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Commentary: Come wind or high water, I'll worry when it's zombies

By Jim Kennedy, jkennedy@theaegis.com

7:11 PM EDT, October 28, 2012

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Originally, my plan was to write about one kind of security, namely password security which I'm convinced is a plot by computer people to make the rest of us feel stupid. Each password needs to have between eight and 10 characters, with at least one capital letter, one number and sometimes another character like a # or a ~.

You've got to change each password every six weeks to six months. They're not supposed to be related to anything that would prompt a memory like the names of family members or pets or dates like birthdays or anniversaries. Never write them down and make sure you use a different password for any of the functions where one might be called for: work computer, home computer, bank, social media accounts and so forth. Heck, just the level of memory that consumes in my head takes up so many brain-o-bytes that I'm guaranteed secure from ever getting into any of my accounts if I follow the advice offered by computer folk.

Something, however, came up that made me think a better kind of security might make for a better essay this week, namely the Sandy storm. Don't get me wrong: a strong storm is a good reason for being concerned and preparing. Still, I haven't gotten especially concerned about a weather report since I got a job that requires me to work largely regardless of the weather. For me, no snow days means there's no reason to get worked up about the weather forecast. Unless there's a zombie apocalypse or civilization ending catastrophe (weather-related or otherwise), I'm pretty much going to get up in the morning and get to work, or do whatever else I had planned.

Curiously, there's at least a semblance of the same attitude apparent in the Weather Channel's local offerings. Every few minutes, the golf forecast flashes up on the TV and as of Sunday, the prospects for a round were rated at between poor and fair. By the height of the storm, the prediction was for the conditions on the links to be "very poor," the lowest rating and one, which I presume means if you're up for playing in a driving rain and 50 mph wind with gusts to 70 mph, that's fine. Just be aware your handicap might need adjustment.

You may have noticed I'm writing this from the past, relative to the perspective of you, the reader, and I'm situated in a time where Sandy's effects remain a matter of prophecy, conjecture and forecast. You reading this, however, already have experienced the worst of the storm, which means you'll have a pretty good indication as to whether my attitude about the weather is appropriate, or a bit too cavalier.

My prediction: Sandy brings a big mess, with lots of disruptions, power outages, flooding and a fair amount of mayhem (kind of like having a whole army of those guys from that one series of car insurance commercials). It won't, however, bring about the fall of post-space-age civilization. If an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan couldn't do it, I'm fairly sure the latest hybrid of tropical storm and nor'easter will leave the foundations of modern culture more in tact than, say, a bit of fast and loose bookkeeping on the part of Wall Street bankers.

Now I'm all for getting the stuff that's easily blown around out of the yard and under cover. There's no reason to leave lawn furniture to be blown through the neighbors' windows. I was a bit puzzled, however, upon being assigned to go to the grocery store to buy some bottled water. Our house is on the county water system, which isn't likely to lose pressure except in the most extreme of situations, like zombie apocalypses or Planet of the Apes type shifts in the civilization paradigm.

I'd like to point out that in a zombie apocalypse, or takeover by genetically modified apes, looting becomes a reasonable option for the living or the remnants of human civilization, so even facing these prospects, there's really no reason to travel the few hundred yards to the nearest grocery store and stock up on water. Still, not wanting to get in a pointless argument with the people I live with over something as cheap as bottled water, I headed out to pick up a few cases. As it turned out, so did everyone else and I was too late. All that was left on the water shelf was water by the gallon or vitamin fortified and flavored water. I bought five gallons in gallon milk jugs and figured that would be more than enough. By the time you read this, you'll know better than I do now as I'm writing it.

Meanwhile, I'm resigned to a miserable couple of days, and probably an irritating power outage or three. Even so, I remain confident that a year or two from now, my irritation about computer passwords will remain, even as the Sandy storm's problems will have at least begun to fade as other pending storms threaten new cataclysms every couple of months.