Ottawa Rocks!

by DaniGirl on June 24, 2010 · 14 comments

in How I love the Interwebs, Life in Ottawa

Did the earth move for you, too, baby?

That was pretty cool, eh? I’ve been through one other minor earthquake that I remember, when I was a kid, but the one yesterday centred just north of Ottawa was much stronger. It was the first quake during which I was aware at the time what was happening.

I was, of all things, getting a pedicure! I was sitting at the little table, reading my book with my toes in the little dryer, actually composing a post in my head about pedicures and having people in a servitude position and how uncomfortable that makes me. At first I thought the noise was construction or a big truck rumbling past on Woodroffe, but when the shaking was sustained I immediately knew what was going on. The tiny oriental women in the beauty shop scattered like marbles, most of them running to huddle in the doorway until I pointed out that the doorway in the middle of the plate glass window might not be a good place to be. Since none of the nail polish bottles had even fallen off their little shelves, I was more amused by the experience than anything, and it wasn’t until later that I realized perhaps I was a little too cavalier about the whole thing.

What really fascinated me, though, was watching the drama play out on Twitter. It may be a useless time sink 99% of the time, but I was hugely impressed by the speed with which information was circulated on Twitter yesterday. Within 10 minutes of the quake, I knew that people had felt it as far afield as Toronto and Sudbury. Within 15 minutes, I knew it was a 5.5 magnitude (later downgraded to 5.0) quake and the epicentre was near Buckingham, about 20 minutes north of downtown Ottawa.

What really made me laugh was that as soon as it was clear that nobody was seriously hurt and that no significant damage was done, the quake humour started. Here are my fave 10 tweets from yesterday.

From scottcoates: 5.5 quake downgraded to a 5. We did stick the landing ok, I blame the French judge.

From DenVan: Hmm. Toronto felt it too? There’s gotta be a G20 connection. OMG: it was a #FAKELAKEQUAKE

From Phillippec: Quebec is finally separating! #earthquake

From ThatsTeenTalk: “What’s that!! An earthquake?” “YES!! RUN!!!” “OMG, WAIT” *runs to the computer and writes on twitter* EARTHQUAAAAAAKE!!! #thatsteentalk

From melle: Dear California: You do that regularly? DUDE.

From jamiecalder: .@WickedLPixie We’re fine. We’re all fine here now, thank you. How are you? We had a reactor leak. Large leak, very dangerous.

From Glen_McGregor: Everyone talking earthquake and #CBC Radio is running interview with a children’s book illustrator. Memories of epic #fail on 9/11.

From thornley: RT @kylemcinnes: Ottawa government buildings evacuated. Productivity unaffected. #earthquake #smgov

From ALL_CAPS: My television fell onto my MacBook Pro and broke my DSLR. Guess I’ll have to file a claim and get new ones.

From mynameiskate: RT @RobCottingham: In solidarity with Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, I’m wandering through the house and knocking things off shelves.

I simply couldn’t tear myself away from the computer! (Erm, okay, maybe that’s also the case on any random Wednesday afternoon, but still…) I was truly fascinated both by the earthquake itself, and by the way people were reacting to it. It took less than 90 minutes for this “I survived Toronto Earthquake 2010” t-shirt to appear. (I’m not sure if I’m more bemused disgusted by the blatantly exploitative capitalism or the branding of it as “Toronto’s Earthquake.”)

I think both the Ottawa Citizen and CTV Ottawa did an excellent job in collating and disseminating information on the fly. Other organizations were not so, um, forward-thinking in their use of social media tools in a crisis. Julie Harrison tweeted “Dear @ottcatholicDSB — it is times like THIS when you’re supposed to tweet something! Let us parents know what to do. Pick up or no?” Wouldn’t this have been a simple, easy way to reach hundreds, maybe thousands of anxious parents? No, you’re not going to reach all of them — but I personally was chatting with more than a dozen who would have appreciated the effort.

In the end, I think this comic sums up my afternoon just about perfectly. (Click on it to embiggen!)

What were you doing when the earth started shaking?

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 angela June 24, 2010 at 11:28 am

my twitter made me titter a few times as i drove like a madwoman out of ottawa after experiencing the quake in a mall…

and it is so not toronto’s earthquake;)

2 Steve June 24, 2010 at 11:41 am

All over the OCCSDSB Tweeting, had no idea what to do with my oldest daughter, and after I got to the school to get her, learned they didn’t either. I saw most of those Tweets and laughed too.

3 liz June 24, 2010 at 11:50 am

Those tweets were classic!

4 Mom on the Go June 24, 2010 at 1:57 pm

I liked these ones, too:
RT @ivortossell: Widespread disappointment across Toronto at news that it was not, in fact, the epicentre of the quake.
RT @spacing – There has also been a tsunami warning for the G20 fake lake. #earthquake

Reid was more excited about having snack outside because of the earthquake than about the earthquake itself. .

5 Madeleine June 24, 2010 at 2:31 pm

I felt the earth move under my feet here in Toronto. But nothing even fell over in my house. I’m glad to hear Ottawa wasn’t as bed as it might have been!

6 Anonymous June 24, 2010 at 2:40 pm

I was on the third floor of our 100 year old semi-d, that is currently in the middle of renos and construction… ie, we ripped a few walls out. We’d just gotten back home from our little overnight staycation at a hotel downtown because they were spraying our walls with insulation = smelly fumes = not to be slept in overnight.

I panicked, BIG TIME. Seriously thought our house was falling down. grabbed my three year old and made those two flights of stairs in record time. And honestly felt a slight sense of relief when I heard the screams of the kids up at Hopewell PS.

I laughed SO hard over that twitter that said gvnmt buildings evacuated, productivity unaffected! LOL! I completely get it, been/being a gvnmt employee (on care and nurturing leave).


7 Nat June 24, 2010 at 5:16 pm

Driving… I didn’t feel a thing.

Guess I need The Man to help feel the earth move eh?

8 Carly @ The Tree June 24, 2010 at 7:20 pm

I was on the 8th floor of our 9 story office building. It wasn’t altogether pleasant being up that high, but I honestly assumed that was probably as bad as it would get and didn’t think much more of it.

Then my colleagues started running for the stairs and my part time staff starting yelling from the other end of the hall. Someone pulled the fire alarm (security maybe?) and so I went to calm my staff down and get them out of the building.

All the way down those 17 flights of stairs, all I could think was, “I’d rather have gone up. I’d rather have gone up.” Followed by, “Please God don’t let me die on stuck between the fourth and third floors as the building comes tumbling down.”

Though I wasn’t worried at all during the shaking, the nerves of the people around me made me anxious very quickly. I had no idea I was that susceptible to other people’s emotions, and that was probably the most interesting thing I learned yesterday.
At least ones refer to the quake as “Canadian”.

9 Rebecca June 25, 2010 at 6:47 am

I’m in northcentral Ohio and I felt it here. It was just some weird vibrating and I didn’t have any idea what it was while it was happening, but we DID feel it. Very strange indeed.

I was sitting at my desk at work, felt everything vibrate and saw my monitor shake for a few secs. What’s weird is, in the newspaper article about it, people were talking about their apartment/office buildings swaying. Um… they did NOT sway, you maybe shook for a minute. Goofy, goofy folks.

I’d never felt an earthquake before, so I was pretty geeked about it!

10 smothermother June 25, 2010 at 7:13 am

i couldn’t concentrate at work for the rest of the afternoon. i was happy for twitter and being able to see how everyone was reacting and how far it seemed to go. one of my favorite tweets was something to the effect of “earthquake or G20 collective fart.”

the “toronto earthquake”?? the odacity. makes me dislike TO all the more.

ps – captha: have mover

11 Anonymous June 25, 2010 at 9:43 am

I was in my office in a building full of geologists. No panic, just excitement and lots of cries of, “An eathquake? COOL!” Was a bit miffed that all the first reports were quoting the U.S. Geological Survey and earthquake researchers from the University of Toronto, etc. Hello? The headquarters of the Geological Survey of Canada, complete with our own seismographs, are located on Booth Street.

Though, to be fair, perhaps they tried to reach the GSC and were unable, since we were all waiting outside the buildings for the safety wardens to issue the all-clear to go back in.

12 alison June 25, 2010 at 9:44 am

Sorry, anonymous was me, Alison from Party of 3.

13 Anonymous June 26, 2010 at 12:01 pm

We did not feel the quake in Perth. Thankful that damage/injuries in Ottawa were minor for the most part. Sadly not so for the driver of the car in Quebec region.
Can’t imagine how people manage to rebuild their spirits and their lives when devastating quakes hit but they miraculously do.
Hope you still do the post on people in positions of servitude because it makes me uncomfortable as well and I’m always reminded of *it matters not what you do for a living. As long as you do the best you can every day you can take pride in your work*

14 Paula June 26, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Sorry about the Anonymous entry, I hit enter before I had filled in my information.

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