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Friday, April 18, 2008

Earthquakes I have known

If earthquakes are indeed infrequent natural phenomena, unlike Winter Storm Warnings and High Wind Warnings, then I seem to have more than my share of earthquake experiences for a midwest kind of girl.

Of last night's quake, I was sleepily unaware. A 6:40 a.m. phone call from Greg asking me if I knew we had an earthquake was my first clue, but his description of the event left me scratching my head. "I was awake and I felt the bed shaking. A lot! I didn't know what it was. I thought you (meaning, me!) were having a seizure."

Until he listened to the radio on the way to work and heard about the quake. So THEN he calls me, and leaves me wondering, if he thought I was some kind of physical distress, why did he not try to wake me up? He didn't have an answer for that one.

The first earthquake I remember was in '87, I think--we were at a T-ball game, sitting in a long line of lawn chairs. I thought I felt someone shake the back of mine and turned around to see who it was. Only to notice that everyone in the long line was looking too--we'd all been shaken. Although Greg, coaching third base at the time, did not feel it.

For the second one, I was at work, sitting at my desk. We often feel our building shake. There's a quarry nearby and they dynamite regularly. So when I felt a weird little shake one day, that's what I thought it was. Until a co-worker came to my cube and asked if I'd "felt that?" It was an earthquake, not a blasting.

I was in La Jolla, CA, a few years ago for a conference. I was sitting in a darkened room looking at a PowerPoint presentation (and, near comatose) when I felt a little bump. Part of me dismissed it as dynamiting at the quarry, until I came to and realized I wasn't anywhere near the quarry. Then a much harder shaking--the room rattled before my eyes, and the California natives among us quickly suggested we exit to a nearby courtyard. Little damage or aftershocks, but as it turned out, it was a 5.2 quake and the hardest the La Jolla/San Diego area had had in 20 years. They were quite freaked out by it too, as I watched the news later, although the worst damage the TV stations could come up with was an electrical poll that toppled over a bit.

Indeed, the world is a shaky place, and we must always be ready for aftershocks.

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