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American "Preppers"
March 28, 2010 12:22 PM   Subscribe

"Preppers are keen not to be seen as survivalists - the stereotypically anti-government, wood-dwelling, gun-toting hermits of past decades. Rather than isolating themselves in preparation for Armageddon, preppers tend to have normal jobs, mingle with their communities and take a more relaxed view about looming disasters. "
posted by stbalbach (76 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
20 years buying food for the US military has convinced me that if Armageddon comes, I might choose death over a steady diet of MREs.
posted by fixedgear at 12:25 PM on March 28, 2010 [10 favorites]


a more relaxed view about looming disasters.

"Say, Ralph, does that look like a tsunami to you?"

"Sure does, Frank. Sure does."
posted by brundlefly at 12:30 PM on March 28, 2010 [43 favorites]


So how does one best prepare one's 3-story suburban house for a time of anarchy and social breakdown? Somehow stocking up on canned food, batteries and wood pellets is not what I would first think of.
posted by wobh at 12:31 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


So they're like Mormons.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:31 PM on March 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


Dee Xtrovert completely changed my thinking on this subject with what is arguably the single best comment I've read on MetaFilter.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:36 PM on March 28, 2010 [27 favorites]


Hi, my name is MonkeyToes and I'm a prepper.

Although I will read NRA publications in a pinch, own a hideous number of oil lamps and have a stash of dried and canned foods in the pantry, I like Obama, live rurally among neighbors and am active in my community.

Contrary to the BBC article, I don't prep "to survive a major disaster [I] believe could arrive at any time." I do, however, recognize that I could easily lose power for a day or two or get cut off from the grocery store for a few days, as I did just a few weeks ago. My husband's business could (God forbid) go under. Or I could suddenly acquire responsibility for another person living with us. These are reasonable and *possible* scenarios and, because I have the space and the inclination to prepare for them, I do. You don't have to be paranoid to be prepared. And no, it doesn't help.

Yes, a lot of the prep sites out there are right-wing/fundamentalist in orientation, which makes it harder to sift through for the good information. I pity the folks whose lives are driven by fear and anxiety, but I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing to have thought out what one might do in a few select, relevant, possible bad situations, fortune favoring the prepared mind and all that.

I hope this thread doesn't go all "LOL, preppers-Mormons (I'm not one, BTW)-Armageddonists!" because there's a lot to be gained by thinking ahead and knowing what one might do in the crunch -- which, after all, is far more likely to be a pink slip or a blackout than the Rapture.

Think I'll go grind some wheat berries now....
posted by MonkeyToes at 12:45 PM on March 28, 2010 [27 favorites]


I wish more people would get interviewed like this; preferably close to where I live with addresses and inventories of what they have stowed away. Makes raiding easier when the shit hits the fan.
posted by ZaneJ. at 12:50 PM on March 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Thanks for coming out MonkeyToes. It's OK to be a prepper. I hope preppers are not seen as hoarders or somehow dangerously pessimistic. It's another curious American subculture. I wish Louis Theroux would do more Weird Weekends.
posted by stbalbach at 12:50 PM on March 28, 2010


If you live in a place like Florida (Hurricanes) and don't prep for trouble, you're rather naive.
posted by oddman at 12:51 PM on March 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Not to be confused with 'American Preppies.'
posted by ericb at 12:55 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I also want to come out of the basement.

Sometimes I consider being a prepper. Like MonkeyToes, I like Obama, socialized medicine, and dislike the NRA. But sometimes I think "Hey, maybe I should keep some canned food around in case shit hits the fan. Takeout Chinese probably won't help when Armageddon strikes." And when I lived in Manhattan, I thought about buying an inflatable raft in case I needed to get away. (To be fair, I thought about this after watching Cloverfield. Everyone was dying trying to cross over the bridges, and I couldn't help but think what a pleasant, short ride it would be to the shores of NJ, if I had a little raft.)
posted by HabeasCorpus at 12:57 PM on March 28, 2010


I really need to prep better for earthquakes. I have a gennie and gas, which is helpful for... some things. And I almost always have SOME water around... but not nearly enough. Same with non-perishable food. Really all I have is what naturally accumulates from having a garage, camping frequently and going to a lot of outdoor events (including that big one in nevada).

But I have no illusions that I would live like a king in the event of disaster...
posted by flaterik at 12:57 PM on March 28, 2010


(need for earthquake prep stems from living in los angeles, not a crazy fear of earthquakes)
posted by flaterik at 12:58 PM on March 28, 2010


Prepping always seemed like a good idea to me, if you don't go overboard and let it take over your life. Just looking at how many people storm the grocery stores before/after a snowstorm has me convinced that even only a weekend's worth of water or canned food could come in super useful in everyday life. Anyway, it's better than the alternative.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:59 PM on March 28, 2010


stbalbach, it's not so much coming out as saying that there's at least one exception to the rule.

I have conservative, Rush-listening neighbors next door. Last summer, each of our families went apple-picking, and we ended up with something like eight bushels of fruit. (Yay! Supporting local ag! Tiny food miles! Eating plants! I'll take my Michael Pollan merit badge now, thanks.) Our families spent the weekend together making enormous amounts of applesauce and apple butter, and we all walked away with a bunch of homemade goodies for the pantry. (Though I must have made a face when the neighbor told me that Obama is going to grab our guns because the subject has not come up again.)

This particular prep was a great way to work together with the neighbors, and maybe even to reassure them that Democratic-voting, non-churchgoing gun toters aren't so bad after all.
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:00 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I might choose death over a steady diet of MREs.

Developed at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center (Natick, MA) with some new improvements. I'm sure a diet of MREs gets old real fast.

Eat Up!: Feed The Troops [autoplay video | 04:28]
posted by ericb at 1:02 PM on March 28, 2010


But MonkeyToes, where do you draw the line when it comes to defining a "prepper"? If it really just means preparing for the ordinary crises of life, then it's nothing new — I have candles in the cupboard in case of a power cut; I save money for a rainy day instead of spending it all; etc. On a quick glance of the sites linked here, though, the apocalyptic mindset — and the idea of preparing for very extraordinary crises — is prevalent in all of them. And as Dee Xtrovert shows in the amazing comment linked by Joe Beese, if anything that mindset is self-defeating, and provides a false sense of security, because in a real crisis turning inwards, hoarding, and spurning interdependence turns out to be a terrible survival strategy.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 1:06 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I also read this as "preppies" and was imagining that somewhere there is a basement stacked high with polo shirts, khakis, Blink 182 CDs and Crate and Barrel catalogues. Just in case.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 1:08 PM on March 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Not to be confused with 'American Preppies.'

A Preppie Prepper keeps the surplus gin and canned artichoke hearts in the summer house linen closet.
posted by sallybrown at 1:09 PM on March 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


A Preppie Prepper keeps the surplus gin and canned artichoke hearts in the summer house linen closet.

Tea Partay!
posted by ericb at 1:14 PM on March 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


What we now call prepping is the age-old manifestation of a subset of insecurities revolving around potential future events, left over from thousands of years of an agrarian society. It's a learned behavior that will take eons for country folk to unlearn. We don't see it in the city that much, and when we do it's labeled hoarding and a past trauma to the victim is blamed.

A lot of boogeymen can cause an outbreak of prepping, or cyclical reporting on the subject. If you find yourself hoarding, my advice is to cut yourself off from broadcast media, open up one of those cans of beans and settle down on the couch with a good book. If it gets worse, consult with a doctor. It's just the symptoms of a social disease, past onto us by our social circle.
posted by jsavimbi at 1:18 PM on March 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


If I was that paranoid, I'd open a rural general store in a really solid building with my living quarters above the store and with a wicked basement underneath. Always in stock: all sorts of long-lasting food, lots of bottled water, first aid kits, emergency generators, propane tanks, etc. When things got crazy, you could close the store (strong steel doors) with you and all of your stuff inside and be Mr Motherfucker Drucker.
posted by pracowity at 2:05 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here in rural Kansas you're considered awfully silly if you don't have some food stashed away and a way to keep warm if the power goes out. A few years (3-4?) ago there was a bad snow storm and power was out for 3 days and there was a definitely difference in the people with some food and a couple of sterno cans or a generator, and those who were at the mercy of their neighbors because they didn't even have 3 days worth of food. I had kind of let my pantry get bare a few weeks ago because I hate grocery shopping, but now it's beefed back up. I don't consider myself a prepper, but I know if something were to happen I could feed my family for about a month before we needed outside help.

*Also, like the Monkeytoes and Habeus Corpus I'm a supporter of the new healthcare changes, voted for Obama and don't own any guns.
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 2:06 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


A more useful form of this, as somewhat illustrated by Joe Beese's linked comment, and probably what a lot of preppers do indeed practice, is simply taking an interest in developing useful "basic" skills. These can tie in with whatever hobbies you're already interested in and apply much more to true post-apocalyptic scenarios than any sort of hoarding.

For instance: are you a technology geek? Well, have you considered studying some basic electronics and, maybe, applying it to a hobby like building junkbots? That would lead to an ability to make useful things with electronic garbage. It wouldn't be a stretch, given the free time provided by an apocalypse, to piece together some useful things (hydroelectric or bicycle generator, for example) from junkyard electronics. That would be an in-demand skill you could easily barter for services.

This can be applied to even more arbitrary hobbies. Do you play a guitar or sing? Entertainers have been valued throughout history, and that's unlikely to change. You just earned a free dinner in post-apocalyptic America!

I guess what I'm saying is, preparation for the worst doesn't have to be fearful. Just remember to be curious about everything; accumulate knowledge and skills; own some good, basic books on fundamental topics; and, if you must hoard something, consider some sturdy, long-term hardware, like a hatchet, a good toolkit, and suchlike.
posted by gilrain at 2:11 PM on March 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Developed at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center (Natick, MA) with some new improvements. I'm sure a diet of MREs gets old real fast.

From the new improvements link: "Pan coated flat-bottom tear drops"? What on earth are those? Captain Ersatz Hershey kisses?
posted by Solon and Thanks at 2:16 PM on March 28, 2010


A pan coated disc is a M&M (we can't just buy M&Ms, it's a complicated). That sounds like a Hershey Kiss with a hard coating. I'm sort of being recruited/drafted to go back to buying this stuff, something I am dreading.
posted by fixedgear at 2:24 PM on March 28, 2010


It's always good to have a modest stash of life's essentials in case of sudden calamity; then again said calamity might just as easily involve the destruction of your home and the supplies in it. But the best preparation for such circumstances are skills - not Chuck Norris/A-team type skills (although those might come in handy) but basic things like first aid, light construction, safety & hygeine, the ability to perform repairs, perform mental arithmetic, and so on.

Most of all, people skills - so you can calm people down, defuse panic, organize a group activity, match resources to expertise and resolve disputes without being a control freak or acting like a drill sergeant. Many people seem to think leadership equates to authoritarian behavior - I did myself when I was younger. It's true that there are times a leader needs to wield authority, and there are times when yelling is an appropriate tool for doing that - averting or escaping imminent danger, or jump-starting people's awareness of the real priorities if they begin to zone or out or a group gets caught up in some trivial dispute. But fortunately those times are not that frequent or long-lasting.

Most often, leadership is about building confidence, maintaining morale, sharing information and fostering cooperation. If you can take responsibility, listen to problems, and pitch in whenever it's the fastest way to help someone complete a task, you'll often find yourself promoted from beneath by people who appreciate your ability to provide structure in an unstructured environment. My experience is that most people are very happy to help each other to a greater end as long as they feel the effort is mutual and progress is being achieved.

If one finds oneself in a situation where this is not the case and is ruled by paranoia or mistrust, don't despair; just accept it as a matter of fact, like bad weather, and apply yourself to whatever task is least controversial and provides the greatest mutual benefit. If things are really bad and you feel endangered, act stupid. Luckily, these folk who identify as preppers seem to be about planning to share rather than assuming the only possible outcome of scarcity is confrontation.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:41 PM on March 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


I have a flashlight. Am I all set now?
Where is Brownie and FEMA? they take care of everything else.
posted by Postroad at 2:45 PM on March 28, 2010


And as Dee Xtrovert shows in the amazing comment linked by Joe Beese, if anything that mindset is self-defeating, and provides a false sense of security, because in a real crisis turning inwards, hoarding, and spurning interdependence turns out to be a terrible survival strategy.

From a certain point of view (Dee Xtrovert's), preparation turned out to be "a terrible survival strategy", because everyone shared everything, anyway, and those who didn't later regretted it.

From another point of view, preparation helped everyone survive, because there was more food, water, and equipment to be shared. Yes, everything runs out eventually, but it would have run out a lot earlier if nobody had anything stocked to begin with.

Besides, "several years in a period of savagery and killing" is not something you can usefully prepare for. A couple of weeks or even two months with no power and/or no safe food or water access is different. There's no guarantee that you'll end up in the former situation instead of the latter... especially since the latter is far more likely.

IMHO "it didn't help in Sarajevo" is a far cry from "it isn't worth preparing for disaster". I agree with Dee that the emphasis on long-term survivalism and/or overt militarism is often a waste of time, unless you live on property that's already close to self-sufficient, but there are plenty of disasters which aren't on a Sarajevo-level. Preparing for those is absolutely worth the time... especially since it's not much time. Spend a bit on oil lamps, a Coleman stove, and a warm sleeping bag, and then stock some canned & dry food and bottled water -- that alone will make a huge difference in your comfort and health if services are disrupted. In the meantime, you've always got lots of options if you decide you don't want to go to the store... or if you get laid off and can't afford to eat out anymore.

And hey, if your food is getting close to expiration or you've got nothing to do for the weekend: it's camping time!
posted by vorfeed at 2:47 PM on March 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I suppose I was one of those spooked by the boogeyman in '08. When I saw the writing on the wall for our financial system in the early summer of that year I freaked out at the possible implications and felt that prudence demanded that I procure what I thought I'd need to keep my kith and kin alive until the next harvest. This was perhaps an overreaction, but at the time it seemed reasonable because it certainly looked like Thunderdome was a real possibility by that winter. I would offer, however, that there is a difference between "prudent stocking up on necessities" as julie_of_the_jungle suggests above and I have suggested in the past and "hoarding".

In any case, during that summer, I became a fairly active member of a survivalist/prepper forum. I found the forum because I was looking for like-minded people in my area. I found out I didn't actually have all that much in common with some of them.

While a great many have charity in mind as part of their plans, there is still a common misconception among the prepper community that in a TEOTWAWKI situation they'll be able to go it alone with just their spouse and kids, frontier style. In most things they are perfectly reasonable and prudent, but a sizable number have a major blind spot in this area. They are quite aware of the amount of manual labor involved in subsistence farming and the need to be ever vigilant for threats, but they fail to see that two adults can't possibly cover all the bases in such a situation.

Of course, there were people who understood that a single family going it alone is living on borrowed time if TSHTF. During a discussion of this, my suggestion that serious groups require a written agreement by which the group would be governed was met with derision of the "If a man's handshake isn't good enough you're with the wrong people" variety. It was not long after this that I parted ways with that forum.

I sometimes worry that rather than the so-called Golden Horde, the larger threat to the rebuilding of cooperation and thus civilization in the aftermath of a societal collapse is in fact the lone-wolf prepper and their apparent philosophical commitment to Social Darwinism.
posted by ob1quixote at 2:50 PM on March 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thanks, Joe Beese, for posting that link so I didn't have to re-type the whole thing. I never can remember if I wrote a specific thing before or not!

I feel sorry for those people, especially as they prepare for not something specific (like hurricane season in a hurricane-likely area, which in a limited way makes sense), but for anything that may come along, with unknowable duration. It's a loser's game - not just because one can't predict calamitous events of a non-specific nature, but because it's simply not worth the energy. As someone who lost my family, home and country to extreme events, let me tell you that anything beyond an afternoon's planning isn't worth the effort . . . in the sense that what you lose in humanity is more than what you may gain in security.

Buy a radio you can power by hand-cranking, keep some extra cooking oil and spices on hand at all times and make sure there's plenty to read. (For many people, this state of things already exists.) After that, your chance of making the right "plans" are no different than picking winning lottery numbers. One of the "luckiest" guys I knew in the war was fortunate by sheer chance of his chosen hobby - cultivating mushrooms in a cellar room. He always had something fresh to eat and plenty to trade, but few would have planned out that sort of thing.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 2:54 PM on March 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm an inadvertent prepper and it's not hard for others to do the same. It started innocently enough: camping gear for the spring, summer and fall.

Camping fuel can also be expensive in small quantities, so I made sure to get a large container, and freeze dried food can be expensive so when I see a good deal I stock up, two weeks of meals will last me a year. Same thing for jerky or trail mix. Two 1kg bags of trail mix costs me $15 and is enough to keep me filled while hiking for a year, but if you break it down into serving sizes that's 40 portions!

As you can see, being ready for a camping season it doesn't take much to have enough to last several weeks or perhaps even a month or two.

It didn't stop there though. I needed a water filter for my long trips so that I didn't have to lug liters at a time. Before that I used to keep a case of water bottles under the sink that I'd use when going on a hike, but bottled water isn't cool, m'kay. Then by chance I moved to the Rockies, in a town a long way from the nearest city, so of course when I go shopping once a season I stock up: 20lb bags of rice, enough canned goods and sauces to last me three or four months. My town could easily be cut off by a forest fire, rock slide or snow, so I don't think it's unreasonable to have a supply of food and fuel. My only real concern is heat in the dead of winter. I've got easy access to firewood but no indoor wood stove. If nothing else it's an excuse for company.
posted by Null Pointer and the Exceptions at 2:58 PM on March 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


From another point of view, preparation helped everyone survive, because there was more food, water, and equipment to be shared. Yes, everything runs out eventually, but it would have run out a lot earlier if nobody had anything stocked to begin with.

While there's some logic to this, in my Sarajevan experience, I could make a case for stockpiling *less* food working better, since international food aid didn't arrive until we'd been eating about 50% of what we needed (calorically) for months and the fact became obvious to the rest of the world. Had we starved sooner and more in unison, we (paradoxically) might have received food aid much earlier, before many people had died from conditions exacerbated by an inadequate diet or suffered nutrition-related problems which still plague them today. Less food might have meant more lives saved - that's why it's really difficult to predict these things even using common sense, as above.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 3:11 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I doubt we're gung-ho enough to be considered preppers, but Mr. Palmcorder and I have definitely taken the Three Days, Three Ways thing to heart. And part of the reason we've done it is that we know that many other people in our social circle and in our building really haven't. We're by no means set up to weather a siege, but in the event of, say, another catastrophic windstorm, we're well-equipped to act as a jolly source of pre-fab eggplant stew, drinking water, and tampons for those around us in need.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 3:33 PM on March 28, 2010


Had we starved sooner and more in unison, we (paradoxically) might have received food aid much earlier, before many people had died from conditions exacerbated by an inadequate diet or suffered nutrition-related problems which still plague them today.

Gee. Zuss. Kee. Riced. That's a game I wouldn't consider playing for a second.

I'm taking up gardening and storing extra bottles of vitamins.
posted by codswallop at 3:34 PM on March 28, 2010


I have prepper instincts and impulses, but I try to keep them at bay - I don't live in fear or anything and don't have a hoarding impulse, but I do often find myself wishing that I knew how to "live off the land" rather than rely on grocery stores for food, or make my own clothes rather than buying them. I'm slowly trying to teach myself some basic skills, essentially trying to learn what it would have been like to live a couple hundred years ago.

My husband thinks it's hilarious and I admit that I do love a disaster movie a little too much and tend to get obsessed, but I don't think there's anything wrong with learning how to rely less on a consumer society. I guess that makes me a lazy yuppie prepper? I'm certainly not the gun-toting kind!
posted by ukdanae at 3:36 PM on March 28, 2010


I think I tend toward this end of the spectrum more than the Survival Blog end of things, which has an inescapable paranoid flavor to it. The closest thing to preparing for a specific event came over ten years ago, when I stocked up on beans and rice prior to Y2K (and took forever to use them up afterwards). I do think that everyone should be prepared to do without ready access to a food supply, potable drinking water and electricity for a week (which, in the case of the water, could just entail being able to boil it or purify it by other means).
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:37 PM on March 28, 2010


game warden to the events rhino, I asked my husband the difference between survivalists and preppers. He snorted and replied, "Preppers are survivalists without guns."

Then we talked a bit about what divides us from the preppers and the survivalists. We have a grain mill, a generator, pigs, vegetable gardens, etc.--enough to mark us out as, uh, different from many of our contemporaries. I think that my husband and I like learning new skills and working hard, so prep is really kind of a useful excuse to pursue what we enjoy anyway. We learn a bunch of practical stuff, eat better, spend less time watching TV/playing on the computer and stock our shelves with good, homegrown food. Is this insane? I dunno; my high school boyfriend seems to be enjoying his life of sporting events and trips to the islands, and fresh-laid eggs don't even rank on his list of life's little pleasures.

What sets me and my husband apart from the survivalists and preppers is not the guns, BOBs or safe rooms, but that the driving forces behind our work are not born of fear, anxiety or the urge to blow raspberries at the have-nots in hard times. Our preps are not covers for beliefs about the imminent eschaton--or about people's virtue, or lack thereof--or for living by a code of "I got mine"--or for abiding by some church code. We prep because it's pragmatic and satisfying.

I don't think about survival in some wish-fulfilling, rage-justfying apocalypse. I think about the times we've gotten the tractor stuck, or the neighbors got snowed in, and how we pulled and plowed each other out. We help each other through the small troubles. That makes me more secure in thinking that we'd pull together through something bigger.
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:44 PM on March 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


I guess I'll have to out myself as a prepper, too, although I don't think of myself that way.

+ We're in the SCA, so we have a lot of camping gear and know some fairly obscure skills. (Need to start a fire without matches and then bake a brisket of beef in the fire without a pot -- I'm your girl.)

+ I grew up in rural Maine, where it was not at all unusual to lose power for 3-5 days with a bad snow or ice storm, so I already had the "stock up for winter" sort of mentality.

+ I've gotten fairly interested in couponing as of late, and one basic tenant of using coupons effectively is to buy as many as you can when you see a sale (for instance, some noodles were on sale this week and with my .75 cents off 1 coupon (which the store doubles) they were free after coupons, so I scrounged up as many coupons as I could and bought 18 packages).

In my head, what I'm prepping for is much more likely to be a few days or a week without power than Hurricane Katrina, but the Katrina experience does certainly linger in the back of my mind. I'd say the urge to "have enough on hand" is much stronger now that we have a child.
posted by anastasiav at 4:03 PM on March 28, 2010


I have stockpiled in my small apartment about 100 lbs of malted grains, about 2 lbs of hops, and a few packets of yeast. In the event of an apocalypse, I can have close to 50 gallons of the most valuable good known to man, to be traded for whatever I need.

I also have an Airsoft pistol and a NERF revolver to protect my stash.
posted by qvantamon at 4:13 PM on March 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


"Until I came to the West myself and spent two years looking around, I could never have imagined to what an extreme degree the West had actually become a world without a will, a world gradually petrifying in the face of the danger confronting it...All of us are standing on the brink of a great historical cataclysm, a flood that swallows up civilization and changes whole epochs."

Oh sorry, I just happened to be looking up some Solzhenitsyn quips today.
posted by ovvl at 4:22 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Had we starved sooner and more in unison, we (paradoxically) might have received food aid much earlier, before many people had died from conditions exacerbated by an inadequate diet or suffered nutrition-related problems which still plague them today. Less food might have meant more lives saved - that's why it's really difficult to predict these things even using common sense, as above.

Or you might have waited just as long for food aid -- for instance, maybe part of the delay could have been political, and have nothing to do with how fast you were starving. In that case, less food might have caused even more deaths while you waited for the aid. This situation could have gone either way.

Again, I agree that planning for "anything that may come along, with unknowable duration" is a waste of time, but I don't agree that "anything beyond an afternoon's planning isn't worth the effort", much less that stocking anything more than a radio and some spices, oil, and books causes you to "lose humanity". There are plenty of disaster situations which aren't Sarajevo. In many of them, having basic survival gear and a few weeks' worth of extra food and water pays off. This kind of planning doesn't even involve too much thought beforehand, much less obsessive paranoia, so I really don't see how it costs anyone their humanity.
posted by vorfeed at 4:33 PM on March 28, 2010


Whoda thought Goldfish crackers and Spaghettios would be the key to surviving The Big One?
posted by toodleydoodley at 4:41 PM on March 28, 2010


The US Government was advising people to buy extra cans of tuna and stash them under the bed. 'Memeber that?

And a book a bunch of people like to cite mention that you should put aside 7 years worth of stuff for the lean times. The US Government used to have a grain reserve. Now the world grain market has less than 60 days of grain.

So if the stem rust (U99) moves to 'the west' or, say the volcano in Iceland blows up and pumps the atmosphere with dust to create another 'year without summer' that 60 days of grain will go quick.

And while I could have found a better reference to the food shelves going bare in 3 days in the UK - Such an event nearly happened in the UK in 2000 when a politically motivated truckers strike had the supermarket shelves going bare and Britain on the verge of a famine after just a few days, a result of the “just in time” policies of most of our food system.

Good luck to you all.....
posted by rough ashlar at 4:48 PM on March 28, 2010


Whoda thought Goldfish crackers and Spaghettios would be the key to surviving The Big One?

You might want to prep 'em for storage - see the internet for advice on dipping the cans/boxes in wax.
posted by rough ashlar at 4:50 PM on March 28, 2010


It's not even that hard to be a prepper. Just head down to Costco and buy yourself a bucket full of emergency meals. 275 servings, 20 year shelf life, $89.99.

I don't have any now, but if things start looking grim, I'm going to fill my basement with these things.
posted by cptnrandy at 4:53 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have a flashlight. Am I all set now?

Nope. Don't forget the duct tape and plastic sheeting. *

* - Oh, how far we have come from the drumbeat of fear and terrorist alerts of the Bush era. Except we now have to deal with the insanity of 'socialism,' ' a nazi-like take-over,' 'death panels,' etc.

But, guess what?

Those fuckers a'int in power any longer.

posted by ericb at 4:58 PM on March 28, 2010


It profoundly confuses me why anyone would oppose, let alone ridicule being prepared for emergencies. But then I was a scout (motto: be prepared!).

So many things can randomly go wrong; fire, flooding, disease, blackouts, fuel crises, even war...

If everyone had some food, tools, some practical skill or medical training, and are ready to help their neighbor, chances are there will be much less suffering in such an event.

Forgive me, Dee, but I cannot understand how being ready to help myself and those around me loses my humanity. To me, it is the exact opposite. But then the worst disaster I've been faced with so far is being lost in the woods.
posted by MetaMonkey at 5:19 PM on March 28, 2010


I live about a mile east of the Capitol, and was on Capitol Hill on 9/11. I didn't prep then. After Hurricane Katrina, I prepped. I have long-storage stable food for 3 for a week in my car.
posted by MrMoonPie at 5:25 PM on March 28, 2010


I'm not sure if 'cover Spaghettio's with wax' or 'buy 5 gallon pails full of crap from Costco' are serious or a joke. No HAMBURGER. In any case, I'm not a tech guy but I do know that it costs a boatload of money to get the three year shelf life of MREs. The single biggest cost driver is the packaging material. When you crack open that shit from Costco and it's spoiled and rancid, then what? Are people really doing shelf life studies of cans of Spaghettio's dipped in wax? Eighteen months for a can, under ideal conditions. Good luck indeed.
posted by fixedgear at 5:29 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fuck MREs. Those are so Vietnam-era. And fuck Costco's mormon-wet-dream-in-a-bucket solution. No, young grasshopper. This is the answer.
posted by nathanlindstrom at 6:03 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Those fuckers a'int in power any longer.

Cept for the appointments and hires in various government structures that decide on who gets a report. Or who gets a pass VS a full on investigation.

'those fuckers' will be back.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:03 PM on March 28, 2010


The preppers can be identifieded by their collared shirts with a well-armed alligator on them.
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 6:34 PM on March 28, 2010


MREs are Viet Nam era? 1980 is Viet Nam ? Check your calendar, dude. Mountain House, Albany Oregon, nice plant. John Ostrin is a great guy. Their spaghetti and meatballs was just like my moms, watched it get rehydrated right before my eyes. Only it cost eight times as much. Look at the prices. We'd love to feed that freeze dried stuff to everyone, but the cost is insane. Have fun, though.
posted by fixedgear at 6:47 PM on March 28, 2010


This is why rotation is key. Don't buy fancy freeze-dried stuff that costs a fortune and then ignore it, buy affordable staples which keep well and then cook with them, restocking often. A pantry full of oil, sugar, flour, pasta, rice, beans, and canned veggies and meats will get you through several weeks and probably even months in an emergency... and in the meantime, it's an everyday food source.

Eat what you store and store what you eat -- that way you always know exactly what you've got and what you can make with it.
posted by vorfeed at 7:33 PM on March 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I live on low ground in New Orleans, and my beau and I aim to stay for next storm. There will be another catastrophic hurricane during our lifetime, and evacuating for months is really, really expensive. I know a lot of people here with the same attitude, and it's kind of taken for granted that you let the neighbors know about the awesome canoe sale. A friend recently revealed that she didn't own an axe, and everyone within earshot was appalled.

Here's my question, Metafilter: are we preppers? It's preparing for something that flat out will happen, and it's damn near region-wide.
posted by honeydew at 7:44 PM on March 28, 2010


Damn. I just completed my CPR/AED re-certification and was feeling good about myself... but as I'll probably never use these skills, I guess I'm actually just a paranoiac.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 7:48 PM on March 28, 2010


We started building an emergency kit because we live right on a fault line in the SF Bay Area. We moved here after experiencing a relatively "minor" quake in Seattle in 2001 that trashed our apartment. After seeing how well the government agencies responded after Katrina, we thought it was a good idea to make a basic emergency kit to make it through a few days without external access to food, water, electricity, and Internet service (kidding!), and to be able to help our neighbors in the same situation.

Over a few years, we expanded the kit to cover a few situations. For example, if the house is intact but services are interrupted; the house is moderately damaged; the house is dangerous enough to warrant immediate evacuation but we can camp in the yard; or the place is trashed, the neighborhood is in flames, and we need to get gear and pets in the car and make it out of town ASAP. Shelter-in-place is obviously highly preferred to trying to bug out with what we can carry.

A lot of our stockpiling also doubles very well as "extremely dense camping gear," as we have a few large backpacks within our physical carrying capacity. (No use packing a 150 lb pack if you can barely carry your 5 lb laptop to work!) Tent, packs, etc., are all ready to go and can be out the door in five seconds.

One dividend of this preparation is the basic skills development and ownership of tools and supplies that one needs anyway if one maintains one's own home. We had to rely heavily upon contractors or professionals for a lot of tasks around the house, and now we just use them for major projects, such as putting in hardwood flooring, etc. Other than my own sloth, very little stops me from being a handyman around the house. If nothing else, it's a good confidence builder in knowing that if TSHTF, we can keep relatively healthy and safe.
posted by reeses at 7:49 PM on March 28, 2010


I'm not a prepper by game warden's definition - and I think it's a good one.

I live in a rural area of the Pacific Northwest which is frequently beset by storms and high winds. During the "snowmageddon" of the winter before last, it was 17 days before I was able to leave under my own power. I was very grateful for my stockpiles.

Thanks in part to dee xtrovert's amazing comment, I bought four pet chickens last spring. So I like to think I'm pretty well set, both for a steady supply of food and for barter material, should the apocalypse come.

Apart from that, in winter (storm season) I try to keep 3-4 gallons of water and at least 21 cans of misc foodstuffs in the pantry. That's the bare essentials for three meals a day, under hard rationing. I always have other food on hand that would flesh out that week of meals nicely.

And I always, year-round, have at least one spare box of tampons and one spare pound of coffee on hand.

I have a wood stove and a stovetop Bialetti espresso maker, so as long as I have beans and water I'm good. But I keep a couple packets of instant coffee on hand just in case in case in case!
posted by ErikaB at 8:06 PM on March 28, 2010


I'd never heard of "preppers" before reading this thread, but I guess I could be considered one. Actually, since I own and like to shoot guns I guess y'all might call me a survivalist, but I only have the guns for fun (ever shoot a watermelon with a Mossberg 590?) and I'm otherwise a raging liberal. I got into backpacking years ago, so I started accumulating items like water filters, freeze dried food on sale, etc. After Katrina I started to wonder how well the government would be able to handle the "Big One" here in California, and I stocked up on even more supplies.

I don't see the harm of following the Boy Scout motto, as long as it doesn't become an obsession. At the very least, having canned food around comes in handy on days when I'm too lazy to go to the supermarket, and would be very damn useful if I ever find myself among the swelling ranks of the long term unemployed. Preparing for unlikely SHTF scenarios like global thermonuclear war or Yellowstone finally blowing is likely a huge waste of time, but knowing and preparing for more likely scenarios (earthquakes and wildfires where I live) seems like simple prudence.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 8:10 PM on March 28, 2010


Although you can't get them right now, when the military wasn't buying so many it was relatively easy to get "commercial" MREs — basically the same product but without the "U.S. Property Not For Sale" stamp — from catalogs for relatively cheap. IIRC they also had some flavors which were at the time experimental, or nonstandard candies. I used to have a few of them around for use during power outages.

The advantage of an MRE over some commercial backpacking foods is that each MRE has a chemical heater packaged with it, which you can activate using nothing but water. (And although they get hot enough to warm the food, they don't produce an open flame and thus won't burn the house/tent/yurt you're in down. This ought to be a major concern if you are ever in a situation where you're eating an MRE... a truly appalling number of house fires start during power outages due to people doing things they're not used to with open flames.)

On the topic of flames though, when the power went out in my apartment complex a few years ago, I was surprised at the number of people who didn't even have a book of matches to light their stove with. (The complex had pilotless gas stoves which would work fine without power — if you lit them manually. Oven and rangetops, same deal.) I mean it's one thing to weigh the odds and decide to forgo having a full 30-day supply of water or whatever they're recommending these days, but knowing how to survive a power outage for a couple of days is just common sense.

The odds of you being in a Katrina-level disaster are low — although if you live near the coast in a hurricane-prone area, chances are over your lifetime you will experience at least one 'good one' — but virtually everyone will experience a power outage from time to time. It's a scenario worth thinking about, and isn't in the same category as the doom-porn Apocalypse-planners, whose planning isn't grounded in reason.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:22 PM on March 28, 2010


I feel sorry for those people, especially as they prepare for not something specific (like hurricane season in a hurricane-likely area, which in a limited way makes sense), but for anything that may come along, with unknowable duration.

If they're really trying to prepare for ANYTHING that comes along - things like the nightmare you endured - then yeah, that's pretty naive. On the other hand, there are lots of things that can happen where the difference between a couple days of absolute misery and a minor inconvenience will fit in an overnight bag.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:34 PM on March 28, 2010


I'm not a prepper, but it seems silly to me to be 100% dependent on outside services to live longer than a few days. We have a vegetable garden, buy in bulk to save money, have a rain barrel to water the garden, and live in an old house that happens to have a couple of fire places. We go camping a couple of times a year. We get fairly frequent short duration blackouts so have flashlights and a couple of battery lanterns around (also for camping). I do plenty of DIY etc. so we have tools, and we cook 90% of our meals from basic ingredients because it is healthier and tastier. We have kids who seem to get into various scrapes so have a fairly comprehensive first aid kit.
If there is a Katrina style disaster that interrupts utilities and commercial services we would be minorly inconvenienced, I guess.
I don't see any wisdom in filling a basement with long life rations, but the government suggests having the ability to be self sufficient for a fortnight is sensible. It's pretty trivial to have basics on hand, to the point where it seems those that don't are being willfully obtuse.
The Australian food industry people have a website with tips here.
My one "prep" is that I keep $100 in small bills in a coffee can, mainly because in a blackout the ATMs don't work and all the stores credit card machines are electronic these days, but that was prompted by wanting to buy a couple of bottles of wine for some guests after a thunder storm and not being able to get any cash out to do so.
posted by bystander at 9:11 PM on March 28, 2010


This is why rotation is key. Don't buy fancy freeze-dried stuff that costs a fortune and then ignore it, buy affordable staples which keep well and then cook with them, restocking often.

The problem I've always run into with the rotation strategy is that I don't really eat "non fresh" foods like canned vegetables/meats/beans, etc.
So, we end up donating the "rotation out" to the food bank, which is a reasonable solution, I suppose, but I really wish we could just eat through it like so many folks seem to.
posted by madajb at 9:49 PM on March 28, 2010


I don't really eat "non fresh" foods like canned vegetables/meats/beans, etc.

Our solution to this is to have rice and barley on hand, as well as a lot of tuna (I buy it on sale, mostly) of which we will eat about a can a week normally. And, weirdly, raisins. (I have a toddler, what can I say.) The shelf life on sealed raisins is about a year. Also, lots of canned soup. If we're in a situation where we need to eat from the pantry for two or three weeks, I'm not going to be so worried about a balanced diet as I am about making sure we're getting enough calories on a daily basis.
posted by anastasiav at 11:16 PM on March 28, 2010


The problem I've always run into with the rotation strategy is that I don't really eat "non fresh" foods like canned vegetables/meats/beans, etc.
So, we end up donating the "rotation out" to the food bank, which is a reasonable solution, I suppose, but I really wish we could just eat through it like so many folks seem to.


hmm... maybe you could try to emphasize dry staples like rice, dried beans, pasta, good flour, sugar, bulghur wheat, oats, etc instead of the cans? The idea is to store stuff you already cook with, and surely there are some longer-lasting staples you use along with the fresh foods -- if so, go heavy on stocking those, and use the cans only to make up whatever's missing nutritionally.
posted by vorfeed at 11:25 PM on March 28, 2010


I don't think I'd call my brother a survivalist, but in addition to the many firearms he keeps in his locked (glass fronted) gun cabinet, he has hidden on his property a buried cement-lined chamber that contains an assault rifle and many thousands of rounds of ammunition. He says it's for "the great mutant war."
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:52 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Although you can't get them right now, when the military wasn't buying so many it was relatively easy to get "commercial" MREs — basically the same product but without the "U.S. Property Not For Sale" stamp — from catalogs for relatively cheap.

Except that they are not the same. The barrier film used in the pouches of the US Gov't version is different, and by different I mean better.
posted by fixedgear at 1:00 AM on March 29, 2010


Just head down to Costco and buy yourself a bucket full of emergency meals. 275 servings, 20 year shelf life, $89.99.

Enough trans-fat in that your corpse'll have a twenty year shelf life.
posted by orthogonality at 1:42 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I always love learning about weird or obscure sub-cultures, but I can't help thinking that the BBC and Guardian articles have this kind of LOLAMERICANS bent to them. I've met very few British people who really understand the scale of the US. Heck, people who have spent their whole lives on the US East Coast don't even really know how big the US is.

If the only thing feeding your town is the 1 hour away grocery store or super walmart (as is more or less the case with my grandparents) and it's twice weekly truck deliveries, then yeah I'd say you've got a great reason to keep some food in the basement or have a vegetable garden.

What I do think is despicable is every time I flip to the wacko radio station (90.1 in Austin, which is right next to 90.5 NPR), they're hawking non-hybrid seeds because when horrible disaster comes, you need to have these seeds to feed your family. Or that when economic melt down comes, you need to have a stock pile of gold coins, etc. That is preying on fear and insecurity to get money out of suckers. Shit, after an afternoon listening to that station I started to feel anxious, and I wasn't even worried about my pets being tagged for the apocalypse with the Devil's RFIDs, or chemtrails watching my thoughts.
posted by fontophilic at 8:12 AM on March 29, 2010


worried about my pets being tagged for the apocalypse with the Devil's RFIDs

You should be worried - Animal ID would mean your 6-7 week meat chickens 'need' to be ided with either a 30,000 retnal scanner or a $25 rfid tag. IF the animal ID was to be enforced. (Thanks George!)
posted by rough ashlar at 8:19 AM on March 29, 2010


A near, dear relative of mine told me back a few months ago that he was a "prepper" . After 45 years of non-interest in politics or punditry of any sort, he started getting into Glenn Beck and Youtube videos about chemtrails and FEMA camps and whatnot. Now he has a small collection of guns and a bunch of special post-apocalypse seeds (he's never grown a plant of any sort in his life, but when the zombie hordes come he'll have non-gmo zucchini by the bushel!)

On the one hand, I find his politics to be repulsive and scary. On the other hand, when everything goes all Mad Max, I'll only have a two and a half hour drive to a friendly McMansion full of shotguns and fresh red bell peppers.

Thanks to MonkeyToes and some others here, for providing a reasonable perspective on this "preppers" stuff.
posted by Cookiebastard at 11:54 AM on March 29, 2010


I think it's prudent to have some food stores on hand. Last March there was a snowstorm here in Georgia (8"!) and the power was out for 3 days. My husband was on tour and I was at home with my two-year-old the whole time. It was 19 degrees in the house. No power, no heat, no way to cook food, no way to go anywhere. We sat in the backyard in the snow and heated up spaghetti on the hibachi for our one lukewarm meal a day. We slept on the floor in front of the fireplace.

This wasn't what caused me to make sure I can take care of my family if supply chains get interrupted, but it certainly illustrated how fragile our comfy lives are. Is it true that the more complex a system is, the more vulnerable it is? Is it true that most grocery stores have a 3-day supply of food on their shelves? Is it true that I read The 900 Days (a book about the 3-year siege of Leningrad) not once but twice?

The biggest way I prepare is 1) Learn a skill that few people in my community have. So now I'm a beekeeper. In the unlikely event the SHTF, I'd be one of the few people in my community who could provide honey for sweetening, medicine, and alcohol, wax for candles and lip balm (nothing says 'apocalypse' like really chapped lips), and bees for deadly targeted stinging attacks.

2) Share what I have and know with my neighbors. Thanks to the bees, I now have a network of people I can turn to for help if I need something. I can trade honey for bread, goats' milk, firewood, fruits and vegetables, chicken eggs, light carpentry, and lawnmower repair. My neighbors know that I can and am willing to contribute, and they and I see each other as real people, not threats or cyphers. I feel it is unlikely that I will be eaten should society collapse.
posted by staggering termagant at 12:12 PM on March 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have to say that I'm a sort of survivalist, in a way, largely because I got lost at the Maryland State Fair in 1978. I wandered around for what seemed like forever, looking at handcrafted crotchet toilet paper roll cozier with Barbie doll faces, E-Z-Kleen gutters, moldy pies in the 4H tent, and various tractor accessories until I bumbled into the corner of the Free State Survivalists. Though, at ten, I didn't know what the hell a "race war" was, I'd watched enough post-nuclear movies on UHF to understand that full-out atomic war was right around the corner.

"Do you want to shape the bold new world of the future, kid?"

I sure did. I got home that night, armed with a stack of brochures and enough idiotic ideas to drive my parents insane for the better part of a decade, and built a rough bomb shelter in the basement out of the bags of cement my dad was saving to pour footings for our deck. Reagan got elected, my sister joined some sort of teenybopper nuclear apocalyptic society in which everyone swore to drive to ground zero if a war broke out, and a little seed grew into a big tangle of vines in my brain.

Of course, the bombs never fell, and AIDS came along in the eighties and killed off enough people like me in ways more horrible than an atomic flash deluxe that I stopped worrying and came to love the bomb, but I've always had this lingering impetus to maximize my independence, just in case. I keep a little stock of food and basic supplies, but more than that, I make it a point to know stuff. I own a car, a scooter, and a bicycle that is each simple enough for me to repair and maintain. I grow a reasonable fraction of my food in a well-organized and efficient growing space in my backyard, pollinated by the bees in my own hive, and I read up on architecture, mechanical engineering, chemistry, "traditional" skills and trades, and I keep myself up to date with carpentry, plumbing, electrical, whatever. It's a real pleasure, too, not a chore, as I find out that there's very little in the world I can't do on my own or with a friend to help me out.

When the big financial crash came along, I felt pretty happy to be someone without much ownership of the big old ugly world, and ready to shift down and live closer to the land, but we seem to have dodged that bullet. I hear these terms like "prepper" and the like, and it just seems like one more movement to name the obvious or to create the illusion of novelty out of whole cloth. It's only in the last few generations that we've had the luxury of insectile specialization, and of being able to live in grotesque alienation from each other, and the recollection that the world is not perfect and eternal and unchanging should be something to keep us alert and connected, not this paranoid, histrionic network of fear.

Nine years ago, when I was on lock-down in a government contractor's facility, watching the news feeds from New York as towers burned and fell, the thing I noticed above all was that all the panicky bullshit we've learned from the movies didn't happen. People didn't pile up in the stairwells, crushing each other. They didn't riot in the streets, knocking over baby carriages. They just made way, and that did a lot to kill off the poison ivy of societal doubt that I'd been tangled up in since I was ten.

See—the nice thing about a catastrophe is that the TV stations will fail, and the power will go out, and all the media insanity machines that sell stupid shit to us (particularly the idiot local media) will flicker out and die, and we'll step out into the sun and finally meet our neighbors, possibly for the first time. My survival supplies don't include a radio, because I'd probably just get stuck listening to Diane Rehm's terrible interviews, anyway.

The more we know, the more we'll have to give—that's the responsibility, and it's a responsibility we have for our neighbors, our family, our friends, and our enemies. Preparing against the deluge just guarantees that we'll be even more surprised when it washes us away, but being fully human, and fully present—alert, awake, and compassionate—is what will carry us, not oil drums of beans and soup mix. It's a given that the world will change. Building a bivouac life isn't the way, except for fits and starts until we pull ourselves together, and it more often increases the separation between us, and that's the real way the world will end, not with a bang, but with every home a prison, flickering in the blue-white glare of infotainment.

Can you be an island, unto yourself?

Just try.
posted by sonascope at 4:16 PM on March 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


"[A] all the panicky bullshit we've learned from the movies didn't happen... [New Yorkers on 9/11] just made way, and that did a lot to kill off the poison ivy of societal doubt that I'd been tangled up in since I was ten."

Yeah, well, that was the mass of people that you saw. I was in the Food Emporium on the corner of 68th Street and 3rd Avenue on 9/11. Having just graduated from college, my new apartment was almost completely devoid of any furniture or food, and since the TV news had started reporting around 11 AM that the island of Manhattan had been (temporarily) closed off from the rest of the state, I started thinking, hmmm, I should probably go out and get some food and bottled water, just in case. Oh, and I should probably get some cash from the ATM, since I was almost out and had no spare change at home. Luckily, there was both a supermarket and a bank at the end of the block...

Two hours and three attempts at finding an open bank or a functioning ATM later, my ideas about "prepping" were a little different, permanently. I watched the bottled water disappear from the food store, every bottle grabbed by someone, as I stood in that long, long line for the checkout, which extended completely down every single aisle of the rather sizeable store, and I happened to be in the aisle that held the water.

To be clear, the people in the store were not (with one notable exception that I saw) panicky people, even despite the day's traumatic events. Judging by the contents of their carts or baskets or hands, they were stocking up on a few essential goods sensibly, just in case, just as I was. So the issue wasn't the threat of a stampeding herd, the issue was the calm but simultaneous recognition by hundreds of people that there was a complete lack of sustainability or fault-tolerance in the modern economy, especially dangerous to an urbanized island like Manhattan where every last food item must be shipped in daily. People who think regional forces of nature are the only threats against their convenient way of life and ease of acquiring life's essentials have become blinded to how artificial and how fragile our modern life is. You should not need a 150-mile-per-hour hurricane to drive home the fact that an overstretched just-in-time-delivery no-stockroom no-warehouse mentality could not only have a breakdown at some point, but that it would be harder to recover from than it was 50, 30, even 10 years ago. All systems have their breaking point.

Currently, my husband and I live in a big city. I voted for Obama, he drives a Prius, we <3 our iPhones. But we are considering buying a solar cooker (no electricity needed!) to complement our massive vegetable garden and multiple fruit trees, bags of dried beans and rice and quinoa, propane-fired camping stove, flexible solar panel, portable UV water purifiers, and oh yes, those long tubes of metal that go bang. (But I think I could probably hack a solar cooker out of silver foil and cardboard, if needed, and save the money.)
posted by Asparagirl at 5:31 PM on March 29, 2010


I was on lock-down in a government contractor's facility, watching the news feeds from New York as towers burned and fell,

My key possession at that time turned out to be an orange construction vest. That, work boots, and a hard hat allowed me to come and go from my place two block from ground zero. It was almost two weeks before checkpoints and ID checks were set up. After that I couldn't get back in for 6 months.

Being at home with no power, phone, or water wasn't so bad. The fact that everything inside was covered in itchy smelly dust was the part that made it unlivable.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:01 PM on March 29, 2010


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