Guidelines for the end of the world

Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2012, 6:00 am
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By Peter Chianca
"Inmates in a women's prison near the Chinese border are said to have experienced a 'collective mass psychosis' so intense that their wardens summoned a priest to calm them. In a factory town east of Moscow, panicked citizens stripped shelves of matches, kerosene, sugar and candles. A huge Mayan-style archway is being built -- out of ice -- on Karl Marx Street in Chelyabinsk in the south." – New York Times, Dec. 1, 2012

A message from the U.S. Government on the pending end of the world:

Dear U.S. Citizen:

I am Fred Cranston, associate assistant director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). As you have no doubt heard, the world is scheduled to end on Friday, Dec. 21. We know this because the Mayan calendar ends on that date, and the Mayans have never been wrong about anything. This is what makes them so insufferable at dinner parties.

Ha ha! Just a little Mayan humor to help ease the tension that's bound to go along with knowing the world is coming to an end. I have been asked to write this letter to help prepare Americans for our impending annihilation, partially because of my experience in disaster mitigation, and also because all the other officials are already sequestered on the government's secret fleet of high-tech flying arks.

Anyway, it is our goal to avoid the mass end-times panic that has already begun in Russia and other areas of the world. Remember, just because the earth is going to open up and swallow us, or we're going to be incinerated by giant solar fireballs, or the earth's polarity is going to reverse, propelling us all into space, is no reason to be uncouth. (This means you, Arkansas!)

With that in mind, we ask that you follow the following simple guidelines:

1) Please do not hoard matches, kerosene, sugar and candles, because none of those things will help once you've been incinerated by a giant solar fireball (and in the case of kerosene, it will probably just make things worse). Instead, consider using the food and resources you currently have in your home, because they're bound to spoil quickly after the earth becomes a barren, burning wasteland.

2) Trying to avoid gaping, fiery holes in the earth by driving around them as they open up is not advisable, no matter how feasible that appears in the movies. For one thing, those are typically trained drivers on a closed course; and also, the gaping, fiery holes are added in later using a computer. You're much better off standing very, very still, and hoping the holes go around you.

3) Please be advised that building tremendous Mayan structures out of ice or other materials is unlikely to stave off the impending apocalypse. That said, I, for one, welcome our new Mayan overlords.

4) We strongly recommend against using your last few weeks on earth attempting to live out your wildest fantasies, particularly if they involve "maxing out" your credit cards, telling off your boss, professing a long unrequited love, or public nudity. On the off chance the world doesn't end as predicted, any or all of these actions could prove personally detrimental, or at least embarrassing. Consider perhaps some more staid activities, like Jenga.

5) Finally, even though we've been unable to pinpoint exactly how the world is going to end on Dec. 21, we feel a need to deny the prevailing rumor that mankind will be wiped out in a zombie apocalypse, which is just silly. However, you should plan to have some sharpened shovels around to chop the tops of their heads off, just in case.

In conclusion, we hope these guidelines will help you adequately prepare for the end of civilization, and if you have any other questions or concerns between now and then, feel free to contact your local FEMA office. A representative who couldn't fit on one of the arks will be happy to assist you.


Fred Cranston, FEMA
Peter Chianca is editor in chief for GateHouse Media New England’s north-of-Boston newspapers and webs, and author of “Glory Days: Springsteen’s Greatest Albums.” Follow him on Twitter at


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