Category Archives: Emergency Preparedness

Paper copies are a good thing

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Emergency Preparedness, General Interest

America needs more builders

While reading One Second After, a fictional novel about an EMP attack taking down the US power grid, I kept thinking about a 2015 blog post I wrote, If we build it; we can fix it, which cuts to the chase on where the world is at right now (although we’ve been headed in this direction for many years now). I wrote:

“So, far we’ve got most of the best geopolitical systems analysts (world leaders, scholars, statesmen, soldiers) not working on finding ways to fix the multiple, simultaneous, sub-system failures that lead to a collapse of a civilization.  They study the various sub-set systems and do some disparate diagnostics, then shrug and say, that’s just how civilizations are – “they rise and they fall”. Some try to design quick-fix patches.  Some recoil in fear and are content to be passive spectators to the collapse and murmur, “It’s always been that way”.  Brilliant geopolitics experts, almost to a man, say “that’s the way it’s always been  and I have seen nothing in history to indicate  it can ever change.” Of course, if you accept it can’t change, very few people will even bother trying to change it.”

Thinking about systems… all kinds of systems… is something I’ve done for as long as I can remember. I try to figure out the parts, pull them apart in my mind, think about how they fit into the larger systems and identify critical structure vs. fluffy extras. and then identify problems, I also think a lot about the “what ifs” and thinking about what would happen, how on earth could we avoid calamity and how could we set about fixing the parts that are broken or failing. I ended that post with this observation:

“My son recently lamented to me that he doesn’t understand why some, way more experienced, software engineers he knows settle for creating sort of patches to fix problems, instead of trying to figure out what’s causing the problem to occur in the first place and fix that.  He asked why people are like that and I told him, that in my opinion, lots of people prefer to take the easiest road – believe me, growing up in PA, our pothole-patched roads attest to that.  Because throwing a patch on is easier than repairing the entire road.  And I should know, because my father built roads for a living.”

In a recent blog post, I mentioned the train derailment in East Palestine, OH situation and how the critical infrastructure problems in America are long-standing and yet decade after decade little is done to really fix the structural problems. Despite how much government money gets allocated, we just end up with “patches” to problems, lots of wasted tax dollars, zero accountability for fraud, waste and abuse of public monies and most of all we end up with catchy political sound bites and false narratives, deflecting blame, pointing fingers at the “other side” and enough hot air to keep millions of hot air balloons afloat indefinitely.

The scenario in One Second After is about such a massive catastrophic event of a major system failure that results in simultaneous sub-system failures and life as people know it ceases to exist, leaving them adrift and trying to figure out basic survival without all those major systems to rely on. The author put a lot of thought into exploring the “what ifs,” but it’s important to keep in mind his work is fiction, not prophecy. That’s the thing with all the “what ifs” we might get concerned about – they’re “what ifs” and some are more likely than others. For instance, I live in an area hit by hurricanes and bad thunderstorms that often spawn tornadoes, so that means those sort of events are a more likely “what if” in how I want to be prepared. That doesn’t mean a world-altering catastrophic event like an EMP attack or nuclear war can’t happen, it’s just in my daily life, most of the same emergency preparations for a hurricane would be the same things – basics – water, shelter, food, personal safety. Major emergencies almost always seem to put us back to thinking about the basics of survival.

I see a lot of online homesteaders and preppers, who seem to be running around in a million different directions, starting one major project after another, as the latest online conspiracy theory or fearmongering takes hold. They’re buying this list of stuff, then that list of stuff, then it’s going from a handful of raised beds to trying to plant acres and acquiring livestock right and left too. Many seem like they’re once and done type “experts” – they try something once or worse hear someone else online talking about a topic, then they adopt that person’s take and present it on their own social media platforms. Trying to troubleshoot for every imaginable doom and gloom scenario isn’t practical and even more than that it’s a scattershot approach that can wear us out physically, leave us financially bleeding out and worst of all emotional basket cases, if we try to embark on too many projects at one time.

Today is two years since my husband passed away and after a trip to the cemetery, I’m going to try to get this blog post done. He was forever reminding me KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid and he would use that “how do you eat an elephant?” line and remind me to slow down and work on one bite at a time. When I get worked up or energized about something – I’m ready to charge full-steam ahead, often biting off way more than I can chew, so over the years I’ve worked on trying to take smaller bites at a time.

The things that worked for the small community in this novel to survive, are what has worked in groups of people always – strong leadership, building trust within the community, and people working together. That’s not rocket science. They set-up workable systems with what resources they had and learned from their mistakes, but there were still huge costs. However, it goes back to the title of that novel – “one second after” is too late to prepare. You’d think since 9/11, 2008 crash, major weather emergencies and then the pandemic, that our federal government and every state and local government would have made emergency preparedness a top priority and have emergency food, water, medical supplies stockpiled.

Last summer the UN was predicting global hunger and famine to increase dramatically: Secretary-General Warns of Unprecedented Global Hunger Crisis, with 276 Million Facing Food Insecurity, Calling for Export Recovery, Debt Relief The thing most Americans don’t understand is that we’re not immune from these same catastrophes that befall the rest of the world. Hunger is increasing in the western world too – even here in America. Geopolitical, economic and civil systems are under increasing stress around the world. There are major climate and weather situations happening too, even solar issues beyond our planet. Here’s a January 13, 2023 article, As sun’s most active regions turn toward Earth, potential for violent solar activity builds:

“Extreme space weather can disrupt space technology, power grids and communication systems, including GPS navigation and aircraft passing over the North Pole.”

I don’t have a crystal ball and neither does anyone else, but the major systems upon which our modern civilization are built have become more and more stressed over the last 20 years and in the past few years, there’s plenty of information in the news and in various reports that should serve as the “fasten your seatbelt” light is on and turbulence is increasing. In my 2015 blog post I wrote that I don’t accept the belief that civilizational collapse is inevitable and I still don’t believe that:

“I refuse to accept that belief.   I believe that if we build it, we can always improve on the design and come up with better sub-systems to build a newer, better performing model.   If your best systems analysts don’t ever even really try to find the design flaws and fix them, but instead wander off, halfheartedly fixing, only bits and pieces of some of the sub-system design flaws, of course the system will continue to reach the point where these sub-systems start falling apart and down the chute into the dustbin of history goes all that work that went into it. In the process usually many, many people perish, because most of these sub-set failures happen in midair, resulting in spectacular crashes, although some do implode and burn slowly on the runway too, so to speak.  Cleaning up the wreckage from civilizational collapses can take centuries, sometimes those people that survive don’t even bother, they wander off into the wilderness.”

With all the marvelous inventions and discoveries at our fingertips, perhaps in the midst of having too much of everything we’ve lost sight of the things that really matter – how we care for our families, how we treat each other, and focusing on the basic things. The daily online partisan outrage theater doesn’t matter. All the Us vs. Them within our own country won’t help a single American in a crisis. All the conspiratorial murmurings that fuel social media traffic about the dreaded “evil ones,” – from the left ranting about “MAGA Republicans” to the right ranting about “the Woke” and “the Deep State,” won’t help a single American in need, especially in a crisis.

For us to survive will require a whole lot more “we” and less “me,me,me.” Changing hearts changes the world – that’s what I believe. Oh, and of course it sure would help if more and more Americans started thinking beyond the moment and started seriously stocking up some water, food and basic supplies, in case of an emergency situation. Here’s the US government emergency planning advice:, but I think this is totally inadequate to just have 3 days of water and food stored as a minimum or up to two weeks. There are all kinds of good prepping guides online. In 2020, I decided to go from having a few months worth of food to working on bulking up my emergency water, food and basic supplies and that is still an ongoing effort. I haven’t stopped and I continue to make changes and tweaks, looking toward finding ways to work toward some more sustainable options.

This last point is about a common sentiment I’ve heard expressed many times by people, who take emergency preparedness seriously, about people who haven’t lifted a finger to prepare for anything or even more frustrating dismiss preparedness as something doomsday crazies do. Many people who do prep have resentment toward non-preppers. A hundred years ago, preparedness was a critical part of everyday life for most people around the world, because survival depended on it. I know how frustrating it can be to read all sorts of news and reports, then try to convey to family or friends that certain preparedness efforts are important, only to get dismissed as being too much of a worrier or “there she goes with the crazy prepper talk again.” I just decided to ignore the comments and stay focused on doing what I think is right. Back during that bad freeze a few months ago, I saw the news report of the young woman in Buffalo, who froze to death stranded in her car. I just went ahead and ordered two cold weather sleeping bags for my two oldest granddaughters and some other supplies and had it delivered to their home in IN. I told my daughter to have them throw those sleeping bags in the trunks of their cars and put some HotHands hand warmers in their glove compartments. I also told her to urge them to keep some water and something to eat in their cars too. I had sent a Mr. Heater Buddy a couple months before that cold freeze.

In a major catastrophe, the thing is all the would have, could have, should have won’t matter. The people who didn’t prepare will be aware that they should have done more, but even people who did prepare will realize there were things they should have done more of too. All the partisan political crap and wanting to be right about this, that or the other won’t matter.

What will matter is how we work together to survive, because the reality is in major catastrophes body counts grow exponentially as resources dwindle, civil unrest increases and sanitation degrades – that’s the truth. While many of the scenarios in the One Second After novel seem like worst case scenario statistics, death tolls do mount if there are prolonged catastrophes and little or no relief efforts available. I like a YouTube prepper channel, The Provident Prepper a lot and I like their line – “be part of the solution.” Arguing with or being hostile toward people who don’t see things as you do won’t help anyone. America has an over abundance of angry flamethrowers and wrecking balls. All that “we need fighters” on the right is as destructive as the “tear it all down” on the left. America needs more builders – builders of stronger families, builders of stronger communities and most of all builders of faith, hope and love.

Leave a comment

Filed under Emergency Preparedness, General Interest

A bit of a book review

One thing that has kept the human race going, even in the worst of times, is hope. There are all sorts of clichés like “hope isn’t a strategy,” that push hope to the side and yet, I believe that faith, hope and love will help guide us through the darkest times, but we still have to be willing to make decisions, work hard and keep trying, even in the midst of failures and adversity.

Back in 2012, when I started this blog, my intention was to write about politics and cultural topics, but even in the first weeks of blogging I was writing posts about preparedness and the importance of learning to be more self-reliant. For as long as I can remember, I’ve believed in learning more skills and trying to become more self-reliant.

For every person in America who is making efforts to be more prepared, with stocking up water, food, basic supplies and trying to learn to be more self-reliant, it’s a safe bet there are literally thousands of Americans who have never given a moment’s thought to emergency preparedness or what they would do in case of a serious emergency or a prolonged crisis situation. They believe the government will take care of them. They have complete trust that the infrastructure and complex systems that make our modern lifestyle possible will always be there. They don’t even believe major breakdowns or a collapse of these complex systems is even a possibility. While I don’t want this to be doom and gloom, this isn’t going to be a rainbows and unicorns blog post.

Back in my teens I read George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984 and some other doomsday type novels like, Nevil Shute’s, On The Beach, which was about a nuclear attack. I also went through a period of reading survival type novels like, Alive, The Story of the Andes Survivors, about a rugby team from Uruguay, in 1972 that survived a plane crash in the Andes Mountains and survived in sub-zero temperatures. I’ve read spy novels and novels about international intrigue galore and I’ve often read novels that definitely aren’t something I would ever have picked out myself, but someone highly recommended it, so off I go reading it.

With all the talk about EMPs online lately, I decided to read William R. Forstchen’s 2009 novel, One Second After. The novel is about America’s electrical grid being taken out by an EMP attack triggered by nuclear missiles launched high above the earth’s atmosphere. I’m still waiting for my used copy of the Ted Koppel book, Lights Out, and had heard One Second After mentioned many times by preppers online, so I started this novel expecting not to like it. I didn’t really “like it,” because after the chaos of the past few years, I could actually envision some of this horrific stuff happening here – especially the civil breakdown, chaos and almost everyone being totally unprepared to even have the basics of food and water stocked up to last for a few weeks, let alone months or longer.

What I will say is I am glad I read this book and it’s given me a lot of crisis and preparedness things to think about that I hadn’t thought about before or thought about in the same way as this author did. Creating a culture of preparedness and self-reliance really is a national security imperative, but our government gives wide-berth to encouraging citizens to being able to manage on their own or to be prepared. The culture we actually have is one of self-indulgence and foolish, useless people (celebrities and “influencers”) being idolized. If you weren’t sure about how our officials would mishandle a crisis, just look back to America in 2020, while their media friends spun up non-stop drama and pitting Americans against each other.

The title of the book is the most important message, because “one second after” is too late to prepare and in this fictional story all of America is thrown back into a life without electricity and a total collapse of the modern transportation and supply chains that make our modern lifestyle even possible. That total collapse creates a total communications breakdown too and people are literally clueless what is going on even a hundred miles away, let alone in Washington or the rest of the country. Rumors carried by “refugees” fleeing cities, trying to get back home, or simply stuck due to their cars no longer being operable when the EMP takes out their vehicles electronics system, are the only “information” filtering in from the outside world at first.

The novel was filled with plenty of horrific situations, but most of the characters felt like the types of people you’d find in a small, Southern college town, located in the midst of a rural area, especially the main character, John Matherson, a military history professor and retired Army officer. The author, a military historian, included a lot of historical information and statistics that sounded to me like information from military and government reports, delivered by main characters in the novel talking to each other in town council meetings and conversations between other community leaders. Tom Clancy and many other writers of spy novels and military-themed novels used this same way of including historical and technical information in the plot via characters talking to each other. The town doctor’s morning reports at the town leaders’ meetings in One Second After often sound like he’s reading the “worst case” estimates from a lot of government reports on various dire health crisis situations.

There’s a line, as the story is over two months into this crisis, that sums it all up, as Matherson’s thinking about the situation for his own family, which includes his young daughter, who has type 1 diabetes and a teenage daughter:

“Food, bulk food, just a fifty-pound bag of rice or flour, shoes, batteries, an additional test kit for Jennifer, damn it, even birth control for Elizabeth, dog food, a water filter, so they didn’t have to boil water they now pulled out of the swamp green pool… I should have had those on hand.” (pg. 367)

That said, while fiction is written to keep readers turning the pages, I came away thinking about all sorts of preparedness aspects I hadn’t given much consideration, but also hopeful that since this fictional novel reportedly generated a lot of interest at the Pentagon and in Congress back in 2009, that some strides have been made to harden some of America’s most critical infrastructure from the threat of an EMP attack. My trust with anything concerning our federal government is very shaky though and there are still so many simple things I can do to become more self-reliant and more resilient, so that’s where I want to focus my energies.

One of the interesting parts with the plot in this novel is that people quickly begin to realize they’re on their own and Washington isn’t coming to help. With all the lines of communication down, people have no real idea what is really going on and the multitude of serious problems they find themselves facing daily becomes more critical than what’s happening in Washington. Basic survival becomes the overriding concern, as problems deepen and multiply and death tolls rise. It’s also painfully obvious that almost every character in this novel, even the main ones were not remotely prepared on a personal or professional level for a serious national crisis striking America. The only characters who sound like they were prepared to survive are ones described as family/farmer clans, who live out in the mountains and survivalist types off in the woods, whom the town’s leaders refer to being people they need to approach for help to learn skills to survive.

The small college becomes a hive of activity and innovation to get some older technology functioning, a militia formed for the common defense and even a group of students, who were majoring in outdoor education and biology, referred to as the “granola crew” before the crisis, become vital at ramping up their foraging efforts to boost the community food supply.

The theme of civil breakdown and maintaining basic law and order plays a large role in the plot. A recurring part of the rumors reaching this town is about violent gangs and crazy end time cults taking hold in areas around the country. Gauging by the craziness I see online with wild conspiracy theories spreading like wildfire that take hold among America’s most politically online polarized sides (both left and right wing) this part of the plot seemed totally plausible to me.

There are other books in this series that continue the story in One Second After, but I’m going to read some other happy ending novels for a bit. I’m excited to start my spring gardening effort and some other projects. Rather than get scared or alarmed, I tried to assess situations and information in this novel and think about whether it’s realistic or reliable with doing a bit more reading on these topics.

The town’s doctor talked about making a mixture of sugar, salt and sterile water to give to patients with depleted electrolytes and this reminded me of a drink called switchel, that I read about in a pioneer novel long ago. It’s bits of information like this salt, sugar, water mixture and remembering switchel, that made a connection in my mind of, “hey, this might be good to know too.” Sometimes situations in novels seem totally implausible or I remember something else I read elsewhere that offers an easier or more realistic way to deal with a problem, but thinking about different ideas is always a good thing. That’s my main takeaway from this novel – look for useful things to learn and consider but don’t get scared or get in a panic about the possibility of an EMP event. Just take practical steps, as you have time and can afford, to be better prepared, especially with basic supplies required for everyday survival.

Leave a comment

Filed under Emergency Preparedness, General Interest

A few jolts of awareness

Where I live in southeast Georgia, we’ve had unseasonably warm weather in the past week or so – up in the mid-80s and it’s felt like spring. Of course, since we’re only at the end of February, it’s a safe bet we’ll still have some colder weather, but the warm weather sure stirred this deep desire to rush about and get my container garden planted. Common sense asserted itself, so I’ve put the brakes on most of that and focused mostly on indoor seed starting.

It’s not just me that’s got spring fever, I’ve got cosmos seeds sprouting around my garden area and a lot of these dainty Johnny-jump ups (photo above) popping up around my backyard and in the woodchips where I had set up my container garden last year.

I had planted one pack of Johnny jump-up seeds in some containers last spring. A few plants have reemerged in the containers, but there are certainly a lot more from stray seeds peeking through the grass and wood chips. Along with working on growing vegetables this spring, I’m going to plant more flower seeds.

“Volunteer” plants that pop up unexpectedly feel like a gift. I’ve got little yellow flowers and purple “weed” flowers blooming in my back yard and I’ve been admiring those too. Of course, the real showstoppers at this time of year here are the azaleas and they’ve started blooming too. I suspect most people don’t even notice the delicate little “weed” flowers.

When I listen to people, it’s often very interesting what things they notice and what things they don’t. It’s even harder to really gain some awareness of what I am not noticing and usually it’s something someone says to me that prods me to take a step back and remove the plank from my own eye first or I read something and realize that I was completely unaware of that or I know nothing about that topic that seems very important.

Yesterday, as I was watering a few things still growing in my container garden, I spent some time just looking around and thinking about how a year ago, I was still finding excuses to talk myself out of attempting a gardening effort on my own and now I’m thinking of ways to improve my gardening space. I already have seeds started indoors and some gardening plans.

Sometimes starting on a new path begins with just a change of attitude.

Along with the gardening, I want to get back to working on my needlework and crafting again. Here’s the reality though, I am still stocking up food and basic supplies regularly, because there are so many major problems still swirling – war in Ukraine, China flexing its muscles, global economic problems, political rot in Washington, and plenty of unusual climate and weather events, let alone all the social and cultural problems here at home in America.

Along with my gardening effort and hobbies, the reality is we are living in very uncertain times. I’ve heard a lot of talk online about being prepared for an EMP attack in the past year or so and frankly, I don’t even understand basic technology, let alone an EMP attack. This morning I ordered a book by Ted Koppel, I saw recommended on a video titled, The Worst Risk You Face, by a YouTube channel, Jim’sWay. I had seen this man, Jim Phillips, on The Provident Prepper YouTube channel and he’s been teaching survival skills and preparedness for 40 years. There’s nothing flashy or savvy about his video quality and it does feel like sitting in a lecture, but he provides a lot of useful information I had not seen elsewhere. He said people often make comments about Ted Koppel being a liberal when he recommends this book, but he said Koppel’s 2015 book, Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath, is excellent. I found the book on amazon and there were lots of used copies that are cheap. I found a used copy in very good condition for $5.59. Some people only want new books, but since I grew up with hand-me-down books, I’m fine with used books. I opt for “very good” or “like new” condition, due to getting some used books online in very sad condition that were listed in “good” condition.

Phillips talked about how it’s not just man-caused events like terrorism that could take down the grid. He mentioned the Carrington Event of 1859, which I knew nothing about. Trusty Wikipedia states:

The Carrington Event was the most intense geomagnetic storm in recorded history, peaking from 1 to 2 September 1859 during solar cycle 10. It created strong auroral displays that were reported globally[1] and caused sparking and even fires in multiple telegraph stations. The geomagnetic storm was most likely the result of a coronal mass ejection (CME) from the Sun colliding with Earth’s magnetosphere.[2],fires%20in%20multiple%20telegraph%20stations.

That 1859 geomagnetic storm was before there even was an electric power grid, but there were reports of telegraph failures across America and in Europe and with telegraph pylons throwing off sparks.

We are all very dependent on our modern systems that all rely on the energy grids. The power went out for a few hours the other day in the afternoon and while it caused no major disruption in my life, I did check the Georgia Power outage map site on my cell phone frequently to see if there were updates on when power was expected to be restored. I’ve been without power for several days after a big storm before and daily life changes instantly. Even simple things take more thought and effort without power readily available.

There are still some places around the world where people do live without electricity in their homes, but most of the world is like me – totally clueless about all of the difficulties an extended power outage would create and not even able to fully grasp the myriad of challenges. I’m still working on basic preparedness goals and trying to think through whether to purchase many pricier preparedness items or embark on new projects I’ve seen people talking about online or read about. However, there are dozens upon dozens of little things to do that are within just about everyone’s reach and one of those is being willing to invest some time to learn more. I’m also working on staying focused on being grateful for the many blessings in my life and trying to curb my judgmental habits. Those don’t cost anything, except giving myself a few jolts of self-awareness each day.

Leave a comment

Filed under Emergency Preparedness, Gardening, General Interest

A long-winded ramble, again

Something I’ve been thinking about a lot is how there’s so much online social media noise about “a total collapse is coming” and endless lists and advice on how to prepare for that catastrophic event. The thing is a total collapse could be a long process, with periods of accelerated economic chaos and years of lulls, it could be a rapid “collapse” or a total collapse might not happen at all. I prefer to look at a range of potential circumstances from less dramatic to the worst case, then I look at my resources, my skill level, how much time I have to invest in various options. Most people have a very finite amount of resources, skills and time to put into increasing their preparedness level. As inflation has increased our money, a key resource in buying more supplies, has less and less buying power.

If you decide to short-change on the much more likely emergency type situations and opt to put all of your money and time into prepping for the most extreme situations, you could come up short on being prepared for the much more likely emergencies. I’m not talking about basic items, like food and water, here, but about things like special gear and equipment for some worst case SHTF type events or trying to invest in too many projects that you have no experience at doing or a realistic understanding of the costs involved with those projects..

For instance, I’m not investing any money into supplies for some specific doomsday type scenarios items, like buying a hazmat suit or gas mask, when there are dozens of home repair and other items that should be done in my home or that will likely serve me better in the much more likely bad weather events that regularly hit my area. Likewise, I’m not making rash money decisions, like pulling all my money out of the bank, based on online hysteria. I’m not going to sacrifice being prepared for much more likely emergencies and focus on only worst case scenarios. A storm damaging my home is more likely than a complete collapse of the economy, so having adequate insurance on my home and personal property seems more important than some of the items on doomsday prepping lists I’ve seen. Everyone has to weigh how much money they have and then decide how they’re going to use it. For me, I assess having a jack and spare tire is likely going to be more useful than carrying around a Geiger counter – that’s what I mean about making risk assessments – it’s very personal choices. Finding some balance can be hard, because most people who focus on preparedness want to be prepared for everything.

Every financial news report I’ve seen predicts a worsening economic situation for 2023 with more shortages and higher inflation. How we go about preparing should be geared toward our individual needs and situation. I got to thinking about this after seeing more “You will need this to survive” lists online.

That got me thinking about the amount of “how-to” content online I browse through to learn various things. My Pinterest account has over 14,000 links pinned. Pinterest replaced the old days of my clipping magazine articles and recipes. Often I look at several recipes of the same dish to find one that I decide to try. YouTube advice is like that too, I consider a lot of ideas and discard way more than I decide to try. With the preparedness advice, I have to work harder to tune out the hysteria and a lot of advice that might be well-meaning, but it’s just not advice I agree with or that fits my life. I am not rushing out to stock up on another list of items someone online is warning is vital for my survival when the collapse happens. I’ll think about what I have, what I use, my budget, and even what supply issues I’m seeing in my own local stores or with shopping online.

I’m also not interested in proving the government’s lying about the inflation numbers, because I googled how the government comes up with the inflation rate and it’s a bit complicated (and convoluted). They analyze the prices of over 80,000 consumer goods across the country and then use some other data to arrive at the inflation rate. So, if I keep lists of a few dozen items I buy and come up with the inflation rate on my stuff, that doesn’t mean anything really. It’s a different methodology than the government uses and I certainly don’t want to analyze the prices of 80,000 consumer goods or figure out their methodology.

I’ll just assume whoever’s in the WH is going to use all kinds of word games (lies) and use bits of data to try to paint a happy face on the economic situation. I’m not organized enough or smart enough at math and data analysis to try to keep track of America’s economy. I try to loosely keep track of prices in my area and where I shop online and try to figure out my shopping list from that. Lately, the cat food aisle where I usually shop looks like the Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020, so stocking up more cat food (and dog food too) has been a priority. I googled “cat food shortage” and read a few news articles on the cat food shortage situation, so it’s not just my local store. Yesterday, I noticed in my local Walmart that the price of the French and Italian bread, their bakery has sold for $1 for years, is now $1.47. Even the loaves marked down for quick sale were $1.03. At the rate things are going I might need a goose that lays golden eggs to even afford a dozen chicken eggs.

Great sale items might be a “great deal” for other people, but might not be for me. I watched a video the other day where the lady talked about purchasing 100 avocados for 25 cents each and she made guacamole with them, put it in ziploc bags, and froze it. She said she has a year’s worth of guacamole for her family. That might be a great savings for her, but for someone else spending $25 of their food budget on a snack item might not be a smart move. Always cover the basics first, is important I think. I shop so I have basic ingredients for meals first. This reminded me of the couponing phases I went through over the years, purchasing a lot of snack and convenience food using coupons and that stuff just sat in my pantry. My husband asked me why I was buying so much weird junk food that even the kids didn’t touch. I learned to keep to what my family eats, including snacks and trying new snack items with one box or bag, to see if my family liked it. With avocados, I have purchased several at a time before, cut them up, sprinkled lime juice on them, to freeze in small bags that I can pull out and use easily. Perhaps, $5 worth of 25 cent avocados would work better for me than 100. Finding what fits you is more economical than buying foods you don’t like, don’t know how to use, or take too big of a chunk out of your food budget.

I like having mostly basic ingredients that I can use to prepare a variety of dishes and less quick meal packaged items. Avoiding trendy foods has taken me time to learn. For instance, I don’t like the texture or taste of quinoa, so I’m not stocking up on that. One of my daughters told me that if it was prepared properly I would like quinoa. I followed the instructions to the letter and I don’t like it. I also don’t care one iota about “ancient grains,” so I’m skipping those too. I don’t get excited about non-GMO, organic, or any of these other trendy terms that food manufacturers and the health food industry sell. I read labels, and try to stick to items with short ingredient lists, that I know what they are, not chemical-type names that I have no clue what it even is. I grew up when we were being sold the lie of margarine as a healthier choice than butter. If all these terms are important to you, have at it. All I can say is that if food shortage situations do get worse, a lot of us will have to get used to being less fussy and use what we can find.

Next thing I want to mention is herbal remedies and prescription medications. I recently ran into an out-of-stock issue with one of my prescription medications and had to work with my primary care doctor to get it worked out. Considering the US imports so much medication from China, shortages could become an increasing problem, so trying to stock up as much as you can is prudent. That’s going to vary with your medical insurance. I can get a 90-day supply at a time of my prescriptions medications. I’ve also been learning more about medicinal herbs.

I’ve been very interested in herbal remedies since I was a kid, but with taking prescription medications, I talk to my primary care doctor and consider his advice. I keep him informed of what herbal supplements I take. I grew up with some older relatives who were proponents of PA Dutch Powwow medicine (an odd combination of herbal and faith-healing.) My mother was a RN and she was a modern medicine person. I kind of stick my toes in both worlds. I recommend doing a lot of research about what the chemical properties in various herbs are that are purported to have health benefits, research into those claims and also check out warnings about various herbal remedies and certain medical conditions or by mixing some herbal remedies with some prescription medications.

Many herbal remedies do work, but for many there’s no research to back up the claims. For instance, cinnamon has been mentioned as helping to control blood sugar and often now it’s sold by the over-the-counter diabetes type supplies in pharmacies. However, the Mayo Clinic states the research is inclusive and advises caution on high doses for people with liver disease. We all have to make our own decisions, but trying to gather information from both herbal medicine and traditional medicine sites, plus talking to my doctor, is how I go about making a decision. I try to use more cinnamon in my diet, but cinnamon capsules sold as a supplement upset my stomach, so I opted for that approach. Even if the medicinal claims don’t pan out, cinnamon tastes wonderful in many dishes.

Just because my grandmother did it doesn’t mean it was the best thing. My maternal grandmother believed in PA Dutch Powwow medicine, but she also kept every packet of pills the doctor ever prescribed for her in her large purse. She wouldn’t throw any of it out, because she “paid good money for it,” despite all my mother’s pleading with her that pills don’t’ stay good forever. Yes, it’s good to learn as many medical skills as you can and also alternative medicine too, because we just might need them, in an emergency or if some major chaos happens. However, there’s a tendency by a lot of people, especially people embracing old-fashioned living, to romanticize what our ancestors did and discard modern science completely Some of the old medical treatments worked, but many are scary and dangerous.

I have known many people who mix up their own potions and syrups, and remedies. My paternal great-grandmother cooked up a very effective drawing salve that she used on her farm animals she told me, but it also worked on human cuts and scrapes. She also had some home remedies that were a bit questionable. A lot of home remedies for coughs and colds, teething, etc. contain a lot of alcohol. Some people are okay with rubbing whiskey on babies gums or giving small children shots of high-proof cough syrups, but it wasn’t for me. For instance, laudanum, a tincture of opium mixed with alcohol, was widely used and abused in the 19th century. Laudanum was routinely used for pain and a variety of ailments. Many things touted as alternative medicine or health/natural remedies become fads, so I tread cautiously with the health remedies getting the most buzz in pop culture and online. And yes, it goes without saying there have been alarming lapses in safety testing of many prescription medications and preventative measures too, so it’s best to do some research and ask a lot of questions. My mother kept a copy of the PDR (Physicians Desk Reference) that she turned to often to check out drug information. Now, we have the internet where we can find all sorts of studies and information ourselves. With the natural remedies vs. modern medicine, I think usually when medical situations go horribly wrong or it’s a life-threatening medical emergency, most people aren’t going to go off into the woods to find an expert on home remedies or call granny, they’re likely going to go to a modern medical center for help or call 911, if they can. I am a cancer survivor and I am thankful for the modern medicine that saved my life.

Do what works for you, but we should all try to be open to new information too and be prepared for the more common emergencies rather than fixate on only the most extreme scenarios. If you believe everything is doomed, you’re hunkering down and talking yourself into a bunker mentality. If you believe everything is doomed, you’re also not likely to put much effort into fixing things or trying to make things work – it’s all about giving up on America and saying it’s a lost cause. I just can’t buy into that.

Update 1/12/2023: I just wanted to add this since we’re only in January of this year and today I encountered the second prescription medication out-of-stock issue on another medication I regularly take. I’ll have to work with my primary care doctor to work something out.

Leave a comment

Filed under Emergency Preparedness, General Interest, Uncategorized

Facing storms or something like that

A topic that bounces around the online prepping community frequently is what to do when unprepared people come knocking at your door or needing help in an emergency situation. The video I linked to in my last post mentions this topic, so I’m going to relate some real experiences I’ve had with helping strangers. One situation happened in 2013, when I was still working at my local Walmart Supercenter – trust me, all sorts of crazy things happen in big box stores and AlaskaGranny’s video on the people in Buffalo sheltering in a Target store brought back memories. I wrote a blog post in February 2014 about a situation that began in the late summer of 2013 and continued for several months. I also wrote another blog post of what my husband used to term, “The Walmart Chronicles,” when I would come home from work with another bizarre story. These stories usually started with me saying, “You’re not going to believe what happened today…” Here’s the link to that Feb 2014 blog post: Trey. Then in May 2014, I wrote another blog post about a Walmart story: Dilapidated in America.

What got me thinking about these personal stories was yesterday, I decided to make a trip to my local Dollar Tree, because Alaska Granny was so happy about her Dollar Tree personal care finds in her latest video and also I dropped a cheap plastic 2-cup measuring cup that I use all the time and it cracked, so I wanted to find another cheap plastic measuring cup. I have a bunch of Pyrex measuring cups and several sets of measuring cups (both plastic and metal) for dry ingredients too, but I liked that plastic two-cup liquid measuring cup. Dollar Tree didn’t have a 2-cup, so I opted for a 4-cup plastic liquid measuring cup. So, now to the point of this Dollar Tree trip story – the elderly lady living out of her car in the Walmart parking lot, that I wrote about in 2014, is still living out of her car, except her car looks like it’s completely broken down and near the parking lot of the shopping plaza where Dollar Tree is located. She had her car door open and had an umbrella propped over the open door for shade. It was in the upper 70s here yesterday. I had seen this lady walking, pushing a shopping cart, and she entered a local bank, as I was leaving about a year ago, so I knew she was still around.

The bottom line is a lot of people, including me, gave that lady money and food items, she had told me social services had tried to help her find an apartment (but nothing suits this lady) and I strongly suspect there’s some mental health problems. Back in 2014 she told me she has money and was fine when I gave her some cash. The things I remember about wanting to help this lady is other people were trying to help her too. I remember that she told me the local YMCA let her shower there and she told me a lot of people give her things. She even told me that she had lots of books to read, that she found at a yard sale in a nearby town. Granted, she was living dangerously in her car and still appears to be – it’s not safe for many reasons, but she doesn’t seem likely to change. One time I talked to her, she told me about a church group that had given her flowers for Mother’s Day, I think it was.

Back when the situation happened with the young man sleeping on the patio in lawn and garden at Walmart, I had thought about bringing him home and letting him stay here. My husband was already suffering from mobility problems and dementia, so I sought advice from a friend. He pointed out some things I hadn’t even thought about and while that young man was in a personal crisis situation, it wasn’t like he was trapped in a blizzard, which might have changed my decision. My friend pointed out that it was dangerous to take in a young man, I know nothing about. He warned me that young man could come with a group and rob my home and then there was my concern that my husband, could not defend himself, if something happened and I was at work. Someone with some hard-nosed realism helped me rein in my Pollyanna tendencies. And that’s what people will have to do in every crisis situation they encounter with strangers (or even people they do know) – carefully and cautiously assess the situation. Keeping my family and myself safe is my #1 priority.

In a recent situation where someone asked me for help, I gladly gave him some food, but I also gave him some blunt advice too. I told him I do not hand out money and after he explained his situation I told him some steps he should consider so he can get out of the situation he’s in (self-inflicted). He asked if he could come in my house and talk and I told him to wait on my front porch, while I got some food together for him. I could tell he had been drinking from the smell and I did not want to invite him in my home and then have to figure out how to get him to leave or have some other situation. I’ve known this young man since he was a kid, that’s why I helped him, but my youngest daughter in TX, looked up his criminal record, as I was telling her about him coming to my door in the middle of the night. She said, “Mama, this is public record,” and she started reading off the list. She told me don’t let him in your house and with the family situation he was telling me about, she told me she could understand if his family member didn’t want to help him.

Situations are often messy and while I have this rule of not handing out cash to people – I even broke that a few times in the past, but the bottom line was nothing I did to try to help that elderly woman or the young man made any real lasting change in their lives. I felt a sense of failing them, but I also know the truth is lasting change has to come from them doing the hard work to change their own situations. This is true for all of us.

In a severe weather emergency where people are facing imminent danger, most people would likely try to help other people, I think. However, in an economic crisis that will impact people differently, even in your own neighborhood, depending on individual financial choices, preparation or lack thereof for hard times, and resourcefulness, people will reach a personal crisis stage at different points and I suspect it might be people we know, who might come asking for help and not total strangers. Everyone will have to decide how they choose to handle that type of situation and it might vary depending on the circumstances. I can’t predict even how I’m going to fare through bad times, but I’m trying to take efforts to be better prepared and I wish more people would take emergency preparedness seriously.

With this issue of helping “unprepared” people in an emergency, the truth is I’m more concerned about the areas where I am not adequately prepared and with each big emergency weather situation and each personal crisis in my life, I focus on trying to improve my own preparedness. Yes, I do understand the concerns, however I don’t know what problems could come knocking at my door, but I do know there are many areas where I don’t have adequate skills and experience or supplies and information to handle major problems. I even screwed up caulking a window in my kitchen before this big winter storm. I bought the wrong product, thinking I could avoid using a caulking gun and some stuff in a can I used is really for sealing around pipes. I have a gloppy, lumpy mess around a window to scrape off now. My husband always handled home maintenance and repairs and I didn’t even have to think about it. While I have screwed up some of these little fix-it efforts, I’ve also had several that were wins and that encourages me to keep trying.

A storm just hit, so I’m going to end here. My area is under a severe weather warning and tornado watch today.

1 Comment

Filed under Emergency Preparedness

Here’s some honest assessments you won’t find in the media

Here’s a real dose of reality at analyzing a Buffalo blizzard news story from Fox weather. The first sentence in this news story killed me: “About 30 people were forced to spend part of their Christmas weekend in a Target store while they waited out the blizzard that crippled the Buffalo area.” Those people weren’t “forced” to do anything. They chose to be out in a blizzard, but for some reason the media always absolves people of any responsibility for their own bad decisions and acts like they were helpless victims. I’m glad they found shelter and are safe, but they should not have been out in a blizzard – that’s common sense. I’ve learned a lot of practical emergency preparedness tips from the AlaskaGranny YouTube channel:

Leave a comment

Filed under Emergency Preparedness, General Interest

Dreams often need to be replanted

That’s a beat up cheap piece of wall decor I have in one of my bathrooms. I liked that saying, so I’ve held onto this tacky wall “art” for decades, despite being urged to ditch it many times, usually after it fell on the floor one more time. I have it hanging right near the toilet in the bathroom by the master bedroom. My husband wasn’t a fan of knickknack junk or sayings. And he did not like the location where I hung this- at my eye level, not his, so he was always bumping it. It was so cheerful that I didn’t want to part with it.

Often, after I write a blog post, I reread it and wonder if I sounded mean or bitchy, so with my latest post doubts cropped up again. Saying something like, “A comprehensive plan would include a tiered level of goals, ways and means to achieve those goals and some timelines for the various moving parts. Into all this comes dealing with adversity and failure, which are going to happen, even with the best laid plans.” sounds pretentious and is the result of my interest in military strategy, I suppose. So, this post is laymen’s terms, because truly just about all of us have “tiered levels of goals” – stuff we’re working on now, stuff we would like to get done in the near future and stuff that’s off in the distance or even things that are present projects, but that we’ve had to prioritize. I don’t want to be mean-spirited or haughty.

It’s not just businesses or the military that come up with tiered levels of goals. Anyone working on home DIY projects or building a homestead constantly lives in the world of tiered levels of goals, because there’s only so much money and time, plus always lots more things that crop up to do.

The most serious problem for all of us in crisis situations will likely come with the people who don’t have any goals or just assume other people will be available to handle things for them, especially in an emergency situation. They assume someone else will figure out a solution in a crisis. It’s not just people who are obviously dysfunctional, like drug addicts, who are not prepared at all, we have an entire culture of unprepared people, who wait for some “experts” to tell them what to do and when to do it. They aren’t prepared to respond to any type of emergency situation. When I googled what percentage of Americans are prepared for emergencies I came across several articles that estimate over 60% of Americans aren’t prepared for a natural disaster, but I suspect when it comes to big storm events, as storms move closer more people rush to the store to buy food, water and supplies. That’s how hurricane preparedness works where I live.

In this recent large winter storm, many of the stories about strangers helping strangers that came out of Buffalo were heartwarming, but I listened to some news stories that left me wondering. For instance I saw a news report when grocery stores opened back up and a reporter was talking to customers lined up outside. That storm lasted a few days and I saw one guy tell the reporter he was completely out of food. Another lady started listing all the things she was out of – all the basics.

So, I want to mention some of my own typical planning failures that often led to outcomes that were disappointments. These were trivial projects, whereas being prepared for emergencies can be a matter of life and death. Often I would come across some project idea that someone else had done and that became my latest dream project of what I wanted too. It could be something little like a craft or sewing project or a cooking or decorating project, not necessarily some big project like building something or a project that would take a long-time to execute.

The first problem I often encountered when I attempted new projects was I did not do enough research before I started and didn’t have the requisite skill sets to successfully create these projects. Over time I learned to carefully read instructions to see what materials, tools and skills were required for each project. And that often led me to start on smaller projects to learn the skills I needed before attempting the bigger “dream” projects or I had to wait until I could afford the new supplies or equipment required for that dream project. I have some dream needlework projects that I still don’t feel confident in my skills to attempt.

Here’s a true story from when I was newly married and my husband and I had invited friends over to our apartment to eat. I had baked a cake for one friend’s birthday. Being young and clueless, I bought a small cake decorating kit. I thought I was going to be able to create elaborate flowers and turn out a cake that looked professional. My overconfidence stemmed from the decorator’s frosting recipe wasn’t that complicated. My husband had asked me if I was sure I knew how to do all that and I confidently smiled and told him, “How hard can it be?”

My mother had taught me how to make buttercream frosting and I had done that many times, so I ended with an inexpertly frosted cake with buttercream frosting – no cake decorations whatsoever, besides I tried making some swirls with the frosting like my mother did. Mine didn’t look too great.

Another thing we often don’t realize is how much time and resources various projects or new tasks take, because the glossy magazine spreads or the engaging scenes content creators put online makes things look easy. What you aren’t seeing is the years of hard work and/or practice those people put into creating what you’re seeing. They didn’t wave a magic wand to get where they’re at. They worked very hard to get there. Many endeavors have to be done in stages or require ongoing care and maintenance, not just once and done.

With the emergency preparedness efforts, many people react to fear-laced warnings or news when a big storm is expected to hit and while it’s good to get serious about emergency preparedness when an emergency weather situation is imminent, rushing out to just grab as many supplies and as much food as you can isn’t a good way to prepare. Calming down, assessing what you have, how you can better utilize what you already have, then working out a plan with a budget ahead of time can help you avoid mad dashes through storms. If you wait, crowds of unprepared people will be swarming stores trying to grab supplies too. Having a budget and a shopping list is a better way to utilize your resources and end up with food you can incorporate into meals. At this point though, if you see some bargain for some basic item that you know you use and you can afford it, it’s probably better to stock up now rather than wait. I also do pick up items that I find at Dollar Tree, that I think might be useful for various purposes.

Sometimes, life throws us curveballs, where we’re required to learn critical skills quickly, like people who reacted in that major winter storm a week ago. One young woman brought an elderly man into her home suffering from severe frostbite and was rendering first aid care to try to save his life. It could be some personal emergency. For instance, I did not know if I was up to the task of being a 24 hour a day caregiver for my husband, when he was sent home from the hospital on hospice care and completely bed bound. It’s not easy caring for someone who is bed bound. The hospice nurses taught me how to change him and change the bedding without being able to get him out of bed. They taught me how to handle all sorts of problems and issues. I learned that I could handle nursing care tasks that I wasn’t even aware of and some I never imagined I’d have to handle. You never know what life’s going to throw at you. Don’t ever say you can’t – just take a deep breath and try. The alternative would have been putting my husband in a nursing home of some sort in the midst of the COVID craziness and perhaps not even being allowed to visit him (now there’s a cruel COVID policy that still makes my blood boil – keeping family away from dying loved ones). That was not an option I considered. You just never know what kind of emergencies or crises you’ll face in life.

Having big dreams is something we should all cling to, because those can keep us looking to the future with anticipation, and optimism rather than fear and dread. Big dreams really are the seeds from which tomorrows grow, but we’ve got to figure out the right time and location to plant them, then invest the time to nurture them. We also need to be prepared for those seeds of dreams to perish. That’s when we really get tested, because most people will give up, while a few others will take a deep breath and start all over again. They’ll replant more seeds until those dreams bloom.

Changing that ratio is a challenge for all of us, because in a major crisis we’re all in it together.

Leave a comment

Filed under Emergency Preparedness, General Interest

Thoughts after the storm

Greetings from southeast GA.

It’s 61 degrees Fahrenheit here and we’re supposed to be looking at the freezing weather in the rearview mirror now, so I’m going to do a bit of my own personal “lessons learned.” Although I didn’t face any cold-related problems, I did worry about family in other parts of the country. Some have been very sick. Some don’t really worry much about emergency preparedness and this morning I’ve been browsing cold weather car emergency items to send to granddaughters who live in IN, who have cars and drive.

I moved a few plants from outside into my sun room before the storm, pictured above and I have some plants on my front porch that I’ve covered with a sheet (some have some frost damage and some seem fine).

I live in a home in a residential area in southeast GA, that was built in 1994 and we bought it in 1994. While generally I have liked having electric heat, when bad weather happens and now with all the warnings in America about potential grid failures or rolling blackouts, I have some concerns.

There’s a fireplace in my living room that I do not use in the winter, because most years it’s not really cold enough here to use a fireplace regularly and the other issue is my home’s layout is not conducive for a fireplace to be helpful as regular heating. The living room gets nice and toasty, but with that fireplace heat radiating down the hallway, where the thermostat is located, the electric heat doesn’t kick on and the bedrooms and bathrooms become iceboxes. I also choose not to have a wood pile, because it would just be a termite magnet here, considering I don’t use my fireplace. So, I have several boxes of fire logs in my garage, in case of emergency. With this storm I purchased a Big Buddy propane heater to have too. I didn’t need to use either during this deep freeze, because my power did not go out. However, I did run a small portable electric heater in my bathroom to warm it up more before taking showers. Like, I said, no real drama or struggles at my house.

I have a little butane stove to use to heat food and water, in case of emergency, plus a gas grill on my patio and I have a small charcoal grill and bags of charcoal in my garage. I’ve got food and water stocked too and blankets galore. I wasn’t worrying about freezing to death in my home, but I did think about some other things that I should do to be better prepared next time – things I’ve been putting off.

One thing I did before this storm was check the insulation on my AC/heat condenser outside and the outside faucets. I replaced the insulation on my condenser, because it was old and damaged. I bought outdoor faucet covers at Lowe’s and put them on. In 2018, we had a little snow and some unusual freezing temps here too and one morning my pipes were frozen. I hadn’t left a little stream of water running inside, but I learned my lesson. Luckily, I didn’t have any pipes burst, I had plenty of bottled water and the power was on. If we hadn’t had plenty of bottled water, the situation would have been a real problem. Stores here close at the first hint of bad weather and bottled water sells out before storms. I would have had to go to neighbors and ask for water, because it took almost a whole day for the pipes to thaw.

However, I waited from 2018 until weather forecasts in 2022, before a major storm, to purchase outdoor faucet covers, that cost around $4 each. I’ve got some other emergency preparedness things I want to do and instead of procrastinating, I need to get moving and take care of them.

I’m used to family making fun of me and my emergency preparedness efforts, because my husband and kids used to do that before storms, when I would check flashlight batteries and get them out to have ready. They all used those flashlights when the power did go out. Now, our cell phones have flashlights, which is handy, but I still have flashlights and emergency lanterns.

There are some things I want to do to be better prepared, but I have been thinking about family/friends who make fun of “preppers” and also a few things I saw online. With the people who make fun of “preppers” and don’t do a single thing to be prepared themselves, well, all I can say is a “Doomsday prepper” likely has plenty of food, water, a way to keep their home warm and medical supplies, so that even if illness left them “stranded” and unable to venture out – they would have the basics to manage.

I want to try to say this without picking on anyone or being too critical, but here’s the thing – too many people (I’ve been guilty of this too) procrastinate too much. I saw a very nice guy on YT (in the Deep South) talking about their power going off and using a fireplace, but he mentioned tearing apart wood pallets the day before to have for firewood. It’s good he did that, but the day before is cutting it close and I can understand not keeping a wood pile down here, because I don’t keep a wood pile either. What’s way worse is people who live in areas of the country that get snow and freezing weather every winter, yet don’t bother with being prepared for emergency power outages or other winter weather emergencies.

With the economy predicted to worsen in 2023, getting personal finances in order should be on all of our to-do lists. Here’s another procrastination story. I thought about eliminating personal debt for years, but my husband and I didn’t do it. When he was placed on hospice care in January 2020, I was scared and I decided to pay off all of our debt, besides the mortgage. Once I committed to that, it took me a little over a year to pay off all the debt and then I debated for months about paying off the house completely after my husband passed away. I paid it off and I’m glad that I did. I’ve thought many times that we should have done that years ago. How you go about getting your finances in order may be different than how other people do it, but stopping the excuse-making and rationalizations for why you haven’t done it is the first big hurdle.

A lot of times we make up excuses for ourselves to fall back on for why we haven’t made the changes we know we should have made long ago. I’ve been guilty of this so many times myself and I’m trying to just focus on getting started and doing things rather than making up excuses for why I haven’t done a single thing yet or worrying about being called a crazy prepper. The people who do absolutely nothing to get their finances in order or take seriously preparing before a major storm are assuming someone else will come rescue them if there’s an emergency. During hurricane Ian in FL this year and winter storm Elliott this past week, the truth is in a lot of the hardest hit areas, emergency responders couldn’t respond in the midst of the storm. They can’t come help you.

We all have a responsibility to our families and ourselves to be better prepared rather than being lazy and expecting someone else to rescue us. Responsibility – now there’s a word that seems antiquated these days…

Leave a comment

Filed under Emergency Preparedness, General Interest

Some cold weather survival info

I found this video by The Provident Prepper YouTube channel very interesting and worthwhile:

Leave a comment

Filed under Emergency Preparedness, General Interest