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CARE Member Contributions to The Next Thirty Years


Bakin' and Shakin' at Valley Campus
Submitted by Jim Adams
Las Positas College


January 24, 1980 was the first anniversary of my employment at Chabot College, Valley Campus (now Las Positas College). To mark the event, I had prepared a coffee cake for the staff (only five of us at the time) to share at break time. Little did I know that a much more dramatic celebratory event was about to take place.

At around 11 a.m., I was in the laboratory with Karen Pihl's Biology 1A class when I felt some ominous shaking. I looked to my left and saw a large glass cylinder containing glass pipets tip over and crash to the floor. By that time, we knew it was an earthquake, and eventually we cleared the building.

Returning to the Preparation Room area to look for more damage, especially spilled chemicals, I found little more than two cabinets of prepared microscope slides which had tipped forward enough for the doors to swing open and several trays of slides, with 20 slides in a tray, to slip out and fall to the floor. The cabinets themselves were heavy enough not to fall. We had to replace quite a few slides, but the damage was comparatively minor. Fortunately I don't recall any chemical spills, probably because of the direction of the quake movement, but we did lose a few other pieces of routine glassware.

It was a different story in the library, where the direction of movement was enough to collapse all or most of the bookshelves. Linda Lucas was librarian at the time, but she is recently deceased.

My most memorable experience related to an experiment I was preparing for the Biology 1 class at the time. It was a genetics investigation involving fruit flies (and we still do that experiment), and I needed to prepare about 100 or more cultures of the tiny insects for the student projects. This necessitated anesthetizing the flies, sorting them under a microscope, and whisking them into culture vials. Of course, the microscope illuminators were electrically powered, and the power was out all around town because of the quake. With classes cancelled, I needed to leave the building and go home. But I also needed to prepare the cultures.

Fortunately, our kitchen window at home faced the west. So I took the flies home, along with a microscope and the necessary supplies, and sorted fruit flies on our kitchen table at 524 Oriole Avenue for the rest of the afternoon by the light of the setting sun, until the sun went down.

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2007 C.A.R.E.

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