Sunday, April 24, 2011

[californiadisasters] Kids & Quakes: Your First Quake Memory

Kids and earthquakes: your first quake memory

When I came home late from work the other day, my son was extremely excited. My guess was that it involved either "Star Wars," or something good on the cafeteria lunch menu.

"Did you feel the earthquake!" he exclaimed.

It was the 105th anniversary of the 1906 earthquake, so I had been thinking about mass casualties and a city in flames for most of the day. The tiny earthquake that arrived the same day felt to me like a sad reminder and a warning. (Better put some more Clif Bars in the disaster kit!) But I completely understood his excitement. When I was a kid, I got pretty stoked about earthquakes, too.

I think paying two mortgages is the difference. I live on a hill in East Oakland, not too far from a fault. It's a solidly-built 1920s house, and everything in my basement is bolted and shear-walled. Jesus candles line the foundation. But I still worry about a big quake in the middle of the night sending my home and family sliding a few yards closer to Hayward.

Even when we feel a small earthquake, my first emotion is dread. Was that a 2.5 earthquake centered down the street, or an 7.5 in Los Angeles? I go online to the USGS California earthquake map as quickly as I can, always impressed at how fast the information appears. Later, I'll turn on the worst television news station I can find, and watch whoever has been assigned to report live from a supermarket where four cans have fallen off the shelf. In all, it takes me about an hour to relax.

It wasn't always that way. Earthquakes were like holidays. The sound of our house shaking on its foundation was as welcome as the ice cream man's truck.

I blame the old Academy of Sciences, for making such a fun earthquake exhibit. Never mind the apocalyptic-looking photos of San Francisco in fiery ruins -- that shaking room was fun! Surfing the floor in the old Academy earthquake exhibit was the perfect ambulatory activity after 20 minutes of hyponotized lethargy waiting for the Foucault's Pendulum to knock down another peg.

Check out
Read our blog at
Visit me on Facebook at


Be sure to check out our Links Section at
Please join our Discussion Group at for topical but extended discussions started here or for less topical but nonetheless relevant messages.

Your email settings: Individual Email|Traditional
Change settings via the Web (Yahoo! ID required)
Change settings via email: Switch delivery to Daily Digest | Switch to Fully Featured
Visit Your Group | Yahoo! Groups Terms of Use | Unsubscribe


No comments:

Post a Comment