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Earthquake vs. Hallucination

Remember that scene in the movie Under The Volcano when Geoffrey Firmin, a totally drunk former British consul at a bar in Quauhnahuac, Mexico, looks up at the door and sees his estranged wife, Yvonne? She hadn't said she was flying in from the US, so he thinks she's just a booze-inspired hallucination. Slightly trembling, he continues his conversation with a fellow drunk, pretending she's not there.

Well, sitting on my couch typing in my laptop yesterday I felt a movement of the the entire room in a slight sideways direction, once to the left, then to the right, and back again, which made me sway a bit in response to each move. Then nothing.

I wondered, what in hell was that? Or did I imagine it? Am I sliding into dementia?

Half an hour later I was ever so pleased to see the news plastered all over the TV. It was real! Thank god. My first earthquake.

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The folks in LA were laughing their asses off at our near-panic over a lously little quake!

Well, apparently there was some significant damage to the National Cathedral. But I think for the most part, yes. I can hear my California friends saying, "Five-point-eight? That's nothing!" Kind of like how we New Englanders roar with laughter when they close schools in Georgia for a light dusting. When I lived in Boston, if they could get the plows down the street, you were going to school.

Edited at 2011-08-24 02:48 pm (UTC)

Ditto for Minneapolis. I had a job there for a year and that winter the ambient temp was 30 degrees F below zero, no wind chill since there was no wind. It was after a pretty severe blizzard that dropped a couple feet of snow overnight but a literal army of snow plows had the roads and company parking lots cleared by dawn. No excuses for not showing up.

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Re: it rolled, it shook

They said that another quake here has about a 3 percent chance of occurring in the next decade or two. I'll be long gone by then!

Out here in CA, I feel tremors about once or twice a year. They happen all the time but most are too small to be felt any great distance. It seems to me that they happened more frequently when I first came here in 1971, but maybe it is just because they were a novelty for me back then. Once about 1999, I was listening to a hockey game broadcast on the radio from San Jose, about 70 miles south of San Francisco, and they had an earthquake which made the overhead scoreboard/jumbotron start to sway. It took about four or five seconds for the shock wave to shake my house in San Francisco. Cool!

The reason I am commenting is that amazingly, last night at about 11:30 we had a small 3.5 quake that shook my house in Vallejo. It lasted about 2 seconds, just a slight bump in the night. It was centered a little east of Oakland, about 30 miles away. I was very surprised that both coasts experienced earthquakes the same day. That's got to be extremely rare. Whenever I feel them now days, I get very still, trying to gage if they are short minis or gaining in intensity, in which case I would run outside. The biggie in 1989 shook my house back and forth for about 30 or 45 seconds and the wood was screaming. Power and phones were out for three days and freeways were demolished after incurring structural damage. After that one, for a month or two I was a bit afraid to go underneath bridges or go into or even near brick buildings. Congratulations on your survival of "the big one" of 2011. I read it cracked the Washington Memorial causing it's closure.

What's more I read that it is now slightly tilted. Our very own leaning tower!

We just had another tiny one this morning around 0930. I felt it just slightly and it was about half as strong as the one last night, but the radio people say it was about the same size, a 3.5 I think they said, from the same area east of Oakland.

Leaning to the right, and cracked. Damn.

Those lunatics won't be happy until it all falls down!

Wasn't that cool? In hindsight, of course. Knowing that you've experienced an earthquake.

It's difficult to say that without sounding trite, and of course that's not my intention.

I've felt probably a dozen earthquakes, and I'm told I experienced my first one when I was just a baby. I don't remember which one was the first that I remembered, but I do recall thinking afterward, "That was nothing like it's depicted in the movies."

And yet it's still weird, and certainly unnerving. One of those things that's difficult to explain to someone who's never felt one (kinda like describing an acid trip to someone who's never taken acid -- good luck with that). It's like joining a strange club.

My most memorable quake was extremely brief, in 1999 (or so) in Alameda, CA. I was upstairs at a friend's apartment, sitting in a chair, when I heard a huge bang and the entire building shook. I was certain a very large truck had smashed into the building. Just a split second is all it was, then nothing.

The most powerful one I experienced was the 2001 Nisqually quake in Seattle.)

Yes, very cool in hindsight--that's the key. Part of the great attraction is that you now KNOW what a mild earthquake is like, rather than reading other people's accounts of it. Plus there's the thrill that comes from getting through something potentially dangerous without serious injury, like dodging a bullet, or narrowly missing a crash on the highway.

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