We're sure you've heard all about it on the news, but we just wanted to mention it in case you've just recently emerged from a cave. It happened at 4:31 a.m. PST, January 17, 1994. Centered in the northern San Fernando Valley city of Northridge, 15 or 20 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, the quake measured 6.6 on the Richter Scale. [Leave out the decimal point, add another six, and its the mark of the beast! Think about it; but not too long or you might start believing in crap like that.]
Among other things, a portion of the Santa Monica Freeway (the I-10) collapsed between the La Cienega and Fairfax exits in West L.A., less than a mile from where Bill used to live! Just think, this newsletter could have been obliterated! [Don't think about this too long, either, or you might start wishing it had happened.]
Jan Elms and Jinx Clark, sharing an apartment in the L.A. suburb of Westchester, spoke of the rude awakening they got that morning. "Neither of us has had that much excitement in bed in a long time!" they said simultaneously. They've been speaking simultaneously ever since the earthquake.
Greg Kann, having moved from sleepy little Fillmore in Ventura County to Northridge in the San Fernando Valley just a few months before the big quake, stated, "I defy anyone to prove its epicenter wasn't directly under my bed!" Fortunately, Greg, his wife Andrea, and their 2-year-old daughter all escaped injury. Their rental house, however, was "pretty much wiped out," though still standing.
Renée Uribe of the eastern L.A. suburb of Montebello says, "I'm getting worried about the coming 'Big One.'"
Eric McGovern of the San Bernardino County town of Fontana says, "earthquake? What earthquake?"
According to the January 31 issue of U.S. News & World Report, "When the `Big One' finally comes, it may well hit someplace other than California." (Just this week, there was a 5.8 magnitude earthquake along the Idaho-Montana border.) They explain that "three of the nation's largest earthquakes ever have occurred not on the West Coast but in the center of the country. In December of 1811 and January and February of 1812, an area near the town of New Madrid in southeastern Missouri was rocked with successive earthquakes estimated to range from 8.4 to 8.8 on the Richter scale." That's nearly 100 times more powerful than the quake that hit Los Angeles last week! It caused the Mississippi River to flow backward and change course; bells rang in Boston church towers; and chandeliers shook in Washington, D.C.
earthquake activity map
The darker the area, the more active it is. A few of the more notable earthquakes are noted.
"We joined the local tennis club which has volleyball three nights a week. That's about all the exercise I get now, but it's good fun." — Steve, Sacramento
[A tennis club that plays volleyball?]
"The big news for me was a recent trip to Chicago. I've been involved in a sort of "anti-stress" mental health group for a long time and was recently asked to be Area Leader of the Sacramento and outlying areas. One of the outcomes of that was a trip to Chicago (actually, I'll go at least twice a year). It was my first time in the Windy City and I found it pretty exciting. I went during the American Airlines strike, so there was quite a bit of juggling of tickets before takeoff. I ended up on United and "volunteered" to stay back a flight because of overbooking. Well, because of my "generosity" I was given a first-class tick to Chicago plus $200 worth of airline credit.
"If you've never flown first-class, try it. What a difference. The stewardess couldn't do enough for me. She took my coat and hung it up. We had drinks immediately and fancy nuts (not peanuts in a pack). When the dinner came, we were given a tablecloth and a meal with "courses": salad, steak, etc. Excellent food. For dessert, we had "warmed" Mrs. Fields' cookies, Haagen Daas yogurt bars and cappuccino. The seats alone made it pure luxury." — Denise, Sacramento
"I really enjoy your newsletter. We got the last one on Christmas Eve. The kids got lots of neat stuff from Santa and are very happy with their haul. John thought he was going to get a tractor for Christmas, but we got him a cordless drill instead. He'll get over it someday.
"My dog Dutch got his first title on December 3. Lucy took him to a B.A.R.K. [Bay Area Retarded K-9s] trial and he passed his ZpT test (breeder's suitability test based on looks and temperament).
"I'm happy to hear that Cedar has been located. Last I heard, Greg got her a dogloo (dog house)." — Jeannie, Tracy, CA
"I surely enjoy your newsletters. I save them all, and when I get depressed I read them and they perk me up. Doctor Holmes to the rescue! — Jeanne, Cameron Park, CA
[We're always glad to hear good things from our readers — it's such a rare occurrence. Thanks. Now take two aspirin and call me in the morning.]
"Please put me on your mailing list. My name is John ——-. My cousin Aileen down in Santa Ana, CA told me about and showed me your newsletter. Thanks. — John, Tacoma, WA
[What? You mean you read the newsletter and you still want to be on our mailing list? Well, okay. But it's only fair to warn you, don't expect to get your money's worth, even if it is free.]
SOS! I need cornmeal!
Owensboro (KY) residents have been coming up with interesting definitions of what constitutes an emergency during Kentucky's record snowfall. One police dispatcher said a family preparing for dinner found they were out of cornmeal. With 14 inches of snow on the ground and the roads too treacherous to travel, they called the police and asked them to pick some up for them.
Police have also been getting serious phone calls from residents wanting them to feed their dogs and horses, clear their driveways, or run other nonessential errands. Several people have asked, "When is the city sending someone to shovel my driveway?"
One woman had snow piled outside both her doors and asked the police if they would come shovel it because her husband and dog needed to relieve themselves.
Robber leaves tracks
Footprints in the snow led to the arrest of a Springfield man who is accused of robbing the Dixie Maid restaurant here (Springfield, TN). Bobby Joe Jones, Jr., 27, was arrested after police traced his footprints in the snow from the restaurant to his house. Police took Jones to Dixie Maid where restaurant workers identified him as the robber. Jones had only made off with $10.
Missing clerk found safe
Murfreesboro (TN) police are investigating the brief disappearance of a convenience store clerk who was recently discovered safe and unharmed. The police became involved after a customer stopped at the store late one night for coffee, only to find the store open and abandoned.
The clerk was later found, unharmed, with another person in a car that also had been reported missing. "We're still trying to figure out what happened," said the police spokesperson. "All we know is that both individuals were completely naked and singing Christmas carols in the vehicle's back seat."
So. Cal. earthquake January 17
Michael January 18
Don February 16
Eleanor February 22
Since our "Actual Insurance Statements" segment was so popular, we've reprinted the following excerpts from letters received by the Saint Lawrence County (NY) Welfare Department. Contributed by Diane. All rights reserved, not that she has any rights.
Jeannie of Tracy, CA., and her dog, Chance, donned parachutes and flagged down a passing crop-dusting airplane. The pilot landed on the street in front of Jeannie's house and picked her up (which they'll happily do, though it's not widely known).
With the whole stretch of road as a runway, the bi-plane took off and was soon high in the air. They were going to do a bit of sightseeing first, but soon realized that in Tracy there really is not a whole lot to see. So, they circled around for a while in the general airspace above Jeannie's ranch until Jeannie and Chance were ready to jump.
Chance went first, with Jeannie following a few frantic seconds behind after realizing Chance didn't know how to pull the parachute's rip cord. With Chance howling in sheer terror in front of her, Jeannie performed a nifty skydiving maneuver and caught up with the howling pooch and pulled its rip cord.
The two landed safely in Jeannie's backyard as her husband and kids sat on the back porch and applauded. We asked Ms. [redacted] why she brought her dog with her, and she explained: "It's part of dog training. These dogs are expected to do everything these days."
[Due to popular demand, this is going to be a regular column from now on. We're sure you'll agree on its importance.]
* "O.H." is short for Our Hero.
Cats are a lot like women. They don't usually just come up to you and say "hi." They'll get your attention first in some unobtrusive manner, then keep hanging around until you decide to talk to them. Finally, if you work it right, they'll let you pick them up and pet them.
[We're sorry. We don't know where that came from. We seem to be experiencing some technical difficulties.]