Just a quick note while I’m on a lunch break to let you know that 20 years ago yesterday, I was out of school.  I wan’t sick or anything like that.  No, everyone was out that day as school was canceled.  There was no snow or ice or anything else that sometimes results in school closures that day.  As I remember it, the day was sunny, if cold, but otherwise a perfectly good day to attend the local textbook looney bin.

No, school was canceled that day because of one man–Dr. Iben Browning–who predicted there would be a catastrophic earthquake on the New Madrid fault that day.

He was wrong.  Even two decades later, we are still waiting for the big one to hit this area.  To make matters worse, Browning died seven months later, an object of ridicule instead of someone respected for dedicating his life to the scientific community.

Still, the incident is a perfect example of how an idea can be caught up in the media winds and spread across the land to have an impact on millions of people.  It should be taught in classrooms across the country as a lesson in how the media sometimes creates the news simply be reporting the news.

I’ve been having the same occurring dream for the past couple of years and I’m not sure what it means. It pops up every few weeks or months, usually with a small variance from the previous ones, but keeping to the same general storyline as it changes.

I’m in a mall. This in itself is rather odd as there is not a legitimate mall within an hour of my house. Still, there I am in this mall that is mostly deserted as it is nearly time for the place to shut down. I am walking down a peripheral hall, probably a new wing of the mall, and there are very few shops. The number of open stores varies somewhat–sometimes there is a restaurant or a clothing store–but there is always a book store. It’s not a Borders, but it is designed along those lines, a small box store with tight aisles and low profile counters that allow easy sight lines across the store.

I go into the book store and look around. I realize the mall, and hence the store, is about to close, but I go in anyway. There are no other customers there, not even any staff that I can see. I am looking for something in particular, but I don’t know what it is. I keep looking, even though I know I need to leave. I can hear the roll down doors of the other stores in the mall closing, but I linger, still searching for that one particular book. Finally, I realize I am out of time and, though I have yet to see anyone attempting to close the store, I leave and try to find my way out of the mall.

Leaving the mall is sometimes easy, sometimes hard. There are times when I just leave the book store and head out through a nearby door. Sometimes I have to try several doors before I can gain the parking lot. A few times I have even gone through the restaurant–usually one of those mall-type Chinese places you find around a food court–and exited through their kitchen door to the outside. There is never anyone to help me find my way out and I keep thinking about that book store, what I was searching for, am my frustration over not being able to find it.

Like I said, there are occasional variations to this basic story. Sometimes I have one or more of my children with me. Sometimes the store is not in a mall, but in a building by itself. Regardless, I’d be happy to hear what you in readerland have to say about what the hell this all means. Feel free to comment away.