation in the CBD, but my husband and I knew immediately that it was going to be bad. With a wrecked house, a scared 7 year old and having already put up with the stress from the first quake, followed by 6 months of aftershocks, we looked at each other over the shattered crockery and agreed that we were done. The decision was made to leave Christchurch and move back to the solid ground of Australia, my country of birth.

Within a week, my husband secured a new job in Darwin, so we packed up what was left of the house, left the keys with friends and boarded a plane to Australia on 10 March. We are among the lucky ones with a portable business, enabling us to live anywhere in the world. But many of our friends and colleagues must remain in Christchurch and endure whatever hardships the next few years will bring.

As far as Jordan Consulting Group / Search Engine College goes – it’s business as usual. Most of our staff telecommute and I am working from temporary premises here in Darwin until we can locate a suitable office space. Very enjoyable temporary premises, I might add (see picture).

We’ll be facing some big challenges over the next few months, but hopefully some even bigger opportunities.

Thanks for all your emails and continued support during this transition phase and I hope to be back to regular blogging duties shortly.

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Christchurch Earthquake II

RIP Christchurch cathedralI apologize for the blog silence but I’ve been preoccupied with other things this week.

I don’t want to go into detail, there are hordes of media here providing that. But put it this way: my city has pretty much collapsed and I can see the quake epicentre from my house.

Will try to recommence posting regularly when life returns to some semblance of normality.

Thanks for your patience.

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Happy Holidays!

A very Merry Xmas and Happy Holidays to all my blog subscribers. Thank you so much for being such loyal readers and avid commenters. It means a lot to know at least a few of you are listening.

I’d also like to say thanks to my trusty guest bloggers Andy and Pete who have been helping me answer Q and A’s when I’m inundated.

I’m taking a well-deserved week off from writing duties, but will be back in the New Year with lots of tricky search engine questions to answer and juicy industry gossip.

See you all in 2011!

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First Tweets After the Christchurch Earthquake

earthquake tweetsAs I mentioned in my blog post yesterday about the Christchurch earthquake, I used Twitter as my sole source of information during the disaster.

I jumped on Twitter about 20 minutes after it happened, as did many people throughout Christchurch and the rest of New Zealand. But what amazed me was that some Christchurch tweeps managed to jump onto their Twitter account DURING the quake itself and tweet from under their tables and doorways.

The fact that people were putting their Twitter addiction above their personal safety is a bit alarming, but it’s also an incredible endorsement of Twitter and brings home the impact of social media as a whole on our psyche.

I think back to the last earthquake I witnessed first-hand, the 1989 Newcastle, Australia earthquake (which was only a Richter magnitude 5.6 by the way, making this week’s earthquake 15 times stronger!) and the only connection I had to other people affected by the quake was over the neighbor’s fence until the power came back on a few hours later and the TV reports started dribbling in. Phones were jammed, information was scarce and nobody seemed to really know what happened for hours and hours.

The ability for us to receive news and summon emergency resources instantly is one of Twitter’s best, albeit accidental, advantages. It goes beyond the boundaries of social media and becomes a vital communications tool. Even with all the clever applications that have been developed using the Twitter API, the impact of Twitter’s original functionality in emergency situations like the Christchurch earthquake cannot be underestimated.

I’ve been collecting the first 3 tweets from people after (and even during!) the quake. Emotions were running high, so the f-bomb features in some. If you’re a prude, you might want to look away now. I have linked to the actual tweets as well so you can see their time stamps.

First Tweets After Earthquake at 4.35am, Saturday 4 September 2010:

From: @kalena

  • QUAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  (
  • Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuck 7.2 earthquake 30 km from here. We are camping in car right now (
  • Quite a bit of damage to our house I fear. Glass breaking, lots of things falling as we ran out. What a horrible way to wake up #earthquake (

From: @polarbearfarm

From: @swiftynz

From: @kylierichardson

From: @zurtle

From: @lilGin

  • And the one day I don’t charge my phone we lose all power. Fuck you Murphy and your laws! #earthquake (
  • My living area/kitchen smells like a mixture of peaches, pickles, some sort of vinegar type substance. #earthquake (
  • Bet people are wishing they had thought about how to “get thru”. I am. We don’t even have batteries! #earthquake (

From: @serenity22

  • just got power back in Riccarton/Ilam #nzeq (
  • @MsPraxis  – all ok, no damage to the house apart from some hairline cracks in ceiling. bit of breakage, nothing major. shocks still coming (
  • had to go find the old fixed line phone to save the cell (

From: @crashhelmet

From: @benkepes

From: @kevinnz

From: @Aupajo

From: @kiwiscotsman

From: @bronmarshall

From: @Craig_Forster

From: @rachel_a

From: @mrsgooding

From: @kiwichrish

From: @NatashaUtting

From: @matt_dempsey

From: @Motmunter

From: @kcolbin

  • @rachel_a Thanks, girl! You ok after this morning’s adventures? (
  • Power back on now. Holy moley, that was scary :(  (
  • @rachel_a Dang, I should go to Fava! Good idea! We’ve got power back now, had been cooking up a storm in our campervan :-)  (

More will be added as they come in.

What were your first 3 tweets after the quake? If you want to contribute, please @reply me links to them at @kalena with #firstthreetweets as your hashtag or simply add links to them in the comments below.

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Christchurch Rocks – Literally – in a 7.1 Earthquake

It’s been an intense couple of days here in Christchurch. If you’ve had access to major news agencies like CNN or BBC, you’ll already be aware that my beautiful city suffered an earthquake at 4.35am on Saturday morning, 4 September 2010.

The quake measured 7.1 on the Richter scale and was only 10km deep, making it the most destructive earthquake in New Zealand since the 7.8 quake that devastated Hawkes Bay back in 1938.

Unbelievably, there has been not a single loss of life. This has been put down to the timing of the earthquake, when very few people were in the city centre where most of the damage occurred.  Most of us were in our beds, sleeping peacefully, only to have our slumber completely shattered by our houses twisting and turning under our feet and objects falling onto us in our beds. It was, without a doubt, the single most terrifying event in my life.

So many people have escaped injury, even as their houses have crumbled around them. We were lucky in that our cement block house remained completely intact and structurally sound, despite cupboards flinging themselves open, books falling off shelves and cabinets toppling over. As we woke up to the devastation to friends’ houses and beautiful historic buildings of our city, we became so very aware of how lucky we were and how grateful to still be here to talk about it.

Aftershocks are still rocking the city every hour or so and each one brings down more parts of already damaged buildings. But as a whole, our city is SO VERY LUCKY. It could have been so much worse if the earthquake had occurred even a couple of hours later. I write this post mainly to let people know I am ok, my family is ok and our businesses continue to run. For Search Engine College, it’s business as usual, although students may experience delays in assignment grading as Internet access appears to still be sketchy. Blog posts here will resume shortly also.

A very big thank you to those of you who have emailed or tweeted me messages of concern. I’m so touched, particularly by those complete strangers who have been long term readers of my blog and just wanted to reach out and let me know they were thinking of me – I really appreciate it.

I have been tweeting about the quake since 20 minutes after it happened and I’m not alone. With no power, water or radio, Twitter was our lifeline to the outside world after the quake. To me, one of the most interesting aspects of the disaster was the use of social media. I’ve been collecting the first 3 tweets from people after the quake and they’ll be the subject of a future blog post. What were your first 3 tweets after the quake? If you want to contribute, please @reply me links to them at @kalena with #firstthreetweets as your hashtag.

[UPDATE : Read the First Tweets After the Christchurch Earthquake]

Meanwhile, below are some earthquake resources that you might find interesting:

Christchurch Earthquake Resources

Earthquake Photos:

Aftershock Maps:

GeoNet Earthquake info:

Latest Updates:

Personal Stories:

How You Can Help:

Thank you

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