Archive for April, 2010

Windmills, Wooden Shoes and the Apocalypse

Posted in Humor with tags on April 25, 2010 by Wiggy

If you’ve ever wanted to visit Amsterdam to see the windmills, tulips, wooden shoes and dikes of The Netherlands, you’d better do it soon. According to a survey conducted by the Dutch-language newspaper de Volksrant, thousands of Dutch citizens expect the world to end in 2012 and many say they’re taking precautions to prepare for the apocalypse.

De Volkskrant said it spoke to thousands of believers in the impending end of civilization. Many of those interviewed are stocking up on emergency supplies, including life rafts and other equipment. While theories of the cause of the supposed catastrophe vary, most interviewed tie the 2012 date to the end of the Mayan calendar. Why the Mayan calendar you ask?

According to the ancient Mayan calendar, time is divided into Calendar Rounds equating roughly to 52 solar years, each making up what’s called the Long Count Calendar. The Long Count calendar identifies a date in the future or the past by counting the number of days from August 11, 3114 BC. I won’t bore you with the details of why some day in August 5,000 years ago is so significant. Using this Mayan calendar and calculating from August 11, 3114 BC, the end of the calendar comes out to December 21, 2012. Just as these divining Dutchman are predicting, the end of the world may be upon us!

Don’t ask me to explain why a bunch of wooden-shoe-wearing, swamp-living Europeans would use an ancient calendar from an extinct civilization. Even I have a hard time making that connection.

Fortunately, and to the amusement of the rest of us, December 21, 2012, isn’t actually the end of the world. It’s the end of the next Mayan calendar round. Since there have been just under 100 calendar rounds between these magical dates, I’m going to put my reputation on the line and predict there will be another starting December 22, 2012, the day after this Dutch disaster date.

While the Netherlands has seen its share of extinctions over the millennia including the Great Auk, various sorts of mammals, birds, fish and insects, thousands of Dutch surmise these extinctions will pale in comparison to this impending cataclysm.

But being the optimists the Dutch can sometimes be, some are even optimistic about the end of civilization. Speaking to De Volkskrant, Petra Faile of Amsterdam stated, “You know, maybe it’s really not that bad the Netherlands will be destroyed. I don’t like it here anymore. Take immigration, for example. They keep letting people in. And then we have to build more houses, which makes the Netherlands even heavier. The country will sink even lower, which will make the flooding worse.”

While most of the country is constructed on a swamp…you think the Cajuns would have taken a lesson from this…for centuries the Dutch have been draining relatively high lying swampland to utilize as farmland. This drainage causes the fertile peat, which is often mined, dried and used for fuel, to compress and the ground level to drop. To compensate for the drop in ground level, the Dutch lower the water level further causing the peat to compress even more. This vicious sinking cycle remains unsolved to this day.

Fortunately for the weight of the country, the fertility rate of the Netherlands is 1.72 children per woman, well below the 2.1 rate required for population replacement. The Dutch may disappear on their own without anyone even realizing, and before their country sinks into the bog. Dutch contributions over the ages have included a one-eared suicidally-deceased post-impressionist artist, the guy who discovered Saturn’s moon Titan, Grolsch and Heineken beers and the 1970’s rock bands Golden Earring and Shocking Blue. The rest of the European Union won’t even miss them until they don’t show up to claim their 12th place prize in the Eurovision Song Contest.

Luckily for me, the Dutch are a famously tolerant bunch. So my humorous poke at these tall, attractive, pot smoking, prostitute peddling, dike builders should go without much retribution or penalty to my potential Dutch book sales. Although after 2012, it really won’t make much of a difference.

Wiggy – Dirge of Darwinistic Dutch Dyke Disasters

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Volcano Awareness

Posted in Humor with tags , on April 17, 2010 by Wiggy

With all the seismic and volcanic activity in the world lately, I thought it might be a good idea to spread a little advice and information. You can thank me later…

Did you know May is actually Volcano Awareness Month? As the weather turns warmer each spring, more people head out to volcano-hazard-zones for sport and other recreation. Did you know one to two volcanic eruptions have occurred each century in the U.S. in the past 4,000 years? Since the United States declared independence in 1776, little more than 230-years-ago, seven volcanoes have erupted in the U.S. Northwest alone. May 18th each year marks the anniversary of the volcanic eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980. Remember that one?

As a public service to any and all of my readers living within 300 miles of Yellowstone National Park and immediately down wind, we’ll review the dangers of living near an active volcano. Scientists and geologists studying the massive caldera have noted the dome on which Yellowstone sits has been swelling up 3 inches per year for the last several years and is filling with molten rock. That’s three times faster than ever observed since measurements began in 1923. The volcano at Yellowstone has produced massive eruptions 2 million, 1.3 million and 642,000 years ago, all larger than the 1980 eruption of St. Helens.

Now, if I do the math correctly, 2 million minus 1.3 million is 700,000. 1.3 million minus 642,000 is 658,000 which is just under 700,000. And it’s been 642,000 years since the last one. Beginning to see a pattern here? I would have to say the next eruption falls well within the predicted geological timeframe.

Oh and by the way, scientists classify the Yellowstone volcano as a “Super-Volcano” because it covers 925 square miles. The pyroclastic flow would destroy almost everything in Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, North and South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, Nevada, Colorado, Nebraska and southwestern Canada…in other words, most of the Lakota Republic. And there’s evidence the last major “super” eruption plunged the world into a freezing, volcanic winter which lasted a decade. On the bright side, I guess it would take care of global warming for a while. And the super-eruption has the potential to cover the entire United States in three feet of ash from a plume.

WWoW invites you to learn steps that you can take to prepare for the many hazards an active volcano can present.

Volcanic dangers include not only an eruption of a mountain and the associated lava flows, but also ash fall and debris flows. If you’re stupid enough to live or are vacationing near an active volcano, be familiar with the following:

Before a volcanic eruption:

Plan ahead. Have emergency supplies, food and water stored. Make sure these items can withstand sulfuric acid and 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Plan an evacuation route away from rivers or streams which may carry mud or debris flows. Vehicles should be able to run without air, so engine intakes don’t clog with 1,400 degree ash. They also need to be able to outrun a pyroclastic flow traveling 430 miles per hour.

Keep a battery-operated radio available at all times so you’ll know exactly when you’ll be vaporized by the superheated mix of pulverized lava.

If there’s an eruption predicted, monitor the radio or television for evacuation information. If you remain in an area where this information is broadcast and do not heed the warnings, you deserve what you get.

After a volcanic eruption:

Don’t approach the eruption area. You can recognize this area by its moonscape-like features and lack of any living creature or vegetation.

Be prepared to stay indoors and avoid downwind areas if ash fall is predicted. This snow-like ash is made of very fine rock and mineral particles. Although not poisonous, it can wreak havoc on lung tissue if you’re allergic to breathing hot gravel.

Evacuate if advised to do so by authorities…those authorities who weren’t smart enough to leave BEFORE the explosion.

Be aware of stream and river channels when evacuating. Those requiring special attention will be the ones clogged with mud, trees and dead animals.

Move toward higher ground if mudflows are approaching. This higher ground does NOT include the mountain which just exploded.

Follow the evacuation signs posted along roads and highways. These would include the ones not blown down by the initial blast wave or melted by lava.

If you have asthma or another respiratory condition, do yourself a favor and spend the next year in New Mexico…unless you have a fear of being abducted by a UFO or Scientologists.

Keep roofs free of ash in excess of 4 inches. If this is actually a problem, you’re definitely way too close.

Wash vegetables from the garden before eating…unless you’re mineral deficient.

In summary, the odds of being affected by a volcanic explosion while vacationing are probably slim. Living near an active volcano…well just remember Pompeii.

Wiggy – Volcanic Vitriol of Virtue