I’ve scheduled this to post on 22/12/12, so if you’re reading this, congratulations on surviving the ‘Mayan End of the World’!
Season two’s next episode (‘You’ve Got Chaos!’) opens with a very interesting look at Johnny-come-lately bandwagon prepper Bob Kay from southern California wine country:
As a nutritionist, he has apparently made a boatload of money with some wonder-vitamins or some such whatsit.
Living in SoCal, it’s only reasonable to be prepared for a massive earthquake that, as he says, “will change society as we know it”. I think that might be giving mother nature a bit more credit than she deserves. Change how the affected people live for a while, yes. But change Society?, I dunno.
So, it seems that just last year, Bob was watching what I’m guessing was the pilot episode of Doomsday Preppers (the one that looked at the guys who are now the unseen ‘experts’ on these episodes), when he said to himself, “Look at these guys, building a self-sustaining greenhouse in the backyard pool, and their homemade wood-fired pickup truck, and their deer hunting for food! Surely I can do better than them, and use my discretionary income to buy my way to preparedness!” And so, in twelve months, he’s spent damn near close to a million dollars on his ‘preps’.
Our narrator explains to us that “Many preppers dream about the elaborate things they would buy if money were not an object”, which, combined with the profile of Mr. Kay, proves my hunch that the current model of preparedness isn’t really about preparedness, but conspicuous consumption.
So how does all this spending break down? Bob has two-and-a-half acres of land and a probably-6,000-square-foot-plus McMansion, and he’s spent $35,000 on exotic edible plants to landscape the place. Their 35,000-gallon swimming pool cost another $100,000 (they purify and drink some of the water, giving us yet another preppers-toasting-with-glasses-of-something-uncommon scene).
Then Bob gets to show off his $110,000 convoy of dream ‘bug-out vehicles’. Now, if you told me you’d spent that much money on six ultimate BOV’s, I’d expect you to unveil some, like, NASA-designed, Swiss-made, carbon-fiber collapsible bicycles with tubeless Kevlar tires. But not Bob Kay. He just has six motorcycles, because y’know, “Nothing impedes a motorcycle! You can get pretty much anywhere on it!” Sure, assuming you have enough petrol to feed it and you don’t come across any large downed trees on your travels. But once your fuel runs out, what then?
Okay, for a long-term, civilization-ending catastrophe, foot or hoof travel is the only sustainable way to get around. But for all other scenarios, bicycles are best. Why?
Zero emissions: bikes require—and burn—nothing but calories. Remember, RULE #1: CARDIO.
User friendly: no motor = way less moving parts to break and potentially ruin your day.
Nearly-silent: stealth might become a big factor when bands of marauders run amok?
Lightweight: try carrying that motorcycle over your head while crossing the ’quake-buckled 105:
So yeah, motorcycles might be fine for the man with the mid-life crisis, but in terms of preparedness, they’re not that great. And why Bob feels he needs six (he only has a wife and two daughters), I don’t know.
Anyway, at least Bob has his older daughter on-board with his prepping, which makes for some quality father/daughter bonding. From the way it sounds, she thinks up what they need, and he buys it.
Then they go to what I swear is the same bulk-food-store everyone on this show goes to. Our narrator reminds us that an average family’s annual grocery bill is about $3,700, and “Bob just spent over ten times that in one day!” When he gets home, he tells his wife he made a very “reasonable” purchase. His wife asks him what he’s going to do with $45,000 worth of freezedried chicken and such. Bob should say, “Eat it!” but I’m guessing it goes into a basement hoard to be sealed until disaster strikes. You know what I do with my stockpile of dehydrated fruits, vegetables, and meats (all free and courtesy of our wasteful food distribution system)? I eat it, and then I replenish it! It’s food, that’s what you do with it!
So, Bob and his older daughter want to get some weapons training. She starts out with throwing knives, which is like throwing your baby into the deep end of a pool; she says, “But my videogames make it look so much easier!” Knife-throwing has a ridiculously high learning curve, and even once you get the hang of it, I don’t think it’s a terribly useful skill. However, I am a big fan of hatchet throwing—which is more intuitive to learn, harder to miss, and should you hit your opponent, more mass = more damage.
Well, she wants to learn to shoot guns too, so daddy goes out and buys her a personal coach, a $4,000 tricked-out black rifle and a few hundred dollars’ worth of those 3-D plastic ‘bleeding’ zombie targets (for the record, single-use products such as those are inherently Evil). I just saw a program on the gun channel that showed how to make a cheap, easy, and effective human-sized target with a couple of cardboard boxes, some duct tape, and an old t-shirt. It was more realistic (the shirt means you can’t always immediately see where your shots are hitting), and more importantly, reusable! What’s wrong with that?
Never content with what he has, Bob wants to up the ante on his bug-out plan (you’d think with that ten-annual-salaries’ worth of food hoarded, he’d focus more on home security and bugging-in).
He says, “Nobody’s getting out in a car or truck, so you’ve gotta take it to a new level!” Ooh, now I’m intrigued. Is he going to redeem himself after the motorcycles, take it to a new level of sustainability, and show off a family set of matching all-terrain bicycles?
Nope, he buys a helicopter. Pricetag: $500,000.
So yeah. The experts tell him to think renewably and raise some chicken or rabbits. Bob says that the freeze-dried stuff he can purchase is good enough. The experts also tell him to think about his saltwater pool, and what he will do if his desalination equipment fails. In which case, it’s ridiculously easy to make a simple solar still.
He gets 61 points (including only 11 out of 20 points for food? I don’t know how), for nine months’ survival time. Bob doesn’t believe it, and says that doesn’t factor in “business activities, barter, and his ability to live a longer time.”; I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean.