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Apocalypse Maybe

This article in the New York Times; Duck and Cover: It’s the New Survivalism made me think about the end of the world as we know it. I tend to think about those types of survival scenarios as the stuff of science fiction. However, on September 11th when I saw Hoosiers lining up at gas stations in some kind of irrational gasoline buying frenzy, it sent a chill down my spine.

I had a funny thought; one thing you could do to survive is to have a still and know how to run it. Alcohol is pretty useful stuff; you can drink it, start a fire with it, use it as fuel, or sterilize a wound. But the real point would be when you showed up at some stockade looking for protection, knowing how to make booze could get you in the door. Note: distilling spirits in the U.S. is illegal.

I enjoy watching Survivorman and Man vs Wild. This article about Man vs Wild being somewhat staged didn’t surprise me. It was pretty inconceivable Bear Grylls was starving while his film crew were enjoying their morning coffee. I still enjoy the show and wouldn’t have the nerve to do a lot of the things he does. I guess I like Surviorman slightly better because I enjoy Les Stroud’s style of film making. Both shows make me hungry and often for strange things I’ve never eaten. Watching those two guys gobble up bugs makes you wonder if people in this country are going hungry simply because of the social stigma attached to Entomophagy. Here and here are a couple of sites devoted to eating insects.

I have no doubt; we wouldn’t be prepared in an apocalyptic situation. However, for short term situations we might be more prepared than most. While buying a cabin and stocking it with years of food is certainly outside the economic capability of most Americans, being prepared for some type of short term emergency isn’t really expensive. We live in the Midwest and big snow or ice storms are a real possibility. Here are some of the reasons we are somewhat prepared.

We Camp

While a lot of camping gear such as a tent and backpack are useless unless you are traveling, certain gadgets do come in handy. We have a compact white gas cooking stove plus a propane one for van camping. Our water purifier failed on our last canoe trip. I realized it was just the pump part and MacGyvered a gravity feed system by fitting a number of tubes together and hanging a jug in a tree. Water purifiers are not that expensive, however unless you camp you may not feel like spending the money. Here are several ways to sterilize water.

Our power goes out a lot.

Usually it’s for less than an hour, but it has lasted an evening or the better part of a day. I have one of those compressor/battery/inverter things which will run a small TV for a while, or a laptop/router/modem. I mostly use it to fill my tires or jump the car. We have lots of LED flashlights. They have really gotten inexpensive and last summer when the lights went out I got mad at myself for not having enough to light the house. My main concern though is heat. We had an old kerosene heater but the wick shaft got bent. Last winter I kept looking at one at Lowes for $180 but by the time I got around to buying it, spring was on the way and they had marked it down to $60. I have our phone plugged into the battery backup for my computer, but we have one of those old style phones that don’t need power in the attic.

I shop at Costco.

That means I have at least a 6 months supply of toilet paper on average. Not exactly a survival necessity but the point is, we started shopping there to save money. Because a lot of the stuff they sell comes by the case, since we started shopping there we really have a lot more food around the house.

A lot of my interest in green homes isn’t so much apocalyptic preparation or even the ecological aspects. It has a lot to do with the fact that our economic situation has fluctuated wildly over the years. Unfortunately our retirement planning consisted of growing whatever business we were in at the time. Now that we are serious about investing, the economy is in yet another meltdown. I guess the alternative is to try to come up with a cheaper way of living. Most of these houses are rather strange looking and as the site mentions local building codes might be a problem.

On to a totally different subject, I got a kick out of this guy’s idea. He tied a disposable camera to a bench with a note that said;

Good afternoon,
I attached this camera to the bench so you could take pictures. Seriously. So have fun. I’ll be back later this evening to pick it up.
Love, Jay / The Plug

Here is his site.

I sometimes wonder if genetic engineering is going to save us or kill us all. It is fascinating reading about how sophisticated it has become. In this article they describe the creation of corn containing three different enzymes by splicing in genes from a hot water microbe, a fungus, and a cow.

Finally, here’s a funny picture of someone using a rake to cook hot dogs.

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