Sunday, November 3, 2013

Like Minded Folks

Mrs. Graybeard and I did something new yesterday and headed across the state to Lakeland for a Prepardness Expo.  It's about a two hour drive, and we had no real expectations for what we'd find there.  Worst case, we burn a few gallons of gas and pay for admission.

The expo wasn't large; just a one room in a large convention center.  Our local gun show is probably three times the area with many more vendors, but there was a mixed bag of stuff you might think would be associated with prepping.  There was a display of BOB water storage bags alongside fishing kayaks, canned food alongside several home gardening systems (one), some coin dealers selling junk silver bags, and things that seemed more "quality of life" than strictly prepping oriented, like scented oils and various herbal treatments.  There was only one gun dealer, and one archery booth, but three or four dealers selling solar power systems ranging from slightly more complex than my home project to full house, grid-tied systems.

The most important end result of walking around it for a few hours wasn't much in the way of stuff we bought.  I did pick up one of these UVPaqlites, which I've been very interested in since first seeing them within the last couple of years.  I've never seen them in person, and the demo these folks did was enough to sell me on them.  After a brief period of "I'll take one of each!", I settled on just one of the mats to play experiment with.  If nothing else, they'd be good to take on a night fishing or camping trip. 

I expected to end the day feeling unprepared; in reality, it made me feel better about where we are.  We absolutely don't have everything that was for sale there, but if you think of it as classes of stuff - from water storage, to medical preps, to self defense preps, to pantry preps - we're in pretty darned good shape.  Much like our preparations for hurricanes, shutters and other hardware, the best test is to get a storm and make sure everything holds up.  I'd rather not test it with a complete societal collapse - but I'm really sure I don't get my preferences!

The important part was the people.  I always get a kick out of seeing people who are completely out of the stereotype; like the fairly elegantly dressed young woman playing with spring assisted knives, or the middle aged couple learning how to butcher small animals. Most of the people seemed to be newbies, with beginner questions.  (After all, if you're set in your bug out location and prepared for everything, why go to something like this?)  As we all know, there are millions of suburbanites who never grew up on farms and never had to learn the difference between livestock and pets, who are suddenly facing the fact that they may have to learn lots more about their food supplies and how to prepare things than they've ever faced before.  I honestly have to consider myself one of them; I grew up fishing, not hunting.   

We heard one of the talks, where the speaker's story was so similar to mine that she could have been a sister.  She started out as an engineer and ended up in project management (it's usually quite difficult to not take that path, and stay in design).  After that, she moved to the financial world, and while her motivation was different than mine, started asking the same questions I did: "how does this financial system really work" and kept getting answers that didn't make sense.  Unsatisfied with what she could learn, she kept digging for better answers and kept getting answers that led her to realize the US is headed for economic collapse, like so many countries before us.   

I know that most, if not all, of my readers have had that realization already.  Those who won't believe it's possible won't be convinced by anything I say, but let me leave you with two perspectives.  The first is the way the companies I've worked for formally manage risk.  First assess how likely the risk is. Second assess how big the impact would be, and then multiply them to figure out how much to spend preparing for the risk. 

Let me stress these are rough numbers and hard to actually quantify.   

For example, consider an EMP - which everyone talks about now and then.  It's very difficult to put a hard number on the chances that a rogue nation or group would inflict an EMP on us, but the impact would be very large.  For argument, I'll say a 1% chance of it happening in our planning period (perhaps the next few years?), but it would cost 100% of our annual income.  The method says we multiply those numbers and concludes we should prepare for it by spending 1% of our income.  A hurricane?  More likely: the odds in this period have been about 5%, but the cost has been low, only 1%.  That says we spend just .05%.  In reality, though, preparing for EMP prepares for the hurricane, and vice versa.  So if you think there's only a 5% chance of economic collapse, and preparing for that prepares you for everything, wouldn't you spend 5% of your resources preparing for it?

Finally, an MD I was speaking with once about wellness and disease prevention made an argument that I think is very relevant here.  His argument was that even if a lowfat diet was good treatment for heart disease (which it certainly doesn't appear to be), it doesn't mean it was a good preventative for heart disease.  A good treatment isn't a good preventative.  Let me twist that into prepping by saying that if the reality of surviving a grid down collapse is that you'll have to be 100% self-sufficient, raising chickens, goats or rabbits to butcher and live on, it doesn't mean you need to be doing that now.  If you want to, that's a different story.  Certainly, going through the mental preparations of thinking and planning how you'd do that, and maybe even some practice, is worthwhile.  But actually giving up your current life to prepare for something isn't necessarily the best way to approach things. 

It's like saying if you knew there was a chance you'd get cancer someday, you wouldn't start getting chemotherapy now.     
(not mine.  Image from Preparedness Pro)


  1. Funny, I'm been a survivalist since the very early 70's, one of these days I need to break down and attend a show like you. Then again I haven't seen one in our area.

  2. "how does this financial system really work"
    I am 70 years old. I had the very good fortune in life to grow up with my mom and dad working in a carnival. Mostly weekends in the summer but when the carnival was far from home we would stay longer. The kids slept in a car and my parents usually slept outside under a tarp set at head height. Anyway they had a puppet show with the curtains and stage etc. Because I was one of the kids from the carny I had carte blanche to go where I wanted to and most of the other carnys treated my like their nephew or son. Watching the behind the curtains puppet show was fascinating, much more interesting then the show was from the front. But it took the mystery out of it and exposed the fakery. So... "how does this financial system really work"? Just like a puppet show where the puppeteers sell the viewers a story while working like crazy behind the scene to pull it off. Only the insiders are allowed behind the curtains.

    Another interesting similarity between the carnival and real life was: Occasionally one or more of the carnys would get in trouble. Sometimes a fight, sometimes a local woman, sometimes a cheated customer who was the friend of the local sheriff. We had a game plan for getting out of town, usually Sunday evening after midnight. We would make everything appear normal, breaking down the rides, packing up the stands and tents. Whoever the guy(s) in trouble were would be in a car and gone, sometimes hidden in a ride placed on a flatbed (depending on how serious the problem was or how serious the sheriff was). After that no one knew nothing (kind of like Obama). We just kept packing up and trucks and cars pulled out as they were ready to go. Until no one was left. The big guy (the owner) was usually the last to leave when there were problems but everyone knew their place in the escape plan, make no waves, keep moving towards the exit and disappear. SO. What do you want to bet that most congressmen/women and most cabinet level appointees have an escape plan. Something like Chris Dodd's house in Ireland and his dual citizenship. Something that gets them far away from the pitchforks and guillotine once TSHTF and the people wake up.

    We live in interesting times.

    1. I think this enters my "top 5 favorite stories" list - (what the carnys do when someone's in trouble). Thanks for that.

  3. I've never thought the preparedness expos are a waste of time or a terrific source for solutions, but rather a window into what's going on in Prepper World, and frequently one gets to touch stuff seen only online. Another interesting event is a good Home Show. IIRC, there's one west of you annually, and also IIRC, the home building industry does a big annual show in that same location. If you can wangle a way into that one it's worth the trip - almost anything you can imagine related to houses and building - storage, solar, security, new materials, new techniques, you name it - is on display and staff available to answer questions.

    1. Your observation frequently one gets to touch stuff seen only online is exactly where I was on the UVPaqlites. They're really cool, but it helped so much to see them in person in a blackout tent. Now that I've played with one for a couple of nights, I will keep an eye out and get more.

  4. I like the post and the comments; I especially like the analogy of the MD saying what is an effective treatment is not always an effective preventative.

    Prepping is about whats between your ears. Sure, I have a lot of food in the house, but that's just the way I've always lived. I have a BOB in the truck, but that's just because I often have to end up spending the night away from home. My brain and my ability to use available resources are what make me prepared, not a bunker full of MRE's in a location I might not even be able to get to when I need it.

  5. Go to this page:

    Download the Excel spreadsheet assessment tool. Where necessary change the headings from hospital related items to prepper/retreat/home/work appropriate topics. This spreadsheet will automatically compile your scores. You'll discover like I did that 90% of your threats are weather-related.

  6. You can never go wrong with food storage and the acquisition of skills like emergency medicine, carpentry, gardening, small engine repair, etc., A lot of hobbies can become dual-purpose survival skills that will enhance your own status in an emergency and give you valuable barter commodity with your neighbors to boot.

  7. I tell the kids frequently, knowing is not the same as doing.

    Hoping they get it, and understand risk as a function of both probability and magnitude of consequence.