Back to basics

 

As of today, I am not supposed to go back to work until May 15, maybe. The governor extended the stay at home order and my place of employment still has to make several changes to the building before employees can return to work. Meanwhile, I am still at home, still trying to stay busy, and still being paid. I’m lucky, I know that. With all the people filing for unemployment and crossing their fingers for another Corona Virus check I am still ahead of the game and looking to the future for what will likely transpire in the coming months.

I made a run to the grocery store the other day and found most of the meat unavailable, as I expected with all the processing plants shutting down across the country. I wanted some Cornish hens for easy to bake meals at home and found none. My old bachelor food of choice was no longer in the freezer. I left Aldi with a full cart of food and racked my head for the next day trying to figure out where I could buy meat that would stay in stock.

A small family owned grocery store downtown only carries locally sourced meat and produce. I made an appointment, the only way they do business these days, and went in. Amish chickens were in the freezer, along with elk, wild boar, cured bacon, and several cuts of beef. One of the owners of the store is a third-generation cattle rancher and I was told beef would always be available. The only thing they could not guarantee was pork. The garden is growing, I can still buy food, and the chickens are growing quickly. At the moment life is good.

I keep myself busy these days. Since the lockdown has started, I have built a chicken coop, a new shifter for the compost bin, cleaned out the garage, kept the pantry filled, fixed several small things around the house that have been buggy me, planted a garden, and refurbished a crossbow from the 1960s. I can’t help but wonder if this is how people are supposed to live?

There is a man on YouTube that I started following after this whole thing started. He has a prepping channel and was in the navy for 20 years as a SEAL. He went in to get tested today for Covid 19 after feeling sick and having shortness of breath. He is young, about my age, in better same than me and has been on top of this thing like me since the beginning. In his last couple of videos, he wasn’t looking good and I had to wonder if that was going to be me in the near future.

I need a new project. The chickens are doing their own thing, needing little care except for feeding and a weekly cleaning of their coop. The crossbow is almost finished. The only thing I can do with the garden is wait for it to grow. I’m sure there are a few old projects I can dig out and start working on. With the new space in the garage it would be a lot easier to get things done and have easy access to tools that I didn’t have before.

Cooking is becoming a new favorite pass time. Cookbooks are becoming my new best friend with thousands of recipes to go through and plenty of time to try them out. Having a three-year-old daughter to likes to help makes it an activity that lowers the stress level in the house instead of the usual chaos that comes with cabin fever. I need a new list of things to do. Netflix isn’t cutting it anymore.

If there is one thing that can be said about this virus, the situation it created, is that it gives one time to think about many things. I doubt things will go back to normal. What ever has been unleased on the world will have a lasting impact and I have a feeling many people are considering what they have been doing with their lives and what they would like to do instead. I have three weeks, three more weeks to things to do. Most of the projects I have going on are waiting games now to see how plants will grow and feeding chickens. It’s time to find other things to do.

The late Philip Roth, the under-appreciated writer, once said that the road to hell is paved with unfinished projects. Maybe its time to dig a few of those out and take care of things once and for all.

 

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Prepper’s Log

 

April 12, 2020 Easter

The movies are full of shit when it comes to these things. The long boring days and the high tension in the air is enough to make you feel sympathy for Jack Nicholson’s character in The Shining. How does one keep from losing their mind, constantly wondering what will happen next and questioning if things are as bad as the government keeps telling us they are?

It is the middle of April and the power company issued a warning that the power might go out from a windstorm coming through along with the last winter storm. Planning for next winter might have been an unexpected plan for next week considering the container of kerosene I picked up for the portable heater. The loss of power could be a breath of fresh air, unable to listen to the news or check my phone every five minutes to see the latest numbers. The best entertainment throughout this whole thing came from the crazy conspiracy theories flooding the internet. Then Trump considers pardoning at Netflix character and suddenly those theories don’t seem so crazy anymore.

I watched one of my neighbors point a pistol at his old beagle today while yelling “I told you to shut the fuck up.” I never heard the dog, but I did hear the man. People are starting to lose it and the stories of home invasions is piling up while the news keeps telling us that crime is down. There was a triple shooting the other day that left one dead and who knows what else is going on that doesn’t make it to the news?

We bought chickens. The garden is growing in. The chicken coop is almost finished. Gas tanks are full. Pantry is worth bragging about. Somewhere along the way I drank myself out of drinking. It turns out a man can have too much beer or wine before he gets tired of it and needs a break.

I need something to do. This notion of sitting in front of the TV and waiting for the world to end is complete bullshit. Half of my day is spent feeding am eight-week-old while waiting for my wife to wake up after being awake most of the night doing the same thing. By the time I can move most of my day is gone. While planning for the end of the world try to not have a three-year-old that you are responsible for, just a tip. The parks are closed, and I am paranoid these days about going for a walk considering the reports of a man arrested for throwing a ball in a park with his daughter. I’m starting to debate which is worse, the virus we all fear or the reaction from our government.

There is a question floating around about what is really coming, that the virus isn’t the big event but that there is something else that is on the way. Who knows? Either way I have a feeling that things will not be going back to normal. Walmart might disappear considering that they depend on Chinese goods. At this moment everyone is thinking “fuck the Chinese.” The Chinese government lied. Our government lied. The only people we can believe these days is the Italians and the South Koreans. Who would have thought that would have been the case? All the distrust makes me want to stay at home. I’m surrounded by rednecks, half of the governor’s orders don’t make sense, and the world, as a whole, has literally gone bat shit crazy. I knew this was going to happen one day, but I never thought I was going to be right about it. Who would trust my crazy ideas? I don’t even listen to my crazy ideas and they are my ideas.

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It’s Happening

 

This was a statement made by a friend of mine a few days ago. While it came across as a joke at the time the comment stayed with me. The days pass by and the news only becomes worse making me think “it’s happening.” The “it” being the end of the way things are. Hopefully some good will come out of this even if it is only no longer paying taxes while we roam around the country in a nomadic tribe squabbling over a squirrel that was shot out of a tree. With the lack of management coming out of Washington I can’t think of a good reason why we hand over our money to those incompetent morons anymore.

I keep hearing people say if this goes on any longer our country is permanently screwed. Well, the pentagon has a plan for 18 months and I would have to agree with them. Today a person I follow on Instagram admitted they have it and this is the first person I know that has actually come down with it. There was a theory that it was a hoax, an elaborate ploy to take our rights and make us slaves to the interdimensional lizard people. When you bring in lizard people my first thought goes to Mitch McConnell who isn’t smart enough to think of something like this.

There have been other civilizations that came crumbling down from something like this. Europe was completely reorganized by the black plague. Smallpox wiped out the majority of Native Americans before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth rock. Jared Diamond discussed this in his book Guns, Germs, and Steel and outlined how one event will lead to a series of others.

I don’t know how this will play out. When the panic will truly set in or what the effects will be. Currently the government is trying to make the public happy by sending checks in the mail that they will later have to pay back with raised taxes that are inevitable. I remember when we had a surplus of cash but we pissed that away acting like scared children of a boogie man that lived in a cave with a dialysis machine. We lost sight of what was important and the people in charge still don’t understand the big picture. There is nothing to rule over if everyone is dead.

There is one truth that I hold dear, you are responsible for your own safety. We built a society where we can call for help and hope they get there in time but the reality is harsh when you have to learn the hard way that sometimes help doesn’t come or its not the help that you expected. Over the last twenty years that truth has been reinforced through hurricane Katrina, Puerto Rico, the 2009 economic collapse, and of course 9-11.

The information that has been given to the public about this disease has been sketchy and sometimes made up at best. What we are told and the response from the government hasn’t matched up along the way. When they talk about panic buying, I hear them complaining about people being responsible for their own safety, as they should be. If the food supply wasn’t something to worry about then shouldn’t there be enough to satisfy the current demand? Even the current guidelines don’t make sense. Restaurants can stay open to hand out food not considering that the employees could be infected. Walmart employees aren’t required to wear protective equipment. The police are now infected in several parts of the country. Hospital workers are now infected and dying because someone felt too strongly about their economic philosophy to mandate the production of ventilators and PPE. Our system is being tested and it is failing miserably. As a society we saw this coming and we did nothing to prevent it because the people we elect choose to react to a situation instead of being proactive to prevent it.

There could be some good things that come out of this. The refusal to work 40 plus hours a week to pay for things we don’t really need. Electing people that have our best interest at heart instead of their own. Planning for the future instead of satisfying our cravings right now. The events I mentioned before didn’t happened around the world, they were isolated incidence that we watched on our televisions but they did not happen to us. This time is different. Everyone is affected and even the young who think they are invincible are seeing that their lives are being turned upside down by an invisible enemy that nobody can control. There was a time when Ronald Reagan said that the one thing that could end the cold war over night was an alien invasion that threatened the entire planet. That day is here and so far, governments are not reacting the way they should and people are dying because of it. A tiny creature is killing people, destroying economies (the only thing these assholes seem to be concerned about), causing the police to be ineffective, side lining the military, closing borders, shutting down businesses, closing schools, and bringing the world to a standstill. We have the equivalent of an alien invasion and we, as individuals, are stuck to handle the burden on our own. Nobody is going to do it for us. Those who still think that this isn’t a big deal will be weeded out and those that do the best they can with what they have will fair better in the end. The herd is being thinned out and those that survive will pave the way for what is to come. Hopefully we make the best of it and create a world that we want instead of the one that has been handed down to us and perverted over time. On a positive note, those social justice warriors won’t be able to complain to a virus about how being sick hurts their feelings.

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This F*cking Monday

 

I knew yesterday that there was a coronavirus patient at our local hospital. Being a Sunday I had the feeling that the county government would wait to officially announce it. Then Monday morning happened with the announcement that not one but three cases were in my county. That wasn’t the only kicker. I was planning to spend the rest of my time indoors for the foreseeable future. Turns out my wife had other plans.

“I want to go to the store and take some food to my mom,” she said.

Are you fucking kidding me? Was my first thought. Not only was there the confirmed cases in town but also the order coming from the governor’s office to stay at home except for certain circumstances. Basically, the state was going under martial law. I have had people tell me that this was only a suggestion and that it wasn’t mandatory, then the sheriff spoke. “This is not a suggestion. You will be arrested if you don’t comply.” Since my wife was going anyway, I dressed in my best post-apocalyptic apparel and set off on the road to have a flat tire, road rage bikers, or red neck road block foal our plot. To my surprise none of that happened. I filled the back of the SUV with a few weeks-worth of food and we set off an hour in one direction to drop it off.

The roads were empty except for three rivers where the traffic was still bumper to bumper at certain spots. The drop took less than five minutes, and on the way back we filled the gas tank for $1.49 a gallon. When we came home our daughter wanted to go for a walk since she was stuck in the car for two hours. I put her in the wagon and she was able to enjoy the park down the street for the last time. Parks and playgrounds were ordered closed by the governor. The state is on lockdown and later when we tell the girls about this, we can say we did the best we could under the circumstances. But I tell you what, when this is over, I’m buying a damn cabin in the woods.

The evening went better than expected. Then the news started to come through my phone that all the places I love were closing until further notice. My friends are going to the front lines to fight some virus that was most likely produced in a Russian lab. Everyone I know is so far away. The real kicker was my boss sending me a text asking “are you prepared for the apocalypse?” the only responsible answer was “yes.”

Just past 8pm a emergency alert went over my phone reminding me of the governor’s order and it was then I realized that the shit has gotten real. The numbers out of Italy and china haven’t been truthful. Our president is a moron. Congress is playing their usual blame game circle jerk. The media is lying about the strength of the supply chain. This is the apocalypse and my biggest fear is that the internet goes down and my two-year-old can’t watch Chip and Potato to give me a moment of sanity during the day.

Tomorrow is a new day. I doubt I will see the national guard in the streets. There is the liquor store on the corner if I want a beer. The sun is supposed to come out so maybe it won’t be such a bad day. If anyone tries to tell me I can’t be out then I’ll tell them to “get off of my lawn.”

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America, the third world country

 

I remember when the idea of living in a post-apocalyptic America was something I would dream about or have in my novels. Now that vision is coming true and I don’t know if I should be looking forward to what this future version of the country will look like or wish that things would stay the same. The first coronavirus patient was brought to our local hospital but is has not been announced yet. Most states have closed school, the national guard has been called out to help around the country, and spring break knuckleheads hit the beeches and spread the virus along with any STD they could collect on their nether regions.

I guess we had it coming. The signs were there. SJWs had been left bitching on the internet far too long with nothing important happening to shut them up about pronouns and equality in a capitalist society. The world had it easy until now. Some of us were so bored we made up enemies to feel important and ignored the Utopia we had around us. There was talk of food deserts only to know what that really means when toilet paper started to fly off the shelf. The federal government hadn’t functioned in twenty years but continued to collect their government checks like the welfare queens they are. For the first time since I was first able to vote an election has been pushed aside from the news for something that really matters. It took a virus but finally something came along to show us what was truly important. We learned that above all things, toilet paper is more important than food. Gasoline is cheap if you have nowhere to go. Sports really don’t matter. School and work can be done from home. The economy doesn’t matter if we are all dead. After Deliverance, West Virginia is the last state a virus wants to visit.

History repeats itself again as the servants, those loyal cogs in the economic machine, are thrown to the side as a replaceable part. The first to be fired and disappear from the streets while the country tries to figure out how to contain a virus that already caused so much havoc around the globe. Its always the poor, those that depend on the kindness of others that are slaughtered first. The damage was so bad that the federal government asked the states to not report their numbers this month. In some states the unemployment website crashed.

I bought two more boxes of ammo today and while I looked over the options available, I overheard a conversation at the counter. A man came in trying to buy 9mm ammo but they were gone. He went on about living one town north of the city and how people were going up to houses in the middle of the night and knocking on the door. If someone answered they pretended to beg for money while they were looking for a place to break into. The same thing happened to my mother-in-law wo lives in a different part of the state. I bought the ammo and a few other things and went home. People were looking for houses to break into, there was a confirmed case of Covid-19 at our local hospital and leaving the house had me on the verge of having a panic attack. This would be the last trip I would take for a very long time.

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Joining the Roaming Horde

Today was a better day. Being proactive and taking my situation into my own hands, I started a garden. It is the middle of march and while there is still frost I was able to pull out some old recycling containers and turned them into planters. We have a home composter in the back yard along with a large concrete patio and little land to speak of. The garden will have to work with what we have. Small, nutritionally dense foods will be planted tomorrow and I will turn most of the beds into cold frames with plastic wrap. Getting outdoors and doing the physical labor was more enjoyable than I anticipated. Plus I could spend some time with my two year old daughter who helped clean the yard.

We went for a walk to a nearby park and watched as people purposely avoided one another. The wind was cold and the sun shined down without a cloud in the sky. I spotted a few jets but nothing to brag about. I have a feeling the airlines will be shut down soon people will be forced to stay indoors. After today I think I’m okay with that. There is and always will be something I should have bought. I should have bought Doritos, a Kevlar vest, or that cabin up north. But mostly I should have bought Doritos.

I watched a couple of Crackheads, sorry if that is politically incorrect (not sorry), check out at one of the local shops today. The guy appeared alright for the most part, the girl on the other hand had tattoos on her face and acted like she was on something. I’m guessing heroin. Her speech was slurred and she kept bobbing her head in any direction too lazy to make an effort to control it. These are the people I worry about the most. They fall through the cracks. They won’t get $1000 this month like the rest of the country, they don’t have an address to send it to. They will be on the streets looking for a place to stay, a home with no one in it to score some prescription drugs, or just rob someone for a quick score. Times will be tough for everyone and some will make things difficult for others.

Snack foods are quickly disappearing and while I wish I could still buy a burger I am finding some enjoyment from making my own meals. I worry about eggs, milk, and other items disappearing but what can you do. I don’t have chickens and the closest protein source is the stray cats outside and the tree rats that dig up my yard. Thankfully I have charcoal for the grill and eventually that one bottle of BBQ sauce will come in handy. GO bags are coming together the only problem is trying to figure out which firearm I would leave the home with if we had to Get Out. Sometimes I wish life was like a video game where I could carry two rifles, a pistol and a knife without thinking about the weight and ammo. I have my tools that I enjoy and the ones I wish I could become more familiar with. I could always bury a few in the backyard and come back for them later but who does that. If you have to leave you are never coming back and that is the reality.

Hunkering down means a serious commitment to staying in one place. This is the wild west and I am a settler surrounded by natives that have no interest in me being here. How do I get my point across that I am here to stay? I can see a time, after everything is said and done, when the powers that be have a policy “what happened during the plague stays during the plague.”

I picked up my weights today for the first time since my second daughter was born on February 16. It’s been a month and I have to say it felt good. The dumb bells didn’t feel as bad as I thought they would. The pushups were labored but I always hated doing them. It felt good and hopefully I can keep it up, working out every morning like I had before my world was turned upside down in more ways than one. I took my katana out of storage and set it in the study just in case. Using that is a workout I may need to brush up on. It has been a decade since I seriously took it out and cut the air with that blade.

My pipe is retired for the moment, the sweet taste of Virginias and nutty burley will have to stay in storage until everything is done. Turns out tobacco aggravates the virus and makes the infection worse than it needs to be. I can’t even smoke to take the stress off. Fuck you Coronavirus, I hope you burn in the lowest pits of hell. Thankfully my wine cellar is stocked and I should be good for a few months. After that, I might join the roaming horde looking for a nice Cabernet. You have been warned.

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The Coming Lockdown

 

I have heard it more than once, “China set the example for how to stop this pandemic.” What that means? The people who horded food and other provisions will be the ones more likely to survive. Extreme measures were taken in China. People had their doors nailed shut from the outside so they could not leave their apartments. The number of cases hidden. Doctors were silenced because their openness about the illness making the country look bad. Countries continue to follow a path and the United States is no different. I have a friend that says he is leaving town if martial law is declared. The problem with that thinking is that when it is announced, it’s too late. There are rumors of interstate travel bans and the country going into lockdown. The CDC recommended an 8-week shutdown of all nonessential businesses and services.

John Oliver, TV host and comedian from the UK, recorded a show with no audience or background. They filmed in a white room, like the one Neo woke up in while training in the Matrix. No laugh track was used. The jokes lost much of their punch. Without someone there to validate his humor the show was flat and empty. He made valid points but without an audience what was the purpose? That appears to be our lives these days, living for the sake of living with few people to share the experience with. Should this be so difficult? Wasn’t this what our ancestors did before a hundred years ago, before cellphones and internet, a time when the newspaper and radio were the only sources of outside information. Man has lost its ability to function without electronic tools like the laptop I am writing this post on. I prefer a typewriter, a machine with one purpose and function. The laptop is designed to distract making any task take longer than it needs, taking us away from what really matters.

Yesterday I went for a hike in the woods with my family. My daughter crying that she wanted to go home and my wife losing her mind unable to enjoy the hour we had walking along the stream. I remember when this wasn’t difficult, when a child could find something to play with and enjoy. There is a hope that this will bring us back closer to what is really important. The stock market dropped another 3000 points today and while the talking heads on the television were discussing a depression or market volatility most people I know didn’t care. Already poor or accepting that their retirement was gone last week there is little apathy for a system that repeatedly screwed them over time and time again.

I have a feeling that my three-week mandatory leave will be extended and that we have not seen the end of things to come. The National Guard is already an hour north from me in Grand Rapids handing out food to those who could not afford to run to the store. Humvees should spray paint “free candy” on the sides while building the trust of those who may be locked away later for curfew violations or congregating in groups of ten or more. We are living in a dystopian novel and while China acted out 1984 America is heading towards It Can’t Happen Here.

The disease is real, I have no doubt about that. The opportunity to use it for some other end is there. The odd thing is that no matter who we vote for, the end will turn out the same. The gears are turning and the person who ends up in that oval office will do the same thing regardless of promises made on the podium. I don’t know the exact path we are on but Iran is digging mass graves, Italy can not keep up with the number of cases in their fully modern healthcare system, the UK is finishing their breakup with the EU by closing their borders completely, and even Mexico is not letting Americans in as an odd twisted revenge handed down by fate. America will put its own twist on it as we do with all things. We might have crematoriums instead of mass graves to create jobs. Interstate travel might be banned while counties do the same thing per state. At this point the government can do what it wants since they declared a national emergency, at such a time all civil rights are suspended. Throw in the NDAA and Patriot Act and well, you sir, are shit out of luck. What is surprising is the number of conspiracy theorists that have not used this virus to argue their agenda. I remember a time when Agenda 21 was a common topic. Somehow everyone became so fixated on this virus that these theories about a New World Order and martial law had been forgotten while the plot of a poorly written dystopian novel acts out in our own lives.

Target was silent today. Long lines extended out from the three aisles the store had open. A girl walked around cleaning the debit card reader between every interaction using window cleaner. I shook my head and ignored her when she asked if I would like the machine cleaned before use. Two aisles of cleaning material that kill 99.9 percent of germs and she uses glass polish with a brown paper towel. Just infect me now why don’t you? Get it over with? Everyone from the federal government to the supermarket do not appear to be taking this pandemic seriously and I am mentally exhausted. Is that the point, to ware us down so that we will just go alone with anything in the end?

After this the world will try to come together. One currency will be suggested along with wiping away the debt. Surveillance will be the new normal, although it already is. Medical records will be public knowledge for the safety of all. Thought police will make social justice warriors look like the internet trolls they are.

I think about these things. I could be a task to try to make sense of all of this, hoping that there is some plan, no matter how evil it would be, that was set in motion for some purpose. We have a desire for fate. Answers for those things that randomly happen. The longer this goes on the less random it is and the more people become responsible. People are dying and this will continue. When it is over there will be a push to move on and try to forget what happened without forgetting the lesson learned of washing your hands. The government will pat themselves on the back talking about how great their response was and how many lives they saved. Bills will be passed to make sure nothing like that will happen again, even though it will, and you will lose more rights for the sake of some deranged utopia.

Then I wake up. Its all a dream. I’m still here in my bedroom with a crying child on the other side of the wall and bills coming in the mail. Regardless of the fantasy world we create for ourselves to make sense of the mess our lives are there is a reality that pulls us back in. The coronavirus is not here yet in my county at least but the rest of the people around me act like it is and maybe that will be our saving grace. I hope that this virus is just a simple bug that we can figure out and forget about in the end. It’s appearing to be something more, a life changing phenomenon that will be with us the rest of our lives. The past two weeks have felt like 9-11 every single day. I didn’t realize what was happening that day and weeks later I was still processing it. It wasn’t until months later that my 21-year-old mind comprehended what had happened. People I knew where going to war and a president I didn’t vote for was turning the country into a fully divided two party system. Every morning I wake up and have to remind myself that this is the apocalypse and that my daughter needs her diaper changed, the baby needs to be fed, and unless I feel like being a total psycho for the rest of the day, I need to make some coffee. At least in the end we still get to have coffee, so I have that going for me.

 

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