Red Shoulder Hawk

Red Shoulder Hawk

Thursday, April 09, 2009

The apocalypse will not be too bad.

(This is a Caitlan post, the even more blathery version of which is on my blog.*)

I mean, for some people it will. Like diabetics, probably, and people stationed alone in foreign countries by the Peace Corps when flights stop running. But more broadly (by which I somehow mean "for me personally") it will be an exciting test of human ingenuity and adaptability. And an important demonstration of people's ability to commit and come through when there is something tangible at stake.

This is a closeup of one of the raised beds used to grow a mixture of kale and other salad greens. The bed is made of reclaimed concrete-"urbanite"- that we reclaimed with a sledgehammer. Stuck into the edge of the bed is a sturdy stick about a foot and a half long, with a little solar garden light stuck askew to the top.

To me that is what the apocalypse will mostly look like, the one that Octavia Butler and loads of other writers were (and are?) very concerned about. Sort of a breakdown of advanced production (if nothing else because the lines of material supply are unfunded or politically impracticable) compounded by the way things are produced for obsolescence will mean that things will get more and more patched together with duct tape, and sticks, and twine, and scraps of old clothing. Well, not twine, no one has twine. I don't even know 100% what twine is, honestly. Dental floss, then, and cables, and wires.

And it won't be too bad. Oakland and Santa Cruz can sustain life better than, say, the outback or the mojave, and people manage/d to live there without propane and Orowheat bread.

I do not think the survivalists are right. They have this thing where they stockpile for the end times, artillery and flour and a generator and gold, and I don't know. That makes me feel uneasy, the idea that in the absence of stability somehow everyone would become an enemy and the only way to survive is by creating and protecting a tiny compound. Because actually even if you have a 5 year supply of rice... you are at some point going to have to adapt. (I do think it is good to store things in order to use them in an emergency, because emergencies happen all the time, to someone, and it is feasible to be able to singlehandedly see yourself through them, unlike the apocalypse.)

And I think knowledge is too widely disseminated for a new dark age, which is another thing science fiction writers like to explore: a medieval time 500 years hence. If nothing else, low printing costs mean that textbooks are amazingly well distributed. I bet I could be a pretty good doctor given a couple of years to examine the flow charts and stuff. I already can prove the heliocentric orbit if you give me a couple of years of pointing at the sky, saying, "see? see that right there? See how Venus' motion is retrograde?" (um, initially heliocentrism meant the sun was the center of everything, not just the solar system. I do not know what is the center of everything, or how to prove it using pointing at the sky.)

Okay. Now I am imagining a nifty modern pioneer homestead at willow house. It involves using the whiteboard to keep sun off the chicken coop after the sun gets too hot and the markers run out, and then melting beeswax onto a kitchen plate to use as a new whiteboard. Also I am trying to think of what we could do with the washing machine. I think the dryer could have a little fire under it*, and be used to smoke cure meat, but I don't know for the washing machine. Maybe I could learn from the book How Things Work, and make it hand cranked.

Also there is no interior way to get to the roof that I know of. You have to go up the outside with a ladder. Dad, it is going to be way easier to build interior stairs to the roof while you have electric light and can look up online how to do it, and buy materials from a store. And way easier to harvest our roof potatoes if there is a real way of getting up and down.

*This is really what dryers have, I know from the one at the hostel that was 3rd hand and made to work 18/7 and had no bottom panel so the gas flame was exposed.

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