Your domestic dilemma: “I live in very close proximity to a massive dormant volcano, Mount Rainier. If it were to explode one morning, what would I do?”
Crafty Connie’s Answer:
What a great question! I’ve been waiting for someone to try and get relevant answers about serious geologic concerns from a vapid domestic advice column. While you could ask a geologist or some other expert, they are hard to find and have short office hours.
Here’s a hypothetical scenario that will let us go through some simple steps YOU can take to avoid dying in a volcanic cataclysm: It’s 9 a.m. Friday morning, late fall. Light rain (surprise!), full cloud cover, wind E/SE 5 knots, steady. A terrific noise rends the air. Rainier has erupted! Use the following steps to choose your own lahar evasion adventure.
Step 1: It’s 9:01 a.m. You open your eyes, roll over, and put your nose in a puddle of your own drool. Revolted, you stumble from bed. The awful noise you just heard barely penetrates the painful opacity of your hangover. Maybe someone dropped something in the kitchen. Aha, the kitchen! Food lives there. You are hungry enough to eat raw noodles, but you face another domestic dilemma: how socially acceptable is it to not shower? It’s been two solid days since the last time you washed, and you are, to put it mildly, musky. If you elect to shower, skip to step 8. If you elect to throw on your stink-concealment sweatshirt and forge ahead, social norms be damned, go to step 2.
Step 2: It’s 9:03 a.m. You emerge from your room shocked by the fact that your jacket and bicycle are inside the house. The front door is even shut. Strangely, you see no one in the kitchen. You don’t really remember why there was supposed to be someone there, anyway. Beer cans still litter the coffee table, some of which are unopened. If you elect to drink a morning beer in order to cope with the fact that you are hungover on a weekday, sit down on the couch and contemplate your crippling alcoholism. Then go to step 8. If you are revolted by the smell of alcohol because you are hungover on a weekday, you are still an alcoholic, but will likely stop when you graduate. If you then elect to stagger into the kitchen and drink directly from the faucet, go to step 3.
Step 3: It’s 9:05 a.m. You are pretending to be a Diplodocus drinking from a waterfall. If you continue this fantasy by lumbering around the house and smashing beer cans like they are the eggs of rival dinosaurs, you haven’t gotten over your weird childhood fascinations. Go to step 8. If you turn off the faucet, grab some eggs from the fridge and give a cheesy egg scramble a shot. Start by cracking two or three eggs into a bowl. You will inevitably crack some small pieces of shell into the bowl with the egg. Here’s a handy trick for getting these little bits out: person up and stick your finger in there. If you elect to use a spoon, go to step 8. If you elect to ignore these bits entirely, you exit the scenario whenever they get stuck in your windpipe and you are rushed to the hospital. If you are successful in extracting the bits with your finger, go to step 4.
Step 4: It’s 9:08 a.m. Throw the eggs in a frying pan. If you have no clean frying pans, use the dirty cast iron one. Cast iron pans preserve delicious flavors that will be imparted to your eggs, such as the weird cucumber/ pine nut thing your vegan roommates made last night. Hopefully when they use the pan again, they can taste the residual suffering of scrambled embryo. Yeah, yeah, they’re unfertilized. Don’t get pedantic. The greater the suffering, the better the taste. McDonald’s went big for a reason, and that reason was the horrific factory farming conditions their animals endure. Yummm. If you remember this, and elect to go hit up ol’ Mickey D’s for breakfast, go to step 8. If you elect to clean up the mess of pots and pans in order to cook out of a clean dish, go to step 8. If you commit to the dirty skillet, go to step 5.
Step 5: It’s 9:09 a.m. While the eggs cook, look in the fridge for some shredded cheese to make the other half of your scramble. If the cheese is gone, it’s because your chubby, poor-impulse-controlling ass thought you would make some nachos at 2:30 a.m., screwing over future you even worse than that last pitcher of beer. Past you is kind of a dick. If by this point you have burned the eggs and you realize that breakfast is pretty well shot and begin to question why you even keep fighting fate and you crawl back into bed unable to face the day, go to step 8. If, by some miracle, you went shopping yesterday and you have an interesting assortment of rapidly spoiling vegetables and a shredded cheese variety pack, throw that stuff in a pan and go to step 6.
Step 6: It’s 9:12 a.m. Your scramble is a multicolored culinary wonder the likes of which the world has never seen. The dull throbbing in your skull is beginning to subside purely based on the flavor of your magical creation. You are a culinary legend. You contemplate opening your own breakfast restaurant. What could make this better? A tortilla, that’s what. I believe that almost every meal is better as a burrito. If you doubt this, go to step 8. If you grab a fresh tortilla, coat it lightly with hot sauce, and toss the contents of the skillet in, go to step 7.
Step 7: It’s 9:18 a.m. My god, today is looking splendid. Your expertly rolled burrito shows no leaks. Michelangelo crafted less symmetrical works. You even have a side of fresh avocado. You feel like you have wrested a moment of beauty from a world drowning in ugly things. This will soon become deeply ironic.
Step 8: It’s 9:22 a.m. A superheated flow of mud, debris, and lava from the eruption that you successfully ignored earlier overtakes you at a speed of 60 M.P.H., killing you instantly. Called lahars, these flows typically follow river courses, but can make their own channels. A previous lahar from an earlier eruption of Mount Rainier filled some surrounding valleys to depths of over 300 feet. Called the Osceola lahar, the destructive power of this event is difficult to fathom on a human scale. Although a lahar large enough to cause catastrophic damage in the North End of Tacoma would be unprecedented, it isn’t theoretically impossible. Hope you had fun last night…
PHOTO COURTESY / MAX HONCH