The Morning File: Pre-apocalyptic planning premature

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Darn, this always happens. I get excited about someone's end-of-world prophecy that turns out to have gotten my hopes up for nothing.

Leaving aside the fact that I and many others clearly misinterpreted whatever it was the Mayans forecast would occur on Dec. 21, 2012, one might wonder why I'd be disappointed that the world as we know it still existed after that day arrived.

Well, there are now a few glitches in the remainder of my life, as a result of extensive pre-apocalyptic planning:

1. The bank account is zero. I figured it would be pointless to have any savings when the world ended, so went on a spending spree over the past month. And what are the chances that anyone's going to give me fair market value to buy back a new Sunseeker Predator 92 Sport motor boat now that I crashed it into the Emsworth Lock and Dam at 42 knots in high winds when steering a vessel for the first time last week?

(Which side is starboard again? It's all very confusing. I can't believe such an expensive boat didn't come with instructions.)

2. I sent everyone I knew an email late on Dec. 20. Half received a list of my long-festering grievances against them, just so they'd be aware before we all departed that I knew they hadn't treated me well and they weren't moving on scot-free.

The other half received a confession of the wrongs I'd quietly done to them that I felt sorry about, which they might not ever have known about if not for the email. Embarrassing.

3. I've got no critically acclaimed television shows left to watch. I didn't want to reach the hereafter (where I can't be sure they have HD or Netflix) never having watched an episode of "Downton Abbey" or "Games of Thrones," so I went on a binge spending more than 30 hours viewing the two of them last week.

It all just blurs together, though, as if I watched a medieval dwarf in a suit of armor chopping off the head of a Victorian maid attempting to serve him high tea. I probably need to watch everything all over again.

4. For obvious reasons of doomsday timing, I didn't bother to buy Christmas presents for anyone. Nice. Guess I'm going to be busy today.

By no means should it be interpreted that I'm a bleak, despairing, depressant who believes we'd really be better off if the world ended, but let's consider the potential upside of that scenario:

There would have been no more mass shootings or idiotic Democratic-Republican posturing over the fiscal cliff or nighttime parking meter enforcement or college football bowl games between teams that finished 6-6 or snow shoveling this winter or indictments of elected officials who campaigned using taxpayer resources.

Now, chances are we're going to see all that in 2013. We're back to square one, like we haven't learned a blessed thing in the 5,125-year span of the just-concluded Mayan calendar. (Oh, wait, we did learn one thing -- no matter what other hard knocks it may sustain, Clairton will produce some really good football players.)

Rather than focusing on the negatives of what's ahead of us, however, thousands of people around the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza in Mexico on Friday were celebrating.

Unlike The Morning File, they were never duped into thinking the world was supposed to go kaput in the first place. The new calendar cycle means something entirely different to them.

"This world is being reborn as a better world," was how The Associated Press quoted Genaro Hernandez, a white-clad accountant at the ruins on Friday. He was described as greeting the dawn with outstretched arms and an expression of bliss. (Bliss on a middle-aged accountant's face? Hey, that does sound like a better world!)

Some tongue-in-cheek profiteers, meanwhile, were nearby hawking T-shirts that said: "The End of the World: I Was There." (Shouldn't someone local have marketed shirts this year reading: "The Pirates Were Once 16 Games Over .500 in 2012: I Was There.")

Regardless of how things worked out in recent days, it's likely that some cult leader or fringe religion or talk show host will receive attention again before long for another end-of-world prediction. We're going to be less inclined to take them seriously, after all we've just been through.

But if the timing's right and it means another chance to get out of Christmas shopping, it could be something to root for.


Gary Rotstein: or 412-263-1255.


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