How to Survive the “Big One”: What Will Happen? What Should You Do?

On Thursday, June 23, 2021, I attended a virtual webinar called “How to Survive the Big One,” co-sponsored for KPCC FM and the Los Angeles Times which featured the foremost earthquake scientist Dr. Lucy Jones, a seismologist and authority on earthquake safety. Also on the webinar were L.A. Times earthquake reporter Rong-Gong Lin II, scientist Jacob Margolis, Patt Morrison from the L.A. Times and KPCC’s Austin Cross. Being this is something I feel is of the utmost importance and a timely issue (with two earthquakes reported this week in L.A.), I took notes. Here’s what they said might happen if there was a major earthquake:

On Thursday, June 23, 2021, I attended a virtual webinar called “How to Survive the Big One, co-sponsored for KPCC FM and the Los Angeles Times which featured the foremost earthquake scientist Dr. Lucy Jones, a seismologist and authority on earthquake safety. Also on the webinar were L.A. Times earthquake reporter Rong-Gong Lin II, scientist Jacob Margolis, Patt Morrison from the L.A. Times and KPCC’s Austin Cross. Being this is something I feel is of the utmost importance and a timely issue (with two earthquakes reported this week in L.A.), I took notes. Here’s what they said might happen if there was a major earthquake:

Approximately 1600 fires would automatically break out, of which 1200 would not be attended to. If there are Santa Ana winds, there would be more.

There will be no electricity so there will be no traffic lights.

There will be massive landslides in the mountain so escape routes might be impassable.

A quarter of a million people would lose their homes in Los Angeles.

Plan to live without things you might need for two to three weeks.

Our electronics will lose power and cell phone towers won’t work so our cell phones won’t work. You will be able to get through to loved ones using text messaging for a while and make sure you have people’s phone numbers written down.

If you live in an older concrete building in L.A., it might not have not been retrofitted. Find out from your landlord if that is the case because when an earthquake hits, it will most likely suffer damage.

How to Prepare:

Download “My Shake” or “Quake Alert USA” from your phone app store. You might only have seconds from the early warning system.

When you get an earthquake alert, DROP AND COVER – get under a desk or a table right away. Being under a table will protect you from flying objects. (DON’T RUN OUTSIDE and don’t stand in a doorframe, it won’t help).

Be prepared: You’ll need to stock up on water: One gallon of water, per person and per pet, for each day for two or three weeks. Have ready to prepare food available and a cooking stove with fuel.

Store your earthquake supplies somewhere easy to access and not in a crowded garage.

People with developmental or functional needs will need to have a plan with a caretaker available to help them.

Medicine that needs to be refrigerated will need to be cooled in another way.

Have a radio powered by batteries. You can also use your car radio to hear the news.

Look into California Earthquake Insurance because the mortgage will have to be paid whether the foundation is there or not. If you have an older house, make sure it is retrofitted. Ca Geological Survey (CGS) can tell you if you are located on a fault line. The L.A. Times has an informational series you can sign up for called Unshaken. Read Jacob Margolis’s survival guide, available at L.A. Feel free to watch the whole program here: Local Matters: How to Survive the Big One – YouTube

#TheBigShift: Mine Was At Age 30

Changing things up in one’s work can be invigorating and exciting, especially if it’s something you’ve always wanted to do but never pursued. Depending on what age you are, it can be a very good plan or a very uncertain one. When LinkedIn asked me to write about #TheBigShift, I knew exactly the story I would tell – here it is:

My Aunt Ronnie Kramer made it possible for me to pursue my dreams

When I was 30 years old, I took that “Big Step” into the unknown. I had been working as a radio news reporter and broadcaster for nearly ten years and I had reached the top of the paygrade for the market I was in as a woman. Women were not being paid the same as men (maybe still aren’t) and I was tired of working late night, early morning and weekend shifts at a pay that was not exactly practical for supporting myself.

My dad’s younger sister, Aunt Ronnie, lived in Los Angeles and worked in the entertainment industry as an agent for technical people on movies and TV. She and I had always been close but I had never had the opportunity to spend consistent time with her. Instead, it had been short visits whenever she was back in New England. Ronnie reached out to me around this time and broke the devastating news: she had been diagnosed with lung cancer and told that she only had six months to live! When I called her to tell her I was sorry to hear this, she asked me to come visit her – and to make it soon!

At the age of thirty, I was already dissatisfied with my life, my job, and the endless cold winters. I had been looking around for my next job, beyond the broadcasting industry, but it was looking bleak. I didn’t have job skills outside of being a writer, reporter, and communicator. I knew I would have to start all over doing “something else” but I wasn’t sure what it was. So I made my airline reservation right away and I took a few days off from my current job.

Ronnie and I finally got to spend some time together but I can’t say that it was that great. The shadow of her disease was always present, although we both chose not to talk about it.

Instead, I decided to interview for some jobs in Southern California. I had always wanted to be a writer for a record company or my dream job, writing for Rolling Stone magazine! Instead, I took another job working in marketing and sales for a Cable TV company, because again, I needed to support myself if I were to start all over again. Then, my plan was to work my way up to that dream job.

Lucky for me, I had the sales skills to convince all three companies that I interviewed with that week to hire me. One was in Anaheim, one was in Los Angeles, and one was in San Juan Capistrano. I took the job offer with the company in Anaheim and made arrangements with Ronnie to move in with her when I came back to start my job. All was looking good and I was invigorated by the thought of changing my life and leaving what I didn’t like, behind.

True to the plan, I moved to L.A. in June 1988 and moved in with Ronnie for a month while I figured out what to do for the long-term. That job in Anaheim lasted two months and then I realized I didn’t like the work culture. I ended up interviewing with another company and taking a job in Newport Beach. I moved in with some roommates in La Habra, CA and spent the weekends in L.A. with Ronnie. But a year later, I changed jobs again to work for a company in Simi Valley so I could live closer to Ronnie. When she passed, in November 1989, I had to make a decision: was I here to stay or was going to go home? I decided to stay because I hadn’t yet reached my goal of working as a writer.

The next ten years were rough. I supported myself working at an ad agency, writing PR content for three different public relations agencies, and yes, being a writer! I freelanced for many newspapers and magazines during the 1990’s, among them: Variety, Boxoffice, Music Connection, HITS, Los Angeles Business Journal, Pasadena Weekly, Insurance Journal, and the L.A. Times. Not long after Ronnie died, I launched my own writing business, Writer For Hire ( The one thing I knew, deep down in my bones, was that I was going to make my certified, small, woman-owned business Writer For Hire a success, no matter how hard I had to work!

Looking back, the big, life-changing move I made in 1988 was all worth it, despite everything that I had to do to start over. I moved six or seven times between 1988 and 1995. Would I do it again at my present age? I don’t think so. You get used to certain things in life – financial security, your support systems which include co-workers, friends, and neighbors.

That being said, if I ever were to move somewhere outside of Los Angeles, I would certainly continue my business. That’s a given; it’s in my bones. Once a writer, always a writer. So when LinkedIn asked me to write an article about #TheBigShift, I knew this story would be about that change I made that was all worth it.

Had I stayed in Massachusetts and settled for a different life, I would never have experienced the life I now love. Looking back on all the hard work it took, it was all worth it. Thank you, Ronnie, for helping me make it happen. I wish you were still here to see me now.

“Preventing Tragedy: Hiking Safety Tips That Every Hiker Should Know Before Going Out in Our Local Mountains”

On April 13th, the Crescenta Valley Group of the Sierra Club joined the Verdugo Hills Group to present a very insightful program called “Preventing Tragedy: Hiking Safety Tips That Every Hiker Should Know Before Setting Out in Our Local Mountains.” This presentation was moderated by Pat Kramer of the CV Group and David Eisenberg of the Verdugo Hills Group. Participating in the 1.5 hour informational presentation were four members of Montrose Search and Rescue: Doug Cramoline, Steve Goldsworthy, Janet Henderson and Cindy Weiner England who stated that if you are lost or injured or someone you know is missing, call 911.  If you are in a wilderness area, the dispatcher will be able to activate search and rescue. There is no charge for Search and Rescue services.

Along with Montrose SAR, there were three instructors from the Sierra Club’s Wilderness Training Course: Will McWhinney, Chapter Outings Management Chair; Jane Simpson, Leadership Training Chair; and Lisa Miyake, a WTC instructor who gave a highly-informative talk on what tools and information can save your life, whether you are hiking alone and injured, are lost, or are with a partner and run into a problem.

If you missed this presentation, you can still watch it with this link, and please share it with your friends. It might save someone’s life:

You are also welcome to access these document from this fascinating presentation:

We Live in a World of Instant Gratification – But We Can’t Expect That in Our Business

Most of us are pretty happy to have everything we want right at our fingertips – our coffee is made by a Keurig so we don’t have to wait for our coffeemaker to prepare it, our food can be prepared faster in an air fryer than in an oven, and we have GPS on our phones so we don’t have to take the time to look at a map. Similarly, our informational needs are answered by Siri or Google so we don’t even need to do any research for answers to our questions. It’s easy to see why we also expect immediate gratification from our marketing and publicity campaigns – but that’s where things differ.

I’ve been working with clients behind the scenes on their branding and publicity campaigns for over 30 years now and I’m always amazed at how people, new to this process, expect immediate results from a small amount of work without sustaining an ongoing campaign.

I am often asked, “How long will it take for the book I am writing to become a “best seller?” Or how much marketing do I have to do to sell more of my products or services, and once I achieve a level of growth, can I stop doing the marketing and publicity?

When I get asked these questions, I like to refer to people in the music industry who are well known and accomplished like, for instance, guitarist Eric Clapton, who got his first guitar at age 13 and joined his first band, “The Roosters” at age 17. After working as a day laborer with his grandfather, a bricklayer, he was recruited to “The Yardbirds” where he achieved local success but without much financial success. Two years later, Bluesman John Mayall asked Clapton to join his band “John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers,” where Clapton established his reputation as a guitarist. In 1966, after a somewhat turbulent time in his career, he joined the three-man band “Cream” which led to U.S. tours and rock stardom – however, that did not last very long. In 1968, Cream disbanded and once again, Clapton had to reinvent himself.

Clapton then formed the band “Blind Faith” which was known as a “Supergroup” however that band didn’t work out and after just one album and one U.S. tour, he was performing with Delaney & Bonnie and Friends. This gig provided more songwriting experience and in 1970, he formed another band called “Derek and the Dominos” which produced the seminal rock album “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.” However, there were more hardships ahead – drug use and the failure of that band would send him into depression for three years, rarely leaving his estate in England.

But Clapton wasn’t ready to give up yet. In 1974, he reemerged again with a new album and over the next 30+ years, he continued to record, tour, record, tour, write, record, etc. — resulting in where he is today. The multi Grammy Award – winning singer/songwriter (18 Grammys) and guitarist never gave up when the chips were down and despite losing a child to a tragic accident, he turned that heart-wrenching loss into a beautiful song “Tears in Heaven.”

He also used his celebrity presence to raise money for the good of many different organizations – much like Bruce Springsteen, one of my songwriting and performing heroes has done, his whole career. Clapton built a treatment center on the island of Antigua called The Crossroads Centre and has funded it with benefit concerts through the years so that people in need who don’t have the funds can get treatment.

So using the example of Eric Clapton, you can look at the guitarist/song writer and recording artist and see him as a legend and an immediate success or you can see someone who has gone through tremendous setbacks in his career and yet, he has persisted — just like those of us in business must do every day. Marketing is a process; so is public relations and publicity. We build it from creating conversations about our business, our industry, and the work that we do. Building it is a process that continues through the life of the business. We don’t stop talking or writing or doing outreach to our customers when we have success and especially when we are in a low point – we keep going.

I hope you find some meaning in this comparison. We all have our personal demons and insecurities but like Clapton, who was born to a 16-year old unwed mother and raised by his grandparents, we play the cards we are dealt and we do the best we can. Don’t ever stop talking about your business, writing about it, and doing something productive to draw attention (positive) to what you do, and I promise you, you will see results.

Writer For Hire Writes Memoirs for Seniors

Interviewing seniors, listening to their stories, writing down the experiences they have lived through including their birthplace, family history, experiences in their childhood, and any experiences throughout their lives that they want to share with their children or with a wider audience. This interview was done with Mary Winners of About Senior Solutions in Pasadena, California on September 24, 2020. I’ve been writing senior memoirs for several years now. It’s a great gift for seniors to know that their stories will not be forgotten.

Press Releases Are a Useful Tool in Growing More Business

Over the years that I’ve been a news writer and PR person, I’ve educated hundreds of clients in the use of press releases. When there is a proper occasion to use a press release, it can bring your company a number of benefits, including: clients who WANT your business, clients who are willing to PAY MORE for the services you offer, and overall admiration by your peers and business associates.

Here are two examples of press releases I recently wrote and issued for my clients:

Scott Nell, Top San Fernando Valley Residential Realtor, Lists Historic Hancock Park “Music House” Once Owned By James Ingram

Gable Tax Group CEO Dena Oberst Announces Appointment of Lindsay Sisk as VP, Operations for International Sales Tax Practice

Note that the headlines indicate an action being performed in the present time. In other words, whatever you are announcing must be timely and indicate some sort of news-oriented angle.

These releases generated between 1,500 and 2,500 views from readers, worldwide. Since both of these business professionals do a specialized type of service that caters to clients, both nationally and internationally, having a news headline that was read by that many viewers put them into a new orbit for business referrals. This is exactly the type of action you want with a press release.

Apart from that, both releases will act as a bookmark to their websites for the key search terms that describe them. So when people are Googling those terms, they will find them quickly and be able to read their press releases, which will provide further creditability.

If you ever have a question about what constitutes a good reason for doing a press release, or you would like my help in suggesting ways we can angle a press release to bring you more business, I’d be happy to hear from you.

You are also welcome to read the dozens of press releases I have on my web pages. If you need any further information, feel free to reach out to me any time. There’s a reason why I’m called “Writer For Hire.”

Marketing in the Coronavirus Age

Today, I attended a Zoom meeting for business advisors and when I was asked for advice on what marketing strategies to use during the coronavirus age, I stated the following:

First, make time to post and blog every week on LinkedIn. This is critical now as our online presence is really all we have. What should you write about?

I’m a news journalist so I’m always thinking of ideas for this. To keep it simple, brainstorm with your staff, once a week, and write down what you know about your industry or your business that could be helpful to readers. For instance, share some strategies you are utilizing to make the work you are doing for clients more efficient, more economical, or more valuable.

Second, reach out to current and former clients and take an interest in how they are doing. Find out what resources they may need and offer to connect them with others whom you know. But don’t use this time to “sell” your services. Make it about them, not you. By doing so, you may be able to deepen your relationships beyond just a “service” capacity.

Third, spend time looking at the online presence you currently have. Is your LinkedIn up to date? When was the last time you refreshed your website content? What could you add to what you already have to improve your online materials and make them more reader-friendly?

While many of the business advisors I know are working harder than ever right now, other people are experiencing lots of downtime. See if you can use that downtime efficiently and productively to take on projects that you haven’t had time to do before.

For me, Covid-19 has been a sad time – hearing about the struggles family and friends are having with the loss of their loved ones. But rather than getting anxious or angry, sad or depressed, I’m grateful that I have a business that operates primarily online, and that can readily service my clients at a moment’s notice.

All in all, I’m pretty grateful most of the time and ready to help anyone who needs help with finding a trusted advisor or someone with a certain specialty for their business or personal life. I’m always happy to help anyone who reaches out to me. I hope you and your loved ones are well and that your business survives this challenging time.

Is the Glass Half-Full or it is Half-Empty? You Decide.

My business, like every other, has had to undergo changes since the Stay at Home order came about in California last week. That meant not attending business networking meetings, giving professional presentations to large groups, and cancelling my in-person meetings with potential clients. That was one month ago. Today, everything is different.

Since last week, I’ve attended four online business meetings where I’ve been able to share my ideas and expertise with others in a format that saves time, mileage, gas and the cost of parking. It’s been an overwhelmingly good experience.

I expect that if we are to continue observing social distancing, I will also be scheduling professional presentations in this way. This change is forcing me to learn new habits, which once learned, will be far more efficient and economical.

As far as getting together with potential clients, I’m finding that I have to be patient and wait for the economic downturn to flatten out. Some of the business people who had verbally committed to moving forward with hiring me to write new content for them are now putting their projects on hold until their businesses are restored.

However, others are moving forward with the projects they need because they realize that an online presence is not only powerful, but it is pretty much all they have to work with. With the downtime that they suddenly have, they are finding it is a fruitful time to work on new content, creating speaking presentations, or even writing the memoir that they said they would “one day get around to.”

The times we are in requires being adaptable to change – we need to utilize online apps, as difficult as that may be for some of us.

So I’ve decided to look at the glass being half-full rather than half-empty.  By doing so, I can accept the changes more easily and learn whatever I need to learn to make my time more efficient.

For those who would like help in setting up or improving their social media profile, or creating new or updated content for their business, I’m here to help – and now is as good a time as any to get started.

Family Connections to the Past Are Priceless

This week was a banner week for making connections with new members of my family. After doing an intensive search last October through various online databases for anyone related through my dad’s great-grandfather, I finally heard from a woman who I had never previously met. We share a common ancestry and yet our families had never met. Her great-grandfather and my great-grandfather were brothers.

Then yesterday, another new family member popped up. This time, the connection came through an email sent to me three years ago through I happened to be online on that site yesterday doing some research when I saw this man’s email asking if we were related. When I saw his grandmother’s last name, I realized that she was my maternal grandmother’s older sister – and again, we had never met or known about one another.

With the tools available now for research, one can trace their ancestry back well beyond what the memory remembers.

Today I had the pleasure of speaking to my mother’s 94-year old second cousin – someone who remembers my late grandfather and can tell me stories about him. My grandfather passed away when my mom was just a child so I’ve never known much about him. I’m excited about the possibility of recording this distant cousin’s stories and adding them to the memoir I originally wrote about my mom’s family several years ago.

Why is this important? Because every year, my family gets smaller as the older folks pass on. These are the people who remember those who came before us and can hopefully paint a vivid picture of who my ancesters were, how they lived, and what they were like.

As a memoir writer, I’m always looking for new information to add to my stories. With the addition of these two, recently-found family members – on my dad’s and my mom’s side of the family – I get to take a guided walk into the past to learn new information about people who were once close family members to my elders. This is an amazing gift and one that I hope more people will take before they lose these priceless resources.

As I finish this week, it’s the beginning of a new journey that I’m looking forward to taking, and the start of what I hope will be new friendships and ongoing relationships with long, lost family members who I never knew before.

CHP’S “Age Well, Drive Smart” Presentation Provides Helpful Information to Seniors

By Pat Kramer

On Thursday, February 27, 2020, California Highway Patrol Public Information Officer Vince Ramirez presented “Age Well, Drive Smart” at Sunland Senior Center to share information on safe driving to mature drivers. Over the next hour and a half, PIO Ramirez presented helpful information and answered questions including, when it is safe to give up your driving priviledges. Here’s a summary of what was presented:

The Baby Boomers (post WWII babies) are a very large population group which is now reaching (or have reached) retirement age. According to CHP statistics, there were 3 million people 65 and older in the State of California in 1990. By 2,000, there were 3.8 million and now in 2020, there are approximately 5.2 million people 65+. By 2020, that number is expected to reach 9 million in the State of California.

The impacts of living:

When a driver is aged 70 or older, it’s time to rate your reaction time, vision and hearing and to understand whether you are impacted by medication or physical issues affecting your legs, feet, hands, back or neck as these can impact the ability to turn, brake or accelerate.

Multitasking is never a good idea!

Additionally, with the advent of Smart Phones, we can now text to others in real time and get phone calls through our Blue Tooth devices. However, it’s never a good idea to multitask – at any age!  Looking down at your device, even for one second, can lead to a collision when someone in front of you stops suddenly. You can also swerve into another lane and cause someone else to have an accident.

Why is it so hard for seniors to know when to give up driving?

  • Because driving provides seniors with a feeling of self-worth and independence as well as the ability to be social, enjoy recreational opportunities, travel and see friends and family.
  • It’s not always easy to use public transportation. Waiting for a bus can expose you to the elements, you may have to walk a distance, and it often means you will have to allow more time to get to your destination.
  • Using the Metro system may mean having to drive to a parking lot to get a train, and that can be confusing.

Another reason people don’t give up driving when they are not fully capable of driving safely, is because they don’t necessarily know when their driving is unsafe. It often requires a person’s physician, family member or close friend to intervene.

How do you intervene to get someone off the road?

If you believe that someone should not be driving, you can report the unsafe driver to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Tressa Thompson is the DMV Senior Driver Ombudsman who says if someone is an at-risk driver, a written report needs to be filed with the DMV called “Request for Driver Reexamination” (DS699). The DMV will then initiate an investigation and they will keep the reporter confidential if asked to do so. Both she and CHP Officer Ramirez said this is a serious issue that usually involves the individual’s doctor, who is mandated to report inability to operate a motor vehicle safely, and often friends or family, who may have observed warning signs.

How to report someone as being unsafe behind the wheel?

Tressa says you can get the form at: www.DMV.CA.Gov by searching for “Request for Driver Reexamination” or report DS699. You can also call Tressa if you need more information at: (310) 615-3552

For those who are still healthy and fully functioning, here are some ways to ensure longevity and maintain alertness:

  • Get regular exercise
  • Engage in brain teasers like puzzles or games
  • Stay active – walking, dancing, etc.
  • Maintain good nutrition and hydration
  • Control alcohol intake
  • Take required medications at needed
  • Don’t get behind the wheel if a medication affects motor vehicle skills
  • Don’t drink and drive

When driving, always use the three second rule: Stay a pace of three seconds behind the car in front of you to avoid sudden stops.

Other suggestions:

  • Drive during off-peak hours.
  • Don’t drive at night.
  • Use surface streets to avoid freeways.
  • Know how to reach your destination before you leave home.
  • Have the address and phone number of where you are going written down on paper, not just on your Smart Phone (in case your phone goes dead or gives you wrong info).
  • Use public transportation – seniors get a discount on Metro.

Enter ICE information on your phone.

ICE means “in case of emergency.” This information should be put into your phone for emergency responders to use if something should happen and you are unable to speak.

Maintain your vehicle.

Keep your vehicle in good working order, check your tires to see if they are getting low, have your oil checked at regular intervals, make sure you have washer fluid for your windshield, and make sure your headrest and seat belt are adjusted correctly. The headrest should be directly behind your head, not your neck.

When to Call CHP:

While Sunland-Tujunga is part of the City of Los Angeles and is patrolled by the Los Angeles Police Department, the California Highway Patrol can also be called if there is an emergency on the road. CHP oversees the freeways, county roads, state highways and some unincorporated areas of the City of L.A. They also oversee accidents incidents involving school buses when children are injured.

CHP can also write traffic tickets if they see something illegal occurring in our community!

If you see an incident involving property damage (such as a hit and run) or witness any violence occurring on the road, call it in to either CHP, LAPD or both at the following #s:

  • CHP, Altadena Office: (626) 296-8100 (during the day).
  • LAPD Valley Traffic: (818) 734-2223 (For hit and runs or other property damage)
  • In an emergency, always call “911” or if you spot a drunk driver.

By using an ounce of prevention and caution, most mature drivers can continue to drive safely until it’s time to let others take over by using other means of transportation such as: public assistance, private transportation, buses, Metro or friends and family.

At some point, you may also decide that it’s just “not worth it” to drive long distances, at night, or on the freeways at which point, you can explore other options.