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they're coming to get you, barbara......*

This is how my morning writing goes: I have no idea what I'm going to write about until I check my mail, look at the news sites and take a short trip through my favorite blogs, starting with Lileks. Usually by that point, some idea has inched its way into my brain and the cogs, greased up by caffeine, slowly begin their turn. I fine tune the idea in the shower and by 6am or so, I'm ready to write.

Some days, like today, there's an idea that comes ahead of time. I knew when I went to bed last night that I was going to write something about New York City in August and how my mother calls me every day to beg me to change my mind about going to the convention. I don't know if she's worried about protesters or a terrorist attack, but I have a feeling it's a combination of both.

There were several links in my email this morning - plus some that were hanging around in my "blog this soon" checklist" that sort of changed the course of this morning's topic.

Is the deployment surge just an exercise?
Intelligence briefing on Al Qaeda threat
The coming strike on America
Al Qaeda has nukes inside the U.S.
(the last three from Allah)
Lileks
Wild in the streets - and follow up

So a few of those links are suspect. But it's not like I wasn't thinking those things anyhow.

Let's face it, I'm a what my mother calls a Nervous Nelly. My nervousness has just been more pronounced since 9/11. I'm also - again, my mother's phrasing - a Worry Wart. So let's just say the above links don't make me feel any better about the near future.

Like Likeks, I have a bug-out box. It's not as comprehensive as his; it just contains some basic medical supplies, a small radio, a flashlight and batteries. If I actually put together a box of the things I need In Case of Emergency, it would be too big to lug around. I'm a pack rat, even when it comes to emergency supplies.

When I was a small child, I used to hide canned foods under my bed, just in case the Russians came or aliens landed. I'd at least be able to eat some cold beans and corn while I waited to die. Dying at the hands of the commies would certainly be better than starving to death, no?

Reading through the links about nukes, I realize the futility of packing emergency supplies. But what if it's not nukes, but some other nefarious scheme by terrorists? What if we all have to evacuate? Lileks is headed for Fargo. I'm headed for....death.

I live on an island. What was the first course of action when those planes hit the towers? They closed the bridges and tunnels. Nobody in, nobody out of New York City. I imagine they would do the same thing should another attack occur. There is nowhere for me to go, unless I buy a boat just In Case of Emergency. Then we can set sail for Connecticut or Jersey. Yea, that's where I want to die.

Oh, it's not just terrorism. There's meteor crashes, tidal waves, earthquakes and asteroids. All those things the typical suburbanite worries about. No? It's just us Nervous Nellies.

We're an odd bunch, we paranoid worriers. We have an innate Spidey sense. We're known to say things like something's not right, I can feel it in the air. But I wonder if 9/11 sharpened our Spidey sense or if it made it go haywire. Because it seems to go off a lot these days. I spend whole afternoons and long, sleepless nights trying to get my tingling nerves to calm down.

My mother calls last night.

Are you still going?
Yes mom. I'm going.
I wish you would just stay home.
I know. But when have I ever done anything you wanted me to?

She sighs. It's the same conversation we have every day.

There's going to be trouble there.
Well, that's part of the reason I'm going, mom. I want to cover whatever trouble breaks out.
You'll get hurt. You might get killed.
They're protesters, mom. Not terrorists
.

As I hang up my Spidey sense goes off. No, not terrorists, but activists. Fear not, they are just activists. I mean, when have you ever seen activists turn violent or cause mayhem? Right?

Despite all my worrying about impending nuclear war, tsunamis, alien invasions, bloody riots, Armageddon and terrorism, I keep a certain phrase on repeat in my head: There's nothing I can do about it. I'm not Superman; I can't turn back a tidal wave with the flick of my wrist. I can't deflect a nuclear warhead into the far reaches of outer space. So I go about my life. I just tend to look over my shoulder a lot. I prepare in the small ways I can. Flashlights, batteries, a bottle of Jack Daniels and a few Xanax, for that In Case of Emergency, Pass Out and Sleep Through Armageddon way of dealing with things. Yea, I know that part isn't in the handbook, but I don't like the handbook.

I suppose there are a thousand handbooks out there, one for every type of paranoia. Some call for duct tape and plastic sheeting. Some call for you to make a cardboard sign, stand on the corner and tell people to repent. We each deal with the specter of the end in our own way.

Ready New York supplies their own list. They call it a Go Bag. I call it a False Hope bag. Where the thoughts of my paranoia lead, no one is going to need an ATM card or comfortable shoes. You'll either be annihilated in less time than it takes to notice the sudden flash in the sky, or you'll be throwing bricks through windows of liquor stores, as everyone takes my advice to welcome the age of no vegetation, poisoned waters and glow-in-the-dark skin in a drunken stupor. Sure, maybe you can plot the fastest route to an unaffected, rural community that was spared the reaches of the blast or the aliens or the earthquake, but I've got nowhere to go. The bridges and tunnels are closed and I never did buy that boat.

And this is why I'm not so worried about the activists, at least on a personal level. Whatever havoc they create, whatever mayhem ensues, I have the ability to stay away from it. I can choose to stay inside MSG and cover the more mundane aspects of the convention. I can watch the bloody festivities from Faith's apartment, where I'll be staying. There are things I actually can do something about, and this is one of them. You guys go ahead and have your fun. Throw your marbles, or whatever you anarchists are planning. You go right ahead and bait the police into turning the tear gas on you. I've made the decision to avoid you and your puppet shows. I've got better things to worry about then getting hit on the head with a brick meant for Starbucks.

There's freak weather, hijacked planes, invisible gasses, plagues, zombies and aliens who do not die when splashed with water do worry about. I've got cans of beans to stock up on and bug-out boxes to pack. I think you should drop what you're doing and follow me. This Jack Daniels ain't going to drink itself, you know.

Underneath this cool exterior, where I joke about zombies and tsunamis, lies a very troubled Nervous Nelly. But I can't do anything about those things that worry me most, so I just trust that the people who can do something about it do it to the best of their ability. That may not be enough, of course. Sometimes the unexpected happens. And then you just look to the sky and think about repenting. I'll be damned if I'm going to go out at the hands of some wannabe hippie who smashes my head instead of smashing the state. But if a chain of events should occur that has that scenario playing out, my last words will be, 1968. I told you so.

I guess I'll call my mother and tell her I promise to stay inside the whole time I'm there. She's one of those Nervous Nelly types.

And I totally forgot what the topic I wanted to write about was.

___

*

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Comments

My brain works a lot like yours. In the months following 9/11 when Nerdstar and I would walk the dog and talk about what we do if something like that ever hits home - and it always came down to well, nothing much we can do. Even trying to figure out some safe place to meet up if I was in Dallas and she was in Houston seemed impossible - how could you pick a place to meet when anyplace you picked might not exist after IT happened. Even all the people who buy into buying gold don't think it thru - it's not like they'll be able to cash it in or probably even barter it.

Anyway, you're not alone in your madness :-)

"When I was a small child, I used to hide canned foods under my bed, just in case the Russians came or aliens landed. I'd at least be able to eat some cold beans and corn while I waited to die."

Did you have a can opener?

Yes, Bill. I was well prepared. I even had a few bowls, a spoon and a shaker of salt.

You're not alone on the Nervous Nelly front. You know I'm right there with you. That link about the nukes freaked me right out.

But, you'll be happy to know, that since I'm just like you, or worse, I have a fully stocked emergency kit, lots of canned tuna and corn, and a nice assortment of recreational...um...prescriptions. And there's a liquor store down the block.

Fully ready for the RNC.

#1 reason why so many of us that work in Midtown are taking that week off.

The place is going to be a zoo. I hope Boston will be alot more peaceful.

I'm a worrywart too. (In fact, that's what my dad used to refer to me as).

My feelings changed somewhat about the time that they were counseling us to buy plastic tarps and duct tape in case we needed to seal off our "safe room".

I live in a house that's at least 60 years old. I could fly a kite in my living room on a windy day. Ain't enough duct tape in the world to adequately seal off a room in my house.

And then again, if the terrorists come to the tiny, Middle-America hamlet where I live, I mean, if they make it this far, that means they've already toppled the government and overpowered the military. So my choices at that point are probably death, running off to try to eke out a living in the woods, or becoming some kind of concubine to one of the terrorist dudes.

Sometimes, continuing to live ISN'T the preferable option. Not that my "go bag" is a bottle of cyanide tabs or anything, it's just, I feel like, why bother to take extreme precautions to survive something you might not want to survive?

And honestly, if I had enough warning to get outta Dodge, I'd have enough warning to gather the few things I'd need to survive as a member of the Resistance.

(And frankly: I know a lotta guys in the Reserves or who are retired military, and my feeling is, unless they have nukes, the terrorists will NOT make it this far. Not if the guys I know have anything to say about it.)

I'm not generally a worry-wart about global events, but about small things - like paying the mortgage, keeping my job, keeping my family together. Those are a lot scarier to me than protesters at a convention.

That and flying. I always get really nervous before I have to fly.

Ya'll are funny. Part of me secretly hopes for some nationwide calamity. Maybe the financial institutions will be wiped out, the nation will disolve into utter chaos, and I can retire early. No college loans to pay back (the banks are all gone), no taxes to pay (anarchy has ensued), and no more boring 9-5's. I'll just pack up the few items I like, drive off into oblivion with a loved one or two, and live the rest of my days in peace and quiet up in the mountains. Sheesh, it's a lot better than grinding out the rest of my life behind some desk.

In a way I am lucky i married a Mormon (jack variety) we keep about a years worth of food in non perishable form. This used to be a who;e lot of beans, rice and canned meats that filled an entire pantry, now it is 12 cases of artic MRE's (contact your local military blackmarketer if you want some they are not available any where else that I know of)thats 244 5000 - 6000 calorie meals that fit in the crew cab of my truck (we cycle through them when we go camping or distance cycling ) a good pump type filter ( you can dip the spout in a porta potty and get drinkable water ) a rifle with 500 rounds and a pistol. Why bother if the mushroom clouds come? Because even if your city gets nuked you are unlikely to be in the blast zone, but sure as hell there will be no water or electricity for weeks or months. Fallout is a problem but in the only populated places in the world that nukes have been deployed almost everyone outside of the zone of total destruction survived ( mostly because the US was very quick to provide aid the government of Japan was completely incapable of doing so ). It cost less than $2000 to get this entire kit together ( I left quite a few goodies out radios, surplus radiacs a supply of long shelf life anti-biotics etc). I plan on surviving with my familly if the SHTF and if it does not I've got meals for camping, and I will not be cowering in fear.

The nuclear threat is real, I'm afraid. I just hope we find them before they set them off.

I'm somewhat comforted by knowing that none of us will get out of this life alive anyway. I can have a survival kit the size of Cleveland and it wouldn't do any good if I forgot that one essential, my wife's Premarin. The boss runs out of her hormones I'm a dead man, murdered in my sleep, probably with very large amounts of extra gore during a hot flash.
You have your worries, I have mine.

I read the Nuke link. I know a bit about the subject. The effects of a 10 Kt nuke were somewhat exaggerated. Given the construction standards in Manhattan, a 10 Kt Nuke groundburst might kill 100,000 people. But might not, 30,000 is more likely. 9/11 was the rough equivalent of 2-3 Kilotonnes.
If it went off at the southern tip of Manhattan, the worst you'd get at the northern end would be broken windows, and a fire hazard from falling embers.
And 40 lb? Nope. Devices that small have been made, but their yield was 10 tons, not 10 Kilotons. Oklahoma-city sized, not Hiroshima-sized.
10 Kt Airbursts - different matter. Hijack a plane, take it to 5000 ft, go bang, and at a guess, 1/4 million deaths might result with a 10 Kt device and no warning, about half in the first 24 hours.
See FAS site.
Basically, at 3 Kilometres - call it 2 miles - even a 20 Kt nuke won't do much damage to anybody wearing thick clothing, gloves etc who 'ducks and covers', unless they get hit by flying debris or sticks around too long. Anybody unprotected at that distance will get really bad sunburn, and maybe be blinded.

The types of weapons the Russians could have thrown were in the Megaton, not Kiloton range, as in "A THOUSAND TIMES WORSE" and capable of killing a million people.

Skank, you remind me of the Far Side comic in which two men are fishing and off in the distance mushroom clouds are rising. One says "tell you what this means, Norm, no size restrictions and screw the limit!"

Hell, not only am I taking the week off from work, I'm going to NC. I hope they leave the city the way they found it. I hate dealing with other people's messes.

Michele, I'm curious about you childhood under-bed-stash. Do you know who/what inspired your end-of-the-world stash?

Perhaps it is simply an example of personality traits that include unusual foresight and prudence.

But perhaps it was the daimon of your soul is preparing for destiny.

Take matches and pain killers.

I saw someone on Fox News the other day say that the collapse of the Towers was equivalent to half a kiloton, and that terrorists could, with 10 to 15 lbs. of plutonium, create a five kiloton blast capable of killing everyone below Central Park.

It's not the explosion, it's the fallout.

Yep, nervous nellie/worry wart here too. My mum used to say I was a squirrel because I'd have food and chocolate bars stashed all over my room -- just in case.

Personally, I'd pay to see her cold-cock some granola-munching yahoo with his own "Bush=Hitler" sign...

But I digress.

Frak! I hit POST by mistake

Anyway wanted to tell you to be careful Michele, but still, Have a GREAT TIME!

you're a mess...
this'll make you feel better:

"The worst is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking,"
Seymour Hersh says the US government has videotapes of boys being sodomized at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

http://radio.weblogs.com/0107946/2004/07/14.html#a1922

Make me feel better? How.

Seymour Hersh has been blathering about this stuff for a while now and nothing's ever come of it. Don't you think if these purported tapes were out there, they would have been in the hands of the mass media by now? Or al Jazeera?

Seymour Hersh has all the credibility of a lump of coal.

Go east, young woman. Go east.

The North Fork is quite a ways from the city and it would take one big ass bomb to affect eastern L.I. (the offshore winds work in your favor too). Better than a boat. Anyway, you would need a whole heap of boat to get out of the tri-state area and after buying a new home I doubt an offshore cruiser is in the budget (your looking at 400k for anything oceangoing with the range to get you to the Carolinas). The 1-95 corridor is NOT where you want to be -- buying fuel in DC or New Haven isn't going to be pleasant during a calamity.

As far as Hersh goes, he's lacking some credibility, even with this moonbat. However, I wonder if there isn't another show waiting to drop. Rummy mentioned something to the effect of, "There is worse that going to come from this..." We haven't heard it yet but I have no doubt we will, but probably not until after the conventions.

Just a bit on the nuclear threat. It's a fish story. In 1999, it was originally reported that for $30M and 2 tons of opium AQ purchased nuclear materials. In the retelling, it became an actual nuclear weapon. Then 10.

On that one particular threat, I hope your nervousness will abate. More here.

Hey, break out your favorite end-of-the-world movies (not the hopeful, happy-ending ones), gather the family, sit in a dark cellar with plastic over any windows, put on your gas masks and enjoy. Call it a Paranoia Picnic™. Good-times!

Empty barrels (plastic or metal, food service or industrial) or even soda bottles in quantity, some pallets, and some rope, and you have yourself a raft.

Don't need to own a boat. Make one.

The river, such as it is, isn't exactly super-fast there, right?

Michele,

I'll be looking forward to your reports from the Rep Natl Conv in NYC.

Even more so--though--I'm looking forward to your commentary on the Dem Natl Conv as it unfolds during primetime. Your roasting of the Dems will be to DIE for! I can hardly wait. :-D

Michele - don't worry about the City being crazy. Living downtown over the last 12 years, I've seen everything and believe me, if the cops could handle getting the folks out of the squats and Tompkins Square Park, these protestors won't bring anything new.

You drive on Long Island - tell your Mom you're a bigger expert on doing dangerous things than most people.

Maybe include the cell phone in the "go" bag?

One common NYC 9-11 thread was overloaded phone networks, especially wireless. Apparently, service providers are installing systems to give priority to authorized users in an emergency, meaning less availability for the rest of us.

Text messaging takes up much less bandwidth than voice, and, unlike voice, text packets can queue and wait. I understand that, as on 9/11, text may go through in a system-overload situation.

My plain-Jane Nokia/Cingular phone's e-messaging interface is non-intuitive, to put it mildly. But having practiced, I can now send phone-to-phone and phone-to-email messages. If the SHTF around here, it's nice to hope that we have a better chance of communicating. Short messages are good enough for "I'm OK" and setting up a rendez-vous.

Any thoughts on whether this is good planning or wishful thinking? A lot would depend on wireless networks' characteristics that I know nothing about.