Mild Rumblings, Media Unhinged


Some internet wag posted this photo as evidence of today's devastation, and the photoshops are springing forth, new life rising from ashes, in a touching display of triumph over adversity.

For the sake of the external hard drive I'll record that my first felt earthquake (they actually do happen here somewhat regularly) was an interesting experience. I'd just returned from the office and was eating a late lunch with my kids when Girl Weed said, "Is the house shaking?" She said it before I noticed anything, but then I felt it too and my mind went flitting, searching for a cause: big truck? washing machine? samsonite gorilla? house collapsing of old age? terrorism? But when I reached "earthquake," the mind settled. It was actually sort of comforting in opposition to terrorist attack and I felt oddly calm. Moved the kids to an inner door jamb, and rode out the queer feeling for 30 seconds to a minute. No fear, which was strange since frightening possibilities did occur to me. The kids didn't seem troubled in the least, either.

We waited around a few minutes to see if anything else would happen, but then all seemed normal, so we went about our business. (The walls do have some minor cosmetic damage: cracks in the plaster. Oh, and some books fell off a shelf in Mr. W's study.)

The radio reporters were unhinged. They kept informing us of "unconfirmed reports" of a zillion worries no one would have had without them, or suggesting problems they knew perfectly well were unlikely. "The Washington Monument is tipping!" (Seems like that one would have been pretty easy to confirm.) We are waiting to hear whether or not a tsunami was triggered! The quake was centered in Mineral, VA and that's where the nuclear power plants are, we're waiting to hear!

This would be followed a minute or two later by condescending assurance that no tsunami had been triggered, and the nukes were taken off line as a precaution, standard protocol, but no damage was being reported. Journalists were the only ones worried about these things, and then they had the nerve to act as if we the listeners were being big babies about the whole thing!

The best part was when they were speculating about the devastation that might be wrought by aftershocks while we were experiencing one, just sitting in traffic. We're sitting there with the trembling barely perceptible beneath our tires, and the guys are going on and on about whether we'll have any aftershocks.

At one point I turned to the kids and told them I was very disappointed in their calm. Don't you know it's your civic duty to panic! Panic now!

Sheesh. The last people I'd want around in an actual emergency or natural disaster are these media fiends who don't know their duty is to disseminate information in such a way that people stay calm and act rational. I felt like I wanted an ordinary individual to break into the studios and tell all the reporters to take a deep breath and report in single file to the nearest exit.

Update: There was some mild damage; and the zoo creatures went wild right before the quake hit.