5.8 Magnitude Earthquake

5.8 Magnitude Earthquake

Virginia earthquake 2011 mapNow we know how the Left Coasters feel. Yesterday at 1:49 PM as I was sitting in my office at home my house began to shake. At first I thought that it was an explosion outside. I live in a vineyard and I looked over at the winery to see if anything was amiss there. Then I thought that something in the basement had blown up. Finally, I concluded incredulously that we were having an earthquake. Mind you my thoughts took maybe 10 seconds while the shaking took 30-40 seconds. What was later reported as a 5.8 Magnitude Earthquake had occurred.

The cat, Nina, who was sleeping peacefully on the couch abruptly sat up and looked at me as if to say: “What was that!”. My other two cats, Chloe and Isabella, were also disturbed from their afternoon siestas. So much for the theory that animals like cats and dogs can detect these kind of events.

Never having experienced an earthquake I wasn’t familiar with the protocols attached to after-earthquake behavior. So I did the logical things. I made sure the girls were all OK. I work from home so I tend to speak to them as if they’re my children. They seemed startled but cats tend to take catastrophic events in stride. I walked through the house and checked for damage. There was none. I went around outside. No sinkholes or crevices had been formed by the temblor.

So I decided to drive up to Best Buy in Charlottesville, all the while assessing the situation. Everyone loves a train wreck and I’m no different. There were no physical signs of damage. I fact we’ve had more damage from the rain-and-wind storms we’ve experienced this summer.

As I drove I listened to the local-in show. Some of the phone calls were hysterical. The head of the Jefferson Area Tea Party (full disclosure: I’m a member) told the show host with tongue firmly planted in cheek that at first she thought that Obama had made a speech promising no new taxes. Then she realized that we were having an earthquake. Most other callers were more factual pointing out that the area has had other earthquake events periodically.

Otherwise, it was just another day in the late summer. The students at the University of Virginia continued on their schedules. Businesses remained open. Life went on as usual.

However, as I watched the news on TV you would have thought that the world was ending in certain places on the East Coast. Let me point out that in each and every major city it was reported as if the earthquake had taken place right under them rather than in Mineral, Virginia. In Washington, they evacuated parts of the Capitol, the White House and the Pentagon. More importantly, the Fox News building was evacuated. Each major city along the East Coast acted the same way and claimed the event as their own: Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York. Seismologically speaking, Richmond was the only one that by rights could have laid claim to this earthquake, being only 40 miles or so from the epicenter.

So what have I learned from this experience: life is a carnival and sometimes it will take you for a ride.

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