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Notes on the Valley

By Monith Ilavarasan

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About this blog: My parents, brother, and I moved to Pleasanton when I was in the seventh grade. I then graduated from Amador Valley High School, went to college at UC Davis and started out a career in tech. After several years working in large co...  (More)

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I felt the earth move

Uploaded: Nov 2, 2022
Last Tuesday I was in my company’s San Francisco location on a fluke. I rarely visit, but on that particular day I was meeting up with an old co-worker who now worked out of that office. Since my team is mostly remote I figured I would work out of there so we could meet up easily.

I took over an empty conference room on the 29th floor where I was able to dial into all my meetings. Things were going fine, until around 11:40. All of a sudden I started to feel a bit of a wobble, with the whole room gently shaking. To be completely honest, I initially thought it might have been a rather large set man I saw earlier walking by room on the way to lunch.

The initial shaking subsided, the whole room started swaying gently side to side lasting close to 30 seconds. It was a truly surreal experience. I was in the middle of a meeting with my camera on and important things were being discussed. I thought about notifying the team but felt like I would come across as overdramatic.

I sat there frozen for a few seconds. I briefly thought about googling “What to do while in the middle of a skyscraper in the middle of an earthquake” but decided against it. I figured no matter what the answer was it wouldn’t be really helpful at that point.

After what felt like an eternity the room stood still. The meeting was still going on as if nothing happened and I was still sitting in the same spot. I pretended like everything was fine, we wrapped up, and I sat in my chair wondering why my former colleague picked this day of all days to meet up.

I later learned that what I experienced was a 5.1 level earthquake which originated just east of San Jose. I also learned that skyscrapers are some of the safest places to be during an earthquake. The building swaying that I encountered is actually a safety feature, and ensures that the building doesn’t snap in half when experiencing a tremble.

I now know that the best thing to do during an earthquake while in a highrise is to do the standard duck and cover under a sturdy desk.

Upon further digging I stumbled on what many people who live in the Bay Area already knew. The Bay Area has three different faults running through it, the Hayward Fault, the Calaveras Fault, and the San Andreas Fault.

Most people in the Bay Area live less than 10 miles from one of these faults that can have a damaging earthquake, such as the San Andreas on the Peninsula and the Hayward fault through the East Bay.

Earthquakes are one of those existential fears that crop up every once in a while, only to recede very quickly. There is a heart pounding thrill and panic of being in the middle of one, not knowing if this is the big 6.7 magnitude quake that has been predicted for decades. However, after one resides, life goes on as normal.

To me earthquakes are a reminder that you can’t worry about every single disaster that exists in the world. There are certain things in your life you can control, and nature is unfortunately not one of them.
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Posted by Karl A, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Nov 2, 2022 at 12:04 pm

Karl A is a registered user.

“To be completely honest, I initially thought it might have been a rather large set man I saw earlier walking by room on the way to lunch"

It's a shame you chose to include this “humor" in your post.

As a “large bone person" myself, I find your comment offensive.

I doubt you would think it would be ok to make “humorous" comments about your appearance or physical attributes. You would probably claim racism or one of the other -isms our society is focused on these days.

Posted by Jennifer, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 2, 2022 at 8:20 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

I've lived in California all my life, so I've never feared earthquakes. With the exception of '89 (we were at the World Series) I take them in stride.

I've never been overweight, but weight discrimination (like any discrimination) is offensive. As a former cheerleader in high school and college, a homecoming queen candidate in high school, and a beauty pageant contestant in college in Los Angeles (to the detriment of my dad) and a former model who modeled her way through grad school while attending UCLA, I've been judged by my appearance. Society will judge women by our appearance anyway, so I decided to have some "fun."

I'm NOT the typical person who stays in shape that judges those who struggle with their weight. Our weight is our business, and nobody else's.

Monith, grow up. Your attempt at humor wasn't funny.

Posted by Pton Resident, a resident of Foothill High School,
on Nov 4, 2022 at 8:26 am

Pton Resident is a registered user.

I see nothing in that comment that's poking fun of large people. He merely states he thought it was a large-set man walking past. This is a true statement -- large people walking can sometimes make the floor shake. If that was his initial thought, then it's fine to include it in his column. It's a statement of fact. This is a good and interesting column about a scary incident.

Posted by Karl A, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Nov 4, 2022 at 9:06 am

Karl A is a registered user.

I guess the test of the appropriateness of his humorous comment would be if he were to tell this big person that he thought that he caused the the 29th floor of an office building to shake like an earthquake by walking down a corridor.

My point being his comment detracted from an otherwise interesting story. Unless of course he wanted to honestly admit he has an underlying bias / negative attitude against fat people.

You can say I'm being sensitive or ridiculous. But that is kind of the same as saying a south asian person is being sensitive about the slang term used by the British to refer to people of Monith's background. It's not about how Monith or other readers feel about his comment, it's about how the subject of the comment feels about it.

Posted by Jennifer, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 4, 2022 at 1:34 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

Large people walking by don't shake for floor for 30 seconds like a 5.1 earthquake. It was a back handed way of insulting overweight people. You notice he said he was on his way to "lunch" not another office or the men's room.

Weight discrimination is very common and it's more common towards women, but it's directed at men too. And it needs to stop. It's a reflection on Monith, and not a good one. He does have a negative attitude towards overweight people, and you don't have to be overweight to call him on it.

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