The Deep Dark Cellar of My Mind
You probably shouldn't be here. This is where I hash out the really scary thoughts that flow into my mind when I'm sitting on the pot, or laying wide awake at night, too freaked out to even think about sleeping. This is the stuff of nightmares. This is the unedited junk that gets you kicked out of choir practice and makes your poly-sci teacher's eyes bug out. It's raw. It's juicy. Some of it is downright demented, and none of it is fit for public consumption, or it wouldn't be here.
I take no responsibility for this material. I make no apologies, and I offer no explanations. It's here for me, and if you get something out of it, good. Comment if you like, but don't expect a response. Whatever else you do, don't start a flame war with me about this material. If you don't like it, tough doo doo. It's my doo doo, and I'll decide when to air it out.
Enough said. You have been warned.
Why is it that everyone who is supposed to be an expert on emergency preparation want's you to buy their book? I mean, isn't it bad enough that they advocate buying huge amounts of dried food, a large caliper weapon (preferably automatic) and moving to a backforest area of Montana to live in a completely self-sufficient compound. Not a house, a compound. It sounds like something from Hogan's Heroes. "Welcome to my Y2K mansion. I'm calling it Stalag 13..." And then you find out that these people are (gasp) christians. (Small "c")
Here's an interesting possiblity. Suppose that the great "lie" spoken of in Revelation to explain the disapearence of God's chosen, is the Y2K bug. I mean, the real damage of the millenial change isn't going to come from computer and system failures, but from fear. Fear is going to drive people to the banks to withdraw all their money. Fear is going to push them into riots. And when it's over; when a couple of billion people globally have been murdered, starved, or trampled... well, then we are going to start to look for someone to blame it all on. You can't put it on the computers, or even the programmers. We all use the damn things, so that makes us guilty, and we can't have that. You can't pin it on the media either, (although some will try) because we're too close to that too. We love to stare at the television for hours while they show us the latest plane crash, flames roaring from the windows as the bodies inside are burnt to ashes and we say, "How can they show that on TV?!..." But we sit there watching and eating ice cream until it's 2 AM.
So who are the people who are spreading the greatest "doom and gloom"? It's real easy to see it. All you have to do is key an internet search for "survival" sites. What you find is a predominatly christian undercurrent. It's as if these people have taken it upon themselves to be beacons of preparedness. I guess they feel that they will bring people to God by showing others how well prepared they are against His judgements. Some example of faith. Maybe God doesn't want us to survive. Maybe God is saying, "The game is over boys. Time to clean up the mess..." Or maybe, just maybe, it's the beginning of Armeggedon.
A lot of people are trying. Everywhere I turn, I see sites popping up that are "beacons in the wilderness."
It's mind numbing to see so many people who still think that nothing is going to happen in January of 2000. Or if they do acknowledge "it," then they minimize it into something that might be a temporary inconvienience for a while. A couple of weeks maybe... They just don't get the seriousness of the whole thing. It just doesn't occure to them that nothing in history has ever happened like this. I'm not talking about a stupid software bug, that's just icing on the cake. This is purely about PEOPLE. The last millenial event took place when there were maybe half a billion people around. Hey, just for kicks, let's say there were a full billion. This time around, we have nearly six times that! Not to mention a global economy that is so fragile that we have to constantly bail-out third-world countries or the whole thing goes down the toilet. Somebody sneezes at Microsoft, and the value of the Yen drops by half...
1/23/98 - ?? No, no, no... 99.
Why is it that everybody wants to sell you something? No kidding, around 90% of the sites on both my web-rings are just fronts for somebody "makin' a buck" off other people's fears. Not that I mind people making money. Not at all... But let's be up-front about it, not hiding behind a lame excuse called "valuable information," or "public service." I hate the fact that I get lured into some guy's site thinking that I'm going to find information on how to make a cheap water distiller, only to find that he wants $24.99 for the plans. Or I wade through several dozen layers of links on a "homesteading" page, only to find that the recipes that I so hunger for are all neatly included in the author's book which can be purchased by clicking on her (unsecure) mail-form. Grrrr... What ever happened to content? What happened to the original idea of the web... to give the public free-access to real information. But worst of all, is that these people are using something as serious as y2k as a selling stage. The general public is totally going to be caught holding their pants, and these jerks are selling them fig leaves. It's like the money changers in the temple of the Lord...
We (the web community) could really make a difference. We could really help people. If we weren't such damned greedy saps, we might just be able to get real helpful information to people and save lives! But do we care? Do we really want to help others?... Sure, as long as their Visa card goes through.
One group is trying harder than others. Women. To date, I have located two sites completely dedicated to y2k and emergency preparedness as it relates to women. These sites are by far the most informative, and "real". One at least even has something to sell, but for the most part, it's not shoved in your face, there's other content there. The discussion groups on both these sites were excellent. People actually TALKING about REAL issues, emotional problems, issues of morality and ethics, cooking, and "how to's". The female approach to y2k seems to be much different than for the average male. Men get one hint that trouble is on the horizon, and they go out a buy two fifty pound bags of pinto beans. Never mind that they don't have a clue as to how to cook them, let alone the fifteen billion other things that they will need first. A woman on the other hand, opens up her pantry, makes a quick assesment of what she already has then starts making a list. It's not just a list of food to get, but everything that she can think of that she might run out of, in her kitchen, bathroom, den, bedroom, etc... While the men are saying to themselves (and often to others), "I have to be the strong one... I have to see to the safety of my family...", the women are letting themselves be afraid, angry, emotional... and then dealing with how they feel. Males don't talk about it. They just let it build up inside until they can't sleep anymore at night and are seriously pushing heart-attack levels of stress. Doh! Why?!
Men have this axiom from childhood tatooed on their foreheads, "Be Prepared." We have forgotten the other half of the lesson, which is "Better to avoid a problem in the first place..." Or the very first part of the lesson, which is, "Think things through first..."
I noticed that I put "98" as the year of my last entry. I'm a real klutz when it comes to remembering things like that. Usually by May I have figured it out enough that I stop embarrassing myself at the checkout line. But I think this is different. I don't think my brain wants me to accept that this is 1999... Because if it is, then well, this is IT!!! This is the last year I have to prepare. No more procratinating. DAMN! I feel like Homer Simpson standing in front of the refrigerator, dumbfounded that he has unwittingly run out of beer.
And then there is my growing addiction. It snuck up on me in the form of a "hobby," justified by male testosterone and guilt that I wasn't doing anything when positively everyone else in the whole big fat world was. It's the drug known as Preparedism. You know what I'm talking about. You're addicted too, or you wouldn't be here. It usually starts with a friend or relative scaring the crap out of you after dinner while you watch a football game. "Hey, did you hear about that Y2K thing? No?... Well, I heard that it was going to knock out the power for good. No more water either. Riots the size of Kansas... No, really! I read it in the paper. It's everywhere. I went straight out and got me set up with 300 pounds of pinto beans. I heard they're the best to store. You haven't started yet?? Better get on it, man. In another month you won't even be able to get stuff at the grocery store..."
Before you know it, you're comparing the price of bulk wheat and digging a giant hole in your backyard for that 2000 galon water tank you ordered last week.
I can remember when I first started... we would go to the store for a few things and I'd casually drop a few extra cans of soup into the cart when I thought my wife wasn't looking. Then, I would palm the extra items into a special bag as I unloaded the car. I'd get everything else into the house with a smug smile and my wife would say, "So what was all that soup for?" Doh!
So we talked about it. We especially talked about me. My wife is smart, she probably knows me better than I do. We talked about what we could do, and what we could not, would not do. We made some dicisions, and she let me have my "hobby." Not having any other really interesting hobbies at that time, I threw myself into the "task" and started reading and surfing. My wife was quietly tolerant of my enthusiasm... until recently.
You see, my wife reads pretty fast. She consumes entire novels in the time it takes me to read an article in People while I'm sitting on the toliet. She's also really good at looking stuff up on the web. What this means, is that if she sees me getting a little too interested in something, she starts checking it out. She won't even tell me, she'll just startle me one evening while we're sitting around idly chatting about this and that. The conversation will shift onto the topic of Y2K and I'll say something like, "I read in that book I got from Amazon, that the average human consumes..." and she inturrupts me with, "I know, honey, I read it." I usually just sit there for few moments like a dear caught in the headlights of a car. "Oh..."
I know that when my wife has started reading "my" books, I'm in trouble. "Dear, all you ever want to talk about is Y2K. I can't stand it..." Oops. The worst part, however, is that she's right. She's always right. Even when she's wrong, she right. But in this case, she's not wrong. I think about it, and it's true. I have turned into this near-manical preparedness machine. I'm Mr. Emergency. Doctor Y2K. This is bad, very bad.
But what do I do? My enthusiasm has turned into an outlet for my own stress. To take it away would be like telling a priest he has to work naked. My wife is wise. She says I just need to stop talking about it all the time because it's stressing her out. At first I thought this wasn't a fair deal. I mean, she's my wife, I should be able to talk to her about anything, right? If you answered yes, then go sit at the back of the room. Technically, I can talk to her about anything, but when it comes to things like our Y2K preparedness, she just wants to leave it to me. And rightly so. Not because I'm better for the job, but because she has enough to deal with already! Between raising our child (which she does full-time, and I only do part-time), keeping our home, and dealing with her own issues, she's peaked. After all, having someone else there to deal with emergency situations is one of the reasons she married me in the first place.
I'm having anxiety attacks again. I realize that it's the next step in my addiction, but that doesn't make it any less of a problem. I'm getting things organized, stocking food and water, figuring things out... but by far the most dangerous aspect of emergency preparedness is my family itself. I mean, I know how I would react in certain circumstances, or at least I think I do. But I have no idea how my wife will react if suddenly faced with disaster. Her stress level is near max now, and mine is pretty shakey at times. How are we supposed to deal with a reality that basically takes away everything that we currently hold on to for comfort? What happens if we snap? Normally, we could go stay with the folks, or take a vacation, or SOMETHING to "get away" from "it" all for a while. But this may not be an option in a disaster. There may be no better place to go. There may not be any sitter waiting to take the kid for a night so that mom and dad can have some much needed time alone. We may be wingin' every day, and I'm going to have to face the fact that I just don't know how we are going to handle the stress of it all.
So I worry. I worry that one or both of us will have a nervous breakdown. An event like that could be fatal. I worry that this whole nasty, horrible business called Y2K will start early, maybe in August or September. I worry that the economy will take a dive and I'll suddenly find myself and my family looking at eviction. Am I worried about the national power grid going down as a result of a software/hardware bug? Sure, but not half as much as I am about my neighbors and the surrounding 50,000 or so others in my immediate area that could potentially panic and burn the whole damn city to the ground. Fires are a big deal around here, even in good times. I can't even imagine what it would be like without water...
So the other day my wife and daughter have gone off for a couple of days leaving me alone in the house. It's been so long since I've been without them both that I'm totally at a loss as to what to do with myself. I start doing "manly" things like fixing my bike, cleaning the balcony, the house... pretty soon I'm going through the old boxes of junk that have been sitting comfortably in our garage for the last year and a half. I take the bike for a ride. I scrub the balcony. I take the bike for another ride. I find myself doing anything except y2k stuff.
Now why is that??
I think that maybe I have reached a bit of a plateau in my emergency preparedness. I mean, I have the basics down, water, food is in progress but moving as fast as it's going to, cooking is taken care of, and I'm on my way to having a working medical kit. So has apathy taken hold? Has y2k become boring? How could it be? Maybe it's like how most Californians think of earthquakes... They don't, until a mild tremor paralyzes them with fear in their kitchen while they are doing dishes or something. Then the only thing they can think about for the next three days is how unprepared they were had it been "the big one."
But even worse than this apathy is the downright envy I'm feeling about people who are "better" prepared than I. I find myself lustfully admiring my father's hand-pumped reverse-osmosis system and the year's supply of wheat my brother-in-law has put away. I catch myself caressing the pages of my U.S. Plastics catalog as I drool over fifty-five gallon water drums, and I can't stop thinking about how little space I really have to store food.
I guess I'll just have to let it simmer in the back of my brain for a while and remember that eight months ago I didn't even think that I could do anything. My wife on the other hand couldn't be happier that I have finally started to come down from my y2k frenzy.
Then again, it could be that I'm just entering that denial phase. It's like, you reach a certain point and you realize that you are doing as much as you physically and emotionally can, and it's not going to be enough to meet your personal goal. You can't afford disappointment, so you choose apathy instead. Apathy is always easier to deal with. With apathy, you can make excuses, you can say it's financially impossible, hell, you can blame it on the dog... But you simply can't be disappointed in yourself for not doing what you know has to be done. That's unacceptable. That's letting down your family. Oooh, I can see where this line of thinking is headed. Time for a distraction...
I read recently that the airline booking systems recently passed a y2k milestone. Apparently, the booking systems (as high-tech as they are)(hey, what do I know, maybe it's a law or something) can't book flights more than 2xx days into the future. (I put the xx because I don't have the article anymore. So sue me... this is a distraction anyway, remember?) Anyway, until recently, they couldn't book flights for January 1, 2000 or later, and they really didn't know if their computers would take the reservations or go into an electronic fit, spitting out impossible seating arrangements or sending everyone's luggage to the island of Crete. As it turned out, I never saw a followup article, which probably means it all came out fine and there wasn't anything of interest for the disaster-starved media mogols to publish. Oh well, another y2k success story... But then again, it got me thinking about traveling on or around the turn of the millennium. I mean, what kind of an idiot books a flight on the one day in the last thousand years when the entire world is telling you that all hell is about to break loose? Let's overlook the fact that you may get into the air and then find that your destination is without power, including the airport on which you are about to land, or that the plane in which you are flying may suddenly loose all ability to position itself in the sky. Say by some miracle that you do end up on the ground in one piece, will you step out of the plane to find yourself in the middle of an hysterical mob that is currently flipping cars and looting the local shops? Suppose the military has taken over... Are you just going to say, "opps, sorry..." and book the next flight home...with your credit card (which without a working phone system is about as useful as the foot-high pile of outdated AOL discs that you have sitting near your desk at work)...I don't think so. Nope, better to stay home with the dog than to roll the dice and bet your very life on the certainty that "it really won't be as bad as they say."