Category Archives: On Life
Ever have one of those days when you wonder if you did, indeed, just fall off the turnip truck? When you come across something so completely foreign to you, but presented so matter-of-factly, that you wonder in paranoia if you are the only one on the planet who had never considered it?
Welcome to my Saturday morning.
I was innocently browsing the Costco “Online-Only Offers” sales flyer that came in yesterday’s mail, when I stumbled across this product:
4-Person 1-Year Food Storage
30,144 total servings of vital nutrients. Including grains, fruit, vegetables, dairy, protein, baking essentials, and drinks. Up to a 25-year shelf life. $3,499.99 delivered after $500 off.
I’m not totally naïve. We get ice storms and the occasional hurricane here in Virginia…it’s very possible we could be stuck without power for a couple days. Nor am I totally unprepared; we have some basic emergency supplies, and I even know where most of them are. But our food rations, when they haven’t been raided because I’m too lazy to go to the store, consist of a case of bottled water, a Costco-sized multi-pack of canned tuna, some sliced peaches in light syrup, a jar of Jif, and a mega-box of granola bars. Stockpiling a year’s worth of food never, ever, not once crossed my mind.
Is this for real? Do people really do this? Judging by the nine product reviews on the Costco website (seven of which actually seemed legit) people really do. Browsing the site for more info only led to more questions.
Why? Why would anyone hoard a year’s worth of food? Nuclear attack? Asteroid impact? Alien invasion? Zombie apocalypse?
What will the neighbors think when the UPS man rolls up your drive and stacks 63 boxes on the front porch? Apparently, UPS is not involved—it seems that a private shipper, in a truck much larger than the standard brown UPS van, delivers a pallet, which is discretely wrapped in black plastic to hide its contents from the prying eyes of neighbors.
Why the need to hide this delivery from the neighbors? A couple guesses here. One, so that they won’t be able to confirm that you are indeed the paranoid doomsday adherent they’ve always suspected you to be. Two, so that when the end does come, you won’t have to defend your stash from hordes of ravenous neighbors who know that back in 2013 you alone on the block prepared for this very scenario.
Where does one store this kind of cache? The shipment consists of 378 #10 (one gallon) cans of food. At an average of 4.5 pounds per can (dependent upon contents), that’s 1710 pounds of food that needs a home. I’ve never seen a pantry designed for that sort of storage. Shelves would buckle, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the floor wouldn’t follow suit. Even in our house, where our “safe room” is a concrete floored, windowless storage room tucked in the back corner of the lower level, stockpiling that much food would be a logistical nightmare.
How does the manufacturer ensure a 25-year shelf life (on selected products)? I slice a banana onto a scoop of vanilla ice cream to make a banana split, and the fruit is turning brown before I get downstairs and settle on the couch to eat it. What in God’s name does one do to banana slices (two cans are included) to make them last for 25 YEARS??
What should one do with all this food In the event that the end of the world as we know it does not come before the food’s expiration date? At $3499.99, I certainly can’t, in good conscience, just send it to the landfill. On the eve of their 20-year expiration, do I donate 27 pounds of fudge brownies to the local elementary school’s bake sale? Do I throw a party in year 10, and try to slip 18 pounds of canned sausage into some creative hors d’oeuvre? As for the 42 cans of hard white winter wheat, I wouldn’t have the foggiest idea where to start, short of chucking it out the back door for the birds.
Photo courtesy of Grain Inspection, Packers
and Stockyards Administration, USDA.
After a whole day of pondering these imponderables, I’m exhausted. Regardless of how irresponsible it makes me seem, I can’t see myself purchasing a year’s worth of food to be delivered on a shrink-wrapped pallet. If the world ends and we run out of tuna and peanut butter, perhaps someone better prepared than I will share a can or two of taco TVP*.
*TVP = textured vegetable protein
On lo, these many Thursdays, I’ve answered a question in order to give you, my readers, a bit of insight into who I am. But today, I’m turning the tables. I have a question for you. A question inspired by the holidays, and the featured news stories in this season of giving.
I am wondering, if a person does something nice for someone else, and then tells other people about it, does that take away from the generous nature of the action? Does it then seem like the do-gooder only did it for the glory, for the praise from outside sources? Or could you believe that the do-gooder is hoping by telling humbly of his actions that others will be inspired by his example to follow in his footsteps, thereby magnifying the effect of his original deed?
I personally know people who do good things for the sole purpose of bragging about them, and while the deeds are still inarguably good, they feel tainted somehow. On the other hand, I know everyday heroes who never say a word about their actions, and I feel that if they spoke up, others would be inspired to follow their examples.
Your answers are important to me, for reasons I’ll try to explain in a future post.
Please vote, then leave your thoughts in the comments below.
I’ve gotten in the habit over these past several months of choosing a random question to answer on “Deep Thought Thursdays” (some thoughts have been decidedly deeper than others). I’m not sure how deep this one is, but being the season of ghouls and goblins, I found a rather timely question at The Daily Post this morning, in their Daily Prompt: Fright Night.
Do you like being scared by books, films, and surprises? Describe the sensation of being scared, and why you love it — or don’t.
I’ll read a scary book (which may or may not have a lingering effect…see Tuesday’s post about It) and occasionally watch a scary movie (the hubby loves this, as he comes home from the theater with an armful of bruises where I’ve grabbed him). I can close the book or close my eyes if things get too intense. But I absolutely cannot handle scary surprises. Namely haunted houses.
I think I was about eight years old. There was a special party for all the kids who had collected money for UNICEF while trick-or-treating. My younger brother had filled his little cardboard house with donated coins, but was sick the night of the party, so I alone donned my costume and Mom and I set off. The school gym was filled with apple bobbing stations, bowls of peeled grape eyeballs and cold macaroni brains, and boatloads of cupcakes–all the things you’d expect at an elementary Halloween party. There was also a haunted house. Even at that young age, I was not fond of being scared, but I agreed when Mom asked if I wanted to go through it. I knew that with her by my side, I’d be okay.
Except when it came time to walk through the haunted house, Mom was not invited. An older girl, probably a high school student, was a guide for the haunted house, said it was just for kids, and promised she’d stay with me the whole time. I resisted, more than happy to skip the whole thing to stay with my mom and eat another cupcake, but was eventually coerced into going with the guide. Turns out other kids’ parents got to come into the haunted house. Also turns out the guide was not just a guide. She was an actor, and needed a young sidekick in a supporting role to sell the story that had been devised for this very elaborate haunted house. Way too elaborate for elementary kids. Way too realistic for young, impressionable children. Way. Too. Scary.
By the time we neared the exit, I was practically climbing up the guide to escape the hands reaching out of the darkness from all sides, no mean feat since I was simultaneously covering my ears to escape the screams and groans from the other actors and covering my eyes to escape the strobe lights and the frightening images revealed with each flash. I thought my hell had finally come to an end when the guide reached for the doorknob to let us out of the haunted house, only to find there was one last surprise. The knob was rigged to shock her, and she fell to the floor gasping with her final breath that we should leave her behind, save ourselves.
I was mad that she promised my mom to see me safely through and was now dying on the floor. I was scared to death being left to fend for myself. I couldn’t wait to get out of there. But there was no way on this earth I was touching that doorknob. Finally some other kid’s dad came bravely forward and we were free. I nearly trampled a ghost, a princess, and a pirate trying to get back to my mother, and nearly dislocated her shoulder trying to pull her out of the gym.
To this day, more than three decades later, I cannot walk through a haunted house. A couple months ago, the hubby and I went through the Chamber of Horrors at Madame Tussauds in London. By “went through” I mean that I ran as fast as the guide’s pace would allow, dragging the hubby in my wake. He wanted to linger and enjoy all the actors jumping out at us from dark corners. I wanted to get the hell out of there.
There was a commercial on TV the other night for a nearby theme park’s Halloween Haunt. Essentially the entire park becomes a giant haunted house. I’m not sure once you’re through the gates that there is anywhere safe to escape the “bloodcurdling horror and nightmarish madness.” Hubby asked if I wanted to go. I was instantly nauseous. Uhh, thanks, but NO. I’d rather stay home and reread It. Or maybe poke my eyes out with a stick.
Well, the fat lady is warming up… This end of the big move is almost over! Packers finished up today, although it was looking questionable for a while.
One major sticking point, literally, was our queen-size box spring. I couldn’t remember how the moving-in crew got it up the stairs and through the narrow hallway to the master bedroom, so had no good advice for its removal. Obviously, it’s not bendy, and four professionals spent half an hour trying to flex it around a bannister to get it downstairs. In the end, all it needed was to be unwrapped from the protective, but bulky, paper bag they’d encased it in, and voila! Down it went!
There was another small crisis when the guys realized that the five crates they brought today weren’t sufficient to hold everything (guess they didn’t judge very well how much fit into the four they brought yesterday compared to what was still left to be loaded). Luckily, the truck had a bit of spare room behind the last crate where they could stash the sofa and some other bulky items for which they will build a special half-size crate once they arrive back at the depot.
I had to ask if shipping crates are a standard size around the world, or if these were smaller than what we might have used in the past. The question was prompted by the fact that are leaving here with nine-and-a-half crates, yet we arrived with just five. We did not accumulate that much extra stuff at the auctions, and we jettisoned a dining room table and six chairs, so I chalk it up to the fact that Japanese packers are more efficient users of space than British. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 🙂
There’ll be no rest for the weary tomorrow–there’s nothing like a move to reveal one’s lack of attention to thorough housekeeping. The breeze from the open windows is blowing dust bunnies around like tumbleweeds. Carcasses of small insects suspended in cobwebs have been revealed in every corner that was previously blocked by a piece of furniture. Tomorrow will be dedicated to removing all evidence of my lackadaisical cleaning habits.
My favorite writing prompt this week was WordPress.com‘s Daily Post for Saturday, Your Life, the Book: From a famous writer or celebrity, to a WordPress.com blogger or someone close to you — who would you like to be your biographer?
I’m not sure my life story is interesting enough to warrant space on anyone’s bookshelf, but if there’s an author out there who I’d trust to turn the mundane into a page-turner, it would have to be Laura Hillenbrand. I admit that I’ve only read one of her books, Unbroken, but that one chronicle of a WWII POW’s survival sold me on her amazing abilities as a storyteller. The harrowing tale of Louis Zamperini, former Olympic runner, was presented with humor, grace, and sensitivity, and I was completely entranced from the very first page. Hillenbrand included so many details, from every aspect of Louis Zamperini’s life, gleaned from poring over letters and diaries, as well as countless interviews with family, friends, Olympic teammates and coaches, fellow POWs, and Japanese veterans. Her research and the resulting biography were so thorough that Zamperini has since called Hillenbrand to get details about specific events from his life so he can be accurate as he pens his own memoirs!
I’d like to hand over my story to someone who will take it on as her own, sifting through the minutiae of the past to create a path of words that allows the reader to walk right alongside me throughout my life’s journey. Someone who can sort out the jumble of events, emotions, relationships, and adventures of my past four decades, and make sense of how they’ve all worked to make me the person I am today. I think if Hillenbrand were in charge of this project, I would learn something about myself in the finished story!