Letter from the Editor

Monday, April 24, 2006

The leading cause...

I recently wrote an article about the community's efforts to plan for the worst. But I had never stopped to think just how worse the worst could get.

I was thinking garden-variety bird flu - but local disaster folks are thinking a lot more.

The short list: Smallpox epidemic. Anthrax disaster. Ebola. Mad cow. Mumps. Tornado strike. Terrorism. Some new, currently unknown virus pandemic. A nuclear hit. Terrorists.

And here I was worried about McDonalds fries being the greatest threat to mankind.

I feel better knowing someone has an eye on this stuff. Well, not better... a little urpy actually... I almost wish I hadn't asked.

The leading cause of death, I have always suspected, is worrying about what will cause your death.

Maybe that's why I hesitate to go to the doctor. Why not enjoy the lovely view of the sky while tied to the tracks, instead of seeing the train coming?

Of course, that's a foolish attitude.

People can improve their odds with a little foresight and constructive concern. Get regular check-ups. Quit smoking and binge drinking. Learn what to do in an emergency. Get some sunblock. Take shelter in a storm. If your neighbor happens to be an international terrorist, don't complain if he drives his van across a corner of your lawn. And pork chop, do go easy on those fries.

Still, there are enough worries out there that you could worry yourself to death and still not get to them all.

Mad cow? What, there's one screwed up bovine out of a gazillion out there?

Bird flu? Heck, it's been years since I french-kissed a goose, though that was one memorable weekend. Better chance I'll get crushed by Oprah being accidentally flushed from a 747 overhead than die of avian flu tomorrow.

I'm listening to the alarming latest report on Mad Cow disease on TV and then I'm going to grill up the biggest hunk of meat I can find, with tomatoes, garden lettuce, cucumber slices and a big dollop of devil-may-care.

Because if TV didn't have The Latest Alarming Report on Something, what would all those folks with the fiberglass hair do with their time?

Terrorists? My house looks like a major explosion has already hit it anyway. A modest blast might just rattle some of my family's junk accidentally back into the places it belongs. If they get us, they get us, but why give them the pleasure of watching us sit around and sweat over it?

I hate to break the news, but if there's a direct nuclear hit on, say, the Spencer Mall, all the emergency preparation in the world isn't going to do you a whole bunch of good.

Might as well crank up "Margaritaville," plant a big kiss on the terrorist neighbor's wife, put your feet up on the deck rail, grab a Corona and a SuperFlippinDuperSize vat of fries, and enjoy the awesome tan you're about to have for 1.8 seconds.

If there's a moral here, it would be to get as ready for trouble as you can, within the limits of practicality, and then don't let it consume your life.

The county emergency folks are doing a great job of preparing without blowing these worries out of proportion. I can't say that for the major media.

Go live life a little, will you? Somebody might take life away from you some day, but don't ever give up the living voluntarily.