Posts Tagged ‘bugout’

Doomsday Preppers: John Tucker

Man, the longer this show goes on, the least interesting it gets: I’d chalk it up to familiarity breeding contempt, and I’ve been writing these up for way too long to not notice the patterns everywhere.
© NatGeo/Sharp EntertainmentSegment Breakdown:
John Tucker, family of six (yay, excessive procreation!), oil field technician (yay, fossil fuels!).
Supposed motivation: Category 5 hurricane (not unreasonable; it’s Texas, and weather’s only going to get worse).
Strategy: “I keep bees.”
Prior disaster experience: 49 days without electricity from Hurricane Ike!
The above ^ covered in the first six minutes. Rest of segment:

*Some drawn-out drama-stuff where John and his assistant get swarmed while trying to remove a hive of what we’re told are Africanized (‘killer’) bees from a house, without smoking them first, for some reason. Well, what did they expect was going to happen?

*John plans on bugging-out 350 miles, and wants to bring bees with him. But not all of them – just one hive (plus a dummy hive full of supplies)? As you should know by this point in the season, we’re going to spend the next fifteen minutes in a montage of sweaty folks welding (don’t forget the generic heavy metal music!), then adding weapons, followed by a testing stunt.

And why exactly—ignoring the fact that we’re talking reality tv here (nothing can be educational or even realistic!) and everything is sensational and for ratings—does John find it necessary to add a one-time-only, deployable car-caltrop and scythe wheels to his killer beehive trailer honey wagon?
Because he thinks people will see his beehive on the trailer (while they’re traveling down the road, apparently), recognize the many, many uses of honey/wax, and want it for themselves, therefore making him a target!
Y’know, when they first said they were worried about people taking their bees during a bug-out, I figured they meant people pulling combs out of the hives when they had parked somewhere. It’s pretty much only in the movies that somebody would try to steal something from your vehicle while you’re driving.
Ugh. At the end of the segment, John declares, “I’m not crazy, I’m a prepper!” Ha. Whoever said preppers weren’t paranoid…obviously doesn’t watch this show.

You know what I would do if I had bees to transport covertly? For starters, I’d make sure the trailer was big enough and sturdy enough to hold all of my hives—if you were to bug-out with a surplus of commodity with actual value (in this case, honey and wax), hey, you would have something to barter!
Plus, what with colony collapse all the rage these days, I’d want to make sure I had as many hives with me as possible! I thought preppers were all about redundancy—why does John only load up one hive??

Next, I’d make sure the trailer (which would probably need to be a double-axle for stability, not the dinky one John makes up) had low walls, for partial concealment, obviously. Finally, I’d just throw a blue plastic tarp over the top of everything, and nobody would be the wiser.
Of course, John and his crew realize this too, but it’s only after they’ve weaponized the trailer and given it a tacticool name, when they decide they could “put a net over the whole trailer, so they won’t even know what’s going down the road”. Right guys, except now you’re towing a redneck scythe chariot, which is probably gonna tip people off that you’ve got something worth taking.
And what they wind up throwing over the top isn’t something innocuous and commonplace like a blue tarp, as I’ve suggested (who doesn’t have one kicking around?), but some military camo netting, which definitely makes it look like they’re trying to hide something.

Oh, and of course they have to test it out! (Gotta have a stunt to get those ratings!) John tows the weaponized trailer while his cousin or whatever plays the role of honey-coveting marauder. They wind up pulling the front bumper off the car and flattening a tire or two. Whoo.

John closes by letting us know that he always makes sure he has extra stuff on hand so his family can eat. Dude, we’ve seen your vast array of sponsored foodbuckets, why not keep a little extra on hand to help your neighbors, maybe help build a more resilient, local community? Teach them about beekeeping, then you wouldn’t have to worry about people hypothetically taking yours? I dunno, I’ve just about had it up to *here* with redstate Takers preoccupied with keeping their Stuff from others and perpetuating the status quo, instead of engaging in actual solutions.


Doomsday Preppers: Jason Johns

The miniseason drags on…with the episode “Whatever It Takes”, which begins with Jason Johns of Alabama. Now, unlike the vast majority of folks profiled on this show, Jason has had actual real-world experience with a life-or-death survival adventure—at age 19 he got lost in the woods. They don’t really go into much detail about how he got out alive and didn’t freeze to death (exposure being THE number one killer in survival incidents), which would’ve been interesting to hear, seeing how he says he only had a knife and a lighter and it was freezing rain!
Anyway, now “almost 20 years later”, he and his eighteen-year-old son Jacob are determined to be “prepared for a solar flare and the civil unrest that follows.”
© NatGeo/Sharp EntertainmentSo, after the usual brief primer on solar flares (and that big one in the 19th century that set the telegraph wires on fire), we hear Jason recite the usual ‘for all its greatness our world is so fragile, if people didn’t have the Juice, they couldn’t get food blahblah’ mantra. And then Jason comes to the part that really freaks me out: “…after two months, people like me will be left, and that’ll be our chance where we get to rebuild society”. *eyetwitch*. And I’m sure they’ll do it the same way that got us to where we are now—by being fruitful and multiplying as soon as possible, because the Earth was made for Man to abuse as he sees fit, ecology be damned!, right?
“The worst part of it is this,” I said, “that the survivors, if there are any, will immediately set about doing it all over again, exactly the same way”, replicating (“rebuilding”) the only world they’ve ever known, not recognizing its inherent unsustainability.

So…apparently Jason has 1,000 meals stored? I dunno, looks like a whole lotta ramen to me. Seriously, the cardboard it’s packaged in has more nutritional value! Ramen can be fine survival food—it helped me survive college (rimshot!)—but you can’t rely on it solely; don’t think of it as the main course. It works best as a meal supplement, something to stretch the healthy survival rations you’ve already got: make a big pot of stew, and then throw a half-brick of ramen in everybody’s bowl. Yummm!

When the narrator tells us that Jason constantly “preaches the gospel of preparedness to his son”,  that should really read, “evangelizes the gospel of his model of preparedness to his son”.

They go on a field trip to the local junkyard for lead wheel weights—because “when the solar flare goes down, with abandoned cars these’ll be everywhere.” Yeah, except that lead wheel weights already are everywhere. Travel by foot or bike instead of car for once, and you’ll see them at intersections, in the gutter, everywhere. Do a good deed and pick them up, and maybe spread less birth defects through the water system (lead is, after all, just really depleted uranium).

But I can’t really see ol’ Jason picking up environmental contaminants off the road out of the goodness of his earth-loving heart, because after melting down the weights, we see him spoon out the ‘impurities’ (which are all naturally coated with molten lead) and just throw them out on the ground. Well, that’s just lovely—sloppy and disrespectful!
*For future reference, when melting wheel weights, drop a bit of beeswax into your crucible to attract the impurities, and then skim them off for use them in something that doesn’t require perfect lead—like a round ball for a blackpowder rifle. As for the steel clips that attached the weights to the wheel’s rim, just pick them out (the lead will come off), and take them to your local recycling center.
(And one final note—while the caption informs us that one should only melt lead in a well-ventilated area, smelting outdoors can still be dangerous. The first time I melted down a batch of wheel weights outdoors, I spent the afternoon hovering over the crucible instead of sitting back and watching from a distance. Not only did I have the smell of molten heavy metals in my nose for two days, but I wound up with a killer headache that rivaled the worst hangover ever.)

Once Jason and Jacob melt down their lead, they mold some bullets for…hot damn, a muzzleloader! And not even an inline, but a percussionlock, to boot! (While I have huge love for blackpowder guns, for future reference, in a long-term collapse scenario, reliance on fulminated mercury percussion caps isn’t a sustainable solution—a flintlock, however, could be run indefinitely on naturally-occurring ingredients—just saying).

Next, the duo decide to test out their “worst case scenario” in which “all their food is gone, so it’s time to abandon their home and live off the land.”
That sentence perfectly illustrates the truly unsurvivable nature of Doomsday Prepping, as opposed to preparedness-through-sustainable-living. In the doomsday model of preparedness, families (or perhaps more likely, individuals—because this subculture is infatuated with the idea of the ‘lone wolf’, head-for-the-hills survivorman) have their everyday pantry of food from which they eat and replenish from the grocery store, while down in the basement they have their stash of Doomsday Food, not to be touched until, you guessed it, ‘doomsday.’ (But what if the End Of The World As We Know It isn’t brought on by a single, isolated event, but instead by a prolonged, decades-long steady degradation of the systems of our civilization (which we are likely in the middle of right now)?) Once said event has gone down, only then may the family crack open their purchased foodbuckets of beans, rice, ramen noodles, and freeze-dried chili, which will be steadily depleted until they are empty, because no resupply plan has been considered. (Also loathsome to my ears is the phrase ‘live off the land’, which implies an unsustainable one-sided Taking of resources, instead of a two-way dialogue between land and individual in which the individual also gives back to the land).

Compare this to ‘lifestyle prepping’, in which most of one’s food is produced, harvested, and preserved by the individual and no differentiation is made between Food and Doomsday Food. I don’t have a separate stash of the latter, but I do have a basement larder and a couple of giant Rubbermaid boxes, full of home-canned and -dehydrated fruits and veggies respectively (a combination of homegrown and freegan foraged). When a recipe calls for something, I simply get it from a jar or I rehydrate it. And there’s never a shortage, because I have a good idea of how much I need to get through a year from one harvest to the next—it’s constantly being restocked.

Anyway…father and son go out in the woods where son will hopefully survive the night after learning all of dad’s survival tricks. Somewhere younglin’ makes a quip about how he has to carry all the heavy backpacks, because his dad is SO OLD. Ahh, the Deep South, where 40 is considered to be an ‘Old Man’. :-S
Jason’s big thing is a bugout bag organized around what he calls “the Ten C’s”: Cargo tape (duct tape), ‘Candle-ing device’ (headlamp), a Cutting tool (knife), Combustion device (firestarting kit), a Canvas needle, a Compass, a Cotton bandana, Covering (tarp), a Container (canteen), and Cordage—which he claims is “hard to recreate in nature”. HA! Plus a pistol (of course), but he can’t figure out how to make that start with a C.

Together, they put together a squirrel pole and a twitch-up snare, then build a lean-to (out of live trees??).
Supposedly they catch a rabbit (I’m not convinced it wasn’t provided by the producers), whose meat Jason seems to consider his first priority food—“if we didn’t catch this, we’d have to eat…plants” he says, as a look of disgust crosses his face, as if eating lower on the food-energy pyramid was his absolute last resort.
Dad shows son how to start a fire with flint and steel—which is cool and all, but unless you’re like, really hardcore into 18th century reenacting, just use some kind of ferro rod—the less demand on fine motor skills in a survival situation, the better.

In their score, the experts give them 19 points on water (even though they only have 300 gallons stored?) and a final score of 64 for 10 months. That’s apparently unacceptable for Jason, who instead of taking what he can get and saying ‘Well, there’s always room for improvement’, gets an attitude and talks shit like he has a big chip on his shoulder. Blech.

Doomsday Preppers: Steve H.

This picture is all you need to understand his survival approach.

The series’ next (or maybe previous—my tivo got messed up) episode (‘Gates of Hell!!!’) opens with a look at yet another posterchild of unsustainable preparedness, ‘Steve H’ of Washington state.

Like everybody else, Steve’s concerned that there’s an “imminent collapse of the US economy”, for which he’s “waiting, watching”, because he “knows what’s gonna happen.” His worst fears will be realized when the guvvmint “comes to take our stuff”, in which case he’ll answer the door with a big ol’ handcannon. Let me know how that works out for ya.

To achieve his preparedness goals, Steve gets the family together to set a weekly family preparedness goal! Like, ‘this week we’re going to hoard twenty cases of canned tomato soup’, and then at the end of the week, they truck the load of soup up to the bugout cabin. There is an interesting bit where Steve shows off an alternative use for a household vacuum sealer—they’re not just good for sealing fish fillets or whatever, they’re also good for sealing up guns! Hmm.

So, in the event of an out-of-the-blue Economic Collapse, Steve intends on bugging out to his family’s little mountainside cabin, 50 miles away. If you ask me, Type I preppers like Steve (with their mongered fear of sudden and unforeseen world-ending disasters) put an awful lot (probably too much) of stock on the assumption that roads will be drivable in an emergency. After the oft-repeated mantra about ‘after three days without food on the supermarket shelf, people go crazy’, I think the commonly-held belief is that all of those crazy people will immediately hop on the interstate in search of Top Ramen and Doritos. So, if you’re worried about such a thing occurring, wouldn’t you want to tailor your disaster plan to avoid such modes of transportation? Here’s an option far too few folks consider—make like a supertramp and ride the rails!
So, Steve’s plan revolves around being able to drive a few miles from the cabin, and then hike in with the family after linking up with two of his son’s wannabe-mercenary friends? Ugh, so much tacticool gear.
During their approach to and arrival at the cabin, they’re constantly tacti-talking about ‘taking out’ any squatters or potential enemies. I have to wonder—if your supersecret isolated mountain retreat can be found and occupied by folks before you get there, perhaps it isn’t hidden enough? Besides, Steve talks as if the worst enemy of all is displaced hungry people. Seriously, the guy has a fourteen-by-fourteen foot concrete bunker he uses exclusively for storing his foodbuckets—if some hungry folks show up at his door, the least he could do is give them a bite to eat. Then again, I’m coming from an uncivilized/tribal approach, in which generosity and cooperation are the foundations of society, and in which letting someone go hungry when you have plenty is the most heinous crime. Steve also says that above all else, he doesn’t want his family to be hungry—but I guess he’s totally fine with other folks starving. And really, if you’re worried about having enough food, where’s the garden? Them foodbuckets ain’t gonna last forever, ya know… And hey, if things do go south for the long-term, if Steve had a big horticulture setup, he could let hungry refugees work his land in exchange for food and shelter— y’know, making him the kind of neofeudal lord I think a lot of these Type I preppers really want to be.

Apparently, Steve’s biggest fear is synchronized attacks by raiders with vehicles? And so (like ya do), he devises yet another big tannerite explosion-for-‘defense’ (although ‘for ratings’ is more like it). This time they put 40 pounds of the stuff in a truck and have a little two-pronged attack simulation (someone shoots TAKES OUT a couple of man-shaped targets while someone else shoots TAKES OUT the truck-bomb. Whoopdy-doo, we’re left with a big crater in the ground…and probably in Steve’s wallet, too.

The experts give them 79 points for 16 months’ worth of ‘initial survival time’. I noted that they gave Steve 16 ‘x-factor’ points, for his ‘construction experience’. Erm, unless his experience is in timberframed strawbale cabins, earthbag domes, yurts, tipis, wigwams, or Pawnee earthlodges, (I’m gonna guess not), that Home Depot-lumberyard-based experience isn’t going to translate very well to the post-cheap-oil world that all these preppers really ought to be prepping for.

Doomsday Preppers: The Coy Family

After a week off, Doomsday Preppers is back with a Pacific Northwest-centered episode entitled “Fortress at Sea”, which is really only relevant to the second profile.
However, we start out in eastern Washington for a look at the homestead of Kevin & Annissa Coy.
kevincoySince they live in an area with at least four active volcanoes, it’s only reasonable that they’d be at least a little concerned about one of them blowing its top.

With four kids, everybody has their designated role—their daughter runs the weather station (for predicting approaching volcanic ash speeds and such); son is in charge of food; son-in-law (former Army, of course) is in charge of defense, &c.

Naturally, if you’re worried about a giant cloud of ash and poison gases rushing down the valley to Pompeii-ify your home, you’re not going to focus on hunkering down bunker-style, so the Coys are planning to bug-out at a moment’s notice. Or at least, the moment they get word of an eruption, they’ll start loading up their caravan of bugout vehicles: an RV, a pickup truck and livestock trailer, an ex-charter bus, and a sailboat. Yeah, wow. You can imagine with an array like that, bugging out isn’t going to be as simple as grabbing bags and leaving.

Now, we’re reminded that they’ve been living in this house for a quarter-century, and so the big dramatic question becomes: can Annissa leave their home behind should the time come? Remember the Professor’s words: “One who cannot cast away a treasure at need is in fetters.” And in this case, pretty much everybody in this culture is in fetters to all the STUFF we acquire.
As Kevin says, “It’s not going to be easy to be mobile and jumping around all the time.” Complete the thought: “…after being sedentary for so long.” (In his lectures, Max Brooks has often suggested that the biggest stumbling block to long-term survival among Americans is our opposition (instilled by our ambient culture) to “going native”. After all, Our way is the One Right Way to Live, so why should we care that the indig locals’ way was totally sustainable and survivable? (As Eddie Vedder sang, “Those ignorant indians got nothin’ on me”)
In a kind of compromise for his civilized wife (unwilling as she is to live without square shelters and pictures on the walls), Kevin builds her a Tiny House they can potentially take with them on a bugout. Which is cool, because I’m a big fan of microhousing (hey, any downsizing is better than none). And what’s even better is Kevin’s solution to the sanitation solution: the microhouse features a bonafide Jenkins model HUMANURE setup! Praise Jeebus, finally! (Of course, like Permaculture, we’ll never hear the H word uttered on the show, but that’s what it is). They even let Kevin go over the basics and benefits of such a system!

Now, I said earlier their son is in charge of their food supply, much of which is “on the hoof”—they have a large menagerie of chickens, pigs, rabbits, and a goat. Kevin also reminds us that they also have a poodle and a Chihuahua, if they’re ever really hard-up for some protein. “I’m kidding”, he says, to Annissa’s if-looks-could-kill glare. He shouldn’t be kidding. While he should definitely keep the poodle around for hunting small game (my old poodle was a first-rate rabbit tracker), the shivering bighead pooch is coyote bait and should probably be eaten ASAP. Hell, that’s what they were bred for in the first place!

Because there hasn’t been nearly enough drama coming from Mrs. Coy yet, we head out to the homestead’s hog lot, where the plan is to butcher one of the not-nearly-big-enough piggies. Of course, she can’t bring herself to pop Brother Pig in the head, so apparently Kevin just dispatches it with a knife. (He is a former butcher, so I’m pretty confident it was done as humanely as possible, but still.) Yeesh.

With that fun out of the way, they proceed to attempt a practice bugout. To make it more interesting, they impose a timecrunch on themselves: the volcano has erupted, and the ash-cloud will be here in an hour. Can they make it in time??? NO. And how.

So why does it take them twice the time needed, and still not go as planned? What do you expect, trying to bugout with multiple vehicles, a bunch of meteorological junk, live animals, and a 3,500-pound microhouse?

For starters, although we’ve been told their one year’s supply of food has been dispersed throughout all their vehicles, we still see Annissa making trips to the basement to retrieve more food. For what it’s worth, if your plan is to Get Outta Dodge in a hurry, keep the stuff you plan to grab on the ground floor.
That said,—I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it—if you have to pack, it’s not a bugout.

Then they try to round up the animals into a livestock trailer and hitch it up to a truck. It looks like there’s an issue with the truck’s hitch-ball being too low for the trailer, so that’s a no-go; they wind up filling the charter bus’s luggage compartments—in which they had planned on sleeping—with some of the livestock (thumbs-up for flexibility, and adaptability at least).

Then the guys try to slide the 1.75-ton tinyhouse onto a flatbed truck. It doesn’t work; the chains and straps break, and they wind up leaving it behind.
In the end, after all that they throw up their hands after two hours and call it a day.

From what I’ve seen, here’s what I would do. The microhouse is only eight by twelve feet, so it’d be totally feasible to lighten the load and integrate a trailer into the design—hell, that’s how most of the tiny houses I’ve seen work anyway.:
tiny-house-on-trailerUse the pickup truck to pull it, freeing the flatbed to carry the livestock—modular walls are easy to come by, they could make a frame to hold everybody’s cages, and you could still hose it off every now and then. This saves the charter bus for hauling cargo, gear, and food; use the RV for hauling people. Bam, problems solved.
However, it all comes down to the importance of testing and practicing a plan before lives depend on it. You wouldn’t go camping in the wilderness without knowing how to start a fire or make shelter (at least I hope you wouldn’t), so save these pre-disaster times for getting familiar with your plans. In the Coy’s post-filming update, it sounds like they’ve done just that, and have had successful bugout drills.
The experts give them 67 points for eleven months’ initial survival time, which Kevin graciously accepts as a pretty fair assessment.

Of course, what they don’t mention (thanks to the show’s one-issue-only format) is how Kevin and Annissa’s little farmstead is—like the Taylors from a few weeks back—all about self-sufficiency and simple living without reliance on the Grid. If the volcanoes don’t erupt but the dollar goes bust, I have a feeling these guys would still be doing just fine.

Doomsday Preppers: David Lakota

We go from one extreme to the other, leaving Alaska for a visit to Hawaii, and a look at David Lakota. As the show describes him, David is a ‘New Age Spiritual Prepper’. Ohboy.
david-lakotaSo, not unreasonably, David has fears for a mega-tsunami that might hit the island. Hey alright, it’s Hawaii, center of the whole Ring of Fire thing, I get it.

Then there’s something where he talks about how he wants to get away and live “free of violence, pollution, hypocrisy, and the self-destructive nature of people.”
Look close, dear reader. Within that sentence hides a single word that holds the Big Lie of Our culture. Do you see it?

It’s people.

You see, David—like most of the folks in Our culture—is a victim of what has been called ‘the Great Forgetting’. The short version goes something like this: by the time aggressive agricultural (“civilized”) cultures started showing up in the ‘Fertile Crescent’ several thousand years ago, so many years had passed since the pre-agricultural times that folks forgot there ever was such a time: when they looked back on their dirty cities, miserable workers, corrupt officials, and intensifying warfare, they saw only farmers! They naturally assumed that farming and city-dwelling were the natural way for humans to live, and that humans had been born as such only a few thousand years before! They assumed that the wretched way they lived was just the way humans were meant to live, and all the bad stuff was just a result of some unsolvable flaw in ‘human nature’.
Of course, discoveries in the field of archeology have showed us that this notion is completely untrue, so the sooner Our culture can rid itself of this fallacious thinking, the better.
The truth is, not all people live a self-destructive life of violence, pollution, and hypocrisy. It’s not Humanity that needs fixing, it’s just one culture—Ours. /soapbox.

Now, should said Big Wave be forthcoming, how will David learn about it? Does he leave his NOAA weather radio switched on all the time? Does he get text-message alerts from the Pacific Seismographic Institute? Nope! He plans on predicting the wave based on his “mystical connection to the land”. Or, alternately, “in a bad dream” the night before. Ohboy.

So, if I lived near the ocean and was worried about a 300-foot-high tsunami wave, my plan might sound something like ‘live at high elevation, away from the coast’. If I heard about a tsunami warning, and happened to be near the coast, my reaction would be something like ‘grab my pack; get to the highest possible elevation by the fastest possible means’. David’s approach is quite different – because he apparently plans on outrunning the incoming wave with a fifteen-mile-long kayak trip! And with no supplies, to boot!
Now, based on what I know about how this show works, I’m pretty sure David’s profile is probably just ‘minimalist kayaking/hiking/rockclimbing canyon-adventure’, spun as a barefoot bugout…but I wish they would just come out and say so. As hippy-dippy as he seems, I have a hard time believing what we see is anyone’s disaster-escape plan.

And so, David—together with his partner Rachaelle—start their adventure with some sea kayaking, followed by some seaside stick-sparring of which we only see a few snippets. Somehow in the course of that, or landing the kayak, David cuts his foot, and their lack of first aid supplies means Natural Remedy Time! Yay! Rachaelle uses a noni plant to clean up his wound, which hopefully won’t become infected. Believe me, foot infections suck.

They continue moving—barefoot—upwards through the jungle, coming across a little waterfall. Before he whets his whistle, David explains that when doing anything—picking plants, hunting animals, drinking water, &c.—one should first ask permission of Nature, quieting one’s mind to hear the answer and such. Now, I’m totally onboard with that kind of stuff (in my interpretation, animism—because it seems that’s what we’re really talking about—is an underlying core of my Bendu-Jedi philosophy), and David is free to do so, but why does such stuff just sound phony coming from bearded white guys? I touched on this last season in my look at Ed Peden, but such stuff would sound totally authentic coming from an Amerindian, or a Pacific Islander, or pretty much any non-haole, really. Of course, there have been white cultures in history from whom this peaceful, ecocentric sort of thing would sound authentic, but unfortunately it seems they got Kurganized about six thousand years ago.

As I’ve said, they don’t have any supplies or food, so they’re probably getting pretty hungry when Rachaelle comes across some wild berries. Apparently it’s not a species that they’re familiar with, but don’t worry, because David has an incredible method for determining if they’re safe to eat. Now, he doesn’t follow the Army Universal Edibility Test, and he doesn’t carry a Petersen’s Field Guide for tropical plants. His method is as follows:
Option 1) Ask your Intuition, “Is this edible?”
Option 2) Ask Nature, “Is this edible?” Because “your body is an antenna”, or something.
Option 3) Just eat it! Because edible things taste good.


Alright, I’m going to attempt to speak David’s language. Dude, I will now use my mystik Third Eye to channel the essence of the great Atlantean high priest Nur-Ab-Sal to predict that YOU WILL EAT SOMETHING TOXIC AND DIE.

Seriously. Sure, I would bet the first Homo habilis or whoever started learning plants did so through trial and error (“Hey Grog, whatcha eatin’?” “Purple berries.” <Grog dies> “Hey everybody, don’t eat these berries!”), but once they knew, the knowledge was passed on from generation to generation. Injuns and extant hunter-gatherer groups know a whole ton of edible plants, but they don’t learn which ones are safe by just pulling the answer out of the air, they learn by being taught by their elders. So until you’re a member of a functioning tribe, you’re better off with a field guide.

By this point, they’re high up the canyon and getting pretty thirsty (remember: by the time you’re noticeably thirsty, you’re already two percent dehydrated). I guess they had already drunk what little water they collected at the waterfall, because David decides the best hydration source for him is his own urine. Now, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a prepper drink their own piss, but it is the first time they’ve drunk it straight—usually they’ll run it through a purifier or something first. But not David! He just whips it out, fills up a bottle, and takes a sip. Rachaelle says she’ll pass. At this point I have to wonder how much the producers paid him for this stunt?

Eventually, after some more hiking, scrambling, and free-climbing they reach the top of the canyon cliff. Yay, grungy hippy hug!

The experts tell David to consider storing food at his bugout location. Personally, I think for this kind of contingency it’d probably be best to keep it flexible and not have one set location to be heading for, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hike with at least some food or supplies! I’m all about minimalism and foraging as you go, but even natives would carry some parched maize or jerky or whatever:
“they brought with him in a thing like a bow case, which the principal of them had about his waist, a little of their corn pounded to powder, which put to a little water they ate.” See? Injun cornmeal fannypack. Yum!

The experts also tell David to LEARN PLANTS, and for once, I can’t agree more.

 David gives us a post-filming update, in which he announces that “even more threatening than tsunami, government shutdown, or other natural disaster, is boredom, complacency, and indifference.” And so, with some Thoreauvian quotation (“in wildness is the preservation of the world”) I guess he heads into the wild with his knife, rope, tarp, lighter, and big white dog. Whatever, dude; good luck.

Doomsday Preppers: Craig Compeau/Don Kubley

The series continues with an episode (‘Pain is Good’) looking at folks in the US&A’s two youngest states. We’ll start off with a look at Craig Compeau and Don Kubley of Fairbanks, Alaska.

Transparency clause: it was pretty easy to see why these guys agreed to do the show (Craig sells fancy boats and Don sells fancy domes). As I wrote in my notes for this profile, “I’m pretty sure this whole segment is just an Alaska hunting trip, and they’re calling it prepping.” And yeah, that’s exactly what it is. See this article for great insight into the ‘reality’ behind this show.

Craig is [playing somebody] concerned with the possibility of “total government takeover”, but like everyone else this season, that’s really code for economic collapse. The way he sees it, our nation’s enormous debt—usually reckoned around sixteen trillion, though I’ve seen figures as mind-bogglingly high as 200 trillion—will eventually lead to widespread economic devastation. As we’ve heard a thousand times, when people don’t have jobs they don’t have food (most troubling of all, no one ever wants to take a step back to question what this says about this civilizational experiment of ours), and will turn to widespread rioting, leading to declaration of martial law. Of course, even though martial law has never been declared nationwide (only for isolated areas or events, like in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina), Craig is afraid that someday it will. In which case, he believes that the government will then “control every aspect of our lives”, somehow turning “every town into a prison.”

As I’ve said many times before, this oft-recited scenario is just one end result of the unsustainable worldview promulgated by Our culture, one ingredient in a deadly cocktail of shatterpoint issues. If we speak of the economic issue, the adoption of ‘money’ (itself simply a more-portable representation of the shiny rocks it is ‘backed’ by) as the only acceptable form of wealth brings out the most selfish behaviors in humans. In our tribal days, ‘wealth’ was intangible, taking the form of prestige or respect, resulting from unselfish acts which functioned to support the tribe as a whole. However, when ‘wealth’ took the form of Things, people were free to act solely in their own interests, and the accumulation of that ‘wealth’ became the driving characteristic of the lives of those at the top of the pyramid. Of course, those at the bottom of the pyramid looked up and saw what their ‘superiors’ were doing and so began to try and get their own ‘piece of the pie’—though by the time that ‘wealth’ eventually reached them, they got little more than crumbs.
With regards to his fear about the guvvmint turning towns into inescapable prisons, take a big-picture look and see that it wouldn’t take much; the pieces are already in place. The relentless global expansion of Our culture (and its One Right Way to Live) has already formed bars of a world-prison which one really cannot escape (“sometimes I wonder if the world’s so small that we can never get away from the Sprawl?”); the unspoken and unquestioned tenet underlying Our culture (“go to Work, or you starve”) leaves little room for the rewilded rest of us. /soapbox.

Anyway, should the guvvmint hammer come down, Craig’s objective will become “get out of Fairbanks, fast.” Luckily, he’s not planning on bugging out by himself, as he has a prepping buddy in his daughter Emily.
(For what it’s worth, take note that even though they live up near the Arctic Circle, their home looks as if it could have been plucked out of the suburbs of Chicago, Denver, or Seattle—witness our culture’s one-size-fits-all solution to housing (a nature-isolating plywood-and-drywall box incapable of operation without relying on the Grid for heating, cooling, water, sanitation, and energy), with no room for regional variety. Ugh.

Apparently, Craig likes to do this practice bugout twice a year (i.e. hunting season). Their itinerary begins with a four mile hike to reach their SJX jet-boat (it’s made of UHMW, some kind of super-plastic?), and then a four hour (90 mile) boat ride to reach their bugout location. The boat is very light on the draft, so they’re able to travel in shallow water (did I hear him say as shallow as six inches? Impressive.). Along the way upriver, Craig has somehow put explosives in certain trees, which they shoot and explode, to provide additional roadblocks (riverblocks?) to would-be followers. There’s a lot of industrial NÜMETAL-type music while they’re jumping over all these downed trees and stuff; I guess it’s supposed to be HaRdCoRe or something.

When they reach the Dome, we’re warned of “another threat to their lives”: they come across a bent-up garbage can and Craig reminds Emmy that “we’ve got bears, so have your gun ready!” Now, maybe it’s just because I’ve been reading a deep-green book on interspecies communication, but I’m pretty sure Craig’s first instinct if he saw a bear (shoot it!) would not be appreciated by the bear. Should he actually come upon a bear, sure it’s possible the bear might attack (especially if it’s a mother with cubs), but it’s also possible that the bear wouldn’t attack. At least give the critter a chance!

intershelterdomeWhen we’re finally shown the Dome, I have to admit I wasn’t that impressed. They claim that it’s supposed to totally blend into its environment, and from what we see, I guess the structure itself is pretty shiny, but the outside of it is just a mess; there are gas cans and more white bleach bottles strewn around the place than I can count, so…way to be camouflaged, dude. The dome is an ‘InterShelter’ designed and marketed by Craig’s friend, Don Kubley:

donkubley Don brings his boat up to the Dome for a visit, and there’s a hilarious bit where Craig and Emmy catch him in a net when he arrives; dunno what that was all about. Once he’s there, they decide it’s time to go moose hunting separately. Now, I understand that moose are like, the hippopotamus or rhinoceros of the northern hemisphere—aggressive and prone to charging if threatened. Personally, considering they’re using big-game-hunting, bolt-action guns (a nice change of pace from the black, tricked-out paramiliscary pieces we usually see), I’d go as a group, but oh well. Emmy and dad come across one and she tries to shoot it. Mind you, she’s standing, in a boat, in a river, and she’s shooting off-hand…so yeah, she misses. Moose walks off into the brush. Meanwhile, actually Don shoots himself a bull moose.
No, an actual bull moose. There’s a shot of Don waving the antlers over his head and shouting like he’s so proud of killing this animal. It’s like every time deer season rolls around, the local county newspaper always runs pictures of kids proudly holding up these animals that they can’t imagine are their brothers and sisters. Though I can’t say I’m surprised based on what I’ve seen of these folks; I didn’t seriously expect Craig and Don to thank the Great Spirit for the moose’s strength or speed, or apologize to the moose for taking its life or anything.

Anyway, the experts suggest that they get a water filter at the Dome, because it’s possible that water could be polluted and unusable. Dudes, it’s Alaska; it’s supposed to be like, the last untouched wilderness or whatever. If we get to the point where even that water becomes undrinkable, there’s a good chance that everybody else is dead. Then again, if Canada’s tar sands operation is allowed to expand, it’s always possible.

The experts also say they should “harden their shelter against high-caliber weapons”, because apparently they expect Craig and Don are going to have to go up against grizzly bears with machineguns? Yeah, and clean the place up while you’re at it.

However, in the end, the guys get a new high of 82 points, for seventeen months’ initial survival time. Now, in the past, if the prepper disagrees with the experts or thinks he deserves a higher score, they usually say something like, “Well, that evaluation didn’t take into account some stuff we didn’t show the film crew, so I’ll just agree to disagree.” Craig, however, just replies, “Those numbers are $%@#. Practical Preppers can kiss my ass.” Jerk.

And in their post-filming update, we hear that they’ve added a bulletproof dome 75 miles upriver (not sure if that’s fifteen miles before they get to the other dome, or fifteen  miles past it?), and Craig has designed some sort of water cannon to hook up to his jetboat.

Doomsday Preppers: Brian Brawdy

Up next we have Brian Brawdy, with a wonderful approach to life and survival.
brian brawdyA former police investigator, Brian is a sort of mental-self-help guru/explorer/lecturer/jack-of-many-trades who hosts a podcast from his souped-up RV (which he considers to be the ultimate bug-out vehicle), out of which he lives with his dog Brash. And I do mean live—Brian apparently has no home base and is a fully mobile, bona-fide rubbertramp. Brian has no interest in being held down defending a single piece of land (a la the Type I ‘bunker model’ to which most folks on this show cling)— “What kind of life is that?” he asks—and so for him and his dog, life is a 24/7 bug-out.
With this strategy, Brawdy believes he will be able to survive his fear of ‘any terrorist attack’ by maintaining complete mobility. Like the last couple, I honestly think he’s in a position to cope with just about any foreseeable contingency.
And why do I think he’s sufficiently prepared? Because his driving impetus is to “imitate Nature!” YES! Why does it feel like Brian is the very first person on the show to suggest such a concept?

Unlike Jim D.’s big miliscary rig, Brian’s looks pretty much like a regular consumer RV, with the addition of some solar panels, deployable wind turbines, and satellite dishes (and a bunch of sponsor logos).
Unlike ‘the Behemoth’ (which could somehow run on regular fuel and propane), Brian’s vehicle is just a standard diesel. In true Road Warrior-style, this means he is always driven (pun intended?) by the search for more Juice. To help him with this, he enlists the help of a wishes-to-remain-anonymous friend to show him how to siphon fuel from other vehicles. That’s fine, but personally my next step would be to convert the RV to run on biodiesel/cooking oil. If there’s one upside to our culture’s cancerous Sprawl, it’s that fast food restaurants (and their greasepits) will be ubiquitous features on a postapocalyptic landscape.

Because space is at a premium (leading him to have some ingenious storage space) Brian apparently doesn’t store ridiculous amounts of water. As such, he has to find and filter water wherever he’s camped for the night, so it’s nice to see the Katadyn Pocket getting some use. For a long-term bugout, it’s probably the best mechanical water filter around, what with the solid Swiss machining and the 13,000 gallon capacity. They’re a bit heavy and relatively pricey, but definitely worth it; I put three weeks’ worth of water through mine when I was in Guyana some years ago, and never once got sick. For what it’s worth, however, I recommend carrying (and practicing) a variety of purification methods; chlorine bleach, iodine tincture, potassium permanganate, a mechanical filter, charcoal for flavour, &c. It’s always a good idea to have backups for your backups!

We see Brian shooting a crossbow, but never get much more than a glimpse. I’d be interested to know if he travels with any firearms, or if he’s focused on mostly-silently eliminating intruders.

The experts give him 63 points (nine months); personally I’m surprised he got that high of a score, as his approach is so far removed from the Type I Prepping (to which the scoring system clearly skews) practiced by most on this show.