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Packing for the Apocalypse

Hey, Navy. What model is that Belt Fed .22? I'm sure I've seen those products floating around the web before, never really looked into them though. Is it not just a .22 receiver on an AR frame? Also, what kind of Optic is on it?
While I'm all for being prepared, I usually think of prolonged power outages, snowstorms or fire. Being stranded in a remote location if your car breaks down is another probable event to be prepared for. The cult of "survivalism" from the 1980's (then they were planing to survive a nuclear attack) is apparently back, getting ready for far greater disasters:


Subculture of Americans prepares for civilization's collapse

By Jim Forsyth
Sat Jan 21, 2012 11:44am EST
(Reuters) - When Patty Tegeler looks out the window of her home overlooking the Appalachian Mountains in southwestern Virginia, she sees trouble on the horizon.

"In an instant, anything can happen," she told Reuters. "And I firmly believe that you have to be prepared."

Tegeler is among a growing subculture of Americans who refer to themselves informally as "preppers." Some are driven by a fear of imminent societal collapse, others are worried about terrorism, and many have a vague concern that an escalating series of natural disasters is leading to some type of environmental cataclysm.

They are following in the footsteps of hippies in the 1960s who set up communes to separate themselves from what they saw as a materialistic society, and the survivalists in the 1990s who were hoping to escape the dictates of what they perceived as an increasingly secular and oppressive government.

Preppers, though are, worried about no government.

Tegeler, 57, has turned her home in rural Virginia into a "survival center," complete with a large generator, portable heaters, water tanks, and a two-year supply of freeze-dried food that her sister recently gave her as a birthday present. She says that in case of emergency, she could survive indefinitely in her home. And she thinks that emergency could come soon.

"I think this economy is about to fall apart," she said.

A wide range of vendors market products to preppers, mainly online. They sell everything from water tanks to guns to survival skills.

Conservative talk radio host Glenn Beck seems to preach preppers' message when he tells listeners: "It's never too late to prepare for the end of the world as we know it."

"Unfortunately, given the increasing complexity and fragility of our modern technological society, the chances of a societal collapse are increasing year after year," said author James Wesley Rawles, whose Survival Blog is considered the guiding light of the prepper movement.

A former Army intelligence officer, Rawles has written fiction and non-fiction books on end-of-civilization topics, including "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It," which is also known as the preppers' Bible.

"We could see a cascade of higher interest rates, margin calls, stock market collapses, bank runs, currency revaluations, mass street protests, and riots," he told Reuters. "The worst-case end result would be a Third World War, mass inflation, currency collapses, and long term power grid failures."

A sense of "suffering and being afraid" is usually at the root of this kind of thinking, according to Cathy Gutierrez, an expert on end-times beliefs at Sweet Briar College in Virginia. Such feelings are not unnatural in a time of economic recession and concerns about a growing national debt, she said.

"With our current dependence on things from the electric grid to the Internet, things that people have absolutely no control over, there is a feeling that a collapse scenario can easily emerge, with a belief that the end is coming, and it is all out of the individual's control," she told Reuters.

She compared the major technological developments of the past decade to the Industrial Revolution of the 1830s and 1840s, which led to the growth of the Millerites, the 19th-Century equivalent of the preppers. Followers of charismatic preacher Joseph Miller, many sold everything and gathered in 1844 for what they believed would be the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Many of today's preppers receive inspiration from the Internet, devouring information posted on websites like that run by attorney Michael T. Snider, who writes The Economic Collapse blog out of his home in northern Idaho.

"Modern preppers are much different from the survivalists of the old days," he said. "You could be living next door to a prepper and never even know it. Many suburbanites are turning spare rooms into food pantries and are going for survival training on the weekends."

Like other preppers, Snider is worried about the end of a functioning U.S. economy. He points out that tens of millions of Americans are on food stamps and that many U.S. children are living in poverty.

"Most people have a gut feeling that something has gone terribly wrong, but that doesn't mean that they understand what is happening," he said. "A lot of Americans sense that a massive economic storm is coming and they want to be prepared for it."

So, assuming there is no collapse of society -- which the preppers call "uncivilization" -- what is the future of the preppers?

Gutierrez said that unlike the Millerites -- or followers of radio preacher Harold Camping, who predicted the world would end last year -- preppers are not setting a date for the coming destruction. The Mayan Calendar predicts doom this December.

"The minute you set a date, you are courting disconfirmation," she said.

Tegeler, who recalls being hit by tornadoes and floods in her southwestern Virginia home, said that none of her "survival center" products will go to waste.

"I think it's silly not to be prepared," she said. "After all, anything can happen."

(Reporting by Jim Forsyth in San Antonio; Editing by Corrie MacLaggan and Greg McCune)
This list is >$300 USD:


The list author says: "When the zombies invade your home, or a hurricane strikes the neighborhood, you can depend on these items to protect your whole family. Most of the things listed here are covered by Amazon.com and include free shipping, except for the 2-way radios, blankets, and firestarter. The heaviest item here are the energy bars, which weigh 3.90 pounds. Everything else is between 1-2 pounds. Total weight to carry would be 19.16 pounds (I didn't count the firestarter and water tablets, they're too small to be of consequence). Total price is exactly $262.27 (excluding shipping costs for the 3 independently sold items).

Necessary items not listed include your own bottled water, canned food, ponchos, and extra gasoline. Those you can purchase elsewhere just as easily and probably at better prices, too.

Have a safe journey and GOOD LUCK!!!"

1. SAS Survival Handbook: How to Survive in the WIld, in Any Climate, on Land or at Sea by John Wiseman
2. Eton FR250 Emergency Crank Radio Metallic Red by Eton
3. Johnson & Johnson First Aid Kit, Complete Care, 225-Piece Kit by Red Cross
4. Emergency Mylar Blanket - 62" x 82" - Pack of 12 Blankets - EB-12 by PrimaCare Medical
5. Swedish FireSteel - Scout Model (Red)
6. Katadyn Micropur MP1 Purification Tablets (20 count) by Katadyn
7. Victorinox Swiss Army Ranger Pocket Knife by Victorinox
8. Cobra microTALK PR 5000-2 DX VP 15-Mile 22-Channel FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radio (Pair) by Cobra
9. Bushnell Falcon 10x50 Wide Angle Binoculars (Black) by Bushnell
10. Garrity Power Lite 3 LED Crank Light (Titanium Silver/Black) by Garrity
11. Clif Bar Energy Bar, Variety Pack of Crunchy Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch, and Oatmeal Raisin Walnut, 2.4-Ounce Bars, Pack of 24 by Clif Bar (not so good if you have allergies)
12. Slim Jim Smoked Snack Sticks, Original, 0.28-Ounce Sticks (Pack of 100) by Slim Jim
From Popular Mechanics, a car survival kit. I'm a bit dubious about the "Alaska jump start" but the rest seems bang on:


Canadian Arctic rescue teams suggest drivers carry a can of dog food in their cars. Sound crazy? It seems that when people crash their cars into a snow bank on the tundra, they tend to eat their emergency food too soon. The dog food is less palatable and so stranded motorists will wait to eat that can of puppy chow until they really need it.

You don't have to be driving the vast expanses of northern Canada to get stuck in your car. Take these stories from the past year: Rita Chretien, 56, was found in a remote part of Nevada in May 2011 after being stranded for seven weeks, her car stuck in the mud. Chretien used a plastic bag to catch rainwater to drink. Last December, 23-year-old Lauren Weinberg was stranded on a snowy forest road southeast of Winslow, Ariz., for nine days and survived on two candy bars and a bottle of water. This January, Lynn S. Keelser, 61, survived for a week on peanut butter M&Ms when she took a wrong turn in a rental car and got stuck in an Idaho dairy wastewater pond. None of these drivers had cellphones. But even more important, none had an emergency-preparedness kit.

Being prepared is not merely a good rule for travel in highly remote areas. If you take the occasional extended road trip, you should pack a survival kit of crucial emergency supplies. We've compiled eight categories of essential supplies to carry in your car, made up from suggestions from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Army, the American Automobile Association (AAA), the Red Cross, and regional search-and-rescue teams. None, however, include Alpo.


The first priority for any stuck situation is maintaining hydration. The biggest hurdle when carrying water: It weighs 8 pounds per gallon, and considering each person in the car will need to drink about a gallon a day, that's a heavy load to haul around. It's easiest to pack a case of 16 small drink boxes of water. One brand, Aqua Blox, comes in 8-ounce containers that are claimed to have a shelf life of five years.

Another option would be to carry refillable water bottles. When empty, they won't add unnecessary weight, and you can fill them if you think you might be driving into remote areas. If you bring empty water bottles, bring water purification tablets. Chlorine-based tablets that you can find at camping stores will kill waterborne organisms if you have to fill your water bottles from a stream or lake.

For food, high-calorie energy and protein bars are great solutions. They pack a lot of calories into a small space and can be found at a good camping store. Be sure to avoid many of the ones you see at the convenience store; they contain too much salt and sugar. The better ones have less of both so they won't make you thirsty. And at between 2400 and 3600 calories per bar, they'll keep you nourished in an emergency. The ER Emergency Food Bar, for example, claims to provide 72 hours of nutrition and has a shelf life of five years.


It's smart to pack a wool blanket and some chemical warm packs, too. A wool blanket works well even if it's damp. An emergency blanket (also known as a space blanket) is a metal-coated plastic sheet that marathoners use to keep warm after a race. It, too, can keep you warm in an emergency. Chemical heat packs react with air and can add warmth inside a blanket. They can be stopped and started for up to 15 hours.

Be sure to pack a flashlight, glow sticks, matches, and emergency candles. We like rechargeable flashlights that park in your car's 12-volt outlet. To help keep you dry, bring along a waterproof poncho with a hood. A plastic whistle with two chambers should also find space in this kit—it works much better then shouting for help.

Bring along a solar- and hand-crank-powered light/radio/cellphone charger. Be sure to buy one through a reputable source—we've heard many stories that some don't work long enough.

And, yes, you will need extra clothes and a good winter hat. We'd recommend packing a small tarp too, in case you need temporary shelter.

First Aid

If you're venturing away from civilization—or if you just have kids—it's smart to keep a first-aid kit in the car. We'd get the most thorough one we could find, but even some fairly basic ones include:

-Several gauze bandages 4-inches square, and smaller adhesive bandages
-Cloth tape
-Eyewash cup
-Absorbent pads for bleeding
-Antiseptic wipes and nitrile gloves (latex sometimes provokes allergies)
-Burn ointment
-CPR mask
-Elastic sprain bandage, SAM splint
-Scissors, tweezers, safety pins
-Aspirin and nonaspirin pain relievers
-Nausea medication
-Duct tape
-Moleskin for blisters (adventure racers tell us duct tape works in a pinch too)


Now we're getting to some Popular Mechanics bread and butter: the toolkit. The best one we've seen is the RoadTech kit from Aerostich. It's actually a tool kit for motorcycle trekking but has all the required bits: locking pliers, an adjustable wrench, a 6-in-1 screwdriver, pliers with a wire cutter, a ratchet and sockets, hex keys, and more stuff. And the parts roll up into one handy pouch.

A good-quality plastic gas can is handy too. We'd also pack a multitool such as a Leatherman and a tire gauge. Make sure to bring along some work gloves, wire ties, WD-40, and zip-lock bags for tools, parts, and oily towels. Aerosol foam tire sealant or a portable compressor and a tire plug kit can be very helpful, as can spare fuses and bulbs.

Finally, bring 6-gauge jumper cables. If nobody's around to jump your car, there is such as thing as an Alaskan jump-start: If your battery is cold and won't start the car, some backwoods folks have mentioned that they take a pair of jumper cables with one set of clamps attached to the battery and then they short the other set of clamps together for 20 seconds. This heats up the battery and allows it to supply more of its charge (although it also shortens its life). But be exceeding careful if you ever need to try this one—it's a dangerous operation.


If you find yourself off the road somewhere where a tow truck's not an option, you need a backup plan. If you own a 4WD truck, we'd spend the money and invest in an electric winch rated for the weight of your vehicle. Then purchase a full winch recovery kit so you'll have a tree-saver strap, a good-quality tow strap, a clevis, and other great equipment. Even if you don't have a winch, a Hi-Lift Jack can be used as a heavy-duty come-along winch or as a sturdy jack to lift your car so you can change a flat tire.

If you plan to drive in snowy climes, get some proper snow chains. But if the car gets really stuck, you'll likely need a good shovel too. Glock, the famed pistol-maker, also makes the coolest folding shovel we've seen. It uses a lightweight composite handle and a steel pointed blade. It's about a pound less than similar army-surplus-style detrenching tools.

The old-school solution to gaining traction in snow was to carry sand or kitty litter. But that's heavy stuff, and many times you can use the shovel to dig down to dirt for traction. In deep snow (or sand), you can often dig down far enough to slip your floormats underneath both of the tires that are receiving power. Sometimes these mats provide enough traction to ease the car onto a surface with better grip.


At first glance, these might seem like the least important items here. But maintaining proper sanitation in the tiny cabin of a car over an extended length of time is a serious concern. You'll of course want to bring along some toilet paper as well as unscented baby wipes. These wipes are often a good substitute for toilet paper and can also be used for cleaning. Bring along large zip-lock-style bags, plastic garbage bags, and wire ties. These will work as your disposal containers. And if it's too cold outside to dig a pit, you'll want to bring a bedpan. We've found good ones at Sporty's Pilot Shop. You'll also want to have a bottle of disinfectant or hand sanitizer in case water is not available.


A small backpack is probably the best carryall to keep in your kit in the event you need to leave the car and set out on foot. Even better is a larger camping backpack that has separate compartments and pockets to keep the more fragile first-aid items from your dirty tools. Some packs have hook-and-loop patches on them, which can keep them from sliding around inside the trunk area of the car. Backpacks often have loops so that you can clip rock-climbing-style carabiners on them and then attach the whole shebang securely to your car—the object is to keep your fully loaded emergency kit from becoming a heavy projectile in a crash. Bungee cords are another great tool to hold the kit and other luggage in place.


In his famous comedy bit "200 MPH," Bill Cosby imagined using the standard floor-mounted fire extinguisher in his custom-made 462-hp Cobra Super Snake to heroically save the occupants of a burning house. And while you might just get the chance to be a hero someday, you could keep a fire extinguisher in our car emergency kit to deal with any emergencies that spark up in your own vehicle. They come in a variety of specs, but look for at least a 1A10BC or 2A10BC classification.

If your car battery drains, you'll want to have an emergency warning light along, with spare batteries. A hazard triangle and road flares will keep you safer at night if you're stuck.

We suggest you bring dust masks with a N95 or a N100 rating, which not only keep dirt and debris away, but can also filter airborne pathogens. And as an added bonus, these masks will help warm the air you breathe in the cold.
Picked up one of these at Cabelas for the bugout bag. Seems like a good emergency light piece 'o kit. No good in a group setting, but I always enjoyed being 'the only man in the tent'.

A wider look at how to be prepared for the coming hard times (long essay part 1 of 2):


Going Down Easy
Posted on March 2, 2013 | 136 Comments

I really wanted to title this “How to pack for Armageddon” but that is not right, and not something I can do anyway.  There are tons of sites on that.  What to pack in the scaredy bag, what to have for “shelter in place.”

I’m not saying those won’t be needed.  As I said before, I don’t think anyone has taken into account – well, maybe someone has, but that’s not a comforting thought – that while this crew in power is playing at being “more sensitive than you” they’re giving signals to a lot of very bad actors.  The crew in power might be ill-intentioned (mostly I think they’re power-greedy and trying to cover it up by doing the things they’ve been told are “good”) but I suspect they honestly believe that if we unilaterally disarm we’ll be safe.  Don’t laugh.  A lot of my colleagues believed that all through the eighties.  It has nothing to do with intelligence, but with having lived quiet, sheltered prosperous lives where the wildest environment they knew was their kindergarten class.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen other sides of life, and I’ve studied history.

If we can do things like let all the sequester cuts fall on defense, and eventually start reducing our nuclear arsenal (more flexibility, remember?) and NOT get hit, we should just assume the USA is the Almighty’s favorite child and my made up USAians were right.  If we don’t lose a city or more to enemy attack in the next five/six years, I’ll assume this country is G-d’s personal project and that He’s zealously guarding us.

But alas, I think we’re human like other humans and our project of liberty and individual freedom is ours.

So, some regions of the country almost for sure will have to deal with Armageddon conditions to an extent or another.  Which depends who hits us and whether it’s a missile or a backpack nuke.

Yes, I feel crazy just typing that – it’s like ebooks, you know.  We expected ebooks to hit any minute now, and they didn’t, for almost twenty years.  I attended conferences in ninety four where they were talking about how ebooks were the coming thing.  But most people don’t like reading on the computer, and therefore it didn’t happen.  And then suddenly there was the second model of kindle (the first was too green and computer-like) and by that time anyone who’d been immersed in the business was SO convinced ebooks would amount to nothing, that they never, really, got their heads around the reverse.  They still haven’t.

To an extent we have the same relationship with nuclear attacks.  We expected them all through the cold war, which means most of our lives.  It never happened.  Now we tend to roll our eyes as we think of them.

But they are a heavy possibility.  There is a huge difference between attacking the US when you’re the USSR and you know you’ll get hit back, and attacking the US when you know it’s weakened and infighting, and you’re a small back water country and know if the US retaliates the world community will complain they’re picking on you.  (My brother after the Axis of Evil speech “Why is Bush picking on tiny, mad North Korea?” is what I expect to see.)

So, if you live in or near one of our major cities (unless it goes completely astray, which is possible since this is mostly “Russian Technology”, I expect it will be in one of the cities that everyone hears about on TV and shows: DC, NYC, Chicago, LA, San Francisco – with an outside chance of cities that have had TV shows set in them – Cincinnati, Dallas.  While it’s possible there will be one in Denver, for instance, that is an extremely outside chance unless there’s a sudden upswell of  documentaries about “Denver, the power of the west” that makes it abroad.) have a get away bag, just in case, and DO for the love of G-d know some funky, back-road route out of the city.  Make it a weekend project to scout those.  If you live in NYC and don’t have a car – Yes, you DO know who you are – make sure a friend-with-car includes you in his evacuation plans.

For what to put in the bag, and what to put in your basement/crawl space/armoire if you have to sit tight, there are survival blogs all over the net, and if you don’t know any, someone in this blog will link it on request.

My post – taking this long to get to the point is the hallmark of the fact I have had only one cup of tea – is about not the apocalypse, but the gentle slide into chaos and a (much) lower but still civilized lifestyle.

I’ve never been convinced by the “apocalypse” stories simply because American authors, never having experienced it, seem to think of something like a nuclear hit, or even several, crippling all our major cities and making our daily life a negotiated mess (and I want to stress that last one is – I think – highly unlikely in the situation right now.  We’re more likely to get the equivalent to “terrorism with nukes” than to get a planned, carefully carried out attack.  OTOH the attack might well unleash our own tensions and release Civil Unrest with a capital Mess – in which case, it won’t be much different from most cities taken out.)  will immediately send us back to some past age, ranging from the stone age to the nineteenth century.

Of course, most of those stories were written to convince us to unilaterally disarm, which, of course, meant exaggerating the awfulness.

Here is what is not going to happen:

Most people are not going to become looters overnight.  Yes, it will happen in some places, but let me remind you of when the lights went out in NYC for most of a day, and people just quietly walked home.  Whether you’ll have to shoot looters and keep vandals away depends on what region of the country you live in and how dangerous it is now.

You’re not going to need to grow your own wheat and mill your own flour overnight.  Yes, I know “on demand” supply, etc.  So, the local groceries will run out of ice-cream, Hersheys and the other stuff like that.  They might also – always depending on where you live.  We’re in the Khaki for vegetables out here, unless it’s summer, and even then – run out of steaks, or onions, or even (but unlikely.  I think the stuff spontaneously generates) cabbage.  BUT it’s unlikely to run completely out of flour or beans or rice.  (Of course, if you’re low carb you should be making your own preparations.)  Nor will it prevent local farmers from putting stalls by the side of the highway selling local produce ¾ of the year.

You’re not going to have to make your own clothes.  Look, I’m a writer, which means our income fluctuates, which is a polite term for “sometimes it’s non-existent.”  It always hits rock bottom at the most inconvenient times, too, like, when my husband is unemployed, (knock on wood, only happened twice in our entire married life.)  We’ve had to cut back on food, by going to the essentials and having me cook from scratch (but I do that, anyway, by preference) BUT we’ve never really had to cut back on clothes.  In fact, I think I have more than fit in my closet, and one of these days the hanging apparatus will crash.  (Partly because I treat them as disposable, since I hate aprons and all confining clothing, and so I tend to stain clothes while cleaning or cooking.)  — first, the clothes in your closet will not evaporate into the ether.  Second, and VERY important, society as a whole probably has a larger supply of clothes than we could consume (without throwing away) in a century.  I know this because we shop for our clothes at an ARC thrift store nearby.  A LOT of the clothes are brand new still with tags, usually because a store donated surplus.  And I have a rule never to pay more than $5 for a piece of clothing unless it’s designer. Then I’ll go up to $7.  If I go to $10 I get the frown of doom from my husband…
Part 2


You’re not going to have to make your own furniture – see above.  We’ve gotten used to changing furniture at the drop of a hat because we stopped liking something, but if things get rough we stop throwing it away, and I bet you that what we have will last generations.  (Here I do have advice on what to choose. And what to have.)

This is not saying that things will be either comfortable or wonderful.

So – what do you watch for, and how do you prepare?

This post comes from the fact I was talking to my husband and said “the first thing is usually the post office going unreliable.”

Right now you’re looking at me like I’m a lunatic.  “But our post awful was always—”

No. There are differences.  Yes, in most countries the post office jobs are a sinecure for a politically favored majority (Or minority.  I might be wrong in this, but I have a vague idea most postal carriers in South Africa were Afrikaans speaking.)  and that they are a union shop in most countries, and that jokes about mis-delivered mail exist everywhere. That’s not what I mean.

Part of this is tricky when it comes to the post office, btw – because ours is suffering from catastrophic technological change, as well as everything else.  HOWEVER:

The slide goes like this – it begins with mail distribution twice a day six days a week, and the mail fairly reliable in the sense that yes, you do get human error and things delayed a bit.  Then it goes to once daily.  (I don’t know if the US started with twice daily.  By the time I came here, it was once daily. Part of this was tech change.  Used to be that before the telephone letters in-town were used to say “I’ll drop by tomorrow afternoon.”  Read a mystery of the early twentieth century for that.)

Then slowly the mail becomes more unreliable.  Then one day is cut out.  Then delivery is every other day.

BUT the most important thing is how unreliable it gets.  We’re already pretty unreliable, the reason they’re mostly used for spam.  (Though their tendency to misplace stuff doesn’t help.)

But along that slide comes the time when the mail is COMPLETELY unreliable.  Anything you entrust to them has a fifty/fifty chance of arriving, and anything even vaguely useful/valuable WILL get stolen, unless you’re very, very crafty.

This is a sign post on the way down.  When you start seeing outright unabashed theft by postal employees, and no attempt to track down your registered package, it’s time to have your preparations for the rest of the slide made.

Because that type of theft is a “societal strictures have broken down.”  It’s not “the neighbors will rape and pillage” but it is the “people will pilfer from strangers as a matter of course.”  A package, entrusted to strangers to carry across the country is, of course, at high risk.

This is highly unlikely and there are already signs we’re headed in that direction.  Whether and how much it will affect the private carrier companies, I don’t know.  Whether there will be Amazon Delivery vans that are more reliable, I don’t know.  I do know that the break down in trust needed to efficiently run mail in a continental-sized country is already well underway and getting markedly worse by the day.

The way to deal with the post office is to disguise the contents of whatever you’re sending.  Put an old coat over the new dress you’re sending aunt Emily.  Learn to make false bottoms on boxes.  Encase you check in several pages of blather.

Or, more likely, in this country, in the 21st century, find ways to send ecash, email and different carriers (thank heavens.)

But even if we have more options – that break down in trust is a telling sign.

The other slide is what used to be called in Portugal “a zeal strike” which I understand is the opposite of what the words mean in OZ where they mean “be over-picky over everything and delay everything.”  In Portugal it means “show up for work, but do whatever.”

This, not as a strike but as a way of life ensues.

What I mean is, you don’t realize how much we, Americans, are used to getting what we want, when we want it.

This is likely to go by the way side.  People won’t be breaking their backs to get stuff done and also, sorry, but all businesses are likely to be understaffed for the foreseeable future, because it’s right now almost impossible to keep your margins up in this country unless you’re GE and the government is feeding you dough by the bucketful.

So, things to have:

Any staple you can’t do without, even if it’s not a “survival essential” thing.  Say you’re mighty fond of a brand of coffee, have three or four bags put by in your freezer.  Before you run through them, it will be on the shelves.  Restock when it’s on the shelves and you can afford it.  That way interruptions in supply don’t affect you.

In the same vein, this coming spring, can, pickle and dehydrate veggies.  I don’t think they’ll vanish forever, but supply can/might/almost certainly will (depending on where you live) get mighty irregular.

Any parts you need to keep your car and house running, and which you know are likely to breakdown or need replacing – have by.  And either know how to replace it yourself, or establish a relationship with someone who does.  Knowing how to rewire something in the house and/or how to deal with plumbing is important.  (My husband is okay with it.  But getting one of those comprehensive books from the hardware stores, you know “how to fix anything in the house” is NOT a bad idea.)

Also not a bad idea: if you have to buy furniture and CAN afford it, buy real wood and the best construction you can.  “Furniture you can will to your grandchildren” should be your goal.  Mostly because you might have to.

Also, if you have a young family, buy the biggest house you can afford.  Look, I’ll be blunt, the one slide I saw up close and personal ended up with three and four nuclear families per house.  I.e. kids married and had grandkids, but they were still living with the parents/grandparents.  This did not change till the economy got better.  (And yes, it SORTA is cultural in Portugal, but it was not the norm since the forties, and in fact, as soon as people could afford it, they went their own way, even if children normally live NEAR parents.)

For those people with three kids in a one bedroom apartment it could get tough.

If you’re renting, try to get in a place where the rent won’t go crazy and where you can hunker down if you need to.  Establish a good relationship with your landlord.

Have a deep freezer, so you can buy meat when it’s available/relatively cheap.  (This is a good idea at any time, but it might be vital in a slide down.)

Acquire some knowledge of folk medicine and lay some supplies by.  I’ve recently found that Manuka wound honey (available from Amazon) is the awesome, and will definitely stock it.)  This is obviously part of the slide down at least for this country.  Finding a doctor might become an issue.  DO try to make friends with a doctor or a trained nurse.  It might save your life.

Other things that are probably sort of kind of less vital but that you REALLY don’t want to do without.  One thing I’ve never seen in a slide down is a country sliding into the gutter without significant, pervasive disruptions in the electrical supply.  I don’t mean electricity goes bye bye and never comes back. I don’t even mean LONG black outs.  For those you should have a generator/whole house battery (we can’t afford either) but I expect most of the time you won’t get that.  I mean brown outs and black outs become a fact of life to the point they affect your daily life/ability to work. Not enough to get you to crisis point, not even enough to spoil food in freezer, if you keep it closed.  But enough to annoy you and make things a daily slog.

First – have something you can use for light.  I used to love candles when I was a kid, but of course there are better options.  If you are using flashlights, keep your battery supply up.  I’ve also laid by some of those solar garden lights.  The light is not wonderful, but it is enough to read by.

Speaking of which, since it’s almost impossible to have extra batteries for the kindle (I don’t know about other e-readers) have a car charger, so that if your electrical crashes, you can charge the kindle enough to finish reading that novel.  Also, keep the vital stuff like “how to” manuals in paper.

In the same vein, if you get your living by using the computer, have extra batteries for your laptop.  Keep three of them or so by.

And have an alternate means of cooking, if you rely on electrical.  A grill will do, though I have an entirely coal fired hibachi as well, but that’s because I’m a nut.

Have an alternate means of heating (IF we’re going to stay in this house, I want a soapstone stove.  Sigh.  Maybe Witchfinder will buy me one.)

These things will seem frivolous.  They’re not “how to survive apocalypse” – but having lived through the slide-down, trust me, it makes your life immeasurably better to know that you can still finish that chapter, or write that report, or whatever, even if electricity just went down, and/or you can cook that dish even if the store is out of peppers.

One disruption or interruption is piddly stuff.  An unpredictable succession of them saps the soul and kills the spirit.

Now, the thing is, in the low slide down and counterintuitively, things can do very well you’d never think about.

Look, let me put it bluntly: babies are still born, birthdays still happen, girls still want to buy something pretty for a pick me up.

The people who did well in my brother’s generation (the most affected in Portugal by the slide-down) learned to do something crafty to sell.  Usually bead jewelry, which they sold (literally) on street corners, but also stuffed animals which you could sell to friends of friends of friends.  Paintings, if you were good.  That sort of thing.

Yes, we have walmart and jewelry for a song.  How long it will be cheap is something else, with the dollar plummeting, BUT

But people will pay the same/a little more for something that’s unique/looks better.  And people will still buy toys, baby clothes, (giving stuff to babies is a deeply-rooted tradition.) pretty things that make them smile, unique bits of apparel/accessories that make a tired outfit look new.

Cultivate some crafty skill – first it will keep you from going nuts while you’re worrying about jobs or what not.  Second, it might bring in enough money to survive between jobs/if permanently sidelined by this atrocious economy

Crafts to pick, if you don’t have a favorite should be things that are useful/don’t need proprietary materials.  Scrapbooking would be right out on the first count, and stamped cross-stitch on the second.

But say learning to make clothes out of scraps of material might be in, ditto with braiding rugs.  (Clue zero, but I know people in the village did it.  They bought/got rags off other people and made these gorgeous rugs.)  In a cold climate quilting is a good one.  Altering clothes is too.  Even with the surplus we have, people will grow up, grow wider, or lose weight.  If you know how to alter clothes to make them look GOOD you have something you can trade on/get money for.

I’m decent at refinishing furniture, and I’ve picked up on fillet crochet again.  I used to do this obsessively, then I hit my head and lost the ability to keep track of where I was on the pattern (wonder if that affected writing too?) which is slowly coming back.  Right now – by way of warm up – I’m working on a massive (bedspread size) curtain for our outsized front window.  But I’ve recently come across normal sized patterns for pillows and hangings (and maybe clothes inserts) from the turn of the century, which I think fall under “beautiful and unique” and would probably sell well at SF cons.  And the little ones I can do in an evening, the bigger ones in a week of evenings.

Though I expect ebooks will continue to sell and I even expect Baen to survive.  (The other houses… They’re houses of the living dead right now.  They look alive, but…)  It’s just that you might have to time your publishing/buying for the times the net is up.  And yep, I expect those will actually sell better, because if the net is down there’s less gaming, etc. available.

In that vein, don’t get rid of ALL your obsolete stuff.  Keep DVDs by, even if you have Amazon streaming.  Keep CDs by, even if you buy a lot of music electronic.  I’m clueless about game systems because I don’t use them, but if there’s a way to keep games by, and have power for the systems, do so.

CDs, DVDs and other forms of entertainment not depending on connectivity (if the electricity goes down in your area, so will the net service, most of the time) might make good trade-goods, as well.  So if you see them at the thrift store, buy and store, just in case.  Don’t spend an enormous amount and don’t fill your house with them, but having a few around to trade for others you want is not a bad idea.  Burn you MP3 to CD as backup and keep one of the old stereos around.

Also, because in the long slide down things like the over-restrictive “must cook this in a sterilized kitchen with no one else in the house” health laws tend to slide, even baking and cooking might not be a bad thing, particularly because I suspect a lot of people can’t cook beyond pre-prepared and will be looking for alternatives.  Having the house where the working couple can pick up the pot of pot roast and give you something in return because they’re that kind, might not be a bad idea if the stores are having trouble stocking tv dinners.  (In Portugal it was bread.  Very few people knew how to make bread, but the bakers’ union got bumptious and started not delivering when expected.  Suddenly the people who could bake bread were very popular.)

These are not survival skills, but they’re “keep the world spinning” skills and “make people feel they’re not living in the end times” skills.  They will stand you in good stead.

Most of them are a matter of degree from the Armagedon skills.  So if you believe Armageddon is more likely, by all means, learn to make soap.  BUT learn to make scented, interestingly shaped soap, and you have a skill in case it’s a slide-down.  Learn to make beer, but if you make it micro-brewery specialty beer you can also do well in the slide-down.  Learn to make clothes – but also learn to fix/alter clothes.  That way you’re okay either way.

The only difference is stuff like laptop batteries which are vital in a slide-down and useless in the end of the world.  BUT having them won’t cost you too much.

And it might save your sanity… and allow you to make money off ebooks or whatever it is you do.  If it’s just a slide down.

We’re already in a slide-down, even if not critical yet.  There’s a good chance of a crash, but there’s a chance, also, the slide-down will continue.

In your packing for the crash, don’t neglect preparation for the tumble down the stairs.  It’s usually just a little more effort/expense.  But it can make all the difference.
Written as a funny article (firing a zip line out the window and escaping an endless meeting/PowerPoint presentation has crossed my mind from time to time), but for some people this might be exactly what they need to escape a dangerous situation. Sailors take note:


Most Dangerous Object in the Office: The Rocket-Propelled Ikaros Line Thrower
BY BOB PARKS04.01.136:30 AM

Photo: Matthew Reamer
When we’re stuck in a meeting, we usually text a savior to call us out of the room. But ever since this $599 maritime rescue device came in, we’ve been dreaming about zip-lining out the window. The 8.8-pound waterproof canister uses solid rocket fuel to launch a safety line almost 1,000 feet. To operate, simply pull the safety pin (it’s a rope grenade!), rest against your thigh to cushion the recoil (try not to worry about that half pound of rocket fuel going off near your junk), and pull the trigger. The 4-mm nylon rope can hold up to 450 pounds of waterlogged shipwreck survivors. Warning: If you do use this to bail out of a meeting, your exit may not go unnoticed.
Thucydides said:
Didn't see any Bayonets... ;D
Then it's not a proper zombie prepardness kit.  And who wants noise reduction equipment?  So the zombie can sneak up on you?  My hearing protection is not exactly high on the priority list if a horde is trying to eat me and my family.
Jim Seggie said:
You need one of these.
Agreed Jim, but why not ramp it up a little so you have more reach to deal with the undead horde.

From the description, "Find yourself backed into a corner with the undead on the move? Grab your Gator Pro. It has an aggressive, multi-purpose blade that can be used as an axe, a machete, or knife to filet your way through any walker offensive. In battle, the extra-grippy rubberized handle keeps the blade securely in hand. If the undead come calling, let the Gator Pro answer the door."
After the apocalypse, you can do many interesting things with the tools you thoughtfully packed and materials you scavenge from the ruins of civilization, like this home made chicken plucking machine.....


(didn't seem to fit anywhere else)
The real cause of the Apocalypse:


Russian Meteor Explosion Might Mean Earth Gets Hit More Often Than We Think
BY ADAM MANN10.07.139:30 AM

The trail left behind by the Chelyabinsk meteorite as it rushed through the atmosphere. Image: Константин Кудинов/Wikimedia

The latest analysis of the bollide that burst over Chelyabinsk, Russia in February suggests that the risk from such airbursts — which occur when friction in our atmosphere heats up a meteor — may be greater than previously thought.

Meteorite collisions are often compared in size to nuclear explosions, but because they are speeding toward Earth they have momentum that makes them far more destructive. And to make matters worse, they may occur more often than currently estimated.

On the morning of Feb. 15, a fireball lit up the skies above the town of Chelyabinsk. A 12,000-ton bollide estimated to be roughly 20 meters in diameter came screaming into the atmosphere at more than 42,000 mph. Locals could feel the heat from the blast while dozens of dashboard cameras made recordings of the event, which were disseminated widely on social media.

The best estimates of how much energy was released by the Chelyabinsk explosion come from infrasound measurements taken by an array of sensors all over the world. These instruments detect low-frequency sound waves traveling through the atmosphere. The longer the waves’ period is, the larger the explosion. Infrasound measurements are calibrated from atmospheric nuclear testing done in the 1950s, which is why asteroid explosions are often described in megaton units. The bomb that exploded at Hiroshima had a yield of 16 kilotons while the most powerful nuclear weapon active in U.S. service, the B83 bomb, has a yield of up to 1.2 megatons. The Chelyabinsk blast is estimated to have been between 200 and 800 kilotons, on par with a huge atomic weapon.

But meteors explode in a very different way than a typical nuclear bomb, says physicist Mark Boslough of the Sandia National Laboratories, who studies asteroid impacts and is presenting a talk today about the Chelyabinsk event at the American Astronomical Society’s 2013 Division for Planetary Science meeting in Denver.

“When an asteroid explodes, its momentum is conserved and that explosion continues down toward the Earth,” Boslough said.

For that reason, the people who live in Chelyabinsk explosion are very lucky to be alive, he added. If the bollide had come into the atmosphere at a less steep angle, its blast would have been aimed right at the ground, likely doing much more damage.

That an airburst continues traveling in the same direction as a meteorite was only appreciated starting in the 1990s, particularly after the impact of Shoemaker-Levy 9 on Jupiter. This understanding has led to revisions in estimates of the size of the asteroid that exploded over the Siberian tundra in 1908. This blast, known as the Tunguska event, flattened trees over a 2,000-square-kilometer area.

Scientists in the mid-20th century used nuclear blast comparisons to estimate Tunguska’s power. To make trees fall down over that large an area, a nuclear weapon would have to be 10 to 20 megatons. Now knowing how asteroid impact bursts can deliver more energy to the ground, the Tunguska bollide estimate has gotten smaller, suggesting that an object of roughly 100,000 tons entered the atmosphere and delivered a blast of between 3 and 5 megatons.

Tunguska and Chelyabinsk are thought to be among the most powerful asteroid impacts in recent history. That both would come within about 100 years of one another is slightly worrying to scientists like Boslough.

That’s because current estimates are that an impact the size of Chelyabinsk should happen roughly once a century while a Tunguska-level event should happen once every millennium. To see two such once-in-a-long-while events within close succession makes “you wonder if you’ve got your probabilities right,” said Boslough. He gave a rough back-of-the-envelope calculation suggesting that the chances of these two occurrences — plus a third airburst near South Africa in 1963 (.pdf) that was somewhere in size between Chelyabinsk and Tunguska and was was only observed by infrasound sensors — is somewhere on the order of 0.2 percent.

Our current probability estimates of asteroid impacts are most calculated using astronomical data. Telescopes search for space rocks and note the number that cross Earth’s orbit. But models based on these asteroid surveys have a lot of assumptions built into them, mostly because detecting asteroids is a big challenge, particularly smaller ones that would cause airbursts, and we don’t know exactly how many more of them we have yet to find. It’s possible that we’ve missed many and that airbursts like Chelyabinsk and Tunguska happen more than once a century or millennium.

Agreeing with this assessment is geoscientist Peter Schultz of Brown University, who said that Chelyabinsk “should be kind of an eye-opener.”

After all, he added, Earth experiences an airburst explosion similar in energy to Hiroshima almost every year, but they are more likely to happen over the ocean or uninhabited areas and go unnoticed by people other than the scientists who track them. Geological evidence also suggests that larger asteroids that hit the Earth’s surface strike more frequently than we think. In Argentina alone, scientists have found glass that was formed in impacts from about eight or nine large events that occurred in the last 10 million years.

“This is about a factor of five to 10 higher than what has been predicted,” said Schultz.

On the other hand, that Chelyabinsk and Tunguska happened in close succession might just be a fluke. Boslough said that two data points in of themselves shouldn’t make us believe that asteroid impacts happen more frequently than we think.

“That’s what we would call ‘not statistically significant,’” he said.

As with anything relying on probability, we will simply have to wait and see. The longer we observe asteroid impacts on Earth, the better we will be able to estimate their frequency.

It’s pretty much a guarantee that “eventually we’ll have a close encounter of a bad kind,” said Schultz.
The ultimate slow cooker, uses no external power (essentially a giant tea cosy). Perfect for places where fuel or power is limited, as well as simply getting the parts of a meal together quickly (cook, boil or simer the various pots for 5 min then stick it inside the Wonderbag):


What's a Wonderbag?

Wonderbag is a simple but revolutionary portable slow cooker. It continues to cook food, which has been brought to a boil by conventional methods for up to 12 hours, without the additional use of fuel. No plugs. No Fuss.

Slow Cooking with Wonderbag

Hearty Chipotle Chili

To slow cook, simply bring food to a boil on a stove, let simmer (5 minutes for rice and grains, 15 minutes for root vegetables, meat or presoaked beans), then put the pot with lid into your Wonderbag, put the pillow top on top of the pot, close tightly, and slow cook to perfection up to 12 hours.
Because it is not on direct heat, it will never overcook or burn. Wonderbag is perfect for bringing delicious home cooked meals to potlucks, dinner parties, tailgating, or camping. It’s perfect for holidays when stove and counter space are at a premium.
Powerless is Powerful

For every Wonderbag purchased in the US, one is donated to a family in need in Africa. Wood fire cooking is the source of major social, economic, and environmental issues in Africa. Families in Africa that use Wonderbag save on average of 30% of their household income. Using the Wonderbag helps save water, reduces the carbon footprint, minimizes deforestation, smoke inhalation diseases and deaths.

Hearty Chipotle Chili

Ingredients: 1 pound ground beef. 1 small onion, chopped. 1 medium red or green bell pepper, chopped. 1 garlic clove, finely chopped. 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chili pepper. 1 can (28 ounces) of crushed tomatoes. 1 can (15.5 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained. 1 tub Knorr Homestyle Stock - Beef. Directions: Cook ground beef, onion, red pepper and garlic in 4-quart saucepan, stirring occasionally, until beef is browned and vegetables are tender. Stir in Knorr Homestyle Stock - Beef and chipotle chile pepper until stock is melted. Stir in tomatoes and beans. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until heated through. This takes about 15 minutes. Place your lidded pot in the wonderbag for 1 hour (leaving it for 2-3 hours means more flavors are unloaded).Serve, if desired, with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream and/or chopped cilantro.

Perfectly Fluffy Rice or Grains
Directions: Add 1 cup of rice, or bulgur wheat to 2 cups broth and bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Put in Wonderbag for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
A pretty neat camping grill that fits nicely inot a getaway bag or backpack:


An Ex-Soldier Designs an Ingenious, Badass Grill for Camping Out

No one expects to have access to a Viking range or other high-end kitchen amenities when camping, but it doesn’t mean outdoorsy folks should settle for unsteady, unsightly camp grills. These nominally portable appliances take up an oversize amount of space in backpacks that are already filled to the brim and are just an errant s’more swing away from toppling into a nylon tent, turning a vacation into a visit to the burn unit.

Fortunately, Israeli design student Roee Magdassi has developed a new collapsible cooking concept called Stakes that brings a trifecta of improvements to the outdoor cooking industry. Instead of a rigid, spot-welded frame, his on-the-go system threads braided steel cables through the grate that allow it to be rolled up when not cooking burgers. Rickety fold-out legs are replaced with three titanium stakes that hold the grill in tension, increasing stability. Lastly, an unusual triangular shape gives the design an eye-catching look while making setup simple.

No tools are required for setup, one of the titanium stakes is simply pounded into the ground using a rock. The next step would make Pythagoras proud: Campers pivot the grate around the first stake until they find a smooth, rock free, spot to drive the second. The grill’s steel cable is threaded through a hole in the third stake, providing a few inches of play before planting it. Unlike pitching a tent where a single section of rough terrain can ruin the process, this design allows the camper to work with the site rather than against it.

It was inspired by Magdassi’s stint as a soldier in the Israeli Defense Force.
Stake has the elegant simplicity you’d expect from a designer like Jasper Morrison, but was inspired by Magdassi’s stint as a soldier in the Israeli Defense Force. He lugged his backpack up mountains, endured scorching desert temperatures, and while most of his unit could do nothing but complain about the pack’s bulk, the 27-year old industrial design student turned the burden into inspiration.

As a second year student at the prestigious Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, Magdassi decided to take up the challenge of stripping the grill down to it’s basic elements. “During my military service I experienced walking long trails while carrying heavy loads,” he says. “Therefore, I understood the importance of designing light weight equipment.” The result is a grill that weighs just over half-a-pound, has a generous 13-inch x 10-inch cooking surface, and folds up to the size of a paper towel tube when not in use.

The concept is striking, but it also sports a meticulous attention to detail. The locking mechanism between the grill and stake is simple, elegant, and designed not to wear out after dramatic changes in temperature. A Cordura carrying case keeps all of the pieces together on the way to the campsite, but protects your other gear from getting greasy on the way out. Even little things, like the tab attached to the zipper pulls double duty and the silicone circle acts like a makeshift oven mitt helping campers to disassemble the grill while it’s still hot.
::) I guess we're all doomed if Ambien turns us into "zombie killing machines".  :facepalm:


America's Number One Prescription Sleep Aid Could Trigger 'Zombies,' Murder and Other Disturbing Behavior

Ambien is becoming better known for triggering bizarre behavior than it is for treating insomnia.

January 15, 2014  | 

This article  first appeared in The Fix, which features coverage on addiction and recovery, straight up.

On March 29, 2009, Robert Stewart, 45,  stormed into the Pinelake Health and Rehab nursing home in Carthage, North Carolina and opened fire, killing eight people and wounding two. Stewart’s apparent target was his estranged wife, who worked as a nurse in the home. She hid in a bathroom and was unharmed. Stewart was charged with eight counts of first-degree murder; if convicted, he could face the death penalty. Even though there was evidence that Stewart’s actions were premeditated (he allegedly had a target), Stewart’s defense team successfully argued that since he was under the influence of Ambien, a sleep aid, at the time of the shooting, he was not in control of his actions. Instead of the charges sought by the prosecutors, Stewart was  convicted on eight counts of second-degree murder. He received 142 – 179 years in prison.

Ambien, a member of the class of medications known as hypnotics, was approved by the FDA in 1992. It was designed for short term use to combat insomnia and was a welcome change from the prevailing sleep aid at the time, Halcion, which had been  implicated in psychosis, suicide, and addiction and had been banned in half a dozen countries. Ambien works by activating the neurotransmitter  GABA and binding it to the GABA receptors in the same  location as the benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Valium. The extra GABA activity triggered by the drug inhibits the neuron activity that is associated with insomnia. In other words, it slows down the brain. Ambien is extremely effective at initiating sleep, usually working within 20 minutes. It does not, however, have an effect on sustaining sleep unless it is taken in the controlled release form.

Although the Ambien prescribing information warned, in small print, that medications in the hypnotic class had occasional side effects including sleep walking, “abnormal thinking,” and “strange behavior,” these behaviors were listed as extremely rare, and any anecdotal evidence of “sleep driving,” “sleep eating,” or “sleep shopping”—all behaviors now associated with Ambien blackouts—were characterized as unusual quirks, or attributed to mixing the medication with alcohol.
It wasn’t until Patrick Kennedy’s 2006 middle-of-the-night car accident and subsequent explanation to arriving officers that he was running late for a vote that the bizarre side effects of Ambien began to receive national attention. Kennedy claimed that he had taken the sleep aid and had no recollection of the events that night. After its approval, Ambien quickly  rose to dominance in the sleep aid market. Travelers swore by it to combat jet lag, and women, who suffer more insomnia than men, bought it in droves. Sanofi, Ambien’s French manufacturer, made $2 billion in sales at its peak. In 2007 the generic version of Ambien was released, Zolpidem, and at less than $2 per pill, it still remains one of the most prescribed drugs in America, outselling popular painkillers like Percocet and prescription strength ibuprofen.

Shortly after the Kennedy incident, Ambien users sued Sanofi because of bizarre sleep-eating behaviors while on the drugs. According to Chana Lask, attorney for the class action suit, people were eating things like buttered cigarettes and eggs, complete with the shells, while under the influence of Ambien. Lask called people in this state “Ambien zombies.” As a result of the lawsuit, and of increasing reports coming in about “sleep driving,” the FDA ordered all hypnotics to issue stronger warnings on their labels.

In addition to giving consumers extra information so they could take the medication more carefully, the warning labels also gave legitimacy to the Ambien (or Zombie) defense. In March of 2011, Lindsey Schweigert took one Ambien before getting into bed at 6pm. Hours later, she woke up in custody with no idea how she’d gotten there. In the following weeks, Schweigert pieced together the events of that night. She’d gotten out of bed, drawn a bath, and left the house with her dog. She started driving to a local restaurant but crashed into another car soon after leaving her house. Police described her as swaying and glassy-eyed. She failed a sobriety test and was charged with DWI and running a stoplight.

(...)- SNIPPED