June 24, 2010


An earthquake in Canada!

Earthquakes are not new things that just started. They’ve been going on for as long as the planet has been in existence. Reading through this article, the thing that makes this one interesting is the location, and strength. Having lived in Canada since I was born, in the 40 or so years prior to my leaving for Taiwan, I only experienced a couple of tremors. And even those, I was a bit puzzled about, and not at all concerned.

When I moved to British Columbia, after leaving the casino, I started working with a contracting company as an administrative assistant to the site co-ordinator. Her task was to oversee the construction of the IBM complex in Burnaby. What I found interesting, sitting in the meetings, was that these buildings, although not tall, had to be, by BC building codes, earthquake-proof. Again, puzzlement came over me, as I had never felt an earthquake, that I knew of, before, so why would a building have to be ‘earthquake-proof’?

Well, it just so happened, during one of our weekly meetings, the building started to shake. It didn’t last long, perhaps a few seconds. To me, it was one of the most interesting things that I had ever experienced. I was exhilarated! I was like a little kid. Fortunately, those around me were a little more sedate, so I didn’t get too excited. But inside, I couldn’t get over it! Something that we, as human beings, have absolutely no control over, happened in my lifetime. Unbeknownst to me, that in a couple of short years, I’d be experiencing a lot more than what I felt that day!

Shift gears a bit and fast forward to about 2002. I had recently moved into an apartment on the 14th floor. Another foreign teacher was leaving, had sold me all the ‘fixings’ for the apartment, given me a few contacts in Tainan for work, and, and returned home. I was working at a kindergarten not far from my home. It was about lunchtime. Class began at 2:00pm, so I was in the shower. Suddenly, I could feel the bathtub moving around under my feet. I shut the water off, crouched down, and waited for the rocking and rolling to stop.

When I say rocking and rolling, I mean it! Had I not crouched down, I probably would have slipped and fallen anyway. Once I could get my bearings again, while the apartment was still shaking, I left the bathroom to see what had happened. I knew we had just had an earthquake. How strong, I had no idea. I went into the bedroom. The bedroom had been kind of divided into two sections – the bedroom, and an office of sorts. In here was the only place I could keep my fish tanks.

Well, the fish tanks’ water levels had dropped about 10cm! The water was still splashing around. There was water all over the office floor. Behind the tanks, I could see not only a great body of water, but about a dozen or so fish. Unfortunately, there was no way I could get to these little creatures. They became casualties of the earthquake. Later on, I found out that the earthquake had measured somewhere between 6.0 and 6.2! For someone who, basically, had never felt an earthquake before, this was again, exhilarating!

Since then, I have had my share of earthquakes. Some big, some small. One year around ‘our’ Christmas time, I was with a private student. We had two earthquakes occur in the span of 5 minutes! The second one scared her so much, she couldn’t finish her class. She had her father take her home, she was crying so much.

Taiwan people, and more so the adults, remember an earthquake from 1999 (if I’m not mistaken). This one was in the range of 7.0 or more. It caused a lot of damage in the northeast area of the country. Many people were killed. The cross-island highway was destroyed. Buildings collapsed. Taiwan is roughly the same size as Vancouver Island. Imagine an earthquake happening in Victoria, and everyone right up to the north tip can feel it! That was the same here, apparently. The earthquake occurred in the north end, and all the way down to the southern tip, this earthquake was felt by everyone at the time.

I wasn’t in Taiwan at the time. It would be another couple of years before I arrived. Most of the students I teach were either not born or were very little babies at the time of the earthquake. However, they all know about it and talk about it as if they were there! If you go back about a month or so ago, you will find another entry I did about an earthquake that occurred around 8:20am, just as classes were beginning.

I’m not trying to make light of natural disasters. Yes, they are occurrences way beyond our control as human beings. Sometimes, we can predict their arrivals, and other times we can’t. We cannot not stop them, any more than we can make them begin. We can only learn to deal with them when they happen.

Thunder storms. Snow squalls. Tornadoes. Volcanoes. Hurricanes. Typhoons. Earthquakes. I’m sure there are a bevy of other natural occurrences that I’m missing. Whatever we call them, wherever they happen, whether they are regular or rare occurrences… we as humans have to learn to live with them in one way or another.

Mother Earth is an old lady. She’s been around a lot longer than any of us! When she needs to stretch here bones, she’s gonna do it, and no one is gonna tell her to stop!

I still like watching thunder and lightening storms. I love watching snow fall so much, that you can’t see your hand in front of you. I think it’s cool when the fog rolls in in St. John, New Brunswick or New Westminster, British Columbia. The fog stays around for days! I still think earthquakes are like riding a roller coaster. I also hope that I’ve learned enough in my lifetime about these various natural occurrences, that I can somehow keep from being a victim. Yes, it’s nice to marvel and be excited about these things, but you still have to keep a bit of sanity about you!


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