Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Given the title of this post, what follows will not be a surprise, but it was a first for me. There was a 5.8 or 5.9 magnitude earthquake a few minutes before 2pm today centered west of Richmond, Virginia (about 200 miles south of here). Supposedly, I have slept through a few minor ones in my life, but I have never actually felt one. Until today.

I was sitting at my desk in my third floor office when I noticed an odd sensation under my feet. I momentarily thought "that's strange, I'm not moving my chair but my feet are moving" and then I realized that the floor was shaking. At first I figured they must be doing something in the building, or picking up the dumpster outside, but the shaking got a little more pronounced and kept going. I got up and walked to my office door to see that just about everyone else was doing the same. The realization was hitting everyone that we were having an earthquake.

There was enough time for me and my immediate neighbors to discuss what was happening (after I had walked to my door) before it subsided, so I would estimate that it lasted for a good 15 or 20 seconds. In the immediate aftermath, we had a few good jokes about the sturdiness of the construction of the nearby nuclear power plant and similar topics. Included in that of course was the question "should we leave the building?" Those in my neighborhood at least decided that there was no reason to leave, and we weren't forced to, so we didn't. What we had felt was fairly gentle for the most part, and not terribly alarming in any way, other than the general surprise of it. More of a curiosity than a scare.

The ensuing half hour or so of lost productivity was a mixture of looking for news of what the heck had just happened, and trying to reach loved ones on an overloaded cell phone network. I hate the feeling of not being able to reach out and be assured that those I care about are ok. In this case it wasn't a big deal, as the quake was certainly more of a curiosity and not a danger, but you still want to be sure. I was curious as to how my kids would react. The answer to that would eventually prove to be that the kids were at Tyler Arboretum playing at the time and never even noticed, although their mom did. Just as well I suppose. But I kinda liked it. Hopefully everyone everywhere is ok.

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