AROUND LA WITH AVA®: EARTH SHAKIN’—EGGS BREAKIN’

Ava Anttila by Jonny Kahleyn Dieb

Ava Anttila by Jonny Kahleyn Dieb

AROUND LA WITH AVA®: EARTH SHAKIN’—EGGS BREAKIN’

January 2014 in LA

Blink once; then, again.  Two decades gone –it seems like yesterday.

The date was January 17th 1994.  The location was my then house on The Strand in Manhattan Beach.  At around 4:31 AM, when the deep sleep is best just before the dawn, I was in the cozy embrace of a pleasant dream.  There is something special about sleeping by the ocean—the rhythmic rumble creates a strange stillness over the dark waves that is calming.  I was at peace in ‘never/never’ land.

Manhattan Beach homes on the Strand

Manhattan Beach homes on the Strand

THEN—the Pacific Ocean seemed to erupt in huge explosions, complete with sharp flashes of brilliant light!  Had the bombing started?  Was this World War III??  Was Manhattan Beach going to be the next Pearl Harbor???  My Dad watched the bombing of Helsinki.  Was his Daughter to witness the same here????  Was this my 1939 in the City of Angels?????  Would I become an Angel??????

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It is totally amazing to go from ZZZZZZ to such thoughts while your body is catapulting itself out of bed and into the pretend safety of the door frame to hold on for dear life.  Holy Shnikey, where are my shoes?  I need to find my children!

The human mind has capacities unexplored … .

Californians are so familiar with the ‘rock ‘n roll’ of earthquakes they do not get too excited about a simple ‘shaker’.  But, when the shuttering house started twisting with the timbers creaking and the sound of glass breaking all around, it was time to get excited!  We have been waiting for the “Big One”—this one felt like “it”.

When an old house at the beach built on a ‘bedrock’ of sand gets whacked with severe, heavy-duty jerking, good sense suggests that it is about to come crashing down at any minute.  Turns out, those seismic ‘shock waves’ travel rapidly through all sorts of terrain, but come to a jolting stop when they hit sand—sort of like the car crash tests insurance companies like to put into commercials to convince you to buy a car with lots of air bags.  Since the house had been built maybe 70 years before, it did not come equipped with air bags, but it had survived some serious quakes before.  Tough timbers—real plaster.  Saved from a disaster!

Back In The Saddle Again…

This was not my “first rodeo”.  I do not refer to the horse-bucking sport, nor to the shopping venue in Beverly Hills.  Earthquakes teach many lessons.  After one quake in the late ‘80s in my office downtown where bookcases came crashing down on my desk and the loss of electricity stopped elevators from functioning, I decided having a portable, battery operated radio would be a must.  You really do need to find out how bad things are and what actions to take, roads to avoid, and when the ‘all clear’ signal will sound.  [Mind you, all this was before anyone knew what a cell phone was, let alone carrying one—no instant ‘AP’s then.  Dial phones (transmission line powered) were the norm.  Or, if you were ‘outdoorsy’, you might have a set of limited range ‘walkie-talkies’.  Going down to the ocean front wall in the yard to watch the sunset in my high heels at the end of a long work day was about as ‘outdoorsy’ as it got for this career girl.]

On that January ’94 morning, 6.7 on the Richter Scale was the most violent ground motion recorded in what would ultimately be the most expensive ($20 billion—with a “B” ) earthquake in Los Angeles to date.  Still they say, the “Big One” waits its day!

What is called the “Northridge Earthquake” lasted only about 20 seconds.  Maybe that was the time lapse in Northridge, but it felt like 20 minutes in Manhattan Beach.  How could my head go from a down pillow to fighting falling down in a doorway with all of those thoughts—and more, running through my head.  Yes, the mind is amazing.

On that January ’94 morning, 6.7 on the Richter Scale was the most violent ground motion recorded in what would ultimately be the most expensive ($20 billion—with a “B” ) earthquake in Los Angeles to date

On that January ’94 morning, 6.7 on the Richter Scale was the most violent ground motion recorded in what would ultimately be the most expensive ($20 billion—with a “B” ) earthquake in Los Angeles to date

Though it was named the Northridge Earthquake, the devastation was all over our City of Angels.  The telephone transmission lines were down and the exploding transformers took care of any standard electricity powered equipment, so my battery powered portable radio was really good to have.

For those of you who were not here twenty years ago, a re-cap of what was happening at that moment may be instructive.  Freeways were crumbling; homes, apartments, and stores were collapsing; trains were derailing; fire engines were pinned under their own ‘homes’ while over 800 fires were reported starting.  Terrible devastation and crumbling buildings in Santa Monica, the collapse of the 10 Freeway in the Fairfax/La Cienega corridor, a CHP (California Highway Patrol) Motorcycle Officer racing to report for duty in the pre-dawn dark drives off of a Freeway overpass that was there when he came home the night before—and so it was.  [If it were not real, Hollywood would have been accused of exaggerating in creating this nightmare.]  In fact, in the real aftermath, 57 lay dead or dying with more than 9,000 trapped or injured.

The news was not good, but it was good to have the news.

No News Is Good News?

Flash forward:  It is now January 2014—a busy news cycle is upon us.  Stop the presses!  Critical developments need to be heard by all!!

The “Breaking News”: A notorious baby-faced teen scofflaw had been reported to have graduated from driving 40 MPH in his 20 MPH gated neighborhood to throwing eggs at a neighbor’s house.  No word yet on whether the projectiles were cooked or raw.  “Stay tuned.  Details at 11”.

Like a Humpty Dumpty behind a wall about to have a fall, the devilish little celebrity has been formally accused of “egging” his neighbor’s house.  As in the children’s nursery rhyme: “All the King’s horses and all the King’s men…” couldn’t put Justin in cuffs again.  But, in this ironical scenario, a dozen police officers arrived in an exclusive gated community and, based on evidence, secured and executed a search warrant on ‘star’ Justin Bieber’s home where they seized new evidence and arrested one of the Rock Kid’s friends for ‘public’ possession of a controlled substance [not eggs, so ‘it’ must have been in plain view!].

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Sometimes I think that the News writers are trying out for Comedy Central!  A dozen eggs—a dozen cops—two felony arrests.  I cannot help but wonder if the ‘Keystone Kops’ swept in to the crime scene in vans shaped like the Styrofoam egg cartons chain grocers favor.  I wonder what was on the mind of the Security Guard as the gate was opened for the major ‘invasion’?

The human mind has some capacities probably best unexplored … .

The egg ‘egg-travaganza’ was all the over the ‘news’ for weeks.  The harassed neighbor claimed $20,000 in damage to his home, thus raising the purported offense to a felony level and earning free-lance legal commentators nice TV guest appearance fees.  [Really??  Could $20,000 be an ‘eggs-ageration’???  If not, the neighbor’s housekeeper, gardener, and painter surely cannot complain about their attorneys’ hourly rate!]  Apparently the ‘Kops’ had a search warrant to look for evidence of the crime: empty egg cartons, omelet leftovers, brown or white egg shells in the trash perhaps??  This ‘eggs-travagant’ use of Police resources seems a little over-easy …I mean, over the top!

As ridiculous as the prior paragraphs are, the “news” is straight out of the “Bad Boy” Celebrity School of Headline Generation Handbook—and, the ‘noise’ is certainly cheaper than taking out full page ads in the LA Times or signing on for a Super Bowl ad.

The ‘next chapter’ was back to doing 60 MPH in a 30 MPH zone with Daddy Bieber blocking the cross street with a SUV so Sonny can get arrested without dying—or, so it seems.  But then, when in Hollywood is anything quite like it seems?

Forecast

They say Southern Cal has a 97% chance of being hit by a quake larger than the Northridge Earthquake in the next 30 years.  They keep saying the real Big One is coming—it is not “if”, but “when” they say.

Usually I ignore whatever “they” say.  Unfortunately, these “they”s are the smartest people in the World.  To work at Cal Tech [California Institute of Technology] rumor has it that even novice janitors must have at least PhDs from MIT!  Between big quakes when the red lights of the TV cameras are not blinking in their direction, these “they”s keep studying, analyzing, recording, and discovering supporting data confirming the same things.  “They” arrive at the same conclusions.  I believe these “they”s because they really know their ‘stuff’.

They say Southern Cal has a 97% chance of being hit by a quake larger than the Northridge Earthquake in the next 30 years.  They keep saying the real Big One is coming—it is not “if”, but “when” they say

They say Southern Cal has a 97% chance of being hit by a quake larger than the Northridge Earthquake in the next 30 years. They keep saying the real Big One is coming—it is not “if”, but “when” they say

So, expecting that the Big One will be upon [+ under, around, and beside] us one day or night when we least expect it, what will it feel like?  Our Cal Tech experts explain that each whole number on the Richter Scale marks a 10 x increase in quake magnitude.  Thus, a Magnitude 7 (considered big) is 100 times bigger than a Magnitude 5 (considered moderate).  [7 – 5 = 2; 10 x 10 = 100]

If Northridge At 6.7 Was Not The “Big One” …

Remember when I said the “official” Northridge Earthquake time lapse was 20 seconds but felt to me like 20 minutes that early AM in Manhattan Beach?  While Cal Tech does not do the arithmetic this way, my simple mind figures with a 1Richter ‘point’ increase, 20 seconds becomes over 3 minutes [20 x 10 = 200; 200/60 = whatever that equals, but it is over 3] which would feel like more than 3 hours of shaking.  Truth be told, I could probably handle a ‘real’ 3 minutes even if it seemed to last forever, but the multiplier refers to force, not time.  That is beyond my comprehension –or even contemplation!

So, What Happened Next in ‘94?

Anyone who has experienced a major earthquake (…or any other natural or man-made disaster), knows that the end does not come when the shakin’ is done.  After a few deep breaths and a mini-prayer of Thanks, the adrenalin recedes and a different shaking takes over.

If you are still standing, you collect your thoughts and composure enough to reach for the shoes and flashlight you know are [supposed to be] under the bed at all times.  You take stock of your immediate surroundings to determine whether there are imminent dangers or other urgencies requiring attention before taking your first steps into your newly shattered world.

I found the shoes quickly, but the flashlight had ‘moved itself’ to a nearby bookshelf.  At least it was close by.

Shoes on and light in hand, I began the necessary ‘sniff’ and ‘scan’ tests to determine whether there was fire, a gas leak, or other hazards that dictated an immediate survival response.  Only when that hurdle has been crossed do you even notice overtly the shambles surrounding you.  Losses/breakage of ‘things’ are noted somewhat abstractly as the ‘emergency checklist’ you never wrote out is traversed as properly progressive as possible under the circumstances.  Near the top of that list is finding the battery powered radio to get news reports that describe the facts of the moment—as best they are known.  Done.

The news was bad—frightening, to be frank.  Southern California was in shambles.  The infrastructure lay in ruin.  Our little corner of the world was a developing disaster and serious aftershocks were expected.  In other words, things were likely to get worse—and, better was not in sight.

Despite urgent Emergency System warnings to stay inside and off of the roads and sidewalks because of debris and downed power lines, a Mother’s “1st Responder” instinct propelled me to where my children had spent the night—at their Dad’s house a bit over a mile away.  With the power off, my garage door opener was worthless but I knew the ‘secret’ cord to pull to manually lift the heavy door.  Done.

The car started—and I had a full tank of gas.  First light was dawning so I did not have to rely on my headlights to spot the downed power poles or the high voltage wires they were supposed to support.  I decided to drive because of my panic-fed urgency, the distance, the danger—and because I could.  I figured I would drive as far as I could and walk from there.

Surprisingly, the trip was uneventful.  There was no traffic, period.  I breathed a huge sigh of relief as I made the final turn and saw that the newly built house was still standing and was not on fire.  The entry gate was electric, as were the intercom and the door bell.  With no electricity to call in on the intercom and no way to get past the iron gates to the front door to knock, I tried shouting my childrens’ names but the triple pane windows that were meant to keep the street sounds out did just that.

I retreated from the Mom’s Panic Mode when I realized that my ‘babies’ were inside a safe house that had survived the quake.  Actually, I learned later that both had slept right through the whole episode!

On the Road Again

A long recovery in the City of Angels left most of us thankful just to be alive.  Each time we make it through the experience of a serious earthquake or a wildfire we give Thanks and ‘book’ some more important lessons on preparedness.

New technology presents new opportunities—and new threats.  Even with a new, fully charged cell phone we may or may not be ahead in our Wi-Fi world when the “Big One” hits.  If cell phone ‘repeater’ towers go down or fiber optic lines are severed, we could be ‘off line’ for some time.  Additionally, our dependence on computers and the Internet for so many basic functions could bring horrendous problems.  Consider: Having a gas generator to power your computer and charge your cell phone will not help you get cash out of a ‘dead’ ATM.  Proper preparation requires that each of us consider how we will operate for 3 to 30 days without anything electric or electronic: —no Clouds—no Net—no nothing.

A Few Personal Hints*

Have a portable battery operated radio, a flashlight, and some hard soled/easy-on shoes under your bed and in your car. [Keep fresh batteries on hand at all times.]

Know how to shut off the gas and water to your house.  [Be sure to have any tools needed at the ready.]

Have an ample supply of candles and matches.  [Caution: Remember to thoroughly do the “sniff test” to check for any gas leaks before lighting up.  Mistakes can be fatal!]

Order medicine re-supplies so that you always have a reserve.  [While it is important to keep medications secure, be sure you can get to them when the roof falls in!]

Know how to open your garage door without electricity.  [Practice without your car in place so you know how it will work—no need to dent or scratch your vehicle now.]

Know how to use what is in your first aid kit (home and car) and/or add things you may need that you can handle.

Have a sharp knife (puukko) and a can opener that you know works [not electric].

Always have enough gas in your car to get you way out of town.

Have a wad of cash stashed.  [ATM/credit card machines will not be working.]

*  Get and follow LA City/County disaster supplies recommendations for water and canned goods for each person for more than several days.


An Early Warning System

There has always been talk of developing an early warning system for earthquakes.  So far that has not worked out, but progress is being made.

“Now scientists at Stanford University and MIT have figured out a way to use ocean waves to simulate the ground motion that occurs in real earthquakes…
The “virtual earthquake” technique is being used to better understand the effect of shaking…
When the “big one” hits, it could create shaking in Los Angeles that’s three times stronger than in surrounding areas…
Ocean waves create seismic waves billions of times weaker than the seismic waves produced by earthquakes.
Together, these waves are known as the ambient seismic field, but scientists have another word for it: noise.”
LA Times 1/27/14

A Finnish Early Warning System

The best earthquake warning system I have heard of was a cat—a Finnish cat, of course.

Pauli and Marja Uskali (former owners of Design Finland) credit their cat Misu for saving their lives during the Earthquake.  Misu’s insistent meowing woke them from a sound sleep and got them out of bed just before a very large armoire crashed onto their bed when the quake hit.  But for Misu, they would have been crushed where they lay.  The Uskalis’ home and store were near 3rd and Robertson in Beverly Hills—closer to Northridge than my Manhattan Beach home.

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Animals do seem to have a ‘sixth sense’ in predicting earthquakes.  Soooo, if you do not have a pet, get to know your neighbors—or, at least be nice to their dogs or cats.

Or, move to the beach and sleep with an ear to the sand!!

Shifting Gears

All this serious talk about natural and numbskull disasters reminds us that we must also occasionally switch gears, ponder our perseverance, chill, and –when all else fails, have a party!

After all, with January temperatures pushing 80º F, there is no Winter in our City of Angels.  This is the Season of Awards, Red Carpets, Film Festivals, Super Bowl Parties, and, of course,  Valentine’s Day.

This is the Season of Awards, Red Carpets, Film Festivals, Super Bowl Parties, and, of course, Valentine’s Day

When you come to a party at my house, you will almost always find gravlax and deviled eggs on the sideboard.  My newest version was inspired by this month’s egg breaking incident and researched with ever-present Finnish spirit.

Deviled eggs are always an ‘any party’ hit because they look nice, are tasty, are compact, are ‘hand held’, and they can be stuffed into your mouth ‘whole’ when that someone you wanted to avoid comes up to talk with you.  Besides, they make those cute little plates with ‘indents’ to hold—and show off, your Finnished product we are about to make together.

Rosolli is not just for Finnish Christmas anymore.  Last year I used it (finely minced on rye squares) for open-faced sandwiches that I took to the Finnish Lutheran Church for the after-Service social.  The new sandwiches seemed to be a hit with the congregation.

This dish is a pretty item to serve at a ladies luncheon, a bridal shower, a Valentine’s party, or even your Oscar bash.  It may be too ‘girlie’ in its pink incarnation for the Super Bowl party, but if the game is good/close or the commercials are provocative, the guys will never notice!  [Your excuse, if you need one, can be that the rosolli-type garnish makes it very Finnish.]

Deviled “Just(In)”Time Eggs

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Red Carpet Rosolli Eggs

1    Dozen Eggs

¼   Cup Mayonnaise

1    Tsp. Horseradish

2    Medium Sized Beets (roasted or canned); Minced Fine

2    Boiled Carrots; Minced Fine

1    Dill Pickle; Minced Fine.

Salt

White Pepper

Vinegar

Fresh Dill

Boil room temperature eggs to hard stage [about 15 minutes].  Plunge into cold water.  Peel.

Boil room temperature eggs to hard stage [about 15 minutes]. Plunge into cold water. Peel.

Boil room temperature eggs to hard stage [about 15 minutes].  Plunge into cold water.  Peel.

For ‘pink’ eggs: soak peeled eggs for several hours or overnight in a bath of beet liquid (drained from 2 cans of beets) and 1 tablespoon of vinegar.

For ‘pink’ eggs: soak peeled eggs for several hours or overnight in a bath of beet liquid (drained from 2 cans of beets) and 1 tablespoon of vinegar.

For ‘pink’ eggs: soak peeled eggs for several hours or overnight in a bath of beet liquid (drained from 2 cans of beets) and 1 tablespoon of vinegar.

Cut eggs in half length-wise and remove yolks.

Cut eggs in half length-wise and remove yolks.

Cut eggs in half length-wise and remove yolks.

Mix yolks with mayo, horseradish, and about a tablespoon of beet liquid –salt and white pepper to taste.

Fill egg white halves with the mixture.

Fill egg white halves with the mixture.

Fill egg white halves with the mixture.

Chop 1 tablespoon of the dill and mix with the minced beet, carrot, and pickle.

Chop 1 tablespoon of the dill and mix with the minced beet, carrot, and pickle.

Chop 1 tablespoon of the dill and mix with the minced beet, carrot, and pickle.

Artfully add the mix to the top of the deviled eggs.

Artfully add the mix to the top of the deviled eggs.

Artfully add the mix to the top of the deviled eggs.

Garnish the ‘mince mound’ of the filled eggs with fresh dill sprigs.

Garnish the ‘mince mound’ of the filled eggs with fresh dill sprigs.

Garnish the ‘mince mound’ of the filled eggs with fresh dill sprigs.

End Note

Southern California is a fabulous and fun place to be any time of year.  Occasionally bad things happen here, as elsewhere.  Your scribe has lived, raised my family, and worked in Los Angeles for a lot of years.  Sharing the good, the bad, and the fabulous/ugly is what AROUND LA WITH AVA® seeks to do.  All things Finnish are celebrated just ‘because’.

Ava Anttila

Ava Anttila

ALWA topics are catholic—work, play, sight-seeing/sightings, local ‘hang-outs’, public/social service, travel, faith, food, people, LA life, fun, events past and pending, history, …whatever.  Whether you are a celebrity or just one of us; a visitor or just one of us; a ‘mover’ or just one of us ‘shakers’ welcome to AROUND LA WITH AVA®—please proceed with ‘eggs-tra’ caution when the alert sounds and do your best to avoid ‘eggs-tra’ noise.

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