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Are you ready for the end of the world?

T-minus one year and counting to the end of the mayan calendar
by: Contributed photo The Mayan calendar, shown here, marks the end of the 13th b’ak’tun, or 144,000-day period, on Dec. 21, 2012 – one year from now.

Experts say it's all hype, but that doesn't stop people from pondering 'What if?'

Elena Boehme, 13, a seventh-grader at Sandy's Cedar Ridge Middle School, knows some people think the world might end Dec. 21, 2012.

That's when the Mayan Long Count calendar's 5,125 year cycle concludes, ushering in an era of wondrous transformation on planet Earth according to some, or simply putting an end to us all together, according to more gloomy forecasters.

If you don't believe us, just put '2012' in your computer search engine and see what comes up. Serious and not-so-serious folks agree on only one thing - next year marks the end of the 13th b'ak'tun, or 144,000-day period in the Mayan calendar. However, what's supposed to happen then gets a little tricky.

Some folks believe an asteroid or another planet will collide with Earth, or we'll be sucked into a black hole before we get the chance to finish our Christmas shopping. Others believe nothing so dramatic will happen, but we will all begin to feel a need to respond to a different 'frequency' in the world, one calling us to better relations with each other and Mother Earth.

So now that you've got a year left before something happens, what are you going to do? What if it all ends next year on Dec. 21 - exactly one year from today?

'First I would go to the beach with my horse and ride as fast as I could along the shore,' Boehme says. 'Then I would go back to Guatemala where I was born to meet my birth mother.'

Sounds good - but teen pop fans beware, Boehme has designs on one of your idols before the sky falls.

'I would go to a Justin Bieber concert and tell him how much I love him and want to marry him.'

Ready or not

Regardless of what happens a year from now, folks from Sandy to Estacada, Gresham to Troutdale, are preparing for a possible end.

Take Eric Payne, who works at the Half Note Cafe in Estacada, and plays guitar. With no time to lose, what would he do?

'I would need to be on a stage in front of people somewhere with really loud decibels,' he said. 'Maybe the Rose Garden, but I would just need to play one chord, really loud.'

A self-proclaimed 'foodie,' Connie Knittel, a real estate agent in Sandy, is planning her last meal.

'I think I'd spend my real estate commissions on venturing to and eating at all the restaurants in Sandy, Portland and all over the world that I have always wanted to visit,' she said. 'Oh, yes! Want to go with me?'

Tobias Andersen of Gresham, longtime actor and East County theater promoter, plans to keep on acting.

'While many think that the theater profession is neither steady nor sensible, the truth is that we performers can rarely take a sick day or be bothered with the end of the world,' he says.

You can catch Andersen through Saturday, Dec. 24, playing the role of Moriarty in Portland Artists Repertory Theatre's production of 'Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Carol' (artistsrep.org).

Meanwhile, it's all downhill from here for Duane Bridge, co-founder and former coach of the Mount Hood Race Team, and property owner in Government Camp who competed in 31 races along the Timberline trail between 1954 and 1987.

'I'd make my final run from the top of Palmer Snowfield Ski Lift past Timberline to the bottom of Glade Trail,' he says. 'I'd ski it all the way without stopping. I would also make sure my family was taken care of.'

Travel

Sandy residents Allen Anderson and Lewis Morgan both say they'd like to see the world before it's sucked into a black hole.

'I'd hop in my car, hook up the fifth wheel and travel across the country with my wife and mini Schnauzer, Gidgit,' Anderson says. 'I've been to all but two states -- Vermont and New Hampshire.'

'Traveling is one of those things I've always procrastinated on,' Morgan adds. 'My wife is from Bangkok, so I would go with her to Thailand and help the people affected by the 2011 flooding.'

Zombie watch

Dennis Noreen, an insurance broker in Troutdale, says he's not focusing on Dec. 21, 2012 - it's the day before that's really important.

'The first step is to go to the liquor store and buy them out of every bottle that they have in the store,' he says, tongue firmly in cheek. 'Since these are going to be the new currency, I will be rich.

'Next stop will be to buy guns and ammunition to protect my new 'liquid gold' supply,' he adds. 'I will then purchase three to four shovels to bury the poor souls who try to infringe on my stash so they don't stink up my yard.

'The last stop is for frozen pizzas, and I will be set,' he says. 'After having all of my liquor, guns, ammo, shovels and pizzas, I will be ready for the events to unfold. The only thing that I am not prepared for is zombies.'

Science, pseudoscience

Pat Hanrahan, planetarium director at Mt. Hood Community College, 26000 S.E. Stark St., plans to address the 2012 hoopla at his next 'Sky Watch' show, at 7 and 8:15 p.m. Monday, Jan. 9 (mhcc.edu/planetarium).

Hanrahan has no fears an asteroid will destroy his planetarium next year.

'If the Mayans had another rock, they could have extended their calendar by having an even longer cycle,' he says. 'My calendar is expected to run out by almost a year before the Mayan one ends, and I don't see anything to fear about Dec. 31, 2011, either.'

However, that doesn't mean next year won't be interesting celestially, he says.

'Mars and Venus should put on some pretty good shows this coming year,' he says. 'We come close to Mars approximately every two years, and Mars is much brighter in the sky at those times. Our next opposition will be on March 3, 2012.'

'Venus will also put on a good show on June 5 and June 6 in 2012 as it makes a 'transit' in front of the sun,' he adds. 'It will not happen again for hundreds of years. This is a daytime event as it is a very rare occurrence where Venus actually will cross in front of the disk of the sun.

'You will need to have a safe solar telescope to view the event, as direct viewing of the sun is extremely dangerous,' he adds. 'As we approach the opposition, Venus will be very bright in the evening sky as it becomes lower and lower in the sky.'

Several planet conjunctions will take place next year, he says, with Venus and Jupiter between the red giant star Aldebaran and the star cluster Pleiades on July 1. Meanwhile, Mars and Saturn will be close to each other on Aug. 15, near Spica in Virgo and should make for an interesting show.

'Planet conjunctions are frequent and do not warn of impending disasters,' he says. 'In fact the planet alignments in 2012 are extremely weak and hardly compare at all with recent historical planet alignments.'

Yes, yes, yes, Mr. Fancy Science, but isn't the sun lining up with the center of the Milky Way, which means we'll be all be sucked into a gigantic black hole on Dec. 21, 2012?

'The sun will be in Sagittarius, which points near the center of our Milky Way Galaxy, on Dec. 21, 2012,' he says, adding some people are making way too much of the fact that the sun will be as close to the center of the Milky Way as it will be.

'It will also be very close to there on the same day in 2011, as it is every year.'

Oh.

Hollywood vs. reality

Marcus Hathcock, spokesman for East Hill Church in Gresham, credits the 2009 movie '2012' starring John Cusack for setting him straight about next year.

The movie tells the tale of a science fiction writer who narrowly escapes one 2012 disaster after another while millions die.

'It was a harrowing cautionary tale to be sure,' Hathcock says. 'But the good news is that I can literally drive my car through crashing buildings and come out unscathed. I can escape a super volcano at Yellowstone National Park with just a few seconds to spare.'

Hathcock then turns serious.

'I do believe there will be some people out there who will force weird things to happen next year - a self-fulfilling prophecy really,' he says. 'But all in all, the world will go on.'

Hathcock's remarks about the '2012' movie would find a sympathetic ear with OmeAkaEhekatl Erick Gonzalez, a Guatemalan teacher and healer, who spoke on 'Mayan Spiritual Teachings for the Dawning of the New Era' earlier this month at Portland State University's Native American Student and Community Center.

In a follow-up interview, Gonzalez addressed the whole question of Mayan prophecies for 2012 and beyond, not as they are portrayed by Hollywood, but as rooted in the ancient teachings of the indigenous Mayan people.

'The movie was really stupid,' he says of the Cusack flick. 'But beyond that we can all see that something is happening.'

What the Mayans believed was that the end of this calendar cycle signals the opportunity for renewal, he says. People have a choice: They can begin to treat Mother Earth with more respect and care, or the planet will eventually 'purify' herself through natural disasters and climate change.

'We have to find alternatives to the ways we are stressing the natural systems,' he says, noting people need to eschew competition for cooperation. 'Doing nasty things to the Earth,' behavior that characterized previous generations, is no longer possible and 'we believe that the Earth is not going to allow that to continue.'

On that note, Rita Dick, 69, of Estacada may have her priorities for Dec. 21, 2012, in better order than anyone.

'I was diagnosed with cancer 10 years ago and at the time the doctor didn't think I would survive,' she says, noting she's already confronted 'the end,' so to speak.

'I'd want to be with my family,' she says. 'Most people realize that once they get to be my age.'

Sandy Post reporter Lisa K. Anderson and Estacada News reporter Jeff Spiegel contributed to this story.


Mayan teachings

For more information on Mayan spiritual teachings, and the teachings of other indigenous groups in the Americas, visit earthpeoplesunited.org, mayanshamanism.com or earthandspirit.org.