Sunday, July 7, 2019

Earthquake #2 | Lefsetz Letter

Shake, rattle and roll.

We weren’t expecting this. Maybe an aftershock, but a whole new quake?

Andy and Felice were talking at the table. I was listening. And then suddenly, like Carole King, I felt the earth move.

It’s always subtle at first. And then you know what’s happening.

But they didn’t. I said it. EARTHQUAKE!

And they stopped their conversation and acknowledged what was going on and we made a few comments and then we waited, for it to end.

It’s eerie. You’re thinking about the end of the world, and what to do.

I’m wondering if the brick pillars surrounding us will fall. Where to run if we wanted to. I thought, if we jumped in the pool would we be safer there, like that guy who supposedly put on his scuba gear and survived a fire? I mean water slows down impact and…

Then the water began to move. It had been placid, now it was rocking from side to side, overflowing its barriers, and we were silent.

There’s nothing left to say. You just white knuckle it. Try to enjoy the ride unless it gets worse, like it did in ’94.

But in ’94, there were no trees surrounding my house, nothing to fall but the house itself. In Andy’s backyard there were trees and…

We waited. Alternately looking at each other and into space. No one had any control. It wasn’t a matter of bad judgment. We were powerless, Mother Nature was in control.

And if you’ve never experienced it…

The truth is, every place has got its downsides. Flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes.

But you expect the earth to remain solid and still beneath your feet.

This ain’t no movie, this ain’t no VR, this is real life.

And as the ground continues to roll, you wonder what is really going on. Are the plates shifting, is one slab sliding down and the other rising up?

But that’s a different kind of earthquake. Yes, there are different kinds. That’s a jolt. You’re thrown off guard. It ends quickly, except in ’94.

And in ’94, the ground was tilting, insulators were exploding on telephone poles. You thought it was the end of the world, at least until it stopped. You know, like when you’re on a thrill ride, or slipping in the mountains, you feel like this moment…could be your last.

And it did not stop. Usually these aftershocks are relatively minor affairs, you get to the point where you adjust to them, it rolls for a few seconds and then it’s done.

But last night, it kept going on.

And on one hand you’re enjoying it, on another you’re freaked out.

It doesn’t pay to get excited, to lose it, until you feel that monster shake, but that did not happen.

But it would not stop. How long would it go on? Was something worse in the offing?

The earth kept rolling and rolling and…you’ve lost control, and that’s a weird feeling.

Kinda like getting caught in an avalanche. The strangest thing is when the snow slides, you slide with it. Let me explain, you normally expect the snow to be stable and for you to plow down it, be in control. But when the surface starts to slide, it is moving, but you are not, you’re sliding with it. There’s nothing you can do but ride it out. It’s happened to me a couple of times. Most noticeably at Mammoth Mountain. I was skiing with the World Champion and his buddies, I didn’t know them, they were afraid to go first. So I did, to prove my mettle.

And that’s when it started to slide.

And when it stopped, shortly thereafter, when I was only six or ten feet further down this slope, just before it got very steep, the assembled multitude did not help me, they did not even cry out to me, they hightailed it out of there, very quickly, very softly, trying not to disturb the snow, leaving me behind.

So I sidestepped ever so slowly up the slope. To the trees. Knowing with one false move it could all be over, the snow would slide again.

It did not.

And they did not wait for me when I got out.

But last night we were all waiting together. For a minute. It just kept going and going and then…

Twitter said it was a 7.1. And then television revealed it was a whole new earthquake, not an aftershock. And the more we watched the talking heads, the more unstable and scared I got.

Meanwhile, the shaking screwed up their A/C. Was it the Nest or the HVAC unit on the roof? We couldn’t fix it, and the Nest hotline couldn’t either.

And then I’m wondering. What will it look like on the ride home. Will the lights be working? They weren’t in ’94.

Then again, the epicenter was in Northridge. We were much further away this time.

But next time?


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