Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Host--Chapter 10

This chapter is concentrated dumb. It is stupidity distilled down into its most basic componants. It is the Everclear of senselessness. It makes Bella Swan look like Katness Everdeen. I thought the height of stupid was having a make-out session during a political charged mirror-magic conference call but boy was I proven wrong. This is, quite possibly, the single biggest instance of character stupidity I have ever read. INCLUDING Solan Gris's machinations in Mission Earth, INCLUDING Clary Sage running through a Magical Door of Mystery when she has no clue what the fuck is behind it, and INCLUDING every thought and feeling both Anita Blake and Merry Gentry ever have, combined.

It's not even offensively stupid. It's just plan...GAH let's just get on with this.  

Wanderer is going into the desert to go find Jared and Jamie.

Because she can't live without them.

Because Melanie's memories of them are driving her to this.

But you know what Melanie obviously has no memories of? Hiking through a desert and coming back alive.

Yesterday I mentioned what I like to call the Desert Island test. You make a list of all the things you'd need to survive when you are removed from the human group--you can't go for help--and your accustomed tech base. Every item you have to add to that list indicates a skillset that you do not have. A knife would be the most basic--you can't forge a knife on a deserted island fast enough for it to make a difference for you, even if it's just rocks and sticks. If you have to add firestarters (matches, lighters, and god forbid, lighter fluid) that means you don't know how to make fire. Food means you don't know how to find food. String, ditto. Water? And it's more than three day's worth? You're fucked.

Having read this chapter, I feel very confidant in saying that Melanie, and by extension Wanderer, would not pass the Desert Island Test. Or the "Not dying in the motherfucking desert because you're an idiot" test.

They go into a Soul run store to get supplies.

This is a list of things that I think I would have to bring with me on a desert hike, if I wanted to survive and I had no idea how long I'd be there, in order of importance:

-three days worth of water
-A piece of durable clear plastic and/or a box of ziplock plastic bags--part of making a water solar still
-Several weights of some kind, like nuts or a roll of quarters--ditto
-Rope and/or some kind of twine
-A tarp made of heavy, opaque plastic
-a knife
-a coat
-a sleeping bag
-a roll of duct tape to repair all of the above
-a durable, strong hiking stick
-A backpack.
-Food. At least four days worth.

Water, a way to get more water if none is immediately avaliable and/or the water I find is bad, a way to treat and prevent dehydration, a way to make shade if none is easily found, a thing to cut other things with, things to keep warm with, things to fix other things with, things to carry and/or tie other things to, and food. And with all of the above, ways to get more food when I run out. 

Let's see what Wanderer gets!

 Melanie says they should get three galleons of water, which would give them three days to find Jared and Jamie. Before I explore how fucking stupid that statement is, let's see if S. Meyer even got that right.

Google fu leads me to several sites. This one says the following:

Without water, dehydration can set in within an hour in severe heat. The combination of physical overexertion and extreme heat — without water — can lead to death in as little as several hours.

That does not include the whole "passing out from heat exhaustion" part of dying from heat and no water. Let's guestimate, then, that if it is really hot, and it will be, and if you are exerting yourself in the heat--and they will be, god help them--you have two to three hours to find more water. Pass out, the game is over and you make your final contribution to the planet's welfare. Wanderer will be taking the car for the first day of this journey, but even the text admits that eventually they're going to have to ditch the vehicle. So the "extreme heat and physical overexertion" part of that statement applies. It then goes on to say that a galleon is the fucking minimum.  So yes. There's a chance that S. Meyer has gotten the minimum amount of water Wanderer would need to get three days out into the desert.

This is assuming, of course, that she doesn't actually eat anything too carby or to salty.

According to this site, every gram of carbohydrate and salt you consume has to be compensated for by, you guessed it, more water.  So anything that Wanderer brings with her that isn't water is going to mean she'll need more water.


When you plan for a trip, you plan for all of the trip. Three days of water means you walk in for a day and a half, you take a break, and then you walk back for a day and a half. This is, of course, assuming that Melanie's body is in any kind of condition to make this treck.

Wanderer has been teaching history classes. WANDERER HAS BEEN TEACHING HISTORY. There is no mention of how much excercise she's getting, if she's used to extreme conditions, and lest we forget, she can barely handle the mental stress of dealing with Melanie. Wanderer can barely handle dealing with the little voice in her head. And she wants to go into the desert. I'm sorry, walk into the desert. With only three days worth of water and...let's see, what exactly does Melanie insist Wanderer get?

-A flat of water bottles. (...Not galleon jugs, but a fucking flat of bottled water. Something that you can't tie to your backpack with a leingth of rope. And the Darwin Award of the year goes to--)
-A box of granola bars
-a roll of doughnuts
-a bag of potato chips
-a topographical map.

And that's it.

First of all, you remember that part about every gram of carbs and sodium having to be compensated for by more water? This is gas station food. Those granola bars? Unless the Souls changed them, they're about as healthy as those chocolate bars sitting underneath them. The doughnuts? Not healthy. A fucking bag of salt laden potato chips? Fuck me. 

And then there's all the shit Wanderer isn't buying. No matches. No sleeping bag--remember, all Wanderer packed for was a casual trip to Tuson--no hiking boots. No coat. No tarp. No tent poles. No rope. She's going to wander out into the desert with barely enough food and water for three days. There's nonsense about how "water is more important than food" in the desert, and this is true, but I get the feeling S. Meyer was researching what you need for basic survival. What Wanderer and Melanie are about to do is NOT basic survival. They want to hike through the desert and find a place that neither of them has ever seen before, using only one landmark and some indistinct directions from an uncle who, prior to the invasion, was blatantly crazy. With a body that even Melanie admits is in no condition for this hike.

You know what else Wanderer is not bringing with her? Salt. It sounds like a contradiction, but you NEED salt to stay hydrated. Water is not optional. Salt is not optional. If you read the treatment for severe dehydration it recommends you mix salt and sugar with water before you give it to the person. So after a certain point--after the granola bars, doughnuts and potato chips are gone--it won't mater how much water Wanderer drinks, it's not going to be doing her any good. 

And then Melanie goes off on how it's going to be dark soon and they need to get going.

 This is where shit totally breaks down.

S. Meyer lives in the New Mexico/Arizona region.  The same site that says "Food can be a bad thing" says travel at night if possible, something I knew WITHOUT googling survival tips. And the other thing it insists on is clothing. Specifically on warm clothing, a windbreaker and a down-filled sleeping bag. Because it gets fucking cold in the desert. As in freezing tempretures. As in you can avoid heat stroke by the skin of your teeth in the afternoon only to die of hypothermia at night because you were dumb enough to strip down to your coolest layer and leave the warmer things behind.

Wanderer, a cultured and civilized person in a society that doesn't even have to pay for things because "Everyone is honest, what's the point of money?" ( exchange value of labor for items of equal value.) is about to walk out into the desert and she hasn't once in the six months she's been a human even gone without air conditioning.

And Melanie is cheering her on the whole fucking way, even to the point of suggesting Wanderer go to sleep when it gets too dark.

Both these women are stupid. And it makes me question S. Meyer's capacity too, because she lives in this shit. That's why it's set here. That's why Bella Swan starts her cheerful little story in Phoenix and not Forks. And when you live in an area, even if it's not an area you're familiar with at first, you learn basic survival stuff. First thing I learned when I moved to South Texas? Where the hurricane evacuation routes were and not to go out into the afternoon sun in the middle of fucking summer.  I am about as civilization-addicted as you can get--I get pissy when my room gets too hot--and even I know you do not travel in the fucking desert during the day. I live by the coast, things are (sometimes) lush and green, and in the summer noon to four is uninhabitable. You do not go outside and do anything. You say inside. You drink water. If you're a good human being you consider donating window units to the elderly people in your neighborhood because if they don't have A/C they are going to die. YOU DO NOT FUCKING WALK THROUGH THE FUCKING DESERT DURING THE DAY.

If you're smart, at about eight to ten in the morning, you find a shady spot that hasn't hit "FUCK ME" level hot--don't start with a hot place because all you'll be doing is insulating heat, and that's bad--you spread the tarp you brought with you into a tent shape with most of the tarp pointed in the general west area, you tie it to trees/rocks/a cactus/the hiking stick you made the second you realized you had to hike through the desert, you spread your sleeping bag/wind breaker/coat over the rocky bits of the ground, and then you go to sleep. And even if you can't sleep because it's daytime and fuck it's hot, you STAY THERE. In the shade, with your water and your food and your other supplies. You don't leave your shelter until the sun is AT MINIMUM touching the horizon. And then you try to get as far as you possibly can before the sun comes back up and you have to find another shady spot to put your tarp.

Yes. You have to deal with rattlesnakes and coyotes and scorpions and spiders and about fifty other nasty things at night. You know what you don't have to deal with? The motherfucking sun. You *might* find a rattler and it *might* bite you (they're shy). You *might* find the wrong kind of scorpion or spider and that *might* kill you. You *might* have to fight off a hungry coyote if you're not good in the "make a lot of scary noise" department. But you know what you can't get away from that absolutely fucking will kill you? THE MOTHERFUCKING SUN. DO NOT GO OUT INTO THE MOTHERFUCKING SUN WHEN YOU ARE IN THE DESERT AND YOU ARE ONLY BRINGING THREE FUCKING DAYS WORTH OF WATER. THIS IS BASIC LIVING-IN-A-HOT-ZONE COMMON SENSE.

 The chapter ends with Wanderer going to sleep. And the title of the next chapter is "Dehydrated"

NO FUCKING SHIT. least Wanderer isn't trying to fuck a tree. Because at this point, Merry Gentry would.  But please tell me she keeps the empty water bottles. Please tell me that even this woman has the sense to keep the empty fucking water bottles. Please. Please. Please. Please. Please. Please. Let my faith in humanity and S. Meyer's common sense have that little tiny bit of light. Please oh please oh please.

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