Tuesday, February 18, 2014


People seem to assume that the guy with the guns is also the guy who is prepared for an emergency. This stems from the fact that many gun guys tend to have the materials on hand to deal with problems whether that’s bad weather or fixing a clogged toilet. This is obviously a bad standard; guns are useful tools but won’t solve most survival problems. Still, I keep running into the fact that outside a few special groups, people of the gun seem to be the only major demographic actually worried about our national unpreparedness.

The more I read on boards and forums, the more I realize that the United States isn’t set up well to deal with major disasters. Case in point, Last year, a California power substation was attacked. A shooter or group of shooters fired 150 small arms rounds at the substation over approximately twenty minutes, inflicting over $16,000,000 in damage. Authorities later found that a fiber optic phone line had been cut in an underground vault preventing early discovery of the danger. Keep in mind that this happened in April 2013. The only reason that it’s coming out now is that a former federal official is pushing for more security for our power grid. The FBI, who has made no arrests in the matter, is characterizing this action as vandalism. This was a major substation for Silicon Valley. The power company was barely able to route around the problem. It took several days to repair the damage. I don’t really care what people want to call the event—terrorism, vandalism, rebellion…etc. The point is that someone threatened the power to one of the United States’ largest technology centers with little to no real effort. More security would be nice, but the thing that has stuck with me is how easy it would be to disrupt power over a large geographic area.

Are we likely to lose regional power for a week or more due to domestic terrorism? That depends on whether you believe that the attack on the San Jose station was an isolated incident or the first step in a larger campaign. I think a better question is what if we have a bad tropical storm or coastal flooding? What if there’s an earthquake? There are any number of ways we might lose power, water, phone service, gas, sewage…etc.

I’m of the opinion that you do what you can within your limits. We picked up a preparedness set up from Echo Sigma with our tax return. It’ll probably look like overkill to anyone who isn’t worried about such things, but that is kind of the point. Every time we get to talking guns with friends, several people say they’ll be coming to our apartment if there’s an emergency. Thing is that guns are really the least part of being prepared. If you need them, then you need them right-freaking-now. But I’m not set up to wage a war—nor would I want to be. Rather, I want enough food, medical supplies, water, communications, heating, lighting, and basic survival gear to handle two weeks or so. If things get worse than that, I have larger problems that a home survival setup won’t be able to fix. It’s flattering that others trust me to handle their problems. There are times though when I wonder why aren’t you making your own arrangements? The answer is that sadly, for many people today the idea of a major FEMA worthy emergency is beyond imagining. They probably would come to us for help if something happened and I would do what I could for them. That said, I wish more people hoped for the best, but planned for the worst.

The brunette and I have been reading John ringo’s “Under a graveyard sky” series.” Reading a zombie apocalypse survival book tends to bring out the “what if” thinking. It also highlights the survivor mindset—you know the person who is always looking for a way to deal with problems. The first book is really excellent. In keeping with Ringo’s track record, the second is less stellar but still a solid read.

Of course, as we were reading that series, lady winter dropped a foot of snow on us over the course of five days. My coworkers stayed home—assuming the building was closed. I ended up making my way across half-plowed roads, unplowed sidewalks, and blocked corners. Even today the snow is piled to shoulder height at many intersections. It wasn’t what I’d call fun—when you walk everywhere and all your normal paths are blocked there are obvious challenges. There was however a sense of accomplishment in being the only guy who wasn’t stopped cold by the weather.

Over the weekend, the brunette and I updated our phones to the newest apple iPhone robo communicator whatchamacallit—5s. Keep in mind I clung to my indestructible flip phone of doom™ until I had no option but to go with the iPhone. Nobody seems to make truly durable phones any more. So if I’m going to be forced down that road, might as well jump in with both feet. I don’t have anything against smart phones per-say; I just like using a phone as a phone. Having the ability to play games, surf the net, text, and use Skype is awesome. It’s also a huge distraction. I don’t do well with distractions. “Oooo shiny...hmm…go away I’m…mmm almost there…level 5…now what were you saying?”

Even so, I’ve really enjoyed customizing ringtones, playing games, and working with siri. I bought a wireless keyboard that pairs nicely—entering contact information and passwords is so-much-easier with a real keyboard. I’ve kickstarted a minimalist case. I ordered a wireless headset. I feel as if I’m about to start a mission on the star ship enterprise instead of just getting a new phone. So we’ll see how things go. I am absolutely not putting email at my fingertips—I’d never get anything done. That said, really enjoying the experience, though with a certain nostalgic plucking of heart strings for my old reliable flip phone. I’d love suggestions for any interesting or useful games/apps.