While we are awash in information on a daily basis, especially online, most of us lack knowledge on many very basic skills for survival without all the conveniences of modern life and even worse our society has a real scarcity of people who have acquired a degree of wisdom, which is the ability to make sound judgments based on core beliefs, knowledge, and experience. Strong groups always have core beliefs, which bind the members of the group together. It doesn’t necessarily have to be religious beliefs and values because many organizations, even some governments establish core values. The US Army has core values and I believe in those, because they coincide with my religious beliefs: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage. For me having guideposts in my life, makes me feel more grounded and peaceful.
On March 10th PBS had this report with President Biden hailing the strong economy under his economic plans: WATCH: Biden hails economic progress after U.S. added 311,000 jobs in February, but on March 8th the Federal Reserve Chairman, Jerome Powell reported: The Hill’s Morning Report — Fed chairman: Job losses ‘very likely’. I don’t trust anything coming out of Washington.
On Friday there was news of a bank collapse with Silicon Valley Bank in CA, which handles deposits and loans for thousands of tech start-ups. I had seen a news report that said this was the second largest bank failure in US history, but sure, according to President Biden, the US economy is doing great. Among even the mainstream media financial pundit types, who sell Biden’s talking points, the dreaded “R” word, recession, was being spoken out loud. We’re in for some rocky economic times, in fact, it’s already begun. Fear not though, because we can still do lots of things to improve ourselves and insure that we and our loved ones are taken care of, whatever bad things may come.
So many people I know have two ironclad beliefs that are dangerous fallacies. They believe the major systems for everyday life, like businesses focused in the just in time delivery of our supply chains, will always be there. They also believe that somewhere in our government there are “experts” who have plans to handle every emergency situation and will be ready to “save us” in a crisis. The more I’ve listened to the spin way of “problem-solving” in the past couple decades, where slogans substitute for actual planning, I seriously doubt the leaders we have in either party would handle a serious national crisis well and here’s the reality check – the #1 priority for the politicians in Washington is “continuity of government,” so they’re going to protect themselves and cling to their power, above all else. Our government bureaucracy is bloated with people from academia, who all think the same way, because the surest way out of a cushy government job is to be an independent thinker and challenge the status quo.
When it comes to total abdication of responsibility, both parties in Washington provide plenty of examples of leaders who are out to lunch or go on vacation in the midst of adversity. President Biden vacations even more than President Trump golfed and in a crisis there are plenty of leaders, on both sides, who put their own interests above the good of the people they are elected to represent. A lot of right-wingers are angry at Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg’s slow response to the toxic spill resulting from the train derailment in East Palestine, OH recently, but I will never forget Senator Ted Cruz taking his family on vacation to Mexico during the TX winter storm a couple years ago, that led to a widespread power outage. My youngest grandson, in Texas, was only a few months old. I would never vote for Buttigieg or Cruz, but heck, I have long lists of politicians, on both sides, that I have zero respect for.
I also have very little trust in any of these major systems anymore and that’s why I seriously rethought my emergency preparedness efforts in the past few years and keep focusing on learning more and reorganizing how I go about things. However, I’m also thinking about how on earth my community would react to a serious emergency and how prepared my neighbors are. You’d think since 2020, just about every sentient adult in America would realize how important it is to be prepared for unexpected emergency situations and have some basic emergency supplies stocked up.
If the economy starts tanking, a whole lot of people will face sudden, unexpected job loss, so having at least a few months of basic food and some emergency water would be two ways to relieve the stress of sudden job loss. Having emergency savings, so you have a buffer, while you figure things out, combined with some emergency food and water, could turn a family crisis into a manageable very bad situation. Buying yourself time to figure out more long-term solutions, while coping with an emergency, matters and will make a difference in how well you can survive a crisis. If from day one of a sudden job loss, you’re also facing having no emergency savings and no way to feed your family or keep a roof over your heads, your bad situation escalated into a serious family crisis.
Along with basic supplies, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about medication issues, because I’m diabetic and have already encountered some medication shortage situations. I have been doing some research on herbal and other dietary information. I’m trying to stick to long-term better health choices. Along with purchasing books on herbal medicine, I’ve been gathering other information found online and printing out information – some from medical sources, because I find the safe dosage and possible interaction with other medications and other conditions good to know. I doubt I can remember all these details, especially in an emergency situation, so I prefer paper copies.
Acquiring more information seems like an important resource to me and then turning that information into learning actual skills and knowledge is critical. I am working on planting more useful herbs and learning more about herbal remedies. I started a jar of homemade apple cider vinegar and have it fermenting. Apple cider vinegar may help lower blood sugar, but it’s not a miracle cure or a substitute for your meds. I like knowing pros and cons and potential problems, like this article I linked mentions the benefits of apple cider vinegar, but also the cons, like damage to tooth enamel, increased problems with acid reflux and warns about people with kidney disease, having problems processing the excess acid. Americans are notorious for latching onto fad remedies and cures and I’d imagine in a crisis situation that tendency would intensify. I remember some of the reports in previous disasters of bad and dangerous ideas that took hold and led to more problems. Apple cider vinegar has so many benefits – including having antifungal and antibacterial properties, so knowing how to make vinegar seems like a good thing to know – hence I watched some videos on the process and I purchased books on how to make vinegars and other fermented foods.
Moringa is also touted as having a multitude of nutritional and health benefits, including lowering blood sugar, so I also bought some moringa seeds a few months ago and am going to try growing some moringa trees. I had purchased moringa tea to try a few months ago too. I’ll keep you posted on how those seeds do. Moringa should be able to be grown in my 8b growing zone.
Many of my learning new skills are small projects and they’ve been fun. From a lifetime of needlework and crafting projects, I’m here to tell you “constructing” things and even recipes are a learning process. Often the directions I followed didn’t turn out like I hoped or I ran into some issues and decided to make some changes. Many, many times I ended up going through several “prototypes” until I produced a finished product I was happy with or came out with a dish that I liked. My food adventures are the stuff of family legend, with one of my kids long ago asking if a new dish was “a real recipe or one of my concoctions.” I lied and told him it was a real recipe, but actually I had just made it up and it was awful. That’s why learning more skills is not something to put off, just like buying supplies for emergency preparedness and not learning how to use them. You don’t want to be like me, standing there under pressure, reading the directions to a product I never used before. In my defense there have been times when something broke and I ran to the store to buy something to try to fix it and that necessitated standing there, in the midst of a mess, reading instructions. I learn best by doing things and mistakes and failures prod me to rethink things and try again.
I was not some spectacular soldier. I was a kid who signed up for an office job, but in my short time in the Army I learned a lot of important lessons that have stuck with me for life. The main one my husband taught me, when he explained to me it wasn’t about “me” it was about the team and that what I failed to do could cost my team members their lives. That lesson, developing a belief in selfless service, sinking in over time changed how I live my life. When I was in the Army I remember a field training exercise in the woods in Germany, where an evaluator came up to me and told me in that simulated exercise I would have been dead and he explained the mistakes I had made. This is how training in the Army is conducted – you train and train, to develop skills, so that on the battlefield, you don’t make all those mistakes and you develop muscle memory. All those trite sayings, like “practice makes perfect” contain pearls of wisdom. My late husband was very good at training soldiers and many of the skills I learned on how to better handle my tendency to worry too much, I learned from him.
The world-wide crises brewing now and the total lack of leadership (on both sides) in Washington are legitimate reasons to be very concerned. However, the most worrisome thing is the decline in American cultural values and the omnipresent sense of entitlement that pervades our culture. This goes way beyond just the “other side,” who you don’t agree with politically, it’s about how immersed most people are in celebrity garbage or “causes” they know next to nothing about. I’m sick to death of so many people being outraged about this, that and the other, egged on by their respective politicians, celebrities, news pundits and “trusted” online sources. The phrase that raises my hackles the most is when people agitate in the media or on social media, by stating , “it’s time for a conversation” on this, that or the other, when really they’re just flame-throwing or inciting people. The daytime TV show, The View, is all about “national conversations,” that pit Americans against each other. I felt like I was an alien living on a strange planet during the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard fiasco, because I didn’t watch any of the trial or follow any of the news and blather about it. None.
I’ve seen advice online about having a protected tablet (protected from EMPs) and how to store digital information that way, even if the grid went down, but since I am not tech-savvy, I prefer having books and paper copies. Most people, myself included, are used to just googling everything. I used to print out lots of recipes, but once Pinterest came along, mostly I go to my Pinterest pins and find recipes I pinned. I’ve got several folders of sewing and craft patterns printed out too. I’ve been working on organizing the recipes I had printed out long ago into a large binder. Then I want to print out more recipes from my Pinterest pins. My local library also has all sorts of free information and while it’s probably an antiquated thing now, but lacking a tech solution, you can always use a notebook or composition book and jot down notes you think might be useful. I’ve used index cards for years to jot down notes and quotes when I read and often the index cards double as bookmarks for me.
I also started printing out articles and various things I think might be useful information again. There are all sorts of directions, patterns, etc. online that are free and can be easily printed out, so you have a copy on hand. Even back in 2020, I found a free face mask pattern online, printed it out, and sewed a bunch of face masks (I get irritated every time I think about that – we were massively lied to by “the experts” about everything during that pandemic). In a serious shortage situation or emergency, having directions and patterns to make all sorts of things might be useful – for instance, patterns to sew washable feminine pads, how to make a sun oven, a brick oven or even a mud oven. If the power’s out for an extended period of time, then fuel becomes a precious commodity, so being able to capture the sun to cook might be useful. Sure, solar power units are great too and there are amazing sun ovens for sale, but the All-American sun oven is almost $500. The internet is awash in loads of free information and free patterns and directions. The time to think about that resource is before an emergency, because even in bad storms, the power is usually down and cell phone service can become sketchy.
It’s humbling to realize that most early Americans were illiterate and yet they managed to survive in some of the harshest situations, while we demand our climate-controlled homes and have luxuries that even the wealthiest people back then could not have imagined. We have the luxury of an overabundance of resources – both material and information. People who can locate and analyze useful information is the scarcest resource in America, I think. Perhaps a large part of it is we’ve become used to fast-paced skimming through so much trivial nonsense online and sharing it, that actually taking the time to read through more serious information feels burdensome to many people. Turning information into knowledge though takes a lot more than just having a well stocked “how-to” library – it takes practicing to develop skill sets. For me the public library has always been a treasured resource to learn more and inspire me to try new things. I have always collected books for my own home library too. I’m not some connoisseur of rare or fine books, because most of my books have been hand-me-downs or used books I acquired at yard sales, thrift stores or bought online.
I want to start organizing printed out information into binders. It might be a good idea to start printing out some of the free information you would find useful and start keeping some printed copies. Using binders has worked for me for decades. Above are some of my old needlework binders of patterns I printed out long ago and needlework magazines I saved. I literally have a needlework “library” – patterns galore, magazines, and books. We’re not going to talk about my hoard of needlework supplies
Organizing paperwork has always been a huge struggle for me, because I stack up paperwork in piles, boxes and baskets, then waste a lot of time searching for information when I need it. A few years ago I began working on organization, on a regular basis, with my food storage and it has helped me keep track of what I have, rotate through food more efficiently, cut down on waste and I have a much better understanding of my food inventory. So, I decided to use this binder approach for recipes and other useful information, where I have paper copies floating around.
Last year I did a major book reorganization effort and that has helped me with keeping track of my books, so I’m hoping this effort to store paper copies of useful information in binders will help me more easily locate this information, when I need it.
If I get really ambitious, I’ll tackle organizing my garage, which my youngest daughter has done several times for me. Somehow, gradually, I always start cluttering it up again. It’s at the OMG point again.