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Some thoughts on how to deal with earthquakes in California


As a former Californian who lives in the Phoenix area, I think about earthquakes. It's both a personal thing, and a concern for friends and family who live in California. And if you've been pondering what to do, sorry, I can't tell you - no one can. But there are several ways that you can deal with earthquakes. Here are some that spring to my mind right now.

You can do what I did, and move away from California. As much as I loved the Golden State, my fear of earthquakes was very close to the top of the reasons why I couldn't stay. Of course, you may just find something else to worry about, but it all comes down to personal preference. The planet has always been trying to kill us, no matter where you live, so you just have to find something that won't worry you. I tended to worry too much, every time a bus went by I felt an earthquake, I would wake up at night certain that I'd felt something. So I had to go.

My favorite technique, which is embraced by a brother of mine that I dearly love, is to not think about it, and if it happens, it happens. My brother is far from being a fatalist, but if he were on the Titanic, he would pour himself a drink, and sip it while listening to the band. This is a wonderful point of view of not only earthquakes, but of life.

A rather strange thing that seemed to work for me was something that I had read in the Los Angeles phone book, along with advice on being prepared for a power outage, having water, a flashlight, etc., which was to simply take control. The advice was for children, but it made sense to me. You wag your finger and tell it to stop. I stopped my imaginary earthquakes for years that way.

Fear is an emotion, and emotions tend to not understand logic. You can explain to someone all day, with charts and graphs, that being in an airplane is safer, statistically, than being in a car, but fear is fear. I won't argue with people. Speaking for myself, I have no fear of the little lizards that crawl on the walls around my house here, but I had a girlfriend who was genuinely terrified of them. I could be a "big brave man", catch them, and get them out of her condo.

But I'm afraid of earthquakes. And I know that I've wasted many decades torturing myself, and worrying, and I'm working on that positive attitude that my brother has. The "big one" has been coming for a long time, and people talked about it a lot in the 1980s. Every once in a while Cali gets a jolt and people start talking about it again.

Image at the top of this post: Las Virgenes Canyon, California.

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