On pragmatism, panic and The Pill. No relation to pregnancy.

My father is a wise man.

He’s not without his baggage, problems and peculiarities; however, lack of wisdom is not among them. Characterwise, he’s the personification of still waters run deep; a man of few words and when he speaks, they’re substantive.

His clarity of thought in times of chaos and upheaval is legendary — or should be — and his ability to keep his wits, presence of mind and pragmatism about him while the world around flails and collapses into stupidity could be a model to many.

A brief prelude is provided for context in present times.

I profoundly remember several occasions where my father instructed the young little me and/or the family in basic disaster preparedness and response. He did so with his usual pragmatism and common sense. No panic. No fear. No fear tactics. No big deal. Simply:

“If a nuclear bomb is dropped (not an impossibility since as it was height of the Cold War), walk to the ocean.” He explained why.

For sure the ocean was a very long walking distance away but I knew as a little girl which direction to head in a nuclear explosion.

“You’ll want to have a gun. When people are hungry, thirsty and desperate, they’ll kill for food and water.”

His wise insight about human nature found rooting in my own tender wise fertile soil.

“If there’s a large earthquake (an ever-present possibility in our California residence), here’s where you switch off the pilot flame,” he indicated, introducing me and my younger sister to the metal beast that was the furnace behind the closed hallway door.

He taught me where to kick a man and how to hit before I hit the ground running as a very early adventurous bloomer. Holding up his large Germanic palm, he’d have me hit it hard with my fist, teaching me to throw with knuckles head-on and from the shoulder, not wrist or elbow. I filed that information with the same pragmatic tone of its delivery.

Whether it’s my own nature, his level-headed wise instructions or a bit of both, that paired with an inherent mistrust of people and particularly authority figures and a fierce independence of thought, like my father, I’m not easily moved into a rush to action based on panic or mass response.

Which is why I’m sitting here in a cafe instead of driving up and down the coast of Puget Sound of Washington state hitting every drugstore, natural health food market, vitamins and supplements retailer and grocery store for potassium iodide pills.

Potassium iodide, for those unfamiliar, protects the thyroid gland from radiation. Currently, due to the reactors’ disasters unfolding in Japan, people along the entire West Coast seaboard stretching from California to Canada are buying up and stockpiling the pills. Which in this climate of fear have gained the distinction of The Pill.

Retailers can’t keep them on the shelves. Online suppliers can’t keep pace with demand. Frankly, your best odds are with craigslist. You may pay up the wazoo. However, even in a minor collective, panic and fear always supercede rational and intelligent thought. Always.

Memory hearkens back to 2009-ish. Remember the swine flu? The public was in a hot tither, lining up to get shots as if health care employees were giving away bars of gold.

What did I do?

I stood back. Watched. Rolled my eyes. And said: “No way. I don’t trust this Obama government.”

(Turned out my dad had said identical, I learned later from my stepmom!)

What came of the swine flu? My point is proved.

So while I live on a coastline in the path of oceanic winds from Japan, no, I’m not pounding the pavement or poring through online sites for potassium iodide pills. I’m guided by my own intelligence, not mass/public consciousness or panic, and my intelligence tells me they’re not necessary.

Wonder how many potassium pills will end up in the bodies that don’t need them or in first-aid kids and medicine cabinets unopened …

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11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Karyn @ kloppenmum
    Mar 20, 2011 @ 00:43:59

    So true.

    Reply

  2. lexiemom
    Mar 20, 2011 @ 12:14:36

    You are wise. This is just more unnecessary panic. The world loves panic…

    Reply

  3. longeyesamurai
    Mar 20, 2011 @ 19:33:46

    Ahh man, you take all the fun from the news, why don’t you? As far I’m concerned the only thing of interest that warrants looking more into is what happened for TEPCO to drop the ball that badly.

    Every thing else is just hyperbole at this point*

    *Not the tragedy itself but the whole disaster porn and fanning the flames of fear story.

    Reply

    • allycatadventures
      Mar 20, 2011 @ 21:15:39

      @Capra – “… warrants looking more into is what happened for TEPCO to drop the ball that badly” — what do you mean?

      Reply

      • longeyesamurai
        Mar 21, 2011 @ 19:50:53

        Read over the week-end (think it was in the Globe And Mail) about how TEPCO has been hiding and downplaying any problems at their facilities, which *might* be a factor in what happened at Fukushima (Earthquake and Tsunami notwhitstanding).

        By the way, The flu scare is not Obama’s fault, it’s the pharmaceuticals’, who were peddling their products.

        Reply

  4. mizunogirl
    Mar 21, 2011 @ 03:56:21

    I lived through Three Mile Island…which turned out to be nothing…(we lived just downwind of the plant….) and even the thought for some years after that there was a high level of blood cancers in the area turned out to be more related to the farming and pesticide lifestyle than TMI, so I just never can decide from the information given if we know anything! I think when things come, no amount of potassium pill is going to be enough, if it comes at all.

    That said. I did not get vaccinated for Swine Flu the first year. And I got Flu A, then Flu B, then the Swine FLu and was Miserable and in fact actually really sick. This year, I drank the Kool-Aide. I got the combined FLu and swine flu vax. Have not been sick once, despite numerous exposures. So the jury is out on that for me. i can not decide if I just did a better job washing my hands or if the vax did help. Probably a bit of both…

    Here’s to a Healthy couple of months!

    Reply

    • allycatadventures
      Mar 21, 2011 @ 13:11:28

      Those (older) people I know who get their annual regular flu shots (no relation to swine flu) report that it seems to offer protection. As for the swine flu, much ado was made about nothing. The administration trumped it up as the next outbreak of the plague, yada yada yada, then nada, zip. Anyhow, I could write much more about that whole Obama-Kafkaesque BS about the swine flu but it’ll only ruin my morning so will leave it at that! 😉

      Reply

  5. Invictus
    Mar 21, 2011 @ 10:06:41

    I find it difficult to get too worked up about any of these health scares, partly because I’m not generally prone to panic anyway, but also because every time I see one of these stories, I actually read the whole damn thing. Virtually every story I read on the flu or radiation risks or West Nile virus or whatever tells what the risks are, the populations most at risk and how you can protect yourself. If it doesn’t, there are plenty of reliable, peer-reviewed sources a few clicks away. Maybe if people actually read beyond the jump, as it were, there’d be a little less Chicken Little syndrome. Then again, I know what those odds are.

    Reply

    • allycatadventures
      Mar 21, 2011 @ 13:16:13

      @B – “Maybe if people actually read beyond the jump, as it were, there’d be a little less Chicken Little syndrome. Then again, I know what those odds are.” – I’ll see that bet and raise it by a reminder that terrific numbers aren’t reading even up to the jump but getting their information from broadcast soundbites …

      Reply

  6. Raymond
    Mar 21, 2011 @ 15:37:33

    I remember when journalists used to say, ‘sex sells’, and they would rush to cover anything remotely connected to sensationalism. But times change and I heard Bill O’Reilly (egocentristic personality of Fox News), in a sound bite with Morris (I think, author of ‘Revolt’?) asserted that what sells these days is scary. Yeah, scary sells. Mr. O’Reilly stated that people love to be scared, because scary sells.

    I knew that had to be a method to their madness…

    Reply

  7. Raymond
    Mar 21, 2011 @ 15:39:07

    I knew that there had to be a method to their madness… (my badness)

    Reply

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