Aaaaah. A week (more, really, since state of the me updates don't count) of radio silence. I bet y'all thought I was never going to post again.
It was all in a good cause - I am writing a document for work that I showed to my boss for the first time yesterday, and he loved it, so 20,000 words (65 pages) is all good. He's started calling it "the Tome". I agree, since I'm only about half-way finished, and the thing is going to be a monster when I'm done. Fortunately at that point, someone else is going to turn it into a digital module. That's its purpose, anyway. I'll probably be writing the "executive summary", though.
Oh, and the tooth? No infection, but I've managed to crack three teeth, thanks to clenching my jaw when I'm stressed. Beware my bite!
So, you can see why I haven't sat down at the computer for much other than work these past couple of weeks.
Today, however, is my day off. I can let my imagination roam far and wide, and do things like Google doll house furniture (though I'm not allowed to buy any until the Jacket Tour trip is paid off) and do laundry.
My imagination needs a little exercise.
Actually, if I want to get it going, all I have to do is watch post-apocalyptic movies, like The Book of Eli, which we watched on Wednesday. It was much better than I anticipated, and I really enjoyed it, but I'm not going to say more tha that in case people haven't seen it. I loved it.
Mind you, I love all P-A movies, no matter how bad. I'm easy that way. I also love survival programs, mostly because it's fun watching people do crazy things. I can't read a lot of the survivalist blogs Bob likes to read, because the racism and xenophobia is way too nasty for me to stomach (what is it with these people and their mindset? You can prepare for the coming Zombie Apocalypse without being a racist bastard, really), but I do like reading about survival tips and techniques.
Do I really believe civilization is going to collapse in my lifetime? No. But it's fun to imagine the various scenarios. I do tend to get a bit tired of the people that are all "yeah, and then I'd do this! And This! And I'll survive!", because usually, they're the kind of people that would be eaten by radioactive mutant zombie hamsters first thing, but hey, everyone can dream, right? These are usually the same people that buy gold in large quantities to hide under their mattress for when the world ends.
I'm invested in gold, and thanks to the recession, my stocks are doing quite well, thanks, but buying actual gold? I don't see the point. If, against all odds, the world does collapse to the point that there is nowhere to go, and we're entirely dependent on what we've stored, grown, or traded, gold is going to be far less useful than liquor, cigarettes, toilet paper and food, trust me.
Especially food and toilet paper. You can't eat gold, and while it is possible to wipe your ass with a krugerrand*, toilet paper is much more popular.
("Why are these krugerrands so cheap?" "They're used.")
As for liquor and cigarettes, you can pay for things with a single cigarette (God bless the addictive personality; I am going to clean up), but how do you break down gold into a payable amount when it goes for over $1,000 per ounce? No, it's not the most convenient thing to stock up on. For the first few months, you might be able to buy goods with gold, but as goods become more scarce, people aren't going to want gold, they're going to want comparable goods in exchange.
(My list includes alcohol miniatures, sterno cups, cigarettes, and shampoo minis. I collect all the minis from hotels when I travel, so it's free.)
Of course, I'm just being silly. I find it highly unlikely that the entire world will go into permanent collapse and revert to a medieval level; people are far too keen on organization. Also, it's pretty difficult to collapse an entire world. The most likely scenario is some kind of epidemic, but even then, a virus strong enough to kill 90% of the infected is going to burn hot and fast, and not be able to travel far (ex: ebola), and one that can travel (ex: 'flu) is going to have, at the most, a 50-60% kill rate (and that's being generous, even for something like 'flu), and that doesn't include the people who don't catch it, or are naturally immune. It's awfully hard to kill off an entire planet population. Consider that the Black Death (a super-mutated version of Pneumonic Plague, they think now) only killed off 60% of the population of Europe in an era with absolutely no effective medical treatment or understanding of quarantine.
Yes, we're more crowded now, but we're also more populous. The naturally immune are greater in numbers, and despite all the doomsayers and the terrifying tales of how everything will break down, it's unlikely that enough people will be killed off to reduce humanity to isolated pockets of subsistence-level living. People cluster naturally; we're a gregarious species. And where people cluster, organization happens.
The thing I'm afraid of in the US is that the religious nuts will take over. Now that could do a lot of damage to civilization.
There's also the scenario that in the event of a planet-wide natural disaster or epidemic that kills off 80% of humanity, I'm 80% more likely to be one of the dead than one of the survivors. I'm no more special than anyone else; why should I be the one to survive? It's not a question of preparedness, it's a question of luck. And luck may be somewhere else that day, saving a family of four who happen to have a home in the area between two major contamination spots. If Planet X is going to hit, who says it isn't going to hit Virginia? If there's an outbreak of airborne EbolaFlu, why do I think I might be immune? If the zombies come, they're likely to consider me as tasty as the next breather.
(Tastier, if my popularity with mosquitos is any indicator.)
I understand the allure of doomsday scenarios - it's the siren song of a different life, one that seems to have less complications than one's current life, with no taxes, no boss, no complicated laws - it's just you, a few friends, and the laws of nature. Back to a simpler way of living.
Of course, this "simpler way of living" always seems to end up with them in charge, not at the bottom of the ladder, and a romantic idea of building a fort and keeping out bandits. Again, the odds of ending up being the one in charge are not good - as it has been throughout history, the majority of us will be tilling the fields and weeding the tomato patch, not making decisions and leading the group. Different isn't generally simpler, it's just different. You don't have to worry about taxes, but you do have to worry about timing the harvest and whether the weather will cooperate. You don't have to worry about complicated laws, but you do have to worry about defending your turf. And it generally turns out that the grass is the same shade of green wherever you go.
Like I've said, I enjoy reading about survival techniques. If there's a temporary natural disaster, or I get lost in the woods, or stranded on the road in a remote area, or even snowed in, it's good to know that I have solutions for dealing with the lights going out, or food being unavailable for a bit, or needing to build a fire or a temporary shelter. These can be surprisingly practical things to know. I just don't think everything is going to collapse completely.
But if I'm wrong, it doesn't hurt to stock up on a few extras. Liquor, cigarettes, and toilet paper. And maybe a few silver coins.
You never know.
*Blame Bob for this idea, not me.