AI: Earthquakes and Other Apocalypses

So yeah, there was an earthquake on the East Coast yesterday. It was a magnitude 5.9 with its epicenter near Mineral, Virginia. The Californians on Twitter, of course, expressed their sympathy. I happened to be sitting in a pizzeria in Manhattan and my stool began to wobble and sway a bit. I chocked it up to being insanely and dizzyingly hungry (you know that guy who forgets to eat? Yeah, I’m that guy).

Anyway, after work I met up with my wife to drink lots of beer have dinner and we talked about said earthquake. We then started talking about apocalypse preparedness plans and zombies and such, as married couples do. She recounted her boss’ survival plans which include an inflatable Navy raft and a machine gun. And then I mentioned how I needed to write my AI tonight (Tuesday night) because I wouldn’t be around a computer tomorrow (in addition to forgetting to eat, I am a terrible procrastinator. I’M A TRIPLE THREAT! (also, I can’t count)), so I decided that we should have some story-telling fun this afternoon.

Tell me a story. What would be your ultimate apocalypse fantasy? How do you plan to survive? Where would you go and what provisions would you have on hand? Can I come stay in your bunker / zombie-proof compound?

The ART Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Mad Art Lab community. Look for it to appear Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 3pm ET.

Brian George

Brian George is an illustrator and designer who lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. In his spare time he makes videos of Spirograph drawings and complains about doing laundry. Website: Twitter: @brianggeorge Insta: @brianggeorge If you're into what I'm doing, feel free to throw down a bit in my tipjar here: @brianggeorge

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  1. Hahaha. You saw my tweet. Yeah, I have been in a ton of earthquakes and even one big one in 1994. Honestly, surviving a big earthquake is actually really cool. (As long as no one is hurt of course.) I always wished I could be in a safe wide open field during a really BIG earthquake so I could see the waves in the earth moving across the land while not having to worry about being crushed by falling debris… or buildings…. because the getting crushed part is no fun.

    Other than that, I have always wanted to see and survive a tornado, but not enough to go chasing for one.

    As far as apocalypse escape plans, my husband and I have have secret meeting spots in case we become either international spies or are chased by spies or if we are attacked by zombies or if we are attacked by robot-zombies. Different situations require different secret meeting spots.

  2. This is a quote from a parents evening my mother had to go to about me.

    “To put it bluntly your son is too laid back. Some kids we worry about pushing to much and causing them to be stressed but not your son. No, he would ride out the apocalypse with a deck chair and a margarita enjoying the sunset. Tell me Misses Stevens, are we allowed to use a cattle prod?”

  3. @dpeabody: That’s pretty damn funny. Now I am picturing a little kid with a margarita watching a nuclear blast as if it were a sunset.

  4. In the eighties my social group’s plan in the case of a nuclear attack warning was to go to the house of the person we deemed the closeted to ground zero and sit on the roof drinking until the all clear came or we were vaporized. The geography of Vancouver is such that a 30 minute warning is nowhere near enough time to get to safety so one might as well increase one’s chances of being killed instantly.

    My boss in 1999 bought a cabin in the woods, stocked it with fuel, food and guns and was there awaiting the Y2K disaster on New Year’s Eve. I pulled some money out of the bank just in case and that was about it. Funny thing is that we never discussed Y2K after that New Year’s, funny that.

    I do have a large number of books on subsistence farming in a box. They’re my safety blanket, I figure that the most likely disaster I’m to encounter that I won’t be receiving outside help to deal with will be a slow increase in food costs and decrease in availability brought on by climate change and rising petrol costs. So I’m prepared to start growing more of my own food.

    Where I live, rural Australia, we’re subject to bushfires and floods. My family have go-bags packed with wool blankets, non-synthetic clothing, food, water, essential documents, torches and radios. All good stuff to have in any emergency. We also have a community “safer” zone on the footy oval in town. It’s the place to go to when all else fails because it’s open and the CFA fire trucks know to converge there to try and save as many people as possible when fighting the fire directly becomes impossible.

    Being a bikey sort of person I had been hoping to go to my grave having never owned a vehicle with an internal combustion engine. In 2009 a bushfire came within 3k of our home, it destroyed 8 or so houses and killed two people. It was the longest night of my life watching the sky behind the ridge light up as the fire front passed by knowing that we had no way of self-rescue. By the time we realized the problem all the neighbours who were fleeing were gone. Staying to defend the house is a last ditch desperation option for those of us with infants so we bought a car shortly afterwards. We also now have long handled yarn mops and buckets, goggles, wide brim cotton hats and gloves for putting out spot fires should we get trapped at home unexpectedly. Our current house isn’t particularly defendable but we only have to keep it standing until the fire front passes through which usually takes about 20 minutes.

    The plans for our new house include sprinkler pipes running to the roof, a submerged pump in a ground water bore, a diesel generator to run the pump, gas ones vapourlock in the intense heat of fire, and metal shutters to cover the windows.

  5. As I’m going to bed soon, I prefer not to indulge in apocalyptic fantasies; but whatever they are, cephalopods are involved.

    And while my basement isn’t zombie-proof, I live just a few feet from Brooklyn across the border in Queens, and the zombies would probably get confused by the zip code change and not find us. That is, assuming the zombies originate in Brooklyn; which I think we can all agree is a solid, random assumption.

  6. Oh, and I’ll also say that seeing a huge fire front bearing down on your home and loved ones does wonders for one’s priorities. Before the sun set we made plans to flee to the local pub should the fire change course towards us. It has a basement and there were going to be plenty of hands to defend it so that seemed the best option. Once we got everything ready I was contemplating which guitar I would take. I figured I could carry one without endangering myself, my wife or child. The amps and recording gear were too heavy and bulky to even consider. Then the sun went down and I could see just how massive that fire was. The glow literally covered half the sky. All of a sudden I didn’t care about my guitars, I didn’t care about our pictures, those things and everything else I owned regardless of it’s uniqueness or sentimental value could fucking burn to ash and cinder so long as the people I love got away safely.

  7. @coelecanth: Wow. That’s an amazing story. I can’t even imagine what that must have been like, despite your well written description.
    Depending on where one lives in the world, it seems the methods for keeping safe and one’s priorities (beyond loved ones) can be very different.
    Lots to think about there.

  8. Brian, I think the reason it’s hard to imagine this kind of thing is because people are very bad at judging risk. It was explained to me as The Turkey Fallacy. A turkey being raised to be sold as a Thanksgiving dinner lives its life getting fed and cared for 999 days and on the 1000th day it dies. But it gets up on that 1000th day expecting to be fed and cared for even though its risk of death is 100%.

    The problem comes for using one’s own experience as a data point, often the only data point, in assessing risk. Prior to my experience in 2009 I never really considered bushfires and how to prepare for them. Despite copious public advertising from the government and CFA to that effect. I’d never seen a bushfire let alone been burned in one so my brain was telling me that it was not very likely to happen. People do this all the time with every sort of risk.

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