Discussions

I don’t claim to be an internet security expert, but keep in mind wifi is just a mechanism to transmit data wirelessly.  Yes, wifi can be hacked remotely, but typically they’re going to have to be within a few hundred feet (if not less) to be in range of your router’s wifi radio.  If more than a few hundred feet away they have to really have it out for you personally, with specialized equipment and amplifiers, pointing a directional antenna at your home (I *think* happy to learn more from someone with a deeper background!!!). Every internet connected device (including the one you’re using right now to read this) is theoretically “hackable” but there are various layers of defense.  Most reputable home/commercial routers (including wifi, if you have more than one device on the internet for a single home internet connection, you have a router) have a basic firewall and port access rules that prevent most normal/”easy” attacks/hacks (unless you open them up, hopefully you don’t do that unless you know what you’re doing).  Internet apps and hardware (yes, including security cameras) can run software that might open less obvious ‘holes’ in your home networks defenses.  One way to mitigate this is to go with a reliable vendor that has a vested interest in not losing customers with sloppy code. Another way to avoid this is to keep your [security network] “air-gapped” (which can also be a bit of a misnomer when talking about wifi…) or otherwise not connected to the internet.  This is an additional reason why I went looking for cameras that specifically did not require the internet to function, for those who have this as an added security concern.  If you keep a camera off the internet, it can’t be hacked by the internet (but you also can’t use it remotely…). To give an example – my home network includes a cable modem which connects me to the internet.  This modem only supports a single network connection via ethernet cord (hard wire).  Since I have multiple devices at home that need to connect (including laptops, cell phones, and tablets that connect wirelessly) I have my cable modem connected by ethernet cord to a wifi-enable router (which also supports additional hard wired connections).  Since I also don’t have a home with ethernet cords in the walls, wifi is needed if I want internet in more than one room. If I had an internet enabled camera that used a hard wire plugged into my home’s router, it would be just as vulnerable to any threat more than a few hundred feet or line of sight to my home via an internet attack.  A technically more secure option would be a hard wired camera system on an air gapped local area network (or an old school CCTV running on coax?) but thats more than you’re average consumer is going to do without going fairly high end and outside the budget range I had for this topic. Yes, wifi is technically less secure, but the greater threat is from poor internet security.  Also, it seems like maybe ADT doesn’t have the best safe guards in place to avoid abuse (thats independent of wifi/internet security).  (not trying to lecture or anything! just wanting to put good information out there, happy to be corrected by security experts with a formal background!)

Part of the issue is that since the camera and IR illumination are so good, rain drops (and sometimes bugs) that fly right in front of the lens are really obvious and set off an alert.  Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the lower quality sensors just ‘didn’t notice’ things like rain rather than being specifically tuned to ignore them (either is possible, really).  Its a weird trade space.  Some of their products advertise “Smart Person/Vehicle Detection” which wasn’t on my radar at first so I didn’t think to look for it, can’t speak to how well it works or if its a service or baked into the hardware. On the topic of “relevance” I might not have explained 100% clear – Ring won that category (I suspect part of their “cloud plan” is some cloud based processing which is why you need a subscription to store events?).  Things like animals (stray cats, raccoons, deer, depending on your local fauna) are things to keep in mind too.  You can also partially mitigate this with camera placement – if you have a multi camera system one that points at your door and another that points towards a street with cars/pedestrian traffic – and you can choose to only enable push notifications for close in areas like your front door.  That is also part of the appeal of custom motion detection zones – but if a cat or a bug is in your motion zone it may still fire off an event.

Any thoughts about wood/fuel type?  I started doing fire pits this past fall and the local hardware stores mostly sold birch.  Having never thought about wood selection (usually just whatever was sold on the side of the road, or whatever I could find in the woods) I was amazed at how quickly and cleanly it burnt up, low ash yield (go figure, means you have to buy more!).  I found this site after some googling and hadn’t previously stopped to think about what I was burning, or combinations of it.  Having experimented with other types (not always well labeled…) I am intrigued by the different properties (slow vs fast burn). Regarding the coal trick, any thoughts for how to best preserve them?  I recall when I was young at the beach, fire pits had sand in the bottom and if you dug through the ashes the next day you could still find semi-hot coals (maybe sand acid to help insulate/starve them of oxygen?).  Since going with a science/engineered-fire-pit that is designed with better ventilation and ash management, I find even large chunks of coal-like wood seem to break down (almost like a slow candle, but turning to ash instead of wax) after a few hours, if not by morning. Regarding the 1-match rule, I grew up doing scouting and learned the whole kindling thing, but as an adult who is lazy, I’ve come to appreciate the relatively inexpensive log starters (though your trick is better, I just don’t have kerosene lying around, am unsure how I’d store it long term in my setting – does it go bad?  Any thoughts on best storage/handling practices and where to buy it? does it go bad?).

Your options are somewhat dependent on the platforms/hardware you’re using, but all major platforms will have some sort of backup option – just different features and ease of use. Honestly, the “harder” part of backing up computers is organizing and taking stock of what is important to you.  While you can do whole-computer (and phone) backups I recommend having a root folder with your main archive so you can copy it and maybe a secondary “working area” that you periodically merge into a longer term archive.  Once you have those items identified/well organized you can usually copy them to backup media periodically.  Lets talk through a couple options: Cloud based services – while I don’t use them various vendors offer storage space (either free or paid) and a variety of software exists to upload your documents to a cloud backup.  This should protect you from local loss (theft, damage, etc).  I’m not familiar with all offerings on the market but if its a reputable vendor, it will probably offer some level of de-facto protection against virus/ransomware, etc?  The downside is large scale reliable backup is rarely free.  You’ll probably have to pay some nominal fee for more than a couple GB of space and you’re at the mercy of the vendor’s IT/backup practices.  You’ll also need an internet connection.  Think things like iCloud (apple), One Drive (Microsoft), Google Drive, DropBox, or other multi-platform providers. Local options – these aren’t free and require various levels of personal discipline and technical savvy. External hard drives are easy, and often/sometimes plug and play (automatic backup when plugged in).  But, you have to remember to use them.  I have an external hard drive for a macOS laptop – its yelling at me that I haven’t backed up in 26 days right now, actually – but truth be told I don’t keep much on this thing anymore.  External hard drives are nice because they are usually very portable and offer a small degree of segmentation that is inverse to how often you backup. Network Attached Storage (NAS) is another option, these are usually “always on” and “always available” but are still vulnerable to several of your concerns (virus, surge, theft, etc).  They aren’t always cheap but you can generally ‘set them and forget them.’  If you have friends/family who also has one my understanding is you can set these up for remote access so you could imagine hosting a friend’s encrypted backup in exchange for them hosting your encrypted backup.  Still requires internet and a trusted friend but at least its not a single point failure anymore (both have to get hacked/stolen/destroyed for a total loss). Keep in mind that if your concern is a virus/ransomware some might be able to travel over your network or even wait and spread to detachable read-write media like an external hard drive.  Offline backups are physically segmented and therefore less vulnerable (though less convenient/harder to actually use). If you have the patience and capacity, using physical write-once media is a possibility with some benefits.  Writing data to backups on DVD-R/blueray/etc once a month and putting copies in various different physical locations protects you from single point failures (fire/theft) and since they’re largely offline they can’t really be “hacked” by conventional means (though physical security becomes more of a concern if you have redundant copies). If you’re serious and have manageable amounts of data, use multiple methods (and store some offsite).  Get in the habit of refreshing backups periodically. This is something I spend a lot of time thinking about.  I have at least 3 external HDs, 2 desktops with large scale storage and network sharing, a newly purchased NAS on the way, and a few highly critical documents backed up in encrypted cloud storage.  I’ve written my own scripts and database tables to help me organize data going all the way back to 2001, and slightly before.  Its a never ending process, really, but you evolve best practices.  Most of my important files are backed up in at least 4 different places (more because I’m too lazy to *really* organize than that paranoid, HDs keep getting bigger/cheaper so why not have duplicate backups for older data?). For the long term keep in mind that you’ll have to migrate and refresh hardware.  Hard drives (spinning disks) can break, CDs/DVDs/etc have a shelf life and can degrade/become unreadable over time.  Even old hardware can stop being supported (I lost a lot of data from a “SuperDisk” drive using a parallel port and proprietary drivers from the late 90s.  In my defense I was literally a kid at the time).

Along the lines of Lessons Learned, the cliff notes version: Don’t count on knowing about a situation early just because you’re near by.  I live 6 miles from the Capitol but first learned to check the news from a friend on the west coast who has family in the city.  Proximity to an event doesn’t ensure knowledge of an event as it occurs. Have even a straw-man plan but be ready to update it on the fly.  Events in DC are typically outside my immediate ‘area of interest’ but even just keeping an eye on traffic in google maps gave me reasonable assurances of where things were and if anything was spreading/moving in a large scale fashion.  My ‘civil unrest’ plan was quickly/mentally updated to ‘if traffic starts getting irregularly bad within X miles’ start going to Plan B. Planing for second order impacts is hard.  Several local jurisdictions just outside of DC  implemented a late notice curfew orders, delivered via cell phone emergency alerts, with less than an hour to curfew.  “better safe than sorry” can also just apply to avoiding inconvenience and risk.  To wit: a local bar/restaurant preemptively closed around 4pm, not a bad move for their staff in hindsight (local curfew went into effect at 6pm, was announced probably close to 5/5:30?). Scale your response to the threat.  The largest personal “prep event” was a 5 minute discussion with the household of “ok, everything will probably be fine but if Event X happens we’ll respond with Action Y” but truth be told even the first/mildest triggering event never occurred so I didn’t even bother to put on my shoes to leave the house in a hurry (maybe not the smartest idea in an absolute sense, but a scaled reaction based on a reasonable assessment of exposure/risk).  Your plan technically can be “based on my comfort/risk tolerance, no action is needed.” To the original question about being caught at the work place, in the before-times when mandatory telework wasn’t a thing I did have an office-specific bag (safe for work) with a get home bag in the trunk of my car.  Alas, open office plans don’t lend themselves well to shelter in place :-/  Random trivia: always take your coat with you at the office during harsh weather!  once in the winter I was caught in the gym during a fire drill.  t shirt and gym shorts in 30 degree weather is not. fun.

I can’t believe I’m admitting this, but since you’re asking: Tushy is a brand that had enough humor that I let myself get strong armed into installing one (peer pressure from the household helped). https://hellotushy.com Be aware, others have thought of this idea so there might be delays in order fulfillment (mine was delayed a week or three late back in May/April when supply chains were pretty bad). Look for the fine print on checkout/before hitting confirm (its not always super obvious). Installation was easy (YouTube it) if you’ve ever done anything with plumbing at all (turn off water BEFORE you start taking things apart…). There are plastic fittings and rubber gaskets so you don’t need to worry about teflon tape, really. One thing they don’t mention, with the style that attaches under the toilet seat, it effectively raises the back of the toilet seat hinge causing a downward angle in front. You can buy “bidet bumpers” to level things out (rubber/plastic feet that attach to the toilet seat and raise it more than the built in variety, just search amazon). Also, since I didn’t have these bumpers on hand the first toilet seat needed to eventually be replaced (weight at odd angles can torque hardware and cause things to crack) so its not exactly a miracle product. The new toilet seat with bumpers hasn’t had any major issues.  Your mileage may vary. Usage is straight forward, if weird at first. There is a “nozzle wash” which just washes the nozzle before getting down to business. You sort of have to ‘move the target’ to where the water is aimed, the angle selector only does so much. You figure it our after a couple tries. Consider a test usage at first. I kid you not, I brought up a plate to act as a deflector and held it so any water would drip/splash in the bowl because I had no idea what to expect when first testing/turning the water back on (I wanted to see what it did before testing on myself). Contrary to popular belief… this isn’t going to eliminate the need for toilet paper! In fact if you overuse it/don’t learn what angles work well for you – you might end up using more (water is wet, go figure)! But in an emergency you could imagine using a bidet for 95%-99% or your business and resorting to rags/cut up t-shirts to just dry off and after you’re clean. As mentioned, if you don’t have a hot water line, your only option is cold water (electricity hooked up to a water appliance weirds me out… so I’m not comfortable with a heater). I haven’t hit the dead of winter yet but if you tell yourself it’s refreshing its not too bad. It’s also just an option to have one as a “back up” in case. So not a slam dunk, but it beats the alternatives when TP isn’t on the table. Also, if you leave for a long trip consider turning water off to your house, not the worst advice in general but adding a water line outside of a natural drain is a failure point you don’t want to come home to after a week away (no reason to suspect its an issue for this specifically, I’m just paranoid about water lines breaking).

This is another stray thought from a sympathetic white guy – so take it for a grain of salt from someone who hasn’t had to worry about this (as much) but trying to think constructively and help brain storm: I’d imagine the traditoinal scenario is to try to avoid crowds, but managable crowds (not overwhelming but not isolated) might be something to consider and look out for and sticking with.  Rephrased: people might be on better behavior if there are more witnesses (not always the case, mob mentality can also exist, so try and find the ‘right’ crowd, people you’d feel safer around).  This is somewhat counter to what I assume is traditional logic of “avoid crowds” but I’m just thinking out loud here. You mention “grey man theory” which might still work for you even if you “stick out” based on race.  One way to intepret “grey man theory” is its not about looking exactly like everyone else, its about camoflauge.  What kind of car do you drive, vs the majority around you?  Same with clothes, etc.  If you’re driving a small sedan and everyone around you is driving a pickup truck, you’re going to “stick out” more.  Likewise if you’re driving a hummer and everyone else is driving a small sedan… you’re still going to stick out more.  Camoflage can also be misdirection.  This happens in tv/movies a lot, the “spy” who draws attention to themselves by making a scene to distract people from whats really going on.  Not sure how this might work in your situation but maybe include ‘camoflage’ and ‘misdirection’ into your specific grey man theory? In an emergency this might not be an option, but planning your travel times through unknown areas might be a consideration.  I encountered the term “sundown town” on a TV show recently and went to wikipedia to see if it was really a thing, I’d hope thats less of a thing now, but staying away from sketchier areas at night seems like a rule of thumb for everyone.  Its just, unfortantely, you might have a different set of criteria for a ‘sketchy area.’


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I don’t claim to be an internet security expert, but keep in mind wifi is just a mechanism to transmit data wirelessly.  Yes, wifi can be hacked remotely, but typically they’re going to have to be within a few hundred feet (if not less) to be in range of your router’s wifi radio.  If more than a few hundred feet away they have to really have it out for you personally, with specialized equipment and amplifiers, pointing a directional antenna at your home (I *think* happy to learn more from someone with a deeper background!!!). Every internet connected device (including the one you’re using right now to read this) is theoretically “hackable” but there are various layers of defense.  Most reputable home/commercial routers (including wifi, if you have more than one device on the internet for a single home internet connection, you have a router) have a basic firewall and port access rules that prevent most normal/”easy” attacks/hacks (unless you open them up, hopefully you don’t do that unless you know what you’re doing).  Internet apps and hardware (yes, including security cameras) can run software that might open less obvious ‘holes’ in your home networks defenses.  One way to mitigate this is to go with a reliable vendor that has a vested interest in not losing customers with sloppy code. Another way to avoid this is to keep your [security network] “air-gapped” (which can also be a bit of a misnomer when talking about wifi…) or otherwise not connected to the internet.  This is an additional reason why I went looking for cameras that specifically did not require the internet to function, for those who have this as an added security concern.  If you keep a camera off the internet, it can’t be hacked by the internet (but you also can’t use it remotely…). To give an example – my home network includes a cable modem which connects me to the internet.  This modem only supports a single network connection via ethernet cord (hard wire).  Since I have multiple devices at home that need to connect (including laptops, cell phones, and tablets that connect wirelessly) I have my cable modem connected by ethernet cord to a wifi-enable router (which also supports additional hard wired connections).  Since I also don’t have a home with ethernet cords in the walls, wifi is needed if I want internet in more than one room. If I had an internet enabled camera that used a hard wire plugged into my home’s router, it would be just as vulnerable to any threat more than a few hundred feet or line of sight to my home via an internet attack.  A technically more secure option would be a hard wired camera system on an air gapped local area network (or an old school CCTV running on coax?) but thats more than you’re average consumer is going to do without going fairly high end and outside the budget range I had for this topic. Yes, wifi is technically less secure, but the greater threat is from poor internet security.  Also, it seems like maybe ADT doesn’t have the best safe guards in place to avoid abuse (thats independent of wifi/internet security).  (not trying to lecture or anything! just wanting to put good information out there, happy to be corrected by security experts with a formal background!)

Part of the issue is that since the camera and IR illumination are so good, rain drops (and sometimes bugs) that fly right in front of the lens are really obvious and set off an alert.  Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the lower quality sensors just ‘didn’t notice’ things like rain rather than being specifically tuned to ignore them (either is possible, really).  Its a weird trade space.  Some of their products advertise “Smart Person/Vehicle Detection” which wasn’t on my radar at first so I didn’t think to look for it, can’t speak to how well it works or if its a service or baked into the hardware. On the topic of “relevance” I might not have explained 100% clear – Ring won that category (I suspect part of their “cloud plan” is some cloud based processing which is why you need a subscription to store events?).  Things like animals (stray cats, raccoons, deer, depending on your local fauna) are things to keep in mind too.  You can also partially mitigate this with camera placement – if you have a multi camera system one that points at your door and another that points towards a street with cars/pedestrian traffic – and you can choose to only enable push notifications for close in areas like your front door.  That is also part of the appeal of custom motion detection zones – but if a cat or a bug is in your motion zone it may still fire off an event.

Any thoughts about wood/fuel type?  I started doing fire pits this past fall and the local hardware stores mostly sold birch.  Having never thought about wood selection (usually just whatever was sold on the side of the road, or whatever I could find in the woods) I was amazed at how quickly and cleanly it burnt up, low ash yield (go figure, means you have to buy more!).  I found this site after some googling and hadn’t previously stopped to think about what I was burning, or combinations of it.  Having experimented with other types (not always well labeled…) I am intrigued by the different properties (slow vs fast burn). Regarding the coal trick, any thoughts for how to best preserve them?  I recall when I was young at the beach, fire pits had sand in the bottom and if you dug through the ashes the next day you could still find semi-hot coals (maybe sand acid to help insulate/starve them of oxygen?).  Since going with a science/engineered-fire-pit that is designed with better ventilation and ash management, I find even large chunks of coal-like wood seem to break down (almost like a slow candle, but turning to ash instead of wax) after a few hours, if not by morning. Regarding the 1-match rule, I grew up doing scouting and learned the whole kindling thing, but as an adult who is lazy, I’ve come to appreciate the relatively inexpensive log starters (though your trick is better, I just don’t have kerosene lying around, am unsure how I’d store it long term in my setting – does it go bad?  Any thoughts on best storage/handling practices and where to buy it? does it go bad?).

Your options are somewhat dependent on the platforms/hardware you’re using, but all major platforms will have some sort of backup option – just different features and ease of use. Honestly, the “harder” part of backing up computers is organizing and taking stock of what is important to you.  While you can do whole-computer (and phone) backups I recommend having a root folder with your main archive so you can copy it and maybe a secondary “working area” that you periodically merge into a longer term archive.  Once you have those items identified/well organized you can usually copy them to backup media periodically.  Lets talk through a couple options: Cloud based services – while I don’t use them various vendors offer storage space (either free or paid) and a variety of software exists to upload your documents to a cloud backup.  This should protect you from local loss (theft, damage, etc).  I’m not familiar with all offerings on the market but if its a reputable vendor, it will probably offer some level of de-facto protection against virus/ransomware, etc?  The downside is large scale reliable backup is rarely free.  You’ll probably have to pay some nominal fee for more than a couple GB of space and you’re at the mercy of the vendor’s IT/backup practices.  You’ll also need an internet connection.  Think things like iCloud (apple), One Drive (Microsoft), Google Drive, DropBox, or other multi-platform providers. Local options – these aren’t free and require various levels of personal discipline and technical savvy. External hard drives are easy, and often/sometimes plug and play (automatic backup when plugged in).  But, you have to remember to use them.  I have an external hard drive for a macOS laptop – its yelling at me that I haven’t backed up in 26 days right now, actually – but truth be told I don’t keep much on this thing anymore.  External hard drives are nice because they are usually very portable and offer a small degree of segmentation that is inverse to how often you backup. Network Attached Storage (NAS) is another option, these are usually “always on” and “always available” but are still vulnerable to several of your concerns (virus, surge, theft, etc).  They aren’t always cheap but you can generally ‘set them and forget them.’  If you have friends/family who also has one my understanding is you can set these up for remote access so you could imagine hosting a friend’s encrypted backup in exchange for them hosting your encrypted backup.  Still requires internet and a trusted friend but at least its not a single point failure anymore (both have to get hacked/stolen/destroyed for a total loss). Keep in mind that if your concern is a virus/ransomware some might be able to travel over your network or even wait and spread to detachable read-write media like an external hard drive.  Offline backups are physically segmented and therefore less vulnerable (though less convenient/harder to actually use). If you have the patience and capacity, using physical write-once media is a possibility with some benefits.  Writing data to backups on DVD-R/blueray/etc once a month and putting copies in various different physical locations protects you from single point failures (fire/theft) and since they’re largely offline they can’t really be “hacked” by conventional means (though physical security becomes more of a concern if you have redundant copies). If you’re serious and have manageable amounts of data, use multiple methods (and store some offsite).  Get in the habit of refreshing backups periodically. This is something I spend a lot of time thinking about.  I have at least 3 external HDs, 2 desktops with large scale storage and network sharing, a newly purchased NAS on the way, and a few highly critical documents backed up in encrypted cloud storage.  I’ve written my own scripts and database tables to help me organize data going all the way back to 2001, and slightly before.  Its a never ending process, really, but you evolve best practices.  Most of my important files are backed up in at least 4 different places (more because I’m too lazy to *really* organize than that paranoid, HDs keep getting bigger/cheaper so why not have duplicate backups for older data?). For the long term keep in mind that you’ll have to migrate and refresh hardware.  Hard drives (spinning disks) can break, CDs/DVDs/etc have a shelf life and can degrade/become unreadable over time.  Even old hardware can stop being supported (I lost a lot of data from a “SuperDisk” drive using a parallel port and proprietary drivers from the late 90s.  In my defense I was literally a kid at the time).

Along the lines of Lessons Learned, the cliff notes version: Don’t count on knowing about a situation early just because you’re near by.  I live 6 miles from the Capitol but first learned to check the news from a friend on the west coast who has family in the city.  Proximity to an event doesn’t ensure knowledge of an event as it occurs. Have even a straw-man plan but be ready to update it on the fly.  Events in DC are typically outside my immediate ‘area of interest’ but even just keeping an eye on traffic in google maps gave me reasonable assurances of where things were and if anything was spreading/moving in a large scale fashion.  My ‘civil unrest’ plan was quickly/mentally updated to ‘if traffic starts getting irregularly bad within X miles’ start going to Plan B. Planing for second order impacts is hard.  Several local jurisdictions just outside of DC  implemented a late notice curfew orders, delivered via cell phone emergency alerts, with less than an hour to curfew.  “better safe than sorry” can also just apply to avoiding inconvenience and risk.  To wit: a local bar/restaurant preemptively closed around 4pm, not a bad move for their staff in hindsight (local curfew went into effect at 6pm, was announced probably close to 5/5:30?). Scale your response to the threat.  The largest personal “prep event” was a 5 minute discussion with the household of “ok, everything will probably be fine but if Event X happens we’ll respond with Action Y” but truth be told even the first/mildest triggering event never occurred so I didn’t even bother to put on my shoes to leave the house in a hurry (maybe not the smartest idea in an absolute sense, but a scaled reaction based on a reasonable assessment of exposure/risk).  Your plan technically can be “based on my comfort/risk tolerance, no action is needed.” To the original question about being caught at the work place, in the before-times when mandatory telework wasn’t a thing I did have an office-specific bag (safe for work) with a get home bag in the trunk of my car.  Alas, open office plans don’t lend themselves well to shelter in place :-/  Random trivia: always take your coat with you at the office during harsh weather!  once in the winter I was caught in the gym during a fire drill.  t shirt and gym shorts in 30 degree weather is not. fun.

I can’t believe I’m admitting this, but since you’re asking: Tushy is a brand that had enough humor that I let myself get strong armed into installing one (peer pressure from the household helped). https://hellotushy.com Be aware, others have thought of this idea so there might be delays in order fulfillment (mine was delayed a week or three late back in May/April when supply chains were pretty bad). Look for the fine print on checkout/before hitting confirm (its not always super obvious). Installation was easy (YouTube it) if you’ve ever done anything with plumbing at all (turn off water BEFORE you start taking things apart…). There are plastic fittings and rubber gaskets so you don’t need to worry about teflon tape, really. One thing they don’t mention, with the style that attaches under the toilet seat, it effectively raises the back of the toilet seat hinge causing a downward angle in front. You can buy “bidet bumpers” to level things out (rubber/plastic feet that attach to the toilet seat and raise it more than the built in variety, just search amazon). Also, since I didn’t have these bumpers on hand the first toilet seat needed to eventually be replaced (weight at odd angles can torque hardware and cause things to crack) so its not exactly a miracle product. The new toilet seat with bumpers hasn’t had any major issues.  Your mileage may vary. Usage is straight forward, if weird at first. There is a “nozzle wash” which just washes the nozzle before getting down to business. You sort of have to ‘move the target’ to where the water is aimed, the angle selector only does so much. You figure it our after a couple tries. Consider a test usage at first. I kid you not, I brought up a plate to act as a deflector and held it so any water would drip/splash in the bowl because I had no idea what to expect when first testing/turning the water back on (I wanted to see what it did before testing on myself). Contrary to popular belief… this isn’t going to eliminate the need for toilet paper! In fact if you overuse it/don’t learn what angles work well for you – you might end up using more (water is wet, go figure)! But in an emergency you could imagine using a bidet for 95%-99% or your business and resorting to rags/cut up t-shirts to just dry off and after you’re clean. As mentioned, if you don’t have a hot water line, your only option is cold water (electricity hooked up to a water appliance weirds me out… so I’m not comfortable with a heater). I haven’t hit the dead of winter yet but if you tell yourself it’s refreshing its not too bad. It’s also just an option to have one as a “back up” in case. So not a slam dunk, but it beats the alternatives when TP isn’t on the table. Also, if you leave for a long trip consider turning water off to your house, not the worst advice in general but adding a water line outside of a natural drain is a failure point you don’t want to come home to after a week away (no reason to suspect its an issue for this specifically, I’m just paranoid about water lines breaking).

This is another stray thought from a sympathetic white guy – so take it for a grain of salt from someone who hasn’t had to worry about this (as much) but trying to think constructively and help brain storm: I’d imagine the traditoinal scenario is to try to avoid crowds, but managable crowds (not overwhelming but not isolated) might be something to consider and look out for and sticking with.  Rephrased: people might be on better behavior if there are more witnesses (not always the case, mob mentality can also exist, so try and find the ‘right’ crowd, people you’d feel safer around).  This is somewhat counter to what I assume is traditional logic of “avoid crowds” but I’m just thinking out loud here. You mention “grey man theory” which might still work for you even if you “stick out” based on race.  One way to intepret “grey man theory” is its not about looking exactly like everyone else, its about camoflauge.  What kind of car do you drive, vs the majority around you?  Same with clothes, etc.  If you’re driving a small sedan and everyone around you is driving a pickup truck, you’re going to “stick out” more.  Likewise if you’re driving a hummer and everyone else is driving a small sedan… you’re still going to stick out more.  Camoflage can also be misdirection.  This happens in tv/movies a lot, the “spy” who draws attention to themselves by making a scene to distract people from whats really going on.  Not sure how this might work in your situation but maybe include ‘camoflage’ and ‘misdirection’ into your specific grey man theory? In an emergency this might not be an option, but planning your travel times through unknown areas might be a consideration.  I encountered the term “sundown town” on a TV show recently and went to wikipedia to see if it was really a thing, I’d hope thats less of a thing now, but staying away from sketchier areas at night seems like a rule of thumb for everyone.  Its just, unfortantely, you might have a different set of criteria for a ‘sketchy area.’

I’m curious, if you’re willing to share, what thresholds do you have for various actions/responses.  I find your proximity/magnitude diagram useful (though its hard to read some of the text).  I think of this more like a descsion tree, a branching if-then-else logic, usually with binary logic. My default stance is akin to you’re “monitor” mode (or possibly a less intense version).  Take in information through first hand observation, second hand accounts, and trusted sources.  Update my plans as needed/as the situation merits.  This can be as simple keeping the pantry full and adjusting my schedule for when I shop to avoid crowds or even how “relaxed” i am about socailly-distant interactions (seeing friends in a park, having trusted friends over in the back yard, etc). A step up would be active/enhanced information gathering.  When “background activity” starts to make my spidey-sense tingle my neruotic tendencies aim to collect more information and organize better.  This might be things like re-packing/optimizing bug out bags, researching/ordering new supplies/equipment or learning a new skill.  This response is usually the result of major news developments or a perponderance of activity in one of my social media spheres (this site, included).   To be honest, this is about as far as I’ve ever gotten.  The only times I’ve ever gotten to a “bunker in” scenario involve temporary external events like bad weather when common sense says its a good time to stay indoors.  The longest was maybe a 2-4 day snow storm.  Beyond this point I have more questions than answers: What would trigger you to bunker in, bug out, etc? I can imagine a few senarios with hypothetical criteria: Threats of violence: Bunker In:How close/far away would a violent event have to be for you to “bunker in?”  In the same city as you?  Within a mile of your residence? a few blocks?  I live in a medium-small city that is part of a major metro area, so a major civil disturbance can take place 7 miles away, but i’ve got a river between me and that and wouldn’t change my behavior aside from checking in with friends.  I feel like a major event would have to occur within 2 miles of my residence before I didn’t feel safe enough to leave the house/area. Bug out: Leave deliberately, with intent to return soonIf a violent event (or an event with the possibility of mass violence) occured within a 2 mile radius of where i live I would consider the magntude of the event.  If it was that close it would need to involve hundreds of actors to be large enough and near enough to leave.  Likewise if it was larger but further away i might scale that, so if it was thousands of people but like 3-5 miles away the poximity-magnitude might flip my “leave” switch.  If it was smaller but closer, 50-100 people at half a mile, 20-50 people at a quarter of a mile.  Less than 20 people and I’d probably just stay inside unless I was being actively targeted (I assume we still have an effective police force if the scale is this size or smaller) ‘GTFO’ – leave quickly, possibly for a few days/weeksIn terms of violence, I feel like this is just a scaled up version of the bug-out criteria, maybe with additonal factors.  Lets say there is credible fear that law enforcement is no longer effective, or I’m being specifically targeted I might pack up in a hurry and worry about picking up the pieces later. ‘Flee’ – leave, and don’t look backI don’t have a good model for this, frankly.  I feel like I would need to be in eminent fear for my life for this to occur, with credible evidence that there is not effective law enforcement and that the event was not a ‘flash in the pan’ but a prolonged, systemic event/process. Natural Disasters: Bunker in:This would be my default for most distasters.  I get the occasional snow storm/hurricane/flash flood concern but short of Noah’s-Ark scale flooding or a tornado landing on my roof, I’ll be fine. Bug out: Leave deliberately, with intent to return soonThis would have to be a long-term power outage type event, I’d think.  Or maybe a breakdown in sanitation.  The criteria is that its a localized/regional issue with areas that are unaffected within an hours drive.  Basically spending a few nights in a hotel because my neighborhood is a disaster but my region is largely OK.  I don’t need to worry about wild fires, earth quakes, or massive flooding. ‘GTFO’ – leave quickly, possibly for a few days/weeksIf I lived in a tidal area that was prone to hurricanes or a drought area with wildfires I could imagine this, but I don’t so I’m at a loss.  Any natural event that would cause wide spread devistation to this area would have to be catacluismic, like the yellowstone caldera going up and causing a mini-ice age.  Perhaps this is a limitation of my imagination, though. ‘Flee’Oddly enough, I can imagine this, but it would be a long term, obvious migration. Basially, moving north if/when global warming gets real bad.  Thats probably a couple decades or more away though. Other scenarios? I feel like most “personal disasters” would let you make use of local socail networks to aide in recovery, so they don’t map to this model well There are extreme, borderline existensial scenarios but these tend to be so massive I doubt there is much escape.  I can’t afford a refurbished missle silo, or a private New Zealand estate. Is this relevant to this thread? Any thoughts/differences of opinions, etc?


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