Friday, 31 October 2014

New Year's Eve

These days Halloween in Ireland is much as it is in my native USA, with children trick-or-treating from house to house. The only unusual aspect for us is that the houses are so far apart, so that we had a bit of walking -- and that there are no lights around us, so we had to walk with a torch (flashlight). Also, it's the rainy season here, and it started lashing as The Girl and her best friend ran the final lap through the darkness to our house.

 Here in our house, though, Halloween is a day to hang pictures of loved ones who have passed on recently, whom we still remember. It was New Year's Eve, in the old Celtic calendar, the day when the veil between worlds was thinnest -- the night for stories of ghosts and banshees, hence the origins of Halloween.

It was also a day to light fires to ward off the encroaching darkness, and in places it still is. Tonight, as I brought The Girl and her friend down the black country roads, we looked toward the Hill of Allen, an extinct volcano that rises out of the bog. It was completely black, but we knew where it was in the distance, and we saw a massive bonfire on its top, the forest glowing orange below it.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Turf season

The strongest impression of Ireland in winter is the rich, earthy smell of burning turf -- peat from the bog, pungent as incense. The turf -- the long-compressed remains of many decades of prehistoric sphagnum moss -- is cut each spring, and we stack it to dry over the summer and bring it to our homes in winter. The fuel that heats our house comes from less than a kilometre away -- and the wood, of course, which comes from less than ten metres away.

Local people here still hold a turf-cutting contest every summer here, using a special angular shovel that could not be mistaken for anything else. In the old days, to find out if conditions were right to cut turf in spring, local people lit their pipes and waited to see what the smoke would do. If it headed for the ground it was a bad sign, and turf-cutting was postponed. 

Photo: The Girl climbing turf cliffs a walk away from our house. 

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Children at Castle Kilkenny























Irish children on the outer wall of the castle; The Girl is the one in the middle.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Best dinosaur ever

Note: As I said to The Girl, she’s old enough now that I won’t talk about our conversations without first clearing it with her. 

For our nightly lessons last night, The Girl and I lay in bed together reading about dinosaurs. I loved reading about them myself at that age, but we’ve learned so much since then; vast new regions of the world have opened up for fossil exploration, and new technology has allowed us to gain some idea of the animals' skin and muscles, not just their bones.

As a result, the grey-green and stupidly lumbering beasts of my childhood have been replaced by much more interesting animals; darting predators with tiger stripes, giants covered in feathers, and winged reptiles the height of giraffes. We found one that waited in water to lunge at prey like a crocodile, others that leapt and glided through trees to catch insects or mammals.

The Girl enjoyed play-acting the dinosaurs' roles with me -- waiting in water to lunge like a crocodile, leaping from tree to tree after small prey,and so on. She knows that each job -- apex predator, insectivore and so on -- was an important niche in a system and I explained that niches remain more or less constant over time. Every system of plants and animals will need someone to clean up carcasses, someone to be the large herbivore, and someone to a keystone species. In Ireland those roles were filled by placental mammals, in Australia by marsupials, in New Zealand by birds, and ages ago by dinosaurs, yet the roles remain much the same.

Then, reading through the newer discoveries, we found the best dinosaur name ever --- Irritator. It sounds like the least threatening comic-book villain ever, but it was a kind of spinosaur predator and that’s its real Latin name. A brief web search told me that illegal fossil-hunters had artificially plastered extra bits onto the skull of their discovery, and palaeontologists who acquired the fossil named it after the feeling they experienced trying to undo the damage and find the real dinosaur underneath.

“Oooh – can I act out this dinosaur, Daddy?”

Sure, I said.

She got behind me and began poking me in the shoulder. “Daddy? Daddy? Daddy, can I have a drink of water? Can I read over your shoulder? Do I have to go to bed? Can’t I stay up a little longer? Can I have a fizzy drink? Do I have to eat vegetables? Are we there yet? Daddy? Daddy?”

You can do that very well when you want to, I laughed.

“I've had a lot of practice over the years,” she said smartly.

Photo: Triceratops at the London Museum of Natural History, with The Girl last year.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Moving to an island

I heard an archival interview recently with a couple that moved from the city to one of the islands off the coast of Ireland decades ago, and were introduced to a very different world. All their neighbours, they discovered, lived in isolated self-sufficiency, taking care of their own gardens and animals, and few people used phones. Yet they had a powerful sense of community, helping each other out through the year and sharing whatever they had when a neighbour stopped by.

When they first moved there, they tried to send out invitations to a gathering, and found it took weeks; they had to walk to each house in turn, since no one used phones. At each house people would invite them in and insist they stay for dinner, and pile their arms full of whatever was ripe. At the time the rhubarb was ready, so they walked away with bushels of rhubarb from each house.

A tank of petrol lasted them months, since people had cars, but there was almost nothing to do with them.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Permissions

“So when you write, sometimes you write about me?” The Girl said.

For my blog, I said, but not in the local paper – a bit when you were a toddler, but not since.

“Thank you,” she said. “Because everyone around here reads the paper.”

I know, I said. And they know me, and know you. It was one thing when I could tell a story about my baby and everyone just thought it cute. The older you get, though, the more I want to respect your privacy.

“You write about me in your blog, though,” she observed, “and that can be seen all over the world.”

Yes, I said. But I never show your face, or say your name, or say exactly where we live. And except for a few relatives or distant friends, none of those people know you. And as of last year, I never write down our conversations unless you give me permission.

She considered this for a moment. “I’ve always given permission when you ask,” she said. “I liked the idea that I can be a little bit famous.”

You might not be as famous as those magazine celebrities, I said, but you have a few fans. Unlike most magazine celebrities, you’ve earned yours.

“You won’t write anything unless I say it’s okay?” she asked. “I’m getting a bit nervous about being in front of all these people I don’t know, like being on stage where you can’t see the audience.”

You almost never see your audience in life, I said, and even less so in the computer age. But listen – you’re safe here with me, and the people reading about you would likely be very decent sorts. And of course I’ve only written about the conversations you’ve allowed me to – nothing very private, and nothing particularly embarrassing. And if you don’t want me to write about something, I won’t.

“Can we take a break from it for a while?” she asked. “Just until I feel a little less nervous.”

Of course, I said – just let me know when you’re ready to allow it again. Do you mind if I write about this conversation, as an explanation to readers? I asked.

 “Okaaaay,” she said grudgingly, but smiled.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Kim chee at home


Originally published in the Kildare Nationalist newspaper.

Few peoples on Earth are as devoted to their national dishes as Koreans are to kim chee. Few Irish have had this amazing dish, but few things have a richer or more powerful flavour, and it can be made easily at home with everyday ingredients. I don't feel compelled to stick reverently to their ingredients, and I've been able to adapt it to whatever is ready in the garden at the moment.

Kim chee can be best described as a kind of Asian sauerkraut, a spicy pickled cabbage with ginger, garlic and other spices. It’s made with the same process that creates dill pickles – the technical term is lacto-fermentation – using a salty brine to preserve the food and give it a tangy bite. It can keep for as long as a few months, but can be ready in as little as a week.

To make kim chee, you will need:

• A kilo of cabbage from your garden – Chinese cabbage or bok choi is the traditional choice for Koreans, but regular Irish cabbage will do just fine, or even leaves from other brassicas.
• 60 millilitres of salt.
• 15 millilitres of grated garlic – if you don’t have a garlic press or hand grater, just run it through the smallest holes of the cheese grater.
• Five millilitres of grated ginger
• 15 millilitres of chopped hot pepper
• 100 grams or so of chopped radishes
• 100 grams of scallions or chives

To start, chop the cabbage into quarters, remove the cores, and slice into strips about five centimetres wide. Mix the cabbage and the salt in a large bowl, and with your hands massage the salt into the cabbage for a few minutes. Some people like to use gloves for handling the salt again, especially if you have sensitive skin. Then find a plate smaller than the top of the bowl, and place it on the cabbage to keep it in the salt. You might want to put some jars on top – I used pickle jars evenly around the edges – to weigh it down. Leave it there for about two hours.

At the end of that time, the cabbage will be soft and sitting in a brine of its own juice and some salt. Take the cabbage out and drain in a colander, and clean the bowl to use again. Then you make the kim chee paste, mixing the grated garlic, grated ginger, and chopped pepper together in a bowl. Some recipes, I find, call for using flour to thicken the paste -- I've tried it with and without, and haven't found it to make much difference.

Some people put in a bit of sugar at this point, some a bit of soy sauce, some a bit of seafood flavour like fish sauce or oyster sauce. Chop up the radishes and scallions and add them to the mix.

Finally, mix the vegetables and paste with the cabbage, and massage them together as you did with the salt. There are hot peppers in there, so some people like to crack out the gloves again at this part. Pack the cabbage into a clean glass jar – I used a pickle jar – pressing down until the brine rises to just barely cover everything.

Leave a bit of space at the top, and seal the lid – not too tightly, though, in case gas needs to escape. Check every day or two to loosen the lid just a crack, to make sure it’s not going to explode, and then when the gas has escaped tighten it a little again. Let the mix stand for at least a week, and give it a try.

This recipe uses only minimal spice compared to the Korean original, but if it’s still too much, use less next time. The best thing about this recipe is that, when people here grow cabbages, they tend to use the head only and throw the outer leaves away – they are tough and would not be good to chew. Kim chee, though, can be made from some outer leaves of cabbages, and so less goes to waste.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Dublin cafe

I just find this slogan funny for some reason.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The Postman

After Mass I talked with our postman, who lamented the changes he was seeing in Ireland.

“People used to gather together every night around here, and in the village, and now they’re all watching the telly,” he said. “It’s getting way too commercialised.” “With the older people I can do what I always used to do, and just open the door to their home and walk in.

‘Hello Paddy,’ I would say, and they’d say ‘Tom! How’re you keeping?’ I ask if they need anything from the store, so when I would bicycle to the houses around here I would bring some food or newspapers too.

We’re all going to be old someday ourselves, God willing, so it’s just respect.”

Why don’t you deliver the post by bicycle any more, I asked?

“Ah, they’re making me take a car,” he said. “And people get big deliveries these days, to a house full of stuff. Not the same as the old days. But the older people still greet me the same as always.”

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Sloes and haws


This Sunday, The Girl helped me pick haws and sloes from the trees that line the canal by our home. Haws are easy – hawthorn trees are as plentiful as willows or birches here, all the more so this time of year, when a single tree can sag toward the earth laden with tens of thousands of berries. Sloes – the fruit of the blackthorn, which we value for making sloe gin – presents more of a challenge.

The trees themselves appear all over the hedges here – I counted several dozen within a few hundred metres of our house – but have no distinctive features, and the bluish-black sloes blend in well with the shadows. For such a plentiful fruit, they are difficult to find, and once found are difficult to gather from the thorny tangle.

The secret, I realised, was to mark the trees in spring, when most trees stand bare and the blackthorn bursts into an eruption of flowers. With this in mind, I could simply set out with The Girl from our house to the nearest landmark and then count the steps …

“What are you doing, Daddy?”

 … counting the steps, I said, to the sloe trees. You keep an eye out for mushrooms, I told her – you’re better at it than I am.

“Look at all those haws!” she said. “They are haws, aren’t they? Other berries are also red, and I wouldn’t want us to be poisoned.”

Check the leaves of the tree they’re on, I said. Yes, most berries are red because they’re meant to be eaten by birds. Birds’ eyes were developed over time to see the berries, and the berries to be seen by the birds.

“But sloes are dark blue.”

And blackberries are black, I said – and there are a few that are yellow or white, but even these stand out against the greenery. Unripe fruit will be green and taste terrible; it’s only when the seeds are ready to stand up to an animal’s gut that the fruit around them develops. Speaking of, I said, these blackberries are ready for our services – would you like one?

“No thank you,” she said. “I never thought I’d say this, but they’re too sweet for me now.”

You’re growing up, I said, and you will find your tastes changing – and not just your literal taste.

"I know, a lot of things about me are changing," she said, and then, "how much of me will change as I get older?"

If we do this rightly, I said -- and so far I think we are -- the child you won't go anywhere. She'll be something you'll be able to build a life on, not something you'll leave behind.


Saturday, 11 October 2014

The old pharmacy


For many decades chemists – what we would today call pharmacists or druggists – created their own materials; they ground, distilled and filtered chemical essences from stones and herbs, using the elegant glassware that has served as shorthand for science ever since. From 1847 until 2009, the chemist for the neighbourhood around Trinity College was Sweny’s, mentioned by James Joyce and since then a place of pilgrimage for his readers.

When it closed its doors as a pharmacy five years ago, they tiny shop – smaller than some toilets I’ve seen -- was purchased by a group of volunteers who maintain it as a kind of volunteer, miniature museum to Joyce, to Old Dublin and to the chemist shops as they once were. The volunteer behind the counter said a group gathers there several nights a week to read the works of Joyce --- a section of Ulysses, a section of Finnegan’s Wake and so on – and then all go out for a pint at one of the local pubs, also looking very much as they did centuries ago.

On the counters lie books of many Irish poets and authors, and all along the walls sit the same bottles as fifty or a hundred years ago – lovely crafted, grooved and embossed glass with labels like “Spirit of ammonia,” “Liquor of digitalis” or “Essence of mercury.”

“The ones with the grooved sides are the poisons,” the man said. “They had to go to the cellar with a candle, and pick a bottle in the near-darkness, so they needed to know poisons at a touch.” 


Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Dairy boys

In 1978, Irish radio interviewed a man who grew up in a Dublin dairy, in a family whose daily routine was ruled by the needs of cattle udders and local babies. About his early life in the 1930s and 40s, he said:

"The noise of wheels on cobbles, the crunch as it turned to clay outside our lane, the sound of the tumble churn, the jingling of harness, hobnail boots, the smells of horse sweat, cow dung, new milk, wet grass, sour milk, buttermilk, bacon and porridge.

Our house was like a railway, people coming and going at all times ... Even when someone died the blinds were drawn but the door stayed open. The 'boys' who did the milking were kings of the neighbourhood, all wearing the same clothes like a uniform."

Photo: Boys gardening in an Irish school, courtesy of www.irishhistorylinks.com

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Vertical gardening

This article originally appeared in the Kildare Nationalist newspaper, County Kildare, Ireland. 



Most of us would like to grow some of our own food, for several reasons. For one thing, we wouldn’t waste our precious fuel supplies bringing apples in from New Zealand. We’d be able to select crops and breeds suitable for our climate, rather than have every apple in stores from California to London be the same few breeds chosen for long shelf life. Finally, we’d have the best-tasting and healthiest kind of food, food that doesn’t know it’s dead yet.

Most of us, however, have only limited space. Many of us live in estates or other such houses with small gardens, surrounded by walls or fences that limit light and warmth. Our towns are a maze of similar walls – the sides of houses and sheds, stone garden walls, wooden fences and other such boundaries, and we each live on a small plot in the middle of the maze. What could allow many of us to grow more food, however, is to think of the third dimension when planning our garden, and to emphasize crops that climb up.

Vertical gardening could be done with many of our human-made structures. Your house or apartment building has sides, as do your sheds, shops, schools, churches and highway overpasses. Not far away you likely have telephone poles, fences, walls, signs, gates and, of course, trees, any of which might be covered in productive garden plants.

Beans and peas might make a good start – they grow easily in many temperate regions, make beautiful flowers, add nitrogen to the soil, and offer a high-protein, easily stored crop. Tomatoes and cucumbers climb up sticks, although they like some warmth, and depending on your situation might need a poly-tunnel, or might do fine with just a south-facing wall.

Japanese wine-berry has both looks and edible berries, as do grapes – if you can grow them here – and kiwis. Roses other thorny plants not only provide shoots, flowers and fruits, but a natural security fence against human or animal intruders.

If you want to give this a go, first pay attention to what kind of climber you have. Some, like ivy, sink their roots into bark or masonry, and should probably have a trellis if you are putting it on the side of your house. Roses and other scramblers, which have hooks or thorns that latch onto other plants and allow them to pull themselves upwards, would also require support. Twiners like wisterias twist their tendrils around trees and other structures, while beans whip their shoots around looking for something to latch onto.

The hedgerows that line the countryside are a good example; they might serve first as boundary lines between fields, but they can be as productive as the fields themselves – and in all seasons, not just at harvest time. Hawthorn shoots and dandelions for salads and nettle and bramble shoots for tea in springtime, then linden leaves, then elderflowers, then rose hips and blackberries, with sloes going into winter.

Such hedges of climbing plants add variety to fields that would otherwise go sterile. Each plant adds its own chemicals and removes its own nutrients from the soil, so fields of monoculture need to be continually fertilised. Single crops provide our bodies, too, with a single set of nutrients, and only at certain times of year. They also encourage a glut of certain animals, like pests that eat our crops, and offer no homes to the birds and insectivores who would eat the pests. 

Boundaries like hedges offer fields a needed balance, a wild river through human land that can soak up our excesses and give us a reservoir of food and fuel for lean times.

Monday, 6 October 2014

School performance

When The Girl and I arrived in the village of Oban in the highlands of Scotland several weeks ago, we got off the train right by the shore, to the smell and roar of the sea. In the middle of the town square, the local schoolchildren were gathered, playing drums and bagpipes. I wondered if it we came upon them by chance, or if they performed like this every night for visitors coming off the evening train, welcoming them to the village.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Interview at C-Realm podcast

If you look at the little blogroll down the side of my web site, you'll notice that they seem an unusual mix. Some, like the Archdruid Report or the Automatic Earth, write detailed epistles on the future, examining what current trends mean to the world we or our children might see someday.

Others, like American Conservative, Imaginative Conservative, First Things or Front Porch Republic, are thoughtful and intelligent political publications. Still others, like Orion, contain some of the best writing on ecology.

Grit is a farming and homesteading magazine, Mother Earth News focuses on sustainable living, and I read Dragon's Tales just for some of the most entertaining new scientific papers. Some of them simply focus on simple living, one of the best kinds of activism around.

From all this, you can guess that I don't ally with people simply because they tick the same political or religious box that I do. I'm more interested in listening to people who try to understand some of the global problems we face, who are doing something to make their corner of the world better in some way, and who are of all backgrounds, countries, political bents and religions. I want to hear ideas I haven't heard before, and to build bridges with other people who understand that we're all in this together.

I also like listening to other people who do the same, and one podcast in particular does that consistently - the "C-Realm," which I have listened to for seven years. The show's host, KMO, features authors I've often enjoyed -- Charles Mann, John Michael Greer, James Howard Kunstler, Derrick Jensen and Dmitri Orlov -- and introduced me to many more. An episode might feature a podcaster like Jordan Harbinger or Frank Aragonna, a blogger like Chad Hill of the HipCrime Vocab, an economist like Ilargi or a minister like Oren Whiddon -- and all those examples are from the last six months. KMO demonstrates that one man with a microphone and a phone can create more thought-provoking shows than most radio networks.

Now, he's featuring an interview with me, over the article I wrote for the American Conservative about the riots in my old neighbourhood of Ferguson, Missouri. Check it out.


Photo: Ferguson protests, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Friday, 3 October 2014

Acceptance

For nightly lessons I've been reading from the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, beginning with the Oscar-acceptance-style opening where the Roman emperor thanks all his influences.

From Sextus, I read, I learned how to tolerate ignorant people. 

“Like I don’t,” said The Girl.

Well, I said, it takes practice.

“What if I don’t think I should?” she asked. “There are a lot of really awful people in the world. Do I always have to tolerate what people say?”

Ah, I said – good point. You don’t need to tolerate someone breaking the law, or bullying others, or lying – you should stand up to them. But you do need to tolerate decent people having a different point of view than you …

“Like what?” she asked.

Well, I said… let’s say some of our neighbours think the county council should preserve the local forest for wildlife, and people around us think they should cut down the trees for firewood for poor people …

“They should just pollard them,” The Girl said. “They could have both.”

Yes, well ... let’s say they don’t know about pollarding, I said. The point is, people will come up with different ideas, and they have to be able to argue their points logically, and work things out. You might think they're completely wrong, but they think the same about you. You need to disagree but not disrespect.

“What if we can’t work things out?”

Well, you remember what Pericles said to the people of Athens? He said that people were willing to make sacrifices for their city because it was a democracy – they didn’t just believe in the government, they were the government. That only works, though, when everyone can make a logical argument for their side, listen to each other, and be willing to stand down when everyone votes against them.

The same thing works in science, I said; you gather facts and put your case together, but you have to have peers to duplicate your experiments, and they can still send you back to the drawing board.

“Scientists get together and argue?” she asked. Sure, I said – that’s part of science. Remember Francis Bacon and his WET-P system? I asked.

“Sure,” she said. “You Wonder about something, creating an Experiment to find the answer, Test it carefully, and then run it by your Peers.”

Good, I said – and that’s how you find out things.

“And then he died from doing it,” The Girl said, in the voice I’m going to hear more of when she’s a teenager.

Yes, but he died for a good cause, I said. You remember that time this afternoon when you didn’t die from botulism? That was him.

“Okaaaay,” she said grudgingly.

Good -- back to Marcus Aurelius now, I said. From my brother Severus, who introduced me to Diogenes … 

“Severus?” she asked, with the voice of a child who loves Harry Potter. Yes, I said, that’s where Snape got his name, I’m sure. Severus was the name of Marcus’ brother – Marcus Aurelius was one of the great Stoics, and apparently introduced Marcus to the works of Diogenes, one of the original Stoics of Ancient Greece.

“I know – he lived in a barrel, and weed on people he didn’t like,” The Girl said.

See, this is why I have mixed feelings about Horrible Histories, I said – I’m glad it teaches you who Diogenes was, but he was such a great philosophical mind that people remember him 33 centuries later, and I wish you remembered something else about him than that he urinated on people.

“I’m just picturing Snape as his brother now, trying to have a conversation with him,” The Girl said, and in as perfect an Alan Rickman impersonation as a ten-year-old girl can muster, speaking slowly with clenched teeth – “I wish you would stop weeing on me at family gatherings.”

We’re not going to get any further with this lesson tonight, are we? I asked, and set Marcus Aurelius aside. Shall I read Lord of the Rings?

Can we read Diary of a Wimpy Kid? She asked eagerly.

At least she’s eager to read something, I thought.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Leaning Pub of Kildare

We are surrounded by the Bog of Allen where we live, and the ground is always variable -- hard as dirt most days, but flammable in a drought, with columns of smoke rising in the distance like forest fires. In the rainy season it bounces like a mattress and swells like dough, not always evenly. Hence, this long-standing pub in our neighbourhood has long been standing unevenly. Thankfully, it's not so pronounced that the pints slide down the bar.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

New article at Mother Earth News

Most of you reading this are familiar with author John Michael Greer, whose influence I've cited and who I spent time with in London earlier this year. Most of you also know that I write a regular column for Mother Earth News, one of the best resources for homesteading and traditional crafts.

Now you can get both in one, for Mother Earth News has generously published my review of JMG's science fiction novel Star's Reach, a portrayal of an America transformed by centuries of declining energy and changing weather. The magazine prefers that I not duplicate content, so I'll just excerpt the first paragraphs:

Just for a moment, picture the future. Not your future - not this year’s harvest or your daughter’s graduation -- but The Future.
You remember The Future; you’ve been seeing it all your life. If you were a teenager in the 1990s you remember the flying cars and giant holograms of Back to the Future II, set in the impossibly distant 2015. If you were a kid in the 1960s you probably remember the talking robots and interstellar travel of Lost in Space, set in the faraway 1990s. Similar-looking sci-fi fantasies date back to the 1800s, always looking about the same, and always just a few decades away from whenever Now was.

These examples are fiction, of course, but they reflected what serious pundits predicted in publications like Life or Popular Mechanics – one day, they promised, we would all live in domed cities, swallow pills for food and take moon vacations. For generations of boys it gave science fiction an almost religious gravity; we weren’t likely to grow up to be actual cowboys or pirates, but for a time it seemed like we would all be astronauts. Real technology got fancier, of course, so now we download music files instead of spinning records, and drive cars that … um … have more cup-holders than cars used to. The really important changes never happened, though; no androids, no jetpacks, nothing. We never got to Mars, or even went back to the moon; there’s just not much there to see. For generations that future was always right around the corner, and we’re beginning to realise that it always will be.

As more people grew disillusioned with hi-tech utopias – either because they didn’t think we were going to achieve it, or because they didn’t want it – science fiction offered the other extreme of total apocalypse. It’s also a fantasy, in its own way: a war, disease or some other catastrophe wipes out everyone but you and your friends, you get everyone’s stuff, and everyone wishes they had listened to you. Also, just like utopia, doomsday was going to happen any minute now, and never quite got here.  
 Check out the rest here.