Wednesday, April 4

You know you're a native Californian when...


Ok, not to be cavalier but this really happened:

I awoke at 4:26 am this morning because an earthquake was rattling my window. For those who have never experienced an earthquake, this is what you think when awakened out of a sound sleep:


  1. Is this an earthquake?
  2. Damn! My head is right under A LOT of glass.
  3. If it keeps shaking, I'll get up.

Last night, by the time I thought these things it was over. I apparently rolled over and went back to sleep.

I've long said "I don't get out of bed for any earthquake under 6.0." For some reason earthquakes seem to come in the early morning when you're in your deepest sleep. They're always startling but mostly annoying. Typically the fourth thought I have is, and I'm not exaggerating, "If it shakes for another 5 seconds I'll get up... ok, another 5 seconds." The fifth thing I think/do, if it's decent sized quake, is turn on the local news to get the size and location.

This brings up the step that I actually miss. I miss Dr. Kate Hutton's post earthquake interviews. Local news crews descend upon Cal Tech after larger earthquakes because Cal Techies are the experts. For years, Dr.Hutton would field the same inane questions like "Is this a sign of THE BIG ONE?", "Will there be any aftershocks?", "Are we any closer to predicting earthquakes?" *sigh* Dr. Hutton would patiently answer each question and generally calm the reporters down. Unfortunately, we haven't seen much of Dr. Hutton in recent years. Her colleague (whose name escapes me) now fields the annoying questions. I don't blame Dr. Hutton for ducking into her office and avoiding the media these days. TV reporters are never more idiotic than after an earthquake.

Unless it's a very big one (6.3ish and up) or I'm siting right on top of the epicenter, earthquakes are not that upsetting to me. The thing about big earthquakes that nobody mentions is the sound. Most folks assume it's the movement that is so upsetting. While the ground moving around is always a bit bizarre, it's the noise that is the most terrifying. The earth makes an incredible sound when it's shifting in a "big one". It's something that I've never heard reproduced accurately. It's a sound only nature can make. The man-made sounds of an earthquake (breaking glass, rattling windows, clapping cupboard doors, things falling off shelves) are picked up on by movie makers but the rumble of earth shifting is a mighty sound that can't be recreated. When I can hear an earthquake I know it's a biggie.

Last night I only heard rattling glass. I didn't hear the rumble. I didn't get out of bed.

Honest to God, I'd forgotten all about last night's quake until it was mentioned on the radio this morning. It was apparently a 3.4 and was located about 5 miles from my home. My family all felt it but we all forgot about it. I guess that makes us true Califonians.

4 comments:

Trooperdog said...

Ah, the memories! We do get some earthquakes up here in the Northwest...but they are pretty infrequent and tend to be smaller than you get in Cali. I totally related to everything you wrote...it's in the blood of Californians!

shandon said...

Dr. Lucy Jones. That's Dr. Hutton's colleague.

I didn't even know there was an earthquake last night -- I didn't feel it, and my new earplugs work wonders.

kb said...

Well, you know my take on the whole earthquake thing. Man, I miss Seismo Dyke. She knows her stuff and she rocked!

Anonymous said...

Quite accidentally, we landed on your blog and was quite surprising to hear that you were not so eager to get out of home (when the earth under you danced) unless there were more aftershocks. Equally surprising that you forgot it the next morning. We living in South India (tamil nadu) could hardly forget the devastating ptsunami that followed the earth quake of intensity 7.2 in January 2004,even after some 2 1/2 years.
God Bless you.