Rejected topics for Monday…

I have long suspected that what ultimately drives this blog – what makes for the most interesting content – is largely the angst that annoyance that comes from one or two major sources. The first, of course, is anything at all that relates to traveling to, enduring the day at, or coming back from the office. That’s a shitshow that is near universal and provides an endless well for new posts – or maybe it’s just the same fifteen or twenty posts repeating over time. The other main driver, one that’s more general, comes from any time that I’m required from dealing with the general public. My thoughts about people as a group are well known by now… like the office, though, they are an bottomless source of things to comment on.

Spending four or five days mostly ensconced at home with books and animals significantly decreases the number of things I feel the need to bitch and complain about. Sure, I guess I could ry my hand at writing some happy, uplifting shit, but that doesn’t strike me as anything close to speaking with my authentic voice… and I suspect it would be far less entertaining for anyone who happened to read it. If people really liked good news stories, the cable news channels would be filled with them rather than with the regular mayhem and chaos that they know puts eyes on advertising.

So what’s the point here? I’m not sure I have one beyond wanting to share what, I jotted down today and promptly rejected as topics for today:

  1. Earthquakes. Why the hell do people live in California? It burns down regularly and the damned earth shakes. I don’t care how nice the weather is, that seems like a bad tradeoff.
  2. Women’s World Cup. Team USA is getting hectored for “too much celebrating.” Fuck all the way off with that noise.
  3. 4th of July “military parade.” So the left decried the “military trade” in DC on the 4th of July… that turned out to be something like 4 vehicles put on static display near the Lincoln Memorial. Somehow I think the republic will endure.
  4. Jeffrey Epstein. If I were a billionaire, I’m 100% sure I’d find something to do with my time and money that’s way less likely to send me to prison than sex trafficking of minors. Money can buy a lot of things, but even giant honking piles of cash can’t fix stupid.

Sigh. I hate to admit it, but it’s probably best that the holiday is over and it’s time to get back to work and people. I’ll be annoyed as hell, but the writing will be better, so there’s that.

The nightmare scenario…

Here in ‘Murica, we have a tendency to think in terms of big disasters: earthquakes, hurricanes, pandemic flu, and briefcase nukes. Those are the kind of events that get big attention and the corresponding big dollars poured into planning what to do when one of those things happens. For years, the nightmare scenario has been a hurricane slamming into the Big Easy (been there, done that), a mid-west earthquake that cripples transportation across swath of the country from Chicago to Memphis, or a non-descript dirty bomb left at Union Station our outside the Smithsonian. Those are still the official nightmare scenarios, but they’re not my personal nightmare.

Compared to radiological bombs and the weather, my personal nightmare is decidedly low tech. It’s ten suicide bombers in ten separate cities walking into ten coffee shops at 8:30 in the morning of a random Tuesday and blowing themselves to hell. It’s the kind of improvised devices we saw in Boston – easy enough that just about anyone can manufacture one with stuff they already have around the house. It’s not the kind of terror that’s going to bring down entire buildings, but let them start going off in shopping malls and restaurants across downtown America, and watch how fast the public clamors for something, anything that ratchets down the body count. How long would it be before we nationally agree to be searched at any time for any reason or to having our cars inspected before being allowed into a parking garage or to give up any number of our essential freedoms?

Suicide bombs and improvised explosives have become a way of life in places like Israel, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Adopting a bunker mentality when you spend every day under threat is a perfectly natural response to those outside forces acting on you, but I don’t want that for America. I don’t want to live in a garrison town where I’ve traded a lot of personal freedom for a nominal amount of safety. That’s my real nightmare scenario and one that we can only avoid through eternal vigilance. That’s the price we’re going to have to pay – the price we’ve always paid – for liberty.

Not cool…

One of the last things I did before leaving Memphis was add an earthquake rider to my insurance policy. Memphis is prone to periodic rumbles after all and only being on the hook for 10% of replacement cost seemed like a good idea at the time. In Memphis, the next “big one” on the New Madrid fault system is one of those things you pretty much just accept as a possibility but don’t spend much time thinking about. Moving back east, the idea of an earthquake was even further from my mind. I know they happen here too, but only small ones that stay well below the threshold that most of us are able to feel.

Look, I know that everyone is playing this down, but the earth friggin’ moved and not in that nice calming way that it does all the time. The firmament became something less than firm. I’m not ok with that. It’s like rocky road ice cream suddenly tasting like liver and onions and everyone just deciding that it was no big deal. Not cool at all.

I remember feeling the chair move under me and then standing up at my desk watching the lights sway above me. I remember the overwhelming feeling that my equilibrium was just a touch off as the world lurched. I’m not embarrassed to admit that was the point where I bolted for the door. I think you’d all be surprised at the speed with which this fat man can move when he has the proper motivation. It’s for the best that there were no women or children between me and the outside, because I learned this afternoon that when faced with imminent peril, I have no intention of slowing down until there was blue sky and not five floors of concrete above my head. Realistically was anyone expecting me to be the selfless hero directing others to safety? In this case, I think the infantry motto, “follow me,” is the more appropriate course of action… even if I did pause long enough at my desk to pick up my iPad, phone, and building ID card. Just because I’m running for my life doesn’t mean I’m willing to drop off the grid or be stuck in an endless line of people with no ID cards in the morning.