Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Beating The Bell Curve

This is not an Ebola post. Everything in life, and certainly everything in my life, isn't about Ebola, now, or ever. If that's not a problem for you, read on. It's also not news to some folks. If that's you, great. Give the new people a chance to catch up.

I can assure you from post counts, not many people were paying attention to Ebola a month ago. Two months ago, even fewer. But whether you were or weren't doesn't matter. It doesn't even matter if you're paying attention now, at the moment.

Because the greater point isn't the probabilities or possibilities of this one horrific little virus. The Big Point is the (hopefully) attention-getting realization that things you never planned on or thought about can kill you, ruin your day, or change your life.

Because lately, the entire world has realized that every one of us may be made the personal bitch of the guy who decided last month to have him some BBQ fruit bat for lunch, or his wife who went to the village funeral where they all kissed the corpse of Aunt Zeituni a fond farewell. Who knew?

Well, we get it now. (Mostly.) Current polls suggest that more than 60% of Americans, for instance, are concerned about their exposure to Ebola in the next year. (One can only wonder how many of them rack up high miles of airline travel for business or pleasure.)

But as I said, this isn't about that. What it's about, is not finding yourself keeping company with the people at the left edge of the pictured graph above. Those people are the cannon fodder of humanity, and the entire rationale for the statement "Don't be that guy!"

There are things you can do to move over to the right edge of that graph, even if you live in the middle of it, even if you're not fabulously wealthy with a plethora of choices. Those things are the same things your parents or grandparents did, which is how you got to be here, and why other people's geneology line stops before now.

Build a cushion of life's necessities.

There are some absolute non-negotiable preparedness necessities that you have to have, every day, all the time. On you, or readily available to you, or you're going to die. Sometimes sooner and in extreme distress, or slower and in prolonged agony. You can make wise choices now to make either of those outcomes extremely unlikely. (And not in the sense that CDC directors and presidents use the word "unlikely".) Personally, I think anything you can do to put your exit off until you're old, grey-haired, and ready to welcome the transition is probably a good thing all around. If you disagree, these folks are always looking for help.

If you agree, start assessing whether you have such a cushion in place, and planning on how to build yours up.
Not just for Ebola, but for a host of other local, regional, or wider-scale problems, being self-reliant and self-sufficient for a number of months with regard to things like water supply and food can solve a lot of potential disasters from affecting you.
We buy insurance for car accidents, generally wear our seat belts, put in smoke alarms and buy fire extinguishers for traffic collisions and fires, not because we want to have those problems, but because we don't want them to kill us and ruin our lives. Those things are "cushion". Living life without them puts you on the edge of the cliff when something goes wrong.

So start thinking the same way about things like getting a bombproof small water purifier, or socking away a full month's supply of canned food (and then another month, and another, and so on.) The cans of food in your pantry last for 2-5 years. If you work up to 2 years' canned goods a little bit at a time, you not only have no worries about food in a catastrophe, or even a simple employment hiccup, but you can rotate through that food, and spend one week every month eating at the food prices of two years ago. Pretty nifty. Figure out a menu for a week, or a month. Buy as much of that as you can manage. Every week, add to it. Whether it's for just you, or a Brady Bunch-sized family, build up your backstock as you have the means, a little at a time. (Don't forget rations for Fluffy and Fido.) Every budget is different, but if you bought an extra week every week, in a year from now, you'll have a year's extra food. And then you can start eating a week's worth a month. Now you've got a year's extra, and one week a month, you're skipping a trip to the store by eating out of the pantry.

Big pandemic? Whatever. Dinner will be same as always.
Company's cutting hours, or employees? Dinner will be the same as always.
Grandma got run over by a reindeer, and needs a little help? Not a problem.
You'll notice the extra cans of food on the checkout tape a lot less a little at a time, but the peace of mind when times get tough, and the good night's sleep because of that, will be priceless.

The current emergency I'm not talking about (Ebola) doesn't lay many demands on you for health care; the proper way to deal with it is stay the hell away. But other things may create some additional demands. I can assure you from personal experience, having a decent medical kit for car, self, and comprehensive medical kit at home will come in damned handy after an earthquake, riot, or other regional emergency. It can save your life or someone else's - maybe someone you love - at the side of the road or on a trip far away from pavement and ready 9-1-1 access. And if the day, or worse, the year, ever comes when 9-1-1 is nothing but a fond memory, what you have on hand and have learned how to use in an emergency is going to be the only healthcare there is. Believe that down to your marrow if you want to stay over on the right side of that curve up there. For everyone else, the biggest mark of your existence may be naught but a mention on the Darwin Awards website.

Just remember, as general rules:

Plan ahead so you don't get left behind.
The government isn't going to be there to help you.
Most likely, neither is anyone else.
If you didn't get something when you didn't need it, if won't be there when you do need it, no matter how hard you wish.
Every step in this regard you take now moves you farther to the right on that curve.
Start doing stuff today. This is just another wake-up call.


Anonymous said...

damn fine advice.


GamegetterII said...

"So start thinking the same way about things like getting a bombproof small water purifier, or socking away a full month's supply of canned food (and then another month, and another, and so on.) The cans of food in your pantry last for 2-5 years. If you work up to 2 years' canned goods a little bit at a time, you not only have no worries about food..."

Exactly the right way to build up your supplies-
even the free shit army should be able to figure this one out.

A Texan said...

"...even the free shit army should be able to figure this one out."

True. But do you really WANT them to figure it out? Do we REALLY want them and their gibsmedat attitude on the other side of whatever?

Anyhow, the SHOULD be able to figure it out...but they probably won't. How many of them read this blog (and any blog speaking of preps for future disasters) anyway?

GamegetterII said...

"True. But do you really WANT them to figure it out? Do we REALLY want them and their gibsmedat attitude on the other side of whatever?"

It would keep 'em right where they are a little longer.
The longer they ain't headin for the 'burbs because they're starvin,the better off the rest of us are.
It would give those of us who have to stay where we are more time to prepare a defensive position-I'll take all the extra time I can get for that-then just maybe,we can keep 'em out of our little area here in Ohio.

Aesop said...

The smart people don't need help, and the stupid people won't listen.
The fight is for allies in the middle of those two groups who are smart enough to listen if someone gives it to them straight.

Anonymous said...

@Aesop: define "smart." If you mean merely book smart, many of those are in a pro-authority trance. Either that, or they suffer horribly from normalcy bias, which strikes people regardless of book smarts. IF, OTOH, you mean those with common sense and the ability to be skeptical, then we're on the same page.

Aesop said...

I have never, anywhere, equated smart with book-smart idiot savants.

Tucanae Services said...

Generally good advise on the stocked pantry front. However there is a quibble. You have all that nicely larded up pantry ready and willing....

Then a hurricane hits forcing you to get out of dodge. It wipes out your homestead and all those nice preps. Point is from where you sit now what are the threats and what are their probability of affecting you THIS YEAR? Hurricane, tornado, fire and flood being the most common in the US.

I am not suggesting that doing nothing is best. What I am suggesting is don't put all your eggs in one basket, it might get wiped out. If you get a years worth at homestead. Don't put the second year there as well. Work out a buddy system with a like minded individual or get a very small storage unit in the next town.

How about clothes? Probably one of the most common appeals is clothes for a family that just got burned out of their home. Have a closet of `oh so last year garments?`. No what you have is a stash of survival clothing fully paid for. Get some garment boxes, one for each member of the household. Fill it with usable clothing in two groups. Summer wear, winter wear. Make sure a heavy jacket and a blanket are included. Seal it and put that in your offsite cache.

That is all.

Aesop said...

All absolutely true T.S., but you have to start people somewhere, and as a rule, right where they are is probably the best place to begin.

Acorns can turn into oak trees, but you can't pull on them to speed the process.

Baby steps.

Anonymous said...

re: Tucanae Services commentary,

Not a box, a pack ready to carry with some of your "less-awesome" but serviceable duplicate-triplicate gear. Give it some thought to make listed and sectioned bags for the seasons of your anticipated region(s). F'rinstance, gear for temperate West Coast +/-15'ASL (Newport, OR) will be different from inland alpine valley 2000+ASL (rural Sand Point, ID) or place with 12" annual rainfall and summer peak temp of 118F. Much of this kind of "Second Tier" gear can be had very cheaply in thrift stores of sporty-wealthy cities (Boston, Denver, Portland, Seattle), but are scarce in places struggling to keep population (cheap land!) since the mill/mine closed in 1978.

I think some mil-surp is worth buying new-good for the packs: polypro underwear and ECWSS for the Gore-Tex bivy sack especially. Any sleeping bag put in the bivy cover is staying dry and clean while reducing profile to a fraction of a tent. Add a tarp shelter and it's nearly 4-seasonable (esp. with the patrol+medium bag inside the bivy.

You will need water. Containers to capture/store/carry and a long-life pump filter are priority.

Cheap dehumidifier in your sealed container is baked gypsum from wallboard. Unpainted is my favorite. Cool in a metal covered container, seal in plastic until needed. Not as high-performance as commercial Desi-Pack, but often free.

If you have safe parking, a cheap travel trailer is a kitchen and shelter on wheels. Bonus for safe parking with an extension cord to keep the 'fridge operational and a lightbulb burning in the trailer (drives off moisture, looks as if someone might be inside). Lots of people have lived in a trailer for a long time while building as they have money.

Boon Vickerson is out there said...

Thank you for all the wonderful insights and info you post.

I have a little trick concerning stockpiling food and necessities would like to share.
Each week I set aside $30-$50 dollars out of my paycheck, and taking a list of things I have created I think will be advantageous to have, head to the supermarket, or hardware store, etc. On the way I buy a 5gal pail and cover, and proceed to fill that bucket within the limits of the money I set aside. Sometimes its all the cakes of ivory bar soap I can cram in it, or it is rice, beans, brown sugar, ketchup, cans of chicken, tuna fish, peanut butter,(greatest energy food invented), or it is nails, screws, nuts and bolts, some tubes of caulking, roll of plastic sheet, plastic bags, or dish soap, disinfectants like Pinesol, sponges, old time cotton diapers,(washable durable cloth that replaces paper towels and such). Strike anywhere matches, a large package of bic lighters, raisons, salt, (worth it weight in gold for perserving meat), blocks of parafin,(you can make dandy fire starters with this stuff, also great for canning jams jellies and high acid food. Makes a perfect seal in any jar neck. Sometimes its first aid supplies, vitamins, toothpaste etc. I try to throw in something for comfort, like candy, or hot chocolate, vannila extract, instant soup, things that make a person feel good when they are down. Lots of things you can fit in a 5gal pail.
A pail, 35 bucks, and careful shopping, I can fit enough basic wholesome food to last 2 people a week. Its stored well, don't have to think about it, throw in an oxygen absorber, and mark the outside with a sharpie what's inside. After my first few buckets of food, I began to look at labels, I wanted the highest caloric and fat content. Here are the richest foods I found: Smoked herrings in oil, corned beef hash, peanut butter, canned corn beef, sardines in oil, tuna in oil, kippered snacks, canned mackerel fillets, canned muscle's in oil, and olive oil. You can't eat enough fat in my humble opinion in stressful conditions. Your body needs it to stay warm, to create insulin, and it makes everything taste better. Canned bacon and butter rank at the top too. I figured how to can both. It taste like fresh too.
Anybody wants the recipes just yell.In a year I have acquired an amazing stock of buckets. And brother are they handy. They are grab and go. Plus, I figure might be somebody could use a pail of food, just hand them one. In a pinch they could be cached underground easily. I'm stunned by how much it has amounted to with so little sweat and thought. Just a bit of practical thinking and common sense.
Hope that helps somebody.

Exasperated Citizen said...

Entrenching tool, folding bow saw, Kelly Kettle, or similar mode of safely heating water, using almost ANYTHING that'll burn, toilet paper, alternative toilet modes, should there be a water utility interruption, simple solar panel-rigs for keeping batteries topped-off. Yeti makes heavier-duty solar rigs with fume-free battery power storage, if you don't want the inquisitive to hear your gas generator running....Go ahead and laugh, but tooth brushes and paste, body wipes, for when you CAN'T bathe, and barter items, like airline booze bottles and crushproof packs of cigs....personal radios (coordinate that choice with neighbors, for compatibility), defensive hardware, and ways of "feeding" it, good ECWCS gear, since you may be outside more than you EVER expected...

Evyl Robot Michael said...

Preaching to the choir...

What so many people don't *get* is that prepping is practical way beyond teh end of teh world. We get ice storms periodically in my area. On the rare occasion that we get hit with a hard one, the sheeple flock to the grocery stores and strip them of water, toilet paper, microwaveable meals (even though power loss often comes with the ice), and other grocery items to lesser degrees. Several years ago, we were essentially shut in the house for three weeks. We ate a lot of canned food. It got boring to eat so much canned food, but we ate. We never set out to have a month's worth of food in the pantry, we just picked up shelfable foods when we found them on sale, with the rationale that they would keep. Similarly, we almost always have a month's worth of toilet paper. I don't know why the masses hoard TP when icepocalypse happens, but that's just something we don't want to have to worry about. Anyway, you're doing a good job here. I wandered over from Borepatch and am enjoying your rants.

Aesop said...

Happy to entertain.

I just wish TPTB would stop making it so easy.