A Hard World To Get A Break In

Dad points us to mad charmer Notes From the Geek Show:

If the someone that ruthless critique makes you want to kill is yourself then you are not a writer and never will be. You are a delicate flower… to be snipped off and worn as a buttonhole by men of cruel wit and savage passions.

One of my favorite exes, whom Siobhan refers to as “that soul-stealing bastard”, once hissed, “You eat souls for breakfast.”

“Not without hollandaise,” I growled, which may have sounded at the time a whole lot more like, “Nuh-unh, you soul-stealing bastard!”

I like Mr. Duncan’s the-truth-hurts style, his wit and surgical precision with a phrase, but that’s because in educational matters, I don’t want to waste time having my ass kissed for no good reason. Subsequent to Tuesday’s assertion that Homeland Security’s tuna hoarding plan might be flawed, I Googled other folks’ ideas.

Siobhan: What are you doing?
Tata: I’m reading up on pandemic protocols, since I raised the subject.
Siobhan: Good. You’ll be my go-to gal if outbreak hits and I don’t die in the first wave. Because, sadly, the words “bird flu” are indeed funny enough to kill me.

Besides repeats of Cops, what do I use to innoculate against killer vocabulary? I could be Googling all day.

Flu Wiki’s Personal Pandemic Preparation offers thorough advice I won’t remember ten minutes after I get bored and surf over to see what’s up at Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. Hey, I warned you I don’t have an attention span and some grownup ought to be doing this. Anyway, just for you, highlights of Flu Wiki’s fully grown advice.

1. Don’t panic.
2. Get into the habit of washing your hands 20 seconds hot water with soap or ethanol hand sanitizer; carry antiseptic wipes
3. Get into the habit of coughing/sneezing into the crook of your arm/sleeve or better yet, use tissue, not your hands; hands are a major means of spreading germs; virus lasts up to 48 hours on steel and plastic; 12 hours on cloth and paper.
4. Get a flu shot and if over 50 a pneumovax
5. Consider preparations to isolate yourself for about 3-6 months
6. Stock up on potable water and food with long shelf-life, water, medicines, basic household necessities (toilet paper, paper towels, plastic bags, tissues, plain bleach, soaps and detergents, batteries etc) masks, latex gloves, sugar, salt, multivitamins, and other staples

Don’t panic…wash…sneeze into your sleeve…get shots…isolate for 3-6 months…stock up on staples…Wait. Three to six months? Forget food, I’m buying out the Tanqueray, and after an alcohol-soaked pandemic, my next stop is rehab. I’m just saying. There’s more.

7. Accumulate vacation time
8. Make contingency arrangements with your workplace to be able to work from home if possible
9. Be prepared for essential services to be interrupted: see AlphaGeek’s 5 part series on emergency preparedness and the Red Cross’s Disaster planning booklets from the Pandemic Preparedness Guides page.

Lots of employers hang onto the so-twentieth-century concept that supervisors have to see white- and pink-collar employees for them to be working. Now would be an excellent time to re-think that age-old chestnut – while it won’t cost lives and crippling insurance payouts. It’s a thought.

10. Learn how to treat water to make it potable (or at least usable for washing) in case of interruptions of water supply link
11. If possible, start a vegetable garden and/or orchard
12. Learn basic cooking if necessary

Yes, it’s necessary. What, you think you can have pizza delivered when people are dropping dead from contagious disease?

13. Get a clothesline and clothespins or folding drying rack
14. Put together a basic set of handyman tools and learn how to use them
15. Have a mobile phone and an email address; get high-speed computer access
16. Get a passport or other photo ID and credit card if you don’t already have them; use electronic transactions preferentially
17. Save money; have cash on hand
18. Consider getting a good bicycle
19. Consider learning self-defense and acquire pepper spray and/or stun device
20. Ensure car(s) are in good working order, have good spare tires, maps, and keep car filled with fuel. Get a good fuel can for extra fuel
21. Remember that your car is a generator; all you need is a DC/AC inverter and cable (do not idle car in closed area where CO poisoning may occur)
22. Exercise regularly in order to strengthen your heart and lungs; taking care of your health now will benefit you later
23. If you smoke, stop now.

Well, that seems pushy, but they’re your lungs, and if you want them to take a hit like a flu epidemic you’re going to have to cushion the blow. Besides, if you haven’t quit before an epidemic, the thought of jogging out to the 7-Eleven for smokes and praying no one coughs on you or YOU’LL DIE might help more than patches and pills.

Now, Flu Wiki’s Personal Pandemic Preparation goes on for pages about precautions, warnings and actions to take and avoid. A lot of it sounds familiar, if tedious: living in a one-bedroom apartment, there’s no way I can plant an orchard or plop down a 50-gallon water tank. If I filled my spacious living room floor to ceiling with canned goods I would still have to worry about serious vitamin deficiencies and people trying to procure said canned goods. So. Once, Trout and I and a friend of hers found stupid-cheap airfares and went off on a four-day jaunt to Ecuador. The Quito airport is located in the perilously steep Andes Mountains, and if you think you want to watch your pilot miss a landing and take a second try you are seriously mistaken. Ecuador is in many places a lovely country. I was very tall there, which should speak volumes about poverty and malnutrition. And in the cities, wrought-iron decorative touches around the homes of the middle- and upper-class came to very effective, spear-like points, intended to injure or kill potential intruders. The implications of these passive deterrents made a strong impression on me, since I’ve been lots of places and I’ve never seen anything like that.

If there’s one thing I have great faith in it is our government’s desire to see industries of all kinds continue functioning, and impediments to business removed. Our government, more so now than at any other time, probably regards the prospect of pandemic reaching our shores as an unacceptable development in international business relations more than a humanitarian crisis. For this reason alone, I suspect avian flu will not destroy us. Someone’s got to collect the garbage – but not if all the proletarians are pushing up daisies.

On the one hand, it wouldn’t hurt to have a few good flashlights, a case of chicken soup and a closet full of toilet paper and NyQuil. On the other, if I have to kill people to survive, I’m filling that water tank with martinis and sucking them out with a giant straw. Under these circumstances, we might all be “delicate flower[s]… to be snipped off and worn as a buttonhole by men of cruel wit and savage passions,” who should nonetheless watch for everyone’s hidden thorns.

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