Thursday, July 12, 2018

Maybe I Haven't Been Clear

The question isn't whether you can handle lesser problems.

There has been, in fact, no problem in my lifetime that wasn't solvable entirely with nothing more than a couple of month's worth of greenbacks in an envelope from the safe. Not once, in half a century on this planet.

So if that's all you're worried about, all you need in life is a .45, and a pallet of cash, right?

So how does that work for you in 1912, when the Titanic is going down?
Does the pallet float? How fast can you paddle with the .45?

What about a bit earlier, say 1906, in San Francisco? What do you do with the cash and the .45 when there's no food, the city's in rubble, and most of it is on fire? How fast can you load it onto a wagon to get out of town, and where do you find a wagon in a city in rubble at that point?

Or it's 1980.

Point your .45 at the cloud of earth, volcanic ash, and molten lava flying your way at several hundred MPH. To show it who's boss, right? Then, take that pallet of cash and go hire a bulldozer to start clearing the debris off your property down the valley.

Or it's 1992, and you're in Los Angeles one day when suddenly the local hooligans have decided it's free TVs and Nikes Day. Hopefully they don't notice your pallet of cash, and you've stocked up on ammo, because all sales of .45s and ammo have been suspended until further notice, there's a curfew, and troops with machineguns are patrolling the streets.
So, how well can you beat out the flames of your house with those bundles of cash?

Or you're in Nawlins in August of 2005 when Katrina traps you there, and dammit, the local authorities are knocking on your door to take away your .45.

Or you're minding your own business in Berlin in 1923, and your pallet of cash is worthless except for toilet paper or fire kindling, and they don't have any .45 ammo anyways.
And a Luger and some 9mm would cost you three more wheelbarrows of reichsmarks than you managed to accumulate before 3PM, when the prices for everything tripled again since 2PM.

Or you're in Joplin MO in 2011, when the F5 hits, so now your .45 is embedded a foot thick in the trunk of a hickory tree, and will now shoot around corners; the house is coming down in the direction of Springfield, and the pallet of cash is drifting in lazy circles in the vicinity of Branson.

So, just maybe, things can get that bad.

And maybe you might want to shoot a back azimuth, realize that a .45 and a pallet of cash aren't always going to solve all your problems, and you make other plans.

If you're thinking the Titanic can't sink, think again.

If you think you can plan for an inconvenience, and bootstrap that half-assed preparation into making due when it meets an actual disaster, you're going to get stuck on stupid when that doesn't work out for you.
You can make preparations for a 50-year flood, and do all right, in most cases. Until a 100-year flood hits.
Sometimes, preparedness means going the extra mile. Or maybe all it would take, is going the extra 10 feet.
Somebody who thinks that government-approved 72-hr disaster kit is enough is guaranteed at least one thing: They'll be living in a FEMA refugee center camp on Day Four.
With all those people from South Gibsmedat, whose EBT cards aren't working, and you never met before because they ride the bus, if they go to work at all, while you've driven yourself to work forever.
Enjoy your new multicultural diversity lesson, pardner.

And BTW, it was 11 days to get power back after the '94 quake, and there was a "boil all water" order in effect for a full month. (It smelled funky and over-chlorinated for far longer.) Some rural areas of the country waited a lot longer than that to get power or water back after last fall's hurricanes, and routinely do so each and every time.

Best of luck with the "Just Barely Enough" preparations for 66%, 75%, or 90% of potential problems.

Because, hey, after all, the guy who refused to leave the shadow of Mt. St. Helens in 1980 is still there. Somewhere. Under the millions of metric fucktons of earth on top of him.
Maybe in centuries to come someone will find him, and put what they find of him in a museum, as a curiosity. Evacuating the week before would have cost him all of a quarter-tank of gasoline, at 1980 prices, and motel rent. But if you're that stupid, or just plain tired of living, you're probably not reading this anyways.

Yes, lots of littler things are going to come along, and being able to handle them is a good idea. But if nothing really bad was going to happen ever, no one would have invented liferafts, parachutes, air bags, or fire extinguishers.

If "That's not likely to happen" is really just code for "I'm too lazy to consider possibilities that inconvenience me, so I'll just whistle as I pass the graveyard to keep the spooks away from me", just keep rocking on the front porch while the mountain rumbles.

Grab your camera. Go down to the shore. Look at how low the tide is.
Those sirens are probably just testing the system.
And, fast and how far can you run in six minutes? Just asking...


Anonymous said...

Most people don't even know where the real potential problem is.

For example, I've noted before that I live in New Jersey and work in New York City (Brooklyn, to be precise). Few people understand that (a) Manhattan is, in fact, an island, (b) at any given moment Manhattan has about a 24 hour supply of pretty much all essentials, food, medicine, etc and (c) that the vast majority of that stuff comes in via a frighteningly small number of railroad bridges from the "mainland". Break those bridges and you've got 24 hours before you're in something that makes The Road look like a vacation. In three days Manhattanites will be eating their dogs and cats. In two weeks they'll be eating each other. And no, trucks coming over the road bridges and thru the tunnels won't be able to do the job.

The result of my actually knowing this is that, in any emergency, I grab my get-home bag (yes, I have one sitting about three feet from where I am at the moment) and beat-feet across the Hudson River by any means possible. Once I'm on the mainland of NJ I have options. Best not to be standing in the doorway when the balloon goes up.

Oh, in an emergency we're supposed to gather in the park across the street so everyone can be accounted for. I've already informed TPTB that, in the event of an emergency, they have my permission not to concern themselves with my well-being, because I'll be in a different zip code as fast as my feet will carry me there. I'll check in if/when practical, my priority is to be someplace else. I learned this lesson the hard way, during 9/11 (when I didn't beat-feet early and wound up staying the night in Brooklyn at my manager's apartment) and during the big East-coast blackout (when I made it home after a nine-hour commute).

Mark D

Anonymous said...

Or, you could get out of NY today... instead of waiting and rolling the dice every day you go to work. When the next terrorist attack hits NY, will the bridges be open at all? Will Harbor Patrol boats be manning the Hudson turning back boats, rafts, kayaks etc. that try to cross after said attack?
Risk versus reward theory and all.
"Once I'm back on the mainland of NJ" sure assumes a lot. Just saying.

T-Rav said...

Er, yay, I partially inspired a blog post?

I certainly don't disagree with any of that. My main point from earlier was that if things fall apart slower, the billionaires and other current social elites will probably be able to hold on to power longer than if it happens all at once.

I would expect the end result to be the same, though.

Anonymous said...

Great lesson in hydrodynamics.

Anonymous said...

There's a fault line which runs beneath the Hudson river. Years ago Consolidated Edison was going to build a power plant on Manhattan and drilled down 200' for the footings. They then decided to go a bit deeper than specified, to be safe. Just past 200', the drills hit an open cavern in the granite bedrock. Engineers went down to what was essentially a 100' tall cave running the length of Manhattan and going beyond, north and south. Con Ed quietly stopped construction, sold the land and built their plant in NJ.

Aesop said...

Dude, that was Bruce Wayne's bat cave!

Probably how the Illuminati blew up the WTC too, and where the Mob buried Jimmy Hoffa. ;)

RSR said...

I think you prepare in order of probability...

Cash bank for economic hardship or unanticipated expenses.
Home insurance for fire, hail, etc. Life insurance for eventual death.
Fortifying home against petty theft invasions.
CHL for everyday going abouts.
Etc. With full blown zombie apocalypse being last on the list of scenarios.

Fortunately, a lot is redundant, and some stuff like wildfire risks can't be avoided all the time depending on where you live... Regardless, don't buy or build anywhere in a 100 year floodplain and don't buy coastal property -- at least on the east and gulf coasts of america. And as much as some love it, perhaps consider avoiding JWR's Redoubt in the heart of super-volcano country, etc. Most disasters are localized, and by choosing where you live, you can avoid yearly hail damage, tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, and rising sea levels if the outside chance of global warming becoming true occurs... Statistics and probabilities are your friends here... Importantly, you're far more likely to freeze to death than overheat, so looking south of the Mason-Dixon line for your retreat isn't a bad idea either.

Deciding where to call home, your Alamo if you so choose, can substantially increase survivability. Where you work is equally important as where you sleep. Etc.

Anonymous said...

One thing about the guy at Mt St Helens (Spirit Lake). He was 85 yo, knew what was happening, and chose to meet his fate in the home that he loved. It was his personal and knowledgeable choice, not stupidity or ignorance.


Aesop said...

Not quite.
You multiply probability times consequences times target audience.

A yacht sinking is a statistically small chance; not having a life raft at that point is an absolute Darwin Award.

So you buy a very expensive and perishable life raft and stock it with a survival kit, not purely because you'll need it, but because the consequences of not having it when you need it, in the dark, during a storm, and 2000 miles from landfall, are terminal.

It also doesn't matter, at that point, how rare rocks are in the sea, or floating logs, if you hit one. Assuriing yourself at that moment that the 6B other souls won't drown while you do is literally cold comfort.

Ask the Jews what being ungovernable pricks counting on the long-suffering patience of the Roman emperor cost them in Jerusalem in 70 AD, all the way to Berlin in 1938.

And one can mitigate risks, sometimes, but not eliminate them.
A 4.0 earthquake here would get a couple of glances at the chandelier; in NYFC, where they have fault lines under the downtown as well, a 4.0 and they'd all lose their minds.

NYFC has had countless hurricanes, whereas CA hasn't had a single one. Just Brush fires, mudslides, earthquakes, riots, and 60 insufferable years of Democrats.

The only people in the entire world unaffected by the Great Depression weren't the ones living in the Third World, they were only the peoples living in the third century.

No place is risk-free.
You can, at best, only choose which disasters you're willing to cope with.

Based solely on probabilities, the greatest likelihood of modern death say, 1900-present) after cancer, heart attacks, and falls, is the government killing you.

Aesop said...


Deliberate suicide is not somehow more wholesome or noble than stumbling off a cliff.

It just moves the final act of one's personal play from slapstick to despair.

AmazingAZ said...

Thanks for the reminder(s.) Probably the hardest part of planning IMO is to plan for the unknown unknowns. But first, there are many known and predictable events which any prudent person can and should be ready for. In our daily lives which are usually busy as shit if you're doing anything productive, it behooves us to stop, go back to your preps, and review once more.

For me, I always seem to forget something until things go "live." (Like all the little things that I have to do before a trip that suddenly are remembered two hours before leaving.) Reality, of course fixes that in a hurry. (Not always in the preferred manner.)

So, for me, an important part of preparing is taking the time and mental energy to think about how any emergency (long or short) could really go down. Mistakes are costly, if not fatal.

Thanks always for helping to keep us focused and thinking properly.

Commander_Zero said...

First rule of surviving a disaster: Don't Be There.