Wednesday, August 24, 2011

It was a good time for a beer.

Where were you yesterday at 1:51 in the afternoon? I was in a wine and beer shop in Arlington, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C.

Then, the earth shook: an earthquake, 5.8 on the Richter scale, and centered about 65 miles southwest of Washington, D.C.

Two minutes later, I 'tweeted' the earthquake. Still a bit shaky (pun intended), I had difficulty with spelling.

That waa an eartrhquake in Arlington, Virginia.less than a minute ago via HootSuite

In the shop, one wine bottle fell off a shelf, and shattered, the extent of the damage there. The majestic National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., was not so fortunate, suffering significant damage.

Another aspect of real concern was the failure of the cell phone system (and some land-line phones as well) in the Washington, D.C. area. Reaching anyone by cell phone was a nearly impossible task for for a good hour after the quake. Verizon, et al., predictably denied any problems other than high volume, but there's enough anecdotal evidence (including my fruitless attempts for an hour to contact loved ones by cell phone) to state otherwise. Social media over data lines, such as Twitter, Facebook, and text messaging, fared better.

According to Facebook, four minutes after the earthquake, the word "earthquake" appeared in the status updates of 3 million users. Twitter said that it reached a peak rate of 5500 "tweets" per second on the event, which outranks the rate of tweets on the death of Osama bin Laden and the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami.


A seismologist with the United States Geological Survey — the government agency that knows about such things— was interviewed by CBS Radio. This quake might be a harbinger of another to come, she said.

If ever there was a time, yesterday was a good time for a beer.

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