Six Reasons Why the World Isn’t Going to End in 19 Days

Sure, there have been all kinds of natural disasters, not to mention strange weather patterns in general. (One mild winter in North Dakota last season was awesome, yet terrifying, because it’s so uncharacteristic. This one’s rounding out to be pretty similar.) And even though I might have been a little nervous about it myself when I first heard of the whole “2012” thing a few years ago, I’m now convinced that there’s no way we’ve only got 19 days left. Here are a few reasons why:

1. The Mayans made calendars, not predictions.

Why are we banking predictions of the future on a civilization that couldn’t predict its own demise? Yes, it’s still a mystery and archeologists aren’t sure what necessarily caused it, but it certainly happened quickly. You’d think a big disaster might have been something they could foretell. That is, if they ever claimed to be foretelling anything. Let’s give the Mayans some credit here. They were pretty advanced people. They probably realized that the notion of predicting the future was quackery, themselves.

I couldn't resist.

I couldn’t resist.

So, their calendar happens to end on December 21, 2012. Ours ends on December 31 every year. What if some futuristic space people come to Earth in a thousand years, find one of our old calendars, and assume we predicted the end of the world because of that? As for the 2012 thing, maybe they just got sick of making calendars at that point. Or maybe they were like, “Hey, it’s like, 900 A.D. I think 2012 is more than enough. Let’s take a break. We’ll make more calendars in like 1980.”

Oh, how I love this.

Oh, how I love this.

2. Some are catching on to the fact that Taylor Swift is not necessarily all that and a bag of gluten free popcorn chips. (Trust me, in spite of any “gluten free” connotations, those things are delicious.)

It’s no secret that I’m not necessarily a Swift fan. At first, I thought it was an irrational dislike, but honestly, I just don’t see why everyone flips out and thinks she’s the greatest ever. As far as singing and songwriting, she’s pretty average among her competition. A majority of her songs are pretty much about the same thing – heartbreak, relationships, boys suck, yada yada. They all sound pretty similar. And now she’s not even staying true to her country roots, getting all “popified” with her new album. (Does anyone else think the, “WeeeeEEEEE!” in “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” sounds like a pig call? You know, “Sooooo Weeeee!” Maybe it’s just me.)

She has summoned the pigs!

She has summoned the pigs! (Yay for cute baby animal pictures in this post!)

But I always said jokingly, “If the world ends in 2012, it’ll be because Taylor Swift is some kind of spy and brainwashed the nation into trusting her and thinking she’s perfect.” I guess I just don’t fully buy her squeaky clean image. And my less-than-impressed opinion of her has gotten me yelled at multiple times. Each time, the yellers to try to convince me to love her. Why? If someone isn’t particularly a fan of any other music artist, people generally shrug it off thinking, “Eh, to each his own.”  What makes her so different? So, that’s what’s bothered me about her.

I'm just sayin'...

I’m just sayin’…

And that opinion is starting to grow, much to my surprise. So, there goes that theory. One more point for the world continuing to exist.

Yay!

Yay!

3. Hello, does anyone remember the whole “Rapture” thing?

Yeah, that didn’t happen. Although, it did make for an awesome excuse to have Rapture Parties and to sit around watching horror movies and drinking. December 21 will be an excuse to bring on the even more awesome End of the World Parties!

Plus, it was a great excuse for Shock Top to make this beer that I couldn't resist getting last night. It's pretty good, but I honestly think I really like it because of its clever name.

Plus, it was a great excuse for Shock Top to make this beer that I couldn’t resist getting last night. It’s pretty good, but I honestly think I really like it because of its clever name.

4. We’ve only gotten through the mid-season finale of the Walking Dead. Every episode’s enough of a cliffhanger as it is. There’s no way we can hold out that long.

Well, we actually haven’t even made it that far yet, but in approximately six hours we will. I’m going to have a hard enough time waiting until whenever it starts up again; I really don’t need an apocalypse screwing it up. However, if zombies were to be involved, at least I would have learned some great survival techniques.

Lori made the zombie apocalypse so much worse than it had to be.

Lori made the zombie apocalypse so much worse than it had to be.

5. I finally bought an iPhone. I better get more than 2 weeks to use it.
My Android phone spazzed out on me late last spring, so I got frustrated, went off the deep end, and downgraded to a dumbphone. It was nice to get away from paying for a data plan for a while, but this phone is even crappier than the phone I had in high school. I can only take teeny baby pictures on my teeny baby screen. I can’t take videos. It doesn’t like to send texts all the time, and it definitely doesn’t like to let me know when I’ve received one. So, a shiny, white iPhone 5 has become my Christmas present from me to me. It’s currently hurtling toward me and should be here by Wednesday, leaving me about 16 days with an iPhone if those who believe the end is near are right after all.

Hawt.

Hawt. My dumbphone.

6. This morning, I drank coffee with creamer that expired in September. If I made it through that, I can make it through anything.
I know this doesn’t help the rest of the world have any hope, but I’m feeling particularly resilient for living through that. I made it through half the cup of coffee before I decided that something was really wrong, and those chunks floating in it probably weren’t just undissolved sweetener. So, if living through drinking curdled coffee creamer adds any credibility to my End of the World Survival resume, let’s slap it on there.

Me, reading the expiration date.

Me, reading the expiration date.

But in all seriousness, I am kind of interested in these apocalypse theories, no matter how whacked out they might seem, and I like the idea that this whole December 21 thing isn’t an apocalypse, but an ending of one cycle and the beginning of a new one, as cheesy as it sounds.

But, hey, if you’ve been stockpiling food and alcohol for bartering, like a lot of the Doomsday Preppers I’ve seen on TV, that won’t mean it was all for nothing. It’ll just make your End of the World Party that much more awesome!

2012_end_of_the_world_party_invitation-p161584299638290495en75o_325

Where is the love? Right here!

I heard about this on Sunday, but there was really no outside information to pass on besides the fact itself. I guess there still really isn’t much. But maybe for the four or five readers who’ve stuck around ( 😉 ) and aren’t from North Dakota (hence, don’t know me personally), this is new to them.

In any case, it’s worth writing about because it’s nice. And I like nice things and nice people. Mean people suck.

But this makes me happy that not everyone sucks. Allow me to cut to the chase: Minot, ND, a central North Dakotan city I would call decent-sized but you non-North Dakotans might consider minuscule, is still picking up the pieces from the disastrous flood they battled earlier this summer. Over 10,000 residents were forced to evacuate in late June. The start of the school year has been delayed, the North Dakota State Fair, the state’s biggest annual event, was canceled, and the cost of the flood is estimated somewhere around $1 billion.

This one’s a tear-jerker. “Fix You” is enough to start the waterworks for me, but a weekend trip to Minot was always one of my biggest treats growing up. It’s sad to see a place you’re so familiar with suffering.

Josh Duhamel — hunky actor, married to Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas, you may know him from Las Vegas, the TV show, and movies like Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!, When in Rome, the Transformers series, Ramona and Beezus — is from Minot. Pretty sure I would have dropped over dead if I’d ever seen him walking around the mall there.

Prowling the halls of the Dakota Square Mall? Maybe.

He’s been backing his hometown from day one, just like a true North Dakota boy. So, he got the Black Eyed Peas to set up a special concert benefitting the flood fight that’ll be held in Minot on September 3. Awww, *swoon.*


Tickets will go on sale August 12 for $100 a piece, and full information should be available at this site: www.minotrising.com. (Only it’s super faily and just says “Coming soon…” for now. That was the only source they provided when the news first broke. I had to laugh a little.)

Still, I’m glad they’re spreading the love, following the cry from “Where is the Love?,” one of their first hits. (I oftentimes forget that song exists, but I’m glad when I remember because I think it’s my favorite of their songs.)

Oh, and speaking of Duhamel being a North Dakota boy, this is a perfect opportunity to plug this little video, which went semi-viral last summer, but really just never gets old. It’s also where I got the name for my Wild Wild Williston posts.

Look at me, I’m D.B. Cooper!

You know who’s really freaking fascinating? D. B. Cooper. There’s another wild lead about him in the news, so it made me think about him again.

Sure, he hijacked a 727 and parachuted into obscurity with $200,000 ransom money in 1971. (Woop de doo! I know that was a lot more money in 1971, but it just sounds so lame now.) If he or his lifeless body would have ever been found, only a really small niche would even remember his name at this point. But, since he completely disappeared, he kind of seems like less of a bad guy and more like a bad ass.

Besides, by today’s standards, his hijacking was “polite.” From the get-go, he announced he was hijacking the jet by handing the flight attendant a note, saying, “Miss, you’d better look at that note. I have a bomb.” None of this bursting out of your seat and waving around an Uzi stuff. The note itself was even tactful, reading, “I have a bomb in my briefcase. I will use it if necessary. I want you to sit next to me. You are being hijacked.” Calculating? Yes, he obviously planned that one. But an effort to make the situation less traumatic? I’d also go affirmative on that one.

No criticizing. I have no idea if that's an Uzi.

What kind of cold-hearted criminal has the plane land to refuel and let off all the innocent hostages? Well, one that wants his $200,000 and his parachutes, I guess. But, really, the FBI must have come a long way since 1971, because they pretty much cooperated with him. I just don’t see a crime like this going down today. It’s like Revolutionary War fighting, where they would all line up properly and take turns shooting each other.

"Hey guys! Anybody got a coin? We need to flip to see who goes first."

The case seemed bungled from early on. D.B. wasn’t even the criminal’s name or alias. The media just was “misinformed.” The hijacker identified himself as Dan Cooper, but there was another random guy from Portland on the plane named D.B. Cooper who was “quickly cleared.” Hmmm.

One article says Cooper might have taken his name from this French comic book series. Here's the article: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/2211212/posts

Authorities really should have never let him take off again after refueling. If anything involves an airplane in this day and age, authorities are all over it. The TSA treats civilians like we’re all bloodthirsty bomb-mongers. Especially if we look a little suspicious. (Racial profiling!) Chris, being Italian, looks like he could be of Middle Eastern descent when he has a beard. I always make him shave it before he boards a plane now, because when he doesn’t, he’s “randomly selected” for extra screenings, explosive residue screenings, screenings I didn’t even know they made people do, every time.

Really?

But, I digress. Aside from being an awesome classic vanishing-into-thin-air story, the fact that the world was a totally different place in the early ’70s leaves me hoping they never really do find him. When I was little, my brother and I would play this game where we’d think up ridiculous places where D.B. Cooper was probably hiding. It sounds so much lamer than it was as I write this. I promise you, it was fit for hours of entertainment. My dad told us how he and his friends would play D.B. Cooper when they were little. He’s infamous. He’s a criminal. But I couldn’t help but have a small piece of me feel a little sad if they ever did find him and lock him up.

Part of me likes to think he’s sitting on an island somewhere drinking Mai Tais handed to him by beautiful women and and snickering under his breath about how he got away with it. Part of me likes to think he’s just going about his normal life somewhere right under everyone’s noses and took on a new life. But I never really like to think he just got squashed when he jumped out, because that takes all the fun out of the story.

And, you know, this kinda does, too.

Wild Wild Williston: Part III

My hometown of Williston, ND, is definitely in its own little bubble. The entire state of North Dakota pretty much is, but Williston and other boom towns are a breed of their own.

I haven’t lived in Williston for an extended period of time since the summer of 2009. A lot was changing even then in the steadily growing oil town, but it wasn’t even close to approaching the radical changes it’s undergone in the years since then. Changes that have gained national attention, happening right in my “boring” backyard. (If you haven’t checked out Part I and Part II, there’s some more information about Williston there.)

Williston High School's gymnasium, the Phil Jackson Field House (Williston is his hometown, too). Brings back memories of high school dances, basketball games, and graduation.

As a senior in high school in 2008, after working my way up the “corporate” ladder for the past three years at the local Subway restaurant, I was finally making $10.25 an hour as a supervisor slinging sandwiches. (Yay alliteration!) When I tell my friends this, even friends from North Dakota, they’re usually pretty amazed I got that kind of pay working at a Subway restaurant. (And, I’ll admit, I miss it a lot.)

But things are even vastly different since then. My 16 year-old brother just got his first job this summer working on an asphalt crew. The team consists mostly of females, because all the older guys who would normally be working construction are working on the oil rigs. His starting wage is $15 an hour. I’ve never made that much in my life, and I’m jealous. When I first went into sandwich slavery, I was making a mere $5.50 an hour, and happy with it.

But why do manual labor for 16 hours a day under the hot sun for $15 an hour when you could work in a fast food restaurant for the same wages?

This ad was in Williston's local classified newspaper, "The Shopper," the last week in May.

And the $10.25 an hour at Subway that I’d worked through blood, sweat, and tears for? Yeah.

Ouch.

But that’s what employers need to do to entice help in Williston — A place where there are tons of jobs, tons of people, no place to put them all, and very little for them to do recreationally.  After all, if you or your significant other could be making more than people with college degrees, especially in this economy, why wouldn’t you?

Exactly. Which is why a lot of people from all across the country are doing that.

But finding employees is only half the battle for non-oilfield employers in Williston. Keeping good employees is a big problem, too. People leave jobs in a heartbeat with no warning in favor of better opportunities … or sometimes just in favor of sitting at home. All the restaurants and stores are so busy there, keeping up with the demand gets to be a lot for anyone. (It was even crazy when I worked at Subway before the peak of the oil boom — Our restaurant was considered a “high-volume” store among other Subways nationwide.) For this reason, some employers are taking steps to nip that situation in the bud:

This ad was in last week's issue of "The Shopper." The good part is kind of small in this screenshot, but it says, "Do not apply if you're always sick, late, untrustworthy, can't work weekends, lazy, not dependable, or you complain about everything!"

Housing in Williston, when available, is priced in relation to the competitive wages. I think it’s kind of a chicken and egg situation, but whether the housing prices are in response to the amount people are getting paid, or the amount people getting paid is compensating for the rise in housing prices, they’re definitely both high. Like, you could rent an apartment in New York City for the price of apartments in Williston.


Granted, a lot of apartments in town are certainly much more affordable, they’re definitely more expensive than they used to be, and more difficult to come by.

I was glad to see, though, that while I was perusing The Shopper, some things haven’t changed.

Well, I guess I don’t know if I can say “glad.” The camouflage tux was always something my dates threatened me with during prom season.

Et tu, Zuckerberg?

Oh, and speaking of Google+, can we say “irony?”

I really didn’t think this was real when I first searched his name just out of curiosity. (As you would expect, countless fakes also appear.) But according to an article I recently found, it turns out Mr. Zuckerberg is actually the most-followed person on Google+ so far.

I get a kick out of that. I suppose he had to check out the competition. Curiosity killed the cat … just sayin’. (In my experience, Google+ is still pretty lonely.)

The State of North Dakota: It kinda exists. Maybe.

I’ve made efforts to stand up for the little guy, make my home state a little more well known, defend the fact that North Dakota exists. I posted about things North Dakotans generally like, in an effort to increase rapport with citizens of other states when we go on vacations (or, if by some twist of fate, they come here). I posted about things we just never encounter in our own state, and why, if you get mad at them for messing up your morning commute, they’ll be genuinely hurt. I’ve even posted about our “booming” tourism industry. I discussed how old the “North Dakota doesn’t exist” joke is.

There we are!

But I just found out that it is actually being called into question whether North Dakota ever officially became a state. I have interest in becoming a lawyer, but I don’t claim to be one yet, so I admit — I’m a little confused on exactly what the technicality in North Dakota’s State Constitution is that is calling our statehood into question. The issue has made some headlines, and it’s always interesting to see what outsiders think of our state. I don’t know what exactly would happen if it turns out we’re not a state at all, but merely a territory. I hope the rest of the country doesn’t decide they didn’t want us anyway and leave us to fend for ourselves. Although, another running joke is that North Dakota could hold its own as a nation, since so many residents own firearms and there are so many air bases.

Regardless, I find the fact that people are actually questioning our statehood both interesting and amusing, especially in light of all the flack we get from other states … The ones that actually think about us, at least. I know North Dakota isn’t exactly a booming hot spot that’s on everyone’s minds.

What do  you think about the whole issue?

.com is so 2000.

Ever since the inception of the Internet, we’ve been trained to recognize web sites by their addresses, usually ending in .com, .net., .org, or .gov, although there are more than 300 Internet domain suffixes currently in existence. But today, the board controlling Internet web site names approved the ability for companies and individual users to create and register thousands of new Internet suffixes.

Some of the most buzzed about changes are Apple’s projected use of the suffix .apple, and potentially .ipad, .ipod, and .iphone. The camera company Canon has reportedly already announced its plans to apply for a .canon suffix. Others include big banks using a .bank suffix and major cities using their names for their suffixes, such as .london, .nyc, and .berlin.

A few months ago, Internet regulators approved the use of a .xxx domain suffix for pornography sites, which spurred a flurry of controversy. Although approval of the .xxx suffix was delayed many times over several years, this widespread freedom domain suffix plan has been in the works for over six years. Hmm. In any case, the sites with .xxx suffixes were expected to launch this summer, but not much has been said about them since late March.

A proponent of the .xxx domain suffix's logo

With .com domain names selling for extraordinary amounts, this change could change the market of web hosting, giving the opportunity for more domains with more unique names at potentially cheaper prices. A domain name belongs to whoever happens to register it first. And Apple wasn’t quite quick enough on the draw for iPad.com. But you can bet the owners of that domain wouldn’t give that up for a reasonable price. Maybe this change would get around situations like that. Would that be a good thing?

We probably won’t see this new system go into effect until late next year. But personally, once it’s implemented, I think it will confuse the heck out of me. I don’t recognize a string of words as a URL unless it has the familiar URL-y suffixes tagging behind it. To be honest, I just got used to the idea of not having to type in the “www.” when navigating to a website. But this web suffix change, the most radical change in the Internet’s naming system since .com was introduced over 25 years ago, leaves me feeling like it’ll take some getting used to. And I consider myself to be pretty computer savvy.

What do you think? Necessary, cool, or “a solution without a problem?”