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Earthquakes: Shake, Shake, Shake Your Booty

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Yet another earthquake hit California, this one a 5.3 midsized jolter that emanated from about 15 miles east of my pad.

I’ve lived in California for about seven years and this was the first one I really felt in a long, long time (I actually slept through the decently sized one this past Sunday).

Let me say that earthquakes freak me out a good little bit. However, they rank below tornados on my scare-o-meter. Let’s just say that when I’m between the coasts, I cower at a cloud formation that even looks at me the wrong way.

Everyplace has its geographic up and down side, I suppose. I know of people who are retreating from the idea of ever moving to Florida after the state was ravaged last year by hurricanes. And this is from native New Yorkers, who are contractually obliged to move to the Sunshine State upon retirement.

What scares me is the conventional wisdom that a big earthquake hits California every 10 years or so. Maybe we’ve dodged the bullet this week, though, with the nasty one that hit off the Northern California coast and now the few little ones we’ve had down here in SoCal.

I soothe myself with logic and odds: if SoCal has been around X number of years, the odds of it disappearing into the sea in my lifetime are relatively tiny. This helps chill my nerves in terms of flying, asteroids, getting hit by lightning… all kinds of stuff.

I dig SoCal a whole hell of a lot. The weather is phenomenal, the people and diversity are great, the food and wine is varied and plentiful, and the beaches are the best in the United States.

I just hope I live to tell the tale.

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  • gooderson

    earthquakes freak me out especially when there are big building and bridges that can collapse so what i dont get is why people live in san francisco or la

  • Bennett

    “that someone would use “squirrel’s head” as a common point of reference.”

    Nice JR, and yeah, I was kinda scratchin’ my head over that one too.

    Brooke, keep ’em coming.


  • JR

    Brooke Lee: Not that I miss ’em, but tornadoes at least give ya a warning, and squirrel’s head size hail.

    Um… I’m not sure which is more disturbing: the threat of a tornado, or that someone would use “squirrel’s head” as a common point of reference.

  • Take the Richter number.

    Multiply by ten for each additional whole ner.

    A 5.0 quake is 100 times less powerful (simplistic measure) than a 7.0, 1000 times less than an 8.0. Engineering for quake safety entails planning for an 8.5-level quake, for most of the quake retro-fitting happening in California.
    So the real horror will come if we get a 9.0 or higher.

    That being said, there’s a reason a 6.5 quake in California rattles nerves, but a 6.5 quake in Turkey kills hundreds…

    [See “retro-fitting,” above.]

  • Go Online Networks: DisasterAndEmergencyKits


    Quake Aid starts in Canada next week and the UNs kinda zeroed in on California. I don’t think Kofi will be embarrassed again because money is coming in, but he will insist on paying again because the Tsunami did’nt do so good as the Oil Fer Food thing and the notes on the PM and stuff.

    So, he made the quakers and pays off every time. !5 billion is not so bad, but you have to start somewhere.

  • Not that I miss ’em, but tornadoes at least give ya a warning, and squirrel’s head size hail.

    The San Francisco earthquake was really the Loma Prieta earthquake centered 70 miles south, and not quite far from where I live. According to the scientists this means San Francisco is in much more imminent danger. I recall them being particularly worried about the Hayward fault.

    I watch a lot Discovery.

  • Hippie Hippie Shake?

  • I was trying to think of a song title to use earlier…can’t believe I missed that one. Shake Rattle And Roll would have been good too…

  • moe

    for those of you who are not scared of earthquakes in southern cali…you obviously have not lives here long ….weather or not we brake away from the main land ,a major earthquake is BAD enough…Northridge , Lancaster ,Whittier quakes and many many more were not fun at all ….every single person that i know that has lives in southern cali for more than 20 years is simply terrified of earthquakes and do not take the matter lightly !freeway over passes falling ,2 story building going down to one story ,parking garadeges crushing each other houses falling off of cliffsides …NOT FUN!

  • Bennett

    “The only thing I can recall that rivals the feelings we had then was the WTC disaster”

    I’m with you on that, everything becomes surreal, and horrific.

  • Duane

    Sorry, that was to Bennett. But I don’t mind if you read it, too, Eric.

  • Duane

    Eric, I was a grad student at Berkeley. I was on my way down the stairs from the 3rd floor of LeConte, heading for the coffee machine when the quake hit. A couple of my colleagues, visiting from Israel, were scared shitless, and ran wide-eyed from the building. I guess I should have been more frightened, but I had experienced many earthquakes in the past. None of us had any idea how bad it was until we caught the news later. We were pretty isolated from the real world up there in LeConte. The internet was just catching on — remember Mosaic? Most of us just went back to work. The building, which was built in the 30s, took some minor damage. Everyone was glued to the TV that night and the next day. The only thing I can recall that rivals the feelings we had then was the WTC disaster.

  • Bennett

    Yeah Duane, how many times I drove the Cypress… They’ve done wonderful things to the system since then.

    Great for the neighborhoods that used to suffer from that ugly as hell double decker section.

    Berkeley… College?

  • Bennett

    Three of my brothers were at Candlestick at the time. To get home they had to get past the Mission District fire, across the Golden Gate, then up through Novato, and finally back through the delta to Walnut Creek area. It was a long evening for them.

    Me, I was a mile from home on the freeway. Every brake light in the world went on as I was thinking my front end was having massive failure. A BART train was stopped dead (runs down the middle of the freeway near Lafayette) and noticed the radio was no longer bringing me the opening comments for the World Series…

    Hmmmmm… Earthquake?

  • Duane

    Eric, I can’t rememeber where I read that. It was a few years back, and the time frame was 30 years or so, during which time we should get an 8.0. It was a prediction by reputable scientists, and, well, who knows? I exaggerated a bit about breaking off from the mainland, but an 8.0 will devastate the Bay area.

    I was in Berkeley for the ’89 quake. That was “only” 7.1 magnitude. The real horor there, as you probably remember, was the Cypress freeway structure in Oakland.

    Maybe you’re referring to the Exploratorium in SF?

  • “Probably within our lifetime” ? That’s a bold prediction, dude. Where’s the stats on that one?

    That said, I lived in the East Bay for five years and got generally creeped out every single time I drove the approach to the Bay Bridge (that got kind of mangled during the ’89 quake).\

    If you’re into interactive museums, there’s a cool one in San Francisco (name escapes me) where they do a recreation of the ’89 quake from the vantage point of the World Series game taking place at the time.

  • Duane

    Southern California is more or less safe, at least from earthquakes. On the other hand, it is Northern California’s destiny to break away from the mainland and set sail for the Aleutians, probably within our lifetime.

    A 5.3 is nothing. When I was a kid, my Dad caused a 5.5 with one sneeze, and there was very little damage to our house. Just a few broken vases and a minor fault line that formed in the bathroom wall. Nothing really. We got a call from the Cal Tech seismology guys.