Archive for August 24th, 2011

August 24, 2011

Scaredy Cats

Here’s the thing, I grew up in Southern California. Earthquake central. In fact, I was just a few short miles from the big bad nasty San Andreas Fault line. See?

That blue dot? That’s my childhood home. Earthquakes were no joke growing up.

Landers, 1992 – 7.2 – This was crazy. Just crazy. It was just before 5 am … NOT a fun wake up call. Shaking lasted 3 minutes.

Big Bear, 1992 – 6.5 – All of three hours after Landers. These two are what you would call a “regional earthquake sequence.” *

Northridge, 1994 – 6.7 – I was far enough out that we didn’t get the worst of the shaking, but it was bad, even by us. Worst damage I’ve ever seen in person. ::shakes head::

Hector Mine, 1999 – 7.1 – Middle of the night earthquakes are the worst. Especially when you have a little sister sleeping on a bunk above your head. I don’t think I’ve EVER gotten out of bed that quickly!

And those are only the ones I REMEMBER, that are over 6.0. Yesterday, though in an unexpected place … 5.8. The different between a 5.8 and 6.0 is HUGE. Exponential growth.  It’s to the point that I could very easily say “5.8? Oh, that’s nothing.”

But I won’t. An earthquake IS a scary thing. ESPECIALLY when you’re not expecting it, or have never experienced one before. And long shakes (like yesterday’s 55 seconds) can be terrifying. I won’t diminish that. But some of the reactions? GOOD LORD:

– The Federal Government sent all workers in the DC region home for the day, less than an hour after the quake.  This created gridlock that lasted for 3 hours.  

– Schools are closed today.

– People fled their respective buildings (something you should NEVER do in an earthquake!) and REFUSED to come back in. ** Several of my tenants demanded that a city engineer come check out the building. Um, thanks, our building engineer can do that just fine.

That street, for reference, is 6 lanes wide, with a park right next to it – which was also full.

– People screamed and cried and wailed, and told me off. I’m sorry, I’m trying to reassure you, don’t bitch me out. My “favorites” were the woman who told me “I’m from California [she later mentioned she hadn’t been in California since she was 8 years old], that wasn’t even a 5.0. You don’t know what you’re talking about.” ***, the woman who screamed “It’s not an earthquake, it’s a BOMB!” in all seriousness, and the woman who, when I told her it was an earthquake****, and not to be worried snapped at me “How would YOU know?” I patiently explained to her that I’d grown up in SoCal and had been through many earthquakes, plus had already checked the building systems, and the USGS site. She responded “Well buildings here aren’t MADE to withstand earthquakes like your precious California. So SHUT UP.” and stopped off.


Alright, first off, any building built in the last 15 years is going to have to meet codes that will allow it to withstand an earthquake. While we may not have “rolling” and other foundations that meet the strict earthquake-zone codes, we’re not just building buildings that will come crashing down the first time they shake. Be smarter than this, people.

THAT shot was from the newspaper this morning. SERIOUSLY?

It’s all just ludicrous to me. I mean, really. YES, it was frightening, but grow up and get over it. The world is not ending, you are not traumatized, you can act like an adult. Educate yourselves, and maybe we can move on.

DC is a city that over-reacts to everything. OH GOD, 2 INCHES OF SNOW! CLOSE THE SCHOOLS AND BUY ALL THE TOILET PAPER!!! And really, I’m just sick of it.

Though the bars that did offer $5.80 happy hour specials are GENIUS.


* And now you know! Fancy learning stuff.

** The only exception here, for me, is the Pentagon. I have friends who work there, who have co-workers that were there on 9/11. Apparently the earthquake felt JUST LIKE the attack. I would have run, too. Not blaming them for a SECOND.

*** I saw her in the lobby later and said “Oh, by the way? They’re saying it was a 5.9.” (It wasn’t until later that it was downgraded to a 5.8.) Her eyes got huge, and she said “Wow, you’re good!” I’d pegged it at a 6.0 or slightly under.

**** The sheer number of times I had to answer the question “What was that?!” was hilarious. By 3 minutes after I was having to hold in my laughter. Basically, I’m a bitch. ::winks::