• 7 Things I Learned From Hurricane Sandy

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    by James Altucher

    Recently by James Altucher: Why I Won't Vote

    Let’s clean up some myths first: Hurricane Sandy is not good for the economy. People in the media always claim hurricanes are good because of the rebuilding. This is bullshit. Yes, people will be buying new furniture, etc. But if it were good for the economy I’d come and smash your house every other month and that would be even better for the economy. So that’s wrong. It’s never good to destroy hard-earned resources.

    Second, Hurricane Sandy is not retribution for any societal ills. I’ve seen “gays” blamed and I’ve seen a “two state Israel/Palestinian solution” blamed and I’ve seen “global warming” blamed. It’s none of those things. Death tolls per capita per natural disaster have gone down since the 1950s in developed countries so all of those suggestions are ridiculous.


    Third, 90 people have died and 60 million touched in some way by the hurricane. There’s no way around it — natural disasters suck.

    Claudia and I live right next the Hudson River. Early Monday the Hudson River was already climbing above the rocks and crawling it’s way down the street. That was eight hours before high tide and some guy was kayaking in the street while everyone laughed and the police begged him to stop.

    My neighbors started taping up their doors and putting sandbags in front of them. I’m always too late to the whole “fix-it” thing so I asked someone if they were just handing out sand bags somewhere. He laughed and said he bought them at the Home Depot a week ago. “There are none left,” he said, and kept on taping. Lot of stuff to do. I pretended like I had something to do also. The alien mothership was going to land and destroy us all but I was embarrassed that I didn’t know what to do in preparation for it.

    Time to get Claudia. We spent about three hours taping garbage bags to each door. She cut duct tape with her teeth. I tried to do that and got duct tape all over my mouth.

    Then we put up bricks all around to keep the garbage bags secure. We did this indoors and outdoors for all three doors we have that lead to outside. Then we took all first floor furniture and put it upstairs. We took all books on lower shelves and moved them higher. My Go board, which rests on the floor, we put on the kids’ bed. We cleaned out their closet so nothing was on the floor. We moved everything in the refrigerator upstairs. We unplugged all the lights. Took showers to take advantage of any last minute hot water. We charged up all batteries on 4 laptops, 4 tablets, 2 phones that were also hotspots. We drove our car a mile uphill (Claudia drove). We were ready to camp out.

    At that point something disastrous happened that I was afraid was going to jeopardize the entire marriage. While we were taping shut the outside door my wedding ring had fallen off and was now gone. By the time we realized, we couldn’t go outside and look. There was three feet of water outside and winds up to 50 miles per hour. That ring was gone. Claudia is definitely going to think this is symbolic, I thought. “It’s a natural disaster,” I said. Of course the blame for our marriage potentially collapsing under the weight of symbolism had to be the fault of a natural disaster named after a woman. “It’s Sandy,” I said, “she took it! She’s jealous.”

    Claudia tried to tell me not to worry about it but I was afraid not what she thought right then but what she would think LATER. I was living too much in the future with a natural disaster happening right there.

    When we thought we had secured everything, we relaxed. Safe. No way the water was going to get in. We were in there and the forces of Nature were OUT THERE. Then a fountain sprang up in the middle of our kitchen. It was like a baby penis peeing into the air while waiting for a diaper changed. Then another one. Then in the dining room. Then in the kid’s room. Then the living room. Then more of them in the kitchen. Then a panel which led to the basement burst open and water started streaming out. All the water was coming up from underneath, not from outside. Zombies were vomiting hurricane filth out of the depths. Within minutes the first floor had a foot of water in it.

    Right after it crept over the river, about 8 hours before high tide, 40 feet from my house

    Outside the window, around high tide, it looked like the entire Hudson River was sobbing past each house, surrounding them consuming them, all the way to the train tracks. A giant tongue from outerspace come down to lick everything in its path. Jonah being swallowed by the whale. We are between the train tracks and the river. About two feet of water was now making itself at home downstairs, checking all of our cabinets for food, our shelves for paper, our closets for clothes to snuggle into, our refrigerator for electricity. The first floor belonged to Sandy.

    We did what every other couple in a once-in-a-lifetime worrisome situation would do: we relaxed, got in bed upstairs, and watched Casino Royale on the ipad until we fell asleep.

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