Someplace like here n California?”No, you have earthquakes there, I’m scared of earthquakes”Huh?It’s funny…. My house, built in 1933, didn’t sustain more than a few cosmetic cracks and some water damage from fish-tanks that slopped but didn’t fall…. Compare it to the death toll from hurricanes in the Caribbean this year; again, not that much…. But it was just so weird to me today to describe this little, nothing quake, interesting only because it made a weird sound, and to have people respond with fear…. Still, I have a hard time imagining choosing this train of hurricanes that are lined up like an arrow pointed to FLA over a little rock and roll.
You are just a dreamer,
and I am just a dream.
You could have been
anyone to me.
Before that moment
you touched my lips
That perfect feeling
when time just slips
Away between us
on our foggy trip.
You are like a hurricane
There’s calm in your eye.
And I’m getting’ blown away
To somewhere safer
where the feeling stays.
I want to love you but
I’m getting blown away.
- –Neil Young, ‘Like a Hurricane’
Something woke me up last night at 3:30 am. I’m not sure what. Some premonition, some fore-shock.
At 3:32 am a small earthquake struck. Small as in 3.4 on the Richter scale. Nothing really. A few seconds later there was another, the same magnitude.
These were interesting because they were loud. The first sounded like a car being slammed into the side of my house twice – BOOM! — BOOM!. The second started with a quick-swelling rumble and the a side-to-side shaking. I’ve never heard such a loud quake.
I got up and looked on the USGS web site and found they already had info; these guys are good. And then I understood why this seemed different; the epicenter was less than a mile from my house. This baby was close.
It wasn’t scary. Earthquakes don’t scare me. They never have. I grew up in California; they’re part of living here. The ’89 Loma Prieta quake didn’t scare me. And I’m not scared of ‘the big one’ that’s supposed to send California into the ocean. It will happen when it happens, but the odds of it happening in such a way that will do me or mine harm is so tiny that it simply can’t be a worry.
But I was wired. Excited. I wanted to talk to people about it. The sound was so cool.
I slept after a while. But I’ve been thinking all day about the sound this earthquake made, wishing I could have recorded it.
So I’ve been talking to people who live in the southeast US. Where they have hurricanes. Where they have force five hurricanes that kill people and flood and knock down houses. People in Florida, which has just been hammered by hurricanes Charlie and Frances, and is about to get hammered by Ivan.
These are monster storms. They can remove a town as if it never existed. They throw boats, cars, small plans around like kids toys.
I ask these people, why do you stay? Why not move someplace with no hurricanes? Someplace like here n California?
“No, you have earthquakes there, I’m scared of earthquakes”
It’s funny. I’ve never seen a tornado. Never seen a hurricane. I want to; I want to see this sort of fury. But I don’t want to put my house in the path of such a thing. I don’t want my kids there. My family. My friends.
On the other hand, I’ve lived with ‘quakes since I was little. They’re not the least bit scary. They’re just a little noise and a little shaking, sometimes something falls off a shelf. That’s it. We have something to talk about next day at work; who felt it, who slept through it. Oh, sure, there’s the Loma Prietas; but honestly, how much did that change my life? Some people died, a few houses and building were damaged. Small, in the scale of things. Candlestick Park was full to capacity when it hit. It rocked and rolled and stayed up. Our bridges mostly stayed up, only one fatality there. My house, built in 1933, didn’t sustain more than a few cosmetic cracks and some water damage from fish-tanks that slopped but didn’t fall.
That’s one. In my life. One here, one or two in Los Angeles. A death toll that’s got to be short of 200 people. Compare that to the deaths since we started this stupid fucking war in Iraq. Compare it to the number of people killed by terrorists in the past couple years. It’s not much. Compare it to the death toll from hurricanes in the Caribbean this year; again, not that much.
So I’m amazed when I hear that; ‘you have earthquakes’, as it they’re talking nuclear war.
I know. You have some warning with a hurricane. A little with a tornado. And none with an earthquake. That makes ‘quakes spooky.
But it was just so weird to me today to describe this little, nothing quake, interesting only because it made a weird sound, and to have people respond with fear. “no,” I said, “It was just a little quake…”
It’s what you’re used to, I guess. It’s scary because when you’ve only felt the earth move in bed, the whole idea is terrifying.
Still, I have a hard time imagining choosing this train of hurricanes that are lined up like an arrow pointed to FLA over a little rock and roll. Maybe that’s the California in my blood. Only I can’t blame that, I was born in Iowa.