Monday, April 6, 2009

Sisters and quakes

Here's another picture of my sisters and me in Hawaii. Crystal, on top, is the baby sister. Ann's on the right, and I'm on the left. Yep, I'm the middle sister. What do they say about middle children? I just Googled it, and image that: there's a middle child syndrome. One of the effects is that "the middle child usually has to fight harder for the attention of their parents and therefore crave the family spotlight." Ah, must be why I'm a lesbian. That sure has been quite the attention-getter.

Yesterday we hiked for 3 hours in the redwoods in Nisene Marks state park, awed by the towering redwoods. My lungs gobbled up that amazing air. Max, our Pomeranian, is such a trail dog, following us happily off-leash the whole time.

We were walking in the area of the epicenter of the 1989 earthquake, notable given today's horrible news about the earthquake in Italy. Because we live in earthquake country, hearing about such an earthquake hits close to home. In 1989, I was a graduate student at San Jose State, sitting in a Shakespeare class on the third floor of a campus building when it began to shake. Someone said, "Oh, an earthquake," which is what we Californians say in recognition when there's a small temblor. But it didn't take long for us to realize that this was no tiny event as the building began jerking and swaying. The professor, a very tall man, was the first underneath the seminar table. The rest of us joined him. When the shaking stopped, the building kept swaying. That was good, though, because swaying keeps a building from turning into a pile of rubble.

As of now they are reporting 130 deaths in Italy from a to 6.3 quake. Our 1989 quake had half as many fatalities (63) and it was quite a bit stronger, at 6.9. Yes, we may have more earthquake preparation here, but Simon Winchester, author of A Crack at the Edge of the World (which is about the 1906 California quake) once said to me that people were basically crazy to build as we have in the Bay Area. In other words, he believes at some point we're goin' down.

I know Japan is at risk, too. The Kobe earthquke was horrific--1500 people died--but if that same earthquake had happened in Tokyo, one can only imagine ... I thought about that once in a while was I was living in Japan. I'd be in a tiny restaurant on the 10th floor of a building that was crammed between other massive skyscrapers in the midst of thousands and thousands of people, and I'd think, What if it happened right now.


Collin Kelley said...

I actually expect the "big one" to happen when I'm in LA for some book event. It would be just my luck.

Jo A. T.B. said...

Hi Kate,

Love the photo of your sisters. Did I ever tell you, I've two sisters too. I'm the oldest though! Funny thing though my sisters baby me! I'll never forget those redwoods, awesome!