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.