September 26, 2008

The Watchmen

Category: News — Ira @ 6:55 pm

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“Something wicked this way comes.”

—Shakespeare, “Macbeth”
_____________________________

I’m an alarmist. I freely admit it. If Chicken Little cries the sky is falling, I run for cover. If something bad can happen, it will. That’s my thinking. That way, I figure, if the worst comes, I’m not surprised. If it doesn’t, I’m happily wrong. The philosophy has worked pretty well for me. I expect blows, and life generally obliges.

Entertaining worst case scenarios is human nature, I suppose. Take Y2K. Back when all the world was supposed to crumple and civilization fall apart. Back to the stone age. Because of the computer chips that couldn’t recognize the date when everything turned to zeroes.

As 1999 slowly passed, I stressed about it. I believed the problem was real. Bad things were coming. With a group of friends, I purchased some buckets of long-term food. Grains and such. Stored them in the basement. Along with some candles for when the electricity went out. Blankets. A few guns. Held my breath as the date approached.

It arrived. New Years Eve. Ellen and I spent the evening at a friend’s house. At mid-night, we watched the ball fall in Times Square on TV. The crowd roared. Graffiti rained down. The lights stayed on. Nothing bad happened. And the world went on as before. After all the hype, nothing.

I was relieved, of course. But felt a little silly.

The next summer I sold my long term food buckets at a yard sale, at huge discounts. My next door Amish neighbor haggled with me over the price, then sent his son home to fetch the flyer wagon. (“John, geh holl da vegli.”) They loaded the five-gallon buckets. Two or three of them. Corn meal. Grain. Hard red wheat. Two bucks a pop. Later he graciously dropped off some delicious cornbread his wife had baked from the long-term corn meal bucket. Moist and flavorful. Best cornbread they’d ever had, he allowed. I could only nod and grit my teeth and smile and thank him.

Par for the course, I thought. And that’s how it went.

Since then, I’ve kept my distance from all doomsday scenarios. Oh, I’ve kept an eye on the chatter, everything from alien invasions to the end of the Mayan calendar in 2012. Which supposedly signifies the end of the world, or at least some major polar shifts.

All a yawn. Wackos. The world is full of strange, unexplained mysteries. No one knows the future, although many claim to.

Two years ago I quit watching political shows on TV. Just like that, cold. All the noise and crap, all the screaming. I mute all political ads. Life’s been much more peaceful.

But still, I read. My favorites on the web. Guys I like and trust. They’ve been scream-ing bloody murder for the last three years about the coming economic crash. The real estate bubble, they wrote, cannot be sustained. The big brokerage houses are cooking their books. Leveraging themselves into catastrophe.

I read them and thought they made sense. Meanwhile I was selling lots and lots of pole buildings at work. Easy financing. People were buying. Make hay while the sun shines. It was all good.

And so it went. Until this year. Tremors came as the housing market finally collapsed. Even then, most mainstream talking heads claimed it would be a short term dip, the economy was sound. All would be well.

Not my guys. They kept screaming. Wish now I’d taken a little more of their financial advice on which stocks to buy and sell and short sell. One could have made a small fortune. Always in hindsight, of course.

They started to fall last summer, the big companies. Bear Stearns. Fannie Mae. Freddie Mac. Something was rotten in the state of Denmark. Foundations trembled. Big Players swayed. Then crashed to the ground in dust and ashes. Lehman, AIG, and just last night, Washington Mutual. The largest bank failure in our history.

Last week the entire financial system came to within one hair’s breadth of total collapse. Thursday was the ground zero day. In desperation, government officials leaked the word that the US Government would buy up all bad debt. Markets instantly rallied. Then soared on Friday.

But over the weekend, the bureaucrats had a bit of a hangover. How would they do it? Meetings were held. Strategies discussed. Somehow all that debt will be shouldered by taxpayers. Trillions, by the time it’s done. It’s insane. I’m not cheering.

The President looked a bit shaken when he addressed the nation on Wednesday night. He did his best to convince the unwashed peons, to overcome the massive resistance Congress is facing from we the people.

Leviathan. All of them. They are scared. No one knows what will happen. These things have never been done before.

To give credit where it’s due, the Republican House is showing a little backbone for a change. Balking at the massive bailout. Good for them. But I expect some shady deal to be worked out over the weekend.

The markets have reacted accordingly. Bounced up one day, down, down the next, then up again the next. Utterly irrational. Just like it acted in 1929, just before the Great Crash.

With all the media on radio, TV (which I DON’T watch) and the internet, there are Watchmen everywhere, each blowing his own trumpet of doom. Some say it will be this bad, some say, no, this bad. Some predict the “summer of hell” in 2009. And beyond.

Some cry blood and fire and darkness. Some croon “peace, peace, nothing bad will come.” But no one knows. It could be the worst or the best or somewhere in between. The cacophony makes the head spin. Who to believe? Who to trust?

One must sift through all the noise the best one can. Try to make intelligent decisions. Conclusions that make sense, when all the facts are weighed.

Ron Paul, my hero and practically the ONLY honest politician out there, believes we will experience economic upheaval similar to the Soviet Union’s collapse in the 1990s. Pretty scary stuff. I admire Mr. Paul and take his conclusions seriously.

Of all the major commentators, talk radio host Glenn Beck has been the most honest about what’s really happening. He doesn’t rant or rave. Just lays it out as he sees it. His prognosis is quite grim.

I don’t think he’s grim enough.

He sees many more giant corporations going down for lack of financing. Big names, big conglomerates. Loss of jobs, people out of work, the economy stagnant. Or in free fall.

Glenn Beck is a Mormon. Mormons believe in storing a full year’s supply of food at all times. The rest of us could take note and emulate them in that practice, at least.

From my own reading and from reaching my own conclusions, I believe things will begin to unravel dramatically in the next two to four weeks. Beyond anything any of us have ever seen. It will be a long, cold winter.

This time, though, I didn’t buy buckets of long-term corn meal and grains (not that I’d scoff at anyone who did). But I did do a few basic common sense things.

I buy all the water I drink at home. So over time, I have collected a few extra cases of gallon jugs. Stocked up the larder with tinned foods. Stuff I eat anyway, just a bit more. It doesn’t take much for one guy. This weekend, I plan to go out and buy a kerosene heater, the kind we used to have at home years ago. Not just because of bad economic times, but because every home should have one for winter emergencies when the power goes out. So far I’ve been lucky. I won’t count on luck anymore.

About three weeks ago, I depleted my checking account and paid off Big Blue. The truck is mine. Title in hand. It’s a good feeling. Great, actually. Whatever happens, I’ll have my truck. And a man and his truck can survive pretty much anything. Or that’s what I like to think.

So that’s how I see it. I hope I’m wrong again, as spectacularly as I was on Y2K. That the cases of water will be gradually used over time, the tinned foods as well. That the economy will come roaring back, freed of most of its problems, in the next year or so.

But I don’t think it will. Enough so that I’m telling you about it.

This Watchman has spoken. Blown his trumpet. For what it’s worth. Take heed. Or don’t. It’s your call.

************************************

On Tuesday evening, my parents stopped at Steves for the night, on the way home to Kentucky from spending the summer in Aylmer. They were accompanied by Raymond and Laura (my niece) Eicher and their two little boys.

They arrived for lunch and then Dad and the Eichers left to do some local shopping and visiting. Mom stayed at Steve’s house and rested. I arrived around 5 and sat down with her to visit.

Stooped and frail, now lost in the fog of Alzheimer’s, she nevertheless looks healthy physically. She recognized me, she still knows all her children. We sat there on the couch and I let her guide the conversation. She was unclear as to exactly where she was and how she got there. Dad, she said conspiratorially, had hitched up the horse and left to see some people. You know how he has business everywhere he goes. She hoped he would be back soon, surely in time for supper. I assured her he would.

And we sat there and chatted like old times, laughing freely and exuberantly, the conversation flitting here and there, guided by the vast well of her memories and experiences. We discussed the threads she chose; now she was a child in Daviess County, now in her Bloomfield years, now in Aylmer in my own childhood.

I made no attempt to jolt her to the present. It was bittersweet, yet I deeply treasure those moments in my heart.

One of these days, she won’t remember her children anymore.

Dad and the others returned then, and we gathered around to a sumptuous meal of roast turkey and all the trimmings. I helped Mom through the line, holding her plate and loading the food she wanted. We sat at the table and she enjoyed every bite.

After supper we sat around, Steve and my parents and I, and visited. Dad is quite alert and still with it at 87 years of age. He was particularly interested in my writings, specifically the Elmo Stoll posts. He’s read many of my blogs on printed hard copies.

Around 9:30 I got up to leave. Mom wasn’t quite sure where she was and kept insisting that they should go home to sleep instead of bothering these nice people. Dad told her it was too dark to drive the horse and buggy, and the hour too late. She seemed to accept that, at least momentarily.

I said good bye and walked out into the night. And so I left them.

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(11 Comments) »

  1. The financial crisis continues to shake out. Today, I heard very disturbing news in the form of a radio advertisement for a local dentist. As way of background, here is a similar story.

    Two years ago, I was listening to the radio and heard Regency Homes, the largest home builder in Des Moines, advertize free add-ons to homes under construction in two of their developments. I instantly understood, in the early summer of 2006, that the housing bubble was bursting. The booming house building industry now suddenly needed to entice buyers to maintain the cash flow that kept this company alive. Early in April, 2008, Regency Homes laid off their entire staff, office and field, and stopped all construction in mid-house. There are basements, framed homes and homes with no interior finish sitting around Iowa waiting for contractors to buy them pennies on the dollar to finish them and sell them. These homes are loaded with mechanic’s liens that must be satisfied before they may be sold. I assume that many are now sold, probably to the lien holder with the highest claim on the particular property.

    Now to today. The dentist’s advertisement started out stating the obvious; people have less cash (or maybe less credit) and find it hard to spend $400 for teeth whitening, a vanity procedure. So, if new patients come to this dentist and schedule an examination and cleaning, they can have this teeth whitening procedure for only $99. When I heard this, my expression was stunned. Here was in my face proof that the financial travail is spreading from Wall Street to Main Street and happening fast. This dentist, probably an astute business man, clearly saw that his business is drying up and that in order to maintain his cash flow; he needed to poach patients from other dentists as fast as he can. Dental care is not a luxury like a destination resort vacation or new car to replace your three year old model but it is not as basic as food or medical care. As money tightens, elective dental work such as whitening, root canals, bridges and orthodontics go away first. These are the high margin offerings that the dentist offers. Basic services such as exams, cavity filling and extractions continue but do not make the money like the elective dental work. This may not seem much to be stunned about but aside from the low probability event that the $700 Billion bailout is a stunning success, this is the signal that the race for the bottom is underway. Business after business will lower prices or offer more at the same price (lowering prices another way) in the hopes of maintaining cash flow and hoping that the competition is wiped out before they are. This is deflation. It is already well underway in the housing market. Watch the November and December shopping season with interest. You should see nothing but pre-Christmas sales from store to store. I foresee the death of several name brand retail chains this coming January and February. Our favorite Chinese restaurant raised its menu prices about three weeks ago. The owners were rationally responding to increased food costs and passing on the costs to the consumers. This restaurant may be lowering their prices by next summer, trying to survive. Now this one may not need to lower the prices for awhile because their meals were bargains to start with but their competitors will be lowering prices.

    The bailout is a desperate to move capital in the commercial banks, investment banks and hedge funds so that the credit freezeup ends. If it half way works, we should see a recession and a very long time of slow growth because all of the recent rescues are slowing the market’s tendency to root out lies and distortions and kill off the weak and the stupid. Recently, I am wondering where the wisdom is in this bailout? The iron laws of markets are now deleveraging the world and we may be better off in ten years if a severe recession or depression is allowed to happen without gigging the taxpayers for more liability. Once the bailout passes into law, the stock market should rally strongly. This may be a fool’s rally. We will not know if the bailout is working until late winter. If another wave of debt driven bankruptcies sweeps the globe in late winter, there will be nothing left to throw at the credit markets and a financial winter will fall over the land. It reminds me of the French high command’s response in June 1940 to the Germans pouring out of the Ardennes Forest. When the supreme commander ordered the mobile reserve to cut off the German thrust, the response was, we have no reserve. The French needed to wait until 1944 until the Allies could rescue them from German domination.

    As a review, recession and depression have specific meanings as terms of the art. A recession is regarded by newspapers as two consecutive quarters of negative Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This is the measure of the value of the nation’s goods and services as finished products or offerings. The National Bureau of Economic Research defines recessions and does so after the event. They defined the 2001 – 2002 slow down as a recession although it did not meet the newspaper definition. The reduction in growth was so significant and abrupt that the NBER needed to call it a recession. Anytime that inflation adjusted GDP growth is lower than population growth (0.9% now), the economy is going backwards. A depression is something altogether worse. This has two competing definitions. One is that the cumulative GDP decline is more than 10% compared to the peak at the beginning of the decline. The other is that the GDP has declined for three years in a row and unemployment is over 10%. A great depression is just a bad depression. The Great Depression of the 1930s was actually two great depressions. The first one ran from August, 1929 until March, 1933 and the GDP dropped 33% and unemployment peaked at 25%. The reality of this disaster was not fully felt on Main Street until late 1931. There was a recovery then the second depression started in May, 1937 and ended in June, 1938 with a GDP drop of 19% and an unemployment peak of 19%. This second depression was felt immediately because the economy had not fully recovered from the prior depression. That is the last depression that the United States has experienced. I suspect this long record of no depressions may be about to be broken.

    Please notice that there is a long way from a depression to the end of civilization as we know it. A recession is a normal business cycle event. A severe recession comes when the iron laws of economy are ignored for a few years. A depression comes when the iron laws are ignored for more than a few years. I do not think that we will see a great depression out of this mess, most likely a severe recession with a depression a close second possibility. This means that in three to four years, our economy will be growing and we will be wiser about the use of credit. This is not an event that has most of us eating out of our emergency food stock and shivering in a cold, dark house. We will deny ourselves luxuries for a few years. We probably will lose all overtime and bonuses’s and even see pay cuts. Some will be unemployed and may need to move to find work. Paying down high interest debt (credit cards usually) then medium interest debt (car loans) will really help if our personal cash flow diminishes or stops. If you can raise cash by selling something or a holiday job, put that cash into building up an emergency fund. When the economy recovers, continue these practices. Debt free, including house mortgage, is an enviable position. During good times, you can put your money into short term savings to buy vacations, hobbies and cars with cash. During bad times, you can take more hits without losing your house or car. I have never seen where debt free put a person at a disadvantage at any moment in the business cycle.

    Comment by Mark Hersch — September 27, 2008 @ 2:34 am

  2. Mark, perhaps you should start your own blog!

    Ira’s reponse: Cyberspace is infinite. Long and short comments are equally welcome.

    Comment by tom's blogspot — September 27, 2008 @ 12:36 pm

  3. ..several weeks ago I was sitting and people watching at King of Prussia Mall – an odd place to find refuge maybe but at some point Lancaster Co. can be choking – I was watching who was there and spending because folks were carrying overstuffed bags out the doors. After looking for a dozen or so economic tells I’ve honed over the years, the people spending were those who.. 1. no longer had a mortgage payment 2. Did not enter the housing market until after 2005 (based on age) 3. were International 4. Were outside of the traditional banking cultural -read they were not white middle class and male – – not sure what it means but it represented a marked shift from what I often observe sitting at our own Park S**** Mall – Speaking of Park City I nearly fell over at the addition of a Sephora – look them up you’ll understand the shock.

    I find it interesting “listening” to all the men whine about the coming financial implosion. Not that I don’t disagree things aren’t going well – I work in the Arts after all. But there’s a concept that has escaped some of those finely tuned radars – wage stagnation. Outside the industry’s most desperately affected (and still male dominated) by this latest bubble (banking and construction) wages have changed little over the past 15 years – which was just fine during the Mr.C years because everything else dropped in price. But now with “corrections” in every sector underway – folks wonder why they can make payments and other folks are just as willing to label them irresponsible. As example this summer’s gig hired me for the same hourly wages as I hired summer help myself 12yrs ago…go figure.

    Comment by Glo — September 28, 2008 @ 12:03 pm

  4. Wondering why in the world you just didn’t hang on to those buckets…?
    That…is YOUR business, tho! :)

    Question. Do you believe that God knows the future?
    [Some believe He does, some believe He doesn’t, some believe He does somewhat]

    If He does, then is He not communing with man anymore?

    What would be the reason that He wouldn’t, or couldn’t, relay this information to those that are His?

    Do you really believe that He wants His children stumbling around blindly like the rest of humanity?

    Is that the way you would feel towards your children…? [i know you wouldn’t!]

    Is that the way your parents felt towards you and your siblings? [i know they didn’t!]

    God is the one that put, within parents, those special feelings for their children.
    Wouldn’t it be true that His children are special to Him, as well!!

    Is that all man can do is try to do the best he can?
    If so, then true, man is in quite a dilemma!

    That appears to be what most everyone believes.
    For who is capable of sorting thru this mess of today, whether it be religion, politics, powers that be, scientific realm, world picture, on their own, and coming up with what is ‘truth’!

    Outside of getting some direction from Him, [if that IS possible?] then there is not much hope. That is true.

    God is a being. He is also the embodiment of truth.
    All truth comes from God.
    Find truth and one finds God. Find God and one finds truth. They are inseparable.
    If one loves God…they also love truth.
    If one loves truth…they also love God.

    Loving/seeking/desiring to know God with all one’s heart/soul/mind/strength is what makes one a child of God. [Not saying a few words…or going to church]

    Likewise, loving/desiring/seeking truth with all one’s heart/soul/mind/strength also is what makes one a true child of God.
    The two are one and the same. One can’t find the one without finding the other.
    One doesn’t have the one if one doesn’t have the other.

    Knowing God and knowing truth are inseparable.

    I was reading the journal of a Mennonite fellow from Holmes Co that walked the Applachian trail this smmer.

    [trail name of apostle. Had lost his wife due to cancer. If you want to read it, type the words – apostle trailjournal – into Google]

    He took about 5 months out of ‘normal life’ to do so. He felt he had come to a kind of crossroads in his life.

    I’m sure there was a lot more time spent concerning this venture than just the 5 months. Lots of time/effort spent in preparation, and a lot of time now spent in reflecting back.
    Which is fine. Wish him the very best.
    I’m sure those 5 months changed his outlook on life!

    Many folks would feel he was doing something kinda extreme, and in the back of their minds would have a question mark about such a person/venture.
    Quit a good job…left family/friends behind for a period of time…spent a tremendous about of physical labor…went thru many physical discomforts…fair amount of dangers involved…etc.

    Well, a number of years ago, i did something rather extreme, also. I also felt i was at a crossroads in my life.
    But, i didn’t walk the Applachian trail.
    What i did was this. For a couple of years, outside of eating/sleeping/working, all i did was read/memorize the scriptures. I didn’t read anything else. Didn’t watch TV, listen to the radio, didn’t read anything else, other than the scriptures. Didn’t crack a newspaper/Readers Digest, even!

    Don’t think that is possible?
    Well, it IS possible.
    Extreme..?
    Yes!
    But, i did it.
    I was in desperate straits…you could say!

    I didn’t do it to become religious. I didn’t do it because i was religious. [I was your run of the mill Christian of today ]
    But, due to some circumstances that came to a climax in my life, i did it.

    Now, i have always loved to read. So that made it easier for me. I realize that not all folks have that love.
    It is amazing how often one can read the Bible thru in a couple of years….if that is all one does in their spare time.
    I read the Bible thru many, many times in that span of time. Didn’t study…no. Just read.
    There was many a time that i would sit down and read from Ro thru the Revelations in an evening.

    Dry reading? Sure it was. A lot. But, my thinking was, if nothing but scriptures went into my mind for a period of time, something would HAVE to change in there!!
    And sure enough, it did.
    Slowly my outlook began to change. Never could pinpoint when the changes took place, just know they did.

    Now i don’t expect anyone to do something as extreme as i did.

    But i found out something.
    THose of you that don’t feel one can KNOW FOR SURE what TRUTH is…how much have you SOUGHT for it!!
    How much have you applied yourself?

    Just think about it…is all!!
    And i’m not pointing a finger at anyone, or feeling critical towards anyone.
    I don’t feel holy…or righteous..or any such thing, either! :)

    Simply put, circumstances came to pass in my own life that forced me into such an extreme. No credit to me whatsoever.

    But, i’m thankful for those circumstances!
    That period of time changed my life….outlook on life, forever.
    For what it’s worth…

    Comment by fritz — September 30, 2008 @ 12:06 pm

  5. The sky is falling?
    Bah, humbug!!!

    Ira’s response: Nope. The banks are.

    Comment by jason yutzy — October 1, 2008 @ 5:40 pm

  6. That Y2k scenario, coming and going as it did, has affected a lot of folks ‘mindset’.
    They have steeled their minds against falling/preparing for something like that again.

    That scenario has accomplished exactly what it was supposed to accomplish! Believe me, there WERE people that KNEW better! And i’m not talking about people with good intentions, either!

    That, and there were a LOT of prophecies about the year 2000, or thereabouts, that were made that didn’t come to pass.
    Think about the power of the media.
    They can fuel such things from all directions.
    They take the false prophecies of Christianity and exploit them.
    They have many different sources to start and fan the flames!
    They make use of them ALL!

    There are many folks that have ‘had their fill’ of such.
    And, i for one, do not blame anyone.

    Back when we [present upper/middle age generation] were young…such was going on as well.
    Seems there was always something ‘bad’ on the horizion.

    I had relatives that moved to South America back in the late 60’s early 70’s because they felt bad things were in store for this country.
    I’m not sure if the move to Canada was motivated, to any/some degree, by such thinking or not?

    Some of those relatives from S.A moved back here, lately.
    Seems after the year 2000 has come and gone, folks are inclined to think this was nothing but a similiarity to the 1000 A.D time period.

    I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to hear any more.

    But…we ARE on the very brink!
    And….I don’t really expect anyone to believe it.

    Folks might think, what a nut!

    Well, there is nothing wrong with being a ‘nut’!

    Except a ‘peanut’.
    The ‘lowly peanut’ [for it grows in the earth…not in the heavens, so to speak] is a hyprocrite…for it isn’t a true nut. Just has the name….pretends to be.

    Walnuts…pecans…almonds….pistachios…hickory nuts….coconuts….are VERY GOOD for one! :)

    Isn’t it amazing that the most common/popular ‘nut’ of today isn’t even a ‘nut’!
    The most commont/popular ‘nut’ of today is a false ‘nut’!

    A sign of the times! :)

    Years ago, someone gave me this small log to hang on the wall…with a bunch of different nuts perched on top. On the bottom were the words; We are all nuts!
    I have often chuckled at that!
    If one sees it in the right light…being a ‘nut’ isn’t all that bad! :)

    Now…a ‘wacko’…i don’t know….that might not be so good! :)

    Comment by fritz — October 2, 2008 @ 9:47 am

  7. ps….forgot the best nut of all.
    The ‘buckeye’.
    [Not really! Just couldn’t resist!]

    Comment by fritz — October 2, 2008 @ 9:59 am

  8. ..every society needs it’s own finely attuned wacko – pick an OT prophet, they generally fit the bill…but what makes me nutz is when good C/christian men and women become so obsessed and troubled by the next stage, the next sign, the next trouble — that they fail to see the difference they can make right here right now — I’m a skeptic and more than a bit cynical by nature believe me I take note of what is happening, but when that causes me to abandon the command to love my neighbor as Christ has loved me – regardless of the big evil Leviathan, I am in the wrong.

    Comment by Glo — October 2, 2008 @ 7:08 pm

  9. Maybe I ought to be more worried about the future but the future can take care of itself.

    Comment by Katie Troyer — October 3, 2008 @ 12:11 am

  10. Ron Paul endorsed Chuck Baldwin (Constitution Party) for the Presidency on Sept. 22nd. That was bigger news of the new wave that will eventually crest and overtake the downturn of the desperate Federal Reserve and its communistic takeover of financial institutions. Let freedom ring, postmillennialist. (But, yes, prepare for difficulties getting there.)

    Comment by LeRoy Whitman — October 4, 2008 @ 10:37 pm

  11. Fun reading this stuff so many years later. Honestly, nothing has changed. There were at least two more predictions that the world was going to end, many people are still unemployed, the rich continue to get fatter, the gangs rage on in Chicago, and some looney in Korea wants to blow up the world. I say, go ahead and blow up the world. I know where I’m going.

    A few years back I had Mormon neighbors. Nice enough young couple with a baby on the way. She showed me her year supply of food. I thought she was nuts, but I smiled politely. So, I’m wondering, what happens after the year is up? Then you starve to death? I’m all for growing your own food, solar power, close-knit communities (as long as they don’t tell me what to do) and all that wholesome stuff, but I don’t freak about predictions anymore. I used to, though.

    Four days after I had my son the World Trade Center was blown to bits. I lived in New Jersey about 1/2 hour from New York City at the time. The postal workers wore rubber gloves in case anthrax infected the envelopes. One day while I was pushing my baby in his stroller a man dressed in a three piece suit with a walkie talkie asked me if I saw anything suspicious on my walk. “No, I haven’t.” I went home, called my husband at work and cried. A few months passed and I learned a terrorist lived in my little community. We moved to the Chicago burbs. and there on the apt. building is a color coded chart informing we residents of the danger levels of terrorism. Red, of course, being the worse. I called my husband at work and he patiently explained that no terrorist would want to bomb our little apt. I believed him.

    Taking things in stride seems to work well. And if that’s unattainable of our own free will there’s always medication to smooth out the rough edges.

    Comment by Francine — April 19, 2013 @ 1:20 am

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