Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mother Nature At It Again

Charles Richter developed
the scales that
measures earthquake
Last Tuesday night I pedaled away on my exercise bike as I watched a one-day-old broadcast of The Daily Show. Halfway through the show I felt the floor beneath me vibrate. At the same time, the bookcase beside me shook. I heard slight thumping.

Thinking back, I’m stunned by how many thoughts a mind can harbor, at once. As the earth moved that night I thought, in no particular order

a.   What’s the dog doing’? (Because the thumping sounded a little like the repeated rhythm Winnie sometimes pounds out with her hind leg)

b.    Was my furnace acting up – as in red alert acting up?

c.      Why would someone be using a jackhammer in my backyard at 7:15?

During that sweep of thought, I got off the bike. Ventured downstairs to the basement where the furnace sat, silent. Then I headed back upstairs, out onto the porch and yard, where no jack hammerer  appeared.

Still wondering (as in, with great relief, wondering-in-place), the single pulse of the phone in my pocket drew my attention. Turned out to be an alert for a prescription ready at CVS.

I went to the phone’s FACEBOOK newsfeed.

My house just shook…?????

Did we just have an earthquake?

So that’s what that was! Soon a Facebook status linked to a CNN report about a 4.0 temblor that hit around 7:12 p.m. Its epicenter was about 20 miles west of Portland, Maine. That’s just over 150 miles from me and my exercise bike. According to later reports the Maine earthquake shook buildings and rattled dishes, but as far as I know, caused no injuries or serious damage.

My daughter, who lives an hour closer to Maine, didn’t feel a thing. Her friend, who lives 50 miles farther away from Portland than I do, clearly felt the tremors. She was settled into her third floor apartment, I had been pedaling on my second floor, and my daughter had been in her first floor living room. I wonder if our flights made a difference.
Mother Nature let us off easy this time - not like just a year ago when a freak October snowstorm became just heavy enough to turn my lights out – along with most Connecticut households’  -- for almost a week! It even cancelled Halloween.

Tuesday evening's tremor didn't amount to much. Ten to fifteen thousand earthquakes of this intensity occur every year. Why, greater rumbling was felt across the nation, just hours later - during the second televised presidential debate.


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