The responses to Wren’s post on why preppers prep raised another question in my mind. How many people know you’re a prepper?
I’ll be the first to admit I’m not very open with my prepper lifestyle. Wren is one of a handful of people in my offline life that know about my prepper passions. Most of them consider it to be an eccentric hobby (at best). I’ve never told my coworkers because I don’t want it coming up in office discussions. Most of my friends don’t know, although I’m not even sure if they know what a prepper is, so that would require an entirely different type of conversation.
In my experience many preppers, especially those of us who live in urban areas, avoid revealing this side of ourselves for fear of what others will think. It’s like middle school all over again – even if you can’t the most popular, you definitely don’t want to be the weird one.
I do know a few people who have publicly embraced their prepper personas, and I respect them for that. At the end of the day they’re being honest with themselves and with others, and I think they’ll be happier for it.
All that being said, I still don’t think I’m at the point where I’m willing to go public. I’m still afraid of what others will think, of how it will affect my relationships with non-preppers, of the potential career implications. Hopefully I’ll get there one day, but that day is probably a few years down the line. So I guess it will depend on if we make it to that point.
The thing that I really struggle with in all of this is my family. They don’t know, and I’m not sure how they would react if they found out (I have a feeling it wouldn’t be 100% positive). I don’t want to tell them because I think they’re happier not knowing.
But this is where my prepper guilt kicks in. What if the apocalypse happens and I haven’t told them? What if they don’t survive? What if I could have made a difference in their survival chances by telling them?
For the moment my guilt is lessened by the knowledge that informing someone you think the apocalypse is going to happen isn’t enough. They have to prepare themselves and they have to want to survive. My family also lives on the other side of the country, so my guilt is also lessened by knowing that there would be little I could feasibly do to help them at the time of the apocalypse. But the guilt is still there.
How public are you with your identity as a prepper? What problems have you had in telling others about your lifestyle?
So even though I’m pasty-white enough to be a member of the Cullen clan (complete with the blonde hair and brown eyes) I’m not lying to you when I say I lived in China for awhile. I’ve lived many places and have been exposed to a plethora of cultures but for some reason everything is more entertaining to me when the Chinese do it.
Enter, the doomsday escape pod.
Well, Ubergizmo informs me that a Chinese business man from Yiwu, China has purchased what he’s calling “China’s Noah’s Ark.” While the bright orange orb looks nothing like an ark it is reportedly shock-proof, water-proof, fire-proof, radiation-proof, and built for two. The escape pod – though I’m not sure what the businessman thinks he’ll be escaping to – costs $236,000.
This is where my amusement ends.
All of these expensive escape gadgets are affordable primarily to those who have no hope of surviving anyway. I seriously doubt that this Chinese businessman – or very many other billionaires who could afford a similar escape pod, for that matter – would even know what to do once he survived the apocalypse. I mean really? All that money to live for one extra week? Just enough time to die from dehydration. Or, best case scenario, you survive in once-great city that’s not been tainted by radiation, have access to a limited food supply, water, and shelter but die from starvation over time, or an accident-induced injury. Joy.
And how many of us really have a chance of surviving radiation poising or a massive fire at our premisses? Sure, we blogged about what’s needed to survive nuclear war but the subsequent devastation is rumored to be near insurmountable. Areas that have experienced nuclear bombing are not fit for human habitation for decades.
I’m just saying – if you’re hoping to survive the apocalypse and be the last hope for man kind, don’t just buy fancy toys – have the foresight to learn some survival skills and figure out what you’re up against.
Ever prepper knows the staples for his or her own post-apocalyptic pantry. Depending on your strategy and taste, this many include freeze-dried meals, canned food, and dried goods amongst other things.
However, some very useful foods may be easily overlooked once you’ve set up your survival plan. Once you’ve selected your staples, it’s easy to focus on gathering the quantity required for your plan, and overlooking other options that could be useful or add variety to your meals.
A few of my favorite survival foods are discussed below. These may not be suitable for all tastes or plans, but I’d encourage you to take the opportunity to double check your pantry and see if you can expand its contents. Your taste buds will thank you.
I’ve recently discovered the brilliant strategy of substituting orzo for rice. While the textures are far from identical, I’ve found orzo to be a suitable substitute in many dishes. As this strategy was born from sheer laziness – orzo takes 9 minutes to cook, as opposed to 20 for rice – it also has the added benefit of being fuel-efficient. If your survival plan includes a lot of rice and beans, consider taking a look at orzo to prevent things from getting to repetitive.
Lentils will allow you to add a huge depth to your survival cooking repertoire. Although they take a while to cook, you can make everything from salads to grain dishes to soups by keeping these in your pantry. They also come with an added nutritional bonus of being high in protein, which could be very helpful if game is difficult to come across (or hunting makes you squeamish).
In addition to adding way more flavor to food than sugar, honey is an incredibly flexible ingredient and can be used in countless dishes. It’s great as a sweetener in baking (i.e. if you have to make your own bread), makes a nice addition to a vinagerette, and adds significant flavor to oatmeal (see oats below).
Even if you don’t plan on using honey for any of these foods, I highly recommend it for its antibacterial properties, which make it a very useful addition to any prepper’s first aid kit.
In my opinion, oats are a highly underrated grain. They cook quickly and are full of fiber, so you can go for a long time on a small amount. They are also incredibly flexible and can be flavored by anything you happen to have on hand. Finally, oats can be used to make everything from bread to muffins to pancakes, which will make your flour store go a lot further.
The apocalypse is going to be stressful enough without having to deal with a lack of my comfort food. I can also get away with claiming this under the “health” category, as dark chocolate is very high in antioxidants. Provided you keep it dry, chocolate is easy to store and should last for quite a while. If you’re not a chocoholic, substitute with your own guilty pleasure.
What’s in your survival pantry?
Some of us are preppers because we genuinely believe the world is slated to end in our life times and we want to survive. Some of are trying to escape a world dying in its own puddle of creed and corporate interest. Some of us are simply terrified and don’t want to take unnecessary risks. We work to gain skills, gather supplies, make plans, and prepare for the worst so that we have the chance to outrun it. What does prepping feel like to you? Is it a form of power? Does it ebb your fears? Do you feel safe?
Let me tell you what it’s like for me. Prepping for me is an emotional release. To be honest, sometimes I really wish the world as we know it would end. Sometimes I feel at my most powerful when I’m staring into nature and I know I control nothing. Sometimes I wish the apocalypse would happen and that I wouldn’t care. I actually dream about it – sometimes I’m terrified and sometimes it feels right. I wish I wasn’t afraid of cancer or failing or debt or technology – I wish I only had time to focus on the next little milestone, making it through the season, having enough food.
Is it crazy that the end of the world almost seems pleasant? I don’t think so. That’s why I prep and write about prepping, and keep writing about prepping – I’m just exactly that anticipatory. And petrified.
So “why don’t you go off grid?” you may ask. Well…why don’t you? Because the pull of community is too strong at this age and because there are still things I want to achieve that don’t envolve gathering enough animal hides to stay warm in the winter. Maybe one day I will be that person who disappears into the woods to build a new life but right now I’m just a prepper – a hyped up enthusiastic mess.
Sort of like the country of Bolivia. Word on the street is the Bolivian government genuinely believes the apocalypse will occur on December 21, 2012 (didn’t they get the memo about the new Mayan calendar?). In anticipation for the glorious event the government has banned the consumption of Coca-Cola. Yup. Coke’s getting booted from Bolivia in anticipation for “the end of capitalism and the start of a culture of life.”
This is certainly a case where I agree with the conclusion (apocalypse = better life) but I find the premises a bit shifty (Mayan calendar yielding the date, corporations are evil). All well, to each their own.
So tell us – what’s your “own” – preppers, why do you prep?
When most of us think of a robot apocalypse, we envision something from a standard movie script: huge numbers of robots work to usurp their human overlords (think The Terminator or I, Robot and you get the picture).
It’s a rather terrifying image to have in your head, particularly as the field of robotics advances and robots become more integrated into our daily lives.
That being said, Wren and I are of the opinion that this type of robot apocalypse is only plausible in the far-off distant future. The technology to develop Schwarzenegger-esk cyborgs is still quite a ways off – 2027 now seems like wishful thinking. Thus the robot apocalypse ranks only a “lemon” on our threat scale because it’s far more likely that something else will kill us first, nuclear war and climate change being among the prime suspects.
Given that a full-on robot invasion is unlikely in the foreseeable future, what kind of robot apocalypse could occur today?
The mostly likely result of the machines turning against us would be inconvenience. Your car probably wouldn’t function as you’d like – or the computer system inside would completely take control, which cuts out that transportation option. Same with airplanes.
It would admittedly be much harder to function if the robot apocalypse gradually spread to the computer systems that power infrastructure that we take for granted – think electrical grids, utilities, and emergency response systems.
Yet none of these outcomes is necessarily fatal or sufficient to kill mankind. With enough preparation you should be able to survive this type of apocalypse.
Xkcd.com has done a fantastic job outlining this scenario and why, at this stage of technology, an overall robot takeover of the planet is highly unlikely. I encourage all of you to have a look.
So in sum: a robot apocalypse will probably happen some day, but there’s a sufficiently high chance that another apocalypse will occur first so there’s not much point in worrying about this one.
Now that you’ve prepared your fire materials and your box drill kit you’re ready to make a friction fire.
Begin by setting up your bow drill kit as you did to create the notch in your base plank. Wrap the drill one around with the cord of your bow, ensuring that, when held in place, the string will spin the drill freely. Next, holding the drill so it doesn’t snap out of the bow, position it into the base plank and hold in place using your hand-hold. With your free hand – you can let go of the bow – position your transfer bark underneath the notch you caved in the base plank to catch the ashes you create. Also, make sure your tinder bundle is nearby so you can easily transfer your coal into it. Grip your bow with your dominant hand and prepare to saw the bow back and forth to create friction fire.
Before you begin sawing however, ensure you’re in the optimal position to take advantage of your body strength. Settle into a comfortable lunge position with the leg corresponding to your dominant hand – if you’re right handed, then your right leg – stretched out on the ground behind you. Your other leg should be bent at a sub-90 degree angle with the drill positioned just inside the knee. This position will allow you to use your upper body strength and a good portion of your weight to more easily push down on the drill and thus generate more friction than sawing alone.
Once you’re fairly comfortable begin to saw the bow back and forth in front of your body, spinning the drill in it’s notches. Be sure to use the full length of the bow to maximize efforts. As you get into a rhythm begin to saw faster until you start generating smoke – this is a good sign but it most certainly does not mean you’re there. In order to start a fire your coal needs to be at least 800 degrees and glowing so the trick with this is perseverance – keep sawing long after you “think” you’ve gotten it – cause you haven’t.
Concentrate on sawing long, fast strokes and on watching the coal accumulating on your transfer bark. When you start to see some orange on the bark through the heavy smoke then you’ve done it – you have a coal! For a first-timer this process can take anywhere from just 20 minutes to 3 hours. It took me 2 hours my first time. It just depends on the ease of your technique, how much additional pressure you can put on the drill, and luck. Keep working at it if you don’t get it right away and don’t be afraid to carve new notches in your base board if you bore through it at your original point. This will slow the process, but your perseverance will pay off.
Once you do have a growing, red, ember of a coal quickly set down your bow and drill and carefully use your transfer bark – blowing softly on the coal all the while to feed it – to drop the coal into your nearby tinder bundle. Once in the tinder bundle, continue to blow softly and steadily – no large gusts – onto your coal. The tinder bundle should be in your hands, while you do this with the bulk of the bundle cupped to protect your hands from the heat. While you blow inch toward your fire pit – you’ll want to be close when the tinder bundle ignites.
Steady blowing for a few seconds to a minute should cause your tinder bundle to ignite. When it does, quickly transfer it to the center of your tiny kindling tipi and continue to blow, coaxing the small fire to catch the tiny twigs you’ve set out for it. As the flame licks the twigs, begin to add more layers as discussed previously – first from the piles of smaller sticks, adding larger and larger pieces in a tipi formation as the fire catches.
And that’s it! You made a friction fire!
Hopefully all of us will have prepared enough to have practiced this before we need it and to have multiple ways to create fire on hand at the onset of the apocalypse including a friction fire skill, a handful of lighters, and a flint and steel – the more the merrier. Now go practice. And check out this amazing video tutorial by Alderleaf Wilderness College for more information.
Power companies seem to be struggling to keep the power on these days. First there were massive blackouts across the East Coast following the derecho storm in late June. This week brought us the latest in a series of mini-apocalypses: the world’s largest ever loss of power roiled India on July 30th and 31st.
Are these incidents becoming more common? Will they continue to occur relatively frequently in the future?
All signs point to yes. A lot of transmission systems in developed economies are old, and it’s difficult to keep up with expensive investments when the economy is crap. That goes doubly so for emerging markets, if a grid existed in the first place. Increasing demand for energy – particularly in developing countries – will not lighten the load on these systems any time soon.
However, the common thread between these blackouts is easily overlooked. The root cause of both events can be traced back to climate change. We’ve previously discussed the derecho storms here, so I won’t go into that in detail. It suffices to say that climate change = way more crazy weather.
How does this relate to India? The Indian blackout was thought to have been triggered by farmers using more than their allocated amount of power to draw water from irrigation systems. This occurred because this year’s monsoon season has been incredibly dry and is threatening Indian crops in much the same way as those in the Midwest.
Therefore, whether its massive storms with insane wind and lightning, or droughts causing irrigation systems to work overtime, climate change is wreaking havoc with our electricity grids. And it’s only likely to get worse.
What are some lessons that can be learned from all of this?
1) It doesn’t matter where you live. As long as you’re connected to the power grid, you’re vulnerable to these kinds of outages.
2) As always, be prepared. It’s easy to underestimate how much we all depend on electricity to function on a day-to-day basis. Have a plan for what you would do if the power went out for an extended period of time (e.g., longer than 24 hours). This may involve buying a generator if you can afford it. Stocking up on candles, batteries, and alternative power methods are also recommended.
3) Adjust your survival plan based on the season. Power outages are most likely to hit during extreme weather, which usually means summer heat or winter blizzards. Plan accordingly.
4) Practice, practice, practice. If (when) power interruptions hit, use it an excuse to practice your survival skills and run through elements of your survival plan. This will allow you to identify weak spots and correct them before a major disaster occurs.