Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Did the Earth Move for You?

So M gets home from work tonight. We are sitting out on our balcony, which is what we normally do, discussing what we are going to have for dinner tonight. All of a sudden, M stops and looks at me.

"Do you feel that?" he says.

Well, I'll be damned, I most certainly did feel that. So I respond "Yeah, I feel it."

And we both watched his drink sway in his glass.

"Holy shit, that's an earthquake," he says.

"Oh. Cool," I respond.

So we go inside, and sure enough, the hanging lights in our kitchen are just kind of swaying back and forth. Not violently or anything, but just a gentle sort of rocking. We notice it in the living room too, and our kitchen door is kind of rocking back and forth, making a sqiuik-squick noise. It's not like you feel the ground is moving, you just feel this weird vertigo and you notice that shit is moving that should not be moving.


So M is all about getting the frick out of there and going to dinner, because he's not too keen on experiencing more of our first earthquake in KL from the 11th floor of our building. Having grown up in California, he's all too familiar with earthquakes. Me, I'm fascinated. This is totally gnarly.

See, I grew up in Tornado Alley (for those of you who aren't familiar with Tornado Alley, it's a swath of land, going from the Midwest - Kansas or southern Nebraska - on down through north central Texas, where most of the world's tornadoes occur). Growing up, I always had a strange fascination with tornadoes, and would plot them and track them as the weather bulletins would scroll across our TV screen. One time, I even saw the green clouds slowly swirling above us as we stood at our kitchen window, peering through the pea green blinds that were so circa 1982 it's not even funny.) So, given my penchant for weather and other things scientific, it's a wonder I ever got laid in high school. I'm fascinated with tornadoes, hurricanes, ice storms, all of that stuff.

I am mesmerized by nature's violent tendencies. Not to make light of it because I'm not, I've just always been in awe, and so interested in these sorts of things. If we felt it on the 11th floor of a building, I wonder what it felt like to people on the 88th floor of the Petronas Towers?

I never felt like we, in KL, were under any particular danger, since we are hardly ever (if ever at all) near the epicenter of earthquakes. The epicenters of the quakes we feel are typically in Indonesia. My fascination with them doesn't mean that I am naive to the damage they can do, so I don't mean to sound unsympathetic. It's just that for someone who has never experienced it, it's pretty wild. I always thought it would be a violent shaking. For us here, it was more of a rocking or swaying motion. It felt like when you are out on a boat all day, feeling the waves gently rock you, and then when you go to bed that night, it feels like you are still in the boat. Just a weird sort of vertigo.

So, there you have it - our first earthquake. So during dinner, M went on about his dissertation about structural natural frequencies and mass moments of inertia.

I love it when he gets all technical.


At September 13, 2007 at 1:26 AM , Anonymous sarah said...

I remember the first few earthquakes I felt while living in Japan and feeling the same sort of awe and wonder you describe.

My mom was born and raised in Wichita Falls and instilled in an appreciation for thunderstorms and tornadoes. She tells me that she was never afraid of the weather until the first time she heard the sirens go off while holding a baby. We'd moved away by the time the "big one" came in the late 70's, though.

At September 13, 2007 at 6:20 AM , Anonymous Triad 1 said...

I remember the "Big One" in the 70's. Sarah gets her Weather Geek-Ness from me.

Triad 3, did I ever tell you about the earthquake we were in in San Francisco? I was in the hotel room, and Triad 1-Spouse was downstairs in the lobby when the building just started to shake. It felt like a big truck was going by, but lasted a lot longer. When it was over, I stuck my head outside the door and asked the couple in the hall, also from Texas, "Was that what I think it was?" S was down in the lobby losing his religion. Being a geologist, he of course wanted to go outside and watch it.

It was a 5.0. People on the street didn't even break their stride. I equated that with the many times I have stood in the driveway/pasture/backyard watching the tornado come.

At September 13, 2007 at 10:40 AM , Anonymous reese said...

My friend Gwen messaged me last night and said "are you ok? News is not good about your weather!" I kind of scratched my head.

Apparently there was an earthquake! lol. OK, I shouldn't laugh. We didn't feel it.

The tornado fascination? TOTALLY with you there. Oh, how I have longed to have one hit my city. Not my house, just a city I live in. And not because I want everyone to die, but because c'mon--they are cool!

We could start a tornado chasing company together ;) Did you see the movie Twister?


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