What I have to remember is how lucky I am. I have the privilege of having most of my friends and family and colleagues being pretty much sane. Yes, we give each other a lot of crap. And there’s the usual joking around about this one or that one is crazy. But… basically sane. Unfortunately though, beyond this group of people is some of the rawest stupidity and selfishness and foolishness that can be had anywhere on the planet. It may be true that 90% of my fellow metro NY area cohabitants are also perfectly great to know people. But that still leaves around TWO MILLION morons. Sadly, most anyone reading this will probably nod their head in agreement, with 10% of them not understanding they’re in the moron group.

During an admittedly severe weather event, the December, 2010 Snowstorm, a lot of bad things happened. People were trapped, stuck, cold, wet, etc. etc. And one of the things that’s been rallying cry is a video of some city workers trashing some cars while trying to make a tow. Sad for the owners? Yes. A really big deal? Not really. Some streets not cleaned quickly? Again, so what. No city, no population is or will ever be ready for extreme events; be they weather, earthquakes, terrorism or whatever. Economics don’t support that level of readiness. Common Sense doesn’t demand it; in fact, rather the opposite.

Between the ideally low, but real possibility of terrorism, the possibility of blackouts, the almost certainty of occasional severe weather events, INDIVIDUALS should know some basic supplies and knowledge are necessary. But at least in the metro NY area, people have become so weak, so feeble minded and so foolish, they can’t cope with this. So they whine. Incessantly. I have some reminders for these folks, and then some tips:


  • You live in one of the most dynamic and incredible cities that the world has ever known. Ever. On relatively rare occasion, something happens to tear the veneer off of society’s generally cushiony lifestyle. Roll with it.
  • With the exception of some homeless, mental incompetents, etc., you probably have a roof and a reasonably decent indoor climate in the most extreme weather. Around the world, there are soldiers in extreme desert weather conditions constantly concerned about being in someone else’s gun sights. These folks are thrilled with a care package from home that maybe has some hard candy that survived the long trip. They’re doing this while your primary concern is what’s happening on the Biggest Loser or some other dumbass reality show.
  • Within 5 blocks of where you live, there are probably at least two places each to deliver just about any type of take out cuisine you’d like. And while you can afford it, but don’t have the common sense to keep a pack of granola bars for an emergency, something like 20,000 people starve to death EVERY DAY.
  • Yes, city and Port Authority services should be better. The bureaucracies that run them are likely inefficient as hell and should be better. Right now, they’re not. You know that. Even if things are done to try to make things better, that’s not going to be by tomorrow at noon.

Some Tips

  • Have a basic emergency kit in your home and car. You’ve been told repeatedly you need this. Plenty of web sites sell various kits and government web sites have checklists if you want to make your own.
  • If you’re commuting in rough conditions or flying, plan ahead. Have some of your own water, (even if you have to spend $3.00 after you pass through security), have a couple of snacks, (granola bars or something), in your backpack. And some tissues. (For blowing your nose or…well… whatever.) A mini-flashlight too. ALL of this takes up a very small amount of space and weight. You’re a moron if you don’t have this stuff knowing your wandering around during a time when services could be curtailed or even cut.
  • If you have a vehicle and choose to operate it in severe conditions, be prepared to have it trashed. If you abandon it in the streets, fire / rescue may have to have someone move it without being real gentle. This is your fault. If your vehicle is properly parked, but something extreme happens and there’s an accident, it’s just that, an accident. In the U.S. several people die every hour in traffic accidents. Be thankful that all that got bent was metal should this happen.
  • If you see fire / ems people struggling to get to emergency calls and such, your answer should not be to shake your head at the sorry state of affairs, it’s to pick up a shovel if you can find one and help clear a path.

It’s all very simple really. Living in modern cities has insulated a lot of people from some simple realities of actual living. One increasing problem with this is our systems are becoming more brittle. Everything from just-in-time inventory to aging infrastructure means it doesn’t take much to take out modern conveniences. This should just be an inconvenience, but for many, it becomes life-threatening.

Try not to be such “namby pamby jackwagons.”