In the 1960 movie The Time Machine, a scientist develops a way to travel in time.
He goes way into the future and finds lovely, simple people who know nothing of technology.
They do not read; they do not raise crops.
Instead, they are fed by another group of humans who live underground.
Later the scientist learns that the underground humans eat the folks who live on the surface.
The scientist destroys the underground compound, saves a woman he loves, and returns to the present.
He tells people about his experiences, but no one believes him.
Then he leaves the present to return to the future forever, to join the woman he saved.
The scientist's housekeeper sees that he has taken three books with him, but she does not know which three.
The ending of the movie raises the question of what three books we would take with us to help form a good, sustainable civilisation.
I do not know what books I would take. Maybe "how to" books.
I thought about that question recently when I made a list of items I would take with me if bushfires burned me out of my home city, Armidale.
I have fleeing on my mind as a result of watching a documentary titled Fire in Paradise.
It is about a forest fire that burned a city in California to the ground in no time at all.
My list for fleeing includes passport, electronic tablet and charger, and precious documents such as immunisation records.
Also on my list: water and medication.
When I mentioned my list on Facebook, one of my pals in another city told me to put shoes on the list.
She said she has seen many people fleeing in thongs or barefoot.
If I have to flee a bushfire, I also will take my high-quality air-purification mask - I aim to breathe while fleeing.
One more item on my list: I will take my car - because I am self-insured for damage to the car and because the car is as reliable as can be.
Also, I like that car - I call her Silver Girl.
Of course, I will take family members.
And anyone who seems left behind.
Until the car is full.
That is my list for fleeing.
What would you pile in the car if you had 15 minutes before a fire came?
John Malouff is an Associate Professor at the School of Psychology, University of New England.