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Just shake, rattle and roll with the punches

The phone call came at lunchtime Thursday, as my leftover kielbasa stir-fry spun innocently in the microwave.

While the timer ticked down, a pleasant recorded message informed me that this was the annual Great Oregon Shakeout — a reminder that we live in earthquake territory and that, if we found ourselves in the midst of a natural disaster, we were to “Drop!, Cover! and Hold On!” until it was safe.

“Ha,” I mused as the clock hit zero on my lunch, “we’ve been doing that since 2016.”

And, while I appreciate the advice on what to do if and when I feel the earth move under my feet, I suspect that my more likely reaction would be akin to Beaker’s panic dance — skittering willy-nilly to and fro until the quake subsided or the walls came a’tumbling down.


Perhaps because it seems as though we’ve been living on shaky ground for the past few years, but the advent of an earthquake drill can be met with thoughts of a more innocent time — back before local governments didn’t prepare a 20-item list for “Emergency Go Kits” so that we can Get Ready, Get Set and Go! the next time the unthinkable happens.

Such measures, as useful and necessary as they are, simply add to the anxiety we feel on an everyday basis … particularly at a moment when uncertainty and division are the blinking yellow traffic lights on our road back to normalcy.

A survey released earlier this month by the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center reports that 49% of residents say that the state is headed in the wrong direction, while 45% say it’s on the right track and 4% were stuck in the middle of the clowns to the left of them and jokers to the right.

If you can do math in your head, you know that leaves 2% — Oregonians who were surveyed about the state of the state responded, “Wait, ain’t we were part of Idaho now?”

Things can’t be all bad, though, considering that despite the wildfires, the drought, the threats of mudslides, earthquakes and tsunamis, the political divisions (wait, I already said mudslides), the lingering pandemic and the influx of even more Californians, Oregon ranks No. 3 when it comes to the most popular states to move to, according to a two-year study by the Mayflower moving company.

(Idaho, by the way, ranks No. 1 — which might be the results of some socio-political osmosis. By 2023, who knows how Mayflower would count those who moved to another state without, you know, picking up and moving.)

All this unease, however, hasn’t dissuaded those from disparate walks of life from deciding they have what it takes to bring the pieces of Oregon back together.

As of this writing, two-dozen or so candidates have emerged to succeed Gov. Kate Brown, and they come from all walks of life.

There are elected officials, former elected officials, former gubernatorial candidates, doctors, lawyers, farmers and single-issue advocates — along with a journalist, a film producer, a refrigerator repair specialist, military veterans, a flight instructor, and (perhaps ironically) a psychologist.

All these folks would assume the position and either a) try to get the 49% and the 45% moving in the same direction; b) spin their wheels while pulling their hair out; or c) duck and cover until their term ended.

Meanwhile we few, we mighty few — with our fear of water and our penchant for vampire costumes (I’ve read a lot of surveys this past week) — hold out hope that this, too, shall pass.

There have been at least 40 earthquakes of various intensities over the past 30 days at Mount Hood and 3,500 or so temblors registering 2.5 or greater off the Oregon coast over the past 50 years.

We’re used to being shaken and rattled. Most times, we don’t see, hear or feel any effects of this seismic activity — certainly not in the way we’ve been in the middle of the maelstrom created by the convergence of the pandemic, the wildfires and our growing cultural dysfunction.

It’s nothing we can’t handle with a shrug and a deep breath … until bedtime, that is, when we duck, cover and hold on tight til morning.

Columnist Robert Galvin washes the tectonic plates at rgalvin@rosebudmedia.com