My First Earthquake - 6/19/05
Thursday I was in my first earthquake. Now in my day, I've been in three tornadoes, a ping-pong-ball-sized hail storm, and countless multi-feet blizzards, but my earthquake experience thus far has been limited to 1989 San Francisco news footage and role playing game fighting moves. And I've got to say, for all my earth-moving expectations... this was about the pussiest earthquake ever.

I was on the phone with my friend Kimmee when my window startled rattling. I may even have felt my chair tremble just a bit... and then it was over. A strong gust of wind, I thought. But Kimmee paused in our conversation. "Was that an earthquake?" she asked.

"I don't know, you felt it too?" I responded. "Hold on, I'll ask Noah."

Noah had been working in his room and I got up to find him, but he met me halfway. "Was that an earthquake?" he said.

"Huh," I said. "I guess it was."

"I thought it might have been a truck going by, but if you felt it too..." said Noah.

"I thought it might have been the construction by my house, but if you felt it too..." said Kimmee, from the phone.

I jumped online and typed into Google: "Was that an earthquake?" But there was no response just yet.

Turns out it was and earthquake, a 4.9 tremor that epicentered in Yucaipa, California, about 75 miles Northeast of us. Some buildings rocked a little, but I don't think there was any damage, and nobody got hurt. And I've got to say... I'm kind of disappointed.

4.9 seems like a pretty intimidating number for how utterly pussy this earthquake was. As the Richter scale goes from 0 to 10, with zero being no earthquake and ten being a cataclysmic, California-breaking-off-into-the-ocean mega-earthquake, one would think a 5.9 would be nearly than halfway to disaster. Instead, I have an African chess set on my dresser whose pieces routinely topple onto the floor when someone flushes the toilet too hard, and none of them moved. OK, the black queen might have moved a smidgen, but that may also have happened last time I closed the sock drawer.

If I had paid more attention in science class, I'd know that the Richter scale uses logarithms or something, and a 2.0 is actually like 100 times as strong as a 1.0, or something like that. So really our Thursday earthquake was about 10,000 times as pussy as the San Francisco quake that caused lots of damage. Still, that's hard to remember, so I've concocted a modified version of the Richter scale, to help me measure earthquakes in a more personal way:

MAGNITUDE RESULT:
4.5-5.5 My African chess pieces wiggle.
5.5-6.5 My African chess pieces fall over.
6.5-7.5 My whole room falls over.
7.5-8.5 My whole room is swallowed up into the gaping maw of Mother Earth.

I'm assuming that anything higher than an 8.5, I'd be dead, and anything lower than 4.5, well... that would be too pussy an earthquake to even waste time writing about.

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