Posts Tagged ‘frugality’

Kill the K-cup

Single-use products like these need to be taken out back behind the shed, and shot.
Leave it to the Global North to be in such a hurry that it demands a complicated electronic machine to make single servings of coffee, that will likely either break (non-user-repairable) or be replaced (planned obsolescence) in two years, and creates non-recyclable waste with every use.
I signed it. Will you?

This culture of maximum convenience is also the culture of maximum harm.

For the record, the only responsible solution (if you have to drink coffee in the first place) is to head down to your local antique store, pick up a vintage moka pot:
buy organic fair-trade beans, and compost the grounds (roses love them). You may be slightly inconvenienced, but when this is the alternative, suck it up.


Doomsday Preppers: David Nash

Our other Tennessee prepper this episode is David Nash, who is also concerned about the likelihood of a modern New Madrid earthquake.
© NatGeo/Sharp EntertainmentDavid explains how he and his wife Genny have “chosen careers that fulfill us but don’t necessarily leave us with much in the bank”, ergo he is DIY all the way! Which is great—less is more! I like it!
He starts off by showing Genny his homemade ‘saline converter’ to turn saltwater to bleach, which he could then add to contaminated water to make potable.
I’m not totally sold on the chemistry(NaCl+H2O -> NaOH + Cl ->bleach?), but if it checks out, that’s not a bad little system!
And because David thinks ahead, he DIY’s himself a stringtrimmer motor/wood-burning steam engine contraption to charge the battery he’ll use to run his bleach-maker. I’m not sure how all that comes together—I have little mechanical knowledge of anything more complex than a forge-bellows, but if he can indeed charge a battery by burning sticks and small wood, that’s a winner.

After that, David reveals his build project: a geodesic dome shelter to resist the shaking expected in an earthquake.
He cuts the aluminum pipe framework pieces in his shop, assembles them with his dad’s help in the woods, and then drapes it with a big heavy-duty piece of signage tarp. The dome gets draped in three kinds of wire mesh (probably could have gotten by without the chickenwire), and is coated by sprayed concrete and then given a camouflage paintjob. It looks solid, if a bit melty organic, but to make sure they give us another requisite DP tannerite explosion test, with dad inside! (the shelter appears to survive).

I had a friend in the UP who built a shack along similar lines some years back—except he used steel cattle panels and reclaimed plastic sheeting and old carpeting, all bermed with soil, to make a sort of ‘longhouse’. Apparently it was pretty much invisible once the woods grew up around it.

Oh, and for lighting inside his dome, David installs a two-liter ‘light bottle’—a really genius DIY lighting system—and some DIY gutters for water catchment.

Anyway, geodesic domes (yay, Buckminster Fuller!) are always awesome, and I love the use of the reclaimed billboard tarp. For a non-mobile DIY bugout shelter in the woods, the sprayed concrete shell is probably pretty hard to beat (I wonder if their concrete sprayer would be compatible with any of the alternative ’cretes—something with more solar mass for passive heating/cooling?)

After watching this episode and about the same time coming across this art exhibit, I got to thinking about the utility of combining modern materials like David’s tarp (which already exist in great numbers) with traditional indigenous building shapes and materials. I can pretty easily imagine a band of neotribal folks walking or riding (horses—no Ancient Sunlight Juice for these sustainables) across the post-Long Emergency landscape (or even the Right Now landscape, if you can imagine such a thing!), towing their travois loaded with a couple of these waterproof billboards (emblazoned with images of golden arches or sports mascots or other similar logos that must have once held great significance to the old ‘uns of the Fourth World, but are now no more than mysterious runes) and a bundle of tentpoles, all ready to set up camp at the next watering hole.
Just something to think about, it’s always fun to combine ‘new’ and ‘old’ and imagine different ways of doing thing. After all, there is no One Right Way to Live!

Doomsday Preppers: Alex Dunbar

Up next is the episode ‘People Become Animals!’, which seems to continue the previous profile’s theme of low-key prepping. On the whole, this one is pretty much the Least Prepper-y Episode ever—nobody shoots anything, and incredibly, nothing blows up.
© NatGeo/Sharp Entertainment
So we begin with Alex Dunbar, of around San Luis, Colorado. He’s former USMC, which usually translates to supertactical and generally obnoxious. However, he seems pretty down to earth, as you’d expect from someone who claims to be “training an army of dogs to survive World War Three”.

Of course, I think—like most of the folks on the show—he’s really just appearing for some publicity for his dog-training outfit.
His rationale is something about “the whole world hating America” or some such. I dunno, the world didn’t always hate us back in our isolationist days, but about a hundred years ago that started to change. Now that we’re the imperial World Police, you can’t really blame them. But don’t worry—every empire in the last six thousand years (which is to say, all of them) has collapsed after exhausting their landbase and/or stretching themselves too thin.

In order to confront his hypothetical scenario, Alex has “pre-bugged out” to a 320-acre compound out in the middle of nowhere, very well-suited to his dog-training enterprise. As he says, a well-trained German Shepherd can fill all the roles of a body guard, offensive weapon, defensive alarm system, &c.

There’s a bunch of unnecessary focus on the individual dogs, giving them names and headshots and stuff. Bleh.

As you might imagine, it could potentially cost a lot of money to keep this many big dogs fed, so Alex takes the DIY route and makes his own dog food, using fruits, veggies, and yak meat. I think he says something about planning to raise yaks? That’d be cool, everywhere could use more megafauna.

Something I thought was interesting was how Alex has chosen to train his dogs in Slovakian. The rationale being the idea that it would give him a slight edge over anyone he was operating against, expecting to hear ‘Attack! Heel! Sic balls!’ or whatever, only to hear some completely foreign language (unless he’s invaded by Slovakians, that is). It’s probably not a bad idea.

The producer’s stunt comes when Alex takes one of the dogs (who has a fear of heights) and rappels with him off a 50-foot bridge. The dog doesn’t freak out too terribly, so I’d say Alex trains them pretty well.

On account of his isolation and pre-bugged-out-edness, experts award him 70 points for a year’s worth of initial survival time.

Doomsday Preppers: Suzanne Strisower

This episode wraps up with a visit to the California homestead of Suzanne Strisower (on the right:).
© NatGeo/Sharp EntertaimentAccording to her blurb on NatGeo’s page, she “and her life partner Dave (on the left^) are both psychics. She was led to her hilltop home several years ago by her spirit guide.” Man, I’m infinitely thankful that they somehow managed to not touch on this angle at all in the segment—talk about dodging a bullet! (I don’t really have anything against New Age-y types, but I can only tolerate them in extremely small doses).
As it turns out, Suzanne is another one of these folks using her appearance on the show to pimp whatever she’s selling, which in her case is ‘spiritual life coaching’ with runes/crystals/energy-work/past-lives/astral projections/other such that-sort-of-thing. Honestly, if her page used Papyrus font, I would’ve had to punch something.

Anyway, Suzanne maintains a 30-acre plot near the Sierra Nevada mountains, which she is slowly turning into a complete self-sufficient homestead. As the show insists on pigeonholing her as a true prepper, she asserts that she’s getting ready for—surprise!—economic collapse.

However, as she explains, she’s definitely a ‘lifestyle prepper’ instead of a doomsday prepper—meaning that she’s ‘prepared’ only due to the simple fact that an off-grid lifestyle is naturally more self-reliant and therefore less affected by those potential shocks to the System that cause doomsday preppers to lose so much sleep.

In her obligatory declaration of evidence, she explains “The U.S. is doing things that are unsustainable for itself…”
Honey, I got news for ya—it’s not that the U.S. is doing unsustainable things: it’s that the U.S. as we know it is fundamentally unsustainable. And it’s not just us, it’s Our Culture’s entire six-thousand-year-old history of Empire which we’ve inherited and blindly continue to carry on. Read a book, wake up, recognize the bars of your cage, and do something about it.

So…as part of her continuing efforts to maintain self-sufficiency, Suzanne places a big focus on bartering. And why shouldn’t she?—her land supports fruit trees, nut trees, chickens, goats (dairy), and llamas (wool)—she’s got plenty of high-value goods.
After doing some bartering for bulk grains with a neighbor, she takes a trip to the local recycling center and does some more bartering with the gentlemen there. I was kind of surprised at how it played out—usually on the show when someone goes a-bartering, they edit it to make them look all kooky and like it’s so out-there to trade goods instead of pieces of green paper. But not this time—the guys haggle a bit and then go along with it. Suzanne winds up with a junked refrigerator, which is going to be turned into an industrial-sized food dehydrator? Awesome! As an avid dehydrator advocate, I’m really curious to see how that works. Surprisingly, they bring back the post-filming update segment (remember those??) so Suzanne can show off her repurposed-‘fridge-dehydrator. Looks like they just took the top off to let sun in, and put food on screen shelves, which seems like it would actually work pretty well. Thumbs-up.

As you’d expect from someone who wears a giant crystal-thing around her neck, Suzanne is adamantly nonviolent. And as you can imagine, that kind of puts a damper on her efforts to defend her homestead. She goes to the local surplus shop and consults with the guys there. Eventually they decide to hook her up with a paintball gun. I dunno about that. Sure, they sting and leave welts, but is that enough to dissuade hungry marauders? Wouldn’t bear mace or something be more effective?

In her ‘expert’ assessment, she’s given 49 points (four months). The experts’ breakdown—as usual—makes little sense, for example scoring her only thirteen points on water, even though she has over 9,000 gallons stored. Once again, those guys seem unable to accurately assess someone’s preparedness when that approach stems from a completely different worldview from theirs.

Doomsday Preppers: Tony C.

Next up we have a look at Tony C., of somewhere-in-Indiana:

Tony is, as far as I can tell, the first person to appear on DP with a fear of asteroids:

Just joking. He’s actually worried about any number of astronomical events that have the potential to end life as we know it. He seems to think that asteroids, comets, rogue black holes, and interdimensional breaches or whatever “all happen on a cycle, and that cycle is due now!” Nah, man, it’s only comets that are cyclical. Which means it’s the unforeseen asteroids you really want to worry about. (Chelyabinsk, anyone?)

To get some insider information about his fear, Tony goes to visit a Dr. Murphy at Butler University’s Holcomb observatory.
Doc tells him that there’s a one-in-five-million chance of a major ‘space-borne disaster’ occurring in his lifetime. Hmm, those are pretty safe odds. But tell me what’s worse—a one-in-five-million chance of an Extinction-Level Event (which no one can really do anything to avoid), or the fact that our relentless cannibalistic ‘civilization’ is causing 200 species to go extinct every day (which we definitely could do something about)?

Despite the very good odds in his favor (the good doctor tells him he has a significantly higher chance of getting killed in traffic than by a celestial object), Tony maintains that “something’s going to happen, everybody knows it, and so maybe I can do something.”
Hmm, I’m not sure about that. I mean, yes, something is going to happen, statistically speaking; at some eventual point in the future the planet will shake hands with another Chicxulub-level spacerock. Personally, I’d be more worried about the threats to our survival over which we actually have power, and I think that if there’s something that “everybody knows”, it’s simply an increasing awareness among the general populace of the inherent fragility of the little civilizational experiment our culture has created for itself; what they don’t know is that they can do something about it.

But what is Tony doing to deal with this threat? Holing up and burrowing in. How about doing something to help others?
Of course, the form his burrowing takes is pretty novel—he’s built a livable underground space around his RV camper (at least he’s decorated it and made it home-y, instead of ugly contrete)! And why did he choose to build around that, instead of starting from scratch? “Because everything’s there—it’s designed to be self-contained living, with all the comforts of home!”
Blerg. Dude, you’re not getting it. Just because your living infrastructure isn’t house-shaped doesn’t mean it’s any less utterly dependent on the Grid than your average suburban McMansion.
To be truly ‘self-contained’ a home must be able to provide (at the minimum) shelter (this would includes heating and cooling), water, food, and sanitation, all without reliance on outside sources (for a great example, take a look at Cody Lundin’s consciously-designed offgrid digs).
Take away the grid, and all Tony’s buried RV accomplishes is Shelter—it keeps him out of the weather. If he has 1,000 gallons of water stored, where is it coming from?—his dirt mound doesn’t look very suited to rain catchment—I assume electric water pump? Do his ‘comforts of home’ require electricity to run? Unless he has some solar panels ingeniously hidden on top of his dirt mound (I didn’t see any), that Juice is going to have to come from somewhere—either from the coal-burning grid, or a fossil-fueled generator. Unless he’s using a humanure setup for sanitation (this is not the same as an RV ‘chemical toilet’), eventually he’s going to have to empty that sewage tank. That requires the Grid.

Anyway, like I said, he has 1,000 gallons of water stored up and three-to-four years’ worth of food (storebought in steel cans).
Because one of the big issues of an impact event would be the planet-wide cloud of atmospheric ejecta blocking out sunlight and preventing photosynthesis, Tony decides to install grow lights?? Again, where’s the Juice gonna come from to power them?
And because another potential issue is all that particulate matter floating in the atmosphere, Tony whips up a pretty sweet-looking homemade air filtration unit. Here’s where I have to give him props—I love the DIY filter, which looks like he really did some research and took his time—really well-crafted. However, the bathroom air pump that makes it work…still relies on the Juice to run. Really, I’d look into a bicycle-powered generator system, which would also prove useful in helping him keep active in the long days underground.

The experts tell him to have a way to get more fresh water. He claims there are numerous water sources nearby—yes, but what about particulates/fallout? Now Tony needs to DIY himself a gravity-fed water filter. They give him a score of 60 for 8 months.

The Hunger Games™, Franchise-Branding, and Rebellion

As part of an April fundraiser at my school, I paid a dollar to ‘dress down’ one day, and wore my homemade stenciled mockingjay t-shirt:
mockingjay stencil, by me.While a number of kids (though far fewer than I’d hoped) commented on it, their comments were kind of troubling.
The loud, popular, Type-A kids would usually ask me, “Do you like The Hunger Games™ or something’?”, as if they’d forgotten our society’s penchant for using t-shirts to proclaim to others the things which one enjoys.
The ‘geeky’ kids would usually just announce that hey, they liked my shirt (at which point I would try to drum up some business by offering to make and sell them one of their very own).
What nobody said, however, was “Hey, nice mockingjay shirt” or “Cool! District Twelve, represent!”(we are in Kentucky, after all).

(at which point the addition of a D12 salute would make me giggle like a schoolgirl)

In other words, because ours is a culture which believes everything has a price (and can therefore be bought and sold), even something as simple as an encircled-bird-holding-an-arrow ceases to be a symbol of hope and resistance against tyranny, and instead simply becomes a logo representing a profitable franchise.

ADDENDUM: I wore the same shirt to a first-grade classroom a few weeks later; a couple of kids saw the shirt and declared, “The Hunger Games are bad.” Indeed! The question then becomes: what changes in how our youth view the world in the years between first and eighth grade?

Because I spend a fair amount of time in a public junior high school, I see a fair amount of ‘Hunger Games’ merch, and I’ve yet to see a single item that hasn’t been emblazoned with the name of that franchise in big, flaming letters. Now, maybe it’s because I approach my various internalized fandoms from in-universe perspectives, but I find such branding—and most of the merch, for that matter—to be pretty generally disgusting.
(Especially tasteless is a movie tie-in booklet going by the title “The Hunger Games Ultimate Tribute Guide” which is little more than a collection of glorified headshots (literally, a pocketbook that allows teenagers (the franchise’s target demographic) to examine the faces of murdered peers, 70% of whose names we never learn).
For the record, let’s remember that The Hunger Games themselves are a yearly event in which two dozen children are coerced by the threat of starvation into fighting to the death for the entertainment of their society’s elites. So, my question is…do our youth believe they have no choice in how they are able to express their enjoyment of this franchise, save going online or to the mall and purchasing—and then wearing or carrying—branded merchandise which is essentially advertising for such a deplorably transparent, blood-soaked system of control? Why the hell a thinking person would possibly want to do this is completely beyond me.

Thankfully, however, the answer is Yes, they do have a choice, but most don’t see it. The first step in breaking the chains of consumption is, as always, to UN-COOL it (in this case by pointing out the ugly truths we’re not supposed to see/think about), and then DIY it (like by making your own mockingjay shirt, as I’ve done above). Personally, I’d be on cloud nine if a teen counter-emblazoned her The Hunger Games™ backpack with a big, red “FUCK”:

(I’d settle for “F— THE”, since our hypothetical activist is probably in junior high, and such profanity generally runs counter to dress-code decency rules)

(though I’d settle for “F— ”, since our hypothetical activist is probably in junior high, and such profanity generally runs counter to dress-code decency rules)

Can you imagine? Or think: if kids took copies of glossy Hunger Games™ movie tie-in ‘books’ and added stickers drawing attention to the non-fictional plights of actual child soldiers, coal miners, and trafficked humans—to say nothing of top-down wealth inequality, unsustainable resource extraction, or the coercive, oppressive nature of pyramid-shaped prison societies, &c. (as in most dystopian fiction, when the society in question is just Ours turned up to eleven, there is no shortage of applicable parallels to be drawn). Just think of it!

Sidebar: And since I’m already talking about unthinking franchise patronage, let’s remember that this isn’t an issue unique to The Hunger Games. I’m still completely unable to grasp last year’s petition—signed by over 34,000 people—for the US government to build a Death Star. Yes, that really happened! So, I guess people will just turn off their brains and click ‘Like’ for anything that even vaguely relates to whatever their profitable geeky franchise of choice is? I shudder to imagine these people’s thought processes: “Oh, hurhur, Death Star. That mean Star Wars. Me like Star Wars. Hurhur. <sign petition>.”
Even though the White House comically vetoed the petition, their explanation neglected (most troublingly) to mention the fact that the Death Star program— and the Tarkin Doctrine it represented—was the end-result of an evil empire of FUCKING SPACE-NAZIS!?!

So, anyway. When the teaser-trailer for Catching Fire came out about the same time, I was already kind of grumbly and had these things on my mind (because I always have these things on my mind!).

What I found especially telling was a line from Woody Harrelson’s character Haymitch, breaking the news to our newly-victorious heroine Katniss that “[her] job is to be a distraction from what the real problems are.
Boy, that about sums it all up, doesn’t it? In a nutshell, that’s a pretty good reason why I have a really hard time passively watching professional sports, sitcoms, televised ‘talent’ shows, big, loud superhero blockbusters, NASCAR, and other such mainstream bread-and-circuses (the panem et circenses from which Collins took the name of her novels’ dystopian nation):
I know what the real problems are, and I don’t want to be distracted.

In the course of the teaser, the obligatory title-cards flash up and inform us that “Every revolution … begins with a spark”. While I guess that’s true, wouldn’t it be amazing if (for once!) we saw through the age-old story of plucky, ragtag rebels fighting against the System, and stopped living vicariously through the pictures on the screen and took it to the streets?
I’m really hoping against hope that Catching Fire’s release this November will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back (glad to see I’m not the only one) and bursts the dam holding back all of our simmering anger and frustration—that people will finally WAKE UP to recognize the hidden workings of Our Culture—because what we need isn’t a Revolution, but a Revolt.
I say that because unfortunately, the ‘revolution’ depicted in Collins’ trilogy is the classic definition of that word—a purely political shakeup whose outcome is not breakup of power or a cultural evolution, but simply a change in leadership (“Meet the new boss, same as the old boss”), maintaining the status-quo notion that we’re all incapable of governing ourselves and need someone at the top of the pyramid to tell us what to do. If people get riled up and start doing something about it (which would be good) but model on THG (which would be bad), we’ll just be right back where we started.
At this point, however, I’d be completely overjoyed if Woody Harrelson (a self-identified anarchist, let’s remember) started throwing inflammatory, expressly political, apocalyptically-minded comments about Our Culture’s systems of control into every obligatory late-night-talk-show appearance or press junket he did in support of this film!

ADDENDUM: This is a good start:

Doomsday Preppers: Kevin Barber

And our last new preppers of the season are the Barber family, of Kansas.
Kevin sets the stage with a description of the typical, supposedly-ideal postwar American lifestyle. They live in the burbs, they work long hours at jobs they hate, they have bills for food/electricity/heating/airconditioning/TV/mobilephones/school/everything, “and that’s the problem.”

Kevin believes (probably correctly) that the national debt will continue to grow until “called” by our creditors, at which point he believes the “suburban dream will turn into a nightmare.” Pull the wool from over your eyes, folks, and wake up. The nightmare is already here – the System is just really good at covering it up and distracting you from it.

So, after recognizing that our society’s answer for Everything is simply ‘Make a Program and Throw Money At It’ (“Every problem we try to fix with a credit card!”), Kevin’s preparation for an oncoming economic collapse isn’t simply to turn his back on suburbia and go off-grid (like Joe from last week, which would be totally adequate). Instead, he’s pulling up stakes and moving to Costa Rica.

Though really, why Costa Rica? Do they want to be as far from the US as possible without leaving the continent? I feel like pretty much any dictator-free Central American country would have a similar environment and ethic; my third dad just got back from a two-month motorcycle trip through Mexico down to Guatemala, and it sounded just like the Costa Rica Kevin describes.

Kevin explains that they’re heading south (before the economy does) because he’s realized that living at a lower standard of living (a phrase solidly rooted in our culture’s Myth of Progress)— in other words, one somewhere a few rungs below the First-World industrial daydream he lived in the ’burbs—provides more opportunities for one to be self-reliant and therefore have a greater possibility of overall survival. As he says, “the typical Costa Rican doesn’t have as far to fall—they grow their own food, make their own power, and are used to living a simple life.” This is probably true. However, while it’s inspiring to see a suburban family from the West realize that it’s alright to live like the Rest, the bigger issue is all the folks from the ‘developing’/Third world/Global South who have been told that it’s the First World lifestyle they should be aspiring towards. It won’t do much good for all the Kevin Barbers in the world to move to the Costa Ricas of the world, if all the Costa Ricans of the world have been told for the last 50 years that they should want to be Kevin Barbers. Instead, everybody needs to realize that the Kevin Barber way of life just isn’t good for anybody.

Unfortunately, while I guess his idea is okay, I’m not a big fan of how they implement it. Instead of selling off pretty much all their possessions and arriving with suitcases and not much else (making do with the necessities, like the locals), they elect to hire a shipping container to fill up “to jump-start our new life”.
At least they take some solar panels and a generator.

Thankfully, while he still hangs onto a lot of Stuff, Kevin at least realizes that “self-sufficiency isn’t about buying a lot of gear, but having skills.” WORD. I think it’s also about having a certain attitude, but that can come later. He goes on to admit that “despite living in Kansas”, they “don’t know much about growing [their] own food or butchering animals.” Yes, Kevin, because you live in the ’burbs. Joe and Wendy live in Kansas too, and do know about those things—but only because they’re unplugged. Even if you’re not living the self-reliant lifestyle, if you live in the ’burbs or anywhere else within the matrix, you really owe it to yourself to at least become familiar with such things.
Thankfully, the Barbers do just that, and take the opportunity to take some crash-courses in areas they lack.

Joe Fox of Viking Preparedness drops by to teach the kids basic Don’t Get Lost in the Woods skills, and gives them kid-friendly bug-out-bags. They also start taking Spanish lessons. Finally, they get a visit from Marjory Wildcraft (with a name like that, she was pretty much born to teach outdoor skills). She schools them in survival entomophagy (or as non-westerners calls it, eating dinner)—chowing down on mealy worms, crickets, and scorpions. And then she breaks out a live Sister Turkey to butcher. Ms. Wildcraft has Kevin dispatch it, and they skin and butcher it together. Now, from what we’re shown (or not shown, thankfully), it seems they just hold the hen down and slit its throat, which is pretty much the least humane way possible. Yes, you want to bleed the animal, but that shouldn’t be what kills it. Thankfully, when dispatching poultry, you have several methods at your disposal. Regardless of what technique you choose, it always helps to hang the bird by its feet for four or five minutes first, which basically causes the bird to pass out. That way, when you stab/whirl/knock/chop it, there’s much less flapping and screaming.

*Books will tell you to stick an icepick through the roof of the bird’s mouth, but as small as their brains are, I wouldn’t trust myself to stick it right on the first try, and nobody likes a botched lobotomy.
*Alternately, I have a friend who uses a wire loop to hold the bird’s head tight to a board, and she just holds onto the feet and yanks up, cleanly breaking the neck.
*For what it’s worth, I’ve also found that a miniature Louisville Slugger is perfect for knocking chickens on the back of the head.
*Finally, there’s always the archetypal hatchet-and-stump method, which results in lots of flopping around like, well, a chicken with its head cut off. I’ve noticed that this method always results in “postmortem contractions of posterior neck ligaments”. In other words, your decapitated chicken will quickly stiffen up and do its best to imitate a dead therapod:

When dad dispatches the bird, Kevin’s son remarks that “This is sad.” Indeed it is. Nice to see the kid—while he may not be consciously aware of it—is still undomesticated enough to sense a kinship with his sister animal. Without an reciprocal offering or thanking of the Great Spirit, however, it just feels imbalanced.

In the end, the family receives 60 points, which computes out to nine months’ survival. I’m kind of surprised they got such a relatively-high score, considering they don’t seem to be immigrating with much in the way of stored food or water (and we know what sticklers the ‘experts’ are for storing water).
And we finally get to see a post-filming update from the family, with a really funny bit where Kevin starts out all bundled up only to strip off his winter clothes as the camera zooms out to reveal they’ve arrived in the tropics! There’s a dozen different kinds of fruit just waiting to be picked off the tree, they have the chicken coop set up, and the weather is spring-like all year. I was never big on the tropics before (maybe because the last time I was there was the rainy season), but Kevin makes it look really tempting.