Sunday, April 1, 2012

Stopping the rock


Today, I bought something awesome. Strips… of plastic. Thick clear wedges with a similar consistency to a child's chew toy. I did not gnaw on them.

But I did think about it.

As you can tell from the photograph, these wonders of engineering are not teething toys shaped for animal-fearing fruitarian children. Rather, they provide the equivalent force of FOUR baby elephants in an acrobatic combination to hold your furniture fast against the force of an earthquake.

My first quake since returning to Sapporo happened only a couple of days after my arrival. I was seated fetal-style in front of my gas heater, with my eyeballs pressed into my kneecaps. The aim of the game was not to fall into a deep jetlagged-induged slumber at 6pm and --as you can undoubtedly tell-- I was totally winning.

Being in an earthquake is like being on a boat or suffering from a sudden dizzy spell. I looked up groggily and tried to determine if my brain was making it all up.

Bowls rattled. I saw the cat turn tail and try to flee before realising the danger seemed to be EVERYWHERE. She froze and mewed.

This quake was not in any way serious, but it was prolonged, shaking the apartment for several minutes. It was even long enough for me to produce some kind of reassuring response to my petrified feline. I held out my arms.

"Yo. I can hold you but it won't help. We'll just sway together."

This transpired to be completely satisfactory. Possibly Tallis' longstanding enforced role as my dance partner as I bounced around the apartment was paying off.

No earthquake can beat Katy Perry.

I meanwhile, was watching my crockery. It sat on an open bookcase with stylishly misaligned shelves. While fairly secure during normal operations, being shaken about always came with the slight risk of COMPLETE AND UTTER DESTRUCTION. I yawned and tried to get my fogged-up brain to think. It produced the single thought:

Which garbage day would be for broken crockery?

You can see why I thought I might be imaging an earthquake. Fortunately, nothing broke.

Now however, we have SUPER ELEPHANT POWER CHEW TOYS to fix all the problems! Shaped as long wedges, they slide under the front of furniture to tilt them backwards very slightly. This means that if they are rocked, they are more likely to tip back against the wall than throw your plates at your cat. The bookcase feels considerably more stable, so much so that I moved the complete "Lord of the Rings" hardback volume I had been using for stability from its bottom shelf. It's now across the room holding the cat tree in place.

For some reason, I never finished reading that book.


  1. Tallis and quakes! I haven't thought of that!

    Oh. Sorry. I should've thought of you first and then your books, but somehow Tallis seems to be more important. Will you forgive me? :D

    After last year's big quake plus thousands of aftershocks I felt permanently off-balance. Quite common, apparently. It's called 地震酔い、jishin yoi, earthquake sickness.

    PS: I wonder how much elephant power would be required to keep things steady on the 40th floor of a Tokyo skyscraper?

    1. She was a poor kitty! But seemed to generally accept it as one of those things.

      I had never thought of earthquake sickness, but I know you can get ill after being on a boat for a long time, so this must be the same kind of thing?

      I'm also kinda surprised how well things stay on shelves during a quake. I guess I'm comparing it to a strong wind, but that blows in one direction from the top, whereas a quake shakes from the bottom.

  2. The fiancé LOVES those things. We have them firmly securing everything in the house. If I stood still long enough they'd be attached to me too.

    I had earthquake sickness too last year. Trust Rurousha for finding the official term for it.

    Also, Tallis. I imagine Kiera Knightly now.

    1. Did you feel a lot of aftershocks in Sapporo? I didn't feel anything when I visited in April, although Tokyo was still ringing like a bell.

  3. They also have sticky mats you can use that makes sliding of things (like crockery) off shelves less likely.. I don't know what kind of shaking you have, but our big earthquake when I was a kid was side to side... kitchen shelves opened, things flew out, kitchen shelves slammed shut. Rinse, repeat.. My mom hugged the water heater to stop it from breaking the pipes, and I dragged the dog under the kitchen table. She always ducked and covered after that...

    1. Hmm, sticky mats might be useful. I'll keep an eye out for them.

      The quakes I've been in haven't been super strong. Like, I can tell categorically it's an earthquake but it's never been enough to actually dislodge items or slam doors. The whole place just swings a bit.

  4. If your bookcases are tall you can also get the extender arm thingies that go between the top of your bookcase and the ceiling and stop the bookcase from rocking at all. They kept my bookcases from falling over last March, although of course they did nothing to stop the box with wheels that I had stupidly put ON TOP of the bookcase...

    1. I looked at those, but I was a bit skeptical because my coat rack (which is a sprung pole that you extend between floor and ceiling) does tend to topple from time to time. Perhaps those extender arms are better than that though.