The End of the World as We Know It


katBy Kat Kiefer-Newman

Yesterday was the California Shake-Out. This feels like a statewide acknowledgment that the world really will end in 2012 (the year that the Mayan calendar ends), and it’ll be because of “The Big One.” The web site for the California Shake-Out tells us that:

Californians must get better prepared before the next big earthquake, and also practice how to protect ourselves when it happens. The purpose of the ShakeOut is to help people and organizations do both.

I thought it was very apropos that the drill happened right smack in the middle of my Death and Dying class.

We seem to spend a lot of time discussing the end of the world there. One student told the story about a French lab worker who started preparing for the end of the world back in 2008.  He has followers now, and they are all hunkered down and getting ready. Because I also teach a section on Apocalypse in my Introduction to Mythology class, I seem to always have these stories coming up in class discussions, emailed to me, and in other ways am tripping over them.

There are numerous web sites dedicated to the end of the world. One lovingly describes how Planet Nibiru will cause solar flares in the solar system.  You can even find countdowns and instructives on how to prepare your own family for this “inevitability.” My favorite is The Complete Bug Out Bag, which has all the items one needs to survive. I may just get this kit for all of my friends. Who wouldn’t want to have handy a “head lamp,” a hygiene kit, or a gross of zip ties.

As part of the drill yesterday, we were asked to climb under our desks. I don’t have a desk. I am the professor, so I had to snuggle in with some of my students. There was a nice big opening between two of the young women who are part of the Middle College program. These are very bright and friendly young women, and they told me they had done this same drill the year before at their high school. Next, we were told to hold on to something bigger than ourselves. My student grabbed a hold of me, as she giggled and made silly comments. The rest of the class joined in with the hilarity. We were admonished to think about what life would be like after “The Big One.” As we were marched and herded out onto the football field with all of the other “shakees” we shared stories about the end of the world as we know it.

If the world is going to end, I would prefer a zombie apocalypse as the source. I feel more prepared (via popular culture) for this eventuality. I have read books on the subject (here’s a list of the best zombie books written), seen movies (Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland are the two to watch), trolled websites ( seems to be a fount of phun phacts), and listened to informative songs (or not so informative, how about a Zombie Apocalypse Love Song). If you want to prepare yourself, you can attend the Lego Festival called ZombieApocoFest. They had one in 2008 and 2009 and may have another one again soon. At the very least, though, you should do what I did and arm yourself with the Ultimate Zombie Apocalypse Kit.

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