The End of Prepping

In my basement there is a series of cabinets along the wall that are filled with all kinds of long term food storage items, cans, bags, and boxes. I have a wine cellar in the darkest and coolest part of the basement. A gun safe keeps a few items free from dust and rust. A few typewriters wait under dust covers for the moment this computer and the electrical grid goes down ending civilization. Then there is the doomsday vault, a trunk filled with rare bottles of wine, a survivalist handbook, a few pipes and several cans/ tins of tobaccos that are not in production anymore. If the world comes to an end I am all set for the roaming horde of zombies, aliens coming to the planet to steal water or cows for rectal probes, or maybe the Chinese invasion. I have everything I need, what do I do now?
There was a time when I feared the world was coming to an end. I grew up hearing about end times and thinking that Saddam Hussein was going to kill the planet, Chernobyl was going to turn everyone into mutants, the planet was going to deep fry everyone into crispy chicken wings, the list goes on and on. Nothing happened. Nothing ever happened. The nation has been run by the incompetent and the mentally retarded on and off my whole adult life and yet we are still here.
Nothing that I listed off that I keep in the basement is stuff that people didn’t have a hundred years ago. It was common to have root cellars, can food, and keep a gun or two just in case. That was called living and people knew they were responsible for themselves. These days I roll my eyes when people talk about their guns being taken away, trump pushing the button and ending the planet, and while I have a fear that global warming might end the planet that my daughter will grow up in I have to accept that there is less than nothing I can do about it. I have my habits that this hobby has built into me and while people may think that it is crazy to keep extra food of guns that haven’t been shot in a year or two it does come in handy at times. A friend mentioned that she didn’t have any money and her food situation had dwindled to rice and beans for lunch until payday. It only took a few minutes to put a box together from the basement supply and bring it to work for her to use. When I was done the pantry didn’t look any different but she had food for a few days or more.
I don’t have that fear anymore. That notion that something wrong is gone. Maybe its from not watching the news anymore? I look at the world these days and I have my life that is no longer dictated by a group of guys in bad suits yelling and arguing with each other about stuff that doesn’t really matter. There is something satisfying about no longer caring about people who don’t really matter. I don’t care about Trump and neither should anyone else.
Early on I learned not to buy the gizmos and tech stuff that preppers dish out their hard-earned cash for. I don’t own an AR-15 and still think jeeps are one of the biggest pieces of crap ever built. I didn’t sink a ton of money into this because it’s not needed. One doesn’t have to feel like Rambo in order to be secure. If there is anything that one needs to do in order to get their life in order and be prepared its paying off your debts and making sure you have cash on the side. Stop buying stupid shit and most of your problems will be solved. The financial stress that comes with being in debt is worse that the Chinese eventually, possibly, marching in and sending you to an iPhone factory center.
Living in fear is exhausting. There are companies and economies that depend on us being fearful of the unknown. While we go about our lives and try to fix our problems having somebody else breathing down your neck about a maybe is a waste of time. There comes a time when one has to realize that maybe “surviving” is not living. There might be some mental illness involved in this prepper thing. I know at moments I wondered about my own mental health and looking back maybe I was correct to be worried. Prepping is in the past now. I’ll keep the canned goods and a handle pistol close by but I’m not going to let them rule my life. What is the point of life if you aren’t living?

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The search for perfection (in an election year)

I couldn’t tell you where it started, the notion that a candidate running for office has to meet ALL the criteria you put on them. I have seen this especially with presidential candidates and now that I think about it the search for perfection goes back further than these recent years.
Unfortunately, we have a two-party system, something many of the founding fathers never wanted for the country, and with a two-party system you end up with opposing views and these two sides trying to make sure they are as far away from their opponents as they can be. Until recently we didn’t now how far people were willing to go in either direction, the Republicans created the Tea Party (or tea baggers as I like to call them) and on the left there is a socialist movement that has been growing since Occupy Wallstreet. Occasionally you hear somebody referring to themselves as a centrist but the media can’t make money on a person who is agreeable, while most of the nation’s voters ride the line in the center.
I had issues with this perfect candidate idea over the years, disliking John Kerry because he sounded like Dubya Bush but wearing a different suit and tie. John McCain could have had my vote if he had not lost his mind with the poor choice of his running mate. Dean had his scream. Gore’s wife couldn’t keep her hands off my record collection. Dubya was caught on tape saying he didn’t care about black churches. And the list goes on and on.
These days I support Andrew Yang, no this post isn’t about Yang I’m just using this to make a point. I had people say “I want to like him but….” Then out of the 76 policies posted on Yang’s website they will pick one or two and say “I can’t support this.” So, I would have to assume you are in favor of the other 74 polices? This is where I lose my mind. After an election with the two worst candidates ever to have run for office people are still nit picking over stupid polices that in all odds will never see the light of day even if Yang, or Gabbard, or Bernie made it into office. How many policies did Obama get through before his administration was tied down in patrician bullshit? One.
There are things I like about the other candidates. Warren wants to break up the big tech companies and after a hellish six months of trying to cancel my Sprint service I would prefer she burned them to the ground and brought back oil lamps. Gabbard wants us to stay out of foreign wars and stop making money for companies who profit on war, right on man. Bernie, well Bernie, ugh Bernie is old and I don’t know what he wants to do anymore or what he could accomplish in the five minutes he would live after getting into office. Beto has been playing the wallflower at the high school class presidential election kegger, refusing to piss anybody off.
These people will be in my face non-stop for the coming year until they start dropping like flies. Even Joe Biden is having a hard time managing his sexual harassment charges. I have to say if a picture is a thousand words, then the videos I watched of Biden recently are thousands of creepy words.
With all these things I liked I still had to choose one. How did I manage to narrow it down? I picked the guy that spoke with the least amount of bullshit. I don’t agree with everything that Yang says. There are policies that I am not sure about or agree with. While Yang is not perfect he is the best candidate I have found for me. Some people may call this “selling out” or “settling” which makes it sound like we are dating these people. I don’t believe I am in some kind of puppy love state of mind. I would like to think this is a rational choice that I have made and free from some partisan crap. Hell, Yang isn’t even a politician.
I’m going to stay away from the “lesser of two evils” cop out that we often hear. This is more about being an adult and making adult choices. Most people don’t pay attention until there are only two options. Maybe it’s the stress of having too many options like shopping in a super market with fifty different choices of tomato soup. Or maybe it’s the fatigue of constantly being lied to over the years and no longer wanting to participate. Or maybe its because they can’t find anybody who is perfect.
Plato once talked about the idea of perfection, the apple you see in your mind that you will never find because the apple you imagine is flawless, and yet when you find an apple, regardless of all its flaws you still bite into it and enjoy it.
You will never find a perfect candidate. It’s like shopping on Match.com and when you do find that special someone there are things they either lied about or completely left out, bad credit, mental illness, crazy ex-boyfriend that might kill you. In any case, people have closets and they tend to hide things in them from their guests.
When I visit a person’s place for the first time, I tend to glance at the book shelf or DVD collection. Harder to do these days with people reading on kindles and subscribing to Netflix. There is a lot to learn about a person by seeing what they decide to put into their heads. Trump doesn’t read. That is all I needed to know.
Recently there was a discussion about Yang not making a statement on transgender something something day. I have no idea what day this is, whether or not it’s a real holiday, or if it was made up for people to become angry about when it’s not talked about. Personally, I don’t care. You won’t find me shoving Black History Month in everyone’s face or crying about Valentine’s Day. Supporters of Yang brought this up and there was a positive uproar in response. Positive because there was a backlash of people asking “what is really important?” I couldn’t agree more. Yang didn’t send out a tweet or make an announcement on television saying “yay, it’s chicks with dicks day!” most likely he was on the road traveling to his next interview or rally. Maybe he was sleeping because he has been on the road since last year. The social justice calendar might have been lost among all the other things he has been dealing with. I was happy to see that most supporters of Yang either didn’t care he missed a fake holiday or supported him not talking about it. The person who posted the question said they were concerned about if he really cared about the LGBTQLMNOP community or if it was made up. I think those people have more to be concerned about than if someone said “hi” on TV.
Yang isn’t perfect and if people are trying to point out his flaws by missing a day that most people didn’t know about than I am glad to keep him as my guy. I’m waiting for the next version of 50 Shades of Grey (Biden’s Bondage) to be released and be forced to hear all the juicy details of his sexual misconduct. Gabbard is too relaxed to not have a medical card for some “herbs.” Bernie might slip in the tub a few more times. Yang isn’t perfect, but I haven’t found anything that I can’t accept.

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Unleash the Books

My reading list has grown over the years. When I finally think I’m putting a dent into find that the list has grown beyond where it was. Last year, according to Goodreads, I read 176 books. My reading list grew from about 250 to 500 books. That is a rough estimate considering my buying habits at the local second hand store in the basement of the public library. (insert shameless add for Friends of the Kalamazoo Public Library here)

The last two books I read were directly influenced by the recent election. Drift by Rachael Maddow and It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis.

Drift was published in 2012 when the world was supposed to end according to a dead culture and at the start of the second term for the Obama administration. Maddow discusses how the authority for starting war was transformed from Congress needing to declare it and the president doing whatever he wanted, thanks Reagan. Four years later I came across a first edition and picked it up curious about what she had to say about our military situation. It ended up being a warning that was never heard and now we have to face the repercussions of a system that was never fixed and a madman in office.

It Can’t Happen Here, was written in 1936 when people saw what was happening in Germany but nobody thought it would get to the point of ovens and world war. Lewis maps out how a fascist was able to win the hearts of the American public during the great depression with the promise of making life better by punishing the banks and politicians. Things start out that way until camps are started and people are forced to work more than they did before. Executions are common and often throughout the book much like the Nazi policies in Germany. Things don’t turn out well, once a dictator is in power its difficult to get them out of power.

A few weeks ago I read This Side of Paradise, F Scott Fitzgerald’s first book that made him famous had an interesting scene towards the end where two men are talking about the current political climate and the friction between the rich and poor. While listening to the conversation one can easily forget that what they are talking about is the early 1920s. a hundred years later it is easy to see that nothing has changed.

Some of my pepper seeds have started to sprout and I dug into my boxes of books to find all of my organic gardening material. I thinned out this section a few years ago by giving away books to close friends, I hope they still have them now.

I watch the protest and here the beats of war drums in the distance. The current climate has me wondering what life will be like in the spring. Will I still have a home? Will this still be a country? Will we still be here? With the increasing speed of technology and communication could the end of this country be sped up, what once took years could be crammed into a few months, or possibly weeks. I plant seeds with the hope of harvesting the food in the future and preserving it for next winter. Other people in this country have other plans. The current book list I am working through are things I read before. Gardening guides, how to grow herbs, composting, permaculture, square foot gardening, and much, much, more. The upside is that once the garden is going, the plants grow and do the majority of the work. That frees up time for other things. I’m not sure where this experiment is going. Adaptation is important for surviving in constantly changing circumstances. I have plans, but it feels like every day that goes buy something else is said or done by a certain person in power that might make that reality a fantasy.

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The Cat is Out of the Bag

I had lunch with a friend yesterday who is worried about the current world situation. Bob and his wife (names have been changed for safety) have started to buy food for storage and try to figure out other things they might need for surviving the Hitler… I mean trump administration. By the time we left the restaurant, we still had not heard about the threats made towards Iran or the friction between ourselves and one of our greatest allies, the Australians. What we did know was that Trump had ordered a raid on a house in Yemen that resulted in the deaths of 9 women and children and one 8 year old girl who was a US citizen. Keep in mind we have not been in Yemen since early 2015. When the white house was asked about this they stated it was “collateral damage.” There it is. The status of humans in this country or others doesn’t matter to the president of the united states. While others would have pretended to care this guy does not give a shit. That is what scares the hell out of me.

I found out a few weeks ago, that I am going to be a father. While many would say “there is never a good time in life to have a child” my question is: what about a time in history? The scientist that run the doomsday clock have moved the minute had to the closest time ever set even beating the height of the cold war. My long term concern of climate change has been something I always thought would be something I could teach my kids to adapt to and survive.  Now with the crazy nut job that the few in this country elected I don’t know if any of us will be around more than a few years from now.

My friend Bob has a right to be concerned. His daughter is old enough to remember the good old days and still adapt to the new world she will be growing into. My kid however, all of this crazy shit, will be normal. Maybe that’s for the better. There won’t be a chance to deny what is happening or a longing for what we once had.

With the new year, and a new job title that I will have in the coming year (dad) I started to take some steps to try and adapt to the new world. I cleaned out my house taking several boxes of items to the local goodwill. After all the things you own end up owning you. I took out the canning jars from the basement and sorted the seeds I would be planting in the spring. Currently I have four lights focused on tomato and pepper seeds for future planting. My closet was cleaned out and books thinned out to make space for those I would read and concentrated on those that are important and educational. By important I mean classics, anything pertaining to survival.

While my girlfriend and I have discussed moving in together there is one thing that stands out, both of us are upside down in or mortgages. Neither of us can sell. The upside is that I have a huge yard that I can grow food for us in, and I can use several square feet of the house as a tax write off for a personal business. Eventually we will get tired of paying so much for two houses we don’t need but then we have to figure out who’s credit is ruined because of the mistakes made by Alan Greenspan and George W Bush.  The world is changing and my life is changing with it. the garden I hope will relieve some burden from that stress while providing organic healthy food for the three of us.

If I had a child during the bush administration I would have told my child not to join the military, a large problem solve with a simple statement. These days I will have to teach all of the material from my books plus some extras. Camping, fishing, hunting, gardening, shooting, archery, trapping, and much much more. The world of my books, a science fiction/ fantasy world of dystopian rule has become reality. Thanks Trump.

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