Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Great NYC Shakeup Of Two-Oh-Eleven!

Because, saying "oh" before the year apparently makes anything sound way more dramatic.

So, I stayed home from work today and figured I'd get up and do the dishes after watching Thundercats (oh what an exciting life I lead on my days off!). Halfway done with the sudsy plates, I was rinsing out some utensils when suddenly I realized I was tipping forward against the sink. Weird, I thought. Then I stopped to listen to a loud banging noise. I looked up and behind me and found the ENTIRE HOUSE swaying back and forth like a sunflower in the breeze. The banging sound was my front door, shut and locked, shuddering within the frame.

Holy crap, are we having an EARTHQUAKE???

I knew it had to be a very minor trembler, if so. Nothing worth even blinking about to my friends out on the West Coast, no doubt. But this was the first time I've ever experienced one. We've had minor quakes before in the region, but always under a 4.0 magnitude and always in the middle of the night when everyone is sleeping. I know for a fact that I've slept through three such events in my lifetime here in the greater New York City area.

So, yes, this was a big deal for me. For the 4 seconds it took to dissipate, I felt like I was on a large boat gently rocking in a calm harbor. Nothing broke, no dishes went flying across the kitchen, the pets in the nearby apartments were not barking mad. Just a smooth swaying to and fro. For a second I thought perhaps it was the D subway line passing beneath my building. Or perhaps a construction mishap at the building next door where workers on the scaffolding were already packing up for the day. I stuck my head out the window, but no one on the streets below seemed all that perturbed.

Was I the only one who felt it, I thought?

Around 15 minutes later, the major networks cut in with the news. There was indeed a 5.8 quake some 80 miles south of D.C. It was felt as far north as New Hampshire -- maybe even Ontario, Canada if some reports are to be believed. Whoa!

Anyway, we're all fine here. Not even the subways were disrupted. The local news people, of course, made a HUGE deal out of it. Which sucks because it's going to give off the impression that we New Yorkers can get rattled so easily by what was just a teeny, tiny baby quake.

Most of the people I know barely shrugged at what happened. Hell, some of them didn't even feel it. Those who did, like me, were more bemused by the whole event than perturbed. Something big always seems to strike NYC around this time of year. I think it was on or near this very date back in 2003 when we had a huge blackout and I ended up having to walk all the way home from my job in the baking August heat. And, of course, we all know about 9/11. And now this?

I think from now on I'll take the entire latter half of August and part of September off. Might be a plan. What say you all?


The Frisky Virgin said...

My mind immediately went to the quake in Japan, the terrible tornadoes that hit the Deep South and Joplin, etc. Now, this 5.9 bugger in Virginia?! What's up with all of this? There was a minor quake in Colorado, too.

I hate that my mind goes to 2012...I probably shouldn't have watched those dang movies about an apocalypse.

Jennifer Hillier said...

So crazy. My friends and family in Toronto felt it, too.

Maybe the end really is coming. Then I won't have to finish my book.


Yvonne said...

I called my friend who lives in D.C. to check on him. It was first earthquake, after all. He was rattled but fine. This was wild! Glad nothing major came of it for you too! Jennifer's comment cracked me up!

Sondis said...

Us westies who belittle the east coast quake are a bit off base. Yes it was only a 5.8, but that is only a measure of total energy released, not a measure of intensity (i.e. how it is felt by humans on the earths surface).

East coast geology is old and cold rock, meaning it transmits energy much more efficiently than our young and hot rocks out west. Thus, while our quakes are more powerful, much of that energy gets dissipated into our soft spongy ground, and less so on the surface.

An apt comparison is, West coast will experience a heavyweight Mike Tyson punch (in his prime) with his hand wrapped in a pillow, whereas the east coast will experience a middleweight Roy Jones punch with his bare hand. The difference in total energy transmitted by both punches is very different, while the intensity, as felt by the recipient is much more the same.

David Batista said...

Nice analogy, Sondis. I agree. And thanks for contributing to the discussion!

getyourselfconnected said...

Felt it in Boston too, shake and bake!! That just happened.

Botanist said...

Glad you're OK, David. Just got back from vacation so news filtered out to us very slowly this week.

Odd thing is, been out on the west coast for seven years now and never felt a tremor yet. Not that I'm in any hurry to, of course...

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