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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Sinkholes, Which Swallow Homes, Cars and People, Are Not So Rare

A sinkhole that opened under a bedroom in Florida, swallowing a man who was not recovered, has prompted new interest in the phenomenon. News reports, and videos posted on YouTube, reveal that while such disappearances are rare, the falling of ground that takes homes, cars and other items does happen in the United States and around the world.

Helicopter footage of the Winter Park sinkhole.

In 1981, in Winter Park, Fla., a sinkhole 350 feet wide and 75 feet deep “swallowed a three-bedroom wood frame home,” accordingto The Orlando Sentinel, as well as “part of the city’s swimming pool and at least five Porsches from a German car business. Several of the cars later were rescued with a crane, but two are still down there somewhere.”

A sinkhole in Milwaukee, Wis.

In 2010, a sinkhole under a road in Milwaukee pulled in a sport utility vehicle and a traffic light. “The road just went out from under me,” the driver of the car, Lance Treankler, told CNN. “When I landed, my head snapped back. I went unconscious for a few seconds. When I looked up, I saw water run over me.” He was rescued by a passer-by.

A local news report on a sinkhole in Liberty County, Tex.

This sinkhole, in Liberty County, Tex., grew to the size of multiple football fields in 2008. It causes remained mysterious a few months afterward.

A news report on a sinkhole in Durham, N.C.

Late last year an eight-foot sinkhole in Durham, N.C., swallowed a car. The driver was unhurt, according to this news report.

A Chinese woman falls into a sinkhole.

A video posted by The Daily Telegraph last year shows a Chinese woman walking down the street in the northern city of Xi’an, talking on her cellphone, then disappearing into an 18-foot-deep, person-size hole that opens in the sidewalk underneath her. A passing cab driver, Wang Wei, climbed into the pit to help her, according to the newspaper. “I called out to her, but she didn’t respond,” he said. “After I shook her a little, she came to.” Firefighters got the two out with a ladder, The Telegraph said.

Amateur footage of a car sinking into a hole.

Amateur footage, posted earlier this year on the YouTube channel of Midiamax, a news organization in Campo Grande, Brazil, shows a car sinking into a watery hole.

A car that had driven into a large hole in a Canadian road.

A driver in Canada drove directly into a sinkhole, apparently thinking it was fresh asphalt, according to this CNN report from last year.

A car on the edge of a sinkhole in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Two sinkholes opened up in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, last summer. A car can be seen teetering on the edge of one of them.

Hello, I Must Be Going

Andrew Mason, founder of the daily deals site Groupon, is a big goof. He was booted last week as chief executive, but didn’t let it cramp his style. Mr. Mason’s resignation letter, which he tweeted under the entirely reasonable notion that it would leak anyway, said he was leaving to spend more time with his family, the age-old alibi of dismissed chiefs everywhere. Then he came clean: “Just kidding â€" I was fired today.”

Mr. Mason added a dose of humor to what many can only hope will be a new kind of corporate goodbye: the honest one. Carol Bartz, a former Yahoo chief, was a pioneer of this approach. “I’ve just been fired,” she told her staff in 2011, a comment that won her more respect than anything else in her brief tenure.

It was inevitable that this trend toward bluntness would arise in the tech world, where failure is seen above all as an opportunity for spiritual growth. But even there, candor is doled out cautiously. It wasn’t much of a secret that Scott Forstall, a topApple executive, was ousted last October, but the company merely said he “will be leaving Apple next year.” Mark Hurd, dismissed from Hewlett-Packard in 2010, said a bit more when he offered that he was resigning because he had “not been living up to the standards and principles of trust, respect and integrity” he had been espousing.

Jonathan Schwartz lost his job as chief of Sun Microsystems in 2010, when Oracle took over Sun. Mr. Schwartz got the word out about his departure via a haiku on Twitter. In some ways, however, Mr. Schwartz adhered to the old traditions: he said he was planning to spend some “long overdue” time with his family. Since he later founded a start-up business devoted to family care, in his case it was probably even true.

The Tweet

Posted on Twitter at 9:36 p.m. on Feb. 3, 2010.

Today’s my last day at Sun. I’ll miss it. Seems only fitting to end on a #haiku. Financial crisis/Stalled too many cu! stomers/C.E.O. no more

The Press Release

A company press release on Aug. 6, 2010.

As the investigation progressed, I realized there were instances in which I did not live up to the standards and principles of trust, respect and integrity that I have espoused at HP and which have guided me throughout my career. After a number of discussions with members of the board, I will move aside and the board will search for new leadership.

The iPad Missive

E-mail sent on Sept. 6, 2011.

To all,
   I am very sad to tell you that I’ve just been fired over the phone by Yahoo’s chairman of the board. It has been my pleasure to work with all of you and I wish you only the best going forward.
                              Sent from my iPad

The Jokey Tell-All
Tweeted, with a link to the site Jottit, on Feb. 28, 2013.

People of Groupon,
  After four and a half intense and wonderful years as C.E.O. of
Groupon, I’ve decided that I’d like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding â€" I was fired today….
  I’m O.K. with having failed at this part of the journey. If Groupon was Battletoads, it would be like I made it all the way to the Terra Tubes without dying on my first-ever play through. I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to take the company this far with all of you. I’ll now take some time to decompress (F.Y.I. I’m looking for a good fat camp to lose my Groupon 40, if anyone has a suggestion), and then maybe I’ll figure out how to channel this experience into something productive.