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Kermet Apio's Laugh Corner

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November 2006


A Whole Lotta SHAKING!!


In the last year Hawaii has experienced torrential rains, windstorms, and a heat wave. Well, apparently the earthquake fairy felt a bit left out. On October 15th the islands felt an earthquake centered in the ocean 10 miles north of Kona. Which means around January 8th, FEMA will respond (it will take at least two weeks to convince the President that Hawaii isn’t another country). The quake happened on a Sunday morning at 7:08a.m., making it as annoying as it was devastating.

The quake was a 6.7 magnitude, which means absolutely nothing to me. Apparently a 4 feels like the “magic fingers” on the bed at the cheap motel, but a 9 is like Space Mountain without seatbelts. For my Mom, a 6.7 is strong enough to shake a few picture frames but not strong enough to knock the pink ceramic duck plant holders that my Dad loves so dearly off the outside wall. So without saying the words, I know my Mom wished it was a bit stronger so our front yard will stop looking like an arcade shooting gallery.

Watching the CNN coverage I found myself afraid for my life, despite being in Seattle. At one point Wolf Blitzer hinted of locusts descending from the heavens. Much of CNN’s footage came from “Godzilla” movies and “Lost”. And some of the vases, paintings and glass we saw on the ground I’m pretty sure were kicked there by CNN reporters. Don’t get me wrong, I realize the earthquake did do damage, but the earthquake covered on CNN ends with Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum in a spaceship. Damages are estimated at $76 million, which basically is the cost of repairing two hotel rooms at the Four Seasons.

So Fox News (you know, the channel whose slogan is “Who needs facts?”) gets in touch with Mary Poole, an editor for the Honolulu Star Bulletin, to ask (and I am NOT kidding here) “How is Don Ho?” It’s the only thing they wanted to know. Well, that and if it’s possible to blame a landslide in an ocean floor depression 25,000 feet below sea level on Democrats. The answers: He’s fine and no. Now go make up news.

During the earthquake the main safety tip is to stand under the doorjam. You know, so many times when you see reporters covering the aftermath of an earthquake there is a pile of rubble around unmoved doorjams with people standing under them saying how cool that was. I think it is just a way of making it easier to find you.

And by the way, only three of my Seattle friends emailed to see if my family back home was okay. To the rest of you, just remember this when you need a ride from Waikiki to the airport on your next vacation.

When I heard, I called my family immediately, mainly because on Sundays I get free minutes. And because I care. None of my family got injured. Oahu was without power, which meant spending the day talking, cooking on a barbecue, and drinking beer. Pretty much what most Hawaiians do every Sunday. By the evening, however, people were getting impatient. The reality of missing “Dancing with the Stars” began to settle in. “If I miss Jerry Springer doing the rumba, this earthquake will take its toll on me!” My parents did not get power until the next day, which meant that on Sunday night once my Mom’s cell phone battery ran out, my parents had to talk. I imagine that happening all over the state, couples who were so used to turning on the TV had to converse. I’m sure many people said things like:

“Hey, Did you do something with your hair?” Or

“I like Billy Joel too!” Or

“When did we get a cat?” Or

“What the hell is a ‘blog’?” Or

“Does Zippy’s have a generator?” Or

“Wait a minute, we have THREE kids?” Or

“I changed my hair eight months ago.”

The day after the earthquake, neighbors were offering each other propane-cooked meals. How do you cook rice on a hibachi? I have no idea, but my Mom’s neighbor did it. Many places would consider inviting a neighbor over for flame broiled SPAM an insult, but in Hawaii it is a warm gesture in times of stress. So often you see events like this followed by looting, anger, and the failure of government. But hats off to the people and the government of Hawaii who acted quickly to get things back to normal. I was there three days later and I couldn’t believe how much had been done from what I had seen on TV. Of course, I was watching CNN’s “Armageddon ’06” and Fox’s teary “Tiny Bubbles” tribute.

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