Additions to Tom Ridge's Security Color Wheel

Last week, Mr. Homeland Security himself, Tom Ridge -- who has spent so much time assessing the safety of various shadow government caves that he has moss growing on his north side -- suddenly surfaced. It turns out he managed to spend a bit of time digging through Ross Perot's old Filemaker Pro programs and emerged with a chart. A color coded chart. A color coded security chart, specifically designed so we know when to piss and when to shit bricks. This chart has five colors, ranging from exceedingly cool to seriously hot.

- Green. The safest. A situation our grandkids may someday see, but I wouldn't bet their allowance on it. Go ahead; picnic outdoors within sight of Nuclear Power Plant Cooling Towers. No problem. Still eating quarter pounders with cheese by the barrel.

- Blue. Good, but still not great. Better than now. But then so was most of the Cold War, excluding Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile Crisis. Think Dr. Strangelove with George Stephanopolous in charge. Still eating quarter pounders with cheese one at a time.

- Yellow. The state we're at now. Be alert. Drink more coffee. Avoid convenience stores. Stop taking cabs. Go ahead, eat a quarter pounder, but lay off the cheese.

- Orange. Oooh, not good. Bad, as a matter of fact. Not as bad as it gets, but bad enough you might want to sleep with some tent stakes under your pillow. Fire up the SUV. Lose the quarter pounders, eat some falafel.

- Red. Bad. Real bad. Screaming in the night bad. Chewing your own eyelids bad. 24 hour Ted Koppel wearing nothing but a tank top and flip flops bad. Snacking on peat moss.

Ridge has also given local communities the option of individualizing alerts designed specifically to the local character of the areas. This is a great idea, since we Americans have the attention span of bunjee jumping geese and a color wheel is way too complex for most of us. What we really need are crude icons featured in the lower corner of the TV screen like a weather watch. Simple outlines, with obvious explanations.

- Lawn mower: Might want to take care of some minor chores.

- Fork and knife: Got food? Get some. Get a lot.

- Bed: Rent a porno flick and procreate like mink.

- Beer mug: Time to start drinking heavily.

- Double Helix: Locate a secure laboratory to secrete a sample of your DNA in the off chance future scientific advances will be able to replicate your family tree.

- Page of paper with writing: Written a last will and testament? Now might be a good time.

- Pair of lips: Kiss your butt goodbye.

- Church steeple: Praying long and hard at this point could not hurt.

- Mushroom cloud: Praying long and hard at this point could not hurt.

- Broken Washington Monument: We are hereby leaderless. Time to start partying.

Will Durst thinks you could put that last one up right now.

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