On Hamburgers, The Importance of Condiments & Survival Tips for Thermonuclear War. (Essay on Technology)

I’ve written about this before, but as I get older I can’t help but notice the passage of time quicken. Time is no longer something to be wasted gleefully. It’s a limited, precious commodity not unlike that solitary packet of ketchup jettisoned from a takeout meal almost a year ago.  For several long months it sat unnoticed beside your butter dish, hurriedly tossed aside, looking forlorn and dejected.  Until the day you discovered the giant squeeze bottle at the back of the refrigerator sadly devoid of crucial substance.

Suddenly that packet of ketchup, once overlooked and under appreciated, has become paramount. You thrust that baby out of the refrigerator with the same level of vigour and confidence that King Arthur once did when he pulled that sword encased in solid stone.  You waste no time in this endeavour, knowing it is the single most important ingredient to your burger that will either make or break your entire existence at that moment of first contact.

And like that sad, lonely, aged ketchup with a questionable expiry date, every drop counts. Because it’s the only packet of ketchup we have for this meal. It must be squeezed for every drop of flavour it can give. It has only one purpose, and one must make the most of it.  For what is a burger without ketchup? It’s not really a burger at all, is it? You might as well not have a bun for it. Without ketchup, it might as well just exist as a useless, benign ugly patty of grey matter, taking up space.

So I worry about time more. I like to think I try my best not to waste it, although of course I tend to log in some couch time while binge watching television shows like any other couch potato schmuck. But sometimes I can’t really seem to enjoy it.  I start feeling guilty.  I’m all too aware of wasting time. I think about this alot while I’m in line. I hate being in line. I mean, doesn’t everyone?

I try to be cool about things when I’m in this type of scenario, like say, in line at my local bank. I’d love to just race up to the counter, jump up and slide across it as though it was the orange Dodge Charger hood of that car in Dukes of Hazzard.  Next up, I grab the teller by the throat after throwing them up against the wall while screaming out, Jack Bauer style; “DAMN IT!!!  WE’RE RUNNING OUT OF TIME!!!”, as though the teller was the only one in the room that knew the location of a thermonuclear device set to detonate in mere minutes, but she’s too busy checking out how many likes the last photo of her cat Basil got on her Instagram page.

I want to do this, but I don’t. Because you don’t want to be the one to lose it, in civilized society. So I play a game instead.

I like to play a game I call Who Would Survive? Here’s the premise.  There is a nuclear apocalypse, pandemic or asteroid event of some kind that threatens our planet, and the very fabric of our society. I try to figure out who would have the skills to survive, and who would be reduced to a quivering lump of dog meat.

I like to think I’d have the chops to hack it in a post apocalyptic scene, but who knows. I feel I’d certainly fare better than the douchebag behind me, clutching his dairy free chai latte in one hand. Still, it’s hard to be certain. He may be an accomplished basket weaver or banjo player.   You never do know when those vital skill sets may come in to play.

I’ve already started prepping for the possibility of this real life scenario actually transpiring. Maybe prepping isn’t the right term. That implies some level of competence, which I certainly cannot claim.  How about casually stockpiling? Even that may be an overstatement.

Here’s the reality. I don’t have a fortified, underground bunker shelter hidden beneath some corn field positioned 50 miles outside the blast radius of my city centre.  Then again, even if I did have such a thing, I may not actually lay claim to it. There’s only so much room available. I mean, if I had such a place. Which I don’t. Seriously.

Here’s what I do have. I have what I refer to as a Zombie Apocalypse Cupboard®. It currently contains the following:

  1. 1 First aid kit.
  2. 5 Bottles of water.
  3. 1 Roll of duct tape.
  4. 3 Bottles of insect repellant (Have you heard of mosquito zombies? Neither have I, but you can’t be too careful these days, can you?)
  5. 7 Cans of cat food. (This isn’t because I expect to eat cat food after the apocalypse, they are just in there because there isn’t a lot of space in our kitchen.  Still, we may have to resort to cracking open a few for ourselves in the event we run out of our own food. Just don’t tell our cat Captn. Cheezburger, it would truly devastate her to know this fact.)
  6. An assortment of batteries, of varying kinds and level of charge.
  7. 1 Battery powered radio.

I’d like to add to the cupboard. Get more stuff. I may need a new, larger one eventually. I find myself researching the best hand crank, solar powered shortwave radios, huddled over my computer like some wild eyed tinfoil nutjob. I spend hours comparing models on Amazon.  I  read comments from people that devote significant chunks of their lives reviewing the best freeze dried survival foods. Like a scary amount of time. But then I realize how long I’ve spent reading their comments, and I suddenly remember to become less judgy.

I wonder where all of this comes from. Was it possible this post apocalyptic seed was planted in my cerebral cortex back in the 80s thanks to Hollywood? Was Snake Plissken to blame? Or maybe a combination of VHS soaked afternoons indulging in Dr. Strangelove and Invasion of the Body Snatchers all the while consuming vast quantities of Nacho Cheese Doritos and Root Beer?

The concept of Armageddon has been around for awhile. Whether it was the Mayans worrying about 2012, or us worried about the Mayans, we’ve always been a bit obsessed about our demise.

Picture saved with settings applied.
The two bright stars are (left) Alpha Centauri and (right) Beta Centauri. The faint red star in the center of the red circle is Proxima Centauri. Courtesy Wikipedia.

I got a new tablet a few weeks ago, and spent the next few days downloading apps for it. I found this neat app that profiled the history of the universe. It begins with the big bang, and follows the cosmic ballet of the creation of galaxies, including our very own Milky Way. What’s exceptionally interesting about the app though is that it doesn’t just profile the past, it projects what’s expected to happen in the future.

This includes (SPOILER ALERT) not only our own demise, but the demise of our solar system, and indeed the entire fucking universe.

So what does it all mean?

Well, for starters, it means, that:

  1.  At least it won’t happen for some time, and
  2.  Actually, I can’t really think of a second reason.

As existentially distressing as this might be, I do however take solace with the bid to get us to Mars, and I’m even more chuffed about us eventually getting a closer look at our neighbour’s back yard on the Alpha Centauri side of things.

It’s nice to know we may have a shot surviving this planet’s eventual demise someday.

Who knows? With the way science is moving forward, my brain might end up in a jar.

I just hope I have a robot nearby to crank up my radio so I can hear all about it.


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