Saturday, August 18, 2007

Impending Doom, Unending Gloom: The Week in Review

As we periodically ducked on to the Web throughout the day on Thursday, watching in almost-real-time as the Dow threatened to fall through the floor and tropical storm whatshername threatened to swamp the streets of Houston, our sense of dread grew profound. There seemed to be no clear boundary between our mind and that gray, foreboding sky. If we read one more online story quoting an analyst using the word “panic” we thought we would pitch our self out the window, even though we were in a one-story structure.

It was a day to again remind us how less stressful, and how much easier, life was before the world was wired-up, globalized, flattened and rolled in dough and fried. Back then, when Elvis still reigned, we knew nothing of the Shanghai Composite Index, or of Shanghai.

On Friday, we unplugged from the computer. The sun shone much of the day and the six inches of rain the newspaper warned of did not fall, at least on our locale. The Fed moved to ease the prospect of panic, and the markets surged. We passed a tranquil evening, our dreams undisturbed by falling bridges and broken levees.
By late Saturday, though, the panic-o-meter was rising again, thanks to the highway department or whichever geniuses program the electronic signs along the freeway, which flashed this message: “Hurricane forming near the Gulf. Keep gas tanks full.” We wondered briefly whether this referred to Dean, which we thought had already “formed” but was still a ways off, or to some newer, closer-in disturbance that had gathered force over the course of the day while we weren’t paying attention. Although we try to do what we’re told, we were torn over whether to follow the sign’s command, since it seemed we would only be topping-off our tank again next week if it Dean were truly headed this way. As we approached the Hugo Chavez gas station near our home we saw that the lines at the pumps were already four or five vehicles long and threatening to spill into the street. “Fug it,” we declared as we drove on home, where we hoped to catch some more rest in preparation for whatever mad run next week will bring.

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