Saturday, September 27, 2014

Doomsday Preppers

Reality TV.   Not mine, not yours, but someone's reality, showcased for everyone to see, and I suppose intended to facilitate your gloating over that your reality is different from/better than what you are watching.

I had never seen the program, but late at night when you're trying to wind down I thought I'd give it an eyeball.


Very first episode, here's what I noticed:
  • lots of 'stuff' in one yard, easy for someone to hide behind 
  • expectation that breakdown of power grid, e.g., will be like fall of Saigon
  • no protection for jars on shelves against falling off in an earthquake
  • lots of home canned goods; shelf life is not as long as commercial stuff
  • windows on ground level in 3/8" steel shipping containers = weak points
  • statement that cooking reduces nutrients and proteins in fish (countered by the producer with a statement of the facts of the matter on screen)
  • overweight and badly packed bugout bag
  • focusing on fitness (4 hours/day) and not balancing with practical knowledge 
  • assumption that all other women will have to 'whore themselves out' to survive (based, I think, on a book I've read excerpts from, which assumes a woman without a man can't survive without the aforementioned 'whoring out'; the book having been written by a man, there is definitely a grain of salt to be taken there)
Now, I admit to being picky, but these weren't small issues I felt I could suspend reality for.  

Will I keep watching this series?  Yes, and here's why:

When you watch programs like this, or read blog posts (even this one!) you should be keeping a weather eye out for whether or not there's any truth to be had or whether you are reading or watching a can of worms in bullshit sauce being opened.  If a casual perusal of Doomsday Preppers alerts you to what not to do, that's a good thing.  If it points out a flaw in your emergency preparations, that's a good thing. 

I'm including this blog in the 'can' reference; what works for me might not work for you.  Your mileage may differ.  Your experience/situation/location/perception, etc., may require something else entirely.  And that's what I recommend:  that you prepare for emergencies in a way that makes sense to you, not to me, not to Uncle Bob, and not to your Facebook friends.  To YOU.  And read/watch with a judicious eye; don't assume that anybody writing or producing anything knows anything.

Anyway...Doomsday Preppers at least shows some things not to do.  Take that first episode:  'we have 50,000 pounds of food'...yeah, and the first earthquake, without you having ensured it won't fall off the shelf, it will, and you're up the creek with a pantry full of busted glass and a mix of wet and dry food that is now totally inedible.  

And the overweight and badly packed bugout bag:  the owner thereof mentioned her newly acquired knowledge that she needed to think in terms of ounces, not pounds...and that she wasn't as physically fit as she thought when traversing six miles took her six hours and wore her out.  

And firing a weapon at water bottles when it's propped against a picnic table is a lot different than firing it freestanding at a moving, hostile target, and until you can hit the latter, you might be better off running away. 

Doomsday Preppers is educational in many ways.  Just don't expect that the education is entirely positive.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Not bloody likely....

At the website Survive the Coming Collapse, there’s a recent article titled “Five Types Of Looters You Must Prepare For“.  Read it if you’d like, but with a grain of salt; some of its points merit rebuttal and reflection. 

Here’s something I don’t quite get: 

“When the lights went out, security at the prison was compromised. Most of the jail guards left for home at first sign of trouble. Now, the tables are turned and Toni and several other inmates have escaped. Toni and his group are on foot, but that doesn’t present a problem because their rural location offers plenty of opportunities. The farmers in the area have fruits and vegetables ripe for the picking. Several in the vicinity raise horses. Now that he and the other inmates broke out of prison, Toni considers himself lucky; the problem of food and transportation is solved…once he and the five other inmates have overtaken the family they’ve targeted.”

Hmmm…let’s see:  Toni and the other inmates he’s with all know how to saddle and ride horses, collapse conveniently has chosen harvest time to occur, and ‘Toni’ (which is the spelling for the girl’s version of the name…?) and his fellow inmates all trust each other in this grand scheme enough that they can carry out a coordinated home invasion.  And they’ve somehow figured out which family has the resources they need, in an area they don’t know, and intend to relieve the farmer (who probably is armed and well aware of the proximity of the prison and the consequences in situations like this) of his goods.  Oh, and the prison had no backup generator, no plan for emergencies like this, and prison guards are all dolts who bolt when the lights flicker.

Not bloody likely. 

Now, as for the ‘tactically trained’ person.  Obviously, his tactical training didn’t take into account that when you get a gallon of gas for your chain saw, that is at least two tanks’ full and you can go through several trees that have fallen or that you want to cut down for whatever reason, and having gas for your chainsaw doesn’t mean you had the foresight to stock up on canned leeks and peaches as well.  No, it means you like to cut down trees.  Or think you need to cut down trees, or cut trees that fell on something like your main egress from your property, or smashed up your house.  As for using an ax as a quieter alternative to a chain saw, when there’s not a lot of noise, the sound of an ax being used resonates through the woods, as does the noise a tree makes when it falls.  Was this article written by a city kid, or what?  And the ‘tactically trained’ person has no idea about burning wood, either; if you burn wood, you tend to burn seasoned wood, not green, freshly cut wood, as it doesn’t burn nearly as well as the stuff that’s been sitting in your wood pile for months waiting for burn season so you can light a fire in the wood stove.  And as for more supplies being available in outlying areas, well…seriously, if you have an established suburban neighborhood full of houses, and compare it to a rural area with large lots of one house per five or more acres, where is the resource density to be found?   Hint:  not out in the tule bushes.  Lights in a house?  Seriously?  Lights???  C’mon, candles make light.  Candles don’t mean huge food stocks available for the taking.  Mr. Tactical Training doesn’t sound either, IMNSHO, and he’d be easy to slough off when you show him that you’re burning Christmas candles in February; he’s not as smart as he sounds. 

Here’s the description of how to make blackout curtains: 

Now is a good time to fit your windows with black-out curtains. Even using a piece of material that’s secured—possibly with duct tape, so light doesn’t escape and alert people outside, will do. “

Actually, fabric stores sell blackout fabric, and if you need that much some stores sell it by the bolt.  Check around.  A ‘piece of fabric’ you have lying around the house will not do; get the stuff specifically made for the project if you want to do it right.  A piece of sheeting isn’t.

The author took pains to point out that she took the opportunity to ‘school’ a Home Depot employee about all the flour and other baking goods when she bought some more buckets for food storage, but displayed a definite lack of imagination on the subject.  All she had to say (if she’s in a state that has a cottage food baking law) that she has a home baking business and is restocking.  If her state doesn’t have said law, there’s always stocking up for one’s personal Christmas baking (going all out this year and entering gingerbread contests locally) or ‘I’m buying for several households; I’ve got the biggest car and the other folks all have little kids and a hard time getting out’ or ‘if there’s one thing I really hate it’s running out’ or ‘we’re decorating the yard for Hallowe’en’ if you’re buying TP.  Or, ‘I have a high cholesterol problem and my husband loves oatmeal for breakfast’ if you’re buying a lot of oatmeal.  The creative and true-sounding lie is better than ‘schooling’ someone to prep, especially if, as the author recommends, you are at a distance from your home and paying cash, which is a hella good way to draw attention to yourself, cash plus a bunch of buckets.  After all, license plates aren’t that hard to memorize…

The suggestions for protecting yourself from the ‘looters’ described consist of ‘get a gun and a dog and eat cold food while the looting’s going on.  And don’t let anybody know you have any candles, because candles make light.  And don’t use your chainsaw, use an ax.  And have a backup plan for pooping and wiping.’ 

Somehow, I don’t think this article was quite as well-thought-out as the author thought it was.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Mom doesn’t like kippers for breakfast….

…and other things to remember when preparing for [non-]immediate family and friends.

My mother is staying with me temporarily while a medical problem gets sorted, which has presented some interesting challenges that bear on preparation for emergencies.  For one, Mom doesn’t like kippers.  Doesn’t drink coffee.  Doesn’t eat much meat at all.  And she eats things I won’t touch, like Oreos and pudding, both of which I find disgusting and won’t have in my house.

And she needed a bed.  And padding to make the damn thing (a hospital bed) comfortable.

And…then there was the incident of the footboard in the night.  Nothing Sherlockian; the thing’s inside the room she’s in and she knocked it over, and where it was when it fell over was in front of the door.  Inside, blocking the door that opens in.  So…there was a bit of panic about getting into the room so I could move it out of the way so she could get out of the room.  And…then there’s the toilet seat she needs to use the toilet.  Fortunately, I have two bathrooms, but the one she uses has no sink because her need for staying with me arose in the middle of some minor remodeling and I couldn’t get anyone in to fix the lack-of-sink problem.  And…then there’s the issue of her needing her own shower back at home, because mine doesn’t have a seat (it’s too small) and not enough things to hang on to.

And…so on.

How you prepare for the ‘average’ person versus how you prepare for someone who has needs that vary significantly from yours considerably is a puzzlement if you’ve never had your mother stay with you, for example, or if you didn’t know that your nephew was allergic to a variety of foods, many of which are staples in your pantry and food stocks.  

Medical supplies and medications need to be considered if someone you are preparing for will need them.  Extra supplies for menstruating women, babies and the elderly include sanitary pads and/or tampons, (menstruation and incontinence), adult and baby diapers (incontinence again) and extra supplies for cleanliness need as well; extra laundry supplies if you laid in cloth diapers.  You might be able to go a day without a shower, but a baby needs to be cleaned up every diaper change, and an elderly individual with either urine or fecal incontinence will also need supplies to ensure cleanliness.

Individuals with chronic illnesses present other issues.  Colds come and go, but the individual with intermittent or persistent mobility issues will need to be accommodated somehow.  Can you build a ramp for those that are unable to negotiate the few steps to your front door?  Did you plan on putting people upstairs only to find that now your elderly parent can’t negotiate the stairs?  Think ahead, and if it means possibly moving people around to accommodate those coming into the household, discuss the issue beforehand to forestall resentment and hostility.

Consider the possibility that you may not be able to provide for the people you care about (or are related to).  Are there others who can provide for them?  Are their needs just too great or complicated for you to manage?  Be honest with people who may think you will provide for them about realistic expectations and what you can actually manage.

Then, too, there’s the other side of the coin with regard to the folks coming to your house:  people who are scent-sensitive mixing with those that like perfumed toiletries, people who prefer quiet to those who are more extroverted, and people who don’t like cats or are afraid of dogs are three examples of how those coming in to your house can disrupt your routine or affect your life in some way. 

If you have large dogs and someone coming to your house is afraid of dogs, they will have to unlearn their fear.  If you are scent sensitive and people you prepare for aren’t, let them know that scented items are not allowed and that your house is scent-free.  And stock up on extras of things that could bother you if they were scented, such as hand soap, shampoo and laundry soap…and if you need your space, say so!  Don’t let relatives or friends drive you crazy in an emergency.  State up front what your rules and expectations are.   This is a case of keeping your ‘cup’ full so that you can pour out care on others; if you compromise and give in and keep quiet too much you risk your own well-being, mental or otherwise, and then you cannot care for those you have chosen to care for.  It’s ok to set rules for your household, and it’s ok to expect anyone coming into your household to respect those rules.