We had what felt to us like a major earthquake two hours ago. Karen and I were walking the dog when we heard a loud boom, the ground moved a LOT, our knees buckled, and steel lamp posts started swaying back and forth like old-fashioned metronomes. Turned out it was "only" a magnitude 4.4, but pretty much right under us.
We hurried home as neighbors rushed out, everyone asking if everyone else was OK. Got home, found that the earthquake had shaken our front door's deadbolt into place so I had to borrow a neighbor's ladder to hop our fence and get in through an open back door. What a mess. Most drawers had opened, pictures shook askew, objects slid or leaped several feet off of shelves. What you've got to be careful about is opening kitchen cabinets when glassware has slid up against the door from the other side.
We're all right. One neighbor's shower door shattered; another saw cracks in their walls. Stuff formerly on garage shelves put six or seven dents in our car hood. After we assessed our house we checked on the home of some neighbors who are on vacation. They broke a lamp.
Karen and I were here for the '89 Loma Prieta quake, which was truly a major temblor--I'll never forget seeing cars bobbing on a blacktop parking lot like boats on the ocean--but that epicenter was 120 miles away. This was the biggest one either of us remembered feeling ourselves. Gave me new respect for a mere 4.4.
|This pendulum clock went wonky and stopped ticking at 6:40 p.m.|
|A bedroom lamp and some pictures took a hit.|
|My dresser drawers all jolted open, and family photos either jumped off the wall or rocked off level.|
|My Eisner Award--as you may recall, a replacement for the one destroyed in the fire (thanks Charlie!)--lost its globe. I think I can fix it, it looks like it just bent and popped off its pins. But this thing may be snakebit!|
Straightening pictures, we found a scuff mark on the wall showing that one of them swung surprisingly violently. How it stayed on the wall at all we'll never know.
|It looks like the corner of this print swung up and hit the thermostat. Wowee!|
This morning we noticed that our stove had walked itself about three inches out from the wall. When you report your earthquake observations to the USGS, one of their questions is whether any major appliances moved. Last night Karen answered "No." She'd like to take that back now.
I fixed my Eisner Award. The globe is held on by two pins, the top one of which screws through the mount. I straightened the pins (which bent when the globe got knocked out), unscrewed the top pin, and Presto! A Major Award repaired better than the leg lamp in "A Christmas Story."
|All better now. I think it flew extra far because it's top heavy. Really launched it off the shelf into the middle of the room.|
The proper big-picture way to look at an earthquake like ours is gratitude. By releasing pent-up energy in relatively little temblors that cause no deaths and minor damage, the faults beneath our feet stave off larger and more destructive quakes. Much better to have ten magnitude 4s than one magnitude 8.
At least that's what I told myself as I sat awake at 2 a.m. listening to every creak and squeak in my house.