An earthquake just whacked Christchurch, which is New Zealand’s second largest city, about 500 miles south of me. Thankfully, no casualties to report, but maybe $2 billion in damage.
It all makes me think about relativity and Mother Nature.
Growing up in Oklahoma, we spent most fall and spring evenings with the television on, listening for the omnipresent boob boop boop tornado warning (e.g. “it could happen folks”) and the occasional tornado alert (e.g. “some of ya’ll about to get all kinds of blown away”).
Since we heard the boop boop boop about eleventy hunnerd times every tornado season, tornado warnings were just part of the weather forecast: humid, fair to partly cloudy, with a high of 92 and a low of 74, with a 90% chance that some mobile home, somewhere in Oklahoma, is gonna get blowed away, but it’s not near you so don’t worry.
People who don’t live with tornadoes seem to think they are like atom bombs, blowing up all over the place. Truth is, most tornadoes are small and stay in the clouds, never even touching down. But when they do touch down, you can be sure it will end up on the news: roll helicopter footage of the “path of destruction”, the three twisted mobile homes on their sides, a pickup stuck in flood waters, and a fat woman saying “it sounded lock uh big ol’ freight train.”
And people outside of Tornado Alley would wonder: why do those stupid Okies live in a place where there are tornadoes? Most of the time, these comments were from smug Californians.
Note: California is the state that will drop into the Pacific Ocean when the Big One hits. Californians have never grasped that while you can outsmart a tornado – “run sideways to it”, get in the truck and outrun it, join the poisonous snakes in the cellar – there is nowhere to run when an earthquake hits.
Thankfully, the earthquake that hit Christchurch was not deadly or the Big One, though it was plenty bad. And, thankfully, those of us in Auckland don’t have to worry about earthquakes. Or tornadoes. Or killer floods for that matter.
We’ve got volcanoes.
It’s all relative.