My Personal List of Things You Do Not Want To Be Doing During A 5.9 Earthquake:

Organ dissection. That is all.

To be more precise: wrists-deep in the viscera of someone who died of an undiagnosed case of ovarian cancer that had metastasized into the surrounding tissues to such an extent that, had the ovarian cancer not killed her, one of the secondary metastases would have been more than enough to finish the job.

This is particularly true when, having just moved from southern California to Pennsylvania, you are not expecting to actually experience that lovely up-and-down rolling sensation of a minor quake unless you’ve returned home for a graduation, a wedding, or a funeral. On the plus side: my how-to-deal-with-rattling-equipment reflexes remain intact. On the down side: we were temporarily evacuated for safety’s sake — the building is old, as are the gas and water mains, and those all needed to be checked to make sure no one’s smoke break would send us on an unscheduled trip into low Earth orbit. This had the effect of basically ending productive work for the day. Also on the plus side: watching everyone freak out over something that, back in CA, wouldn’t even result in getting out of bed early unless the alarm was about to go off when it happened. I heroically refrained from making fun but it was so, so close, especially once I got back to my apartment building — which is an old, brick-faced factory building converted into residential space. Everybody was outside, having a nervous chuckle, which turned into an excuse for cooking out on the patio, as the weather was gorgeous — perfect blue sky, not-too-hot turning to cool-not-cold as the evening came on, none of that nasty mid-Atlantic summer humidity for a change — and the building hadn’t fallen down. I went upstairs and whipped up a big bowl of Granny’s jicama salad for the party, had a burger, and went back upstairs to find two hundred emails from assorted aunts, uncles, cousins, my sister, and my grandparents, most of them accusing me of encouraging earthquakes rightfully belonging to the greater Los Angeles area to play hooky on the East Coast. And one from my cousin Kira, who’s a seismologist with the USGS, encouraging me to make a subjective witness report on their website.

Oh, my family, I love them so.

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~ by Dr. Nate Harada on August 24, 2011.

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