Monday, November 7, 2011

In Which the Planet Goes All Rumble-y

Slow news day today. I was driving home from work, listening to the dulcet tones of Robert Siegel on All Things Considered and frowning over the impending doom of Europe, and then the station broke away to do the local news.

The local NPR station sucks. This is a source of constant frustration to me. The announcers are always stumbling over words and giggling when they mess up and they're just so boring to listen to. When they're not stuttering and giggling they sound like they're welcoming people to a funeral parlor. The one exception is the Token British Dude, Kristian Foden-Vencil, who has the oddest name I've ever come across. He's not a particularly good speaker--not bad, just average--and I think they hired him to confuse listeners and make them think they're listening to the BBC.

Anyway. Slow news day. The biggest stories coming out of Oregon today are the following:

1. Students at Oregon public schools aren't getting any stupider, but they're not getting any smarter, either. Test scores stayed flat this year. They milked this story for about three minutes, interviewing people with official-sounding titles who all said "Well, we're glad the kids aren't stupider, and we'll work hard to make them smarter next year."

2. There was an earthquake at Mount St. Helen today. Which got my attention, believe me. They were about a minute into the story when they mentioned that it registered 2.0 on the Richter scale, and scientists then revised that number down to 0.8. This is not a very impressive number, and I decided not to have a minor freak-out about it. In fact, said a scientist, this was a fairly normal earthquake. They record rumblings of this type every single day. I think this was supposed to be reassuring, but it had me gripping the steering wheel with the Clutches o' Death. Mount St. Helen is constantly being shaken by small earthquakes? And I'm supposed to feel better? 

Apparently earthquakes are a slow-news item around here, and I guess I was the only listener hyperventilating, because Kristian quickly moved on to...

3. The grape harvest looks to be better than expected for local vineyards.

Whoa. Wait. Dude. Earthquake. Daily earthquakes. And I know for a fact that people are still hiking all over it. Don't these people have any sense of self-preservation? And who gives a crap about Greece imploding when Mount St. Helen is making ominous rumbling noises? So I got home and decided to do some research on West Coast earthquakes.

You know how sometimes you'll get a weird rash on your foot and you Google it and then you end up convincing yourself that it's fatal and at the very least they're going to have to amputate? Or you have a sore throat so you plug your symptoms into WebMD and up comes "throat cancer" and you spend the rest of the night in a cold sweat about it? This is why you should never, ever Google things that scare you and have the potential to be blown out of proportion. I should have remembered that. And I never should have looked at this article. "The amount of devastation is going to be unbelievable..."

We're doomed. We're all doomed. But I'm determined to look on the bright side: maybe, thousands of years from now, Oregon will be sort of a modern-day Pompeii and archeologists will find our apartment and use it to learn all sorts of things about life in the twenty-first century. Chief among their findings, I imagine, will be the discovery that twenty-first century humanoids didn't keep up with the laundry.

I should go work on that, probably. For posterity's sake.