Wednesday, 27 July 2016

09:28 – We’ve now been two full days and nights without air conditioning. Ordinarily, that wouldn’t be an issue in Sparta, NC, but the heat wave that’s affecting most of the country is also affecting us. Our indoor temperatures have been around 86F (30C), which is at least 10F too high for comfort. The AC guy is supposed to be out this afternoon to fix it.

We’re building biology kits in our work area out in the garage today. Ordinarily, when it’s very hot outside we do stuff in the house and wait for a cooler day to do garage stuff. At this point, it makes no difference because it’s as warm in the house as it in the garage. This whole thing hasn’t been as much a problem for me as it has been for Barbara. My optimum room temperature is 74 or 75F, while Barbara’s is more 68 to 70F. So, while 82F is warm for me and 86F is sweltering, those temperatures are extremely uncomfortable for Barbara. At 86F yesterday evening, it was actually warm enough that I considered switching from long pants to shorts. I think I may have some shorts around, although the last time I wore shorts was probably 30 years ago.

We just added another country to our science kit business total. We got an order overnight for a biology kit and a chemistry kit to ship to Sri Lanka. I think that takes our total countries to something like 40. Of course, a lot of those are onesies and twosies. Probably 98% of our shipments outside the US go to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and western Europe, with an occasional one to India, Japan, or eastern Europe, and one every once in a great while to other Asian countries, Pacific island nations, or Africa. But, other than Antarctica, we have shipped to all continents.

09:49 – I think it was Dave Hardy who first pointed me to the Woodpile Report. I came across the following yesterday, extracted from Remus’s post #436.

This week I’ve been vacuum-packing even more dry foods in Mason jars. There must be room in this place for one more five-foot stack of flats. Um, somewhere. Next up is more oatmeal, cornmeal and shelled nuts. And as backup for my backups, I got a bunch-o’-Ramen noodle soup, slit the packages and ran ’em through the FoodSaver. They’re cheap and take up little room. Add water, 190 calories. Not a gourmet treat, but they’re calories.

Calories are everything when prepping for a food deficient future. When it all hits the fan, those who think they need an interesting variety of food are in for an epiphany. Food isn’t entertainment. They’ll not only eat much the same thing day after day, they’d crawl over broken glass to do it. Choosiness will be a barely credible memory. Today’s over-hydrated generation with their no fat, gluten-free, low calorie diets will have their teachable moment, as will those who demand a balanced diet at every meal. Calories first, nutritional nuances second. And sometimes there is no second, to wit:

Pan Am Post – Muchacho reported that in Venezuela, it is a “painful reality” that people “hunt cats, dogs and pigeons” to ease their hunger. The population’s desperation has begun to show, with looting and robberies for food increasing all the time. Six Venezuelan military officials were arrested for stealing goats to ease their hunger.

Activist Post – Many people expect an economic collapse to be shocking, instant, and dramatic but, really, it’s far more gradual than that. Many began to suspect the outlook for Venezuela was grim when prepping became illegal. Shortly thereafter, grocery stores instituted a fingerprint registry to purchase food and supplies. Families had to register and were allotted a certain amount of supplies to prevent “hoarding.”

Only a fool would believe they could prepare “just in time”. Remember how the ammo shortage started. First, prices began to rise as inventory fell. “It’s only a blip. Things will soon get back to normal, they always have.” Then there were empty shelves here ‘n there. No big deal, if one outlet didn’t have it, another one did. Until they didn’t. When the ugly truth was obvious to all, panic buying began and the bottom of the bucket fell out. The cause of the ammo scarcity doesn’t matter. What matters is foolishly depending on normalcy. It’s okay to expect normalcy, not okay to rely on it.

“Shocking, instant, and dramatic” can’t be discounted either. The list is long. Another New Madrid earthquake could take down bridges over the Mississippi—it’s surprising how few there are—and hundreds of others. Or maybe another Carrington event or a nuclear EMP by a rogue regime will take down the grid, perhaps for years. Not to be overlooked is war itself [see “World War III, The run up” below]. Or a sudden, catastrophic economic failure could freeze everything in place for the forseeable future, a repeat of the 1930s. Or it could be something we don’t even have a name for.

Solve food and the specifics matter much less. The prudent will stock a deep larder using home canning, dehydrating, vacuum dry packing, salting, smoking and a goodly supply of commercial long term storage foods. Regional events elsewhere suggest survival will be a more intense version of life itself, a marathon of hard work and routine, with occasional run-ins with dangerous people. As the well known and obvious truth has it, “there’s no long term without the short term”. Those who make it through the first year okay, and who use that year well, have the best shot at surviving the storm altogether.

Next item please.

There’s considerable overlap of preparationalism and survivalism. A pure survivalist is a nomadic, resourceful minimalist ‘living off the land’, most dramatically in hostile territory. There are good uses for this expertise, escape and evasion for one, but in the main they’re “cammies, camp ‘n carbine” people, old west mountain men as opposed to frontier settlers. They’re mostly adventurers of the Hugh Glass variety but some band together in modern day Freikorps, closer to partisans than survivalists. Best case, real survivalists add a bit of color and a viable alternative to what will otherwise be a dreary slog through unenviable times. Worst case, they’ll devolve into guerilla raiders.

At the other extreme are the “Mount Olympus” preppers, affluent groups with remote, upscale compounds outfitted to continue their present life style without the annoying inconveniences a civilizational collapse is bound to incur. They’re well staffed and elaborately equipped, often underground, with high-tech comms and power generation, huge stores of food, fuel and supplies, good medical facilities, their security entrusted to a cadre of ex-military and a “nine” in every nightstand. It’s essentially an all-in bet their capsule will outlast the unpleasantness. There’s no Plan B, it would mean settling for second best, so it ain’t happenin’.

In between are the prepper-survivalists who live in, or move to, unfashionably distant rural venues and live a robust, largely self-sufficient life. Some are children of hippies who’ve Learned Their Lesson, others live as “armed Amish” or as they imagine their great grandparents lived, except with solar power and antibiotics, still others have always lived this way, often with a run of destitution in their history that fuels a seriously prudent outlook and provides a ready store of cautionary tales. Common to them all is a “borderlands mentality”, meaning self reliance and cellular-level distrust of secular authority. It’s with these misfits the odds makers should place their bets.

Out of the running are urban people. They have no real chance. Cities are densely inhabited reservations supplied from the outside, run by committees of niche experts at the behest of clueless blowhards. Commerce consists largely of distributing, selling, stealing, replacing and disposing of stuff they neither built nor grew. The rest talk or peddle palliatives for a living. Networking is everyone’s second profession, few are employed on merit alone. What it pleases them to call “street smarts”—mental equipage for an alternative reality—is about the extent of their survival know-how.

The aware among them are convinced they’ll see the approaching calamity before everyone else and hie themselves to their uncle’s place on the lake while civilization collapses in their rear view mirror. No one will hassle them on the way because they’re good people. And they know a guy. They imagine it’ll be like camping. When they get to the village they’ll load up on food and supplies. After the authorities make everything okay again they’ll return home tanned, fit and refreshed, with lots of stories to tell. Their friends will marvel at their shrewd resourcefulness and seek their guidance in other matters. As said above, they have no real chance.

I don’t agree with everything Remus has to say, but it’s always worth thinking about.