Finishing Up the BoB

As promised, this week we’ll finish out our look at the Family Survival Planning 72-hour kit/Bug-Out-Bag.  This time through, I’ll be going over a few things I feel they missed, and briefly describing our “food kits.”  I do very much like the list thus far, but I a couple of minor tweaks would make me feel better about them.

First, a good addition would be a set of documents: copies of birth certificates, marriage licenses, driver’s licenses, insurance paperwork, mortgages, DD-214’s, and whatever else you can think of of that nature. I’m a bit of a tech junkie by nature, so I like the idea of having electronic copies on flash drives. However, for a variety of reasons (to include the legality of them, as well as EMP mitigation–if we’re going paranoid, let’s go all the way), I can’t recommend doing that. A far better way to go would be paper copies; make certain to get them properly certified (ask your insurance agent, or your bank, if they can certify copies of documents). Also, fairly recent maps of the local area. (Compasses and other navigation tools are useful, but they’re a whole other post.)

There are lots of different ways to make water safe(r) to drink. They listed the purification tablets, and I mentioned filters. If the water looks clean, is likely free of chemical contaminants, but may be biologically unsound, the SteriPen is an option (albeit a pricey one), as is a simple solar pasteurization technique (followed by additional filtering, if possible).

I mentioned having a complete change of clothes in the bag?  Don’t forget footwear.  I’ve got several changes of socks (one of the most important things out there), as well as a nice set of broken-in military-issue boots. I also keep the most recently replaced of my prescription glasses in the bag–not a necessity for everybody, but useful for an emergency.

I would also make sure to have spare batteries (I prefer rechargables) for anything in the bag that needs them, particularly flashlights. While you’re there, a foldable solar charger is a good supplement to the multi-source/crank radio.

Then there’s the food kit.  The contents of ours vary somewhat, depending on what we can find to put in them, and on our tastes at a given moment.  For a container, we use the containers from the packet-type laundry detergents (like this)–they only need a quick rinse to be “cleaned,” and have multiple uses beyond simply holding food in one space.

As to what to put in them, here’s the contents of mine, as of last night:

  • Two vacuum-packed generous handfuls of beef jerky;
  • In a zip-up sandwich bag:
    • Three packets of instant oatmeal;
    • Two granola bars;
  • In a zip-up sandwich bag:
    • Two packets of instant hot cocoa;
    • Three individually-packed fruit leathers;
  • In a zip-up sandwich bag, a large handful of hard candies;
  • In a zip-up sandwich bag:
    • Four small boxes of raisins/craisins;
    • Eight packets of powdered energy drink mix;
  • One large pouch of a rice-and-pasta instant meal mix;
  • One can ravioli;
  • A zip-up sandwich bag with one or two dozen strike-on-pad matches, with the strike-pad in a separate bag;
  • A Bic-style lighter;
  • A three-pack of solid fuel tablets; and
  • A lightweight, fold-up stove.

I’ve also in the past had microwavable-style meal pouches. I won’t have a microwave, but if I can start a fire to heat them up, that’ll do. (For a cooking container, I like using the can from the ravioli–which does entail eating the ravioli first, but that’s a small price to pay.) Could I replace the whole thing with MREs?  Yes.  And while they would last longer, the variety isn’t necessarily there. Would the MREs have more daily calories? Yes, but this is designed to help me survive, not to do three days of hard labor–my plan includes less ‘bugging out,’ and more ‘bugging in.’ (And I keep two such food containers, one in the bag, and one on a shelf, ready to go.) Yes, I need to go through the container and replace some of the food items on a regular basis–but it gives me an excuse to check/update the other things in the BoB.

So there you have it.  The food kits are a constant work-in-progress, but then, the entire BoB is, to a large extent. As my plans for the bags change, so do the contents.  Any questions or comments?

My next post, in two weeks’ time, will examine the Get Home Bag, or car-kit.  I don’t agree with the Family Survival Planning folks completely, here, so I’ll be diverging from their script a bit.  I hope you’ll join me!

 

Posted in Food, Planning | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Prepping Lists Part Two, Again

Hi, folks!  I’m back with a rare “between-weeks” post, as we continue through the BoB list as provided by Family Survival Planning.  Last week, we covered Warmth & Shelter and Cooking, Heating, & Light.  Without further ado, let’s move on to this week’s topics.

As I go through what’s on the list and my recommendations, I’ll be linking to products on Amazon.  If you click the link and make the purchase, you help support my site (and preps) at no additional cost to you.  Don’t just purchase there, though–shop around.  If you find a better price on an item elsewhere, please buy it there, and save yourself the money.

  • Water & Hygiene Items
    • 12 – Five-year Shelf-Life Drinking Water Pouches, 4.2 oz. each. (I’m not fond of the idea of packing out water; being on the relatively wet Eastern Seaboard, I’d rather filter the water that’s widely available. If you’re out in the Western deserts, this may be viable for you.)
    • 1 – 2.5 gallon Water Carrier, to be filled prior to an evacuation. (This makes a little more sense than the pouches, although you’d still end up hauling 20 pounds of water. Your mileage may vary.)
    • 10 – U.S. Military MICROPUR Water Purification Tablets. (Link is to a Katadyn-brand 30-pack. We’ve got LifeStraws and a hiking-style pump filter, but these are lightweight enough to add to the list.)
    • 1 – Small Roll Tissue Packet. (I’m not certain if it’s what they had in mind, but we’ve got some dry, pre-soaped cleansing cloths, as well as a few travel packets of tissues.)
    • 3 – Sanitary Disposable Toilet Bags.
    • 1 – Soft Toilet Tissue Roll. (I like having a roll or two of degradable toilet paper in the packs.)
    • 4 – Clothes Wrap Bags. (We keep a change of clothing in roll-up travel bags, and have some DrySacks as well.)
    • 1 – Small Bar of Soap.
    • 2 – Toothbrushes.
    • 1 – Tube of Toothpaste (travel size).
    • 1 – Hair Comb.
    • 18 – Wet Wipe Towelettes. (See the Tissue Packet, above. I’ve had problems with the packets of wet-wipes drying out.)
  • First-Aid
    • 1 – Deluxe First-Aid Kit with 60 Essential First Aid Items. (Awfully specific. I like the Northbound Train kits, but shop around, and find one you like.)
    • 1 – First Aid Book. (Again, shop around. Also, look into first-aid training for the adults in your group; check the local Red Cross, YMCA, and other organizations.)
    • 4 – Surgical Latex Gloves. (The link is to 10-mil, heavy-duty surgical gloves. Look around, if you want lighter-weight ones, but these are good enough to limit bee-stings; as such, they’re less likely to rip at inopportune moments.)
    • 5 – Sanitary Napkins. (Many uses, besides the obvious. Likewise for tampons–pick your favorite.)
    • 2 – Ceralyte Electrolyte Drink. (Or your favorite brand.)
  • Food Items
    • 6 – MRE Complete Meal Units, or freeze-dried food pouches. (Next week, I hope to go over the “food kit” we’ve assembled for our BoBs.  MREs are, if nothing else, simple to find, and don’t require much thinking about.)
    • 1 – 3600 Calorie Emergency Cookie Rations. (I assume they mean something like these. It’s certainly calories, and will keep body and soul together for a while. Can’t promise anything for the taste, but if it’s an emergency…)
    • 1 – Bag of High Energy Candy. (Again, I don’t know exactly what they mean, specifically. I’d go with something in the “hard sugar” category, that won’t spoil or go bad, and won’t melt or otherwise get sticky.)
    • 6 – Emergen-C Energy Drink Packets. (Or, your favorite brand of powdered drink mix.)
  • Miscellaneous Survival Items
    • 1 – Premium Heavy-Duty Nylon 3-Way Carrying Storage Bag. (Not specific enough, this time.  I think they mean a messenger-type bag, but can’t be certain.)
    • 1 – Solar Dynamo AM/FM Radio with 4-Way Power. (These I’m more familiar with. I like the Kaito KA500 series, or its relatives. Shop around, though, and see what you prefer.)
    • 1 – Military Quality Tri-Folding Emergency Shovel. (We’ve got entrenching shovels in our vehicle emergency kits, but I can see their use in a BoB. I’m just concerned over the extra weight.)
    • 1 – 50′ Paracord. (This is pretty ubiquitous. It has its uses, yes, but I’m still a little baffled by the cult following this stuff has.  If you’re going to get some, make sure it’s mil-spec type III or type IV, to ensure an adequate weight rating for anything you’d want to do with it.)
    • 14 – Potassium Iodide Tablets, for radiation emergencies. (In my opinion, this is verging over into paranoia. On the other hand, they’re inexpensive and lightweight, and have long shelf lives. Your call.)
    • 1 – Emergency Survival Whistle. (There’s many types out there; this almost becomes a fashion choice.)
    • 1 – Small Sewing Kit with Needle, Thread, & Buttons.
    • 1 – Swiss Type 15 Function Pocket Knife. (Or a Leatherman, or Gerber Tool, or other similar multi-tool.)
    • 1 – Pair of Leather Gloves. (Pick your brand and style.)
    • 2 – Hospital Grade N95 Folding Surgical Masks. (My only quibble is that I’d have put these up in First Aid.)
    • 1 – Notepad.
    • 1 – Writing Pen.
    • 1 – Pencil.
    • 1 – Deck of Playing Cards.

And that’s their BoB.  Whew!  What a list.  Next week, I’ll go over things that they don’t have, and talk about our pre-packed “food kits.”  Until then!

Posted in Lists, Monthly Special, Planning | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Prepping Lists, Part Two – the BoB

We’ll continue this week (and next–it’s a big list, so I’m going to post a little more frequently for a short while) with the Family Survival Planning complete book of lists.  This time around, it’s the “Bug-Out-Bag,” or 72-hour kit. This is absolutely a good place to start “serious” preps, beyond the basics of putting aside a few extra cans of food and some bottled water in the pantry.

We call them “72-hour kits” because they contain everything one person needs to get by for 72 hours, even if they have pretty much nothing else. In the prepping/survival world at large, folks call them “Bug-Out-Bags,” or BoBs, indicating that these are their packed, ready-to-go bags that they can grab and go if they need to, well, “bug out,” for whatever reason.  They’ll either keep you alive until help comes, or help you reach a “Bug-Out-Location,” depending on your plan.  (You do have a plan, right?)

Where to begin with the BoB?  As mentioned in the last installment, first consider the most likely scenarios that would require a BoB.  (“House fire” is pretty universal; start there, and build out.)  Think about what you’d need for those emergencies.  Second, “shop your home.”  You’ve probably already got the makings of a BoB–the “big stuff,” any way–around your house or apartment.  (The publication mentions wanting a “BoB” in the car–I consider that a “GHB,” or “Get-Home-Bag,” plus an in-vehicle emergency kit.  That’ll be another week.)

As I go through what’s on the list and my recommendations, I’ll be linking to products on Amazon.  If you click the link and make the purchase, you help support my site (and preps) at no additional cost to you.  Don’t just purchase there, though–shop around.  If you find a better price on an item elsewhere, please buy it there, and save yourself the money.

First on the list of things, but fairly low on the priority list, is a container–the “bag” part of the BoB.  Why “lower in priority”?  Well, you’d most likely be better off having your preps, but having to carry them in a sheet tied into a makeshift sack, than having the best bag money can buy, but nothing in it…  For starters, you can use a run-of-the-mill backpack, or a suitcase, or even a plastic bin. Over time, as you realize just how much room you need, and how much things weigh, you can adjust.  (For what it’s worth, my wife and I both have military-surplus large Alice Packs with frames. They’re water resistant, have plenty of room, lots of pouches/pockets, and are easy to expand.)

The remainder of the checklist covers a “2-person 72-hour bag;” I’ll be comparing its contents with those of mine and my wife’s combined:

  • Warmth and Shelter
    • 1 – two-person 8′ tube tent.  (We’re content enough to sleep under the stars, or rig a poncho, or build a lean-to.)
    • 1 – Wool Emergency Blanket.  (We use fleece sleeping bag liners; they’re compact and warm.)
    • 2 – Survival Sleeping Bags. (Liners, as above.)
    • 1 – Emergency Rescue Blanket, yellow.  (I assume to double as a signal? We don’t have one of these.)
    • 2 – Compact Emergency Space Blankets. (These we have, two per pack.  If you want more, here’s a link to a 12-pack.)
    • 2 – Emergency Ponchos.  (We also have these; they keep the rain off, and can double as a makeshift tent. That’s a link to a 4-pack; if you can find and fit heavier-weight ones, that’s probably for the better.)
  • Cooking, Heating, and Light
    • 1 – 36-hour Emergency Candle. (I prefer the 115-hour liquid paraffin varieties; you get more hours of light for the money, and they won’t melt if left in a hot car.)
    • 1 – Deluxe Quality Flashlight. (Not certain what makes for “Deluxe Quality.” I’ve got a small LED flashlight, with white and red light; you can get brighter or otherwise “fancier” ones, though. ‘Headlights’ are also useful for providing hands-free light.)
    • 2 – Flashlight batteries.  (No link here; this will depend on your flashlight.  For a variety of reasons, I recommend having a full set of rechargeables for all of your stuff, in addition to your “basic” batteries.)
    • 2 – twelve-hour Instant Light Sticks. (“Chem-lights” to most of the world. They’re inexpensive, I guess; I like these solar-charging things. They give more light, and appeal to my inner technophile.)
    • 1 – Adjustable Heat/Cooking Stove, with fuel. (I assume they mean something like these. We’ve got similar, plus extra fuel tablets.)
    • 2 – Sierra Cups for Drinking & Heating Water. (Those are good; I’ve got this one, though, which fits over/around a 1L Nalgene bottle.)
    • 48 – Waterproof Matches. (Or a simple Bic lighter, or flint-and-steel, or fire-striker. Up to you, and your desire/ability to get a fire started.)
    • 4 – Emergency 18hr Body Heat-Packs. (We don’t have any of these, but they’re a good idea, and are going on my list…)

That’s all I want to tackle for today, to keep this from getting too unwieldy.  Coming up: Hygiene, Water, Food, and “Miscellaneous,” plus a bit more commentary about my BoBs, and a few things I have that aren’t on the list.  Comments, questions, and such are welcome!  Do please stick around!

Posted in Critical Thought, Gear, Lists, Planning | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

A… Beginning?

Here we are, on the eve of a new administration.  It’s certainly got more than a few people alarmed, for a variety of reasons. And many people new to the prepping world are taking their first steps towards becoming ready for whatever emergencies life throws their way–be it a natural disaster (hurricane, earthquake, tornado, fire, flood, or what-have-you) or a man-made one (war, economic collapse, etc).  As promised in my last post, I’ve been looking over ways to get people started.

In my scouring of the web, I ran across the Family Survival Planning people, and bit the bullet to purchase some of their offerings.  I was pleasantly surprised!  They seem to be much less alarmist than many (read: almost not at all), and in going through some of their offerings, I found quite a bit to like. (I should note, while we’re here, that I’m not affiliated with them in any way, shape, or form.)

What I’d like to do, then, is loosely stick to their “Complete Book of Prepping Lists.”  It’s available from their site–in fact, at the time of this writing, signing up for their newsletter will get you a copy–and chock full of good stuff.  (And, as my long-time readers know, I’m a sucker for a good list.)

So, for this week, I’d like to go over the first list in their book: the Top 10 List for Preparedness on a Budget.

  1. Plan.  Just one word, and they’ve already started down a road I like.  What they mean is to think about what sorts of disasters can happen in your area.  Likely events for the Florida coast are very different in many respects from likely events in the North Central Plains, or from the mountains in Northern California.
  2. Create a personalized list. Take a look at your personal circumstances, situation, and needs. Examine commercially available “emergency kits,” and think about whether they will fit your situation, or lack items, or vastly overshoot your needs.  Do you have pets? Do you have chronic conditions? Are you taking care of elderly parents? Children?  Consider all of these things.
  3. Budget.  Treat prepping items as a ‘normal’ expense.  Most people don’t have the money to throw at getting a full kit together in one fell swoop. (And I’d venture that most of those who get everything all at once aren’t thoroughly going through steps one and two…)  Set aside a little each month to go towards your preps, or to improving them.  Buy one ‘extra’ can of something every time you hit the grocery store.  Even with small steps, things start progressing quickly.
  4. Save. Buy the best items that you can afford, but don’t go overboard. Shop sales. Clip coupons. Don’t be afraid to buy used. And be sure to maintain the things you have, to avoid the expense necessary in buying them again, or shelling out for repairs.
  5. Store. Make sure your containers are proper for what you’re putting away. The original list focuses on water (no need for bottled, but make sure your water containers are safe and disinfected), but I’d extend this out to your food storage, as well.  (We’ll be talking storage in a later post, I’m sure.)
  6. Request prepping items as gifts.  Your mileage may vary with this one… I have a relative who regularly ignores suggestions, and buys cheaply-built knock-off versions of what you’ve asked for.  Perhaps gift cards would be better?  Then you could spend them however you need.
  7. Think ahead. See? I really like these people.  Strategic shopping, to save money. Don’t try to buy all your bread, milk, and toilet paper right before the big storm hits–you’ll be fighting everybody else, and prices may well have gone up.  Use lists, to avoid stress and panic (and impulse buys).
  8. Review. Check your insurance policies (at least) annually. I’d throw in any other significant paperwork, medical records, and the like. When was the last time your vehicle had an oil change?  Going over these things regularly will catch problems early, before they grow into disasters of their own.
  9. Update. Keep contact lists up-to-date. Update emergency supply inventories. Knowing that your info is accurate will remove a source of stress.
  10. Trade one night out to fund your kit.  As the original list points out, one night out for a family of four could cost as much as one 72-hour kit.  Think about spending an evening in, playing board games or something, and putting the money you save towards your preps.

And there it is!  A simple list of things to get us started.  About the only thing I might add would be a step between “2” and “3”: shop what you’ve already got on hand. You might be surprised how much of a decent kit you can throw together using just things you’d forgotten you have.  That pup-tent and sleeping bag you got because you thought you were going to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, but which are now gathering dust in the back of the closet?  Perfect for the kit!

The next installment is on the 72-hour kit or Bug-Out-Bag (“BoB”); I’ve discussed them before, but it would be good to go over them again–and it’s high time I went through mine once more for updates.  Please stick around!  (And if you’ve got your own recommendations, I’d love to see them in the comments!)

Posted in Lists, Planning | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Fresh Start

Welcome back!  And, to those of you newly following since I was mentioned in the BBC article, welcome!

I’ve been taking a break for the better part of two months.  I hope and trust that everyone had a happy and safe holiday period.  Now I’m rested up, and ready to take on whatever fate throws my way.  (Buckle up–it looks like it’s going to be a bumpy ride!)

Before I really get deep into more prepping discussions, I thought it would be good to lay a few ‘ground rules’ here, and temper expectations just a little.

Generally, I try to post every other Thursday.  This means that I’m most often typing a given entry up on the Wednesday evening prior.  (Yes, bad blogger–I should have several posts written at a time, “canned” and ready for use in case of emergency.  That I don’t is probably one of the subtler ironies of this blog…)  I could argue that it’s my way of keeping “up-to-date,” so that I can include late-breaking news, if need be.  In reality, Real Life(tm) often intrudes on my best-laid plans, so I often don’t get around to it that early.  Pick your reason.

I’m open to letting folks of whatever stripe–left, right, center, libertarian, whatever–post comments.  I certainly won’t agree with everybody–but that’s one of the joys of us being individuals, don’t you think?  All I ask  is that you keep it civil, and that you make an attempt at coherent, grammatically correct writing.  If your “comment” runs to a couple of hundred words, and you use either ALL CAPS or no caps at all, especially if you use no punctuation (or use it wildly incorrectly), I’ll probably not allow the post.  If your post is basically an unhinged rant, disconnected from all reality, ditto.  For the civility, don’t be rude.  You can disagree, but my comments section isn’t the place to try to convince others… If that’s what you want to try, you’re welcome to start your own blog. (I’m told that WordPress is a good hosting site, and it’s free…)

I do occasionally review things–books, gadgets, other blogs, news articles.  I don’t get paid to do it, nor do I receive anything from the authors/manufacturers/retailers for doing it.  I’m not against receiving things to review; I merely haven’t yet.  Any equipment manufacturers interested in letting me “play” with some of their gear, my email is in the “about me” section.  One thing I do participate in is the Amazon Associates program; most times, a link to a piece of gear or a book goes through them, and I get a small percentage of your sale.  Let me be clear, though, I absolutely do not depend on that for any significant portion of my income.  I have a day job.  The (very small, to date) ‘residuals’ pay for me to get more preps done.

All that being said, watching the political fireworks (such as they are) since the election has me a bit torn.  Do I want to shift into overdrive, and get as much long-term prepping done as I can, while I can?  Or just leave things to advance at their current rate, and grab the popcorn to watch the spectacle?  (For what it’s worth, while I am trying to speed things up a bit, there are only so many dollars and so many hours…)

We’ve been continuing “Electricity-Free Fridays,” difficult as that may be at times.  We’ve got the garden planned for the spring (and the fall, too, for that matter).  The hens are laying.  The grains are growing.  Over the coming months, I intend to walk through a few “starting points” for those who are just beginning. I hope to nudge a few folks into some “outside-the-box” thinking (my wife can’t go through the electrical department at the hardware store without coming up with three or four other-than-intended uses for the stuff there). And I hope to discuss what’s going on with the nation, and the world, a bit, as well.  Please, stick around and join the fun!

Posted in Community, News, Planning | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Aftermath

So, that’s how it’s going to be, is it?  Well, okay then.

The election for #45 has come and gone, and it certainly didn’t go the way I had hoped.  I’ll admit to spending a day or two in shock and despair.  As with most things in life, though, there’s nothing much to be done now except pick yourself up, dust off, and get back to work.  (“This too shall pass.”)

What happened, exactly?  Oh, the number of electrons being used right now to analyze, blame, parse, rationalize, sob, wail, and moan…  I’ve got a few thoughts on the matter (when do I not?), but I’ll try to keep it brief.

To go briefly into the blame game, I’d like to lay this one firmly at the feet of the baby boomers.  Apologies to any readers from that generation; while many of you as individuals are great, you as a group sometimes seem… less so.Trump’s largest bloc of support came from the boomers–“older white males.”  (To let emotion fully into the picture, and rant just a bit, I’ll opine that every time they’re given the chance–every single time–they’ve elected to screw over future generations.  Mine, my kids’, my eventual grandkids’… Pollution?  Peak oil?  Global warming?  The most recent economic collapse/depression/recession?  While I normally dislike the “us-vs-them” game, these are almost all on them, the Boomers.  This election was one more big, steaming pile of fuck you from the Boomers to their descendants. End rant.)

But let’s face a few simple facts:  They, as a group, have been trying to screw up this particular choice for about two decades.  This demographic tried to bring us Romney.  And McCain before him.  They succeeded, but mostly (mostly!) tripped over themselves with Bush.  And they did everything they could to make hell out of Clinton’s term.  But as to this election, there’s a thing:  they didn’t vote in significantly larger numbers than ever before.

The best analysis I’ve seen (by the numbers) (trying to find a link, but I’ve misplaced the article…) shows a couple of things, analyzing the last three elections.  First, the number of votes cast for the Republican candidate has remained more or less static, while the number of votes cast for the Democratic candidate has fluctuated wildly.  Second, Democratic voter turnout this time around was abysmally low.

In all, this means that the people who were going to vote for Trump came out and did so.  The people who might otherwise have voted (for a different Democratic candidate) didn’t.  So while it’s comforting to put the blame on the Boomers, really, folks, it’s not them.  Not completely.  Yes, the DNC gypped Bernie out of the candidacy.  But it’s not them, either.  In the end, it’s us.

Some other thoughts: I saw lots of calls (mostly from right-wing sites/people) for the abolition of the Electoral College. They’d rather things were completely up to a direct popular vote.  (I’ll have to see about doing a post on the Electoral College someday.)  I’m not generally for making such a change: the reason behind setting things up that way was so that every State mattered, in proportion to its population.  If it was a question of the direct popular vote, none of the candidates would hit anywhere outside the big cities.  (To be fair, they hardly do so these days–but it would become much worse.)  And what’s the majority demographic in the cities?  Liberals/progressives/left-wingers.  To say nothing of the fact that if things were up to the popular vote, according to the latest numbers I’ve seen, Hillary would have won.  (Heck, Gore would have won, back in ’00. Then we’d be in a completely different place…)  But the Electoral College sets things up to be fair across the states.  (Note: fair.  Not equal.  And they’re two quite different things.)

That’s a lot of words on that topic.  Picking up, dusting off, and moving on.  Next question: what do I see coming of this?

Well, it’s not going to collapse civilization (probably–at least, not directly).  We’ll probably see an economic depression.  Possibly some wars.  Things are likely to get really dicey in Eastern Europe, with Putin eyeing those former satellite states and dreaming of the glory of the Soviet Union.  Pollution levels are likely to jump, as we go full-tilt back into coal and other fossil fuels. Climate change?  Probably going to be irreversible (and barring the appearance of a supervolcano eruption or large meteor impact, probably ultimately what does for civilization as we know it).

I do see a point of darkest, blackest humor in all of this, though.  The Republicans control the White House, the Senate, and the House.  They’re certain to appoint conservative justices to the Supreme Court.  But that means that it’s all on them.  They’ve got to govern, now–and I think they’ve forgotten how.  They’ve got to run the country, and be the “adults”.  Yes, it’s probably going to be painful for the rest of us. (Make no bones about it–it’s gonna suck.)  But they’re likely to crash and burn, too–enacting even half of Trump’s “first 100 days plan” (link to annotated NPR version) would have unintended consequences spinning so wildly, far, and quickly, that nobody’s certain just where things would end up.  And the Markets, as we know, hate uncertainty…

The biggest issue, really, is that the rest of us will be dealing with said consequences, and suffering mightily for it. But, we’ll also be here to start picking up the pieces afterwards.

I’ll be taking time off over the holidays–a little break is in order, the better to deal with the big break happening at the national level.  I probably won’t post again before early January, but I’ll still be around to read and reply to comments.  When I get back, I’d like to start talking about step-by-step things that can be done to increase your level of preparedness (plus I’ll have political commentary, I’m sure).  (Also, to pass some time, an interesting read, related to all of the above: Rules for Surviving an Autocracy.) Stay safe, out there!

Posted in Government, Make it Stop, Politics | Tagged , , , , , | 38 Comments

We’re Almost There

The next post will be after the election–thank God.  I’m not sure I can deal with any more of it.  The sheer amount of hyperbole, misinformation, bad thinking, and other similar dreck is all but overwhelming.

Everybody remember to get out there and vote, if you haven’t already.  (If you have, good on you!) I don’t know that we’ve ever been quite this close to electing a “strongman” or quasi-fascist, and I’d like to get this behind us as quickly as possible. (The better to move on to dealing with the aftermath, whichever way it goes.)


I’ve been thinking lately on food.  Local food, specifically, and particularly as it pertains to long-term emergency food supplies and survival.

I don’t think many people–even (especially?) the die-hard survivalists out there–really consider just how much food is brought from just how far away. And it seems like most of that sort of thinking shows up as “I’ll just get a ‘big bucket-o-survival-seeds’ and grow a garden.”

Now, I’m all about the garden.  We’ve got one, and are always looking for ways to improve it (this year, we weed-blocked most of it, raised the beds for the part we left open, and added some soil).  We’ve got more garden square footage than some of my acquaintances have in their apartments.  And yet, we couldn’t support ourselves for a year on just our garden and orchard harvest.  Heck, even if “allowed” to buy (and/or hunt) our meat, I don’t think we could do it–it would be a spare living, at best.  Some of the basics take up lots of room.

Take wheat, for instance.  I know that a lot of survivalists go the “55-gallon drum of wheat berries” route, figuring they’ll mill their own flour with a hand-cranked grinder.  That’s all well and good, but: 1) it takes a lot of work, and more than a little bit of wheat, to make enough flour for one loaf of bread; 2) it’ll be whole-wheat flour, and probably relatively coarsely ground, which will drastically change its properties in dough; and 3) when it’s gone, it’s gone.  And sure, you can take some and plant it, to grow more wheat–but that takes quite a bit of time, and space, and effort.  (Ask me how I know…)

Even if we assume (as I like to do) a “long collapse,” you’ll probably stop getting imports pretty quickly, followed very shortly by anything that has to travel any great distance at all.  Call it a couple hundred miles, at first–let’s say 300, just to give it a round number.  What grows within 300 miles of you?  Could you live on just that?  Could you grow whatever else you’d need, to supplement?

These are some troubling things to contemplate–or they should be, at any rate.  But it’s a situation not too far removed from us.  At the turn of the last century, it would have been closer to “normal” than not.  But then, things have changed drastically since then…

During the Civil War, the breadbasket of the Union–literally, where their wheat (whence flour, whence bread) came from was Maine.  That ended not too long afterwards, as wheat growing moved further and further west.  But even as recently as the early 1900’s, for most of the country, if you didn’t grow your own wheat, you knew–or at least could name–the person who grew it for you.  And many many many towns had their own mills.  Ditto this situation across a wide variety of foodstuffs: vegetables, fruit, eggs.  Dairy.  Heck, even beer.  We’ve moved away from this, and it’s not necessarily a good thing.  Perhaps we should think about how to get back…

(Yes, for the curious, I was put on this particular mental track by a book: The New Bread Basket, by Amy Halloran. It’s an entertaining read, if a bit “fluffy” at times–but, reading between the lines, very thought-provoking.)

What are you doing, if anything, to make your food local again?  What do you suppose we as a society should do, to help bring that about?  (Or, contrariwise, do you think we shouldn’t bother?)

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