Even to a 6-year-old, it was obviously an earthquake.
In Stockton, miles from the epicenter, I probably wasn’t going to be injured. But I knew what to do, anyway. Get away from things that might fall. Stand in a doorway. Get under a table. The standards.
I had learned it all in school.
In that tradition of preparedness, Tracy Unified School District students took cover Thursday as part of the Great California ShakeOut, a project that had an estimated 6.9 million Californians get ready for the next “Big One.”
Kimball High even took it a step further, as the Community Emergency Response Team simulated injuries that a major temblor can cause, even far from its source.
It was appropriate that the drill came just two days before the anniversary of the biggest NorCal earthquake since San Francisco was reduced to rubble in 1906.
Those who remember the aftermath of the Loma Prieta quake 20 years ago — or even just the mild rocking from an earthquake over the hill two years back — realize how smart this kind of preparation is. Because it’s just a matter of time before another big earthquake hits this corner of California.
At least the kids in Tracy Unified will be ready.
In the dark
When winds and rain knocked out power across the downtown on Tuesday, the Tracy Press was plunged into the Stone Age. Or maybe just the Dark Ages, since the office still had plenty of nifty tools. There was just no way to use them.
No lights. No computers. No Internet. No printing press. No nothing.
There was absolutely no way — at least from the office — to put the next edition of the Press together.
Pounding the pavement hasn’t changed as one of a reporter’s best resources, but what happens after the notes have landed in a steno notebook has. Without computers — and the electricity that runs them — we were about as useful as the Golden State Warriors’ ownership.
I wasn’t even sure there would be a newspaper landing on doorsteps Wednesday morning.
Of course, the utility wizards did their job, getting the power on in the early afternoon, and we did ours by publishing a newspaper.
But it was a harsh reminder of how much we rely on cheap, plentiful electricity and the fuel that makes it. Events like Tuesday’s power failure in downtown Tracy — which brought pretty much everything except the local coffee shop to a grinding halt — are a cattle prod to the rump of complacency when it comes to developing more renewable energy sources.
Oil, coal and natural gas won’t be around forever. And when they’re not, we’d better have a backup plan, whether that’s solar, thermal or nuclear. Unless, that is, you like being in the dark.
Fine off the vine
Tuesday’s tempest wasn’t just an inconvenience for downtown dwellers. Grapes don’t like a drenching late in the season — if the bunches stay wet, they can grow mold, and usually not the good kind.
Fearful for Tracy’s burgeoning wine industry, I asked around as to how local grapes weathered the storm.
But according to several folks I talked to, including Bill Prioste, who owns Windmill Ridge Winery just outside Tracy, the grapes are fine and mostly off the vine.
“Ours are fine — we had finished last week picking. We were done.”
He couldn’t help adding: “Our harvest came out excellent this year.”
Prioste noted that some grapes around the area were left to be picked after the storm, but the one day of rain shouldn’t be a big deal.
Which means there’ll be plenty of good drink available for future installments of the Tracy Wine Stroll. And by the music wafting into the Press newsroom Friday night, that means more future fun in downtown Tracy.
• Share your thoughts with columnist and associate editor Jon Mendelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.