Preparing for the Winter Bug-in

3-Day BagIn the last five years I’ve had to spend a couple of nights at the hotel across the street from my job. Texas doesn’t handle really cold winters well. A good three day snow can shut us down while places like Ohio would be bustling with plows and salt and the roads would be open again in a few hours. They’re used to that. While we’re used to triple-digit summers.

February gave us our first and last inclement weather days and a couple of us camped out in the hotel Thursday and Friday nights. By the weekend the slushy stuff had melted and dried and we were left with the sandy/salty stuff all over the place including our cars.

I usually keep a duffel bag of clothes and a toiletry kit in my car year-round. I didn’t restock it after the days 9 months ago. I think I still had one change of clothes where I usually keep two. I reloaded it on Labor Day because of the chance that we might have to evac. because of the fires. Now the fires were quite a ways down the road and the chance of us needing to leave was very remote. But I’d have to help other people get their stuff together and that process would go more smoothly if mine is already taken care of.

We were still baking then so I didn’t pack any winter stuff. Now that we’re finally in November I decided to get the bag ready for the cold. I’m not packing for a bug out situation. The ice usually clears up in a couple of days and I’m betting that society and the economy will be as intact as they are now.

Bag Contents:

2 changes of clothing
Several pairs of socks
Several pairs of underwear
Belt
Suspenders
Toiletry kit
Knit hat
Scarf
Gloves

I keep a first aid kit in my messenger bag but I’m going to start adding first aid supplies to the toiletry kit. I’ll also be adding meds and supplements plus some protein bars and the extra stainless water bottle.

Again this is for what Nutnfancy would call ROL or Rule of Law times. I still need to put together a full 72 hour kit. I probably need a few more items and a backpack that can hold it. The thing is in an evac. situation you don’t want to have to repack a bunch of stuff that is already packed.

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Towards a Hardened People

What if our sun became a pulsar overnight?

Well not a pulsar in the strict sense. But what if there were an area dead center of the plane of Earth’s orbit that fired off enough material to cause a geomagnetic storm similar to the Carrington Event every “day” on the sun or once per its rotation. So every 25 to 36 days we got a blast of solar matter which means a constant EMP condition somewhere on the planet. Anyone who’s studied this, after telling me that what I’m proposing could never happen would say that our energy grids can’t handle even one without going out for weeks, let alone having it happen once every five weeks.

Have you ever asked yourself what you’d do if electricity were no longer available? That’s not something most people care to think about. Most of the talk concerns hardening the infrastructure, hardening buildings and even building Faraday cages out of metal trashcans and ammunition cans…Shielding everything from the pulse.

That may not be possible given the current economic and political philosophies in Washington.

This blog and others on preparedness talk about advanced training and learning to build a fire with a hand drill and using a knife to cut the stick and board to do the drilling. What we’re all talking about is hardening the people. A pulse can take many forms. It’s anything that encourages complacency…the belief that we have time or that we’re safe because nothing really bad has ever happened to us. That’s the EMP on our minds. It gets us to shut down, to think that we have no choices. The beginning of reversing that process is acquiring knowledge.

To harden as a people we have to live like our ancestors. They didn’t have power so they survived without power. So they’d be much better able to deal with something that would devastate most of us.

We all need to acquire the skills for the time when we’ll need them. And if that time never comes we’ll have fun lighting the barbeque with a hand drill.

The Demographics of Bugging Out

Part of my longterm plan is to buy some land in a rural setting, build a house on it and move there when I retire. My time frame is 7-10 years. I’m not sure how far along we’ll be in the true recovery from the depression we’re falling into. But I hope to be paying less property tax and zero urban-ness. I’ve been in cities all my adult life and I want something different for my future.
We lived for five years in a small town in Southern California. It was the mid-1970s and we were part of a very small minority. We didn’t always feel welcome in that town. I moved back to Texas when I was 16 and have only visited there twice since then. The town has changed and grown a lot. Some of the attitudes are probably still there.
Wide open spaces and clear skies have always attracted me. Now that I have so many working years behind me and less ahead I wish I had made building a life under those skies my goal when I was first starting out. Now it’s a race. Now it’s cramming for finals.

When I think of everything that goes into selecting a couple of acres and building a life there, all the building materials and physical labor are worthless if I am not part of the community. I need to know who are my neighbors and whether I am going to be able to fit in the town. I’ve never been a social butterfly and I definitely have some of the urban psychological quirks that stand out in a country setting. I’ll have to get over that stuff.

A good way to do this is to pick a spot and visit there…spend a week. How do people act around me when the horn honks because I double-tapped the lock button on the remote? What are the restaurants like, the theaters, bars, churches? I really haven’t tried, but I don’t think there is a website that profiles communities based on their receptiveness to outsiders. How accepting are the residents of different races. I guess you could gather statistics. And GOD knows there is enough crap on that census form. I hope that question doesn’t end up on there for 2020.

Right now I am going to continue my training and purchasing as many storage items as I can. I’ll pick out ten places to visit and plan on visiting those in the coming year or two. A lot of this will depend on my financial situation. The job is still there for the time being but as we saw last week that could change overnight from the standpoint of the worker.

Wireless can be overrated

Lower Tech = Less $$$
I have a couple of bluetoof headsets. I quit using them. There have always been issues with people being able to hear me and vice versa. And that’s with the phone in my pocket…not in my bag by my desk while I’m out at the car talking. In my experience they’re not reliable. I find that people keep having to buy more headsets to work with the same phone. Then when they get a new phone the old set doesn’t work with it. Eventually you reach a point where you could spend enough in bluetooth to buy another phone. I picked up a few of these for $1 each on dailysteals.com. They came with adapters to take the 2.5mm to 3.5. I can hear everyone and I’m not having to reach up to tap the reset button or adjust volume. If you’re having to futz with the headset, it’s not hands-free. With everything going up except pay, why spend $50-75 on a new headset when it’s competing with your gas tank? If you have a headset that works for you, use it. But eventually it’ll fall off the compatibility list for a phone you just bought. And really the whole corporate junior exec. thing of standing at the window and tapping your ear to take a call while the phone is on your desk is getting old. That was impressive 8 years ago. Plus if you’re like a lot of people you have to walk out of the cube farm and down the hall to find a window.

EMP – We're not ready

Monday I spent the shift listening to a podcast on Electro-magnetic Pulse called EMPact Radio. I found myself pausing every few minutes realizing just how bad our state of readiness is. We shouldn’t even speak of readiness regarding this. Not now. We’ve built our civilization around the availability of power. Like the food supply it’s ubiquitous to most of us. If we can put together a dollar, there’s always something to eat. It may not be good for us. But it’s there. Just look at how people behave before just the threat of an interruption in the food supply. We’re not ready for that either. For most of us our hunter-gatherer days are too far back in the ancestral line to be of any use to us. We never ask ourselves what we would do if we had to go back to that. Mechanization has given us a great many things. Unfortunately we’ve also thrown away a lot. Our toys didn’t take away the knowledge of a century ago. Gradually we bought into the lie that it was no longer needed.Technology is not a substitute for the skills of living. It serves us. But we have to leave it in that confine. As a culture, we’ve failed in that endeavor. A growing number of us have seen the failure and are returning to those skills. We suffer ridicule at the hands of those who lack the courage to utter seven words…what if we had to go back? The things contained in the soap bubble of our modern world are too tempting. We can’t imagine our lives without them and our ancestors, just going back 75 years, couldn’t imagine their lives with them. I hope it doesn’t happen. I hope I don’t live to see it. But at some point I could wake up in darkness with my battery-powered things not functioning. It doesn’t have to be al-Qaida. It could be the sun. Since I was born too late, how I respond to that will be governed by my character and whatever training I’ve completed. I could start ordering parts to build things to protect my electronics from a pulse. I’ll do that eventually. But having gizmos that work when most other people’s aren’t isn’t important to me. What I want first is to know how to feed and shelter myself. I need to be able to build fires, obtain water and defend myself and my family. I can always buy more crap after the radiation settles back down.

Zombies: Coming to Your Neck of the Woods

The CDC is suggesting that you prepare. They just posted a  40 pg. PDF about a zombie pandemic with suggestions for preparedness. I know there are a lot of people out there who are like their grasshopper cousins and don’t think anything will ever come that they can’t luck their way out of, but when the government, who got a chronic case of egg on their face during Hurricane Katrina, is telling you to prepare, pay attention. It’s a good, entertaining break. I hope people read it and start getting a kit together. It doesn’t matter what form the threat takes, you are going to need the same gallon of water per adult per day whether you’re evading aliens, fighting off humans with some debilitating but ambulatory pandemic (zombies), a tornado, quakes or wildfires approaching your subdivision. Laugh at me and my friends who are also “into this” all you want but pay attention.

Disconnect-Reconnect

Occasionally a business has to go through restructuring. We’re seeing a lot of that across our country today. Some of it is well planned and the organization doesn’t experience the coughing, stumblings of more sudden changes. In many respects it can resemble a stroke. Each company has connections between the employees and everyone they deal with. They deal with each other and they deal with contacts in other branches and with people outside the organization. This is not unlike the connections in a brain and nervous system.

When the stroke happens, there are one or several, usually several disruptions to those connections through lost revenue, layoffs, employees leaving for other firms, etc. These major disconnects necessitate the development of new connections to so that the customer can continue to enjoy service at the level that they’ve had all along. The parts of the organization have to work together differently in order to meet the same goals and expectations.

Thinking of preparedness as the lens, the employees in an organization should have sufficient cross training such that there is no noticeable hiccup when one of them is out. Everything should be transparent. Each employee should have documentation of processes of their primary job and whatever other areas where they help out. This package should include contact information and logon information for each task. There should be a copy at the employee’s desk as well as one maintained by the supervisors.

20 years ago I was reluctant to share knowledge for fear of being replaced. I had to do it because I needed people to cover for me when I was out. Because of my attitude whenever I’d come back from a vacation people would come to me saying “I sure am glad you’re back.” One might be encouraged to think that the trainee was doing a shoddy job. That wasn’t the case here and is probably seldom that way. It’s garbage in and garbage out. If I do a shoddy job of training my backup person, they’re not going to perform any better than they’ve been taught. It took a long time for me to learn that failing to share what I know does not equal job security. I wasn’t into prepping and didn’t think this way. I should have left there, whether on my vacations or when I finally resigned in a prepared state. I would have been more valuable to that company than I thought I was.

I don’t want to give the impression here of any kind of perfect world…just the way things ought to be. And things are seldom the way they ought to be