What are you doing for the eclipse? That’s the question of the day around here.
I’ll tell you what we’re doing … I don’t know what we’re doing.
Which means we’re probably doing nothing, if we haven’t made plans by this point. Depending on the the time of day, that answer could bring on either intense FOMO or a sigh of relief.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know we have this thing coming up. August 21, right about midday, for about twenty-seven seconds (or thereabouts, I don’t really know and haven’t looked it up, but it’s not going to be long), the sun will be entirely blocked from the sky. Or almost entirely blocked, depending upon your vantage point.
And if you’re not already within the PATH of TOTALITY (which sounds like a perfect name for a disaster movie to me – I’ve used all caps to convey the proper gravitas), I’m sure you realize you’re going to get there only by navigating your way through a ton of traffic to a place where there’s no parking or toilets and probably the only things gracing the shelves of local grocery stores by the time you arrive will be single bladed razors and cans of Spam that expired in 2013.
If that weren’t reason enough to stay home, there’s a teensy bit of me thinking this could be something akin to the situation in Night of the Comet where everyone outside at the wrong time ended up baked into the pavement or semi-baked, turning them into marauding zombies with bad makeup.
If we don’t go anywhere, opting to stay right where we are, not moving a muscle, we’re still on the EDGE of the PATH of TOTALITY (Again, all caps. We’re going from Name That Disaster Movie to Name That Pink Floyd Album). What we’ll see from here is 99.7% of the eclipse.
I’m not sure that 0.3% we’re going to be missing is worth packing up the car and driving the 10 miles to full-on TOTALITY, or if we should just call it good enough and pull our patio chairs out to the street for a gander.
Or maybe we should panic. Because Night of the Comet, you know. Badly made up zombies, TOTALITY, and everything.
We kind of did that panic thing last winter with the Great Snowpocalypse and found out that A) stores really do stock expired meat products, so if you live in a community of label readers, there really might only be lonely cans of SPAM left on the store shelves after a run on staples, B) it doesn’t matter if I have new tires, my ancient Prius is actually not very functional in three feet of snow, and C) my little old lady neighbors are actually better equipped to deal with disaster than we are.
I’m still deciding on what we’ll be doing. But in the meantime I’m suffering from a sort of decision paralysis. I blame social media, and the people on it who are panicking. Whether they’re anticipating a Night of the Comet scenario, like I am, or something far worse, there are folks spreading all sorts of paranoid claptrap about how the influx of all the eclipse enthusiasts will cause ALL THE THINGS TO BE BROKEN (again with the caps).
Even if that’s not true, I wonder if we should play it safe and go right ahead and stock up on our cans of meat, expired or not, right now.
To that end, and just to be helpful, I’m going to share my not-quite-comprehensive list of things to remember when prepping for certain calamity in advance of things like comets another snopocalypse or this here GREAT AMERICAN ECLIPSE, based on my experience with disasters … or near disasters … or disaster movies … or my imagination, whatever.
- Remember even reputable stores may not rotate canned meats properly, so check the Sell By date if you’re stocking up for the end of the world. The world may not actually end and then you’ll wind up with a counter full of questionable food product. Seriously, the only thing less appetizing than SPAM is past-its-prime-SPAM (I’m really kind of bitter that we bought half a dozen cans of expired meat in an emergency. Obviously I can’t let it go).
- Half measures don’t cut it. If you’re not going to hang out in a full on metal bunker, you might as well be out in the open air where you’re going to dissolve into ash, or else you’ll just end up zombified, and that can’t be much fun. It’s certainly no good for the skin.
- Even if you do survive, hold off on celebrating. Sometimes there’s residual damage, like a repetitive stress injury from shoveling the driveway through the snowpocalypse. Buck up buttercup. Things could have been worse. Actually they could still be worse. You have yet to figure out what happened under the eves in your house last winter and exactly why your bathroom ceiling is bulging. There could be an impressive colony of mold spores growing up there.
- Kids these days have no appreciation for history, or potential disaster. But then again, maybe I don’t either. I just tried to explain Y2K to my teenager, and after randomly flinging words like binary and byte at him, realized I had no ideal why no one was sure if everything was going to fail, or not, and so I ended up just quoting Prince lyrics, and giving myself an earworm.
- No matter where you’re going, follow designated evacuation routes. Even good equipment and a certain level of machismo won’t necessarily get you anywhere. And if you’re not going to heed this advice, have your nearly hysterical wife record your stupidity for the benefit of others who could stand to learn a thing or two. Like this guy who avoided a wildfire by leaving the freeway to follow a road that took him … nowhere, eventually driving his 4×4 through the dry grassland (like THAT’s not going to start another fire, dude?), almost getting stuck again, and reemerging onto the freeway to say thank you to the guys fighting the fires.
Seriously, the Bureau of Land Management now uses this video as a warning to its firefighters about stupid-heads and what they may do in case of wildfire.
- At the very least, remember panic is your enemy. You need to manage your inputs if you want to keep panic at bay. Remember: ancient civilizations saw natural phenomenon like solar eclipses as signs of impending doom. Avoid hanging out with ancients, and also superstitious people or mystics. They’ll just harsh your mellow.
This list is by no means comprehensive. Feel free to add your own tips in the comments.