Friday, July 20, 2007

I feel the earth move under my feet

San Fransisco had a minor earthquake this morning. Nothing to worry about -- it was only a 4.2, so there's no real damage or massive injury or anything. I remember dealing with several such mild quakes when we lived in California -- my mom would bring my sister and I home at the end of the day, and we'd find paintings crooked, candles (unlit candles, obviously) fallen down, and, most tellingly, my mom's crystal unicorn statues overturned (and occasionally broken).

My favorite earthquake story, and the one that gives you an idea of just how mild and insignificant something like a 4.2 is, comes from 1988. My mom was driving me to school, and, just as she's pulling up to drop me off, the car starts to shudder. Mom lets out a string of obscenity, thinking she has a flat tire. We stop, and we each check one side of the car for the bad tire -- but there isn't one. Mom lets out another string of obscenity, thinking there's something very wrong with her car, but as she drives the remaining 100 feet to the drop-off zone, the car works perfectly. On a whim, Mom turns on the radio, and finds the morning deejays marveling at the earthquake we had just experience. "Oh," my mom breathes with relief. "It was just an earthquake. Thank god."

When we returned home that evening, my mom's mirror would be crooked, and the pendulum clock she had hanging next to the kitchen table had stopped. Several of her unicorn statues had been knocked askew, but -- thank the Prophets! -- none had broken.

The ground had, without warning, shaken violently for several seconds. This happens all the time in California.

Humans can grow accustomed to anything.

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