Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others.
~ Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Humor me

Saw this Dilbert cartoon for Sunday, and I just had to post it. Having been into self-sufficiency for many years, having read many Internet posts concerning the "preps" movement, and having participated in many discussions on various lists and blogs concerning preparations for economic upheaval, social unrest, etc. it struck me as not only pertinent but quite funny in a somewhat disturbing way.

Oh, I'm not disturbed in the manner of those folks who think preparations for difficult times are a sign of paranoia. Those of us who grew up with parents who lived through the Great Depression, those of us who have lived where snowstorms and hurricanes have knocked out electricity for several weeks at a time, or where you couldn't get through the snow to the stores to buy food or other necessities, know that preparing is something you don't have to be a Boy Scout to do. Our families pretty much all had a deep pantry or larder or root cellar where there was enough food stored to carry you through a week or so (at least).

Some years back, when I owned a little 40 acre ranch in Far Northern California ("The State of Jefferson", for those of you familiar with that political division ;-), I had a large root cellar with food and all the sundries you'd rather not have to do without, from toilet paper and fresh toothbrushes to soap and shampoo, to freshly canned garden produce, stored root crops, and apples and pears from our own trees. I had kerosene stored for some Aladdin lamps I owned, as well as some Dietz hurricane lanterns and candles, of course. I had a large diesel fuel tank and one for gasoline. I had more standing dead wood and snags than I could burn in two years, plus about 25 acres of forest. Two springs fed an underground cistern and an above ground tank, with a solar-powered ultraviolet system with several filters for purification. All sorts of power and hand tools for wood-cutting, wood-working, welding and fabrication, auto and farm equipment maintenance, etc.

My wife and I had six Toggenburg milk goats, 37 Rhode Island Red chickens, a team of Shire draft horses, along with another ten assorted drafts and warm-blood crosses. Loved that sweet, fresh milk and the various cheeses we made from it, along with the chicken and eggs. Could have eaten chevon or cabrito, but never needed to, although it was available should that have changed. Also put in a separate orchard with sixteen different varieties of antique apple cultivars. We skidded timber with the horses, and had the equipment to plow and harrow if needed, as well as wagons for cargo and a buckboard for travel.

Having been a shooter, reloader, and former law enforcement (worked for both CHP and as a reserve officer in the small town we lived outside of), I also was well prepared with various firearms, ammunition, components, and the ability to combine various items into other improvised devices were that to prove desirable. Of course, I didn't neglect the archery aspect, either, with a PSE compound and a Barnett crossbow. Having worked in emergency medicine, I had a fairly good minor surgical setup, an adequate supply of sutures, bandaging material, gloves, antiseptics and medicines, as well as some training to go along with them. All of this was rounded out with a library of over 1200 volumes, many reference works, how-to books (e.g., Where There Is No Doctor, books on construction, medicine, chemistry, animal husbandry, farming and gardening, art, music, along with the Harvard Classics, a lot of good novels, science fiction, etc., etc.)

Ah, fond memories. While I found it necessary - and desirable - to walk away from much of that infrastructure when I got divorced, I don't list these things to brag, but to indicate that I do have a bit of a notion of what constitutes decent preparation. I still maintain many of the items spoken of that were of a more portable nature than Shire draft horses and Toggenburg goats :-) I have maintained the skills to utilize all of that plus more training I picked up since (R.N. degree and working on the single-engine, land add-on to my commercial rotorcraft license.)

On one web site, I got into a discussion with a young man who was ranting about how useless all of us "old folks" are, what a drain on society we have proven to be with our Social Security and Medicare, and I tried to educate the cretin as to the desirability of using us old codgers as a resource for holding things together and perhaps even assisting in rebuilding civilization if TS ever HTF. There are a lot of us out there with various skills that will be useful, perhaps even vital. He was insistent that society needed to get rid of us, and stabilize economically once we weren't draining the country's coffers. I informed him that any sensible community would rather have trained and experienced old folks like us than some ignorant, day-trading punk with a BMW and a large bank account.

All of this - and I hope I haven't bored you too badly yet - is in service of this Dilbert cartoon. On one of the email lists I was on for some years, while discussing preparations for possible problems during Y2K, several young men spoke of how they wouldn't let their families starve and suffer, even though they had made no preparations themselves. Like "Alice" in the Dilbert strip, they decided they would go "shopping" at the homes of farmers and those of us who had spent our money, time, and sweat making preparations for our own families and friends. They saw nothing wrong with the notion of taking what they felt their families needed by force, from those of us who had used our hard-earned wages to prepare instead of partying, or buying jet skis, fast cars, or more expensive homes. Talk about your grasshoppers and ants!

Scott Adams may have been poking a bit of fun at preppers, or perhaps at those Yuppie types who think organic food and macrobiotics and a few batteries and flashlights constitute preparation. He is such a clever fellow, I am hoping Scott has indeed worked the equation all the way through and is not only sufficiently armed, but perhaps also allied with some like-minded friends who will watch each others' backs if and when it becomes necessary. Because if TS ever does HTF, there will be millions who will feel ever so justified in taking what you have worked hard to provide.

Including FEMA, which is covered by an Executive Order which authorizes it to take any food, equipment, fuel, livestock, vehicles or other property anyone possesses, to use as it sees fit. That includes giving it to the trash coming out of the urban areas as we saw post-Katrina. I'm no talking needy elderly or disabled people, single moms who have been trying to work and keep things together, but all of those folks smoking two or three packs of cigarettes, two or three six-packs of beer, and carrying all of the large screen TVs, liquor, drugs, or anything else they can steal on their way outside of town. The ones who will start screaming the loudest when there is no place to get their free rent, free commodities, food stamps, and all of the other entitlements they have been receiving for so long, and have been told is their due. The folks who FEMA gave credit cards which were used for liquor, drugs, prostitutes, iPods, X-boxes, and damn near everything except what they were meant to be used for.

So, laugh as I did at Dilbert and Alice, but realize it constitutes a rather large tongue in a fairly small cheek. We can hope those preparations will never be needed (although they can always be used anyway, so no loss there), but the times are such that I certainly wouldn't bet on it not happening. Consequently, I prefer to remain not only semper paratus, but also semper armatus.


  1. I saw the cartoon and remembered Gerald Celente saying that "modern survivalism" (or some term like that) was going to be a megatrend.

    Scott Adams says he gets hundreds of suggestions for strips every day. So I figured the subject being in Dilbert is a sign that everyone knows someone who's talking about TEOTWAWKI.

  2. While I don't know near as much as I want to or need to about survival stuff, I value the input from my elders immensely. I like to think of myself, as long as I am able, as the muscle to put their knowledge to work. You tell me what to do (and possibly how to do it) and I'll make it happen.

    Not that I don't have ideas and knowledge of my own, but I know enough to know that there are way too many things that I just don't know and no thing learned is ever wasted (if its really learned). If TEOTWAWKI is indeed inevitable, I just hope it happens while there are still enough folks around who know things and can teach me and my sons so that we all survive.

    (BTW, that's one reason I love Oklahoma - there's lots of folks around here that remember the old days because for a lot of us its not more than a generation past.)

    -LeverAction (posting as my alter ego, Event Horizon)

  3. Yes, even the Gen Y's have heard about TEOTWAWKI, although I imagine some of them think it will consist of fighting off zombies.

    My wife is from OK, and we own a couple of acres outside of Keota (about 40 miles due west of Fort Smith, AR for those unfamiliar with where Keota lies.) My dad taught me honesty, consideration for others, and an appreciation of the opposite sex :-) Everything else I had to learn elsewhere, and I have benefitted from the wise council of folks who have been there and done that, along with training in welding, nursing, emergency medicine, flying, and such technical skills.

    Milking goats, driving a team hitched to a buckboard or pulling a log, gardening and the rest I read about and then muddled through. I've always been willing to listen to older, wiser heads for the pointers they were willing to share, which saved me from making _all_ of my own mistakes ;-) I've got one _hell_ of a personal reference library, but alas, it is all sitting in storage in Keota until I find some place here in Montana where I'll have room to keep it.

    And don't get me wrong - I have learned many valuable things from people a lot younger than I am, and am still learning. But it's really good to know some people a bit younger than us haven't decided we older folks are completely worthless.


Sorry, folks. I was completely ignorant about comment rules. Anyone can post, but I'd prefer a name, even if it is made up. Anonymous posts just seem cheap, if you know what I mean. Also, if you want to argue a point, that's fine. Cheap shots and name calling towards me or another person commenting (ad hominem) is rude and will get you banned. Other than that, I'd love to get some comments.