Discussions

You come up with good topics, Ubique. Economically, weather events, perhaps more pandemics, sea level rise, etc will all wear at our resilience. I’m not sure about Canada but the US and most rich world countries are at or below natural replacement levels, meaning without immigration the population will age and fall, again, bad for business and economic resilience. It is not political to say that the US debt is rising and the trickle down effects are not. It feels like we are in an era of diminishing returns. With that background I think we might imagine that prepping turns from something you do for the future into a lifestyle that you practice for conditions right now. Just the last 12 months has seen two of the largest integrated electricity systems fail in the face of weather events. The freeze blackout in Texas, the heatwave blackout in southern California, the preventative wind event blackouts in northern CA all point to a failure of the market so often touted as the savior of mankind. These critical infrastructure failures are also indicative of the diminishing returns of our complex society. The problems are fixable with political will but that itself seems to be diminishing. As has been said, any sufficiently advanced technology appears magic. I’ve mentioned that the primary benefit of our modern world is not needing to think about or even notice just how dependent we are on what goes on behind the walls. The power, the water, the food, the fuel all appear as if by magic. I think the great failure of imagination in most corners of prepper land is that we will experience some event that tells us to break out the wheat berries or bug out to the woods. It could be that TS doesn’t HTF, it could be that the fan just quits and TS backs up in the bowl. Now that I got that off my chest, LOL, I think the advances in distributed power over the last 2 decades is a boon to preppers. Think PV and lithium batteries and even a plug in EV. Programs are out there to put a system on your roof for about the same as your electricity bill. When the power went out in TX or CA those companies didn’t come repossess those systems, they just kept churning out the watts. Focusing on some small implements, water, calorie garden and PV would make a very sustainable setup.

As Bob said, a big reason people don’t think ahead about emergencies or disasters is the same reason they don’t have a will or advance directive, they simply want to avoid the bad feelings that come with thinking about bad things. Not to mention society the last 50 years has greatly lulled people into a sense of complacency because everything works so dang well for the most part we don’t have to give it a thought. Pretty red tomatoes in the store year around, 25 sents of anti-perspirant, 500 channels of mindless fantasy 24/7, LOL, people are increasingly specialists and have no clue what’s going on outside their narrow, well paying lane. But I think the last year has put the wake-up to a lot of sleepwalkers. As for staying with it, having a pantry and some flashlight batteries is just a habit I don’t really think about, tho I do harp on my wife periodically, LOL I like the DIY aspect of prepping rather than just the buying and the endless repacking of the BOB. I like building a personal infrastructure. Think water /sewer /septic /power /food, I want to make my own because then I know exactly what I have and can generally make it work. But even short that level, there are myriad little projects. Think can dispenser, can goes in at the top, zigzag and out the bottom. Or solar still, or rainwater collection, or generator muffler box or garbage can faraday cage or chicken tractor or any of a thousand projects that involve a little Macgyvering. How can anyone get bored?

Most criminality involves alcohol and drugs: 75% of prisoners say they used. These folks will have a quick intervention. Some people are just floating on the edge all the time, they are the MZBs & closet-psychos like the ones who would shoot a security guard for asking them to mask. They are worrisome but I think relatively more rare than the 24 hour news has us believe. Ubique, the most worrisome to me are not those who know they are breaking the law but those who think they are the law, or above it. We live in the Missouri Ozarks, this was border country during the civil war, the state effectively had 2 governments, the official Union backed one in the north of the state and the Confederate one in exile. After the midpoint of the war, regular troops mostly moved to the east of the Mississippi leaving the area to guerrillas and a few small cavalry units to keep the peace. Killings, ambushes and disappearances were common. Many citizens simply left because it wasn’t safe for anyone, blue, grey or neutral. The reason of course was the zeal on both sides to kill the other in the name of God and country. Zealots are much more dangerous than criminals because they are a) specifically out to kill the enemy, b) in some cases willing to die to do it. And, as we saw on Jan 6, membership in law enforcement or the military doesn’t guarantee adherence to the law or respect for the rights of others. In fact some local officials see themselves as above the law, as can be seen in the many examples of locally elected sheriffs in the US declaring they will not enforce this or that state or federal law with which they disagree. Post event, there is likely to continue some type of official law enforcement in most situation simply because everyone wants security and guns and badges are cool. Ad hoc vigilante groups will spring up like daisies for the same reason. Every bit of post-apocalyptic fan fiction depicts a breakdown as merely an opportunity for the long suffering hero to finally clean a little house with his trusty six-shooter, er, AR. What might be more rare is actual justice, being in the in-group is important, being the outsider or vagrant is very dangerous. Having said all that, as far as planning goes, aside from a few typical items and basic perimeter lighting and a camera or two I don’t spend too much time or effort on defense. The lone defender is pretty weak no matter the effort or money expended and any situation with a shred of civilization remaining will be likely to retain some “official” law. In other words I find it low probability and very high cost. Some folks have great fun with it so it has more value for them. The best defense I think is to be known to the local LEOs, in a good way. If younger perhaps try for the volunteer fire, or search & rescue. Or anyone can volunteer with Red Cross which I’ve done in the past. Once we land at a permanent local I’ll be doing this again. Of course all my experience and thought is on rural or very small towns, I have no idea what to do in a larger town or city

Lots of good advice here. I’ll just second a few points. Stock what you use then restock what you have used. This is really important for several reasons. 1) You will never regret your purchases. 2) Your cooking and eating habits won’t need to change in stressful times. 3) Your family won’t notice. 4) It gets you in the habit of thinking about the future calmly. How? Just continue doing what you’ve been doing. When you go grocery shopping, buy some extra, whatever dollar amount you decide. Lets just say your family likes green beans, buy $5 extra canned green beans. Come home and just add them to the shelf. Do that a few months and you’ll start needing a bigger storage area. That gives you some time to think about organizing your pantry, maybe buying/building a can rack etc. At some point you may want to start being more methodical but at first just buy more of what you use and fine tune later When to say when?It would be nice to have an unlimited pantry but that isn’t too practical so start with a goal you can achieve, a month, a year, you decide. Lets say your kids eat 3 cans of green beans a week, that’s 12 per month 72 in 6 months 144 for a year. Green beans last a while: 3 or 4 years easy, so your supply isn’t likely to spoil. But a gross of canned green beans takes up some space! Your biggest problems will be shelf life and shelf space—because again, you are not out any money, you’re just bought ahead. Shelf space is sorta ad hoc, everyone’s situation is different but dark and cool is best but stable is the most important, no big temperature swings. Shelf life is generally the limiting factor for stocking “regular” food in the pantry. Still most cupboard food will last a year.  Obviously you can’t store fresh food a year, that’s why there are so many ways of preserving food. I don’t really have any suggestions beyond growing a garden. It wasn’t all that long ago there were no tomatoes in the produce isles in January. Similarly a loaf of bread isn’t all that tasty after a year on the shelf so at some point you might want to start baking more, or at least practice if you don’t do a lot of scratch cooking now. Again, you want to be able to just continue your regular routine as much as possible if the paychecks stop, the less you are forced to change your regular routine, the clearer your head will be for the things that do change.  And, in the meantime, when you’ve built up a little cushion I guarantee you will feel a swell of pride and accomplishment every time you realize the item missing from the kitchen shelf is just a few steps away in the pantry.

Nice description of your grandmother, Ubique. My great-grandparents were also plains homesteaders in the Indian Territory of the Cherokee Strip. Good discussion. This is what it always comes down to, what will other’s do? I put only minimal thought into security. I can defend us in a pinch but no amount of weaponry is going to protect the lone defender against a large or determined force. In the vein of prioritizing threats, MZBs and rampaging suburban housewives take low spot on my list. Traditionally people lived in family groups or small tribes. But they traded far and wide, even in prehistoric times. My prep in the community is to be known not as someone with lots of tantalizing stuff, but as someone with lots of skills to trade. This is the era of specialization. Surprisingly lots of folks even in the way-out exurb only know a small range of skills surrounding their career. I am, for good or not, more of a jack of all trades. In the normal course I offer to help folks around me with little problems, I’ve done handyman type stuff for neighbors that nets very little in the way of cash when I could be doing computer work making lots more. But word gets around in a small neighborhood. When we had the farm we had people coming to us to let out a dress, doctor a grease burn, tube a calf, learn how to bake bread, install a barn door, wire a dryer buy from our garden and on and on. Frankly I don’t find most people all that interesting, and certainly not very dependable or trustworthy even in the best of times. As a result I’m not much of a congregator or joiner. Not that I’m anti-social, just not very social. But I think you can still be a part of a community, or at least build a network based on trade and mutual interest and simple neighborliness. You simply have to make yourself personally more valuable to your neighbors than your possessions are.

Thanks Michelle, I always think the emergency most likely is the Pink Slip. I’ve been self-employed for many years, I do print graphics, county fairs and events mostly, I’ve billed very little the last 10 months because there are no events. Theoretically independents were eligible to receive unemployment in WA but I was repeatedly, automatically denied, and in 10 months was never able to speak to a human.  We had some savings, owned our home and use no credit so have a relatively small nut to crack but eventually we broke down and took our social security rather than use up our savings entirely. I was totally grateful to have SocSec available although I had not planned to take it for several more years. I also always say Armageddon is not a signal to go shop, and the whole idea of prepping is to have your shopping done beforehand, but the day news came of the first community spread case of COVID I hit the big discount grocer and Amazon with a vengeance. It was weeks before I started to hear of distribution problems but we had spent the time filling out the shelves, starting some seeds for a garden and killing the back lawn. I also use Azure Standard from time to time and made a big order of grains to put back. Azure is a great resource for bulk foods, organic if that’s your thing but the price is better than anything else I’ve found. The deliver by truck, once a month to public locations all over the US, you just show up and they hand you your order. Glad you made it through!


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You come up with good topics, Ubique. Economically, weather events, perhaps more pandemics, sea level rise, etc will all wear at our resilience. I’m not sure about Canada but the US and most rich world countries are at or below natural replacement levels, meaning without immigration the population will age and fall, again, bad for business and economic resilience. It is not political to say that the US debt is rising and the trickle down effects are not. It feels like we are in an era of diminishing returns. With that background I think we might imagine that prepping turns from something you do for the future into a lifestyle that you practice for conditions right now. Just the last 12 months has seen two of the largest integrated electricity systems fail in the face of weather events. The freeze blackout in Texas, the heatwave blackout in southern California, the preventative wind event blackouts in northern CA all point to a failure of the market so often touted as the savior of mankind. These critical infrastructure failures are also indicative of the diminishing returns of our complex society. The problems are fixable with political will but that itself seems to be diminishing. As has been said, any sufficiently advanced technology appears magic. I’ve mentioned that the primary benefit of our modern world is not needing to think about or even notice just how dependent we are on what goes on behind the walls. The power, the water, the food, the fuel all appear as if by magic. I think the great failure of imagination in most corners of prepper land is that we will experience some event that tells us to break out the wheat berries or bug out to the woods. It could be that TS doesn’t HTF, it could be that the fan just quits and TS backs up in the bowl. Now that I got that off my chest, LOL, I think the advances in distributed power over the last 2 decades is a boon to preppers. Think PV and lithium batteries and even a plug in EV. Programs are out there to put a system on your roof for about the same as your electricity bill. When the power went out in TX or CA those companies didn’t come repossess those systems, they just kept churning out the watts. Focusing on some small implements, water, calorie garden and PV would make a very sustainable setup.

As Bob said, a big reason people don’t think ahead about emergencies or disasters is the same reason they don’t have a will or advance directive, they simply want to avoid the bad feelings that come with thinking about bad things. Not to mention society the last 50 years has greatly lulled people into a sense of complacency because everything works so dang well for the most part we don’t have to give it a thought. Pretty red tomatoes in the store year around, 25 sents of anti-perspirant, 500 channels of mindless fantasy 24/7, LOL, people are increasingly specialists and have no clue what’s going on outside their narrow, well paying lane. But I think the last year has put the wake-up to a lot of sleepwalkers. As for staying with it, having a pantry and some flashlight batteries is just a habit I don’t really think about, tho I do harp on my wife periodically, LOL I like the DIY aspect of prepping rather than just the buying and the endless repacking of the BOB. I like building a personal infrastructure. Think water /sewer /septic /power /food, I want to make my own because then I know exactly what I have and can generally make it work. But even short that level, there are myriad little projects. Think can dispenser, can goes in at the top, zigzag and out the bottom. Or solar still, or rainwater collection, or generator muffler box or garbage can faraday cage or chicken tractor or any of a thousand projects that involve a little Macgyvering. How can anyone get bored?

Most criminality involves alcohol and drugs: 75% of prisoners say they used. These folks will have a quick intervention. Some people are just floating on the edge all the time, they are the MZBs & closet-psychos like the ones who would shoot a security guard for asking them to mask. They are worrisome but I think relatively more rare than the 24 hour news has us believe. Ubique, the most worrisome to me are not those who know they are breaking the law but those who think they are the law, or above it. We live in the Missouri Ozarks, this was border country during the civil war, the state effectively had 2 governments, the official Union backed one in the north of the state and the Confederate one in exile. After the midpoint of the war, regular troops mostly moved to the east of the Mississippi leaving the area to guerrillas and a few small cavalry units to keep the peace. Killings, ambushes and disappearances were common. Many citizens simply left because it wasn’t safe for anyone, blue, grey or neutral. The reason of course was the zeal on both sides to kill the other in the name of God and country. Zealots are much more dangerous than criminals because they are a) specifically out to kill the enemy, b) in some cases willing to die to do it. And, as we saw on Jan 6, membership in law enforcement or the military doesn’t guarantee adherence to the law or respect for the rights of others. In fact some local officials see themselves as above the law, as can be seen in the many examples of locally elected sheriffs in the US declaring they will not enforce this or that state or federal law with which they disagree. Post event, there is likely to continue some type of official law enforcement in most situation simply because everyone wants security and guns and badges are cool. Ad hoc vigilante groups will spring up like daisies for the same reason. Every bit of post-apocalyptic fan fiction depicts a breakdown as merely an opportunity for the long suffering hero to finally clean a little house with his trusty six-shooter, er, AR. What might be more rare is actual justice, being in the in-group is important, being the outsider or vagrant is very dangerous. Having said all that, as far as planning goes, aside from a few typical items and basic perimeter lighting and a camera or two I don’t spend too much time or effort on defense. The lone defender is pretty weak no matter the effort or money expended and any situation with a shred of civilization remaining will be likely to retain some “official” law. In other words I find it low probability and very high cost. Some folks have great fun with it so it has more value for them. The best defense I think is to be known to the local LEOs, in a good way. If younger perhaps try for the volunteer fire, or search & rescue. Or anyone can volunteer with Red Cross which I’ve done in the past. Once we land at a permanent local I’ll be doing this again. Of course all my experience and thought is on rural or very small towns, I have no idea what to do in a larger town or city

Lots of good advice here. I’ll just second a few points. Stock what you use then restock what you have used. This is really important for several reasons. 1) You will never regret your purchases. 2) Your cooking and eating habits won’t need to change in stressful times. 3) Your family won’t notice. 4) It gets you in the habit of thinking about the future calmly. How? Just continue doing what you’ve been doing. When you go grocery shopping, buy some extra, whatever dollar amount you decide. Lets just say your family likes green beans, buy $5 extra canned green beans. Come home and just add them to the shelf. Do that a few months and you’ll start needing a bigger storage area. That gives you some time to think about organizing your pantry, maybe buying/building a can rack etc. At some point you may want to start being more methodical but at first just buy more of what you use and fine tune later When to say when?It would be nice to have an unlimited pantry but that isn’t too practical so start with a goal you can achieve, a month, a year, you decide. Lets say your kids eat 3 cans of green beans a week, that’s 12 per month 72 in 6 months 144 for a year. Green beans last a while: 3 or 4 years easy, so your supply isn’t likely to spoil. But a gross of canned green beans takes up some space! Your biggest problems will be shelf life and shelf space—because again, you are not out any money, you’re just bought ahead. Shelf space is sorta ad hoc, everyone’s situation is different but dark and cool is best but stable is the most important, no big temperature swings. Shelf life is generally the limiting factor for stocking “regular” food in the pantry. Still most cupboard food will last a year.  Obviously you can’t store fresh food a year, that’s why there are so many ways of preserving food. I don’t really have any suggestions beyond growing a garden. It wasn’t all that long ago there were no tomatoes in the produce isles in January. Similarly a loaf of bread isn’t all that tasty after a year on the shelf so at some point you might want to start baking more, or at least practice if you don’t do a lot of scratch cooking now. Again, you want to be able to just continue your regular routine as much as possible if the paychecks stop, the less you are forced to change your regular routine, the clearer your head will be for the things that do change.  And, in the meantime, when you’ve built up a little cushion I guarantee you will feel a swell of pride and accomplishment every time you realize the item missing from the kitchen shelf is just a few steps away in the pantry.

Nice description of your grandmother, Ubique. My great-grandparents were also plains homesteaders in the Indian Territory of the Cherokee Strip. Good discussion. This is what it always comes down to, what will other’s do? I put only minimal thought into security. I can defend us in a pinch but no amount of weaponry is going to protect the lone defender against a large or determined force. In the vein of prioritizing threats, MZBs and rampaging suburban housewives take low spot on my list. Traditionally people lived in family groups or small tribes. But they traded far and wide, even in prehistoric times. My prep in the community is to be known not as someone with lots of tantalizing stuff, but as someone with lots of skills to trade. This is the era of specialization. Surprisingly lots of folks even in the way-out exurb only know a small range of skills surrounding their career. I am, for good or not, more of a jack of all trades. In the normal course I offer to help folks around me with little problems, I’ve done handyman type stuff for neighbors that nets very little in the way of cash when I could be doing computer work making lots more. But word gets around in a small neighborhood. When we had the farm we had people coming to us to let out a dress, doctor a grease burn, tube a calf, learn how to bake bread, install a barn door, wire a dryer buy from our garden and on and on. Frankly I don’t find most people all that interesting, and certainly not very dependable or trustworthy even in the best of times. As a result I’m not much of a congregator or joiner. Not that I’m anti-social, just not very social. But I think you can still be a part of a community, or at least build a network based on trade and mutual interest and simple neighborliness. You simply have to make yourself personally more valuable to your neighbors than your possessions are.

Thanks Michelle, I always think the emergency most likely is the Pink Slip. I’ve been self-employed for many years, I do print graphics, county fairs and events mostly, I’ve billed very little the last 10 months because there are no events. Theoretically independents were eligible to receive unemployment in WA but I was repeatedly, automatically denied, and in 10 months was never able to speak to a human.  We had some savings, owned our home and use no credit so have a relatively small nut to crack but eventually we broke down and took our social security rather than use up our savings entirely. I was totally grateful to have SocSec available although I had not planned to take it for several more years. I also always say Armageddon is not a signal to go shop, and the whole idea of prepping is to have your shopping done beforehand, but the day news came of the first community spread case of COVID I hit the big discount grocer and Amazon with a vengeance. It was weeks before I started to hear of distribution problems but we had spent the time filling out the shelves, starting some seeds for a garden and killing the back lawn. I also use Azure Standard from time to time and made a big order of grains to put back. Azure is a great resource for bulk foods, organic if that’s your thing but the price is better than anything else I’ve found. The deliver by truck, once a month to public locations all over the US, you just show up and they hand you your order. Glad you made it through!


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