My friends, let me present to you Figure 1-a below, The Perfect Earthquake:


Fig. 1-a

Yes, The Perfect Earthquake. How rare is an event like this? Let me put it in stark terms: in all other national emergencies, tragedies, tidal waves, hurricanes, terrorist attacks, floods – and other Acts of God – people end up dying. Homes are destroyed, lives are shattered, flags fly at half-mast.

This earthquake was one of the strongest to hit an urban area in more than a decade. Everyone who lives between San Diego and Las Vegas felt it, and those of us in Los Angeles got knocked around our rooms. It made headlines on international news stations, and it gave everyone in Hollywood two days of awesome story-swapping. Tons of video followed. And yet, for all this, the only casualties were thousands of bottles of crappy liquor.

This, fair readers, is how natural disasters are meant to be done. Forest fires? Mudslides? Avalanches? Military coups? Fuck that. All national emergencies should look to the Chino Hills Earthquake as a way to disaster the correct way: a very high “awesome”, “cool”, “bizarre” and “exciting” rating, with extremely low “bummer” scores.

As for us, Tessa and I were talking on the couch when the whole house turned to rubber. We live on the beach in an old Craftsman from the ’20s, all wood with no right angles (at least not anymore) and the place did the hula for about ten seconds. The house performed with aplomb, never shaking, just swirling around like an egg yolk in a bowl.

We stood in the front doorway watching the porch swing shimmy, and then Tessa (whose nickname on the middle school bus was “Ralph” due to her motion sickness) had to go outside to find her internal horizon so she wouldn’t barf. After a minute, the temblor waves came to an end.

Then we called Lucy’s gymnastic class about three miles away to see how things were: the lady who answered the phone said everything was fine, even though you could hear a hundred budding gymnasts squealing with excitement behind her.

Again, to reiterate: Tsunamis bad, “Chino Hills Earthquake of 2008” good. Hope that clears things up.

0 thoughts on “rumblefish

  1. Rebecca

    Picture this: 100 kids and 28 adults in the church sanctuary for the last 20 minutes of Vacation Bible School. (I was in Tustin, and it was 11:42 am) Then everything starts shaking! The kids were amazing – the schools out here do “Duck and Cover” drills, and a lot of them immediately went under the pews. I stood there watching the plexiglass bend in the windows high in the ceiling. (It’s plexiglass for a reason! Otherwise we would have been rained on with broken glass.) It was an amazing sight. Nobody screamed, and just a few kids cried as we calmly led them out into the parking lot.
    Personally, I think it was good for the kids, because it takes away the unknown factor of an earthquake. Now they know how it feels, and they’ll hopefully be less scared of the inevitable.

  2. Matt

    It shows what a difference adherence to building codes makes. The quake in China earlier this summer wouldn’t have killed nearly as many if they had built their schools according to modern standards of engineering and materials.

  3. Paul G

    I’m calling it, Fisher-Price My First Earthquake (though it’s my second), b/c of exactly the points you made.


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