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Earth Quaking

I woke up at five o'clock yesterday morning.
The room was throbbing like an all-night rave - minus the music, alcohol, and party girls.
By the time I realized what was happening, it was over.
So, I went back to sleep. It was just another Tokyo earthquake.

Having lived in California for five years, I was used to feeling the earth move.
What I wasn't used to feeling was uncertainty.
When an earthquake struck in California, I would simply exit my home or workplace and stand in the parking lot - out of harms way - until the tremors passed.
In Japan, however, it's rare to be in any building that's less than ten stories tall.
In addition, the concept of 'open space' here is about as relevant as Diet Coke is to a sumo wrestler.

Glenns' Wonderings

So, when an earthquake starts, you have three choices.

One - run downstairs, into the street, and let massive buildings and dangerous power cables collapse on you.

Two - run upstairs and prepare to fall from an even greater height.

Three - become an Asian philosopher, accept that your fate is already decided, and do nothing.

During my first few earthquakes, I danced the mad dance of a man with three brains arguing where the feet should go.
Now, I'm the monk with two feet sleeping. I just wait it out.

Recently, earthquakes have been common. We get at least a couple each week.
At least, that's how many I can feel.
People here are so used to them that they only notice the biggest ones. If a ceiling tile comes down, someone might say, "Did you just feel something?"

But I notice even the small ones.
It's not that I'm particularly sensitive. It's just my office.
It sits in the corner of the building, and has a lot of glass.
When there's a tremor, I can hear the glass rubbing at the joints Ė "squeak, squeak".

Still, I don't worry much.
Some people do, so they prepare earthquake emergency kits. You always hear about the need for a kit.
My wife has prepared one. It has her clothes, a blanket, food, and water.
I, on the other hand, don't have one. Why?
Well, I've never heard of a person who died because he didn't have clothes, food, or water after an earthquake.

I don't want to sound like I'm making light of earthquakes.
I'm not.
Well, actually, I am. But that's how I deal with serious matters.
And I know that earthquakes can be serious.

We were living in Osaka, when the Great Hanshin Earthquake struck.
There was no question that it was a major event.
The sheer volume of the quake astounded me. It sounded like STOMP was doing a live performance on our balcony.
When it ended, I looked at Angie and said, "I'm pretty sure of two things. First, I won't be able to get to work today. Second, people died".
Unfortunately, I was right.
And it's just a matter of time before the next big one.

"Squeak, squeak". Maybe an emergency kit isnít such a bad idea.

GH 09/00
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