Monday, March 30, 2009

Churchill Survives 4.3 Earthquake That Rattles Lamp (and Writer)

Winston Churchill (who recently relocated from Florida to California) now joins the old Seth Thomas family clock as an earthquake veteran.

It was 10:40 a.m. as the lamp on my desk started to rattle and dance. When you are in Florida you say to yourself: Oh, I didn't know the Space Shuttle was landing today. When you are in California you say to yourself: I wonder if that was an earthquake? And then: HEY! I WONDER IF THAT WAS JUST AN EARTHQUAKE?

When I rode my bike over to the parents' house they were watching the news and said: We just had an earthquake! I knew that. I just haven't been back in California long enough to be blasé about it.

Lucky for me, it was just a 4.3 magnitude on the Richter Scale and it was centered in Morgan Hill about 20 miles away.

I was thankful I had secured the 170-year-old family clock on my mantel with very strong sticky strips. It made it through the quake just fine. It is a veteran of the 1989 Loma Prieta quake (7.9 magnitude) in which it flew across a room and (fortunately) landed on its back, cracking the case but leaving the center glass panel intact.

My Royal Doultan Winston Churchill mug made it through okay too, but I must remember to sticky strip him down as well. Don't want Winston coming through the London Blitz only to be smashed into smithereens in a California quake.

It all brings to mind the quake we felt one morning in our apartment when I was a graduate student at UCLA. It was 6:45 a.m. and my roommate and I were in our pajamas and bathrobes reading the paper when the lamp over the table began swinging back and forth over our heads. We ran to the front door, flung it open and stood in the doorway (the door jambs are supposed to project you). The Air France pilot who lived in the next apartment and seemed to come and go at all sorts of odd hours, suddenly flung his door open too and stood there, in full uniform, eyeing us approvingly. He tipped his uniform hat as a good Frenchman should. We dashed back into the apartment, the risk seeming to be less inside than out. The lamp over the kitchen table gradually stopped swinging. Don't know if the Air France pilot ever did likewise.

(For more on the Morgan Hill quake of 3/29/09 go to the USGS site at

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

San Jose Earthquake: Magnitude 4.3 points.
I think this is a must see!