Galt’s Network

The more I read your comments, the more it becomes obvious I need to talk about collapses again.  I don’t want to.  I was going to write a funny story about when the squirrel got in my attic, but I tried three runs at it, and it’s not gelling, because I need to talk to you about collapse – yeah, I’m a gateway blogger.  Deal. – So I’ll do the squirrel tomorrow.

Collapses are difficult in a country that either never experienced one or that – if you count the 30s – experienced one very long ago.

Whenever collapse is mentioned you guys go into this weird mode that ranges from “in preparation, I’m learning to chip flint” to “I am training to kill squirrels with my bare hands and cook them over a camping fire.”

Now, do I know that the collapse when it happens (I think we’ve passed the if chilluns) won’t take that?

No, of course I’m not.  I’m not sure because the collapse hasn’t happened, and when it does happen it will be suis generis by definition.  The collapse of something this big hasn’t happened, unless we go back all the way to Rome and a different level of civilization.

(This “big” in terms of world-civilization-supporting presence.  Yes, the British empire collapsed, but when that Atlas shrugged we were there to take up the burden.  Yes, our ways were different, but we still were ready.  Only the less rational of the progressives expect China to take our place.  And that’s because they don’t GET China.  The rest of the progressives (weirdly more in touch with reality than those that think China will become a benevolent world wide trade facilitator) think that as soon as we collapse the world becomes rich and holds hands and sings Koombaya.  Oh, brother, can you spare some reality?)

So, it’s entirely possible that the collapse will send those of us who survive – and if the collapse is that massive, those who survive will be maybe one sixth of us, with luck – to hunt squirrels with flint knives.

However, I read a lot of history, and that’s not how any collapse has happened, ever.

Take the French Revolution – please.  I don’t want it in my head anymore – few people know it started with a currency collapse.  Few people know this because it’s much more fun for teachers to talk about the oppressed poor and going to jail for stealing a loaf of bread (something that was pretty much widespread throughout Europe and, btw, rightly so.  They were ALL much poorer.  A loaf of bread was worth much more in relative terms, and so a baker who lost too many would be endangered.  Also, there were, in most civilized nations, alms houses.  They were hell on Earth, but better than dying or being thrown in jail for a loaf of bread.  We’re not that much more “civilized” or “compassionate” than people then.  We’re just richer, so a loaf of bread seems trivial to us, but it wasn’t to them.  Then as now, some people chose risky ways to get what they needed. You places your bets, you takes your winnings.)

As I’ve been reading this, I’ve become convinced we’re sort of going to experience that sort of collapse but at a higher level.  You know, the economy implodes, we turn to civil war, and meanwhile our enemies invade.

So, that’s all we’re looking at, not the end of the world.

What? Really?

No, look, seriously, it’s not the end of the world.  It’s survivable.  It’s buildable after.  It’s just a messy and bloody practical reflection of catastrophic change.

What I mean is, yes, there’s something we can do to come out of this more free than before, and to rebuild on better lines.

Is it guaranteed?  Oh, come on.  The only thing that’s sure is death and taxes, even when the taxes kill you.  But there is just a chance.

However, to do it what you need to prepare is not along the lines of learning to chip flint.  Or even to build log cabins.  Or trap squirrels.  (Both of those might come in handy and under general knowledge you should at least have a book that shows you how to do it. But don’t count on making a living from it.)

So, let’s look at the thing with a clear eye: did France recede into, say, middle ages civilization?  Emphatically no.  The industrial revolution continued THROUGHOUT the revolution. Did their way of life go back to more primitive forms? Well, yes.  But more primitive forms meant being sure you weren’t going to be the victim of a riot on the way to the baker, and learned to bake your own bread (in the cities, in the countryside they still did) if the baker had shut down because there was a riot.

Yes, if you were in Paris, your life became hell, and you might get killed for no particular reason – depending on who you were and the neighborhood – BUT note Paris didn’t depopulate, which it would have if people were genuinely starving in place, and if life became that horrible.

When reading history it’s very important to distinguish what the narrator is saying and the truth.  If I wrote something around last summer “It seems all of Colorado is on fire” and then the super volcano erupted, sealing us in lava, and a thousand years from now my note was all they found, they might think “All of Colorado was on fire before the volcano.  She was there, she’d know.”  In fact, most of Colorado was fine and not even all areas were getting smoke.

Most of France was all right.  Some was emphatically not all right (there was a region that had genocide imposed against it.)

BUT if you’re going to be caught in one of those movements of history and killed, there’s no point worrying about it.  There’s nothing much you can do.  It’s kind of like being afraid of the super volcano.  What are you going to do about it?

If you’re not, what you have to prepare for is disruptions and inconveniences.

This is something that seems to be true everywhere that experiences a collapse.  Take Lebanon (please, I don’t want it.  I already ate a Paraguay {comment reference joke!} I’m full.)  To us during Lebanon’s civil war, as shown in our TVs, the whole place was falling apart, and back to the stone age.  But people grew up there, during that, decent middle class lives – with some interesting twists.

Portugal had only a mini slow mo collapse, but I suspect it’s much the same, amped up, to what we’d experience here.

Look, to impose country-wide poverty it takes a CONTROLLING regime.  While the twits at the top are TRYING to impose that on us, I don’t think they have a chance in h*ll.  We’re Americans.  We don’t go down easy and we’re not easily governable.  Also we’re massive both in terms of landmass and population.  (The USSR had massive landmass, but not the same population.)  I think we’re about to go pear shaped at them.

Which brings us to a collapse, not imposition of poverty from above.  Which brings us to: we’re not going back to the nineteenth century.  Heck, chances are we’re not going back to the fifties.

Heck, even the communists haven’t managed to take Cuba back to the middle ages – though they’ve tried.  Instead they sort of froze it in time into a poor version of the fifties.

We are not going back to the middle ages, either – it’s not how collapses work.

Look, guys, the network doesn’t vanish overnight.  Power plants don’t disappear. Factories don’t stop. Cars don’t just quit working all at once.  There are things that can cause that, and some regions might experience that, but not ALL, not even most.  It’s not a high probability.  If that happens at all, it will be a city or so.  Walk to the next one.  It won’t kill you.  Or maybe it will, if people in the city defend.  Which is why you need to prepare.

But that’s still a low probability and the preparations should amount to “A friend in another city who will come and pick me up at some mutually arranged place.”

Someone here said we prepare for the disaster we can prepare for.  I.e. if we have a hammer.  It’s kind of like that, of course, (by my profession, by my way of living, I can’t prepare totally for utter collapse.  I have made preparations to survive a month in place, but it won’t be pretty and it can’t be a way of life.  Yes, I’m Heinleinian enough I’d like a log cabin somewhere, but I can’t afford it) but I’m also bolstered by history.  Collapse or no collapse, civilization level doesn’t go back.

What you get instead is an inability to trust the civilization you’ve come to know.  Your “conveniences” will fail, and “conveniences in this case include not just cable TV (actually that might well keep going through it all) but electricity, water, roads.

I’m not saying that electricity will go out and stay out.  That’s highly unlikely.  In modern collapses that only happened in zones where active fighting was going on, and sometimes not there.

I’m saying that hours at the power plant might become… erratic.  And if you’re at the mercy of a power plant that runs on coal (raises hand) doubly so, with sugar on top, depending on coal supply.

That is what will hurt you the most.  No?  Keep in mind civilization goes on at about this level.  How many of you use computers for your paid-work? (Raises hand.)

I’m also saying that water can become contaminated.  As someone said here “keep bleach handy.”  That is only an issue if you don’t.  But you have to learn not to trust stuff like that.

Roads might become potholed to the point of unusability.  In Portugal, the roads would kill a car in three years, at the height of the “slow mo collapse.”  People passed info about the biggest potholes.

This is edging towards the bigger preparation you need to do.

There will be other inconveniences, but none of them as bad as the lack of electricity for long periods of time, erratically.  Like, for instance, there is a strong to medium chance that gas and other supplies will become erratic.  Where we live two thirds of the year a bicycle is feasible (not for me.  I’ll need a tricycle.  I never learned to ride a bike.  Because we couldn’t afford one, when I should have been learning.  Also because I’m a klutz.  Shut up, wretches.)

Electricity is a problem because it can cut you from the network.  And for many of us, the network is social life and work and everything in between (I shop a lot on Amazon.)  But also – our neighborhood has these erratic power failures, twice a year and GAH, not being able to work!  It makes you fret twice as hard.

So, here’s my suggestions for the type of collapse I think most likely and beyond the ammo and whatever needed for active fighting which if we follow the French model will happen in at least some areas of the country:

Go to ebay.  Find three extra batteries for your computer.  Make sure you keep them charged.  (Why ebay?  You can usually get them for $25 or so.  In my case for the travel computer, because the new one is way more expensive.)

Make sure you have a device that allows you to connect to the net without depending on local power/ your own hub.  Ipad or smart phone or kindle tablet with 4G.  It’s prep expense.  If you can, get it.  That way if you get caught in one of the (bowel) movements  of history or the flailing about of a dying government, you can tell your friends to come get you.

Have stuff in place to survive a week of erratic grocery.  Have other ways to get where you absolutely must go.

If in a hot climate, have at least one room you can cool somehow without electricity.  Because heat can kill you.  Same with heating in cold climates.

Oh, if you’re a writer, and electricity becomes THAT erratic – you know the jags we go on – buy a used typewriter.  Manual.  You might have to repair it yourself, but there’s probably instructions on line.  But look, if you write on a typewriter, when electricity comes back you can scan the damn things in, while even I myself can’t interpret my handwriting.  If yours  is better, may the (by hand writing) force be with you, but mine is what it is – and I’m looking for a little manual typewriter, just in case.  The last thing husband and kids want, when stuck in the house without power, is to have me climbing walls because I can’t write the next chapter. Your mileage may vary.

Mid-range skills now hobbies MIGHT come in handy. As we all become poorer, being able to do clothing alterations MIGHT be prized (but remember the transition might be short, so unless you enjoy it, don’t bother learning it.)  Same with playing an instrument.  When everyone is stir crazy from lack of electricity, someone who can play music can provide relief. But don’t learn to build steam engines or anything like that.  Cooking from scratch might not hurt.  It gives you flexibility with bad supply chains.

But more importantly, and above all that, build under.  Heinlein despised “rugged individualists” who thought they never needed the collective, ever.  That he trusted government for most of the needs, like roads or electricity, just means he lived in different times.  We can’t do much about that – for now – but we might have to rely on our friends for aid and succor and support.

We will also need our friends – possibly – for ensuring commerce and other things that government used to guarantee.  How?

Well, say I’m stuck and can’t upload books but I can send TXRed a CD with three novels via whatever parcel post still runs, and give her my publishing password on the tablet.  She can upload them for me, and I’ll still get paid.

I can’t think of all the situations in which the network can come in handy, but I guarantee it can be.

We keep thinking of a sort of Galt’s Gulch with everyone gathered in one place, lending aid, comfort and protecting each other.

This is unlikely.

It’s unlikely because this is the 21st century.  Civilization and tech create distributed networks, both in reality and in physical space.  But is there a reason not to have a Galt’s Network?  One that allows us to survive the collapse and keep on going, and perhaps – perhaps – ensure that this time the bad guys don’t win?

I don’t see why we shouldn’t.  Embryonic internet, on 9/11, but people stuck across the country as the planes stopped were able to make it home in relays of friends they’d met on line, who each drove them the next ninety miles.  Is there some reason we can’t save our own caught in one of the places that goes grimdark? Or send our own clothes, if they’re caught in a place where there are none in the stores.  Or flour.  Or…

And this is important – this sort of network – for another reason.  People here keep saying “Beware revolution.  The next regime was only better in one instance.”

I’m not proposing revolution, but collapse MIGHT force one on us, if only because some people find collapses ideal opportunity to impose totalitarianism.  (Okay, most people.)

And why Galt?  Because it allows us to separate from a society that is not only taking far more than it gives, but that is slowly circling the drain.  It allows us to mini-galt and small-strike of sorts.

So, let’s look at the one revolution that was different – The USA – why was it different?

Because they had already built their own institutions, their own polity.  They weren’t inventing it from scratch, mid air.  The distance between countries meant they were already independent, in most ways.

And that’s what we need to do and what we need to be.  That way if a totalitarian horror (yes, there’s worse than our current mess) we’ll be organized to fight.  And we’ll be organized to survive.  And we’ll be organized to govern* afterwards.

Despair is a sin.  Don’t give up.  Don’t lie flat.  Build under.  When it collapses, we’ll be there, keeping civilization going.  Maybe we won’t even notice the collapse.

Be not afraid and stop learning to chip flint.  Learn to network, instead.  The future is ours, because we embrace it.  Let the Luddites wail and gnash their teeth.  We have places to be.

* (I know all of you made a face.  I am not going to govern anyone.  I just want to be left in peace.  Since most of you are the same, let’s stipulate a very small and localized government.  Enough to keep the lights on and commerce flowing.)

UPDATE:  Different post, Freedom! (weirdly not political) over at Mad Genius Club.

458 thoughts on “Galt’s Network

  1. I’m going to take issue with one common phrase you used “Is it guaranteed? Oh, come on. The only thing that’s sure is death and taxes, even when the taxes kill you. ”
    We might defeat death some day 🙂

    1. Extending life, sure; that’s been happening for centuries. Significant advances against aging, cancer, and dementia—those are likely too. But eliminating death… I suspect such a fundamental change in human construction might well require input from the Designer.

      (On the other hand, Isaiah 25:8 suggests the Designer has accepted a bug report on the subject of death and has marked the ticket “Accepted: In Progress”.)

      1. Well, it might be possible to eliminate death due to aging. It will still get everybody, sooner or later you will slip in the shower or something. Or it it becomes possible to download a personality into some sort of machine that machine will fail. Besides, would that still be you, for real, even if it thought it was? I do believe in souls…

        One thing about longer lifespans – how many memories can our brains hold? Would it become necessary to wipe some out, periodically, if you lived long enough? Or turn a person into some sort of cyborg, and even with that sooner or later the memory load would probably become unmanageable.

        No. I wouldn’t mind a bit longer lifetimes, up to a few hundred years maybe, but I think I still prefer ones which will end after a certain period of time.

          1. Gah. Living in three worlds, (at least) I’m suffering from “can’t remember that word” and wondering what the heck to do about it. I hope it’s not early onset Alzheimers and all I can say is “hurry up, Alzheimers research.”

            1. ‘K you are fortunate… I can’t remember where I am now … Story time– Yesterday, when I went to the Legislature building to the CCW meeting, I left my car in the parking lot in front of the State Library… so far so good. After the meeting I went out of the Legislature building and found myself in a parking lot with NO car. I looked all over the place and noticed that I couldn’t find the Library either. Okay– the two parking lots looked the same… the doors I went in and left from looked the same. Have I said that I am not really good with n/s/e/w? So I called the hubby because we have a APRS on the car–

              He could see the car. I couldn’t see the car. It turned out that I was the one who was lost on the wrong street. The State buildings are on one large, large block… they have several exits to different streets… which is not labeled btw… normally someone with rudimentary direction finding are okay. Remember I have been on chemo for ten plus years.

              The hubby came to look for me. I saw his truck do a left turn on the street in front of me. The map settle in my head and I realized I was not only lost… I was lost in my head as well. My car was in the other lot… I went home to take a nap. 😉 So yea… you lose words… I lose me.

              1. I do that ALL the time. If Robert and I go to the store together, we need an adult to tell us where we left the car. So if we can we take one of the other two.
                And we don’t have medications as an excuse. (And yes, it’s worse if we go together than if I go alone. No, I don’t know why.)

                1. My wife does that kind of thing. I find it incomprehensible that someone can get lost in good weather or be unable to find a car they left half an hour ago or a shop they visited last week.

                  My problem is that a little local knowledge tends to lead me into shortcuts to dead ends that ought to go through to where I want to go but mysteriously don’t.

                2. Truthfully– I was always like that before I married. The hubby has a fine-tuned sense of direction… TG. I used to make sure that I had a lot of cues (visual, and aural… I have to have all five senses engaged.) *sigh… it is worse though after chemo.

                    1. you may already have one. Its called a smartphone. Google Maps has guided me quite successfully while walking in various cities

                    2. The hubby took me back to where I got lost and we walked from the building to the parking lot. I think he is trying to build neuron connections for my poor little brain.– very sweet of him… I still think I will end up with a GPS though.

                  1. While the iPhones do generate some privacy concerns (can’t turn off, can’t remove battery, Apple in bed with PRISM, etc.,) this is one feature that I use and love – the Find Friends app in my phone – real time GPS tracking for anyone you allow to have the information, including short-term, time-limited tracking, say, if I was at a convention and wanted people to be able to find me.

                    1. As a general rule of thumb, anything an iPhone can do you can get a app for in an Android store.

                      Where do you think Apple got all their ideas?

                3. I had practice when I was younger; we went to the local theme park every year when they had G.E. day, because my mother worked for G.E. You have to memorize the section name and row number to be able to find your car at the end of the day.

                  1. When I park at Alewife to go into Boston, I try to park on the upramp. Distinctive that way.

                4. I once attended an avent at a huge North Carolina stadium, and remembered when I walked out that I had just walked in without making any note of the section my car was in. There were like, how many people will a stadium like this fit? 50k or so? I just stopped thinking and started walking without thinking. I walked straight to my car.

          2. Ah, but does it really, or do you just lose the way to find them? Maybe they are still there, taking up space, just unreachable by the conscious part. 🙂

        1. ” it becomes possible to download a personality ”
          I’d settle for being able to download a personality into collectivists and to simplify, they can all have the same one, as long as it minds it’s own business.

          1. You might find John C. Wright’s The Golden Age trilogy interesting. It does have such mass-minds in its world.

      1. This actually worries me from time to time.

        Future (FAR future) generations just might be actively angry at us for all the extra energy differential we’ve wasted.

        1. Eh, do we rail and mourn at the deforestation of Spain to build massive Armadas? How many here get truly worked up over the great destruction of the chestnut blight, or dutch elm disease, that have ravaged our great North American forests? What about spruce bark beetles, which even now are responsible for truly massive swaths of dead trees all throughout the arboreal forests?

          Humans being human, no matter our culture or technology, I doubt they’ll spend as much time on the far ancestor’s waste as their neighbor’s. “Can you believe the folks at Ceres II? They only had six layers in their solar mirror! The sheer waste!”

          1. What about the Emerald Ash Borer?

            On Thu, Aug 22, 2013 at 7:10 PM, According To Hoyt wrote:

            > ** > Dorothy Grant commented: “Eh, do we rail and mourn at the deforestation > of Spain to build massive Armadas? How many here get truly worked up over > the great destruction of the chestnut blight, or dutch elm disease, that > have ravaged our great North American forests? What about spru” >

          2. “How many here get truly worked up over the great destruction of the chestnut blight, or dutch elm disease”
            I do! I do! I cut nary an elm, even dead (oysters, you know), but they keep dropping like flies. So sad.

        2. David Deutsch’ lovely book “The Fabric of Reality” points out that the post-inflation even distribution of matter is the source of all the {energy differential, Gibbs free energy, unlikeliness, information} in the Universe.
          As it runs downhill little clots of information, like whirlpools in a bathtub, self-organize and sustain themselves, until Fimbulwinter.

    2. Caterpillar boffins are developing procedures which they hope and expect will forever eliminate the terrors of cocooning, that process by which caterpillars have long exited this world. Already positive results have been achieved in delaying cocooning’s onset and research offers much hope for a time when caterpillars will be free forever from the tragedy of cocooning. Taxes are being raised in order to fund this vital research.

  2. One survivalist told me that you should do something that leaves you better off than when you started, even if there isn’t a near-term SHTF scenario.

          1. LOL That’s me. I even look like the guy in the picture, at times. Except I was born cheap and DIY always wins over fancy gear, so I didn’t have to learn that. I did buy a backhoe and a dump truck. Old fords I fix myself. Did I say old? I meant old^4th (or fifth or sixth).

          2. And I busted my rear to get *away* from the farm… *cackles madly*

            I’m a citified redneck now! No more chickens!

          3. I have never homesteaded. I did, however grow up on a sidehill farm in Ky and a beef farm in OH. I will verify everything in the blog the ling went to with a single caveat. He made it sound much nicer than it is.

  3. My favorite insight is this: “Heck, even the communists haven’t managed to take Cuba back to the middle ages – though they’ve tried. Instead they sort of froze it in time into a poor version of the fifties.”

    I like this because it dovetails with my thesis that the USA will stagnate at 2008 level of tech while better parts of the world advances at singularity-defying speed. Maybe not China, but I wouldn’t count out the smartest folks of a billion people.

    Sarah, you can write the next chapter on a legal pad and a pencil. I so wrote the first chapter of my WIP in a train station near Wales.

    A lot of survivalist skills you cite are merely the things “cheap folks” do to save money now. This should say something about who’s worst and least hurt by a collapse.

    If there’s a Galt’s Gulch during a US collapse, let’s hope it’s called Singapore. Then I’ll have family overseas with hard currency. If you read “The Black Obelisk,” anyone with foreign currency had things pretty darned good.

    1. Of course I can write it that way. I just can’t read it, so Dan would have to type it in. He got used to my writing when we corresponded, but I can’t read the dang thing.

    2. That is pretty much my take, and why I keep thinking about hunting, fishing and foraging alternatives (and how to be able to do those on the sly). There will probably still be food around, I just doubt I will have the money to buy enough, or buy what I’d need to live, especially since some of the cheaper bulk stuffs are things I can’t even eat, or at least not eat and thrive on. Black market prices tend to be expensive, at least if some of the things I remember hearing from the older relatives, those who had lived through the wars and the scarce times right after, would hold true.

      1. People in the cities had to learn to bake their own bread. People in the country already did.

        Not so much true anymore. I’m prepping to be able to feed extended family and to defend that infrastructure. Whether we collapse or no, we are much better off with real food and real security and independence from the potentially shaky grid.

          1. Yep, Mom says I’m a good cook *but* I’m only following the instructions.

            1. My grandmother taught me to cook when I was in my pre-teens, and it’s pretty much stuck with me. I cook some of the meals around the house today, even though DW prefers to do it. We do eat a lot of pre-prepared foods because we’re usually not in the mood (feeling well enough) to spend an hour or more in the kitchen. If push comes to shove, I CAN cook over a wood fire, on a cast-iron wood-burning stove, and even in a fireplace. I can also do lots of other things some people might be interested in learning to do, including hunting and fishing, building nets and traps, and much more. I would be able to survive relatively well in a total collapse IF it weren’t for my medical problems. Even with them, I’d be able to live long enough to pass along what I know to someone interested in learning.

              Our house will be paid for in less than two years. Once it is, we’re determined to sell it and buy one built all on one level (stairs are killing us, and all our “fun” things are in the basement). We HOPE to get enough land with it to be able to allow others to join us — family and friends. We’d love to move into the mountains, but there’s not much flat land there. Also, you can deduct about a week from the growing season for every thousand feet of altitude. The growing season in Louisiana, at just about sea level, is eight months. In Colorado Springs, it’s three months. It’s about four months in the Arkansas valley. All that changes how you need to think about growing food, and you DO need to think about it if you’re preparing for a collapse. There’s also more fish and game in the Arkansas Valley.

              There’s a lot more I’d like to say about this, but I don’t want to take over Sarah’s blog. I might do it on my own blog, but I’m not sure…

              1. “Also, you can deduct about a week from the growing season for every thousand feet of altitude.”

                That’s certainly a problem here (Maine). I’m hoping to build one of those below ground greenhouses before the snow flies but that has special considerations up here too.

                Keep us informed about your blog idea.

                1. You can add back a week from the growing season with a “cold frame” and another week by putting the “cold frame” inside a “hoop house”.

                  For the non-gardeners, a “cold frame” is a garden inside a wood box with a glass or plastic clear lid, a “hoop house” is a series of curved poles a couple feet apart with plastic sheeting over them, anchored at the base.

                  I know how to do quite a few things .. I’m good with my paws .. and I have similar house plans … and Mrs. Cat is looking at raising chickens and possibly goats and .. as was mentioned .. if we can find a large enough acreage, cows.

                  Our big problem is .. we both have medical challenges that make living *too* far out in the sticks a serious challenge..


                  1. “You can add back a week from the growing season with a “cold frame” and another week by putting the “cold frame” inside a “hoop house”.”

                    Good to know. I was thinking bigger but frequently I think too big and get nowhere. 😦

                    1. Size: -speaking as someone who actually does this 🙂 You only really need much space/size for your starch crop. You’d be amazed how much ‘extra’ you can grow on the windowsill. I’ve grown cherry tomatoes and chillies as house-plants (hand fertilizing becomes important). In summer you grow a LOT outside, and preserve and freeze like hell in autumn. A cloche (a clear PEP bottle) will give your plants a big start, if you cover crucial ones.

                    2. To be honest, while I grow this and that, I have primarily concentrated on soil amendment. It’s all rocks and clay here under an inch or so of acidic topsoil. I clear and level, mulch and compost and shovel chicken poop, trying to establish beds that will eventually bear fruit.
                      Thirty years ago this was an apple orchard and I’m slowly bringing that back.
                      Last year I managed a good crop of tobacco but nary a sprout this one. The year before I did real well with veggies, even okra, which no one else will eat, and some hot peppers, ditto. 🙂

                      I’m trying to get it all ready to support a dozen friends and family when the need arises.

                      Oh yeah, clearing pasture too. I need some goats but DW is reluctant. Perhaps pigs would go over better. BACON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                      in Maine

                    3. I’m glad you reminded me of this. I had planned on doing this, but wasn’t able to this year. This site has hardware for making both High Hoops and Low Hoops, plus plans for making the High ones. They also sell a tube bender for making your hoops equal in size (the link is to the page with equipment for the High Hoops).

              2. You do lose growing season, but there’s something to be said for a season when you’re not likely to have a bunch of wandering interlopers running around, and a nice hard winter like we had back in Idaho might provide such a season. But that may be assuming something much closer to total collapse than what Our Dear Hostess is suggesting.

                1. What I heard and — was it Sabrina who is following news of the Argentine collapse — what my experience taught me is that occasional riots, etc notwithstanding, a collapse is more survivable in the city. It’s counter-intuitive, but true.

                  1. I don’t know. Given the current culture, the not-insignificant amount of narcissism and entitlement in a big part of the population, I think a city would be okay… for about 72 hours. And if things didn’t settle down / services restored / food and goods trucks rolling in within that 72 hours, things get really bad, really fast. At least, that’s what I’ve heard and read. It probably depends on the city. And it also depends on how good your local network is.
                    Internet is fine. I love all you guys, and if someone needs something I can help with, I’m there. But Internet can’t completely take the place of people you know, in your area, that you can talk to and work with. We’re Odd, yes, but if there’s one thing this blog has to show you, is that we’re definitely not alone. There have to be people in your area who are also concerned, and two heads are better than one where prep is concerned.
                    But as I’ve said, I’m anticipating something a little more precipitous than a slow slide and collapse. (I’m also lots of fun at parties.)

                    1. I think that expectation fails to include the risks of roving zombie hordes which in rural areas can usually be spotted at sufficient range to prepare a defense or flee. In cities they might be just around the corner …

                    2. You have to take into account triage. Rural/exurbs are going to be top on the list to cut off resources which will be diverted to saving the cities. They’ll work their way in from there. At a certain point a critical mass will be cut off and that’s when you get your revolution.

                    3. I’m thinking of my home town growing up – small farming communities are where a lot of the resources, particularly food, come from. And farmers, while generally peaceful, peace-loving, kind, and generous folk, will take a rather dim view of people trying to poach their crop. Or their herds. Yes, they have to sleep some time, but farmers talk to each other out there on the fields when they see each other, and I can easily see them forming a loose association of “interested people” who would quickly self-organize in such a way as to address concerns if it really dropped in the pot.

                      That home town of mine has changed drastically in the (20+) years since I went away (that’s what going from a rather middle-largish privately-owned-and-operated 2-year college to a who-knows-how-big-it-is-now-but-still-privately-owned-and-operated 4-year college will do to a little farming community), so take what I said above and add a large dose of highly educated people… the majority of whom I would guess would be politically right of center, or at least right of center for academic folk… within driving distance of… huh.
                      If it wasn’t for the fact that just really didn’t fit in there, that wouldn’t be a bad place to be if / when it did drop in the pot.

                  2. “What I heard and — was it Sabrina who is following news of the Argentine collapse — what my experience taught me is that occasional riots, etc notwithstanding, a collapse is more survivable in the city. It’s counter-intuitive, but true.”

                    I seriously doubt that. Life itself is less survivable in the city, JMO.

                    1. The Powers that Be will move Heaven and Earth to get food to the cities. Small towns and even suburbs don’t have the pull, even in votes, let alone threats. The further from the city you are, the less reliable the regular deliveries.

                      I’m learning to garden. Contemplating a chicken coop.

                      I’ve already got a generator with enough oomph to run the water well. 4 hour UPS for the computer. I need to get enough solar to charge my notebook and I’m nearly set.

                      For anything short of Houston summers. Ugh! Maybe a cheap above ground swimming pool, for those days without electric power?

                    2. Like NY during Sandy? There is food all around me here. I reckon we can hold out while the collectivists try to move their a$$,, heaven and earth to feed the cities.

                    3. I should pull Calmer Half away from working on his latest book, and have him comment here – but the short answer is no, Sabrina is right. My darling survived 18 years of civil war in his home country, while also doing humanitarian work around the rest of Africa – and it’s safer in a city. Because, you see, in a city, you are one of many with not that much, and many against a few. Out in the country, from farms to little native kraals, there are only so many of you in the family/small tribal village, and you have to work and sleep and eat some time – with no help that can reach you in time. You’re a small group, holding food and wealth and (usually some) women, and thus an attractive target as well as relatively easy pickings for a group of criminals / terrorists.

                      It’s the difference between a bomb in the cafe – but there are thousands of restaurants and cafes in the city, and only one was bombed that morning – and a terrorist waiting for you to come out to the north field to feed the cattle so he can shoot you and then slaughter the rest of your family before stealing your cattle.

                    4. “and it’s safer in a city. ”
                      Wow. Are you guys all city folk?
                      I’ve lived in cities. You couldn’t drag me back.

                    5. This is to Dorothy and general thread more than you Dave. The idea that the city is more survivable than the countryside is probably correct, in Europe and Africa, probably Asia as well. I am not sure it holds together as well in the United States. There are a couple of variables here. One, unless you are very isolated there is a community among rural folks that isn’t quite the same as the villagers in other places. 2 of the 80 million gun owners in the U.S. the majority probably live in the country, where there ids a gun culture. The people in the sticks actually know how to use those guns as well. You won’t find someone from a rural area holding a gun overhead, off to the side and upside down, these are squirrel hunters, 3 there are networks and outsiders are easily spotted tracked and dealt with. The situation in Africa is vastly different, as we are different than most other peoples. I may be wrong but, I expect the crips and bloods would get their asses handed to them

                    6. Damn straight! Flatlanders come up here, we’ll feed ’em to the coyotes and bears. 😉

                    7. Actually i suspect the right answer is one evolved repeatedly throughout history: There is a critical size establishment that is viable – in terms of defense and also how many people the surrounding land can carry, and how many people you need to carry on the basic functions of civilization. (look at the sizes of villages that functioned). This increased with mass transport, but that will be a first casualty. This will vary from place to place – partly depending on how many foes are how near and how easily they can travel to you, and how fertile your land is. So for example our island, with water too shallow and treacherous for landing any boat bigger than 30 tons except at one point – which needs careful navigation, and just too far – 100 miles – for anything but biggest small boats, even though it has more food and resources than it needs, a a tight knit supportive community of a few hundred on one of the higher points would be near invulnerable. Near a big city – and accessible overland without having to try too hard… You’re going to need a large town / small city, a friendly place where a lot of the people know each other. But the highest death tolls – as in Africa now, are going to be in very large cities. A breakdown of supplies into a place with no community network of neighbors per se (typical big city) and no fairly rapid military deployment… may only result in 1% death toll. But in NYC that’s more people than live in a lot small towns.

                    8. Dave pretty much made all the points I was going to make. While I prefer the rugged individualist model, I suspect the village sized tight knit community is most survivable. Think rural small towns, you have the advantages of rural folk that own and are familiar with firearms, ready access to food sources via nearby farms, ranches, gardens, hunting, etc. and a community of people to watch each others backs.

                    9. We’ve got an extended family, three generations, in a small isolated township (unorganized). So yes, I agree. 🙂

                    10. To Pam – a pool is a good start .. add a way to re-direct the outflow from the recycler filter pump up onto your roof, it’s probably less than an afternoon of hurricane-strapping and gluing up PVC pipe, then add a way for the downspouts to return the water to the pool, possibly via your garden, and run the pump off your generator .. you’d be surprised how much heat evaporating water can suck out of a house. (idea comes from an uncle, long dead, who used to use a similar trick to cool the factory he worked in) Of course, your water bill will go up…

                      To MobiusWolf – Hi! (waves) Guessing from your use of “flatlander” you’re a cheesehead? No offense intended. Cities are funny things .. parts of them will do just fine, usually the parts surrounded by armed guards. Parts will be hell. As Our Hostess pointed out, Paris was survivable in the middle of their collapse .. and Valencia was quite nice – in part – under the Borgias. To this day, parts of Detroit are livable.


                    11. “Hi! (waves) Guessing from your use of “flatlander” you’re a cheesehead? No offense intended. Cities are funny things .. parts of them will do just fine, usually the parts surrounded by armed guards. Parts will be hell. As Our Hostess pointed out, Paris was survivable in the middle of their collapse .. and Valencia was quite nice – in part – under the Borgias. To this day, parts of Detroit are livable.


                      I’m an Okie, finally settled in Maine after a long string of other places.
                      They think these hills up here are mountains and anyone from away (Mass) is a flatlander. Meeting an Okie flusters them a little.

                      We’re on the north side of Russell Mtn which soars to 2100 ft. LOL. It does make a good berm twixt us and, well, the rest.

                      Detroit? I wouldn’t have guessed it. Of course the pictures do seem to all show the same area.


                  3. I’m thinking of Michigan, Colorado, and all the other states where the cities are hotbeds of unionized democrats riding the gravy train, while the exurbs and countryside are solidly conservative. Survivability probably means proximity to hospitals since you can’t reliably get from the sticks to the Emergency room.

                    1. That’s part of it, yes, but I also understand the countryside got raided by well… armed gangs and even if you’re armed, in an isolated farm house, if the attacking force is big, there’s no one to help. City neighborhoods can hire patrols etc. Now, mind you, this is for medium size cities, not megalopolises which are different math.

                    2. Yes, not a megalopolis .. but also far enough from a megalopolis that it’ll not be overrun .. someplace that’s a good 3-4 day walk away…

                      (one reason I’m relocating .. my current home is much less than a day walk from Chicago .. and Chicago may as well be a megalopolis)


                    3. “Chicago may as well be a megalopolis)

                      You are far too kind and far too close. chicago, ick!

                    4. How many miles in a day’s walk? I’m trying to determine how many days’ walk I am from Dallas.

                    5. Reply to emily61: How far is “a day’s walk” ? It Depends, of course.

                      Keep in mind terrain, environmental factors, likely challenges encountered along the way …

                      You mention Texas, specifically Dallas, so I’m thinking hot and too much sunshine .. most of the year. Plan on a worst-case-scenario, of course .. what would a group of “youths” leaving Dallas for you encounter in late autumn? Rattlesnakes?

                      Under the impression the Army has published some stuff on how far they make recruits walk (erm, march) during early days of training, so .. that’s a starting point. Are the “youths” likely to pack enough water? Is there any they can scrounge along the way?


                1. Y’all are overlooking the most readily available, practical source of energy. Just enslave the Progs (it’s kinder than letting them go feral and starve in the woods) and set them to running treadmills or bicycle-style generators.

                  1. I’m looking for six matched ones to pull my rickshaw, if you come across any. It’s a long way to town.

                    1. “Is that you, Kit?”
                      I can draw but ten, if I’m lucky. Twenty or thirty is well beyond my scope.

                  2. You don’t get as much energy out of them as you put in, and that energy (food) is what we’re talking about using green houses to make.

                    Better to just compost them into the “decorative plants and yard” piles as to not pollute the food chain, and then compost the yard leavings back into the vegetable garden pile.

                    At least that way you don’t have to listen to them whine.

                    Besides slavery is odious.

                    1. I agree that slavery is odious, but note the Progs seem to endorse it so long as you call it by a different name.

                      Your other points are valid. They would likely require more effort in oversight than they would recompense, given their propensity to slack off.

                2. Instapundit recently linked to a NY Times piece about so-called passive houses that require minimal heating or cooling. The NYT piece did not mention surviving a collapse, of course.

                  The technology is fairly new, and expensive, but if there’s enough interest costs could come down and do-it-yourself capabilities may be developed.

                  (Wayne, if I’m repeating what you’ve previously said—hopefully not—, better to give the info twice than not at all.)

                  1. William, not Wayne :oops:. Maybe I was thinking of Wayne Blackburn’s systems analysis of collecting water from the solar wind.

                    1. ‘dat’s OK. When I worked on a helpdesk, an unusual number of people called me “William” after I answered the phone.

                      As for energy efficiency, I have a hillside I can dig into, if absolutely necessary.

                  2. Somewhere I have a printout of a 1950’s Popular Mechanics article about the environmentally efficient house built by Robert & Ginny Heinlein. Take the design, update for changes in materials tesh and upgrade the wiring … deploy them as “Heinlein Houses” across the US.

                    1. That scanning project is a very worthy thing for Google to do. Offhand I’d like to see at least two things:

                      1. The pulps. Weird Tales comes immediately to mind.

                      2. Time, Newsweek, etc. In particular, I’d like to read some of the opinion columns by the Great Generation. We need reminding how they saw the world.

                    2. That Heinlein house design was pretty nifty and liveable for Modernism style, but you can sure tell that he was in the Navy. It’s like a cruise ship stateroom, or a Captain Nemo of the 1950’s. 🙂

                  3. Our house in Japan is almost a Passive House. They didn’t use the phrase but the description sounds similar. When I have the $$$ (or rather YYYYY) I’ll be adding solar panels to it. With some tweaking of times and a generator for really cloudy days it’ll power itself year in year out.

          2. Well yes, but I’m talking about the entire process, seed or hoof, to plate. Not something that was ever my forte. Mr fixit was more my style but gardening is growing on me. ;op

            1. I think she was talking about the kind of instructions that read something like: Add one cup of water to contents of package, then microwave for 5 minutes.

              1. Aha.

                It’s been a while since I bought anything like that. I mostly eat what veggies are in season (meaning mostly cheap) and chicken/fish/pork/eggs. Sometimes rice, and that’s the only time I need to check the package since they have all these different boiling times depending on what you happened to pick up. Not quite sure whether I can say I can cook or not, actually, give me a recipe, or worse, a complicated recipe, and the end result may be anything, from divine to straight to trash, but salads with chicken, or chicken or fish, oven prepared, with boiled rice, well, nobody can totally fail with something like that. Omelets aren’t that hard either. Or using a wok.

                1. Heh. We call that “assembling food”, not cooking.

                  One of the very few silver linings to the Cat family collection of food allergies and sensitivities is that I have become a pretty good scratch cook…. and unless I am mistaken, we are darn near the same generation.

                  I am attempting to pass this on to Junior Cat, so far he is up to advanced assembly…so there’s hope.


        1. One of the great things about bread is that you really only have to have flour and water, as long as you’re willing to wait 12-18 hours (for the natural yeast to make it rise) between making the dough and kneading it, then another 12-18 hours before baking. As long as you have several stages going at all times, you are good.

          Now, it works better if you have baker’s yeast, some kind of sugar, and some shortening, but that’s just improvements on the basic recipe.

            1. One better word: Beer! It keeps longer, stores more compactly and offers many secondary benefits as analgesic, relaxant and trade good.

            2. I find baking bread a very satisfying past time. Even when it came out as a curbstone suitable for curling I enjoyed it, but I wound up buying a used “Tasajera Bread Book” for a quarter and actually read it, and my product improved markedly. If you can schedule, you can make it in stages throughout your day.
              The one thing I suggest is that you try and find a hand-mill. The ones with the steel plates are easy to use and easy to clean, and I think they stand more abuse than most of the stone ones.
              I do use mine for turning cracked wheat and wheat berries into whole-wheat flour, but I also use it for making cornmeal, and I’ve used it for grinding up beans to add to flour for extra protein and for making a form of hummus.
              Shoot, I’ve used it to grind coffee beans for espresso grind by the pound, too.

              I am now considering building a wood-fired oven in my back yard.
              I’m doing this sort of thing for fun, and because I am really cheap. But my favorite answer when people ask me is, “well, when fire falls from the sky and we don’t have [blank] anymore, I will be prepared.”

              1. Plus kneading can be good stress relief. “Take that,” thwap, “and that,” whump, fold, knead, knead, “and that!” Thwap, fold, knead.

                1. I have the magic talisman “KitchenAid” which renders such foes pliant.
                  Really though, I suggest anyone who makes bread to get one for kneading. It made my life so much nicer, and my bread finer-textured.

  4. Heinlein despised “rugged individualists” who thought they never needed the collective, ever.

    Oh, my… do you have a citation I can lob at the “everyone must depend on themselves, always, or they deserve to die” idiots?

    1. Google letter to Sturgeon. Before the ideas there’s a bit about a newspaper publisher here in town. (I rather liked that paper. Got bought by a conglomerate. Never mind.)

      1. Thanks!!

        What are the minimum, indispensable functions of government? What functions are present in all human societies? Is it possible to name anything which obtains in one society which is not differently just the reverse in another? Or not done at all? Has there ever been a truly anarchistic society? The Eskimos, perhaps? We have an anarchist running a newspaper in this town, who is opposed to public roads, public schools, public anything—he maintains that it is not ethical for a majority to do anything collectively which each individual did not already have the right to do as an individual. This is an explosive notion; a corollary is that all taxation is wrong, all zoning laws are wrong, all compulsory education is wrong, all punishment by courts is wrong. In the mean time he lives in a well-policed society, his own considerable wealth protected by all these things he deplores. But one thing is sure: many of the things we take for granted are not necessary to a stable society, but we take them for granted. You could get a Campbell-style story out of doubting the most sacred of sacred cows—except big business, of course; John does not tolerate outright heresy.

          1. I can see how they make things simpler, but it’s got to be VERY restrained.

            Kind of like having gov’t recognize marriages– imagine how many lawsuits, and how much power it would give judges, if it had to go to court every time someone decided to try to screw folks over by building a charcoal factory next to their resort or similar.

              1. Who/What is Nugan and why should I be concerned about what He/She/It considers an abomination? [Grin]

                  1. In _Monstrous Regiment_, it’s “Abominations Unto Nuggan”. [Very Big Evil Grin]

                    1. Re: RES’s comment:

                      That would be Men at Arms — after reading it Beloved Spouse has been unable to read further Discworld, so foul a taste did it leave in mouth.

                      Keep in mind that Men at Arms was published twenty years ago; reading some of PTerry’s later stuff, I could easily see him writing a different plot than that today. E.g., where some noble idiot (I would say “but I repeat myself”, but Sybil and Sam Vimes do come to mind as counterexamples) proposes a crossbow-control law, and Vimes demonstrates to the idiot that there are no dangerous weapons, only dangerous people. (See Night Watch, probably my favorite Discworld novel, for Vimes demonstrating that in person to a certain young Guardsman.)

                      But part of it has to be his inexperience with guns, yeah. I mean, he never has a plot where the crossbow takes over someone’s mind. And the only practical difference between a crossbow and a gun is rate of fire. (And accuracy over long range — hard to make a sniper crossbow — but why let pesky facts get in the way of a perfectly good point? 🙂 )

                    2. Whoops, my comment was supposed to be in the thread below this one. Clicked the wrong Reply link.

                  2. One of his weaker works, actually. Had some happy moments but as whole, dissatisfying.

                    1. I get the strongest feeling that he had broadsword swinging girls, then switched to muskets without having time to figure out how they work, when he realized that women disguised as men entering the army didn’t exist before the age of gunpowder.

                    2. Yeah. Any work that says that women are as good as men at things requiring physical strength and therefore equal — is too silly for words.

                    3. No, I remember how the muskets felt… stuck in, as if at a point where he had to give them weapons and couldn’t think of anything else. They were just mentioned,and there was no further mention of them hauling the heavy things around, and working to keep the powder dry. And it was the first and last mention of firearms in Discworld.

                    4. No. An entire book long before that was about a gun. I think there were no mentions of hauling them around because PTerry has NO idea they’re heavy or that keeping the powder dry is a nuisance. As I said, you’re focusing on the guns and ignoring the author’s experience (or lack thereof.)

                    5. That would be Men at Arms — after reading it Beloved Spouse has been unable to read further Discworld, so foul a taste did it leave in mouth. I shrugged it off as one man’s (stupid) opinion and not a reason to allow it to diminish the stronger pleasures of his other works. I do not expect authors to support my prejudices, merely limit the degree to which they inflict them on me.

                      There were many things on which I disagreed with the late NY Mayor Ed Koch, but one thing I did agree with was his recommendation: If you agree with me on 7 out of 10 things, vote for me; if you agree on 9 out of 10, get your head examined.

                    6. I found it to be a wonderful parody of how all crimes are the fault of the criminal unless there’s a gun, in which case it’s controlling folks’ minds.

                      He had the thing doing mind control, for heaven’s sake!

                    7. I have to disagree, it is more average. It did wander too much into ‘Nam tropes, but it did say an awful lot about it being too late to defend your your home when you have to stand on the front steps, and what you pledge your faith and support to when everything in your society is twisted,broken and vile. It also said a little it about the use of manipulating a supposedly neutral press for your own advantage.
                      I may have to read another version, I have an advance reader’s copy (marked NOT FOR RESALE) that I picked up at a used bookstore where the soldiers have sabers and crossbows – and mangonels and such.
                      Was there a re-write where they got muskets, then?

                    8. See this is why I have never read Pratchett, every time he is mentioned his stories either sound like ridiculous stupid comedy, or they have foaming at the mouth inducing tropes like these. The fact that so many of you like him indicates he must be a good storyteller, but I have never heard a summary of any of his plots that sounded interesting and it seems like people spend more time making excuses for things he wrote than anything else.

                    9. Well the characters are great– take Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg. Or “Cut-me-own-throat” Dibbler who tries to feed you rat on a stick. Or even the Mayor of the town (or what ever name he has–)

                      A lot of the flavor of his works (except a very few…) has a 19th century feel to it. Plus he writes a roaring good story. No one in the fantasy field is writing this type of fantasy-humor in a world that sits on a turtle.

                      Its all in the characters and his characters drive story– I really like when the red-headed over six foot dwarf (yes, dwarf) comes to town to become part of the guard.

                    10. Carrot Ironfounderson. He shows up in _The Last Hero_, which is a good overview of Diskworld everything-ology. Theo-, geo-, anthrop-, etc.

                      Plot synopsis: Cohen the Barbarian decides to return fire to the gods. This, it turns out, is probably a very bad idea.

                    11. 1. I read the book about the gun/gonne a long time ago. It struck me as a (correct) warning that lethal technology can appeal to the dark side of the soul. Had Pratchett accepted gonnes but restricted their use to the city constabulary, my reaction would likely have been different.

                      2. (To repeat, I’m no longer a regular reader of sff, though hanging around here is reviving my interest.) My impression is that Rincewind hasn’t been in the series for some time. I’d like to see him back.

                    12. Bearcat, you should read Pratchett like you read P. G. Wodehouse. The rhythm, the interplay, the dialogue and the characters are what make it. Pratchett does play a game that is like the idea of taking a magical thing and translating it into the work-a-day world and seeing how it changes itself to fit and how it deforms the world around it – I’m told Borges does it for example—but Pratchett does “stupid realism” where he takes a silly idea or pre-conception and applies it to his magical world, and adds in that people are people and will game it to the end. Hence dragons are actually swamp dragons have a digestive system like an alchemical lab to produce flame, and people abuse them by using them as cigar lighters and paint strippers.
                      A lot of it is silly cotton candy with good characters, but every once in a while he slips in a razorblade of insight. Of course some of them are pretty horrific too.

                    13. There are a lot of razorblade insights. But look, writers are humans. you can’t demand they always agree with you. I love Night watch. It’s the best insight into revolution I’ve read. “Oh, Reg, Reg, you ought to be inside.”
                      BUT it’s written by an European, with European prejudices. You keep that in mind, and you’ll do fine.

      2. Also, my dad– not a scifi fan, but a big western fan– glanced at my screen and saw a pic of Heinlein, and asked where that picture of Johnny Cash had been taken.

    1. I bet you dollars to donuts, if things get so bad in places that people can’t get meds for love or money, there’ll be at least some volunteers from outside the bad zone ready to fill prescriptions and bring them in. Maybe it won’t be on any sort of regular schedule, but it’ll be there.

      I remember hearing about people, post-Katrina, loading up their pickup trucks (or, in some cases, their boats) with medicines and other supplies and traveling most of a day to get to areas that had been affected. And now our country is even faster about organizing efforts via relief-focused websites and social media. “Adopt a family” or “Adopt a refugee” programs might become popular, too, with people aiming to get at-risk folks out of the areas that are worst affected.

    2. The biggest problem with preparing is that people go big on the defined catastrophe and spend large amounts of money getting maybe 1/4tr prepared for that huge catastrophe. Its far better to prepare fully for smaller catastrophes. Because those are more likely, and those preparations have 99% utility in the huge scenarios.

      Don’t swing for the huge apocalyptic scenarios. What happens if you are without power for a week, without heat for a week in winter, without access to food or fresh water for a week. Because of a storm, tornado, etc. Prepare for those well and you’ve done a better job than trying to prepare for global thermonuclear war and ending up with a 2/3rds built bomb shelter etc.

      1. Yes, I live in California, and work in IT. Had tons of people in 1999 asking me how they should prepare for a complete meltdown of all technology. My first question was always, how prepared are you for an earthquake? “Oh, I’ve been meaning to do that.” Well, do that first.

        1. One of those little things my Calmer Half loved about me when we first met, is that I had not only spare tire, but jumper cables, tow rope, tarp, kitty litter, a shovel, a spare parka, a complete change of clothes in sealed bags, a blanket, a hefty first aid kit, duct tape, a tool box, and other essentials for general emergencies in the back of my car. It just made sense to me – I lived in Alaska where weather is inclement, roads quickly go to game trails when you get off the asphalt, and I had a habit of taking the car where tourists in 4-wheel drive feared to tread. Being prepared for anything that may come up means the difference between enduring a grueling ordeal and having an unexpected adventure.

          (I first learned it from an old bush pilot, who beat into me that the survival kit for off-airport in Alaska needs to be comfortable enough you’re willing to wait out bad weather, no matter how many days it takes. He also strongly recommended that I have “a book you’ve always been meaning to read” in the survival kit, as boredom will drive a human to take suicidal chances rather than wait for a sure thing. He was right, too! That book of sodoku puzzles I stuck in kept me amused for many hours on a four-week journey that normally takes five days!)

          1. If you were a man and the police searched your car for some reason, they would suspect you of planning to kidnap, torture, kill, and bury someone, then change clothes so you wouldn’t be associated with any of the evidence left by snags and such. 😉

                1. Well, the need is not unexpected …. but the identity of the particular body might be random … depending on just who I run across first …

                  1. “I have a little list, I have a little list. . .” Ah, the earworm that is Gilbert and Sullivan.

                    (A touring group did that with the verse, “An artist in New Mexico who dresses like a man/ She calls herself a painter but I don’t think she can,/ she never will be missed . . .” The Georgia O’Keefe fans were horrified. *eeeevil grin*)

            1. Heh. I was gonna ask where the bag of quicklime was, but I see that many have already travelled that road….

          2. Sounds like my car. I worked in Lapland before the times of cell phones – if the thing broke down, or got stuck, you would have either needed to walk for something like half a day or more to get to the nearest human habitation, or wait, possibly a day or two, until somebody found you. I’m lazy, I always preferred the idea of camping on the spot and waiting for rescue. Well, both happened a couple of times, I got the car stuck but both times I either dug it out myself, or the few times something broke I managed to jury rig something which allowed me to drive back (by the way, one reason why I LIKE older cars, you can jury rig them, even if you are no mechanic).

            One thing all that accomplished was to make me aware of the fact that things can go wrong, and that I much prefer to be prepared for something which never happens to being surprised.

          3. Sounds like my rigs, except I don’t carry kitty litter. For those who are wondering kitty litter is one of the best traction enhancers around, much better than sand, I highly recommend carrying it. I have a winch on the front of all my trucks but my diesel (and keep intending to get one for it) and carry either a come along, hi-lift jack, or both in case I need to go backwards. Good come alongs are expensive, really good ones are almost as expensive as a winch (and the cheap ones aren’t good enough to pull a car out) but if you look at yard sales or auctions you can come up with them for just a few dollars. If you spend a lot of time driving in inclement weather I recommend getting one and a chunk of cable or chain to extend your reach. The tow strap won’t cut it because they stretch and by the time you have pulled the stretch out of them you have used up most of your pull length on the come along.

            One thing everybody should have in their car is an air compressor, you can buy a cheap one that plugs into the cigarette lighter for fifteen dollars at Wal-Mart. Sure it will take ten minutes to air your tire up with it, but when you blow a tire and pull your spare out only to find out it is flat standing around for ten minutes beats walking ten miles. I also carry a tire plug kit, which is only useful if you have a way to reinflate the tire after you plugged it.

            1. Yeah, those little compressors are awesome. I’ve only had to use mine twice, now – well, only twice on my car. I remember the bleak look on Calmer Half’s face the day he looked at a very flat tire and realized he was no longer young and uncrippled, and this was going to be a real chore… only to see me pull the compressor out of the trunk instead of the spare tire, with a “It’s just a nail. The garage is less than a mile away; we can reinflate and drive there for them to fix it.”

              I really need to add a tire plug kit to the bag in the back. Thanks for the reminder!

              1. Look into buying a couple of cans of fix-a-flat. It will get you off a back road with a flat tire, and into town. Made my day a couple of times.

          1. Three things about preparing: even a little is more than most people have done; preparing for the likely will probably cover you for the unlikely as well; being prepared is a kindness to others, because YOU won’t be placing a demand on the emergency services.

          2. :-)… Oh yea, I have had quite a few hard times in my lifetime so if I go with my experiences, I can find a way to clean water, wash clothes in ditches, distill snow, ummm…. remember what is needed for a good outhouse…clean quail, fish, cook over an open fire pit. etc.

  5. It has always struck me that John Ringo’s “collapse” in Last Centurion made a good point about networks. Fraternal societies and houses of worship, clubs, former military and other networks led the rebuilding because they formed a basic framework of “I know you, you know him, and he knows a guy with a bunch of plumbing tools” and so on. In some ways we’re replaced the Moose Lodge with the Internet Forum, but when times get rough, if all falls back onto personal connections. That’s how the American Revolution worked, that’s how other things work (Kipling’s “The Mother Lodge” and the book “Mr. Kipling’s Army”.) That’s one thing the survivalist-type shows and fiction seem to fudge.

    1. And just because we are all separated (well mostly), don’t forget to get to know your neighbors. Some of them will be idiots but some won’t. Cultivate the non-idiots and bear in mind that just because they have an ideological / religious blindspot doesn’t necessarily mean they are idiots. In fact scientologists and mormons seem in my experience to be mostly good folks despite their beliefs. The same goes for some new age hippy folks (but not all by any means – stay away from the potheads).

        1. I don’t know. Maybe. But at our place, across the street was your classic “Get Off My Lawn” guy. Old, irrascable, foul-mouthed, always mowing or watering his lawn from sunrise to sunset.

          Until the day my wife got her car wedged in a patch of ice at the end of the driveway trying to get to the office, and he pushed her out.

          1. Well, I’m the neighborhood hermit, but have an extra supply of powdered milk to distribute to the neighborhood kids if the SHTF.

            1. Sheesh, Rob, I was trying to remember the other day how far back we’ve bumped into each other on ‘net. Can you recall?

            2. That’s the position I hold in my neighborhood. I know THREE of my neighbors, and only one well. We do babysit the next door neighbor’s little girl from time to time (she plays with Timmy). We have some new neighbors across the street, but I haven’t had a chance to meet them yet.

              1. ” Well, I’m the neighborhood hermit, ”
                “That’s the position I hold in my neighborhood”

                Me three!

          2. Our immediate neighbors are kinda jerks– neighbor across the road specializes in “taking care” of little old ladies and being “gifted” a lot of their stuff– but we’ve got a lot of the folks who are related to the guys who own the ranch my folks manage, who don’t have a lot of day-to-day practical stuff…but tend to be doctors, (honest) lawyers (good with people) and generally good folks.

            Lots of really nice folks have learned you have to seem nasty, or folks will rob you blind and complain about the quality of what they demand.

    2. One network which I think will be useful in any sort of collapse is the local amateur radio community. Ham’s seem to have a much greater interest in preparedness than the general public, and many volunteer to assist various public safety groups. In any sort of infrastructure collapse, hams will also be communications resources for their neighborhoods.

  6. “Look, guys, the network doesn’t vanish overnight. Power plants don’t disappear. Factories don’t stop. Cars don’t just quit working all at once. There are things that can cause that, . . .”
    Like alien space bats. I live in fear of alien space bats. 🙂

  7. Praxis: Just had this driven home to me. RE: your “go on eBay.” A lot of people, self included, have gotten burned and are twice shy about ebay. HOWEVER, Amazon is still pretty safe marketwise. I just bought OEM Dell memory on Amazon at roughly half the price Dell wanted to sell it to me at. I take your point about spare batteries and will investigate that, but bet I find the same or similar. Verb sap.


    1. My rule on ebay is that I never bid on any item where the price is more than the seller’s rating. If a seller has a rating of 10, I won’t pay them more than 10 bucks. A rating of 100, I might buy a $100 item off them. Etc.

      Never been burned yet.

    2. Gee, Mark, but I just saw a dress for sale on Flea-Bay that is described as “mid evil.” Which is odd, because it has a long skirt and the neckline doesn’t look that low . . .

      I’ve always done well on ebay, but I only look for things I know very well, and I’ve settled on a few sellers I can trust.

      1. Yeah, it’s probably a personality thing. I’m definitely on the male side of the “women shop; men resupply” thing. The marketing tag line, “Quick in, quick out, nobody gets hurt” is a pretty good description of my shopping … erm … pathology. Yeah. That’s the word. Pathology. Finding a reliable seller sounds a lot like work to me.


        1. Most of my shopping is “tactical:” get in, identify target, obtain target, get out. My few ebay forays have been for books, locating replacement china for my mom (discontinued pattern), and business clothes, because dang it, American manufacturers don’t make women’s suits for people shaped like me anymore.

        2. That pretty well describes me, too. Unfortunately, there aren’t many GOOD brick&mortar stamp stores in Co. Springs any more, and the two I knew in Denver have closed. I HAVE to shop eBay to get what I want. I’ve also done a few things on Craigslist, but that is even more chancy than ebay. I choose to look for people who have a thousand or more ratings, and even then I don’t go hog wild.

        3. The stereotype about men and women having different shopping behaviours is usually based on looking at isolated actions. Put a man in a hardware store, electronics store, gun shop or bait’n’tackle and odds are he’ll make the most intense female shopper look lackadaisical. YMMV, of course, but men should consider that when a woman goes clothes buying she’s evoking the mind set of a guy checking out the huntin’ supplies.

            1. There is nothing makes you feel a new man* so much as getting your pistol grips refinished, is there?

              *I cannot find a youtube clip of Mae West saying “I feel like a new man today” so you will just have to imagine it.

              1. ” … getting your pistol grips refinished”

                Is this another euphemism for sex that I hadn’t heard? You gotta give me a break, married for 29 years, I just can’t keep up with certain new slang.

                1. My next anniversary will be our thirty-ninth (ouch; now I feel old) and I assure you, any and everything is a euphemism for sex, if you want it to be. Or so I’ve heard.

                  Just as any gerund-object phrase can be a euphemism for masturbation.

                  Zee species, she wants to procreate.

                  1. Ye’r gettin thar, padnah. DW & I will celebrate #48 this coming February. That means the Apocalypse has to hold off another three years, or I’m gonna be THOROUGHLY ticked! Once we have our Alaska cruise behind us, the world can do pretty much what it wants to, but it better not mess us up. If Mommy-Jeans messes that up, the devil’s gonna have to look for a new place to live.

                    1. Congratulations! We will hit 41 later this year, but got the Alaska cruise in a few years ago.

              2. Oh, no, upgrading from a HiPoint to a (just about anything here) will do that far better. 😛 Or from some Uncle Mike’s holsters to El Paso Saddlery’s gear, mmmmm, now that’s niiiiice.

                1. That’s for sure, I’d not be caught dead carrying a HiPoint … I like my gun’s metals melting point to be much more above the boiling point of water thank you.

                2. “Oh, no, upgrading from a HiPoint to a (just about anything here) will do that far better. :-P”

                  LOL I’ll say.

                  1. I read that as Hi-Standard* the first time and was going object until I reread it. 😉

                    *Not that Hi-Standard can’t be highly upgraded from, but they are an acceptable functional choice for a reasonable price.

          1. I went to MicroCenter with my little brother. I shopped efficiently and was ready to go within twenty minutes. He gave me the car keys so I could go put my stuff in the trunk.

            Three hours later, I finally got him out the door….

  8. In a larger frame, I agree with what I perceive to be your main thesis, which tracks with my sense that “you won’t survive a zombie apocalypse.” Best chance is to ensure that civilization survives whatever the soi-disant governing elites inflict upon us.

    I also get a vague sense of agreement with Bill Whittle’s apparent thesis that the coming … whatever, crisis, collapse, hoo-ha … will be something of an opening door to greater liberty. That whole “the state will wither away”, but not to Marx’s dictatorship of the proletariat pipe dream. Instead We the People, each operating in our own, enlightened self-interest come to the conclusion that we no longer need interact with the state and thereby strip the state of influence over our lives — a little bit at a time.

    Dunno how sane that is, but it gives me hope for the future.


    1. Oh, I’ve been catching glimpses of the same thing Whittle has. It’s not FIRM to the point I can say “this, this, this” but I get that strong feeling and have for months. I think Whittle and I are on the same wave length.

    2. my sense that “you won’t survive a zombie apocalypse.”
      Oh, now that I’m prepared for, but that’s easy compared to a functioning bunch of collectivists.

      Or maybe it’s the same thing, ;o)

      1. Oh, I’m just using the zombie apocalypse as a catch-all, replaceable parameter for whatever civilization-ending, man-made disaster happens to roll down the hill first. Iranian EMP, invasion from Plan 9, purse-snatchers from Tau Ceti … take your pick. Collectivists in the street? M’eh. BTDT. Took pictures.


        1. Oh, I’m just using the zombie apocalypse as a catch-all, replaceable parameter for whatever civilization-ending, man-made disaster happens to roll down the hill first. Iranian EMP, invasion from Plan 9, purse-snatchers from Tau Ceti … take your pick. Collectivists in the street? M’eh. BTDT. Took pictures.

          I know, and I was just kidding. ;o)

          1. Kinda figured you were kidding, mobe. (As I type this, I’m wondering how far down the thread this reply is going to post.) I just can’t pass up such a good opportunity for snark.


              1. Um… baked? I do that kind of stuff in a toaster oven…? And the broiled setting, yeah, but there’s no “roast” setting, so I use “baked” as the closest analog. ?


        2. Consider that a “collapse” scenario will lead to people clamoring for a stronger government, not a weaker one. In times of insecurity, governments grow more repressive.

              1. No, not this time Rawlen — this land. We’re ungovernable. The people at the top misfire on this continuously because they THINK we’re Europeans. Hence the failed astroturf of OWS they probably still can’t understand why that didn’t catch with EVERYONE.

                  1. That’s what I thought.

                    My parents were refugees, and my siblings and I all pronounce our last name differently…

                    1. From family story:
                      It’s not Daaaawn-auld, it’d DUN-auld!

                      (Scottish man correcting a second-generation Italian about how to say her third generation Scottish/{third generation English/Indian} husband’s name, if anyone’s curious.)

                  2. I noticed that when i followed the link to your blog.

                    (Walks off grumbling about hard-to-pronounce [last] names).

                    Just kidding. Actually, it’s when someone’s name has too many “L”s spaced closely together that kills me.

                    1. Wayne — had a friend of mine help me out with that (at least, the Welsh type). The ll is pronounced cl. The Spanish-speaking world pronounces ll as “y”. And they call English crazy!

                    2. Oh, I understand those kinds of pronunciations, but my wife, if we had a girl, wanted to name her, “Layla Lorraine”. Trying to say that makes me feel like I’m choking, with those three “L” sounds so close together..

            1. Rawlenzi you need to read Last Centurion. Most people in this country ask for government help in a crisis. They do it themselves with help from neighbors, friends, family and local voluntary associators.

              1. The more “flyover country” gets to “experience” the “joy” and “helping hand” of FEMA et al, the more they DON’T want to ask for its “help” after a crisis.

                If you doubt me, just ask someone who’s experience the “pleasure” of the bureaucracies’ “help” in “rebuilding the community.”

                1. Yeah, out here, after the ’06 fires, when FEMA told the ranchers that there was no $$ for lost livestock since the feds didn’t pay for pets, we pretty much finished writing off anything above the state level.

                    1. FEMA is kind of like those “space-saver” spare tires — it seems good in principle, but when you actually have to use it it is inconvenient, inadequate and doesn’t provide a place to stow the real tire until it can be fixed.

      2. There is no such thing as a FUNCTIONING bunch of collectivists. They may SEEM to function, but that’s an illusion. They’re really only a circular monkey-pass.

        1. “There is no such thing as a FUNCTIONING bunch of collectivists. They may SEEM to function, but that’s an illusion. They’re really only a circular monkey-pass.”

          I wondered if someone would catch that. I sit corrected.
          How about “ambulatory”?

  9. Consider a diesel generator. Instapundit recommends one brand IIRC. If you have the money I understand GM have a diesel hibrid truck which can be set to run on 2 cylinders as a generator.

    Why diesel over gasoline? simple. Trucks run on Diesel. So does most farm equipment. Hence diesel will be available everywhere and even if they ration it, you’ll be able to get some “spillage”. Gasoline may be harder to locate or be more spotty.

    Another thing. Consider cash and barter and other ways to cope with the fact that your credit card/ATM card has just become a useless piece of plastic. If you get in the habit of paying in cash you’ll get in the habit of having some, and that means that on the day when the ATMs and Credit Card machines don’t work you’ll be able to buy stuff that others can’t. Barter similarly. If you have a stash of hooch, coffee, (cigarettes), chocolate and other similar “luxuries” you’ll likely get service that those without won’t.

    1. If you get in the habit of paying in cash you’ll get in the habit of having some, and that means that on the day when the ATMs and Credit Card machines don’t work you’ll be able to buy stuff that others can’t.

      Personality matters here.

      I can either have it in my mind that “cash” is emergency, or that “card” is emergency, but I can’t juggle “THIS cash is to spend, THAT cash is emergency.”

      So I make sure to stuff $20 or so into corners when I pull out cash for my husband (his quirk is that cash or debt cards get spent, while credit cards are squeezed until the pennies scream), and of course there’s the “100 if your everything gets stolen” stash. (I think it’s actually $200, now– when I establish it, it’s “enough to get dinner and a hotel room for the family” and then I totally boot it out of my mind, but when disaster hits it’s right there in my mind.)

      I believe my folks keep ~$1000 in the stash they tell the “kids” about, and knowing my mom there are at least two other emergency stashes. All very slowly grown, just like the canned goods selection.

      1. A wise mentor from my flying days told me to always have enough ready money in cash or credit on your person or in your flight bag “to be able to tell the boss to go to h-ll and still get home.” That advice has served me well more than once.

    2. [I]If you have a stash of hooch, coffee, (cigarettes), chocolate and other similar “luxuries” you’ll likely get service that those without won’t.[/I]

      .22 LR ammo is good too. Very nearly everyone has a .22 rifle.

      1. Decent quality condoms, properly stored, and perhaps some (ahem) … suitable … lubricants would likely prove trade worthy.

      1. The older ones can, like the old 240D Mercedes I used to have, I’m skeptical of the newer high tech diesels.

            1. There’s something in vegetable oil (can’t remember what) that needs to be removed by a chemical process before it’s completely engine ready, but after that, any diesel engine will burn it fine.

              1. Glycerin, I think. Some recipes you get this and just separate by density. Been a while since I looked at making biodiesel.

                1. Careful .. you can do that in older diesel engines just fine, but try it in a modern turbo-diesel and it’ll be dead inside of 50 miles.

                  Yet *another* reason why I’m going to, if the budget allows, pick up some “classic cars”.


      2. Home heating oil (increasingly rare as a new system) is basically Diesel. They add a different dye to it so they can tell if truckers have been cheating on their fuel taxes.

    3. Electrical power is what makes a huge percentage of what we use every day work. However, what items are absolutely essential that require electricity?

      In my case that is some medical equipment. My first experiment with a mini solar electric system was designed to keep the medical equipment going. It took time to find out what did and did not work, but today my medical equipment runs completely on a small off-grid solar electric system.

      Next in my personal order of priority was my ham radio gear, and it too now runs on a separate mini off-grid solar electric system. This system could also be a backup system for my medical electrical needs.

      My current project is a larger off-grid solar electric system that will power our main refrigerator.

      “Consider a diesel generator.”

      If any of our vehicles used diesel that would have been a good choice. Since all of vehicles run on gasoline, I have stuck with gasoline generators. Make sure you have the means to siphon gasoline out of a vehicle tank to use on your generator.

      Don’t just buy a generator, use/test it on a regular basis. If you don’t do this then it probably will not work when you need it. If you don’t learn how to properly shut down your generator after use then it most likely will need a rebuild before it will work again. Learn this NOW rather than in an emergency.

      How much fuel does it take to run your house? How long will your generator run powering your entire house on a tank of gas? If you don’t know this then you have no real idea of how long the fuel you have stored will last.

      Don’t plan on running a generator 24/7. You almost certainly do not need that much power all the time and running 24/7 is a waste of fuel. Figure out now how to make the fuel stretch. For example your deep freezer and refrigerator will stay cold enough if you are careful, even if you only give them power a couple times a day for a couple of hours each time.

      “Consider cash and barter and other ways to cope with the fact that your credit card/ATM card has just become a useless piece of plastic.”

      Yes, and do not count on being able to use any bills larger than a $20. Anything larger and the person or store you are trying to pay may not be able to give you change.

      1. Fuel storage life is an issue. Gas goes bad fairly fast, diesel’s good for a few months, even with storage additives. If your storage is fuel tanks you regularly use out of and refill, probably not a problem – but rotate any dead storage religiously. Better for long-term storage is propane – if you live where propane heating, farm machinery, nearby factory forklifts, etc. are a source, then consider a propane generator.

        1. Propane makes an excellent fuel for an intermittent-use emergency generator .. don’t have to clean the carburetor after using it, and even if the power’s out for miles, many stores will still have “grill bottles” on hand… and sell ’em for ca$h. Also, refilling stations will still function – nothing electrical needed – the pressure differential does the work.

          That said, if you *do* have a propane tank .. it’s gonna be a target. Figure a way to bunker it.


        2. Today’s gas goes bad even faster thanks to the ethanol…. Thanks, ag state legislators….

      1. “I’ve already traded my services for ammunition this year. ;-)”

        As often as possible!

      2. So far this year I have swapped my service as an ammo reloader for a couple of nice firearms, a freezer full of meat, and cell phone coverage for the entire year. Not to mention it’s nice to feel useful and needed.

    4. Diesel – at a pinch can be made from cooking oil. On the other hand alcohol has been used to stretch/replace gasoline. Honestly, having tried to produce both, the latter is actually easier :-). Fractional distillation of oil is dangerous but do-able on a small scale (Ask the Syrians. They are doing so.) Natural gas at low pressure for cooking is relatively easy. Compressing it is not, unfortunately.

      1. yeah but alcohol tends to pick up water in a way that diesel oils mostly don’t. Also and relatedly alcohol buggers up joints and connectors of std gasoline systems. That’s why no refinery in the US will domore than 10% ethanol despite the EPA’s mandates

        1. True, but alcohol is, as dave said, pretty easy to make. You can run a car on it, but in low temps, it won’t start. Alcohol is also only about 2/3 as efficient as gas. You can crank up the compression to make up a bit of this difference, but there’s a hard limit to that at about 14:1.

          However, for a heating/burning fuel, it beats the hell out of no gas and none coming for a long time. That, and if you’re comfortable with distillation, you can always make a little ‘shine, too. *grin* Talk about a nice bartering good to have…

        2. Propane, or natural gas, if you’ve got a secure supply, can also power the car. Don’t need as many tune-ups and it’ll confuse enough of the greenies that they might ignore ya and go after the diesel-burning folk.


  10. I will suggest learning one particular new skill, one that recent news reports have shown to be useful: Learn to use email encryption. PGP (or its open-source version, GnuPG) works with all major email clients and provides, as its name indicates, Pretty Good Privacy.

    It’s not a privacy panacea: the fact that you’re sending a message to Maxwell Smart is more effort to conceal from the NSA. (That’s where Lavabit came into play; unless you were being specifically targeted for surveillance and the Feds had a warrant. The TOR network can probably help with this too.) Still, being comfortable with basic encryption tools is something everyone should learn now.

    1. OK there’s a problem here. Email encruptions is not a panacea, not even close. PGP encrypts the contents (and you can sensibly have a bland meaningless subject line) but you can’t encrypt the recipient and (as a bunch of Kiddie Porn guys recently found out) even with Tor or similar it is extremely hard to obfuscate the source IP address,

      Still email encryption is good for some things and keeps the NSA on its toes and that’s a plus. But you need to consider other ways of exchanging data and you certainly need to encrypt sensitive bits of your hard disk (and or back up USB drive).

      As for other ways to transfer data without the government having a look. Take a look at some of the new bit torrent sharing schemes. Set up your own P2P IRC network etc.

        1. two of the better ones just shut down though. You have to trust that the email service is not going to secretly give your emails to the NSA and evidence suggests that any US email service will do that. Any foreign one (e.g. one in Switzerland) gives you the problem of getting your emails in/out of the USA as it is almost 100% certain that the NSA can see that traffic – although they may or may not be able to decrypt it

          1. If I were an “Evil Overlord”, I’d attempt to secretly control any anonymous email services in my domain. [Evil Grin]

      1. I did say PGP wasn’t a sufficient solution. But for hiding the fact of the email, you need a service like the one Lavabit, Silent Circle & TOR Mail provided—or claimed to; you need to trust the service mangers. (TOR Mail needed less trust, but the other services could be also accessed via TOR for the same effect.) With these gone, you might try for similar services provided by folks outside the US’s jurisdiction, or…

        What else is there? Freenet, I guess; anything else?

      2. One thing that everyone in clandestine service has been taught from day one is that the surest way to escape being discovered is NOT to draw attention. Using an encrypted email account shouts that “I have something to hide”, even when you’re just trying to keep uncle sugar from reading your private email.

        Look, NO ONE has the time to read all 100-million odd daily emails, web posts, twitter posts, etc., that get sent/received in the United States. They have word-recognition software that look for key words and phrases, select IP addresses they keep track of, or both. Encryption is a red flag. Don’t use it unless you REALLY have to.

        1. There are some older methods that are not openly encrypted “6541 3258 5623 etc.” but rely on things like misplaced commas, common typos, and my fave, the venerable Cardano (Cardan) Grille.

          1. For this crowd, a book code would be the best, but only if there was something that really, truly, drop-dead-if-you-don’t need to be passed. EVERYONE should know how to build a book code. Actually, multiple-method compilation and decryption, plus a few other tricks I’ve learned, could make NSA run their computers for the next thirty generations and not break them.

            1. We could pick a standard edition of the US COnstitution, or the Federalist Papers — we know they won’t read those.

              1. Or Baen books. Just about everyone who reads this blog on a regular basis is probably guaranteed to have a fair number of those.

        2. I will add to this: there have been actual court cases where the fact that you had taken ANY precautions to secure your wireless network was considered evidence of guilt. Music downloading was the examples I remember.

      3. WSG had an article today listing how the NSA stuff works; for one, anything that’s encrypted automatically gets stored in case they later want to decrypt it with the big computers. I’m thinking somebody needs to publish a nice little program that allows anyone to hide encrypted messages within the noise bits of photos like the big boys do…

          1. and I believe the answer (didn’t see the Nanog thread but it leaked elsewhere) is Yes.

            I could explain how but I’d like to be allowed to pass in and out of the US this year without a “Miranda”* warning

            *As in the one HMG gave at Heathrow Airport (less than half a mile from where I’m sitting as I write this )

  11. One thing to add into the Build Under theme (and apologies if you’ve already covered this) is repair culture. A lot of that’s more difficult these days. I’ve still got an old stove that was bought via Sears catalogue that came with the wiring diagram and repair manual. How many appliances these days have their own *repair* manual? Not bloody many that I’ve seen.

    And fixing stuff can be pretty easy, and fun, too. It can make you a lot of friends, and “friends” (you know the type), too. In a collapse scenario, being the guy that can keep the car running, fix the water pump, the coffee machine, and the dryer could barter one’s way into what keeps body and soul together. I do a few little things here and there, mostly for people I know. And speaking of that…

    The point about networks is good to start doing something right now. I grow a few things, tomatoes this year (when I can- they’re persnickety about blight, so a good crop comes about once every seven years) and the mint monster is always good for a garnish, and share some with my neighbors and extended family. It’s always smart to know who is around you and be at least a little friendly with them. In a stout jolt- think month or longer with rolling brownouts speckled with black or localized disaster- these folks are going to be your only immediate support.

    What scares me about the collapse to come is the possibility that it might be a Big Slump rather than a collapse. Accelerate about ten, fifteen years of what is happening now politically and economically, and things’re going to get spotty all over, and revolution might start sounding like a fine idea to a lot more people. My area might easily lose the internet, roads, and some higher socio-political functions, but the dam is pretty solid about electricity, so long as we don’t exceed capacity during the winter. Local farms *can* feed us, barely, and a lot of folks might get tired of sour mash and beans by the time things start ticking over again.

    Plus, I *do* have a cabin or two tucked back in the sticks where there ain’t never been no roads. *grin*

      1. The hubby is good at repairing most equipment to component level. (and he can do miniature soldering with the tools). I am not worried about the repair aspect.

          1. If I remember rightly (I might not), that was a common problem with the old Amigas. I had one a very long time ago. The only problem with that type of repair is to find a good part btw. But, you should know that already.

    1. My plan, should I ever manage to buy the land I’m dreaming of, is to buy an old tractor. I have NO experience with mechanical things beyond changing oil and lubing things, but plan to use that as a reason to learn.

      1. Ha! Sounds like my husband twenty years ago. We own a large lump of iron that we haven’t been able to use for five years now.

        I figure money in the bank is highly vulnerable. If things keep heading downward, a new tractor is high on the list of “Things to buy now, before the government takes your money and/or inflates it into worthlessness.”

        1. Heh. The ultimate would be to find the tractors we had when I was growing up. They should both still be running, though they’re likely in some collection somewhere, as they qualified as antiques a decade or two ago.

        2. Consider buying bits of silver at garage sales and flea markets. You’ll need to find the weight (without getting caught doing so) to know if it’s worth the asking price, but .. precious metals and forks will always have some value.


      2. Many years ago, my parents spent some years playing rancher in a godforsaken corner of Oklahoma (I know that does not narrow it down much ….). I was visiting and one day, my father decides he is going to rebuild the carburator on the 1930 Ford tractor he had scrounged up somewhere. So we drive to a combination convenience store and auto parts store in the nearest “town”. My dad asks the counter help for a rebuild kit for the 1930 Ford tractor and the guy behind the counter – without even having to get off the stool on which he was seated – rotates and pulls a box out of a pigeon hole in a rack behind him and hands it to us.

        1. Yeah — the combination of simplicity and built-to-take-abuse makes farm equipment last a LONG time with even minimal care.

          The exceptions are some of the earliest, steam-powered stuff. They have the disconcerting habit of going “BOOM”. Beautiful machines, though — and there’s nothing more disconcerting than a machine the size of a bus rolling by while making only a faint rattling sound.

    2. I would like to congratulate you Sarah on your bravery in shining the light on the Great Squirrel Menace. Far too few are willing to stand against their plots of world domination, enslavement of mankind, and free bird-feeder birdseed for all. Oh, and *ahem*…’I for one welcome our new cute furry arboreal rodent overlords’!

      So reading through Dan Lanes list perhaps another thing that might be useful is some basic knowledge of carpentry. Things break, and one of the more annoying things to have broken is your house or shelter. Or heck even being able to slap together a chicken coop that can keep the various varmints out. It doesn’t have to be pretty it just has to work.

      Dan’s point about a Big Slump bears some further extrapolation. If we’re talking about an extended slump then one of the more insidious things is going to become lack of parts or tools. You may have a dam nearby providing electricity, but who makes the wire? Where is it manufactured? What kinds of tools will be needed to put it back up if the winter storms knock it all down? I think that tools will fall in the same category. Totally not saying they’ll disappear but they might become much harder to lay your hands on. Hmm, maybe I’ll be better off becoming an ‘expeditor’ instead of a fixer of things. I always wanted to channel my inner black marketeer!

        1. *Snicker* A prof at Flat State U had three squirrels get into her apartment. The end of the long story is a big exterminator guy bursting out of her bathroom, screaming, with a rodent clinging to his head. Prof batted her eyes and said, in her most Southern of deep southern Mississippi accents, “Ah told you theh was anothuh one in theh!”

          1. Mississippi Squirrel Revival, the sequel….

            In about 2004, I had a similar episode that ended with an exterminator falling out of the attic into the spare bedroom……

      1. Carpentry? Definitely. I’m no carpenter for sure, but I can knock together a crude table, bookshelf, or treehouse in a pinch. Real carpenters leave me in awe of their skill- heck, my grandad was one in his spare time, and he could do things without using hardly a nail, with a finish so fine you’d think it was a master’s piece rather than just a place to put a table lamp and stash a few books. Raw work like chicken coops and sheds aren’t all that difficult to make, no matter how Lowe’s may try to fool ya. Just takes patience, measure twice/cut once.

        As for the latter, the guys you’re talking about there are machinists and toolmakers. As I understand it, the difference between the two is one of precision. You need something fabbed up to make that piston go? Machinist can probably do it for ya. Toolmakers are they guys that make the tools that make the tools that make the stuff, I think. Not a lot of those guys around, and not a lot of young guys going into the field. It’s tough, detail oriented work, but pays well. Copper wire is probably not going to be a major issue. There’s a lot of it already around, and drawing the wire is a well-known and understood process. You can even get the machines for this off the internet, but they ain’t cheap (my house cost less than some of ’em).

        Heck, a good blacksmith can do some things. That’s how I got the clutch fork fixed on my little indulgence (’94 3000GT, manual. Zoom!). Had a guy said he could forge a new one, and presto! I can shift gears again.

        Things that worry me are some of the new electrical parts and such. How the heck is someone going to jury-rig, say, a busted iDrive? The BMW transmission part, not the cloud based storage. There’s been some good things going with 3d printing that might alleviate this problem- *if* the designs are somewhere you can get them, and *if* you know a guy who has got the equipment to fabricate it. As long as you’ve got the right circuit, a lot of those part issued can be overcome. You can always cut the plug off and solder the connections.

        1. Gah! *issues* not “issued”. Look at the screen, not the keyboard when you are typing, Dan… *shakes head*

  12. I have — or soon will have — most of your suggestions. Electricity is an issue. The wiring in my house is quite old; an electrician actually advised against trying to hook up a generator to it. Plus side: I’m on the same part of the local grid as the local hospital. No way to heat the place without electricity. The former owner ripped out the chimneys when he got rid of the original oil heat. Acquiring new skills has been an issue over the last few years due to time — everybody wants some of mine. I agree wholeheartedly with the networking advice. I’ve made the acquaintance of lots of deer hunters and crabbers, but expanding and maintaining that network is taking up lots of time.

    1. Instead of a generator, then, consider an autonomous solar installation. You could do to either to net-meter and make a few bucks back, or install it to a small number of outlets, and power things on those outlets which are tolerant of only having power when it’s sunny (which can work well for an AC unit), and it can give you a backup capability for grid failure.

      1. “Instead of a generator, then, consider an autonomous solar installation. … it can give you a backup capability for grid failure.”

        Solar electric systems come in two basic flavors: grid-tied, or off-grid. Grid-tied systems are less expensive because they do not include any batteries for energy storage, and feed the power into the electric grid at your house and basically “run the meter backwards” so you get credit for the power you supply to the grid. The big problem with such systems, which I suspect most folk who own them don’t realize, is that they shut off and don’t provide any electricity when the grid is down.

        Of-grid systems by contrast charge local batteries, and the the power in the batteries is either used directly as DC, or is inverted into AC to power appliances.

        I own three small off grid solar electric systems. Such solar systems are vastly more expensive than a generator on a watt for watt basis. My systems power three specific low wattage loads that are important to us. An off-grid solar electric system that is large enough to power our entire house would be way beyond our financial means.

        “You could do to either to net-meter and make a few bucks back, or install it to a small number of outlets, and power things on those outlets which are tolerant of only having power when it’s sunny (which can work well for an AC unit)”

        Air Conditioning is a very high power load. I can run our AC from our 6500 watt generator, but even our largest off-grid solar electric system at 300 watts does not come close to providing enough power to run an AC.

        A generator is great for providing bulk power when you need a lot of power at an affordable cost. To my way of thinking off-grid solar electric systems compliment but do not replace generators unless you have a lot more money to throw at the problem than we do.

        1. Air Conditioning is a very high power load. I can run our AC from our 6500 watt generator, but even our largest off-grid solar electric system at 300 watts does not come close to providing enough power to run an AC.

          You have to run the system at max? We have 3KW A/cs but most of the time they run at <1KW – much less in fact. In Japan (where I did the sums) our roof should be able to support a 1KW solar system no problem (unless I dropped a 0 in my sums).

          1. “You have to run the system at max?”

            We have a central AC system that is connected to the same ducts/filters/blowers used for our central forced air heating system. There is no option to just cool a single room (other than manually blocking vents).

            Just the inrush current to start the air circulating fan is 700 watts. I have not measured the current drawn by the main air-conditioning compressor when it starts, but I know it slows the 6500 watt generator down a lot when it starts, so I suspect it is several times the start current of the fan.

            “In Japan (where I did the sums) our roof should be able to support a 1KW solar system no problem (unless I dropped a 0 in my sums).”

            We have enough roof area between the house and the garage to probably hold 10 or 15 kW worth of solar panels. However the cost of such a system is beyond what we could afford.

            Another issue we have learned with our current three small off-grid solar electric systems is that you need a lot more solar panels than you might think to account for the shorter hours of sunlight and in general greater amounts of clouds in the winter. To (barely) provide 27 watts of power for 8 hours each evening, we are using 91 watts of solar panels, and I wish we had more in that system. (We would need a larger charge controller to expand the solar panels beyond the current size.)

        2. With an off grid solar system it’s best to think only low or intermittent use. You do need deep discharge batteries such as are sold for running golf carts and trolling motors. Charge them from the grid then keep a trickle charge on them from solar arrays and have them serve an inverter of at least 1500 watt capacity. That sizing is necessary for startup loads for refrigerators and freezers, though once running they will back off to more like 300 watts. And either really only need to be run two to four times a day for a half hour to keep their chill.
          A/C and heat pumps are right out of course, but such a system can keep a gas or oil forced air furnace running, both of which will shut down with a complete lack of electricity. And fans do a fair job of cooling in a pinch with a very modest power draw.
          Then too, with a decent inverter you can survive a crisis for several days drawing power off the battery in your automobile. At least as long as your gas holds out. Just use the power sparingly for critical systems.

  13. The able bodied should perhaps try networking with the farmers closest to where they live, if said farms are within decent driving distance. Modern farms don’t usually need that many people because most is done by machines, but if you were to get a situation where enough fuel gets difficult to come by, especially if it happened at some critical time – planting or harvesting – they’d need people, and lots of them, like NOW, or the crop is lost. Which would be bad for everybody. I don’t know, perhaps just get in the habit of buying stuff directly from those farms which sell like that, or something, so that you are at least on ‘good day’ terms with a farmer or two.

    1. Through the farmer’s market we met a nice young man — IDF veteran, so good to know on several fronts — who is an SF fan and might be one of my son’s long lost twins. We should renew the acquaintance. His family owns one of the largest farms in the area.

      1. Also, if it comes down to it, and you’re so equipped, and they trust you enough: offering to stand a watch here or there over the crops.

    2. I think it’s fair to point out that there are farmers and then there are Farmers. What most city folk do not realize is that your average farmer gets his food from the grocery store just like everyone else. Most farms are single crop factories that deliver their harvest to a centralized collection facility for further processing. The farmer’s bounty of a good harvest is a check or direct deposit, not a root cellar full of edibles.
      Some of that is changing due at least in part to the locavore movement which encourages local sourcing of food stuffs. We’re starting to see more of what in my youth were called “truck farms” devoted to supplying fresh local produce for consumption in area restaurants and grocery stores.

      1. We had truck farms until the mid to late 70s and then they seemed to disappear. We used to get fresh apples from Washington trees that way. An older man and his son would bring a huge truck of boxes and the folks would get their fruit that way. Much cheaper and better quality.

      2. Yes, I know, but if you are thinking in larger terms even the huge single crop ones would probably be worth helping if things start to go bad, and even if what they could give in payment might not be particularly interesting – or even nothing, at least not right away – at least if you are not having any more pressing concerns yourself at the moment since if many enough of those farms start to have problems it will reflect widely. You could perhaps, for example, get yourself the use of some small plot of the farmers land for the next growing season – I don’t know if you have the same system anywhere we do here, but here people living without their own yards can rent a piece of land for a seasonal garden from the city (which would probably not work well if things get bad, unless the renters arranged some sort of guard shifts, those plots are usually right next to densely built areas and they get stolen from now too). But anyone with good, cleared land – you might be able to get something like that arrangement, use of a piece of land for labor if they need that, or for money, or whatever they might need and you might have. What was the old system called, sharecroppers? And farmers are one of those groups who probably should not be allowed to fail if things start to go bad, especially the ones in your area. You are going to need them. If the state can keep them going, fine, but if not…

  14. Be not afraid and stop learning to chip flint.

    Well, I DID buy a Flint & Steel fire lighter, but that’s useful any time the power goes out.

    1. Chipping flint would not be a good solution in my country anyway, since said rock is not found hereabouts. Well, small pieces near old harbors, I have a couple, left over from ballasts emptied from ships, but that’s all. If you wanted to live by chipping flint you’d first need to arrange for long distance trade. The flint weapons found here (and there are being found here) are made from flint originating in some areas of middle Europe (modern Germany, for one), Russia and southern parts of Scandinavia.

      Nope. Limonite on the other hand might be a more viable solution… hm.

      1. Well, where I live it’s all limestone, so I don’t have a nearby source of flint, either.

        I DO have clay in the creek bed, though, and I’m going to fetch some soon, and look into finding a place to fire it.

        1. Heh. When I was about six or so I decided to try firing some self made clay cups. Of course I had no idea how it’s actually done, just some generic impression that you sort of baked them. Fortunately mother found me before I started a forest fire, since what I did manage to do was to get a fire going with the twigs (and matches taken from the kitchen) I had gathered. Nice pile of twigs, made in the middle of some dry leaves and other stuff, in the thicket right next to our house, and a merry blaze on top of it by the time she came to the scene.

          1. Before our local Native American tribes fired clay, they had clay cups that were just dried. Sort of the drinking equivalent of adobe, I guess. So if you can’t get the kiln hot enough, you’ve still got something to drink out of.

            1. You need either a pit, or some walls, to hold the heat in. A good bonfire, half burned down, snug your very dry greenware up close, lean an old piece of plywood or fiberboard over it, will generate a hot spot, too.

              1. One of the ways the ancients fired clay was to dig a pit, wrap the clay loosely in wet moss or leaves, then build a fire atop the pit. Another way is to build the pit, put in the clay, stack rocks around it into a kind of wall, then build a fire around the edges. The rocks will conduct the heat in and keep it there until the clay is fired. There are many, many other ways to do it. One of the OLD Boy’s Life magazines from the 20’s or 30’s had some interesting ideas. Hmmmmm… guess all that listening to my great-grandmother wasn’t entirely wasted, after all.

                1. One of the ways the ancients fired clay was to dig a pit, wrap the clay loosely in wet moss or leaves, then build a fire atop the pit.

                  That’s roughly how you cook a pig in a pit.

                  1. If you fire out-of-the-ground clay, and your local clay isn’t pure kaolin, you will probably have to put some grit or fiber into it as “temper”, so the clay doesn’t explode. Potter’s clay is processed to avoid this need, I think.

                    1. Well, I’ll make a couple of ugly bowls and fire ’em up and see. If it does, then I’ll temper it with something (as you mentioned below).

                1. I wouldn’t think so. Making charcoal is kind of low heat/low oxygen.
                  I guess that’s the same thing. My grandson keeps bugging me to make more charcoal so we can forge an Ironman suit for him. :o) He’s 5

                    1. Foxifier, there is a trash stove called Top-Load Upward-Draft that if you stop it before it starts burning it’s own smoke, leaves a lot of charchoal. The Permies call it “biochar” but it is just charchoal. Try looking for TLUD or TLUD Gasifier if you are interested.

                    1. I’m holding younger boy to promise of a space time portal made of k’nex, with which he extracted “more k’nex” from me ten years ago. OTOH I suspect if he builds it half of ya’ll will show up for dinner. At least bring me some game to cook!

                    2. Time travel? When would we go? I wouldn’t want to miss the fight, old and creaky as I am. I’ve got younguns to consider. Can’t leave them to the mercy of socialism take…..200(?)

                  1. mobius and others, making charcoal in any quantity is also hazardous to your health…. as in makes pretty big explosions.

      2. If you learn with flint, you can apply it to obsidian or glass.

        Glass might actually be a really good idea as a hobby, because a glass arrowhead is beautiful.

        1. I wanted to try to make a shiv out of a correlle plate or a circuit board.
          Oh, I have another hobby to look into!

        2. The only “useless” knowledge is that which isn’t what we think it is. Anything we can learn, especially things that can be tried and found to, you know, WORK, are useful. You may not need it, but you might be able to trade that knowledge to someone who does. Chances are what you get in return will be more than you anticipated.

            1. I collected a box of chert (?) last time I went through the Ozarks but I never have gotten around to chipping any of it.

          1. My overall impression of him is that he’s a commie but has at least recognized the limitations.

  15. Add to your manual typewriter and extra batteries two other items: extra ribbon, preferably the fabric type you can re-ink if it’s compatible with your typewriter; and a solar device recharger, several versions of which you can find at ThinkGeek among other places. If you can have a generator in place as well, so much the better.

    Like you, I’ve thought through the laptop/device dependency issue too (not being able to FINISH the STORY? HORRORS!!) I also hoard pens and paper.

  16. Remember that equipment breaks down.

    For a week after the Halloween snowstorm, I had a visitor every single night. One or both of my parents or my sister came over to eat a hot meal, or to shower, or both.

    Now, my parents had been into camping when we were young. But the camping equipment was no longer good to go for producing a hot meal.

    1. Speaking of which, about now is the time to buy the end-of-season stuff like those cute little propane tanks, two-burner camp stoves, disposable BBQs (they look like disposable cake pans) and such.

      Not so much for disaster as that week when the power’s out. (And remember, only cook outside, or in a room with all the windows open.)

      1. Our old camping stuff is wonderful insurance for emergencies. Coleman stoves and lanterns will allow us to cook and have light (and heat – those lanterns make a lot of heat) without the need for electricity.

        “cute little propane tanks”

        They are great, and we have some stored, but what happens when they run out? There are adapters that allow you to run small camping propane appliances on the big BBQ style propane bottles, but do you have one?

        We also have Coleman stoves and lanterns that run on Coleman fuel (white gas). What Coleman calls a “dual fuel” stove or lantern will also safely run on ordinary gasoline siphoned out of your car’s tank. This is a great backup fuel source.

        “that week when the power’s out”

        Back when we lived on the East coast, hurricane Gloria knocked out our power for about 5 days, and friends were without power for 2 weeks.

        Here in Colorado, FEMA is exercising for a multi-state power outage of 10 days, and trying to consider all the implications. One of the things they brought up was that most municipal sewer systems rely on electrically powered “lift stations”, and most of those sewage pumps do not have backup power. FEMA is concerned about how many folk might be forced out of their homes because the sewer lines back up. Can you say UGH!!!

        1. We don’t have a converter yet– unless it’s built into the stove, which is a definite possibility– because until this spring, we didn’t have anything that used a BBQ type propane tank, and right now we don’t have any way to legally get a filled propane tank home. They can’t be put in an enclosed vehicle.

          For those in apartments instead of mashed-up farmhouses in suburbia (well, underdevelped areas under the flightline, same thing) the cute little tanks are also easier to store.

          Probably good barter, too.

          1. If your stove takes the little bottles, you can get a hose with the correct fittings to connect a regular propane tank. Sold in any decent outdoor store or hardware store. As for taking the tank home, if the place that fills them gives you trouble, do what I do. Park a ways away from the propane service, get your tank out of the car when they can’t see it, and then carry it to the service point. Then page the help out to fill it. When they are done, pick the tank up and carry it away to put in your car without any lip.

            If it bothers you, roll down the windows as you drive. And if you are really a stickler for safety rules, dont light up your pipe ;-0

            1. And my neighborhood is not “underdeveloped”, young lady. Its got a liquor store and a credit union, I’ll have you know …

        2. Supposedly there is a way to make an adapter to charge the little tanks from the big 5-gallon ones. It requires the adaptors for each size of tank, a 90 degree elbow, and a valve to connect the two tanks, as well as a ground out valve-stem removal tool that looks like a screwdriver that you can get from a bike-shop or a hardware store to release the pressure so the smaller tank will fill. There used to be instructions on Instructables or HowTo, or YouTube or something.
          I’ve never done it, I haven’t tried, but really, if you do it and cremate your cat, your house and launch yourself into orbit it is in no way my fault.

      1. Supposedly they are good for something, other than occupying the space on the map where Paraguay used to be, else we wouldn’t be buying them. Normally I’m all for “I want one” being the correct answer to any “need” question, but really, how many Paraguays do you need?

              1. What’s wrong with hating racists?

                I mean, sure, it is unwise to allow oneself to hate, but racists seem an appropriate target.

  17. It’s a lot quicker to destroy infrastructure than rebuild it. So the lights might be out longer than we’d think. Monrovia, in some areas, took more than a decade, according to certain friends of my husband’s.
    As the wife of a computer guy, if the power goes out, yank the cord. We lived a while in a little town in Western Wyoming where the power went out twice a week. We joked that we should send the power company a thank you note because our bread and butter was replacing fried power supplies, fried when the power went back on. Three and four times before our customers learned to listen when we said unplug. A surge protector isn’t always enough. Most folks were lucky and the power supply took all the damage, but sometimes the hard drive and motherboard got fried, too.
    Many of the survival websites use TEOTWAWKI to refer to any life changing event. A lost job or a major illness qualifies. I’d encourage you to have more than a week or month of groceries on hand, though. Think harvest to harvest. A crop failure, with our current monoculture farming environment, could be the instigation of a collapse. And if you loose your income, or even, say, half of it, not having to worry about groceries is a lot of stress off your shoulders. BTDT.
    I’m not too worried about society here: the LDS are well organized to handle most social welfare functions (and other churches have copied them), and I’d be surprised if they didn’t have ramp it up plans in place, and we’re a wild enough area that there are separate boards for individual local government functions. We might get a bit sick of potatoes and wheat, and there isn’t a mill nearby so it’d be wheat berries, not bread.

  18. [obscure]There’s a list of fiery birds that ought to rise from the ashes in the near future.[/obscure] I’ll see what I can do to get some of my things there moving after I get back (and recuperate) from WorldCon.

      1. I expect so, since I’ll be playing relief for you at the booth. 🙂 Sandra was kind enough to invite me to help out, thus giving me a home base at the con. I suspect that might be in part because I’d do it anyway, a la LTUE. I’ll be back and forth between Howard’s booth and the WesterCon one; I might even leave the dealers room and catch a panel at some point, but probably not. More likely go hide in a corner and work on editing.

        Are there other Huns or Hoydens who’ll be there? A meetup for food and/or libations would be awesome.

        1. I surmised as much. That’s a good thing. With a kitchenette in the hotel suite, I’ll be providing healthy (more or less) meals for the Talent and us minions, which means I’ll need time away to do the actual food prep.

  19. Colorado Springs related issues: VERY hard to find a manual typewriter here, or in any town near a military base, that’s ten characters per inch, pica. In the Fifties and Sixties, the military went through an odd paper-saving craze, elite 12 per inch typewriters and small paper. Hard to read, not submittable. Most used typewriters here ex-military.
    Go down Colorado Ave., over the river, when the road turns to the right, on the right there’s a bike shop, front styled to resemble lighthouse, has nice adult tricycles.

  20. Getting off grid as much as possible is also a great way to follow the Galtian ;op
    practice of withdrawing your support from the collectivists.
    That cabin in the woods is probably cheaper than you’d think. We sold our house in the collectivist paradise of the boston suburbs and bought 300 acres here in Maine AND built a house. Of course no good little collectivist would want to live here or be caught dead in such an uncool abode and that’s all to the good.

  21. To us during Lebanon’s civil war, as shown in our TVs, the whole place was falling apart, and back to the stone age.

    Television news tends to focus on the most “dramatic” components of an event, overlooking the far vaster inaction* occurring. Think of them as focusing on the splash of a pebble while ignoring the placidity of the lake.

    I (and Beloved Spouse) lived through the 60’s protests and even observed a few. America was not (repeat: not) falling apart. Most people, even on activist campuses, were not involved in protesting. Most of those protesting were actually attending because it gave them a chance to cut class on a sunny day and flirt with potential sexual partners.

    Even during riots — Watts, Detroit, South Central LA after the OJ trial — most people were more endangered by the alarmist media coverage than by the actual riots. Those are big metropolitan areas so that even a riot encompassing tens of city blocks leaves most neighborhoods unaffected.

    *For TEA Party and similar events not compatible with the media’s agenda/narrative the opposite occurs: instead of tightly framed shots full of people, making a turnout of thirty protesters look like a mob, they use wide shots and long lenses that make three hundred protesters look like a casual event. Compare/contrast MSM coverage of TEA Party and OWS events to observe the lack of consistency in reportage.

    1. But you get great stories: A friend of a friend worked at a north-LA area gun store (relatively sort of nearerish to wealthier areas like Hollywood and Beverly Hills, and thus away from the worst “protests”) at the time of the King riots. Upon explaining CA gun laws, and specifically that the 10 day “cooling off” period law our legislature blessed us with meant that, yes, Mr. Customer could, in fact, purchase and pay for that gun sitting right there in the display case tonight, however, Mr. Customer could not take it with them – not until the eleventh day after the purchase, assuming the background check came back clear (this was pre instant check), and that, No, “But I need it now!” was not a valid reason for the gun store to commit the crime of letting them take it home now. They said they were in fact able to confirm they were near Hollywood since the over the top histrionic acting skills they saw from these customers were really world class.

  22. Ou4r generator works on gasoline. If we don’t have electricity we will fry. We can’t get ahead on meds they’re strictly controlled. The only way we’d get ahead would be to not take our meds, which defeats the purpose. I can’t underbuild. I’m having enough trouble dealing with my life as it is.

    The good thing is that we have great neighbors! When hubby was hospitalized five years ago, people we didn’t even know asked how he was doing. We have a church on our corner and many other churches in the neighborhood. The pastor of the corner church (we don’t attend any house of worship–church or synagogue) used to live across the street from us. We all say hi to each other and keep an eye out for the unusual. I keep track of non-residents on our block.

    We do have some supplies for a loss of power. We have some non-perishable supplies and some tools for cooking in our fire place.
    All we need is gas & propane. We can cook many things on our propane BBQ and our generator runs on gas.

    Thanks for reading!

  23. Getting my Synthroid will be the problem, but I think staying away from places like LA would be a must too. In 2005 I went to Hermosa Beach to help my husband fix up the first house he ever bought that had been a rental for over 20 years at that time. Hired a couple guys and put in a new kitchen, bathroom, painted everything in sight and at the end put up a white picket fence and fixed up the yard. One day at the end of the project my neighbor, who is an LA attorney, came over to chat. As we gazed at the front lawn he said nice lawn, but I never saw the sod truck come by. I replied, I didn’t buy sod, I used grass seed. My neighbor turned to me in awe and said– wow, you know how to grow grass—I bit my tongue…hard, and replied yup, I’m a real genius, I can grow grass.

    Amazing that we are descended from pioneers who built a whole nation, isn’t it?

  24. (sniff, grumble) I already know how to chip flint (patiently) and how to catch squirrels with my bare hands and cook them over a camp fire. Now you tell that was all wasted (I’ll write about it and get some use out of it.). Seriously every time someone says ‘civilization is going to collapse, we only have 48 hours in the cities, and everyone will die…’ I say ‘Mogadishu’ (or ‘Zimbabwe’). Down is a long way, people are adaptable. Collapse is more like putting lobsters into cold water and then turning the heat on. It’ll get damned uncomfortable before you die. If you want to know what it will be like, and how best to deal with it, don’t buy a flint chipping manual, but read about what it’s like and how to survive in places like Mogadishu and Zimbabwe. And accept the govt. will make things as hard as possible for ordinary people, while they and their cronies live very well and safely and get rich.

    1. If you want to get through to them, perhaps note that one way or another the population will go down and that some extra supplies will circulate?

      Population goes down as folks buggout or die (which one they’ll think is most likely depends on how set they are on their zombie scenario) and supply goes up as all the folks who DID think ahead cash in before bugging out, and/or folks physically drive stuff in.

      I’d say it’s a conservative estimate that one in ten households is prepared for a ten day disaster where food is concerned, or there’d be a lot more deaths when disasters hit. (I might have to be kinda desperate to eat some of the emergency food we have, but it’s food. Some of it I picked for the high-energy-value, low-appeal-as-food it has for me– and I try to go through my canned goods quarterly and send anything that’s got less than six months on it to St. Vincent’s. Before someone gets pissy, I don’t give stuff that’s gone bad, and I also double-buy– when the commissary has 25c a can sales, I buy half for me, half for the church’s food pantry.)

      1. You are right, people will die (even in minor slow boils that happens). Rice is a great (white rice not brown, as the brown has oils to go rancid) standby. It’s cheap, and so long as you keep the weevils out, lasts years no matter what it says on the packet :-). It will ‘cook’ just by soaking for 24 hours. As you have beef growing family turning unsellable cow into beef jerky (especially the South African style which, if dried and salted hard will keep for months without a fridge, and dropped in the freezer in a vac-pac, years). Sliced, boiled up, you have salty beef stew. Five pounds of that, and 10 of rice… you’d be right for a while. And yes, pretty revolting, but food.

        1. “Rice is a great (white rice not brown, as the brown has oils to go rancid) standby.”

          We like brown rice, and Lundberg is one of our favorite brands. When I asked them for the best way to store their rice, they said that as long as the rice was kept in unopened factory bags it will keep at room temperature for two years. The factory bags are flushed with CO2 before they are sealed which accounts for the longer than normal life. When I asked about longer storage they said to freeze the rice in the unopened bags. They claim it will keep essentially forever if kept frozen.

          We now keep the rice in the deep freezer and rotate the stock as we use it. I figure worst case in an extended power outage the rice will keep two years after power is lost.

          1. Brown is more nutrious and nicer, but as we buy ours in 2 X 60 pound sacks – a bit much for the freezer (We have 3 chest freezers, all full – and a genny that can run them and always 50 gallons – sometimes a 100 of fuel on hand – not because we’re preppers really, but because we live on a remote island and it’s much cheaper) Nice to know about the keeping though.

          2. You could also vacuum seal it, if you have a vacuum sealer. Randicity is mostly a matter of taste (you do lose some nutrients, but you give them all up when you go with white rice) it’s not going to kill you to eat 5 year old rice that’s been kept dry.

            I wouldn’t worry too much about staples. I would focus on stockpiling the things that we’ve historically gone to war over. Salt, sugar, spices.

            1. Salt and sugar keep basically forever (I keep some jasmine white rice, but that stuff hardly ever gets used). Those two we have mini kegs of (buy it in bulk when it’s cheap). And speaking of vacuum sealed foods, home canned stuff can last a surprising long time. If the base is low-acid, especially- stuff like tomatoes and peas work well. We’ve had some ten year old stuff that tastes not much different than last years.

              To go right along with the salt, canned meats can last a long time, too- very low acid. *grin* Deer jerky may not be filet mignon,but it’ll fill an empty belly.

        2. Dried peas and beans are another good option. Again, they have to be soaked. As for storage, some pet supply stores carry — or can order — containers for dry kibble that include gamma lids.

  25. 1) We get a currency collapse – Japan and maybe France will precede us so watch what happens there.
    2) New currency regime eventually – Dollar not reserve currency anymore
    3) Things in short supply for a time as exporters to us will not accept dollars
    4) Some sort of martial law and rationing
    5) Cities will NOT be the places you would want to be in during this time.
    6) Timing 2015 -2018 or so – we have some time to prepare
    7) The rest is blurry and the above is blurry enough

      1. *Some* of us aren’t — up here is three hundred miles of fishable [?] coastline; plus every road median has blackberries, or some other edible plant life. Nevada?

        Not to mention: What happens when some genius SOB figures out to start bombing the grocery-store warehouses? Three Meals From Revolution, unless you’re like North Korea and are willing to “re-index” population to match food supply….

  26. As I’ve been reading this, I’ve become convinced we’re sort of going to experience that sort of collapse but at a higher level. You know, the economy implodes, we turn to civil war, and meanwhile our enemies invade.

    Uh, sorry to interrupt, but no. Our economy is not singular: there are dozens of economies, all working more or less in tandem, much like a large mule team used to pull heavy loads across the mountains. There many be ten to twenty mules in harness, all going in the same direction. That’s where our economy is going now. If it breaks, it may fracture into six or eight large pieces, much as that mule train could be broken into a half-dozen different groups. The groups work together, they just may not all go in the same direction.

    What’s going to happen is that government, especially government at the Federal (and possibly State) level will collapse. It’s almost there now: there are far too many bureaucrats, doing far too many make-work things, all building empires so they can get promoted, that the framework itself is stretched to the breaking point. It also won’t break all at once. What will happen is that it will begin to slide — a little bit here and there, then a little bit more, and then down at a gradually-increasing slope until it’s plunging at 40 degrees or more.

    When it does collapse, a lot of VERY interesting things are going to happen. For one thing, there are going to be about 40 groups who used to be under Federal control who no longer will have that Federal watchdog keeping them in check, and those groups WILL CONTROL BETWEEN ONE HUNDRED AND FIVE HUNDRED NUCLEAR WEAPONS — EACH.

    Yeah. Interesting, no?

    At the same time, the larger cities are going to become rat-warrens. The only control that exists at the present is the biweekly or monthly government check, and what people have to do to continue to be eligible for those. Once the Federal government collapses, those people are going to have to find another way to survive. What happens then won’t be pretty. If there’s a civil war, it’ll be between the cities and their suburbs more than any other groups.

    Flyover country, not as dependent on government, will survive better. In some areas, things may continue to run very close to normal, but with some shortages here and there. The biggest problem will be attempts by the city folks to “take over”. THAT won’t end well for those folks, believe me.

    Invasion? Who is going to invade? The collapse of industrial North America will bring on the Long Night for about 2/3 of present-day “civilization”. That’s going to hurt EVERYBODY, and everybody is going to be far too busy trying to survive than to attack anyone else. If the next Ice Age begins within the next 20 years, we might be invaded by Canadians looking for warmer climates, but that’s about it. Mexico? They come this way now to become rich. If we’re hurting, there’s no justification to leave their homes and go north. Russia barely has the manpower to hold what they have. China has the manpower, but the empty Russian lands are much, much closer, and there’s no 10,000 miles of ocean between the two.

    If you look at this country from the air, as I’ve done for the last 40 years, you see vast distances interrupted now and again by a city. Agreed, some of our cities are huge, but they’re nowhere as dense as European cities, and they are almost always surrounded by large tracts of farmland, pasture, or forest. People will survive, some (maybe most) institutions, much like some governments, probably won’t. We’ll just have to wait and see what institutions grow to replace those that collapsed.

    1. Agreed. That’s why I think the most likely breakdown scenario is something like urban riots on a widespread scale. Remember, even a city like Colorado Springs has a significant number of people reliant of that government check. They will not react well when (there’s no if) it stops coming.

      1. Admit it — they’re demonstrating greater acumen than the average crowd you hear responding to that call & response.

  27. About the bicycle thing. Just get a bike a bit short for you (so a kid’s bike ;)), and take off the pedals. Voila! You now have a Dandy Horse.

    Or, if you prefer, the shipyard uses tricycles to deliver tools to worksites. When the helicopter hits the sewage plant I’ll strap one to my car before I head for home.

  28. Ah, yes — “Lyons made war on Liberty; Lyons is no more.”

    And the guy who did it? He skated away clean.

    A lesson well-learned.

    1. Wow.

      I grew up in France and attended French public school, where I learned ALL about the French Revolution in history class. At least, I thought it was “all” — yet somehow, they never mentioned Lyon, a town less than an hour away from where I lived. That omission speaks volumes when you think about it.

    1. Hmm, weird, WordPress won’t allow me to comment on Bill Reader’s post, but doesn’t have a problem with me commenting here.

  29. Remembering that collapse probably won’t be total is a good thing. I’ve heard rumors of “preppers” who are prepared to steal food supplies from Mormon families when things go South. This never struck me as a good idea for several reasons: some Latter-day Saints will be determined to protect their families, with guns if necessary; no one knows for certain, but there’s speculation it’s possible that the Church will gather the food of all the survivors of such an event, to help each other out (and maybe make more difficult to steal); if you go this route, you’ll have to count on ALL government collapsing, and NO OTHER government, interim or otherwise, being established; and that all Latter-day Saints are living perfectly in accordance to their teachings, and not merely wishing that they could, but are wondering how to fit it in their meager budget with massive student loans hovering overhead (not that I have any experience in that kind of situation, mind you! ;.).

    Of course, this is assuming that (a) you won’t be among the wicked to be destroyed at the Second Coming, and (b) that neither would the Mormons (which, being one, I’m well aware that many Christians believe there’s no hope for them ;.), although there’s a chance, however small, that their supplies will manage to survive the wrath of God…

    All in all, it seems like a lousy way to prepare for a disaster, if you ask me, especially since it shouldn’t be all that difficult to put together 72-hour kits (aka “bug-out bags”) for immediate emergencies, a three-month supply of “normal” food for longer-term ones, and a year’s supply of basic stuff for the really long disruptions…

  30. Wow what a great post! I’ve just started giving thought to collapse prep and it is pretty overwhelming. But this is one of the best commentaries I’ve read so far and definitely helps with perspective.

  31. Whenever I get tongue-tied looking for a noun, I chant my Alzheimer’s-repellent shibboleth: “Nominal Aphasia, Nominal Aphasia.” Seems to be

    What was I talking about?

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