Tuesday, August 29, 2006

News you use: how to escape quicksand

(First in a series.)

Most of the crap you read here is useless. We know it, you know it. Most of it is a mere diversion, an entertainment (we hope).

While there may be some value in that, we recognize it could be more. Much more.

In that spirit, we will attempt herewith, on occasion, to deliver some news you can use. The newspaper industry for years has been attempting to do this, with disappointing results.

Now it's our turn...

If you ever find yourself trapped in quicksand, DO NOT PANIC.

There is a way to escape. Just don't give up and get sucked under.

Now, if you know you're traversing quicksand country, be advised that you should carry with you a stout pole. This could prove "invaluable."

"As soon as you start to sink, lay the pole on the surface of the quicksand," says The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook. "Flop onto your back on top of the pole. After a minute or two, equilibrium in the quicksand will be achieved, and you will no longer sink.

"Work the pole to a new position: under your hips and at right angles to your spine. The pole will keep your hips from sinking, as you (slowly) pull out first one leg and then another.

"Take the shortest route to firmer ground, moving slowly."

When you're in such a pickle and didn't have to foresight to bring along a stout pole, don't worry, all is not lost.

You still have your wits about you, right? Thus, think carefully about the enemy at hand -- in this case, quicksand.

What is quicksand?

It's just regular sand mixed with an upswelling of water. But since it's "quicksand," it won't let go of you easily.

When you try to pull a leg out of quicksand, you have to work against the vacuum left behind, advise Joshua Piven and David Borgenitch, authors of the aforementioned survival book.

Here are some tips:

"...move slowly so the viscosity is as low as possible."
Because you are more buoyant in quicksand than in water, you can float relatively easy. "Spread your arms and legs far apart and try to float on your back."

Above all, DON'T PANIC.

That's our advice, not the advice of the guys who wrote the survival handbook. Panic just never works out very well in any kind of crisis situation. That's our experience.

(Next installment: How To Ram A Car)

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