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Ed Driscoll


Yes, I felt the earthquake in Northern California last night. We live about 60 miles south of the epicenter, and at about 3:20 AM, while I was in the bathroom getting ready for bed (yes, I tend to live Keith Richards-style hours), I noticed the glass shower doors had begun to vibrate together — and then the entire room began slide around for about 20 or 30 seconds, Inception-style.

And then it was over. Assuming you’re not at the epicenter of a major one, earthquakes in California are interesting phenomenon — usually less than a minute of actual activity, followed by hours and hours of talking heads on TV droning on about the topic, and asking vox populi-style questions to the man in the street whether he felt the quake, the sort of thing that Monty Python used to love parodying, 45 years ago. (“I’m not a man, silly!”, one woman would reply. “I’m not in the street, ya fairy!”, shouts a man working on his roof, etc.)

At 3:30 AM though, none of the local stations interrupted their late night infomercials; only one channel (the CBS affiliate, I believe) had put up a Chyron on top of the infomercial to report that a 6.1 magnitude earthquake had occurred. My wife put on KCBS, the local 24-hours news radio channel, in which the late night newsreader took calls from local residents on how severe it felt. But even they resumed prerecorded programming, if I’m remembering correctly, after about 20 minutes or so.

During which time, Twitter was certainly abuzz; I retweeted numerous earthquake-related tweets last night, as my timeline indicates. There was certainly some major local damage in the epicenter; this London Daily Mail article has several AP photos of a three story property in NAPA with some serious damage, and local shops had their inventories splattered across their floors. A mobile home park had a serious fire likely caused by a gas main break, and the Daily Mail reports that a local hospital has treated 89 people, “At least three injuries are described as ‘major.’”

But out here, 60 miles south, only some shaking was felt, thank God.

And in keeping with our recurring references to British-themed media, even the BBC inadvertently gets what it’s like living in California:

This debate is merely a matter of time:

And finally, exit question:

So yes, for those us not in the epicenter of the quake who are veterans of these sorts of things, the switchover from “ZOMG, EARTHQUAKE!!!!” To, “Well, the power is still on, and everyone’s OK,” to “Let’s laugh about surviving another one,” occurs pretty quickly. Apologies to those in the epicenter who suffered major losses; if you’re one of them reading this, hopefully you’ll understand that black humor is a coping mechanism.

Filed under: The Perfect Storm

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All Comments   (4)
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It's a good thing you were in the bathroom when it started. I'd sure need the bathroom if I suddenly felt the room sliding around like those motorized floors in an old fun-house..
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Do you have any pets, Ed? Did they have a clue? My cats were holding nightly wrestling and races before the shaking began, so I wouldn't know.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
Glad to hear the good news. Back in the early 1990s I was living in Portland Oregon. One morning I was woken up by some shaking. After a couple of seconds I realized it was an earthquake (first one I had ever been through.) Turned out to be a 5.3, ninety miles away. Debated about getting out of the apartment. Then I looked at the clock: 5:30 am. So I went back to sleep.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
Being pretty much outside of the tornado/hurricane/paralyzing snow and/or ice storm regions of the country, I suppose the ever-slipping fault lines are California's crux to bear (and only tornadoes offer up the same sort of lack of advance forewarning nowadays, with forecasts able to chart the severe weather warnings days in advance, even if that doesn't mean people in their paths have to pay full attention).
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
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