Tuesday, June 15, 2010

RTT: Earthquakes, spousal cruelty, bathroom concerto

 Click above after reading below.

 Earthquake Weather

We had a pretty good sized earthquake here last night.  After living in California for ten years, this is only the third one I've actually been aware of as it happened, although many have occurred as I obliviously went about my business.  If the quake happens at night I invariably sleep through it, and if it's during the day and I don't see any buildings toppling, I just mistake it for my usual disequilibrium.  Nonetheless, although I'm no connoisseur, I think I'm qualified to offer a couple observations.

First off, for anyone back East who thinks California is scary because of our tectonic tendencies, earthquakes ain't shit compared to hurricanes or blizzards or ice storms.  While temblors are dramatic for a couple of seconds, you don't usually lose power for days on end or skid off the road or have roofs blow off and trees fall on your car.

But I can't deny that quakes are pretty exciting for that fleeting moment.  The first one I felt was when we were up in the Bay Area.  We lived in a three hundred square foot cottage on a yuppie commune we had founded (more on that another day), and my wife and I were lying in bed reading, under the awning formed by the system of shelves I had built right above our heads to hold a couple hundred pounds of clothing.  But the stability of the shelves was not my first concern.  "Earthquake" had not occurred to me as an explanation for why our little house had just heaved upward and come crashing back down accompanied by a sound like thunder.

No, I was pretty sure a winged monster had pounced on our roof and shaken the house to its foundation.  We had just seen the movie "X-Men," and I had mutants on my mind.  My first impulse (after emitting a grunt-y caveman scream) was to use my body to shelter my wife from falling debris and gargoyle claws.  Neither of which materialized.  Later, I would be very impressed with myself for being so chivalrous.   

By the time we figured out it was an earthquake, it was over.  It had been a four-point-something, and the epicenter was about a mile from our house, in the old county graveyard where I used to walk the dog and read inscriptions on the headstones, several of which included the affix "C.S.A."  When I learned the details about the quake, I pictured partially decomposed Confederate soldiers-turned-prospectors-turned-vintners shambling around the neighborhood, angry at having been awakened from their slumber by the earthquake.

The quake last night had a different feel than the big one we had up north.  Last night's was a much smoother affair that made the house roll from side to side like a canoe in the wake of a distant ship.  Again, it took a while to figure out what was happening, and by the time my wife and I said the word "earthquake," it was all but over.  There was no time to discuss whether it was better to get under a door frame, like they used to tell you (and which, being a carpenter, I always thought made no sense whatsoever); or arrange some furniture to make a sloped overhead shelter or some such impractical nonsense they recommend now; or to run out into the street like every fiber in your being tells you to do.

In any case, it was good to see that our house held together.  Half of the house was built in 1910, using single-wall construction and a post-and-pier foundation.  In layman's terms, it's a shack.  Both my wife and I have had ominous dreams about the shack--in her dream it broke in half, and in mine it tipped over on its side.  The other half of the house was built by me over the past year, per local building codes, with all kinds of California-specific seismic design considerations.  My wife and I were in the old part, and it swayed and flexed with the undulating earth.  I wish I could have been both places at once, to gauge the differences in the way the two part of the house reacted.  I imagine that the new section just shifted and grunted a bit as the old shack section nimbly absorbed the waves like a Shinto temple.  But I'm glad the kids are sleeping in the part that's built to code.


More Cruelty from Dr. Mom

So I decided to teach only one class starting in July, rather than the two classes the dean of the little art college offered me.  I went in to talk to her yesterday, and we had a good chat.

One of the things I learned is that the little art college has a dress code for its professors, which boils down to one rule: no jeans.  This was a little disconcerting, considering it had been a stretch for me just to put on jeans for my meeting with the dean since I wear shorts and t-shirts every day without fail.  Also, I not infrequently, when preparing to go somewhere in public, ask my wife, "Do you remember if I slept in this shirt last night?"  The answer is usually "yes."
So I come home and tell my wife about the talk and the dress code, and worry aloud that my non-jeans pants, the ones I used to wear when I taught high school, would no longer fit.

"Do you want to use one of my Bella Bands?" she asks.  


A Command Performance

A while ago, I posted some random videos that included me playing guitar while trying to keep my kids from having tantrums or falling off of the bed.  A number of readers asked me to post more guitar videos.  That number was one.

So I put together what I humbly consider one of the best renditions of Villa Lobos's "Prelude #1" ever recorded on a 100 dollar out-of-tune guitar in a shower with babies beating on plastic tubs.

This is for you, Steamy (whose classy blog I link here only out of deference since anyone with any taste follows it already.  [Mom--don't click on that link]):*

 One More Thing

I'm the featured blogger over at Studio 30+, a site for bloggers over the age of thirty.  If you are over 30, a bloggist, or just interested in getting a behind-the-scenes look at some of the most powerful elderly players on the blogging scene today (weird), head on over there.  It's like a snarky faculty meeting. 

*That's not an emoticon--just a lot of punctuation.


  1. Get music especially like it with a few screams in the background. Glad the earthquake was not the big one! Did the dean say anything about sweat pants?Good luck...with your khaki's!

  2. I was recently recruited for a Bedazzling Commune so I'm going to need more details on that whole scene, STAT. Last thing I want is to move into an area prone to dragon attacks.

  3. "Not jeans" leaves you with quite a few options. Have you considered skirts? Perhaps a draped jersey sweat-skirt? Or a robe? (graduation, bath)

  4. ftw: this round goes to Dr. Mom. Please tell her that her Bella Bands comment, cruel as it was, made me laugh out loud this morning.

  5. Yuppie commune seems like it would be an oxymoron.

  6. I didn't feel the earthquake at all and I'm usually the weirdo who feels it when no one else does. but I like how whenever we have an earthquake, my facebook fills up with posts about it. like it's actually big news. if it had been a big one, we probably wouldn't even have internet access.

  7. Growing up in Virginia I was always worried about earthquakes. I remember my friends saying "you know California is going to break off and sink in to the ocean." When I lived in California I was always amazed that L.A. people never really thought much about the smog and the high asthma rates, they just went with it; I also learned they were freaked the f. out about tornadoes. Don't get me started on their wimpy attitudes about weather "I cannot go out it's raining!"

    So you take requests do you, more childhood stories please.

    A California college that enforces a dress code, an art one at that. ::head explodes::

  8. MOREMOREMORE!! Super girly skippy claps!! Oh man, that was pretty. I want a Mexican beer now. And a baby.

    Why is nobody requesting more music from you? COMEON PEOPLE!! RISE UP!!

  9. My 9 year old was using voice recognition on my phone to google Silly Bandz and Belly Bands kept coming up. They both look pretty silly if you ask me. YAY Studio 30+

  10. A job where no jeans are allowed? F THAT!

  11. Your wife cracks me up. I don't recall reading it -- did you try one? :-)


  12. Since I have no desire to ever be punched in the junk- that is if I had junk- congrats on being the featured blogger of the week!

    Why have I not found this blog before now? Damned Internet- all vast and everything. All I could do today was picture you in the bellyband- all day!

    I think you should post pic's wearing it just for the fun of your 'now'loyal readers.

  13. We're dealing with tornados here, but I couldn't imagine the earthquakes! And I love the belly band comment...that's too funny!

  14. Frau,
    Yeah...I need to do something drastic to get in shape for teaching. I WILL NOT BUY NEW KHAKIS!

    Elly Lou,
    That sounds really twisted. I can't really get into the details of the commune because it's such a long story. There was a group pregnancy. 'nuff said. Email me for more details.

    Mmme. P,
    I'm thinking about a man-skirt. Y'know...with all the cargo pockets and stuff? I already have a sarong I haven't busted out for a while. That's even comfier than shorts.

    It does seem that way. We were poor yuppies though. And it was Northern California during the crazy days of the real estate boom. It was the only way we could break into the market.

    I know. My facebook blew up two seconds after the quake. It's fun to have a shared life-threatening experience.

    I'll write some VA stories just for you (I lived in Fairfax for eight years and Charlottesville for ten.)

    Your skippy claps are adorable! Wanna borrow a baby for a while?

    I hope those damn silly bandz have been outlawed by the time my kids are in school. I know their will be something ten times as annoying by then though.

    You have such strong convictions! I do whatever the Man tells me to.

    I may have slipped one on at one time or another.

    Exactly. I've been waiting for you for months!

    Tornadoes are way scarier. Partially because you can see 'em coming.

  15. I loved the video of the twins playing with the emesis basin from the hospital. It's a lovely shade of pink. One of the many benefits of having a mommy in the biz...

  16. Deb,
    I had to ask Dr. Mom what "emesis" was. Gross. My mom-in-law insisted that we take all the free stuff that we could home from the hospital. She was drinking out of a little measuring (sample?) cup for weeks.

  17. Having been through earthquakes, several ice storms and more hurricanes than I care to remember I agree, earthquakes aren't all that bad in comparison. Kind of interesting actually. The first time I was in an earthquake it was in the middle of the night and I had no idea that it was an earthquake until I saw it on the news the next morning. I thought I was dreaming or somehow drunk (even though I had not had anything to drink).
    Love the video.

  18. Tornados are the thing here. And hurricanes, of course, since we aren't far from the coast. Neither really bother me.

    Bella bands...too funny. High five Dr. Mom.

    I'll have to come back and check out the video when I'm not at work. Stupid IT. The way Steamy is carrying on wanting babies and such...I might need to stay away. :)

    Oh, and you asked me to draw a picture of my "surroundings", but I don't draw. So here's a pic that shows a corner of the area. Meh. Best I have at the moment: http://twitpic.com/1gnypx

  19. See, I'd take a hurricane almost any day because they generally give you 3 days notice (or more for the really curvy ones).

    (stopping by from studio 30+)


Don't hold back.


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