Obligatory Earthquake-related Post

Isn’t it a law that if you own a blog, and your area suffers an earthquake, you’re required to post about it?

It’s not?  Fear not, one day it will be.

So Tuesday afternoon – an off day for me from work – I’m sitting at my computer, idly netsurfing with the TV going for background noise, when suddenly it feels like someone just started a jackhammer under me.  OK, I figure a moving truck is passing through my apartment complex – for about 3 seconds.  Then, when the jackhammer didn’t let up, I thought maybe a plane was buzzing but that thought didn’t last long… which is when I headed for the doorway.  Even though I had never experienced an earthquake, I knew what the folks in California had been told for years.  The jackhammer lasted for about 40 seconds.  It took a few minutes longer for my composure to come back… at which point I headed outside for a quick check of the neighborhood.  The fun part was watching some of the neighbors in full-fledged panic mode.  An earthquake is made just a little more fun by hearing someone yelling “OH GOD! OH JESUS! IT’S AN EARTHQUAKE!”   After confirming that nothing had fallen over, I did the logical thing.  I ran for Facebook and posted that we’d had the earthquake, and then kept posting links and information until the news kind of settled down.

It seemed odd, at first, that none of the local TV stations jumped on the story, so I watched on CNN while calling my family in Chicago to assure them that a building hadn’t fallen on me.  My dad took the opportunity to remind me of the 6.0 quake he lived through in San Jose years ago – by diving under a glass table?!?

Anyway, after a few minutes, I found the local stations covering the story – and (indirectly) explaining that the timing was part of the reason nobody hit the air too quickly.  1:50pm is the time when TV stations are in a bit of a lull between the noon news and the late-afternoon news – most of the staff was either at home on break, or in the field reporting, leaving almost nobody back at the ranch to go on the air… and the few that were had been evacuated from their offices.

So far, I haven’t felt any of the aftershocks… I figure it’s a matter of time before I do, as they’ve been coming rather regularly.

And while the earthquake hit near here, some of the most high-profile damage is in DC – the Washington Monument has cracked (I believe the story that it was leaning like the tower of Pisa turned out to be a wild rumor, though) and the National Cathedral is damaged.  Of course, those buildings are from a time before anyone thought there might ever be a magnitude 5.8 quake in the mid-Atlantic… or even knew what a “Richter scale” was…

It turns out that the ‘quake was the start of an interesting week… not only have we had the aftershocks, but let’s see… Apple’s Steve Jobs finally admits to being mortal (and resigns from the company he founded)… it’s the beginning of the end for the comically-insane Moammar Ghadafi in Libya (but he’s not going out without a public-relations battle – and a fight)… there’s a hurricane that’s going to sideswipe Richmond this weekend (although if the track shifts any further west, “sideswipe” will become “plow into”, and that’s not a good thing)… the football coach at the University of Richmond got popped for a DWI and immediately resigned (seems he’d had a DWI before and the school made it clear when he was hired that another one wasn’t a good idea)… the Little League World Series is drawing better than most Major League teams (there’s a team from a town less than 40 miles from Williamsport this year, and the whole region is showing up for their games).

Not much to report in my own life.  I guess that’s going to be a recurring theme for a while.

Finally… as a reward for making it to the end of the post, a bit of a chilling thought.  If you felt the quake on Tuesday… it seemed rather violent, right?  The March 2011 Tohoku earthquake – Japan’s “big one” – was measured at 9.0 on the moment magnitude scale (the Richter scale can’t handle earthquakes that big).  Richmond’s quake was a 5.8.

A magnitude-9.0 quake is 63,000 timesas powerful as a magnitude-5.8 quake.  Multiply whatever you felt on Tuesday by 63,000… yeah, exactly.

Until next time…

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Author: Rob Hoffmann

Occasional blogger, full-time computer techie, radio producer (basketball, mostly), improv tech guy, generally nice person (if you ask me).

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