May 24th, 2011

The Closet of the Apocalypse

I'll get to the closet in a minute.

I was raised a Jehovah's Witness and while I was quite young at the time, I remember 1975. I remember the lead up to 1975 and I remember the aftermath of 1975. My father was raised Jehovah's Witness since he was born; my mother became a JW at some uncertain time. They had personally been through failed predictions of varying levels of detail, before and their parents had as well (Mennonites and other flavors of anabaptism). While I was raised a JW, I had it drilled into me from the very beginning of my life that "neither the day nor the hour" can be known by anyone. Supposedly, it was going to happen "soon", definitely before the generation that was alive in 1914 passed away, but further refinement was Not Possible. You have to understand this: I'm the offspring of multiple generations of people who were prepared to believe in specific predictions, did _not_ leave their faith in the face of failure (or picked another one like it) and adapted cognitively in a way that allowed them to retain their faith in the face of failed prediction -- and further, adapted in a way that let them continue to send their kids to school and make career plans for them and buy life insurance and so forth, even believing that Armageddon was going to come Real Soon Now. I _loved_ the whole Rapture Day nonsense, because I _love love love_ watching people flail when it inevitably Does Not Happen. It is one of the great pleasures of my life that reflects poorly on my character.

At various points in my life, I've had excuses to engage in Preparing For the End. Ignoring the religious stuff, there was the possibility of nuclear warfare (I still sort of miss our Nuclear War Night, where we'd sit around for hours watching on video movies about an impending or actual nuclear exchange). There was Y2K. I didn't actually do much for this whole financial meltdown thing because I was way too busy making money off of it to expend any effort in Preparation -- altho I got a bang out of "food insurance" coverage and I'm chronically amused by Mormon food storage rules.

So Camping has revised his dates. So the world really did seem to end for some people in Joplin. And I'm out with T. on the bike thinking about that little checklist in my head that I sometimes visit when I don't have anything else pressing on my mind. You probably don't have this checklist; you have to have a really messed up head to have this one. It goes like this: what would I do if [fill in with something terrible]? I had commented earlier in the day to someone how rewarding my paranoia has been for me, which is, perhaps, part of why I was thinking about it.

And as I was laughing at how relaxed I've gotten, how I don't have any kind of food stockpile or whatever, I thought of the Closet of the Apocalypse (name invented slightly later in the story, to make for a catchy blog entry). What I actually thought of was the pantry, the closet in the kitchen next to the door to the garage. In that pantry are a lot of things that come from Costco: shelf stable chocolate milk boxes and juice boxes and an ungodly amount of snacky-things that might or might constitute real food as well as some actual food (nuts, crackers, freeze-dried snap peas, cheese crackers in several incarnations, oil). There are also things that did not come from Costco: cereal, a couple 25 lb bags of wheat in the kernel, a few cases of canned soup, a bunch of canned tomatos . . .

The pantry, because it is a closet with a door, and because it has some ridiculously solid shelving built into it (because the wire shelving was not up to the task of holding up all that food), matches a lot of the descriptions of what-might-not-collapse-when-the-rest-of-your-house-does. There's a ton of shelf stable food and drink in there. Without in any way intending to, I've inadvertently stockpiled a helluva lot of Food Insurance -- which we actually eat and therefore rotate. (Do we have a way of heating food? Why yes! There's a propane grill on the deck. We do not stockpile water, but we do have a big water heater in the basement and we know how to drain it. And there are other stashes of calories elsewhere in the house, comparably fortified against collapse. Perhaps my lizard brain is yammering in fear of the days of starvation to come.)

Thus, the Closet of the Apocalypse. Even when I'm _not_ prepared for TEOTWAWKI, I'm still preparing for TEOTWAWKI.

Not One of the Good Guys

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_mchenry

I mention this because he was quite shockingly rude to one of my Favorite People Who I Have Never Met, Elizabeth Warren. However, given his career to date, I suppose this should not be a surprise.

I'm not one of those people who watches CSPAN all day (really, I am not). I've only done that a couple of times. (I swear. Perhaps a half dozen. Or so. And not recently.) One of the most striking things about watching CSPAN is the sheer volume of time expended on figuring out what is going to happen when. And how amazingly calm and polite the interaction is, even when people are maneuvering to engage in a fierce, legislative battle.

McHenry being unable to figure out what he has committed to via his staff to in terms of a hearing schedule is, well, breathtaking. And even if McHenry were right and his staff had agreed to no such thing (which I'll believe shortly after I believe the earth is flat and the moon landing was a hoax), that's _normally_ handled in a very cordial, calm and careful fashion. To do what he did -- DID NOT NUH UH NO SUCH THING -- is a form of blasphemy.

In a CSPAN kind of way.