So, you might have noticed that we just had a 5.4 earthquake here in Southern California, where Medialoper HQ is located. I was standing in line at a burger joint near the corner San Vicente and La Brea when I noticed the shaking. Or actually, since I was — as usual — lost in my own head, I first noticed other people noticing the shaking.
I thought, “hey, earthquake.”
When you’ve lived in California all of your life you — well, “get used to” is probably a bit strong — tend to get dispassionate in the first few seconds of a quake. What you’re doing is measuring it, doing the math, trying to figure out if it’s actually the BIG ONE, or nearly as bad, a Big One. What you’re doing, of course, is the Richter Scale math.
It’s the equivalent of trying to figure out how close the lighting is by counting the beats between it and the thunder. Based on the length and type of shaking, you’re trying to figure out if the magnitude is either low, but pretty close, higher and further away, or in the worst case scenario, close and really fracking high.
Or at least I am: I once watched another California native hightail it like David Brent for the stairs of an 11 story building during what turned out to be a low 4.
In any event, after a few more seconds of shaking, I started thinking, “uh oh, earthquake, should I start panicking?” But then it stopped. Nothing had fallen, or broken and there wasn’t any smoke in the distance, so I ordered lunch.
Of course, part of the point of having an iPhone is the connectivity, so I tried to call Rox, who works in a very high floor in one of those very tall buildings in downtown Los Angeles, where they take the earthquakes very seriously. Only I couldn’t. No cell phone. No texting. Even gmail couldn’t connect. Thanks AT&T!!
But Twitteriffic worked. As did Facebook for the iPhone. From both of those I instantly gleaned that Kirk at ‘Loper HQ had done the math (and called it at least a 5 in one of his initial tweets), as well as the fact that that my day job workplace close by was still standing, based on one of my Facebook Friend updates. Damn! That would mean that I had to go back.
Meanwhile, after nearly a half-hour, AT&T was functioning enough to connect me with Rox, who was still without elevator service in her very high floor in a very tall building. Which sucked, because she couldn’t get to her lunch, one floor above.
When I got back to my work, I was able to check one of my favorite sites on all of the internets: The U.S. Geological Survey’s Earthquake Hazards Program website.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is one of the reasons that the World Wide Web exists. I mean, besides porn, and killing the newspaper industry.
Who doesn’t think that it’s a good idea to see near real-time earthquake information?
The USGS site is a bonanza of information — and a little bit weird to navigate, which makes sense as it’s a government site — but I’ve got the Recent Earthquakes Map for Los Angeles bookmarked. Not only can you see a list of all of the recent earthquakes (and there have already been dozens of tiny aftershocks), but you can dig into each one and find all sorts of interesting tidbits.
My favorite is the Shakemap, which shows you how much you were supposed to feel, based upon your location.
In any event, if you live in earthquake country, like I do, the USGS site is something well worth bookmarking.
Davis Freeberg says
Not everyone in LA has Richter Radar. You have to be a native to appreciate the fine nuances of the scale. Anywhere else in the world and they would have been calling it a 7.8 on Twitter. When the news first broke, CNBC went into full crisis mode, then they found out it was a mid 5 and you could see on their faces that it was a bit of a let down.
Also, how ironic was that Twitter was the thing that was working perfectly??
Tim G. says
For the record, no cell phones were working for about 30 minutes afterward. Sheer overload.
I was in a third floor building across the street from NBC, and opposite a new high-rise office building under construction. I wasn’t too worried about myself, but the poor construction workers who were on about the 12th floor, totally exposed with nothing but air between them and the ground. That was kinda scary.