This book is about a middle aged “prepper” who finds himself
far from home after a natural EMP (Carrington event, sun spots, whatever). He
is at a job interview in Atlanta when the whole event kicks off. The main
character and his new boss (just got hired by FEMA) are busy getting day drunk
to celebrate his new employment. He walks out of Atlanta towards the west with
the bouncer from the bar. The main character immediately begins acquiring
things that do not belong to him to aid in his survival and trip west.
the way they meet some people and get drunk with them. He gets a nice little .380 by trading money he knows is worthless that he acquired from an abandoned semi with the bouncers relative. Shortly therafter he gets an operational tractor in a lopsided deal and uses
it to drive the rest of the way home. He makes it home to Montgomery and his
elderly mother, ex girlfriend (who is a “prepper” and they are still close) and
some other acquaintances. After some hanging out and drinking they decide that
they need to bug out because things are going to get dangerous. They proceed to
“acquire” a couple more operational vehicles and then the whole tribe heads out to some
They get there and via a friend he made earlier and take
over a few houses for everybody to live in. After getting to the lake they
begin systematically searching empty homes for food, booze and things that they
can use. They also find a couple boats to use. Along the way they start making
friends and setting up some means of trade and small scale commerce. Anyway now
I will get to the usual format.
The Good: It was a fun easy read. Also this is a pretty nice
vision of a genuine end of the world event. Travel around, take whatever you
want and get drunk pretty much every day. This book portrayed people in a
generally positive light which is sort of refreshing. Many survival type books
have everyone turn into rapist cannibal murderers if the power goes out for an
hour. On the other hand as far as I recall not a single bad thing happened in the book, not violent conflict or even a nasty accident or illness which probably isn't realistic either.
Also the book did have some pretty good primitive living/
outdoor skills stuff. It was sort of awkwardly placed in and at some points it
seemed like 2 pages of a random wilderness survival book were accidentally
inserted to the story but it was good none the less. I have a good background
in this stuff and I picked up a thing or two.
The Bad: A
significant part of the book was pretty much a big cocktail party. It didn’t
really have a purpose in the book. To a certain degree this is a reflection of
actual human behavior like hurricane parties and such and I didn’t really mind
it. I’ve passed more than one power outage with a few folks and a case of beer.
However to me about the time when I pull a rifle out of the safe because the
world is going crazy it is time for the party to slow down or stop entirely. At
one point he is visiting a guy and they have a few beers. He goes to leave and
the guy hands him a cold 6 pack for the rest of the trip. Not saying I have
always been perfectly responsible in that regard but it was a bit much. While they are could
represent human behaviors as folks do tend to hit the bottle or whatever more
in bad time,getting hammered every
night and driving drunk are not the best plans for a survival situation.
Also the author seems to have a need to use the words “prepper”
and “72 hour bag” a lot. I wish I had a count on how many times each phrase was
used. It wasn’t quite The Survivalist style needless repetition but it did get
The Ugly: We could debate looting vs. scavenging or whatever
(got a post brewing about that) but in any case they take everything they want
which isn’t nailed down or guarded. In any case as Suburban Survivalist said “there
is enough looting to make Jim Rawles go catatonic.” According to the main
character everything that they find is abandoned and they need it so it is free
game. At one point they break into an auto shop to take a pair of ATV’s.
Also they went to a “bug out” to a place where they did not
own any property or have an agreement with those who did. They made an
agreement (one in a long series of totally lopsided, convenient and essential agreements in this book)
with a homeowner once they got there but I am not sure if they planned to just
squat or what the exact deal was. It
could have been touched on and I missed it but they occupied several houses
which they did not own or compensate the conveniently absent owners for.
In any case after
they occupy a few houses at the lake they begin systematically breaking into
and searching every empty house for things they can use. In fairness to the characters
in the book they seem to not have a problem with other folks taking everything
that isn’t nailed down so at least they are not hypocrites which is good. Regardless
of ones take on looting vs. scavenging in real life I suspect a group of people
who acted that way could realistically face some consequences.
Conclusion: For the price of $8ish I thought it was a decent
value for my entertainment dollar. I got a few things out of it and it provoked
some ideas. I don’t regret reading it but doubt I will read it again.
Tam linked to a video. Two young women are walking down the street and a staggering drunk spits at them, seeming to hit one. They walk off camera and her friend comes back to presumably yell at the staggering drunk who then KO's her with an elbow to the face. Warning, the video I am about to link to portrays real life violence, namely a chick getting KOed by a jerk. You can watch the video here if so inclined.
The gal really messed up by coming back and yelling at him. Of course I am not saying she deserved what followed but it could have been avoided. When the other person is clearly aggressive and a lot bigger/ stronger than you escalating a situation is not smart.
The legitimate options would be to A) call the cops, B) just leave, which only makes sense if you want to avoid interacting with cops due to warrants, being 18 drinking on a fake ID or have a pocket full of designer drugs, or lastly C) violence. I won't debate this one, I would send the guy to the ER for sure. However that option isn't so available for gals. Unless she wanted to shoot the guy or fastpitch a brick to the back of his head fighting with a drunk (even as drunk as this guy) jerk like that is a bad option for most women. It is worth noting that cops look for someone that shoots a guy or cracks a skull with 50 mile per hour brick a lot more aggressively than for winners of late night fisticuffs.
Note that none of the options involved talking to this guy. Even a big healthy guy would be stupid to do that. You are not going to have a rational conversation so it is better to just act if you are so inclined. As Wifey said "you don't talk to crazy."
I was going to take a bunch of pictures and talk about gear I regularly use today. Really I had a great post planned, honest I did. However it just didn't happen. No reason in particular, just all of a sudden it was 8 oclock at night, I hadn't started and had not motivation. I stumbled onto this great youtube video where a girl who apparantly drinks and does food reviews tries an MRE. Warning there is a bit of foul language.
"Are you drinking or bowling?"
The guy at the bowling alley to some guys before assigning them a lane. I wasn't aware that the two are mutually exclusive. In my mind it was sort of like pool or fishing or watching football where the activities are often paired with drinking.
Remember what your Grandma said? Something like "Show me your friends and I will show you yourself". Well it is a lot more true than most will admit. We are a lot like our friends and we tend to act like them at least when in their presence.
For example if I am watching my weight I won't go to Tim's house around dinner time or I will eat first. If I don't feel like going out and getting crazy on a work night I don't grab a beer after work with Bob. It isn't that Tim or Bob are bad guys, just that they have downsides. The same could be said about money, or a variety of destructive or otherwise negative things.
Just the same way that if you hang out with Bob you may end up acting way more like an alcoholic than is desirable you need to be mindful of keeping friends and family from derailing your efforts in terms of preparedness. If people are, even if by no malicious effort derailing your efforts then seek to counteract that influence or consider spending less time around them.
A true story. A friend I work with told me about his divorce that happened several years ago. One of his friends was sleeping with my friends wife. After the divorce was final, he told his ex-friend to make a reservation at the hospital. It was not going to happen then, but someday, yes someday they were going to have it out.
Time went by, and like a lot of guys after a divorce, he started hitting the bottle. One night he is at the bar drinking with two of his buddies, and he decides its time. He calls up the ex-friend and tells him to come on over to the bar and lets settle this thing, he has half a beer left, he will be waiting for him. He waits, finishes his beer and its a no show. Calls up the ex-friend and tells him, he is on the way. Tells his two buddies they are going for a ride with him.
Arrives at the house. One buddy stays in the car, the other one goes with him. Kicks the door in. Inside, the guys brother is there. He doesn't know what the heck is going on. My friend is all "likkered" up and beats the H*** out of him. (one on one, not two on one) Next up is the ex-friends wife. (She does not know what is going on either) She is on the phone talking to 911, screaming that he is going to kill all of them. He grabs the phone out of her hand and smashes it, then slaps her around some. Next up is the main course. The ex-friend is found hiding in a closet. Drags him out and starts ass kicking process. No sooner does it start and it seems like twenty of those cars with the lights on top are coming down the road making LOTS of noise. Time to leave! He gets out the door and gets about 30 feet before they get him. Free police car ride.
I heard his tell once about arresting a boy for possession of whiskey in the Territory. It was against the law then to take any sort of liquor into the Territory; officers were very strict about enforcing that law, because the United States Government didn't want the Indians to get hold of any alcoholic drinks.
A lot of people think it is a good idea to stock alcohol either for personal use or barter. There is going to be a lot of pressure, stress and grief during a crisis or break down. Know who in your group is suicidal or violent under the influence of alcohol. Keep tight control of the "likker."
I want to thank Ryan, Chad and Ryan for allowing me to post this at their site.
I guess a woman does too but that title doesn't flow so well. The thing is that you really have to know yourself and make choices based upon your strengths and weaknesses. Mostly your weaknesses. If you consistently handle liquor very poorly then it is probably a bad idea to keep whole bunch in the house. If you make poor choices with credit cards then don't have a credit card.
There are two significant limitations Wifey and I have. First of all we are degenerate movie renters. We rent a movie and it sits in our house for days or even a couple weeks just racking up late fees. It is a really simple and ridiculously easy thing we just can't seem to get right. In Alabama we lived within (assuming the line of sight was clear) an easy rifle shot of the darn movie store and still we returned them late more than 50% of the time. Late fees don't really hurt us but do add up. In any case the issue is mostly conceptual. So we gave up. We got tired of payout out the ears in late fees. We got Netflix and get movies from the library sometimes. Secondly we do not keep snack/ junk food in any quantity in the house. I tend to keep a good stock of just about everything but not junk food. We don't keep it around because we would eat it at a glutinous pace much to the detriment of our health.
The limitations I just talked about really have nothing to do with preparedness except that we will not have lots of chips and cookies if things go all to heck. The applicable lesson is probably that for stuff which you believe is important you need to look at and figure out a way to mitigate those limitations. For example We keep some cash in the house because well that is something smart people do. We can keep cash in the house and not spend it (we borrow $40 for dinner occasionally but always put it back). If we had an issue with that maybe we would put our cash in a little box, cut open the wall to make a cache and then plaster/ paint it in. That would make it a real annoyance to get to. Break wall in case of emergency if you will.
I remember a conversation once with a young enlisted soldier and his buddies. We were waiting in line just chatting about life to pass the time. This young man's buddies were talking about going out drinking down town which wasn't surprising as that is pretty common. He said he wasn't going because he gets in trouble down town, he didn't offer and I didn't really care. More interestingly he then said he is never going down town again, unless he gets really drunk.
This is where I re entered the conversation. I mentioned to this young man the basic fault of that plan; that "unless he gets really drunk" is a pretty major exemption in his plan as he didn't mention moderating his drinking or in the extreme, swearing off the stuff entirely. Hopefully that young man will make better decisions in the future but more likely he will get drunk in the barracks and then go down town with his friends and maybe get in trouble.
It is the same thing with saving money. Far too often have I heard "I will start saving next month but this month things are bad". The thing is that baring some serious change in circumstances (I will get to that in a minute) next month is going to be just the same. It takes a simple but realistic look to see if your circumstances are likely to substantially change in the foreseeable future. For example, my co author Ryan is in Law School. When he graduates and starts working his financial situation will change radically. However if the every pay period/ month/ year stuff is kicking your butt and you can't seem to get ahead just hoping for things to get better isn't a plan. "I will save something next month" is a plan albeit a non solution because go figure next month isn't going to magically be better.
As for how to make it better I don't have easy simple answers. In order to create a surplus that you could save or allocate toward preps or use to pay off debt you will have to spend less or earn more. Sorry, no easy and painless solution. Cutting non essential stuff is a simple solution. If you pay $150 a month for the super duper satellite package and can't figure out how to drop your expenses there is no helping you.
For the rest of us. Getting a 12 pack of beer instead of a case and cutting out a fast food meal a week is a good start. If you do a rice meal (Spanish rice or something) and a breakfast for dinner (pancakes and eggs, french toast, etc) every week the bills will drop. Cancel a magazine subscription and rent a couple less movies a month and minimize impulse purchases then all of a sudden there is a small surplus. Couple that with selling a few things you don't use anyway and picking up some overtime or even working a weekend day or two and your small surplus just became a modest surplus. Once you get ahead a bit you aren't stuck when a small emergency happens and also you have the cash to lay out and take advantage of real deals. I think it is easier to put off making simple but not easy decisions (I laid out how most people can save some cash in a short impromptu manner, it just isn't easy to stick to it) with the baseless hope that things will get better than to really dig in and improve your situation.
The other way people go is to become complacent and just give up. To say that there is no way you can improve your situation and it is just how it is. While I do give these folks credit for not having some pie in the sky plan but that is largely canceled out by their giving up. I hate to hear this because I know they can make their situation better. It will probably be small progress but these things have a way of growing on themselves so eventually small progress leads to huge gains. It may not be easy and it certainly won't happen overnight but they can make their finances and life better.
When you recognize something as a problem choose a realistic solution that you can stick with.
I have been thinking about the good things in life recently. Not talking about friends and family and meaningful relationships but dirty evil stuff. For example I recently got a Berkey Water Filter. It was not cheap and at least one person mentioned that two 5 gallon buckets and some handy work plus Berkey Filter Elements can make essentially the same thing. I like my Berkey. It is nice and shiny and looks pretty decent in the kitchen.
I like Crown Royal Whiskey. In fact I am sipping on some as I write this. It is smooth and delightful. Very hard to beat an ounce or two of it in a rocks glass with 2-3 ice cubes. Of course it is not cheap, about $25 or so a bottle. Recently I decided to stop buying cheaper stuff, to just buy and drink Crown Royal. One of my better recent decisions.
I do not drink much Crown Royal. If I slugged back a big bottle a week it would get expensive; though the economic cost would pale in comparison to the life problems it would likely cause. A pint of the wonderful stuff usually lasts around 3 weeks and a quart lasts a month and a half or so. $15ish a month is a pretty minor expense for us. Also we are generally frugal and earn modest though not horrible wages so cost on any single item isn't a major concern.
Splurging a little bit on something you really like is just fine. In fact I honestly encourage you to. Often the enjoyment and quality of life you will get is far out of proportion to the economic cost. It is just that you can not choose everything. Figuring out how to enjoy some nice things you care a lot about within an overall reasonable financial lifestyle is certainly a balance but far from impossible.
It is nice to live a frugal lifestyle. However I do not thing we need to entirely deprive ourselves of everything we like. Just pick the ones that are really important to you and make overall reasonable choices and things will be fine. Heck, you might even get to drink some Crown Royal now and then.
“Marriage plays an important role in civilizing men. They work harder, longer, more strategically. They spend less time in bars and more time in church, less with friends and more with kin. And they’re happier and healthier.”
-W. Bradford Wilcox