Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Yawn, Another Earhquake

Earthquakes are as common in California as tornadoes are in the Midwest. I have experienced both, and if I had my druthers, would prefer a temblor.

I was born and raised in California and spent many years living on top of the San Andreas fault which means 200 miles on either side.

Monday night within 10 seconds of getting into bed, I was rocked gently by Mom Nature from what I learned Tuesday morning was a 5.7 magnitude earthquake geologists said was centered about 60 miles south of my two-story apartment building.

The rocking was similar to being in a water bed not filled to capacity or as was the case in my former life, aboard a small boat swaying in the wake of waves generated by some cretin exceeding the 5mph bay waters speed limit.

We all have preconceived notions of what earthquakes, tornadoes and floods are like if we have never experienced one up front and personal.

Minor shakes and rolls to a Californian are as common as flies entering your house when you leave the doors open.

The worst I remember was at home in South Laguna, Calif, where pictures and a few of my mother's cherished pottery fell and broke.

The worst I saw live from a safe distance of 800 miles was the 1988 earthquake at Candlestick Park in San Francisco during the start of a World Series game.

The worst my father told me was having the misfortune of being in Long Beach on business during the 1933 earthquake.

As a child I recall seeing a movie of an earthquake that opened up a huge cavity where people fell into and then as a big whale or shark closed and crushed its prey.

Now, that's the impression I get from non-Californians living through a temblor registering as little as only a piddling 1.5 on the Richter scale.

California authors are no help to the bad rap blamed on earthquakes.

My friend Neil Morgan, a former boss when he was columnist and editor of the Evening Tribune in San Diego, wrote a book I think was titled "Westward Tilt." In it, he wrote with graphic description that the population of California was becoming so dense it was only a matter of time when its weight would cause the burdened land mass west of the San Andreas to fall into the ocean.

In another chapter of my previous life, I was traveling in a motorhome when in Iowa spotted a tornado setting its whirling funnel touch down about two miles away in a corn field.

I drove and parked under a highway overpass for protection. As I waited it out completely mesmerized as well as terrified since I never witnessed one before, a pickup truck with a gaggle of youth in the back bed were waving Iowa State University banners.

They must have observed the California license plates on my motorhome.

'Yeah! Yeah! A Californee wuss. Scardy cat!" as they zipped past with several flipping me a middle finger salute.

The next morning outside Iowa City I bought the Des Moines Register. Under the weather section in small agate print was one sentence which as I recall read:

''A minor tornado was spotted near Ames causing no damage."

And, in Tuesday's on-line Los Angeles Times was this report:

There were no injuries or significant damage reported in this quake swarm.

As Walter Cronkite would end each of his broadcasts...

"And, that's the way it is. Tuesday, June 15, 2010.'

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