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Experts say 2012 Doomsday predictions are all hype, but that doesnt stop the human imagination

With less than a year to Dec. 21, 2012, some people ponder, '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 - this 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 less than a year left before something happens, what are you going to do? What if it all ends on Dec. 21?

'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 11-1/2 months 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 Café 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 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,' Andersen says.

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 in December.

'If the Mayans had another rock, they could have extended their calendar by having an even longer cycle,' he says.

However, that doesn't mean 2012 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 this 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 also was very close to there on the same day in 2011, 'as it is every year,' he says.

Oh.

Hollywood vs. reality

OmeAkaEhekatl Erick Gonzalez, a Guatemalan teacher and healer, spoke recently at Portland State University on 'Mayan Spiritual Teachings for the Dawning of the New Era.'

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.

But when asked about Hollywood's depiction of the Dec. 21, 2012, doomsday preictions, he doesn't mince his words.

In particular, he spoke of the movie '2012,' starring actor John Cusack.

'The movie was really stupid,' he says. '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.