From the Archives: Wired world for L.A. mover and shaker

Seismologist Lucy Jones' reassuring voice is one of the first many Angelenos hear after an earthquake. As the scientist in charge of the United States Geological Survey office for Southern California, she is the most oft-quoted expert on earthquakes in the region. Jones, 45, lives with her husband and two children in La Canada.

Desktop: At work, I use a Unix work station that I need for scientific computing. At home, we have a Macintosh G3 and also a PC that we just got. I hated to do it--we’ve been Mac since 1986--but I caved in. It’s mostly for software for my children, educational stuff that wasn’t available for a Mac.

My son finds writing is a lot easier for him if he uses speech recognition software. At the time, we got the PC--it’s a Pentium III, 500 MHz from Gateway--the software he was using was only for PCs. Now, IBM ViaVoice is available for Mac too, and it’s wonderful. I use it myself for lots of e-mails, memos.

Laptop: G3 Powerbook from work that I also use at home.


Hand-held: A [Handspring] Visor. Again, I resisted--sometimes I feel like a walking electronic-gadget carrier. I use it for addresses and my date book that hooks up to the calendar on my computer.

I also have a pager hooked up to an automatic system that pages me if a magnitude 3 earthquake hits during the day and a magnitude 4 at night. Who wants to be woke up at 2 a.m. for a 3.2 in Barstow?

Bookmarked Web sites: I do a check on earthquakes every day on our own site, Usually, we have a California earthquake plotted about a minute or two after it happens.

I like Google ( for my search engine, I used to use Alta Vista, but I like this better for when I’m looking for information or trying to help my kids with some research for school. Last year, my son was involved in an 8th grade Civil War project. I showed him how to use the search engine, and we found thousands of Civil War sites. There is even a


We also use the Internet Public Library ( that is really good for kids doing school work.

Last Web site visited: I was just in Japan, and I got to feel a magnitude 7 earthquake. It was really cool. I was at the Osaka airport, and the earthquake was about 150 miles away in a rural area. (The Oct. 6 earthquake was in the western Tottori area--no fatalities were reported).

People we know in Kyoto got a Web site up, and I was checking it for the latest information.

That’s a big change in my field. It used to be that you’d have to wait six months, if you were lucky, or maybe a year after a big earthquake for a report in a journal. Now, right after an earthquake, a common site goes up for all the scientists working on it, and you can find out what’s going on.

So, that was the last site I checked last night. Right before that, I was on

Screen saver: I do not use a screen saver, I got tired of the bugs. I just have my screen go dark.

Cell phone: It’s a Nokia. I probably most use it when I am trying to be a mom. When I have to leave the office to pick someone up for a music lesson, I can make calls in the car. I will admit to having made work calls at my son’s football game. I don’t know anything about football anyway.

Minutes per month: There will be days when I don’t use it at all. Then there was the weekend of the Hector Mine earthquake that hit on a Saturday morning (Oct. 16, 1999) at about 2 a.m. I was on that weekend for 490 minutes. I know, because I had 500 free weekend minutes, thank heavens.


Favorite tech toy: Maybe the headset and microphone on the ViaVoice. I left it at home today so I can’t dictate any of my memos.

Home audio/video system: We have a nice stereo, but it’s old. And the television isn’t anything major.

Everyday technology uses: I work a lot on a computer, and when I am not in the office, I am in contact on the cell phone, the pager.

Every year, we take a summer vacation in Tuolumne Meadows (in Yosemite National Park). One of the reasons is that nothing works up there, no cell phone, no pager. No one can find me for a week.

An earthquake has to be big enough for me to feel to get me back.