Alum Rock Earthquake

Hi folks. Just writing this down so I remember myself. Thought I’d pass it on.

About 5 mins past 8 this evening, first sensation was a rumbling noise. At first I actually thought it was the kid upstairs, who does produce a sound like thunder, and a little shaking in the in-between floor (California construction, don’t ask). And then it got louder, so I thought, real thunder, as it is about the time of year that N. Cal monsoon-ish rainy season (cold monsoon rain, *very* weird to somebody from my original part of the world, but that’s another story). Right after that ‘thunder’ thought came the realization ‘but the house is shaking’ (much more than even the kid upstairs could do) and then the slowly dawning idea that this was an earthquake actually strong enough to feel. After that, several seconds to think, what is it we’re supposed to be doing now and a fascinated staring at pictures on the wall, to see what they would do. And then deciding we should locate the most sensible part of the space to move to, figuring it out, and then further seconds yet to actually get moving, by which time the earthquake got tired of waiting for us to get it, and, fortunately, left. For the moment.

After the earthquake, a chagrined process of checking on our earthquake readiness status (flashlights, food…), combined with a sense of wonder that the building seemed to be handling it okay.

Checking online next, and encountering this on the USGS site
“Please wait several minutes for the earthquake to appear”

After several minutes, the verdict: mag 5.6, about 17 away as the crow flies. Although somebody at Stanford, just up the street from us and with an active population of earthquake geeks, logged it at 6.0 (by the amount of stuff flying around, etc).

Warnings of aftershocks, probably minor, but 5-10% possibility of a stronger quake yet.

Taking Rescue Remedy. Monitoring the web for a while. Finally remembering to eat dinner, followed by a trip to the grocery store for the correct amount of bottled water, crackers… On the principle that carrying an umbrella prevents rain (yes, I have a degree in physics, but I still believe this) we have helped prevent the big one. At the store, the ‘ENTER’ key on the cash register stuck, and rang us up about a hundred bags of sunflower seeds. Possibly a small, mechanical earthquake victim.

Wondering what the people on the trains felt like, when things started to shake and the trains stopped for a while. Glad I wasn’t sitting in a train in a tunnel. Wondering what it would have been like to handle a car, or be on a bike, during a quake. Realizing we have no idea.

Home again, sitting down to write this post, realizing that I’m sitting right up (inches, CA condos are *small*) against a tall bookcase. We put the chair in this location on the assumption that anybody sitting in it would have sufficient brain to pick themselves up and move if the ground started shaking. Shaken to discover I didn’t have sufficient brain. Or anyway the wrong kind.

Realizing this is a disadvantage of not having kids. With kids we would have conscientiously run earthquake drills after moving here. With only two adults, we assumed (wrongly) that our brains would figure things out in realtime.

Now thinking about how to develop a higher level of practical intelligence, and very glad, for everybody in the Bay Area, that nothing more happened.

Drinking sherry. Would prefer a good bottle of wine, but forgot the wine at the store. Several other people there buying water in quantity, and whatever they consider essential nutrients (chocolate syrup…)

On a completely unrelated subject, I’m rooting for John Edwards for the Democratic nomination.

Signing off now.

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