Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Where do you want to be when the world ends?

There are thousands of predictions swirling around the Mayan Calendar and its end date in December 2012. Likewise, I have recently seen a lot of billboards by Christians who are predicting that the rapture is coming on May 21st of this year. Now, I am not saying that I buy into any of this, but how about some food for thought…Where do you want to be If anything remotely close to the apocalypse does occur? Would you rather be living in the middle of skyscrapers and sewers, or perhaps would you rather be holed up at your grandparents’ summer cabin in the remote mountains of Northern California?

During the winter of 2005/06 I was living in Humboldt County when we experienced one of the worst storms I can remember. As a result, my house, along with the rest of the town was without electricity for 10 days. After the initial shock, an interesting thing happened… after day two, we realized that the electricity may not return for some time, so we all just went on as if nothing was wrong. I spent New Year’s Eve in a rustic bar lit by candles. We had a transistor radio to dance to, and the drinks flowed. It was like being back in time. I was amazed at how the people up there really came together and made the best of their situation.

Flash ahead one year, and I was living in the middle of San Francisco on the third floor of a four story apartment building. It had nice windows which allowed me to survey the streets below. Sometimes I would try to imagine what would happen if the electricity went out for even 5 days. What if an earthquake hit and both bridges were inoperable? It surely would not have turned into the hippy commune-Koom-by-yah that it did when I lived in the hills of Humboldt County. How long before the dredges crawled up Knob Hill to take a piece out of every well-to-do yuppie’s ass, I thought? I gave it about 72 hours. Needless to say, I always kept a rifle and a coffee can full of .22 rounds in my closet. I figured I could hold them off until the National Guard came in and really made a mess of the place.

Ever since I saw the movie Red Dawn at the age of 8, I have had an apocalypse/WWIII plan in the back of my head. I have a spot picked out, and a fair amount of survival gear at my disposal. My father being a decorated Vietnam vet instilled his survival skill set into our family. In the mountains you can fish and hunt, and hide much like the Indians did before the gold miners came. I imagine that if something did happen in 2012, those in the mountains may not even be affected for months. Those in the city would already have been turned into zombies and killed each other by then. Let’s hope that nothing at all happens on May 21, 2011 or December 2012, however, I am thinking harder about asking for some vacation time around the end of the Mayan Calendar, just to be on the safe side.


D'Arcy said...

This post made me laugh. I had a similar experience when I was young and the electricity went out on New Year’s Eve. It was snowing hard all day and the roads going north and south up and down the canyon were entirely shut down. My parents own a motel, and because of the snow, we were filling up with stragglers coming off the freeway. Unfortunately, we couldn't offer them heat, but we did have candles. While my father ran around all day keeping the grounds passable with his shovel and attending to the guests, my mother took me and my cousins on cross country skis to the only shop still in service. It didn't have fancy registers yet and was using a hand calculator to ring up groceries. We loaded up on canned chili and headed home. For dinner we cooked the chili on the wood stove and my uncle whipped up some sushi for starters. We invited all of the poor shivering guests in from the motel rooms to enjoy our heat and food. To this date, I haven't had a better New Year’s party.

So yes, when the lights go off, I'd rather be in Northern California.

Dusty said...

I love your posts and this one really hit home on a couple of points. One, my dad talks about nothing but the end of the world most of the time, and it has been this way most of my life. The last time I was talking to him about post-law school life planning, he told me that it was pointless because of the list of the list end of the world scenarios that followed. That being said, the surviving every kind of end of the world, is never far from my mind either.

Also, I have spent lots of my adult life living without electricity and running water. When I was getting my undergrad in Oklahoma, I lived a good portion of that time sans-modern technologies like running water. As well, my first year at King Hall in 2007 the only daily eletricity and running water I had was at the school itself.

I still spend lots of my summer living on friend's land projects with little technology and amidst very isolated rural circumstances. Its totally in these punk communes in the trees that I hope to be in for the long term whether I alone am dropping out of techonology or whether we all go together in a big change of ways.

Chez Marta said...

Brilliant post, V., thanks for the belly laugh. But when I went to Chicago, the tour guide was careful to point out that no disaster movie has ever destroyed that city... That being said, Chicago is one of the more liveable cities in the U.S. I agree with you, however, that city people are less able to manage without energy supports, but that is not because of them, it is because we designed the institution of the City as such: Cities are only efficient in siphoning energy up like a thief.

RH said...

As a born and raised suburbanite I'd probably be screwed if World War III or a large disaster broke out. It's amazing how little practical knowledge you can possess in the modern world and still survive. I've only recently taken an interest in learning how to take care of my car, but I've never gone hunting and only fished a couple of times. I guess my sanctuary of choice during the apocalypse would have to be a well-provisioned bunker with a big-screen TV.

lauren said...

Great post. Honestly, that sounds like a wonderful way to spend new year's!

A city child, my survival skills in the event of a disaster or invasion are pretty limited, mostly to those I have learned on short camping trips. That said, my father is king of flashlights and wind-up radios on hand, and I get one most every Christmas. So at least I'll have some light on hand and a bit of contact with the outside world.

This reminds me of the big black out in NY a few years ago. I wasn't there at the time, but many of my friends were, some of whom were heading to a concert in Central Park. The show went on in the dark, with the help of the glow of the cell phones.