Saturday, May 27, 2006

shake it up

I once met a seismologist who had never experienced an earthquake. He was in his mid-50s at the time.

We were at a dinner party, and this bit of information came up in the stream of conversation. As I pressed him for more information -- thinking it wonderfully ironic, and expecting he'd see some humor in it too -- he confessed that he had actually been in several small earthquakes, but had failed to feel them.

And he didn't see anything funny about it.

Cluing into his discomfort I let up on the questioning and we moved on to the next topic, but I think of this fellow periodically.

There's something mournful about his condition: A facet of his life's work is completely outside of his experience, and he can do very little to acquire that experience. You can certainly travel to earthquake prone areas -- he lived in one actually, the dinner party was in Seattle, and although that area isn't hit with the same frequency as the SF Bay Area, it's not uncommon for small tremblers to roll through on occasion -- but you can't schedule a meeting with an earthquake, or take a course. It's going to happen with or without you, and it won't be issuing invitations before the event.

But that's not so much what happened here. He was there; the earth shook; he didn't feel it.

A little like stepping out in the middle of the movie to use the restroom, and missing the one subtle scene that binds the whole film together.

[update] ah crap. about an hour after I posted this I got word of the earthquake in Central Java. at this writing the Guardian is putting the death toll at over 2,900. not the kind of synchronicity I'm keen on.

when the earth moves, she moves.

Save the Children is taking donations to help out -- I'm sure there are others as well.

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