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Sending text messages over ham radio with JS8Call

Winter Field Day is coming up in the ham radio world, which invites ham radio operators to take their gear outside and get some hands-on experience with emergency communications. We’ve talked about sending email with Winlink, but I’ll show you another trick that lets you send SMS text messages over JS8Call, which is a lot easier to use than Winlink.

We last discussed JS8Call when I participated in an AmRRON exercise to track the grocery supply chain. I went into deep detail on the setup and how it works in that post and won’t repeat everything, but here’s a quick rundown:

JS8Call is like a chat room that works over ham radio. Think IRC or Slack.It works over HF, which means you’ll probably want a General license to take advantage of it (but Technician-class operators have data privileges on 15 meters). It requires a real-time clock, either provided by an Internet time server or through GPS via a GPS USB dongle, which lets you operate off-grid.

JS8Call is one of the best digital modes to learn, as it’s relatively user friendly, let’s you automatically exchange status messages with other operators, and lets you relay messages so you can reach operators you couldn’t otherwise.

But JS8Call has another superpower: it can tap into the extensive APRS data network. APRS is short for Automatic Packet Reporting System, a radio data network that’s been around since the ‘80s.

Well before cell phones were popular, hams could use APRS to send text messages, get weather reports, and track object locations. These days, APRS is tied into the SMS network.

APRS works over short-ish range VHF/UHF, but thanks to the JS8Call integration, you can tap into it from anywhere in the world.

To send an SMS text message over APRS, send a message in this format:

@APRSIS CMD :SMSGTE   :@NUMBER MESSAGE

The format must be exact. Note that there are three spaces between :SMSGTE and :@NUMBER, and yes, you must put the “@” before the phone number.

If you hear about this on YouTube or elsewhere, you may see a different, older format that has since changed. The one above is now the correct format as of January 2022.

Screenshot of how it looks:

It takes a few seconds for the message to send, and then around another 30 seconds until the recipient receives it.

One thing to know: when you do this you’re sending a cell phone number over public airwaves. Also, it will be logged in the APRS system for all to see. Finally, the recipient has no way to respond to your message.

However, if you have a power or telecommunications outage, JS8Call gives ham radio operators a simple way to contact loved ones even if they aren’t hams themselves.

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Is anyone else seeing a meat shortage?

This is my first time posting on the forum where I’m still a newbie at prepping and feel like I should listen more than talk at this point.

However, I haven’t seen anyone else mention about meat or grocery shortages, and I wanted to report what I saw at Kroger tonight in middle Georgia. There was literally no chicken left of any description – even the organic section was wiped out.

The beef and pork sections had some cuts available, but there were definite gaps where certain items had been cleared.

I didn’t think to check the rest of the store to see what else might be missing. Is anyone else witnessing these types of shortages? Or seeing any panic buying?

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Item scarcity with the emergence of a war with Russia

Hypothetically, if the USA were to go to war with Russia what would that mean for us as individuals and how can we prepare now?

If the war were to drag on for some time, would ammo and gun manufacturers not make things for civilians and those resources would be used for the government and war effort? Would we see limits on clothing and food in order to support the troops with car manufacturers  making planes like during WWII and driving up the prices for cars here even more?

One more question. From my history classes I vaguely remember that war=increase spending and work for the economy. Correct me if I’m wrong here but if many new jobs were created for a war effort would that help the economy and change the direction we are heading with inflation and all that or would it only drive us more in debt? I never took an economics class…

What do you predict we should do now to prepare?

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Water storage issues–water bricks contaminated after 1 year

This is my third year doing an annual swap of water stores but the first time I have had an issue with contaminated water. I have Water Bricks and my method is to 1. wash them out with Dawn 2. rinse and dry 3. refill with tap water 4. add unscented bleach. This is the first year I have opened them up to find white threads floating in the water and what I can only describe as orange blobs in one. One container had a visibly discolored and slimy lid, too. The most obvious thing to me is that maybe the bleach was too old, but I still feel like in a clean, air tight container, it shouldn’t have been an issue? I’m not sure. Any help or advice on how to prevent this is greatly appreciated.

I am very glad I do an annual check on the water and I am going to be ordering a Berkey or similar to have a way to filter water faster than my Sawyer mini filters could if this ever happens again and I need to use my stores. I’m also glad I have purification tablets on hand, too. (crossposted to r/preppers)

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How to defend against marauders after a disaster

After a significant disaster occurs, those who are unprepared or less prepared will start to get hungry, thirsty, or cold. If there isn’t relief provided in enough time they will go into that survival mindset and think that the only option is to take from others or die. 

We try and prevent ourselves from ever getting in that mindset ourselves by stockpiling food, water, and other supplies. Maybe we even stock more than we need so that we can give to others and prevent them from getting desperate. 

But take a minute to think about your situation and what you would do if you started to hear about marauders raiding houses in your neighborhood. What are some of the steps you would take to fortify your home, defend your possessions and family, and deter them from coming around? Try saying more than “got my guns n’ ammo, I’m good…”. 

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Maintain a sustainable food source with the prepper’s garden

In dire straits, many preppers imagine trapping rabbits (beware tularemia and SAS doesn’t recommend relying on rabbit) or hunting (you would be surprised how quickly deer populations can be decimated leaving nothing to hunt). That also applies to fish.

In The Great Depression, resource rich Canadian prairies were virtually hunted and fished out. In the best of times, not everyone hunts or they hunt and fish responsibly. In a crisis, people forget stewardship and why hunting and fishing limits exist.

You would also be surprised at how many people wound deer, don’t track the animal (inhumane and wasteful), and then keeping shooting and wounding more animals. Guess how quickly those fools can decimate the deer population in an area? I’ve seen it.

I grew up with venison, wild ducks and geese and prairie chicken on the dinner table. But, I also remember the “bad” years when Dad, who was a crack shot, couldn’t get a deer. When you hunt you deal with nature not Safeway.

This is why I believe that that the ability to grow food needs to be part of prepping.

The ability to grow food is a part of being sustainable. It is worth it to try to grow a garden and challenge yourself to learn a new skill.

It’s easy to learn the skills or study the subjects we have an interest in, but crisis and disaster call upon preppers to wear many hats and use a variety of skill sets. That means learning skills that are not interesting to some, but very necessary to all.

You may not become a master gardener, but with hands on experience, you will develop a feel for what it takes to produce food. Who knows you may even discover that you really like gardening.

Start simple. Get a good reference book. Try a simple raised bed garden or a balcony garden or use grow lights if in an apartment without a balcony. There are also community gardens in some areas.

We could discuss this year’s gardening efforts and share tips or brainstorm problems. Is anyone interested in doing this as a part of prepping?

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Human disaster probability by zip code?

What resources are there for determining the likelihood of human disasters such as riots, prison breaks, urban fires, or chemical spills by narrow geographical area (zip code or similar scope) in the US?  

I’ve found Fema’s National Risk Index which has great information but it only includes natural disasters.

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Antique store hunting, can I find better preps from the past?

This is going to be a picture dump of my most recent trip to an antique store. I love to go to these places and see the ingenuity of the past and how things have evolved over time. Some items have improved with time, and some have gotten worse and the antiques are actually better than what can be found today. Here are some items that stood out to me on my last trip:

Believe that this is a manual powered drill. The end looks like a shoulder pad to give you someplace to put pressure down on the piece you are drilling.

Dietz kerosene lantern for light and warmth

If you grew your own cotton or raised sheep and learned how to use a spinning wheel, you could be very popular on your block after SHTF when you are the only one who can make clothes.

I saw a few of these torches and was very curious on what kind of fuel they burned and how they worked. Does anyone have any insight on these? It looks like there is a little pump that you will pressurise. 

Manual hand mixer for baking

Hand crank butter churn. Butter is the best!

Kerosene powered space heater

Hand crank manual powered clothes washer. Isn’t this so cool!? I would like to have tried this out.

hand crank coffee grinder

I had fun looking at all this neat old stuff and imagined myself having to use these in a non-electric world. 

Do you have any vintage machines or gear that you keep around for prepping?

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Car supplies

I’m drafting a few lists of gear to acquire this year and I find myself stuck on car supplies beyond the basics (spare oil and coolant, spare wheel, tire iron, jumper cables, belt cutter/glass breaker…). Besides any GHB and your EDC, what do you keep/want to keep in your vehicles ?

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Sharing and seeking useful PDFs and links

For over a year I have been compiling a document of useful links, articles, videos, websites, and most of all documents. The point is to have an organized catalog of useful resources or articles I might want to read again later. It also makes it easier to share resources with other people. All the PDFs I link to I have also backed up on my own hard drives and a flash drive I keep in my BOB. I have also been working on printing some of them.

Here is that document if any of y’all are interested:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Z22im5oGglKpQqabUNHESdWahdRveKOFVMI5r4TZGZI/edit?usp=sharing

I would also love any suggestions for links I should add, I am especially interested in PDFs, especially for topics that have little or no coverage in my document.

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A story of survival – surviving 72 days in the snowy mountains after a plane crash by resorting to cannibalism

Summary:

In 1972 a small plane crashed in the Andes mountains of Argentina carrying a rugby team and their friends and family due to an inexperienced co-pilot. Out of the 45 passengers and crew aboard, 8 died instantly from the crash and many more soon after from their injuries or the cold temperatures. At 11,710 ft they were pretty high up there in the mountains.

They were finally rescued when the weather cleared up and two survivors climbed a 15,260 ft mountain peak for 10 days without gear and traveled 38 miles until they found help. They then were able to send a rescue crew to the crash site and 16 other survivors were rescued. Their amazing story went on to produce multiple books, movies, and songs.

 

Lessons I learned from reading about this story:

Search and rescue flew over the crash multiple times but couldn’t see the white plane against the white snow. The survivors did try and write SOS with lipstick they found in luggage among the wreckage but they ran out of it. A lesson to create as much contrast as possible.

Two first year medical students were on board and attended to people’s wounds. 

A man named Enrique Platero had a piece of metal stuck in his abdomen. When it was removed it brought out a couple inches of intestine with it. He was actually recovering well though he later died in an avalanche. 

None of the passengers with compound fractures survived.

The surviving passengers used broken seats, debris, luggage, and snow to make a wall and shut out the cold inside a portion of the broken fuselage. 

They were able to obtain water in freezing conditions by using a piece of sheet metal that was under the seats and placing it out in the snow. They would sprinkle some snow on top and the solar radiation would heat up the metal enough to melt the snow. 

They made improvised sunglasses out of sun visors from the pilot’s cabin, wire, and a bra strap to prevent snow blindness. 

The seats were gutted to make clothing to protect against the cold and improvise as snow shoes.

The captain of the rugby team on board assumed leadership. A lesson to find a leader to direct people.

All of the of the remaining survivors had never seen snow before and had always lived by the sea. So they were not used to this high elevation and cold temperatures.

Temperatures dropped to -30C / -22F at night.

They found a small radio in the wreckage and improvised a long antenna using electrical cable from the plane. They heard the disheartening news that their search and rescue was called off after the 11th day. That would have been horrible for moral but would give valuable intel to not just stay put and you have to do something about your rescue.

There was very little food on the plane that only lasted a week after extreme rationing. No natural vegetation or animals lived at that altitude either. They tried eating the cotton insides the seats and leather but got sick from eating those.

Those still alive knew that search and rescue had been called off and that they would eventually die from starvation. They all agreed that the others could consume their bodies if they died. This was a very hard decision as they would be consuming the bodies of their dead relatives, and close friends.

Survivor Roberto Canessa described the decision to eat the pilots and their dead friends and family members:

Our common goal was to survive — but what we lacked was food. We had long since run out of the meagre pickings we’d found on the plane, and there was no vegetation or animal life to be found. After just a few days, we were feeling the sensation of our own bodies consuming themselves just to remain alive. Before long, we would become too weak to recover from starvation.

We knew the answer, but it was too terrible to contemplate.

The bodies of our friends and team-mates, preserved outside in the snow and ice, contained vital, life-giving protein that could help us survive. But could we do it?

For a long time, we agonized. I went out in the snow and prayed to God for guidance. Without His consent, I felt I would be violating the memory of my friends; that I would be stealing their souls.

We wondered whether we were going mad even to contemplate such a thing. Had we turned into brute savages? Or was this the only sane thing to do? Truly, we were pushing the limits of our fear.

 

Still, some refused or could not keep down the human meat. They dried the meat in the sun and it made it more palatable. They initially were so revolted by the experience that they only could eat skin, muscle, and fat, but as the supply diminished they resulted in eating heart, lungs, and brains.

17 days after the crash, an avalanche struck the aircraft while they slept killing eight more people including the team captain who had been the leader. This was even more discouraging for them. They were buried inside the aircraft under 3 feet of snow and used a metal pole from the luggage rack to poke out a ventilation hole once air was running out. They dug out the next morning to find themselves in a horrible blizzard and decided that they had to go back down into the buried plane for shelter.

They tried to get the plane’s radio working to signal for help but with the voltage differences it didn’t work out.

They realized that they needed to climb the peak to find help and improvised a sleeping bag out of insulation, copper wire, and waterproof fabric from the air conditioning. One man had been taught to sew as a child and used a sewing kit found in the wreckage. He taught three others how to sew and they took turns making the sleeping bag.

During the expedition to find help, they wore three pairs of jeans and three sweaters, and four pairs of socks rapped in plastic shopping bags. The thin oxygen and softened spring snow making them sink down to their hips made the trek hard.

On the summit, one member told another, “We may be walking to our deaths, but I would rather walk to meet my death than wait for it to come to me.” The one agreed. “You and I are friends. We have been through so much. Now let’s go die together.“

The two who went out for rescue came to a river and found some men on the other side of it. The river was too loud that they couldn’t yell across but one of the men wrote a note on a piece of paper, wrapped it around a rock with string and tossed it across. The two survivors then responded back on the paper and threw it back.

A rescue crew was sent out by helicopter to rescue the remaining people at the wreckage.

Upon being rescued, they didn’t want to admit to cannibalism and told people that they had just eaten some cheese and other food they found. Rumors started going about though and the survivors received public backlash for resulting to cannibalism. After they explained all they had to go through, people were more understanding and let up on them.

 

This was an incredible story and I’d encourage you to learn more about it. This is just a very brief summary of what stood out to me, but they had many other examples and experiences of smart thinking and good survival skills.

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Gear question – recommendations for a first aid case to fit in a BOB?

I’m looking for a “good” case for my first Aid Kit that I want to fit in a BOB or have as a not to large ride along. As a note and personal assessment – bit of an organize freak, everything needs its place!

I like the Large First Aid Kit by Surviveware that you can find here – clearly labeled mesh pouches, easy to find what you are looking for. I’m looking at the bag specifically here. And honestly, one of the better pre-assembled kits that I’ve seen. Contents list below for those interested.

Cons – It does not have everything that I’d like to have a kit (fine, again few do). Given that, it in itself seems pretty full as is – does not leave much room for adding in my own materials.

Then I set out to look for just a case – preferably something easily organized that can be adjusted to suit my materials and needs, something like the Pelican EMS case found here. I love the Pelican aesthetics.

Cons – The price is out of range by a large degree, as are the dims (16-7/8″ W x 20-5/8″ L x 8-1/8″ H) – too large to lug about unless I was using it constantly such as a lifeguard or park ranger. Definitely not a BOB option. Perhaps kept in the home.

Finally I was looking at JUST a case such as the NANUCK910. Its nice enough. Good sized at exterior dimensions of L 14.3″ x W11.1″ x H4.7″, not too large and not so small its pointless. The price point is decent (its just an empty case). 

Cons – it is literally just a shell. Any material placed in here is going to be dumped in haphazardly and a pain to find the item needed rapidly.

Not too be put of this last solution to quickly, I was looking for pouches like these or like these. They are not the perfect solution — I’d like to get something closer to the Surviveware example.

A final option would be getting pre-made single purpose kits like the Red Cross Professional Trauma Pak with QuikClot or the Everlit equivalent and throwing all the specialized baggies in a case. But that is disorganized and likely to get rather expensive. 

But as you all must have thoughts on this matter and must have solved it for yourselves (and as I cannot be the only organize central fellow in the ether) I thought I’d post the question and see what advice was to be had! 

Large First Aid Kit by Surviveware Contents:

600D Polyester Bag(1), 7.5″ Shears(1), 18″ Splint(1), Cold Pack(1), Combine Dressing(1), Conforming Bandages(6), Gauze Swabs(5), Ear Buds(20), Emergency Blanket(1), Eye Pads(4), Hydro Gel(5), Tape, Non-Adhesive Dressings(10), Laminate Baggies(6), Refuse Bag(1), Pressure Bandage(1), Safety Pins(10), Splinter Probes(10), Strip Closures(9), Triangular Bandage(2), Tweezers(1), Whistle(1), Wound Dressings(2),Adhesive Bandages: Butterfly – Large(5), Butterfly – Medium(5), Large(5), Standard(30), Square(5), Mini(5), H-Shape(5),First Aid Handbook(1).

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PART 2 What are your 2022 prepping goals and plans? Comms and Intel

I hope Carlotta doesnt mind me piggy backing on her other thread, But I thought this offshoot on 2022 preps would benefit from a seperate thread.

SOoooooo  Before the INTERNET (yes I’m that old)  We preppers and survivalists had far fewer resources to call upon for our news and intel.   TV and Radio was the default and as we all know it was almost impossible to access foreign TV stations as they did not have the power to cross oceans.   Worldband radio broadcasting DID travel further but the broadcasts were normally just PROPAGANDA for which ever country was broadcasting and natural disasters were often not mentioned as it made the broadcasting nation look weak.

So PRINTED media was the mainstream, International Magazines such as Guns N Ammo, Nat Geo,  Time Magazine etc were often read cover to cover for snippets of useful info.  In time magazines like SURVIVAL WEAPONRY AND TECHNIQUES and the AMERICAN SURVIVAL GUIDE came along to help us stay INFORMED, along with established magazines like Guns n Ammo adding survivalist writters to their staff ( Think Mel Tappan, Ragnar Benson etc)

So we were getting WRITTEN information, reviews, articles etc, but often it would take a MONTH of more from these publications to reach the reader.  And we could only read the magazine editors OPINIONS.

In time the American preppers / survivalists started using the Small Ads in the backs of magazines to reach out seeking others like themselves, In time came Survivalist NEWS LETTERS like the famous LIVE FREE newsletter and some of these publications welcomed readers to write in and comment.  But this STILL could take months for replies to get back to original authors.

Then came the INTERNET and E MAIL.  its been a total boon for us as a global community of preppers to be able to communicate, advise, debate, instruct, share and support each other in MINUTES.      Yes we as a community can reach out to our peers almost instantly with everything from breaking news, sitreps, recipes, advice, opinion etc. Great isnt it. look how utterly reliant many of us are now on instant access to comms and intel.

OK SO WHAT IF IT ALL STOPPED??

——————————————————–

EMP

POWER CUTS

ROGUE GOVERNMENT

ACT OF NATURE

CRASHED SERVER

SITE CLOSED DOWN by HOSTING COMPANY

Think about it, how can you access intel, news, advice, opinion, warnings, tip offs from FRIENDLY sources if TP was taken offline?

Terrifying thought isnt it, you can only rely on your local broadcasters who may be controlled by state or federal authorities, only local news that meets statutary rules.

Your fellow preppers all isolated from each other.

WE NEED A BACK UP.

At the very least those who interact with each other closely, perhaps as friends or workmates, at the very least CONSIDER ( nothing more than CONSIDER)   sharing an E MAIL address with your TRUSTED associates, Perhaps a PHONE NUMBER, or what about leaving a message on a bullitin board on some totally innocent hobby blog/ forum / site etc.

If you have been interacting with other friendly preppers within your state, consider having Rendezvous at pre agreed locations to chat and share / trade / barter, especially if TSHTF as we tend to call it.

What ever you do I respectfully suggest you investigate BACK UP means of communicating with each other for if or WHEN the web is unavailable.

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Help if possible please, home made bread preservation

Do any of you good people know of ways of extending the shelf life of home made bread made in a free standing bread maker??   We have one and we like the bread it makes but it goes off or stale within 24 hours.    Any suggestions on extending its shelf life.

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No empty roller bags / suitcases

I’ve been thinking about how best to be prepared to bug in or bug out efficiently. It seems to me that there’s no point in having empty roller bags or empty suitcases inside my house. Why not have them packed and ready to take if I needed to leave? Storage is an issue, but they don’t take up more room packed than they do empty. I’m interested in other ideas people have to be able to pivot quickly from staying at home vs. leaving.

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Double dipping: camping and prepping

Most of the prepping stuff I’ve read strongly discourages double-dipping, advocating in favor of fully-equipped bug out bags whose contents never get used for regular hiking/camping trips.  But realistically, who can afford to own (or has space to store) duplicate sets of camping gear?

The blog below actually has a pretty good method for keeping one’s camping gear pre-staged and ready to go on a moment’s notice, either for last minute trips or, of course, actual emergencies whether they require bugging in or bugging out.

I’ve linked the articles here, beginning with the most relevant:

https://pmags.com/outdoor-gear-and-disaster-preparedness https://pmags.com/perma-camping-kit-what-the-heck-is-it https://pmags.com/getting-organized-some-light-construction-and-a-sewing-room

Of course, the writer is mostly concerned about quickly and efficiently getting out of the house and up to woods after work on Friday afternoon or when an occasional random day-off presents itself.  However, this system is clearly useful for prepping, especially sheltering in-place but, with appropriate tweaks, for bugging out as well.

What I like best is that even if an emergency never ever happens, the work put into this system pays off immediately by facilitating quicker, easier, less hassle departures for recreational camping.  And, of course, there’s something to be said about practicing regularly with all your gear.

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What if history really isn’t any guide?

In a past life, I used to be a historian. Or at least, a historian-in-training (I bailed on a PhD). I spent ten years at two good schools reading dead languages and writing papers, and in one of my seminars a professor said something that has stuck with me ever since (I’m paraphrasing): “there are two types of thinkers: lumpers and dividers.”

What she meant was, some people (lumpers) spend most of their time arguing that two seemingly disparate things are actually alike, while others (dividers) tend to argue that these two things that look alike are actually very different.

This insight isn’t all that novel — in Plato’s Timaeus, the universe is laid out on the axes of “same” and “different.” But it is useful, and I recall it every time I get into a lumper vs. divider fight with a practicing historian over a current political issue — the historian is usually trying to win an argument by analogy with the past (lumping), while I’m on the other side of the table pounding my fist that this new thing is very different from that old thing and the attempted historical analogy is just plain wrong.

I’m now having more and more of these arguments around the topic of the pandemic, as different kinds of thinkers begin to tackle it with the tools they have at hand. For historians, the main tool is the historical analogy. And the results are a kind of master class in how to royally screw this up.

Here’s an example of an historian-in-training (at an institution I spent five years at, no less!) doing some misguided lumping:

people are losing sight of the distinction between "things are going to be weird for a year or two" and "things are going to be weird for a year or two, therefore they will stay that way forever" pic.twitter.com/9KMySqMEKs

— Jake Anbinder (@JakeAnbinder) May 13, 2020

I did a short Twitter thread (https://twitter.com/jonst0kes/status/1260961277033185281) in response to the above, but I’d like to come at it from a different angle, here.

There’s a trap that historical lumpers so often fall into, not just with the pandemic, but whenever they try to bigfoot everyone in a current events debate by jumping in with their 10,000-foot historical perspective.

Lumping together two historical events/groups/trends that are both in the past can work because there are agreed-upon boundaries for the two historical things. In other words, because in the process of writing a “history” of things X and Y, historians have drawn some temporal and social boundaries around X and Y in order to “construct” (*gag*) them as objects of historical inquiry. (I can’t believe I just wrote that but whatever.)

Where historians get into trouble is when they try to lump together an historical event with an event that’s still unfolding and is open-ended, where it’s impossible to draw the necessary hindsight boundaries needed to make the analogy truly work. This is especially treacherous when historians undertake to make predictions about the future based on a historical analogy.

But as fraught as the practice of predicting the future based on analogy with the past is, the whole thing comes completely and hopelessly unglued when you’re trying to do the historical analogy thing with a pandemic.

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The act of constructing an object of historical study out of events of the past — of drawing a circle around a collection of things that happened, and saying “this is all connected, and I’m giving it a name and telling you how it worked” (i.e. “lumping”) is what the kids these days would call a powermove (https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Powermove).

And the act of taking someone else’s historical object and whacking it until it cracks apart and then reassembling the pieces into two or more different historical objects (i.e. “dividing”) is also a powermove.

The sport of making an historical object, and then rallying your camp to defend it, king-of-the-hill-style, while some other faction within your guild tries to smash it to pieces in order to create their own object out of the same material, is “history.”

When historians bring these powermoves into the area of a live political debate, they’re deliberately trying to shape the debate and the eventual historical outcome. It’s an overt attempt to intervene and steer the unfolding of events by means of analogy. In this respect, they’re taking a strategy that works for the status game they’re playing inside their guild, and trying to juke current events with it. Sometimes that works really effectively, and sometimes it doesn’t.

But a pandemic is not a purely political issue that you can intervene in and steer. Sure, it has massive political ramifications, and politics definitely affect how it unfolds in a particular geography. But in between the forces of political cause and political effect is a novel pathogen with a mind of its own, and that novel pathogen gets the final say in how the pandemic unfolds.

So while the pandemic comes wrapped in a thick cloud of politics, the novel pathogen at its heart is a force of nature, and that force of nature does not even see any of the human social constructions that are so real to you and I, much less respect them. It just burns through every clan and faction and border and popular movement and historical moment, with zero regard for what came before or what will come after. Your rhetorical powermoves have no effect on it. It doesn’t know they’re there.

It’s also important to remember that the novel pathogen is novel. We have never faced this particular threat before, which means that “long-lasting changes to important aspects of the human condition” are very much out there in the unmapped space of possible futures that will unfold from what’s happening right now.

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There is actually a family of useful historical analogies that can help guide our response to the novel pathogen. That family of analogies is the very epidemiological models that are the subject of so much present debate.

But these models-as-analogies don’t function quite the same way as the analogies that even politically engaged historians make. They aren’t powermoves in either an intra-guild status contest or a current political fight — or at least, they’re not supposed to be such.

When used properly, epidemiological models are tools for exploring and reasoning about the space of possibilities by testing different input parameters. Like all good historical analogies the best ones are deeply rooted in a high-quality grasp of the details and minutia of historical precedent — in this case, R values, fatality rates of various flavors, test positivity rates, curves, and all the other parameters underlie each model.

But to take these models as straight-forward predictions, or even worse to mistake them for political interventions or to make them stakes in a tribal political fight, to abuse and misuse them.

It’s also wrong to do the opposite — to take your facility with creating forward-looking historical analogies that only really work as powermoves in a present political debate, and turn it to the task of actually modeling out the space of possibilities for the epidemic.

Let me put all this a different way:

The point of an epidemiological model is to act as a sandbox where we can test different input parameters and visuals what their effects might be on the next few weeks’ development of the pandemic. The point of a historical analogy is that it’s a powermove that’s meant to influence a present social dynamic.

So if you are trying to predict what will happen with the SARS-COV-2 pandemic based on a historical analogy with the 1918 Spanish Flu, or the Great Depression, or the Great Recession of 2008, you’ve gotten the above all twisted and are just going to end up playing yourself. This is not that, and your attempt to lump this with that is far more likely to confuse more than it is to clarify.

First, just look around at the vastly different outcomes that different countries are seeing with this pandemic, and then think about that the US of 1918 is a different country than the US of 2020. “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there,” goes the quote.

Second, and more importantly, SARS-COV-2 is a brand new virus from a totally different family than the 1918 influenza. Again, the qualities of this novel pathogen — both the qualties it has right now and the qualities it will develop as it moves in and sets up shop in the human population — will govern the course of this event. The virus gets a vote in all this, and we have no idea what it will do next.

A properly used epidemiological model takes full account of the virus’s agency — to plug in different parameters for R0 and IFR and see what happens is to account for the fact that the virus can behave in different ways in different places. The strength of modeling as an exercise is that it gives you a framework for exploring the question of “what if the virus does, or what if it does that?”. It does not predict what the virus will do next, because that is impossible.

I think historians, investors, and everyone else who’s trying to answer the question of “what’s next” in a systematic way can learn from epidemiologists: don’t predict, just model.

Predicting is saying what’s about to happen. Modeling is constructing a little device that lets you play with different inputs and explore what might happen if the virus + human system does this or that thing.

So don’t get honeypotted into lumping a past even with the present outbreak in order to make a prediction. Just stick to a plain old model, where you can fiddle with the inputs and watch the outputs change.

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Virginia’s snowy I-95 traffic jam invites call for better preparedness for the unexpected – I love Fox’s headlines

https://www.foxbusiness.com/economy/virginia-i-95-traffic-jam-better-preparedness-unexpected

Virginia’s snowy I-95 traffic jam invites call for better preparedness for the unexpected Some drivers were trapped in traffic for more than 24 hours on Interstate 95

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Camper or trailer option for dodging disasters

Hello,

I’ve been thinking about natural disasters and how mobility could mitigate the impact. Specifically, I like the idea of converting a worn in box truck into a stealth camper. Besides the recreational aspect, having an affordable house on wheels to relocate for a week or month might come in handy.

Any existing threads on this topic or has anyone built something like this?

Here’s a link to one I like. It’s not prepper outfitted, but shows the general idea:

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Has anyone used a DD tarp?

What is opinion on a DD tarp ( 3m x 3m)? They are expensive but they have good reviews on Amazon and YouTube.

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Dear Moderators, Thanks

Thanks to the mod team for keeping this current wave of spammers from posting, its much appreciated.

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Relearned two important lessons… and learned a new one

This past Saturday, we had some storms come thru the area.  Didn’t appear to be anything unusual for this area.  However a microburst hit a section of Memphis… a section of Memphis where my 100 year old mother-in-law lives.  That microburst snapped & uprooted huge trees in a several block area, taking down power lines with them.  Her power lines to the house snapped & were laying in the yard.  The tree that took them down hit another house.  To make it even worse, the temps were going to drop to around 20 on Sunday night.

So I loaded up my truck with all sorts of extension cords, tools, saws, portable rechargeable lighting, solar generator, 3 forty pound LP tanks and my dual fuel generator.  This prepper was off to rescue the needy.  🙂    Now my generator, as discussed in another thread, is setup where a thick cable runs between the generator and a receptacle on the outside of my house.  Obviously that would not help me here, as I was taking the generator elsewhere.  But I was smart enough to have purchased another long, thick cable that connects to the same port on the generator but has a 4 receptacle box at the end.  I thought such a cable would be a great way to bring electricity into another structure & then branch off of that with extension cords.  And it was.  Here is a pic.

So I get to her house, hook the generator to an LP tank, run the above cable into the house & then branch off of that to run some lights, the refrigerator/freezer, coffee pot, microwave, TV. and 3 portable electric heaters.  The generator starts perfectly (electric start) and runs all Saturday evening and Sunday morning.  Once I felt that that LP tank was getting pretty low, I switched to another LP tank and got the generator back up and running.  All is good… until the generator starts sputtering and shuts off.  What the heck?  Hit the start switch and we are back in business, until this happens again in around 10-15 minutes.  Damn.  I do this a few more times & decide to switch to the other full tank.  Starts beautifully and within a few minutes… same problem.

I’m beginning to wonder if I got some bad LP gas.  These 3 tanks were filled at different times.  One was filled by itself and then a couple of weeks later, I filled the other two.  So to verify my assumption, I put the first tank back on & the generator ran perfectly.  Two tanks have bad LP gas.  I didn’t know you could get bad LP gas but sure looks like I did.  So the plan was to take the now empty tank & one of the full to get refilled… in Memphis on a Sunday, the day after a holiday.  U-Haul fills LP tanks, they are open on Sunday, & there is a store a few miles away.  Yep, they are open but they don’t have LP gas for some reason… but they tell us another U-Haul store a few miles away has LP gas.  So we drive there… and they don’t have LP gas either but another store further away does.  OK, we learned our lesson and told them to call that store to verify they had the gas.  Nope… no gas there.  And we couldn’t find any other location open on a Sunday.

First lesson relearned.  Crap happens!  Sometimes your best laid plans often go awry.

Second lesson relearned.  Be flexible and adapt.  So how was I flexible & how did I adapt?  If you remember, my generator is a dual fuel model.  It can operate on LP gas or gasoline.  My best laid plans were to use LP gas only, as it burns very clean & won’t foul up the ignition system like gasoline will.  It is also safer to transport.  It also stores long term with any problem.  Thankfully I’m a prepper & understand we have to be flexible in a crisis… so I spent the extra money on a dual fuel generator.  So now I ran up to an auto parts store, picked up a few 5 gallon gasoline containers, filled them up, filled the tank on the generator, flipped the generator switch from LP gas to gasoline, hit the start button… and we were back in business.   The generator ran perfectly all night with the low at 20 and ran perfectly today until the power came back on at noon.

It never occurred to me LP gas could be bad.  Lesson learned.

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4 recep