Saturday, August 19, 2017

Back To Basics

 Basic. Functional. Primitive. You can do better, and you should.

As entertaining as the political follies have been, they aren't going to help you in the long run. And at the rate people keep leaving the White House, the current occupant's chances for longevity are somewhat in doubt.
So that respite from the nanny-state may be over early, or economic challenges may become a wee bit more important than other distractions.

1) You need a cash float. A month or three, for tough times. ATMs go down, jobs disappear, accidents happen, etc. Cash is king.
The first thing guys going on overseas details do is max out their ATM withdrawal, because American greenbacks (so far) are accepted universally. Have a branch of The Bank Of Average Joe in your abode, whether you have a safe, mayonnaise jar, or under-the-mattress stash, but work out what you'd need for 30-90 days of no other options, and start stacking up $$$: 10s, 20s, and 50s to get to that amount. While 100s are always nice, they piss off store clerks, and you might not get change in interesting times. Start at one month, work on having three. It gives you options nothing else will. And if you couldn't make a better plan with 90 days to think it over, you have bigger problems.

2) Actual savings, in an actual savings account. You should be shooting at having a solid six months' worth of paychecks, in an account you don't touch. Nota bene it's worthless in a bank run, but for a thousand everyday problems, it wins handily. While you don't have your eggs all in one basket, you still have a nest egg in a basket. Otherwise a disaster, illness, employment change, etc., turns you into survival roadkill. You can't realistically do this in your twenties, but if you can't do it by your forties, you're already surviving by the skin of your teeth.

3) Pay off your debts. Live within your means. Pay off your debts. Live within your means. Pay off your debts. Live within your means. Pay off your debts. Live within your means. Pay off your debts. Live within your means. Pay off your debts. Live within your means. Pay off your debts. Live within your means. Pay off your debts. Live within your means. Pay off your debts. Live within your means. Pay off your debts. Live within your means.

4) Once you've gotten 1-3 in control, you can think about precious metals. Gold. Silver. And lead. Gold doesn't appreciate over time - it merely eliminates inflation. You could look it up. An ounce of gold now buys just about what an ounce of gold bought 50, 100, or 500 years ago. But ounces are generally too compact a store of wealth. Get real minted coins, but in fractional ounces: 1/10th, 1/4, or 1/2 ozs. are always better than 1 oz. Krugerands.,Maple Leafs, or Eagles. All are better than bullion ingots, which are, to most folks, just gold-plated lead in times of crisis.
Silver should be "junk silver", i.e. circulated pre-1965 U.S. dollars, halves, quarters, and dimes, which are 90% pure silver. And those ridges on the outside edge? Ben Franklin came up with those, to keep people from getting away with shaving the edges. Funny how great ideas never go out of style.
Lead is ammunition, and gets stored in ammo cans, in convenient common calibers.
And if you wouldn't store your lead supply in safety deposit box at the bank, then your gold and silver shouldn't be stored there either.

5) Stored where? Where you live, and can get to it in under an hour, unassisted, and with minimal hand tools, if that. If you have a home and a separate bolt hole, no more than 1/2 at each place. Cash is king, but cache is king too. (And if you never learned this, they're both pronounced the same way.)

6) Home and/or bolt hole need to be defensible. It's better if they're the same single place, but reality is that most of us (not everyone, mind, but the bulk of US population) live in cities. Which are poor prospects in most problems, sooner or later.
Defensible would mean you can fort in, and it should take tanks and artillery to pry you out.
If one guy in an old beater sedan could drive through your patio glass door, you're doing this wrong. Look at old (I'm talking medieval/renaissance-era) homes and houses. One or two study doors (something that would give a SWAT cop with a ram a day's work, and not just a second's pause. All a ram is, is a 4" sewer pipe filled with concrete, with handles. Brigands have used similar things for centuries.) that'd stop a mob cold. Minimal ground floor window openings. Too small to get into easily. Overhangs, you'll notice, made it harder to climb the walls. Shutters were functional, not decorative. Outside windows sited to view all the walls is ideal. If you have decorative "planters" on all sides that are shoulder-height, and 3-5' thick, planted with whatever (my suggestion is herbs, veggies, and thorny berries near windows), you have a house that's proof against bullets, rockets, tanks and APCs.
Seriously consider some defensive improvements that won't piss off the neighbors, as you can do so. A prefab suburbia-box was designed to be quick and cheap, not secure.
Darker times than the 1900s in Anytown USA - which civilization dictated most urban/suburban architecture - may return; plan ahead. There's also a reason log cabins, and sod houses were the norm in injun country on the American frontiers. It's tough to shoot through or burn down either one.

7) Self-sufficiency. See/get/follow this book. The best $10 you'll ever spend. The spin-offs (except "Building projects", which was greedy publisher's sequel-mania packing a $16 book with $1 worth of information) are mostly four-star too.
Once you have defensible shelter, you need a way to keep it all going. Try this method out on whatever patch you're on, like your life depended on it. It just might.

8) Water. Food. Power. Tools. Weapons. Food production/procurement. Communications. Skills and trades. Every one of these have been post topics, or whole books. Even whole racks of books. If you thought education ended after you got your last diploma, welcome to the New Reality. You will be a renaissance man (or woman)/jack-of-all-trades, with lifetime learning tasks, or you'll be X-ed out of the gene pool. As Heinlein noted at the end of an always appropriate quote from the master: "Specialization is for insects."

9) Fallback occupations. The last item leads inexorably to this one. You should have alternative ways to survive, and even thrive. Gaining knowledge and skills gives you options, so that when - not if - changes come, you can adapt, overcome, and survive. If you can build walls, frame houses, run plumbing or wiring, drill wells, weld, etc. ad infinitum, you will never starve amongst your fellow earth-dwellers. And if you can raise enough food to feed a family, you can probably raise enough for two or ten more, and sell the excess for ready cash, even in the worst of times. Read FerFal's or Selco's accounts of bartering for things in former Yugoslavia and Argentina amidst civil and economic meltdown. Eggs and meat, for instance, never go out of style, and rabbits and chickens can even be raised in a spare bedroom in an urban apartment, or inside a relatively tiny industrial space, with a minimal investment of time, effort, and forethought. And people will always pay money for fresh eggs, going back only 6000 years. Hell, in 99% of cities, it's even legal (if that even appears on your radar screen of concern). So have something, either a commodity, a skill, or both, that you could do if your business/job went away, because of fire, flood, tornado, civil unrest, economic collapse, etc.
What you do with that extra cash you make from your "hobby" now is between you, and the IRS.
Items 1 and 4 come to mind, but YMMV.

10) Thrive. The purpose of survival isn't just to keep shoveling food in your face until the day you stroke out. (Although for some people, that's all they're doing, even now.) It's to live. So now, and even if things get seriously FUBARed, live. LIVE.
Draw, paint, play music or write it, sculpt, write books and poetry, teach, travel, explore.
Life is an adventure. Sometimes it's the really shitty, gritty kind. Okay, so deal with that when you must. But the purpose of survival is to carry, by your life and work the culture, technology, knowledge and wisdom that 6,000 years of written history have brought you to. Do succeeding generations a favor, and expand that treasure trove, while you enrich your own existence. And pass it on to the next generation, with the bag a little fuller than the one handed to you. Starting with making sure there is a next generation, and a you.

"If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need." - Marcus Tullius Cicero


jim rock said...

Great write up. Thanks for #7. Kitchen Kommander is Amazoning them this instant.

Anonymous said...

going on 8 years into doing what you have listed.

tweell said...

Trying, but the family redoubt has to be sold. Grandpa set it up 60 years ago, but his crystal ball was hazy. Any one want 15 acres outside of Santa Cruz?
My share will go into making another redoubt, hopefully the troubles will hold off long enough (and my crystal will work better)

Alien said...

RE: Planters. Excellent at stopping projectiles, but if constructed in such a manner as to leave space between said planter and the structure they serve very well to contain and concentrate the force of explosives against the structure.

They do the same for air-delivered flammables (eg., molotov cocktails) and prevent the structure's inhabitants from performing quick 'n' easy relocation of such delivered flammables to prevent unwanted rapid oxidation of the structure.

Some design smarts during planter construction will allow rapid insertion of screening material of some sort at such time as it is warranted; what would be a neighborhood eyesore this week would be
A Useful Architectural Addition next week. Extra points for achieving the necessary protection without making it blatantly obvious.

Just sayin'.