Tuesday, December 23, 2003

News from the Epicenter

Email from my friend Doug Gordon:

Things are ok here, but it was definitely the largest quake I've felt, having missed the Loma Prieta and Northridge parties by living elsewhere at the times. Was asleep when it hit, and have to say that riding a sixer on a waterbed is an interesting experience. The wave peaks threatened to launch me out of bed. Not having my glasses on, it was hard to see specifically, but the trees out the windows seemed beset by a tempest. Actually, I recommend being asleep, because I didn't seem to get quite the fear response I might have had if I been fully conscious, though consciousness comes fairly quickly at such a time.

Nothing major broke here. Two book cases fell over in the guest room (guess I'm gonna have to do something about that feature before I have someone else sleep in that bed), and various knick knacks took headers from various high places. (I'm happy to report that the Iron Giant missed the hearth on the way down from the mantle, so is intact, as are his companions, the cast from Yellow Submarine - sorry about that Paul, John!) Had very little leapage from the kitchen, though a quick examination of the cabinets revealed that had it gone on for another five seconds or so, I'd have started to lose stuff, as many glasses and other objects had their toes over the edge of the springboard. Power was out only for about five minutes or so, and never lost the phones, satellite, and internet, so figured out pretty quickly that I was more or less on top of the thing - there's always the thought that you've just caught the edge of something that's just wiped LA or something. Took slightly longer to figure out where the cats had gone to ground.

So, spent a large fraction of the day repacking the bookshelves while listening to the earth grumble occasionally. Having an earthquake of this size means you'll be putting up with a great many minor aftershocks, each of which does little other than grabbing your attention in that “wait for it” moment it takes to decide if we'll be having a sequel or not. The damage seems to be worse in the next town up the road, Paso Robles, as I'm sure every one is seeing on the news. Less newsworthy (as it doesn't make much of a visual for their fancy helicopters) is that there is some significant damage around. A friend's in-laws west of Paso have pretty extensive damage to their place--it sheared a toilet off its mountings!--and made landscape boulders well set in the soil roll to new spots. Other friends have some more cosmetic damage to deal with in their abode. I'm lucky in that my house is a simple, one-story box, the style least affected by such shakings.

Anyway, I'm off to my parents’ house for the holidays tomorrow (Tuesday), so I'll probably escape the bulk of the aftershock clusters. All is well here, though I did use up a good deal of my adrenalin reserves.

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