Message Of The Day

Tue, 28 Mar 2006

09:14 [zork(~)] cat earthquake.txt

The Earthquake Centennial


I have of course said this elsewhere, but it bears repeating.

On the 18th of April, 1906, at 5:12AM local time, a colossal earthquake hit California, centered on San Francisco. This is one of those events that defines SF history, and so every year there's a celebration in the early morning.

Of course, since this is 2006, this year's will be enormous. People are making a big to-do about how the hundred-year anniversary is coming. But there's just one problem:

The quake happened in 1906, before Daylight Saving Time. The quake happened at 5:12AM Pacific Standard Time. The revelers this year are celebrating at 5:12AM Pacific Daylight Time. They're an hour early.

If that doesn't convince you, consider that the accounts of the quake always describe the "early dawn light" that illuminated the city when the quake hit. A sunrise calendar I just used lists morning twilight as 6:03AM PDT, and sunrise proper as 6:31AM PDT. The sky is still black at 5:12AM PDT!

Naturally, as with the whole "2000 is still the 20th Century" crowd, all this amounts to is proof that I'm a smartass.

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