Posts Tagged ‘self-reliance’

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.

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Doomsday Preppers: Kevin Barber

And our last new preppers of the season are the Barber family, of Kansas.
Barber-family
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.

Doomsday Preppers: Freda

The series’ next episode (‘Let ‘Er Rip!’) opens with a visit to the Virginia homestead of Freda Stemick.
fredasHer producer-enforced single issue is “Chaos, caused by an EMP attack due to World War III.” The way she sees it, “we are setting the stages worldwide” for a nuclear shootin’ match, involving “somebody shooting a warhead in our direction”. To which I have to congratulate NatGeo on their perfect timing, seeing as how this episode comes a few days after Pyongyang decided to ratchet up their saber-rattling, abandon their armistice, and cut all ties with South Korea.

Freda is apparently descended from some of the Hatfield clan, so because she happens to still live in the woods of Virginia (instead of say, downtown Chicago), the producers rely heavily on that angle to play up the ‘backwoods’/‘folksy’ nature of the segment; if I were just a little bit more rhetorically-minded, I could probably say something about how the show’s constructed image serves to reinforce Appalachian stereotypes. Or something.

It’s probably a good sign that one of the first things out of Freda’s mouth is a declaration that her family has lived in the “mountains and valleys” of Virginia for hundreds of years. Could’ve fooled me – that doesn’t sound very Virginian. Here in Kan-tuck-kee, we call ‘em “hills an’ hollers”.
She goes on to talk about her great frontiersy forebears who “hacked their way through the wilderness” (which, remember, was only a wilderness because the indigs who’d been tending the place like a garden for thousands of years had been wiped out).

Because she’s aware of the unsustainable nature of our just-in-time distribution system, Freda’s put a big focus on making her homestead as self-sufficient as possible, starting with food. She and boyfriend Mike Davis keep a nice garden to produce fresh veg, most of which it seems they home-can. However, I noticed that their jars are—as we’ve too often seen—just out on shelves, unprotected with no shock buffers or anything to keep them from smashing to the floor. Remember, just because you’re preparing for one possible contingency doesn’t mean a different one can’t sneak up on you: a tornado or earthquake or inland hurricane could always come along and turn your larder into a pile of un-canned food and broken glass.
They also keep a number of chickens, with the intention of using eggs as a compact, versatile form of true wealth. In other words, Freda is the first person on the show to advocate a Barrelhaven-style, eggs-based barter economy! Finally!

Because she fears that having an arsenal of firearms would make her a target for a gun-grabbing government in the event of martial law, she has a bare minimum of traditional armament—twelve gauge shotgun, nine millimeter pistol, compound bow. However, her ever-crafty boyfriend has made a set of ‘throwing stars’ with which he is apparently a pretty good shot. Despite being a fan of improvised and handmade equipment, I’m always wary of single-use (weapon-only) items. Like I’ve said before, I find hatchet-throwing to be a useful skill.

While they’re supposedly in a pretty isolated area (though I saw big trucks passing through the trees several times) they’re concerned about smoke from their cooking fires attracting attention, so they decide to test out their solar oven!
Now, this is a subject with which I actually have experience, and so, some thoughts on the subject.
It should come as no surprise that I’m a big fan of solar cooking; over the years I’ve cooked or dehydrated bushels of apples, bananas, peaches, tomatoes, daylilies (even mini pizzas!), using nothing more than the free and abundant energy radiating from the nearest star.
I’m not really a fan of the design of the oven we see them use (it’s basically a wooden cold-frame with foil lining the bottom). Personally, I’ve used a folding, all-foil-covered reflector-based ‘Cook-It‘ to good effect in summer, but simplest is often better: some of my best dried peaches and daylilies were done simply with a cheesecloth-covered wooden frame, placed on a concrete slab, with a large pane of window glass over it. In fact, bugs don’t bother the food, because it’s actually too hot under the glass for them to stand it!

Now, for actual cooking like, a pot of maize and beans, I’ve never tried going solar. For that kind of meal, it’s usually recommended to use a dark-colored pot, inside a sealed, heavy-duty clear plastic bag, all placed on or in the oven for several hours.
However, for simply dehydrating food, this is hard to beat:

I don’t have a car, but I do have a solar oven that I occasionally drive.

The dashboard of a car with windows just slightly opened (to let the hot air circulate) can be an effective dehydrator from March on through October (in the northern hemisphere); hell, in high Summer it’ll get hot enough that you can do two batches per day!
Attentive viewers will note that while we see Freda put a small pig in the cooker, we never see the results of the experiment. As she explains, “we originally planned to put the pig on the campfire and bake bread in the oven but time got short for filming and the crew said “just throw the pig in the solar oven”… I took it out of there within an hour and threw it on the stove.”
However, as our caption reminds us—solar cooking really only works in areas with abundant sun: much of Africa comes to mind; the forested mountains of Appalachia—where the sun comes up about ten in the morning, and goes down about three in the day—do not.

With the food situation well under control, we learn that Freda’s homestead has not one, not two, but three sources of fresh water (a flowing creek, artesian well and pump well?). Mike puts on his diy hat again, and comes up with a turbine wheel to put in the stream to make some free hydroelectricity. I don’t know if it actually charged their batteries, but if so, it’s pretty sweet.

Then they show off their ultimate “perimeter defense weapon”, which as it turns out, is Mike’s homemade catapult…of sorts.
It’s counterweighted like a trebuchet, but the counterweight isn’t articulated, which gives it an arc of swing more like a mangonel. Either of those designs can be solid when they’re followed (back in high school, I built an eleven-foot oak treb that could throw big rocks about 200 feet), but unfortunately this design borrows from both types and doesn’t perform particularly well. Or maybe it would, if they’d thrown something with some weight (like one of the many pumpkins we see lying around?), instead of the negligible-mass ‘throwing stars’.
Actually, I think the best solution in this case might be for Mike to trade his “catapult” to Brent (to go with his “castle”!) in exchange for some long guns to properly defend their wooded homestead.

The experts say her food plan is great, now she should stock up on medical supplies. They give her 56 points, for seven months’ initial survival. I don’t know why, but that seems low to me. Anyway, it’s always nice to see self-reliant country folks instead of the gung-ho beans-n-bunkers types.

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: Kathy Harrison

The next profile is Kathy Harrison, called the ‘Doris Day of Doom’.
The narrator calls her a New England Liberal, which basically means retired pacifistic aging-hippy type—that’s not necessarily a bad thing—and says she’s concerned about unforeseen ‘Black Swan’ events, like a quake from the New Madrid fault. Unlike the previous lady in Utah, who was concerned with a financial collapse and responded by food-hoarding, this lady is worried about the disruption to the food distribution system that would result from a natural catastrophe, and logically prepares by growing a big honking garden (I get the feeling that she and her husband have been doing this since before there was a ‘prepper’ movement. Like my folks, they might’ve been back-to-the-land homesteaders at some point.). Not only do they grow heirloom crops, they also keep bees, press their own cider, make furniture, and sew on a treadle-powered sewing machine. Often they also invite friends over to share their skills and join in some fruits-of-their-labours feasting.
(Just in case any gullible folks out there wanted to act on Mr Harrison’s comment, I’ll save you the disappointment: you cannot make whisky from apple cider. Sorry. You can make hard cider, though, or brandy, if you have a still!)

Throughout all this, there are no signs of any weapons, unless you count the maul they used for splitting firewood. Basically, their whole plan is based around respect, support, and resiliency in their community, which gets a huge thumbs-up from me.

The ‘expert analysis’ section is where it gets funny. The ‘experts’ report that while she’s “well-rounded in self-sufficient and community-based skills” (at which point I would just congratulate her), she and her husband should focus on defense and weapons. She says that doesn’t suit them ethically and they’re not going to change a thing. Right-on, lady. While I think it’s really naïve (I can’t believe they don’t have at least a flintlock hanging around somewhere), I have to salute her for sticking to her guns (or lack thereof).

Here’s where the truth behind the ‘experts’ comes out.  I watched the credits and Googled Practical Preppers LLC; at first I couldn’t get into the site, but did pull up their tagline—Providing tactical* and technical solutions for all your prepping needs.  So obviously, they’re going to be focused towards gear and guns—things you can buy. If your approach to survival is community-based, quasi-permaculture, and pretty low-impact, you’re not going to be buying much (it’s the same reason that, of The 3 Rs, pretty much the only one you ever hear about is Recycling—because Reduce and Re-use aren’t good for the consumption economy). When I did get into the site (it was probably swamped following this premiere) I saw that its consultants were the cast of the pilot Doomsday Preppers episode back in November or whenever. That show had the same format as this one with ‘expert analysis’ at the end, so were these guys evaluating themselves? I dunno, but it’s not like they actually sought out real survival experts (I’m thinking someone like Ray Mears or Cody Lundin), I think they just looked up consulting firms with ‘prepper’ in their name.

*does anyone really know what that word means? It’s become so overused that it’s lost its meaning—I went to a gunshow the other day, and everything was ‘tactical’. I think it’s just the Oughts/20-teens version of ‘radical!’ from the ‘80s or ‘extreme!’ in the ‘90s.

Doomsday Preppers: Christopher Nyegres

The next guy is pretty cool; I watched his little intro on the website before the show aired, and I like him.

Right off the bat, the narrator takes the words from my mouth and says he’s a down-to-earth Californian, who declares that he’s “prepping for the possibility of a devastating earthquake in the city of Los Angeles”. Which is not at all unreasonable.
As a fellow ‘lone wolf’, I feel some kinship with this man. He dresses in earth-tones, is soft-spoken and confident, and has a good knowledge of wild edibles. Echoing the philosophy “there is no one right way for people to live”, he says, “Everybody has their own idea of what preparedness is.” I also like that we both feel that “holing up and hiding is the antithesis of survival.”
Reading early write-ups of this episode online, I’ve already seen others mocking this man’s inclusion of flint arrowheads as part of his survival pack. I don’t see what the big deal is—he’s looking forward into the long-term, to a time when such things might very well be useful items for barter. That’s good. He also carries a roll of silver dollars to use for exchanges in the short-term, at least until postapocalyptic people wake up and realize that there’s really no inherent value in precious metals.
Others have also commented on the fact that he includes a bottle of salad dressing in his pack. Again, I don’t see what’s wrong with this—if his strategy is geared towards foraged salads, then that makes perfect sense. Dandelion greens can be bitter, but they go down just fine with a little vinaigrette.  Personally, I wouldn’t want the weight of a 12-ounce glass bottle in my pack, and would probably carry some single-serving pouches of dressing. Also, I dig the chopsticks. Ditto for including a simple sling in his pack.

However, I’m undecided about his comment that “with enough people out there practicing these [skills], civilization could arise again.” I think I understand what he means, and hopefully his use of the C word is referring to an evolved, new kind of culture that won’t get too big for its britches. Hopefully. Emulate injuns.

The assessment of the ‘experts’ criticizes him for not including a gun in his gear. I can see their point (I sure wouldn’t want to go hike through a burning LA without protection!) but maybe he’s a really good shot with that sling! He disregards the advice, and explains how he will continue to cultivate skills and friendships to “create the society that you want to be a part of.” Right-on, Chris. That’s right thinking.