Your doomsday is our Tuesday
April 3, 2022 2:22 PM   Subscribe

A split in the prepper community as women examine what prepping means for them. As the overhanging threat of nuclear annihilation returns to the zeitgeist, interest in survival preparation, or "prepping" is surging with it. But a "schism" has opened in Reddit's r/preppers forum as women note that the predominant traditional view of prepping is strongly gendered and specifically male.

Many preppers tend to take a short term view of SHTF focused on guns and ammo and camo-patterned tactical gear or, more broadly, on battling through the chaos of a collapse itself rather than working to rebuild in the longer term. As one poster put it, "For many men, prepping is a fantasy of stepping up to occupy a role which has been all but erased from the modern world."

For women, prepping often means something very different, something that isn't well served by the machismo of that larger community. Recently this led to the creation of r/TwoXPreppers. As the subreddit has grown, it offers new perspectives on survival preparation, including a considerably expanded view of what situations one must be prepared to survive. Men are welcome, but the purpose is to focus on prepping from a female perspective, and men are asked to respect that.
posted by Naberius (109 comments total) 60 users marked this as a favorite
 
But... the man-cave is still on, right?
posted by No Robots at 2:53 PM on April 3 [2 favorites]


Really interesting reading!

As someone who is plagued by apocalyptic thoughts, I get the prepper urge, so to speak, but have steered clear of all this ridiculous, unhealthy, obsessive, selfish, and hateful macho fantasy bullshit. But, you know, these r/TwoXPreppers people seem okay. Still, I think it’s better to channel one’s worry into active, explicit community-building, but perfect is the enemy of good enough and all that.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 2:58 PM on April 3 [14 favorites]


The man cave is still totally on, my dude/dudette/dude person!
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 3:00 PM on April 3 [5 favorites]


I am here for survivalist creeps to be taken down several notches. The anti-community violence fantasies by dudes who are not doing shit to prevent the falls they imagine occurring (and in some/many instances helping) are one of the worst social movements in the US and carries a lot of overlap with evangelicals in sharing a separatist ethic.

Slate: The schism between r/preppers and r/TwoXPreppers isn’t likely to be permanent or unbridgeable.

I don't share this optimism. One thing that right-wing extremists (yes, I'll generalize) in the US have demonstrated within living memory is that alternative viewpoints must be destroyed, and the military preoccupations of the prepper community will use esprit de corps to eliminate dissent within their own, uh...ranks. The more similar people are to each other, the more glaring their differences. Men will not tolerate the loss of control and fragmentation of the subculture.
posted by rhizome at 3:01 PM on April 3 [53 favorites]


From one of the threads:

“ Be a pack member. Not a lone wolf. Not an alpha. A pack member. Do not leave the load behind you to be carried by other people, start contributing an EQUAL share of that load. If you only contribute defense, a woman who is skilled with a gun no longer needs you- especially if you cause strife. It's in your best interest to learn how to contribute in multiple manners, how to communicate in non-inflammatory manners, how to build and work on relationships because SHTF (shit hits the fan) is stressful and you need community. Read again: YOU NEED COMMUNITY. We all do. If you're a tyrannical, insensitive, clueless asshat, you best believe a woman somewhere will want you out of their way. And if we're here, we're capable. You'd be wise to respect that. ”

I'm liking the tone of a lot of the posts.
posted by Silvery Fish at 3:02 PM on April 3 [67 favorites]


I'm reminded of this comment by Dee Xtrovert about surviving in Sarajevo during the Bosnian war.
posted by rhizome at 3:10 PM on April 3 [84 favorites]


I am prepper-inclined by nature (not because I am a woman but because I am a highly anxious person who deals with uncertainty by overpreparing, I carry two first-aid kits in my purse and three in my car), so I have long been fascinated by the entire subculture of prepping, from the actually useful emergency preparedness to the apocalypse fanfic that a lot of it functionally is. Like, if your website including prepping advice for different disasters and those disasters start at "earthquake" and end at "alien invasion" and "black helicopters," I am going to read every fucking page, it's basically a clearinghouse for "rejected Station Eleven subplots" and I am Here For It.

But I mean, that is what so much of it is -- it's not preparing for emergencies, or even for an apocalypse; it's men with power fantasies LARPing being badasses, and imagining cool scenarios to set their LARP in. I frequently find myself thinking, "Guys, you know you can join community theater, write novels, or play D&D, right? RIGHT????" But obviously healthy outlets for their imaginations wouldn't fulfill their power and violence fantasies in the same way. Sometimes I feel a little bit bad for them, because these are men who are obviously so unhappy with their lives that they feel like nothing short of an apocalypse is enough to change that unhappiness; who feel so inadequate and deficient in their day-to-day lives that they have to spend thousands of dollars on this particularly sad power fantasy. But I don't feel very bad for them, because, uh, they keep buying guns and doing racism, and, like, have you considered therapy as an alternative to right-wing violence?

KathrynT and I had a little hobby for a while involving EDC (Every Day Carry) blogs -- where people post pictures of the tools/items they carry every day that will enable them to survive an apocalypse, with emphasis on smaller kits and how sleek they look. It tends heavily towards the tacticool and AN ABSURD QUANTITY OF KNIVES, usually carried by IT guys who live in, like, downtown Phoenix or somewhere, whose biggest daily risk is Netflix outages, but carry an arsenal of weaponry that will ... definitely allow them to die of dehydration if civilization suddenly ceases when they're in the middle of Phoenix?

Anyway, she and I would send meticulously laid out pictures of the contents of our diaper bags -- tools, medication, first-aid kits, sunblock, hand sanitizer, granola bars, water containers. blankets -- to have EDC blogs reject them. Once a dude who ran one of the websites admitted that our diaper bags WERE actually much more potentially useful in an emergency than six very expensive knives and a wallet that concealed a screwdriver, but (paraphrased), "people come here to see cool knives, not useful survival equipment, especially not if it's in pastel colors."
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:19 PM on April 3 [173 favorites]


KathrynT and I had a little hobby for a while

She is missed. I can’t recall a single comment from her that wasn’t interesting, and most of them were highly interesting.
posted by jamjam at 3:29 PM on April 3 [27 favorites]


Ideally one should really have a second backup man cave, as well.
posted by NoThisIsPatrick at 3:34 PM on April 3 [10 favorites]


I actually like the thought of this, because I really like the idea of a diaper bag filled with "survivalist" shit and the other stuff.

However, my concern is always that in a real survivalist situation I really can't see women being in charge or living in equitable communities with like-minded men and other sane, rational things. It just seems like when SHTF it just ends up being assholes all the way down.

I think that's a shame because you do need a community. It's just that the community is going to have a contingent of people in charge who are willing to do awful things and cow other folks into accepting their authority. It's kind of what people do.

I would be happy to be wrong and I would also be happy to never find out one way or the other...
posted by BeReasonable at 3:37 PM on April 3 [8 favorites]


It tends heavily towards the tacticool and AN ABSURD QUANTITY OF KNIVES

And how. I miss the old hipster EDC-adjacent blogs like iampacked. Stuff like Cool Tools’ what’s in my bag? vaguely scratch the same itch.
posted by zamboni at 3:38 PM on April 3 [7 favorites]


Yeah I don't get the logic of prepper dudes. I like not having to fend off roving bandits, that's one of the nice parts of civilization. Even in their nutso scenarios the bandits they fear are groups of people with a common goal. They literally fear groups working together overcoming a single person/family with guns.

Any post apocalyptic scenario that doesn't involve community is gonna die alone, probably from something a group could easily deal with.

@eyebrows: years ago a guy at a bar was talking to me about how he always had guns and iodine tablets in his car for emergencies. I told him I had water, a first aid kit, some rope, a tarp, an extremely heavy wool coat and change of clothes and said the most likely emergency I'm gonna see in MN is getting stuck in a snow bank. He did not seem convinced I was better prepared.
posted by Ferreous at 3:38 PM on April 3 [68 favorites]


You’re gonna want to shoot your way out of that snow bank. That’s winter survival 101.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 3:42 PM on April 3 [63 favorites]


I emphasize a lot with this. I've got several autoimmune disorders which require medication 24/7 to stay alive (and I'm just find and look basically normal as long as I get it) and insurance companies have made that a real challenge for the last 3 decades. So I kind of end up with a pseudo prepper mindset as a result. (Might also be influenced by my Grandparents stories about the Great Depression and trading their house for a farm with no running water, just a pump, so they had food.)

And it's always on the long term, if you need something to stay alive, how do you get that everyday? What if you can't get more for a week or a month or 6 months? And that's a very different (and more difficult I think) logistics problem than getting through 24 or 48 hours of chaos.

Needless to say the supply chain disruptions have really increased how much I think about this.

As a happy way to express and deal with the worry I have an awesome giant garden and am expanding our fruit tree plantings and have an excellent supply of favorite canning recipes. So regardless of the medical supply chain I can at least make sure my family has some options if things get hard.

So these links look like they could be a lot of fun for me.

I'm hoping to find more positive takes on ways to feel sure I've got what I need for my family and in the non-doomsday times we've got a great supply of fresh food and a fun hobby that's helped with being stuck at home.
posted by scififan at 3:46 PM on April 3 [12 favorites]


The much missed Dee Xtrovert's witnessing comment about machismo in war/survivalism is always important in threads like this (in addition to Rhizome's link above)
posted by lalochezia at 3:54 PM on April 3 [32 favorites]


Oh, cool. So much of that 'prepper' thing is dudes who think they will be the specifically uniquely qualified person to be the action movie hero in the specific scenario they're imagining, but this side of things sounds actually interesting.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:13 PM on April 3 [4 favorites]


Yeah I don't get the logic of prepper dudes. I like not having to fend off roving bandits, that's one of the nice parts of civilization.

When a prepper tells you he has plenty of ammo, he is also telling you his plan.
posted by Etrigan at 4:14 PM on April 3 [49 favorites]


I've started basing my "EDC" on "what do the people around me actually use when things go sideways? And what do I actually use?"

I grew up in comfortably-middle-class suburban Boston, and I love tacticool stuff. I don't actually CARRY any tacticool stuff. It's just for play. Actual EDC for an urban environment includes ATM card, a smartphone, some cash if you're dealing with a street vendor who doesn't have Venmo (which doesn't happen, but it COULD), and like that.

My specific comfortably-middle-class suburban Boston neighborhood happened to have a large Mormon community, and my "prepper" mentality has been influenced by that. What I took from them is that "prepping" isn't about being able to switch your life to some other mode if something happens. It's about setting up the personal systems for yourself and your family so that, if things go haywire, you can do most of the same things you usually do, with minimal changes. Like, all the Mormon families had a dozen kids and a full year's supply of nonperishable goods. Which didn't just SIT there -- that was their day-to-day food supply. There was a HELL of a lot of rice, pasta, canned goods, and so forth, and that's what they ate every day. I mean, obviously, with fresh food also bought every week, but the shelf-stable stuff was just ... their basement pantry. They just filled in from the back, and ate from the front, and if you shopped in January and put a can in the back of the line, you'd probably eat it about the next January.

So my "EDC" philosophy is, "if I'm carrying it every day, I should be using it." Shiny cool things that you never use, well, you're never gonna use them. Tacticool EDC is for fun and LARPing and play. Everything which I actually consider to be part of my EDC gets used at least every couple of days. I keep a Leatherman Raptor on my belt. It's the Leatherman multitool for EMS -- folding trauma shears and seat-belt cutter and oxygen wrench and stuff like that.

The last time I used it? Ten minutes ago, when we were doing laundry and we decided that it was time for the cheap baby shirt we bought for our cat (to keep her from licking an ouchie she got) to go into the rag bag. Cut it right up.

So... yeah. My ACTUAL everyday carry is stuff that I will actually use for emergencies. And I will actually use for non-emergencies. Because it turns out that most of the stuff you need for emergencies is also the stuff you need the rest of the time. If it's an emergency, it is either the same stuff you usually deal with, only more so, or it is something REALLY WEIRD that you hadn't planned for in your EDC in the first place, and you'd have to improvise anyway.

A knife, scissors, a snack, water, some string -- these are a good EDC. And actually use them. If you're gonna carry thread, make it a sewing kit and actually use it to fix things, or dental floss and actually floss your teeth. The stuff that you carry for emergencies should be the stuff you have already use for emergencies.
posted by Xiphias Gladius at 4:15 PM on April 3 [32 favorites]


My wife just tl;dr'ed that whole thing as, "If you have to RTFM of your EDC when SHTF, you're SOL."
posted by Xiphias Gladius at 4:16 PM on April 3 [36 favorites]


Yes to all of that practical EDC stuff one actually uses - also, if you take a piece of rigid plastic or even cardboard that's the width of a piece of duct tape and whatever length fits well in your bag, you can wrap duct tape around it and have yards of duct tape stored in a negligible amount of space. It's remarkably handy for everything from broken vehicle bits to friends having shoe malfunctions.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:22 PM on April 3 [4 favorites]


She is missed. I can’t recall a single comment from her that wasn’t interesting, and most of them were highly interesting.

Awww, that's sweet. I'm still around -- I went back to school and got a job and stuff which badly cuts into my fucking-around time, but I'm around.

"people come here to see cool knives, not useful survival equipment, especially not if it's in pastel colors."

My favorite was "It's just too practical."
posted by KathrynT at 4:23 PM on April 3 [118 favorites]


So -- I'm not really interested in digging into prepper subreddits, can someone say if this is as TERF-y as it looks? "TwoX" is just.. urgh. :/

All the trans folk I know engage in building community and participating in mutual aid already, as a matter of day-to-day survival, and could probably teach a masterclass in these subjects.
posted by curious nu at 4:26 PM on April 3 [23 favorites]


I have some friends and acquaintances who are very much into preparedness, but it's been really hard for them (all women) to find spaces that aren't overrun with survivalist assholes, of any gender. The thing is, that issue isn't limited to male prepper dudes--one of them was talking about thinking she'd found a decent community of people who just wanted to talk about benign, community-focused preparedness, only to get smacked in the face with this woman--who lived in her neighborhood, she realized later--going on and on about how if anyone came to her door in a SHTF scenario, she would shoot them first and ask questions later, because she was going to protect her precious son at all costs. She couldn't stop talking about protecting her SON and how her SON was the most important thing in the world and she didn't care if it was her neighbors or not, if they even stepped on her front porch, they were dead, because she had one goal and that was survive to protect her SON. This woman was bragging that she would never share with anyone, she would never talk to anyone else, she was fully capable of surviving anything because she'd stockpiled guns and ammo and food and whatever, it was all for her SON, and she'd kill anyone who came within ten feet of them.

I would hope this group might be a little better than the places my friends have tried, but I think the idea that women are free from that hyper-violent mindset are maybe a little too hopeful--kudos to them if they can keep it from worming its way into their group, but there are definitely a lot of Boebert type cretinous halfwits out there who are completely socially disenfranchised and more than excited to brag about their guns and knives and how prepared they are and fuck community.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 4:28 PM on April 3 [14 favorites]


The subreddit description reads: “A place where women can talk about prepping for their specific needs. Even though I used XX in the name this sub is trans inclusive and pro LGBTQIA.”
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:28 PM on April 3 [48 favorites]


Thank you, escape from the potato planet! That's really heartening. :)
posted by curious nu at 4:30 PM on April 3 [12 favorites]


There's a kind of sewing kit called a "bullet" sewing kit (etsy link) or sometimes a bullet etui or lipstick etui that was popular midcentury that makes for great EDC -- it's a small egg-shaped kit the length of a needle, with one or two colors of thread around bobbin, with needles and pins in the center of the hollow bobbins. Many come with thimble in the lid. The best ones have a little dental-floss-type notch for cutting the thread on the lid, but you can also disassemble a seam ripper and put the blade into the bobbin, or use your teeth. They're small enough to be a keychain. (I carry mine in my purse.) These are evolutions of an older version called a "soldier's friend" sewing kit (originals are sought-after collectibles).

You can also get mini-rolls of duct tape. (I always include these in graduation presents for kids moving out for the first time, super-useful to have.)

I have a fairly complete shelter-in-place kit in a 5-gallon bucket that I've put together for less than $200 (and $45 of that was a weather radio, after we lost all TV, cell, and internet during a storm a couple years ago and I realized we didn't have any actual radios in the house anymore (just streaming music devices), let alone battery-powered radios, so I got a fancy solar/handcrank/chargeable/battery weather radio). The most common disasters where I live are basically blizzards and tornados, both of which involve sitting tight. So a lot of what my emergency kit consists of is plastic sheeting, duct tape, heavy work gloves, utility knives, a tarp, rope -- stuff that allows you to tape up a window or a hole in the wall or cover torn-off roof parts, without cutting your hands all up on broken glass. I've got life straws and mylar blankets and emergency lighting and a leatherman and that kind of stuff, but the core disaster supplies where I live are tarps, plastic sheeting, and duct tape, so I have those, and work gloves, and enough to share with neighbors. (And it's not expensive! Giving my neighbor a roll of plastic sheeting and a roll of duct tape after a tornado would be $25 extremely well-spent!)

Lot of local LARP-type preppers have huge bug-out kits contemplating ... a 9.0 earthquake in San Francisco, or a nuclear disaster. But nothing for the actual blizzards and tornados we typically experience!

Oh, the other really important item to have in your emergency kit -- whether you expect to shelter-in-place or bug out! -- is a paper map. You may have lived in the same place your whole life, but when a random elementary school or church or restaurant is declared the emergency shelter or place to get fresh water or whatever, are you sure you know where that is and how to get there? Do you know how to get there if major arteries are closed? Without GPS, a lot of people won't know. (Also throw in a deck of cards, they're small and light but can entertain several people at once for long periods of time!)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:11 PM on April 3 [61 favorites]


. It just seems like when SHTF it just ends up being assholes all the way down.

I read one encouraging analysis of multiple reasons for Ukraine’s unanticipated success, and one thing they noted was that it’s not a hierarchical culture; that culturally horizontal shared power/responsibility and communally-focused problem solving is more the norm. Meaning: it doesn’t have to be asshats all the way down, but it may take a couple of generations of teaching our children a different model and supporting them while they do the hard work of fighting the current systems to get there. It’s a role I’d gladly take up well into my 90s.
posted by Silvery Fish at 5:14 PM on April 3 [15 favorites]


Oh, the other really important item to have in your emergency kit -- whether you expect to shelter-in-place or bug out! -- is a paper map

Absolutely!! I have one of those big national road atlases in my car. People find it charming; I spent a year solo camping across the US and I’ve found it to be life-saving more than once.

And I always travel with a bathing suit, towel, kite, and insulated lab-quality acid-resistant gloves. Gallon jug of water gets changed out frequently, and along with basic car/bike tools, my car kit includes a mylar blanket, wool hat, pocket heat thingies, a sun hat, hatchet, electrolyte powder packets, a hand-crank multi-band radio and paracord. It’s a ‘survive 3-to-5 days’ kit that gives me enough time (I hope) to either wait to be rescued or implement whatever Plan B would need to be in a given set of circumstances.
posted by Silvery Fish at 5:29 PM on April 3 [6 favorites]


In addition to the comments from Dee Xtrovert re Bosnia, which are absolutely worth reading, every time the topic of "prepping" comes up I am reminded of a short piece written by Alex Steffen back in 2004, which someone here on MeFi must have originally pointed me to, called "Night, Hoover Dam".

It has disappeared, along with the site it was posted to, from the Internet, but is thankfully still preserved by the Archive. (I admit to not knowing much about the author besides this piece, so I'm really hoping it's not a Milkshake Duck situation.)

I am honestly tempted to post the whole thing in its entirety, because I think it's just that good, but will refrain, and just cut to the punchline:
[S]itting there by the slack and dirty water, I had one of those moments of scorching self-vision. I realized that I'd been hiding underneath the skirts of the apocalypse for decades now. I'd daydreamed disasters as a way of not wanting too much, not caring too much; keeping safe from the fear too much knowledge of current events tends to tattoo on your brain.
But real apocalypses are sordid, banal, insane. If things do come unraveled, they present not a golden opportunity for lone wolves and well-armed geeks, but a reality of babies with diarrhea, of bugs and weird weather and dust everywhere, of never enough to eat, of famine and starving, hollow-eyed people, of drunken soldiers full of boredom and self-hate, of random murder and rape and wars which accomplish nothing, of many fine things lost for no reason and nothing of any value gained. And survivalists, if they actually manage to avoid becoming the prey of larger groups, sitting bitter and cold and hungry and paranoid, watching their supplies run low and wishing they had a clean bed and some friends. Of all the lies we tell ourselves, this is the biggest: that there is any world worth living in that involves the breakdown of society.
I had a similar moment to Steffen's, although it wasn't in as nearly a picturesque location as the shore of the Colorado River with some Humboldt County bud. It was in the middle of a long, solo nighttime drive up I-95 from DC to Boston, when I came around a curve somewhere south of the Goethals Bridge and saw all of the tank farms and oil refineries and other infrastructure for which that part of New Jersey is infamous, laid out in front of me like God's model railroad. It was a clear night, and everything was lit up with blue-white mercury vapor lights, the cylindrical oil tanks and spherical pressure vessels, the miles of pipework, occasionally dotted with the candle-like flames of flared-off process gas. The complexity of it all was searing. And then, in the distance, the glow of NYC.

This is what it takes to keep it all running. You don't get that city over there, without this shit, over here. Sure, it could be done better. It'd be nice if there were more windmills and fewer tank farms. There's nothing nice about a chemical plant. It is what it is, and what it is isn't great.

But I've never been able to muster up any enthusiasm for burn-it-all-down prepper fantasies or post-apocalyptic triumphalism.

If the classical prepper's wet dream of "SHTF" happens tomorrow, most of us will be dead. And even if I could survive the initial megadeath, it would be to what end? My best friend is an insulin-dependent diabetic. I take a pill every morning to ward off an unfortunate predisposition to heart disease. I live a life surrounded by, in Steffen's words, "many fine things".

The "preparation" I'm interested in now, is how do we keep society going, civilization going, very locally if necessary, if something happens to all that machinery that normally whirs along unseen except in glimpses from the Interstate, stops working.
posted by Kadin2048 at 5:32 PM on April 3 [54 favorites]


I've been somewhat prepper adjacent all my life. I'm the guy who has the first aid kit handy, who has a tool kit in the bottom drawer of the office filing cabinet and who never leaves the home without at least a Swiss Army Knife or Leatherman. So, on some level, I get the fascination: tools and knives and cool, and they give you a sense of your own competence and preparedness.

But that's not what keeps communities together when things go pear shaped. My little town was hit by a cyclone last year. Massive damage from fallen trees and no power for about 8 days, which for many people also meant no water and no heat. What was remarkable was how quickly people pivoted to 'what do I have that I can share with others'. Someone set up a charging station for mobile phones outside the general store. Someone else started bringing a massive pot of soup down at midday each day. I Macguyvered a way to reconnect my hot water service and put out the call that if anyone needed a shower that they could come to my place.

We formed communities as precisely the solution to dealing with adversity that we couldn't manage on our own. It blows my mind that so much of the prepper/survivalist mentality seems to endorse shunning the very thing that has proven to be the most successful way to palliate disaster. By all means, be prepared. But when times really get tough, the safest place for your excess food is in the bellies of your neighbours.
posted by tim_in_oz at 5:49 PM on April 3 [49 favorites]


[not that this thread is going to be enough to change site traffic in any appreciable way, but it looks like Alex Steffen reposted Night, Hoover Dam on his own site a few years back]
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 5:51 PM on April 3 [13 favorites]


I'm reminded of Connections, by James Burke, Episode 1 "The Trigger Effect", as he asks what escaping a technological collapse would look like. Link starts about 20 minutes into the episode. CW -- the narrative is a bit harrowing.

Pro: relatively clear-eyed and not romanticized. Con: still fairly individualist, doesn't consider the community or group dynamics as mentioned earlier in the thread (but the points Burke was trying to make were probably more about technology than people).
posted by gimonca at 6:20 PM on April 3 [4 favorites]


Of all the lies we tell ourselves, this is the biggest: that there is any world worth living in that involves the breakdown of society.

I found "Station Eleven" so stress-inducing that I had to quit, but in one of the episodes I did make it to, the characters Frank and Jeevan have an argument about leaving the apartment they've barricaded themselves in after a pandemic flu destroys civilization. Frank says something to the effect of, "there's no life out there, just survival".

And that's definitely what it would be - the same nihilism, cruelty and stupidity we have to deal with every day, but magnified 1000 fold, and with none of the comforts or consolations of civilization, plus a lot more daily, background danger. I'd just as soon die as quickly as possible.
posted by ryanshepard at 6:29 PM on April 3 [12 favorites]


When I lived on a volcanic rock in the middle of the ocean (Honolulu), for various reasons I interacted with a lot of people in disaster management and people interested in disaster preparedness. I shook my head at the people who bought the dehydrated food bucket of 100 meal packets of mystery stew. Disasters are already terrible, why eat unappetizing things when you could live off of shelf stable food you actually like? (I stocked up on pickles, potato chips, Spam and olives, at the beginning of the pandemic).
posted by spamandkimchi at 6:33 PM on April 3 [12 favorites]


However, my concern is always that in a real survivalist situation I really can't see women being in charge or living in equitable communities with like-minded men and other sane, rational things. It just seems like when SHTF it just ends up being assholes all the way down.

I recommend Rebecca Solnit’s A Paradise Built in Hell - what you expect is kind of the opposite of what usually tends to happen. (At least during the immediate crisis. Disaster profiteers do swoop in from outside at some point in many cases. But if it’s truly an apocalyptic situation, there wouldn’t be any outside for them to swoop in from?)
posted by eviemath at 6:34 PM on April 3 [12 favorites]


I spent a day with a DRC refugee who left the country as a teenager during the war. (Entirely at random - we were stuck in an airport for an absurd amount of time and wound up hanging out.) His advice was that the one thing you should absolutely bring with you and protect at all costs is a large cooking pot. Instead of a bug out bag, I have a bug out pot. One that I use to cook with the rest of the time.
posted by eotvos at 7:01 PM on April 3 [30 favorites]


On the weather radio front my wife got a rugged Bluetooth speaker on wheels with a radio and usb chargers to teach belly dance classes on the road that we discovered also has enough juice to charge your phones and keep you entertained for days in a power outage. The thing is the size of a dorm refrigerator and weighs at least 15 kilos.

It’s a lovely pastel blue though so it won’t make the cut for prepper blogs.
posted by The Monster at the End of this Thread at 7:30 PM on April 3 [7 favorites]


I love the pot idea. I have a big home brew pot that doesn’t get enough use these days. I already keep a keg full of my emergency drinking water supply.

With the big propane burner I use for brewing I can have chili or bean soups for the whole neighborhood.

I have have a few hundred gallons in rain barrels that could be treated

In Southern CA, our biggest risk is being without water as all the infrastructure carrying water from the Sierras or Colorado river has to cross major faults.
posted by CostcoCultist at 7:31 PM on April 3 [6 favorites]


I vaguely remember mentioning this in a past thread about tacti-cool gear...So, I belong to a book club that covers post-apocalyptic fiction. We've read books set against all manner of apocalypses - pandemic, nukes, environmental collapse, war, zombies, poisonous gas clouds, asteroid strikes, nano-technology eating everything, bee colony collapse, global warming, global cooling, and even something where Australia was overrun by a huge puddle of carnivorous strawberry jam. We've read some good shit and we've read some bad shit.

But nothing we've read is any worse than a description I've read of post-apocalyptic fiction written by preppers. Somewhere I read an article giving an overview of that genre - and they reported that prepper post-apocalyptic fiction tends to focus overmuch on exactly how good a person's gear was, to the point that they mention brand names in such a way that the reader is meant to use that to interpret something about a given character. And survival comes only to those adequately prepared.

It sounds terrible. And I'm saying this even after having read something that managed to combine nuclear holocaust and Cold-War spy novel sexism, and also included voluntary amputation as a plot point.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:59 PM on April 3 [8 favorites]


And I always travel with a bathing suit, towel, kite, and insulated lab-quality acid-resistant gloves.

How does a kite help?
posted by NotLost at 9:31 PM on April 3


I'll fully admit that when I was a younger lad I was all about the armaments arguments. (I still have a few because it feels silly not to - but I keep very practical, well functioning things about me) I have supplies laid in of water and extra "stable" food, plus I'm a brewer so I'm good in many different ways. (I'm in SoCal as well.. so water is super worrying for me, my wife and our army of chihuahuas.)

But it is strange, as I approach my 50's, I look back at all that Y2K nonsense (for instance) and think - how would anyone survive on their own? The Road is not meant to be an aspirational guide.
posted by drewbage1847 at 10:07 PM on April 3 [3 favorites]


... How does a kite help?
well, as anyone who has flown a kite knows, as soon as you setup to fly wind drops away to nothing so you use it to stop high winds.
(I have always carry kites too and often carry)
posted by Richard Upton Pickman at 10:15 PM on April 3 [22 favorites]


>...my concern is always that in a real survivalist situation I really can't see women being in charge or living in equitable communities with like-minded men and other sane, rational things. It just seems like when SHTF it just ends up being assholes all the way down.
> ...
>I would be happy to be wrong and I would also be happy to never find out one way or the other...

Try imagining it: whoever's still around is trying to survive and at some point it's not about man or woman, where you were from or how rich you were. Try imagining you're less experienced and an experienced woman is telling you how to do something so you both survive. Like I said in memail, 4 boys were shipwrecked near Tonga for over a year and they survived together rather than eating each other as in the fiction Lord of the Flies.

I'd worry about the willingness to keep everyone alive of someone who 'can't see women being in charge' and '[can't see women] living in equitable communities with like-minded men and other sane, rational things' but in a disaster you take the bodies that are there who show up to work and that worry can be down below first aid, food, shelter and warmth. (It's totes possible, in that scenario, I'd be feeding a troll. ;-P )
posted by k3ninho at 2:29 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


Yes to all of that practical EDC stuff one actually uses - also, if you take a piece of rigid plastic or even cardboard that's the width of a piece of duct tape and whatever length fits well in your bag, you can wrap duct tape around it and have yards of duct tape stored in a negligible amount of space.

Back during my days taping Grateful Dead shows, the winning move was to wrap the bottom of your Bic lighter with a few yards of duct tape. First, you always have duct tape handy, and second, no-one is going to walk away with your lighter.

AN ABSURD QUANTITY OF KNIVES, usually carried by IT guys who live in, like, downtown Phoenix or somewhere, whose biggest daily risk is Netflix outages,

That's why my EDC knife is a Leatherman Squirt P4.

Spring-action Needlenose Pliers and Wire Cutter
420HC Knife
Spring-action Scissors
Flat/Phillips Screwdriver
Bottle Opener
Wood/Metal File
Medium Screwdriver

Closed Length: 2.25 in | 5.72 cm
Weight: 2 oz | 56.4 g
Width: .78 in | 1.98 cm
Overall Thickness: .5 in | 1.27 cm
posted by mikelieman at 3:32 AM on April 4 [3 favorites]


When a prepper tells you he has plenty of ammo, he is also telling you his plan.

He’s also inadvertently telling you he doesn’t trust anyone like himself.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:58 AM on April 4 [8 favorites]


As a slight aside gosh I'm tired of the assholes preppers/militia wannabes being called LARPers partly because in my experience LARPers (and SCA/Re-enactor types) would probably do much better than them in disaster situations.

I mean the ones I know in the UK build a tent city for 2000 people in a farmers field four times a year to do their thing. You don't do that without knowing the value of cooperation and a bunch of practical things like how important drainage and water supplies are. We also tend to have a serious amount of canvas, stoves, cooking gear and all sorts of other equipment hanging around. [/derail]
posted by invisible_al at 4:07 AM on April 4 [32 favorites]


How does a kite help?

Panic-reduction, especially if you’re with someone else. segueing from “ shit, we’re broken down in the middle of nowhere, what are we going to do” to “…. I don’t know. Want to fly the kite?” is exactly the kind of whimsy that snaps panic like a twig and brings oxygen to the creative problems parts of the soul. And flying a kite at night is an incredible act of defiant beauty. It’s food for the soul; a promise that even in this terrible moment, the me-of-me’s is HERE and OK in this exact moment.
posted by Silvery Fish at 4:09 AM on April 4 [36 favorites]


"As a slight aside gosh I'm tired of the assholes preppers/militia wannabes being called LARPers partly because in my experience LARPers (and SCA/Re-enactor types) would probably do much better than them in disaster situations."

That's why I call asshole-prepper (as opposed to non-asshole preppers, who are the folks who are willing and able to help their neighbors in a blizzard or whatever) wannabe LARPers, rather than LARPers.

When I, at least, say "tacticool is for LARPers", I mean people like me who think it's a lot of fun, and keep all their tacticool stuff in a different place than their emergency gear, and don't expect to ever, y'know, USE it for anything. There's tacticool, and there's emergency, and occasionally someone comes up with a piece of emergency equipment which is accidentally tacticool, or a piece of tacticool equipment which is accidentally useful, but they're different.

As an example of overlap, my day-to-day trousers are 5.11 "Tactical EMT pants". A term which is HILLARIOUS, because, by OEMS protocol, our hostile engagement tactics are "walk briskly away -- don't run away because you might trip", and we can be censured or lose our licenses if we do otherwise. (A guy at my company was fired for tackling an attempted mass shooter who had already killed a couple people by running them over with his car. Well, he was fired for posting to Facebook about it, and I think he was re-hired later, but still.)

But wearing cargo pants means I don't have to carry a bag any more. I used to have a shoulder bag with all my stuff in it; it's now all in my pockets, and I still have room to answer "Naw, I'll just put it in my pockets" for surprisingly large orders when the cashier says "do you need a bag?"

Other than those pants, though, nothing else I have that was sold with the term "tactical" on it is of any practical use. It's just for fun.
posted by Xiphias Gladius at 4:47 AM on April 4 [4 favorites]


If you really want it, there are tactical diaper bags, other tactical diaper bags, more tactical diaper bags, as well as tactical diaper bags (and strollers). One review site calls them "the most manly parenting gear for the insecure dad", which seems like a reasonable summation of some people's need to put punisher logos on everything.
posted by autopilot at 5:51 AM on April 4 [9 favorites]


how would anyone survive on their own?

It's not quite the same scenario, but I highly recommend the reality TV series Alone to anyone who wants to see grown men cry. The show is premised on wilderness survival, not the post-apocalyptic prepping thing, but I think it appeals to the same kind of Mad Max wannabes that are hoarding food and bullets.

Simple rules: you're given a small "essentials" kit (mostly first aid and a tarp so you don't immediately die), a rather large set of camera gear, and you're allowed to pick ten more items from an approved list (no guns, most modern amenities are forbidden). Everyone gets dropped off at least 5 miles from everyone else, usually around a big lake. Last person standing wins. The ex-cop/ex-military Tough Guys are, without exception, the first to tap out, and usually within a day of arriving.

But the other reasons people leave? Loneliness, mostly. Injury a close second. People need community, and it doesn't take long for the isolation to start causing severe problems.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:55 AM on April 4 [8 favorites]


I posted an EDC FPP here more than a decade ago, and I think we had quite a bit of fun with it then.

If you're gonna carry thread, make it a sewing kit and actually use it to fix things,

From my days in the Norwegian Army and later Home Guard, we were issued all kinds of macho tactical stuff like rifle, bayonet, tactical vest, helmet, eye protection, camo, folding shovel etc, you know, because we actually used it, but also a small sewing kit comprising some needles, thread in a couple of different colours, spare buttons and stuff. Couldn't find a picture of it online. But that was extremely useful, as "wardrobe malfunctions" can easily lead to discomfort and eventually frostbite in Arctic conditions.
posted by Harald74 at 6:06 AM on April 4 [8 favorites]


I'm glad those conversations are being had. I dip into the r/preppers and related subreddits once in a while, but it's always been the case where there is a robust mix of some useful and much more wildly crazy content.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:13 AM on April 4 [3 favorites]


This is awesome. I am a guy, but would love a community that thinks seriously about the practicalities of whatever comes after the first hail of bullets. Organizing schools, scheduling the washing, and saving seeds are going to save a lot of more lives than having the extra can of gun oil.

Also, I would love to see more women in the bushcraft community, which a little less MUY MACHO than the preppers, but still a boyzone. The emphasis is on field skills and actually, you know, going outside to practice, and most of the truly egregious stuff gets left behind. Lots of knives, still, I suppose, but they use them for stuff like making a shelter. Like, the typical blog post is "I made a shelter from fallen branches in the woods this weekend, and here is a picture of my coffee pot and some yummy snacks I brought along."
posted by wenestvedt at 6:34 AM on April 4 [4 favorites]


Hmmm. My 'EDC' ( I just looked it up) is my front door keys and my free bus pass. Should I be worried? :) It is possibly very SOL of me but I can't find that one which I guess means I'm seriously RTFM.
posted by dutchrick at 6:46 AM on April 4 [1 favorite]


When I, at least, say "tacticool is for LARPers", I mean people like me who think it's a lot of fun, and keep all their tacticool stuff in a different place than their emergency gear, and don't expect to ever, y'know, USE it for anything.

I love multitools, and neat little pocket gadgets, and stuff that's "murdered out" (i.e. finished in matte black), but... one thing that bugs me about EDC blogs is that you can tell that almost none of the stuff is literally every day carry, because there's no pocket wear. Most guys just stick stuff in their pockets, and the fabric wears away at the finish of things. I'm genuinely interested in what people carry and use, not the tacticool shit that anyone can get on Amazon. Yeah, I own some neat Leatherman stuff, but the multitool that I actually use everyday? Is one of these little do-jobbies. It scratches that itch that started when I was in Cub Scouts and got my first multitool, and does about 90% of the stuff that doesn't absolutely require full-sized tools.

Besides that (on my keychain) and my wallet, I also have a small Spyderco knife that I probably don't really need but it has a really good blade, a Field Notes notebook with a nice leather cover that's basically a secondary wallet, a Fisher space pen, a bandana, and of course my smartphone and earbuds. I'm somewhat prepper-curious, and keep meaning to come up with some sort of Bug-Out Bag, but it has to fit in one of the knapsacks that I already have because I have too many (i.e. more than one).
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:00 AM on April 4 [4 favorites]


I have a good deal of backpacking gear, so I have generally considered that to be my Go Bag. It has shelter, water purification equipment, a first aid kit, a small cooking setup with fuel, way finding tools, inclement weather gear, and other helpful stuff like ropes, a knife, and extra containers for toting water. I usually have a cache of just-add-water dehydrated backpacking meals that I find off-season and buy at a decent price. I also have space for my "important stuff" folder where I keep my important documents.

I don't think it'd help to rebuild a society per se, but I think I could survive in the woods for a time. And that's about as far as I can think without spiralling into a societal collapse anxiety tornado.
posted by Gray Duck at 7:29 AM on April 4 [6 favorites]


I think part of the problem is that many of these suburban dudes just don't actually...interact with life all that much? Car, work, car, big box store, car, home. My extremely unglamorous "EDC" (aka tissues, a dog poop bag, and an alcohol wipe) could help deal with the little boy vomiting across the aisle of the bus the other day, and pocket bayonets won't. But I am out and about in the city, in a constantly changing environment among all sorts of strangers, and pack appropriately.
posted by praemunire at 7:33 AM on April 4 [4 favorites]


A lot of guys know exactly where their gun is and how to use it, because they want to "protect their home and family," but have only a vague idea of where the fire extinguisher is and they'll have to read the instructions to make it work.

The good news is, if the S really does HTF, they'll all be dead of dysentery within a few weeks.
posted by Brachinus at 7:49 AM on April 4 [5 favorites]


How does a kite help?

Aside from the answer above (panic reduction, with an added tiny slice of practicality), this is also the psychology behind including fishing supplies in many emergency kits. Fishing keeps the person still (which is often a great strategy to be found) and occupied with quiet, low calorie demand activity. It's not generally better than scrounging/vegetable gathering at keeping one full, but people like to eat fish and makes waiting in place seem productive.

I like to think of these things as first aid for mental health.
posted by bonehead at 8:01 AM on April 4 [20 favorites]


Y'all reminded me that I need to get some gallon water jugs. Going from hurricane/tsunami country to earthquake/wildfire country has not required too many adjustments in terms of disaster prep. However. My "bottled water sux" stance was not a big deal in Honolulu, because there was plenty of warning to stockpile water for the two most common disasters (I had empty water jugs to fill, as well as a bathtub to fill for bathing/toilet flushing), but that is emphatically not true for Los Angeles.

As an aside, the main thing I learned from the "Red Cross Ready" disaster preparedness materials was to have a contact list for your family, biological and chosen (assuming text messages will get through) and a default meeting place where you would go to if separated and you needed to evacuate your home (especially if mobile phone service is down).
posted by spamandkimchi at 9:45 AM on April 4 [3 favorites]


Disasters are already terrible, why eat unappetizing things when you could live off of shelf stable food you actually like?

posted by spamandkimchi at 9:33 PM on April 3 [5 favorites +] [!]


Eponysterical!
posted by Gelatin at 9:51 AM on April 4 [7 favorites]


Both ways.
posted by Mitheral at 9:59 AM on April 4 [3 favorites]


"I get the prepper urge, so to speak"

During my teen years, I was "outdoorsy", camping, fishing, trapping, hunting. And I did a bit in Navy/Army Cadets, so was interested in military/tactical equipment from an early age.

The prepping urge is something I have to carefully divert - I also like alot of overlapping post-apocalyptic fiction (I think my first book in the genre was quite literally titled; "The Last Canadian") - but I have learned that it is mostly 'last-man-standing' wish-fufilment fiction. (I mean, it is fundamentally no different than someone reading "secret magicical powers", "mutant powers" or "super-hero" fiction)

Or, also otherwise known as: "competence porn".

"all that Y2K nonsense"

It was December 1999... I was on a project for a global, multi-national "evil" bank - everyone was rushing to meet deadlines... I was wandering the mall, doing some Christmas shopping and happened upon a "... Farms" popup shop... There, I saw this huge log... a 2-foot long cured summer sausage...

My first thought upon seeing it was; "Whoa! There it is... My Y2K 'survival sausage' !"

I purchased it immediately, and ate it slowly over the course of the next uneventful year - I no longer eat cured meats...

(Incidentally, that particular bank was the only one that I ever saw in the news for a Y2K outage, all of their ATM's went down in the UK on the 1st for a few days...)

As per the myriad of tacticool nonsense? There are tactical Christmas stockings for crying out-loud. There are tactical pens (Apparently 'Marine Approved').

As others have pointed out - these are not LARPers, nor cos-players - both groups who have actually useful skills - and can be part of a community.
posted by rozcakj at 10:05 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


Alas kimchi is only shelf stable (or rather ceramic crock stable) in certain climates.
And spam is way way better fried.

I could do Korean drinking snacks with shelf stable items very easily though! Dried cuttlefish, gochujang paste, peanuts. And then of course soju.

!!!!

My new plan for when SHTF is to open up a neighborhood bar.
posted by spamandkimchi at 10:10 AM on April 4 [16 favorites]


Actually - knowing how to brew fermented beverages, distill spirits and make wines/ports would be the perfect skill to keep oneself and direct family alive in most post-apocalyptic scenarios... I think 'spamandkimchi' has the perfect plan!
posted by rozcakj at 10:18 AM on April 4 [6 favorites]


As an aside, the main thing I learned from the "Red Cross Ready" disaster preparedness materials was to have a contact list for your family, biological and chosen (assuming text messages will get through) and a default meeting place where you would go to if separated and you needed to evacuate your home (especially if mobile phone service is down).

My family lives in an area where phones/electricity can be down for days in bad weather. Our system: Everyone is assigned a time slot to have their phone on. During those slots, A calls B for a status / wellness check, then A turn off their phone; B calls C for same and to relay status of A then turns off their phone; C calls D to relay etc, and at the top of the next hour, the last person in the line calls A to pass on the collected other info and we go around again.

It’s easier now that battery backups are a thing and preserving phone power isn’t quite the same concern. It still stands in my mind as a clever solution to minimizing resource use while making sure everyone is ok (and yes, it was one of the matriarchs of the clan who proposed this solution.)
posted by Silvery Fish at 10:18 AM on April 4 [14 favorites]


I found myself watching a certain amount of prepper content that crosses over with off-the-grid homesteading stuff during the initial lockdown, with the renewed interest in baking and canning and victory gardens.

I'd imagine it still has connections to a lot of conservative and/or evangelical culture and politics I object to; but it's instructive to compare the content on channels like the Provident Preppers to sheepdog-culture guntube knife-dads like Nutnfancy.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:05 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


Silvery Fish, what’s the algorithm if C doesn’t answer?
posted by clew at 11:10 AM on April 4


Seems like if one person drops out of the chain, as long as everyone knows the others' slots, the last person with info can call the next person on the chain during their slot (e.g., B calls D during D's slot, including the information that C didn't respond).
posted by praemunire at 11:18 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


Silvery Fish, what’s the algorithm if C doesn’t answer?

Ooo! Unanticipated use case! I guess B calls D in the next time slot and they decide if someone should call emergency services to check on them or attempts to get over there themselves.. I’ll have to bring it up in the family chat to see what the clan decides! Thanks for bringing up that possibility!
posted by Silvery Fish at 11:55 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


It also has the weakness that if C encounters a problem after their time slot they may have to wait entire cycle to be noticed.
posted by Mitheral at 12:53 PM on April 4


If you really want it, there are tactical diaper bags, other tactical diaper bags, more tactical diaper bags, as well as tactical diaper bags (and strollers).

My wife's diaper bag was her foray into prepping (after her dad begged her for years and would buy 50 lb bags of rice for us everytime he visited). That thing had a baby medical care pocket, spare clothes for 3 different weather conditions, a set of clothes for some other baby that we might meet and might need a change of clothes, enough food for a week, and enough diapers for a month. All for trips to the mall.

Man I was glad to see that thing go. A gun is far lighter and easier to carry.

Did we ever need most of it? No.
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:45 PM on April 4


It also has the weakness that if C encounters a problem after their time slot they may have to wait entire cycle to be noticed.

Yep. There are trade-offs between always connected and preparing for many days without power.

C can always call emergency services if needed and leave a VM for A, who will get it at the top of the hour.

My family is really good at being overly prepared for emergencies. About half of them are also worriers, and now with the oldest in their 80s, we want that hourly update and also want them to keep their phones off in between in case they DO need immediate professional intervention. No system is going to fit all possibilities. And certainly, if you can think of a better system, I’d love to compare notes.
posted by Silvery Fish at 1:55 PM on April 4 [3 favorites]


If the slots are wide enough to cover the hour, then anyone with sudden trouble can look at the schedule and know who has an on phone to call, yes?
posted by clew at 2:32 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


If the slots are wide enough to cover the hour, then anyone with sudden trouble can look at the schedule and know who has an on phone to call, yes?

That is a good idea. Recent children leaving home has us at 6 households; each phone on for 10 minutes an hour, 5 to receive updates and 5 to convey updates. That means we’ve got coverage for the entire hour. If someone calls out of band, that’s an immediate hang up and answer the out-of-band call. This works really well — thank you.

You know, this could also work for local friend groups, too. I bet there’s a way to daisy-chain this, too, to encompass a series of 6-person pods.
posted by Silvery Fish at 3:20 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


I suspect we’re reinventing something. Any proper hams in the house?
posted by clew at 3:40 PM on April 4 [4 favorites]


I suspect we’re reinventing something.

Possibly. :)
posted by Silvery Fish at 3:55 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


I’ve mentioned before here on MeFi that I’m a prepper, if a somewhat casual one, and found myself on the receiving end of some highly charged, undeserved criticism. The main argument was that, just by using the term “prepper” to describe myself, I was somehow clearly communicating that I was one of the tacticool, gun-fetishizing, Rawlesian, doomsday-types who are against community and mutual aid, etc.

Which, of course, is horseradish.

So I’m glad to see the TwoXPreppers subreddit is making it clear that the term “prepper” definitely can include us reasonable-preparedness, community-building, mutual support, homesteadery types, too.
posted by darkstar at 5:06 PM on April 4 [8 favorites]


Any proper hams in the house?

Yes. It might be worth looking into APRS. aprs.fi.

Defcon ham village vids:

Digital Modes Primer

Low Power Long Range Communications



Ham Radio Crash Course is a YT channel that has a lot of prepper crossover but that dude is fashy imo. And without a doubt part of a pretty gross right wing and racist culture on the SoCal repeaters that's been there forever.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:13 PM on April 4 [7 favorites]


I suspect we’re reinventing something.
Not sure I count as a proper ham any longer. Coordinated times and phone trees are common, but they usually rely on either being able to all hear each other or assume information flows in one direction, respectively. I like the circle thing. I might be tempted to space it out more. (9 & 9 after first check-in with a leader who had big batteries was what the last ERC group I participated in while in earthquake country planned.)

Not relying on cell towers is not a bad idea. Writing down pay phone numbers or those of friends/institutions with copper wire land lines is one option. A ham radio you know how to use even if you don't have a license, or a CB or marine radio is another option. But, compared to basic first aid/ CPR, water, a flashlight, and knowing where your shoes are, I'm not sure it's worth it unless it's also a fun hobby.
posted by eotvos at 5:20 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


Buying one of the Baofengs you see everywhere isn't a bad idea (but it won't be for long range use). This one does 8 watts, which is on the high end for a handheld.

It's clunky but there's a cheap audio interface cable you can try to use for digital modes (and for programming). But mainly, it's for voice.

A lot hams get their nose out of joint about these, but the fact of the matter is they're a ton radio for the money. I saved up hundreds of 90s dollars for a Kenwood that didn't match its specs as a kid.

One of the reasons some hams dislike them is that they're open to abuse -- the frequencies aren't restricted like ham radios made for the US market. But if anything, this is an advantage for disaster use -- because the frequencies they can transmit on include the Family Radio Service channels (the walkie talkies you see sold for personal use) and the General Mobile Radio Service channels (commercial two way); and those are the two other kinds of radios that people are likely to have aside from CB (which is lower band).

Don't transmit without a license, but they're fine to buy and learn to operate. And getting licensed is a breeze for the entry level.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:34 PM on April 4 [5 favorites]


Buying one of the Baofengs you see everywhere isn't a bad idea (but it won't be for long range use)

What does long-range use mean? Miles? Yards?

The octogenarians couldn’t learn this, but they have both cell and landline ( tho we need to get them an old one-piece phone. The battery charged portables don’t work with electricity off, even tho the phone line does.)

A combo of these at 3 houses and a modified cell schedule might be workable.

As to ham license: I’ve thought about it, a lot. But I am not the typical demographic and it’s going to take some internal dialoging to get there, plus current medical bills put the bad kind of kink in the non-critical spending budget for a while.I’ve bookmarked the Baofeng for further consideration. Thank you.
posted by Silvery Fish at 5:46 PM on April 4


Oh, I *really* wasn't suggesting that Silvery Fish's family get ham radios for emergency communications. Way too much practice required beforehand if you don't want to ham for its own sake.

What I meant was, people have probably already worked out an algorithm/protocol/etiquette in times of actual constrained energy or airtime.
posted by clew at 5:47 PM on April 4 [2 favorites]


8 watts is enough for a few miles, but VHF is line of sight. So usually areas are covered by a repeater with an antenna on a tower or hill. You transmit on one frequency and listen on another, there are standard splits. The radios are set up to accommodate this.

For the technician level license, you can learn with free online materials. The ham village at Defcon has been doing online exams during Covid, and they've often been free or discounted.

For family stuff, the more interesting possibility is using APRS to pass some kind of status or alert or request for contact when other links are down or erratic.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:50 PM on April 4 [2 favorites]


What I meant was, people have probably already worked out an algorithm/protocol/etiquette in times of actual constrained energy or airtime.

There are protocols for message passing that are used by relay networks like ARES and RACES. Probably too clunky unless this family net/tree is very large.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:53 PM on April 4 [2 favorites]


As an example of overlap, my day-to-day trousers are 5.11 "Tactical EMT pants"

The existence of "tactical pants" hints at the existence of other levels of pants. Operational Pants, naturally, but perhaps even the budget-defying Strategic Pants. (And of course, who can forget the 1980s Strategic Trouser Initiative, in which DARPA and M.C. Hammer bankrupted the Soviet rayon industry.)

There are tactical pens (Apparently 'Marine Approved').

There is only one tactical pen. (Also herfdurf Marine-approved writing implements amirite? Sorry Marines. I always went for the hard stuff myself.)

I suspect we’re reinventing something. Any proper hams in the house?

The American Radio Relay League (national umbrella organization for amateur radio people, sorta like the NRA was for gun people back before the NRA got brainworms) operates the National Traffic System, or NTS. It's a network of mostly HF—which means relatively low-frequency, long-distance propagating—radio operators who have "nets" at pre-scheduled times to pass messages. Essentially it's like a volunteer-run telegram service. Most of the time when there's no emergencies going on, the nets just meet up to check in with each other and ensure they can still reach the other stations that they are supposed to pass traffic with. (They also pass the odd "fun" message; a family friend used to send us Christmas wishes by "Radiogram" once a year, which resulted in some random guy with a radio calling us to deliver the message.)

I don't know a lot about the inner workings of the NTS, only that it's something that's been going on for a long time, and it works fairly well at getting messages out of disaster areas. I assume they must have a sort of manual routing system for determining which messages get passed on to which other nets and end-stations, preventing loops and merging duplicates, and all the other stuff you need in any message-oriented network. They have what appears to be a quite comprehensive Methods and Practices Guidelines document, which defines everything from the medium-agnostic message format, to how to pass messages via CW (Morse code) and voice, email gateways, etc. It's quite something.

APRS is an interesting idea and I wonder if there are any gateways between APRS and the traditional NTS nets. Might have to look into that at some point.

Anyway, +1 on the general recommendation to get an Amateur Radio license if you are at all interested in this sort of thing. Ham radio is a big hobby and there are lots of neat, weird little corners to it that have grown and evolved separately from the PC/Internet hobbyist space. (Just... don't be put off if your local club is filled with older dudes basically using it to chatter. They can be quite easily avoided, if you choose. Most larger metro areas probably have multiple radio clubs and you may want to shop around to find one that you're interested in, if you want to do the local club thing.)

The whole "figure out how to communicate but without cell towers" thing is Engineer Catnip for a certain kind of engineer. If you ever find yourself eating lunch with a bunch of EEs and want to make the conversation more interesting, just roll that topic in like a live grenade. From 10 engineers you can easily get 12 proposed solutions, some of which might even work.

Back in mid-2000s and early 2010s, I did some work (everyone interested in communications decides to take this on at least once, I think) with some folks looking to build a message-passing network using off-the-shelf WiFi routers with modified firmware (WRT54GLs, of course). The idea being that with the right software, you could form a sort of slow-moving mesh network, capable of passing short messages out of an area with zero comms, by having mobile participants grab a copy of the message database and pass it along to the next fixed node they'd encounter. Smartphones weren't really a thing then, so the idea was more built around cheap laptops. It never really went anywhere, but there's no reason why you couldn't do something like that today if you wanted to. There are off-the-shelf distributed databases today that would do most of the algorithmic heavy lifting (doing deltas between versions of the DB and only transmitting updates) for you.

It would appear there are a bunch of modern smartphone apps which try to do this, some using Bluetooth, others WiFi, and a few that seem to assume some level of IP connectivity. Of course, none of them are compatible with each other, some appear to be abandonware, and others make somewhat suspicious promises. Always fun.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:04 PM on April 4 [13 favorites]


When the bomb went off in downtown Nashville in 2020, we lost basically everything in the way of local communications: landlines, mobile, internet, the works. It didn't much matter if you were on AT&T or Verizon, everyone was basically offline.

So I figure there's a ham answer to this, and it turned out that I was able to send a few short "we're ok, everything offline, will call later" messages to my brother in Atlanta via APRS. As it happens, there's an APRS-email gateway for just such a thing. I couldn't be sure if it made it through, but sure enough when we got our services back a few days later he told me he got them. That was pretty much my peak ham moment.

I've been a ham for a few years now and loiter with a bunch of other hams in an IRC channel that's spun off twice from /r/amateurradio. The EDC/prepper/SHTF element comes in waves, and most of us think it's pretty funny. Usually it's a question along the lines of "how can I talk to my buddy 300 miles away in a total-collapse situation? My budget is around $200 and also I don't want to get a license."

I don't want to dismiss amateur radio completely for disaster-related stuff. A few years back, a large tabletop-sim was run that posited a catastrophic earthquake in the Pacific Northwest and the summary report is interesting reading. Turns out there's a place for trained radio operators in certain scenarios, but those roles are way more limited than some enthusiasts think, and it goes without saying that folks need to train with the gear and understand what to do if something actually happens. Even so, when someone like Starlink can drop satellite terminals into a place and get a location back online almost instantly, it sorta reduces the ham's role as a message-handler to basically nil.

This is an unpopular opinion in some ham circles, especially with the strong public-service sentiment that's associated with the hobby (part of which is used to justify band allocations), but there it is.

I say all that to say this: it's still a great hobby and can absolutely be some use. I'd encourage anyone to look into getting licensed and then finding likeminded folks with whom to enjoy it. It's a big tent.

back to net de aa4jq
posted by jquinby at 6:16 PM on April 4 [6 favorites]


Kind-of reminds me of the old school phone trees we used in the 80s when school was cancelled for snow. The superintendent called the PTA president, who called two people, who called two people, who called two people, until everyone had been called. My mom had her branch of the phone tree pinned to our bulletin board next to the phone, so she could call the next two people ... and if one of them didn't answer, the person below that. I have vivid memories of sitting at 5 a.m. in the kitchen on the morning after a blizzard, waiting for the phone to ring, so my mom could say get the message, and call the next two people. (As you will recall from pre-cell phone etiquette, you generally didn't call people before 7:30 a.m. -- 9 on weekends, 10 on Christmas -- unless it was an emergency.) The cancellation notification WOULD be broadcast on the radio, but the radio had to announce every school district in the Chicago area, so it took a while and you had to not miss yours! The phone tree was faster and ensured everybody was notified.

Which is all very low-tech, but is a sensible "prepper" precaution for routine disasters (blizzards) that happened all the time, and involves that sort of self-organizing, mutually-supportive community people are talking about.

For other folks in this thread interested in low-cost, low-intensity prepping, another thing I learned when building my shelter-in-place kit is that you can vastly expand your "prep" simply by making lists. I don't have a go-bag (since bug-out emergencies aren't really a thing here), but in my shelter-in-place kit, I have a list of what I would need to take to "bug out," in three groups by order of priority. First group is survival stuff (food, old glasses, medications, birth certificates, socks) that can fit in a backpack; second group is a wider range of survival items and some comfort/hygiene items that can be quickly packed in a car; third group is comfort items and things like photo albums that you'd like to take with a little more time. The list also includes shelter-in-place items that aren't in my kit -- tools in my toolbox, shelf-stable pantry foods -- with their locations etc. In an emergency, you might forget where your backup can opener is, or that you have a gas shutoff tool. If you have a printed list in your emergency kit, all you have to do is find your emergency kit, and you've got a bunch of lists of what to do next.

And in terms of cost, you already own a bunch of emergency supplies, whether that's shelf-stable food (beans!) or routine tools (a saw!) or medical supplies (old glasses you don't wear anymore!). You're just not going to pack them all in your emergency kit because they're in your kitchen and bathroom and toolbox and coat closet where you normally use them. But if you have a list of those items in advance, you don't have to think about it -- you can find them when you're sheltering in place, or pack them to bug out.

Because really, smart (and cost-effective) prepping is about prepping for the most likely disasters, and slowly ramping up towards the less-likely ones. 95% of disasters I'm going to face are shelter-in-place disasters. In the rare events I would have to evacuate, I'm almost certainly going to evacuate by car, and almost always with some warning -- maybe 1 hour, maybe 72 hours. And I'm almost always going to be going a) somewhere else in town (a hotel or shelter) or b) a couple hours out of town. So preparing to shelter in place, and making lists to help me bug out with things I already own, prepares me for 99.5% of disasters. (And that 0.5%, I'm not convinced I can effectively prep for anyway. Like, one disaster thing that's kinda likely to happen is a tree going through my window or roof in a tornado, and I do have a saw ... but the fact is that if it's larger than a sapling, there's no way I'm going to cut that tree apart to be able to move it before the chainsaw guys manage to get to me. I'm not strong enough, and cutting through trees manually SUCKS, y'all. If it's such a big disaster the chainsaw guys aren't coming, I'm going to go live in a house down the street before I manage to cut up that tree, that's just reality.)

The other prepping really worth doing is for your pets. Next to my cat carrier, I have the smallest bag of my cat's dry food that they sell, three disposable travel litter boxes, a travel water bowl (look for hiking water bowls for dogs), and a pet first aid kit. We rotate out the bag of cat food yearly, which is easy enough to do naturally -- sometimes you run low on pet food because there's a badly-timed blizzard or you catch the flu or whatever. Again, that sets me up for probably 98% of disasters, when I'm sheltering in place for several days or when I'm evacuating to somewhere nearby where my cat can stay with a friend. Probably $40-50 for initial set-up (hiking water bowl, travel litter boxes, first-aid kit, small food), and $15/year to replace the food bag (but the cat is eating it, so probably $2-3/year for excess cost for buying a very small bag). That seems like a bargain! And I don't have to think about it, it's all right there next to the cat carrier that I have to go get anyway (/have sometimes already put the cat in if the tornado is intense enough and I want to be sure the cat is in our tornado shelter area with us and not running around the house losing her mind from the pressure change and then jumping out a broken window).
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:36 PM on April 4 [16 favorites]


The idea being that with the right software, you could form a sort of slow-moving mesh network, capable of passing short messages out of an area with zero comms, by having mobile participants grab a copy of the message database and pass it along to the next fixed node they'd encounter. Smartphones weren't really a thing then, so the idea was more built around cheap laptops. It never really went anywhere, but there's no reason why you couldn't do something like that today if you wanted to.

LoRA. People are trying to build crypto-motivated last-mile mesh networks on it (because of course they are) but those presume a working internet to free-ride on (because of course they do). See also Amazon's creepy (of course) Sidewalk thing.

If you still have copper connected, one of the best things you can do keep a landline in service, with a clamshell phone on hand (or another phone that operates on line power). It doesn't have to have any features on it (the line, or the phone). And if you have a phone line, it couldn't hurt to keep a modem around.

Something else to consider is hardware than can bridge wifi to ethernet (as a client). As your phone probably has hotspot functionality.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:39 PM on April 4 [2 favorites]


If you have a printed list in your emergency kit, all you have to do is find your emergency kit, and you've got a bunch of lists of what to do next.

This is a great suggestion. Reduces panic, too: following a list of tasks is a great antivenom to anxiety. I’ll pass this on to my clan - and would also be super useful for the octogenarians, in case we ever have to do an emergency trip to the hospital. We just pack personal survival items.
posted by Silvery Fish at 6:44 PM on April 4 [6 favorites]


Now that I think about it, it ought to be possible to run a USB charger off telephone line voltage.

...yep. Instructable.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:49 PM on April 4 [4 favorites]


95% of disasters I'm going to face are shelter-in-place disasters.

I like to think of potential scenarios as the personal, oh-shit-I'm-in-trouble situations, and the community level failures over a wide area, affecting thousands or more.

An individual example I use as my model is getting stuck on a rural road with a broken vehicle with a temperature emergency (hot or cold).

A community level threat that's common near me are ice storms and resulting weather-related power failures. That's a shelter in place for 72 hours, then evacuate kind of emergency. In my neck of the woods a bad one has happened in living memory, and small 24 hour ones happen every few years.

Key to planning in all of these is reliance on others being available to help and supplement our own needs, as well as us being able to provide extra shelter/aid as well if we can. Response is not an individual action, but a collective, community one.

If someone is past due home, search parties goes out. The problem for the person who is lost then becomes making yourself easy to find and keeping yourself healthy until help can come.

For community-level threats like mass loss of power, community responses are the only real answer. Again, the responsibility of home-owners becomes surviving that 72-hour gap (which could be 96 hours or even a week) until help can get to you. That's how all the NGO/Red Cross and government response models are built.

The planning model then is less about total self reliance, more about being self reliant enough to bridge the gap to help arriving, and being prepped enough in advance to help others. At least, that's the way I see it.
posted by bonehead at 8:39 PM on April 4 [6 favorites]


and even something where Australia was overrun by a huge puddle of carnivorous strawberry jam

Okay, I have to know about this book, pretty please.
posted by pelvicsorcery at 9:49 PM on April 4 [2 favorites]


The problem for the person who is lost then becomes making yourself easy to find and keeping yourself healthy until help can come.

… and here we’re back to my kite. A line from The Men Who Stare at Goats keeps coming to mind: “It has warrior capacity - and it looks a little bit funny.” I lived in vast nothingness of the high desert regions for a long time. A kite is going to get attention, even if it’s just spread out on the ground and anchored with rocks.

Our clan phone tree is mostly about safely sheltering in place; ensuring temps haven’t dropped enough in a given home to make staying unsafe, passing on work crew progress, checking that there have been no broken pipes or gas lines or no one starts acting in ways that would indicate a carbon monoxide leak, and then if needed coming up with the best possible plan for evacuation that lets us all know and track that persons travel. Plus — worriers.
posted by Silvery Fish at 3:27 AM on April 5 [2 favorites]


I will take back my dig at "Marine Approved" - their about us page shows that staff who have actually served and this is not just a tacticool marketting drop-shipping business. So - not quite in the "/r/mallninjashit" territory.

But - I was "taught" that "anything" can be a weapon, just depends on your willingness to use it. So - a regular pen will work just fine, if you are so inclined.
posted by rozcakj at 5:59 AM on April 5


> and even something where Australia was overrun by a huge puddle of carnivorous strawberry jam

Okay, I have to know about this book, pretty please.


LOL - that was something we read during 2020, when our leader was deliberately choosing "funny postapocalyptic books" because HI, IT WAS 2020.

The book was simply called Jam, and it was by Yahtzee Croshaw. The story focuses on Brisbane in particular, and it is indeed about the fallout of a carnivorous blob of strawberry jam eating everything. The main characters are these 20-somethings, many of whom are on the nerd/geek/cosplay spectrum in some capacity; which in turn affects how they respond to the events.

Think, like, the same tone as Shaun of the Dead, only instead of zombies it's flesh-eating jam.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:59 AM on April 5 [6 favorites]


When a prepper tells you he has plenty of ammo, he is also telling you his plan.

Also telling you that he does not and cannot really believe in his own fantasy. If he really thought that this kind of scenarios was likely he would tell nobody about his secret ammo stash. After all, in a real complete breakdown of order / violent fantasy scenario other people only need one bullet in order to take all his ammo.

A lot of guys know exactly where their gun is and how to use it, because they want to "protect their home and family," but have only a vague idea of where the fire extinguisher is and they'll have to read the instructions to make it work.

Again, this is where we see that this is fantasy and not serious. Dudes who have three years of horrible MREs buried on their mortgaged property but no emergency fund to pay that mortgage if they lose their job. Gosh I hope Wells Fargo lets you come and get into your bunker after they foreclose. Dudes who don't know where the emergency water and gas shut offs are for their property, who have loads of ammo but not enough water.

On the topic of "military approved" - what the US military is so good at (and the Russian apparently so comically bad) is logistics. What real militaries spend enormous amounts doing is planning how they will stockpile and move things. Most of those things are actually spares, fuel, food, water and only a very little is ammunition. If you applied actual military planning tools to these scenarios, you'd end up with a parent's diaper bag and not with fifty different rifles (oh cool all different exotic calibres, that's a great idea. I guess the reason why all of NATO has one type of small arms ammunition is because they're dummies!)

Because really, smart (and cost-effective) prepping is about prepping for the most likely disasters, and slowly ramping up towards the less-likely ones. 95% of disasters I'm going to face are shelter-in-place disasters.

Virtually all big disasters are either preceded by- the cause of- or composed of- smaller disasters. Exactly the same preparations (food, water, medicine) are required for surviving a week without power as a civil war.

What nobody wants to hear is that a few days of water and food, a first aid kit, working home fire detection and fighting equipment, a savings account, and a good life insurance policy are the basis for good preparation because nobody has heroic fantasies about their permanent disability insurance paying out after a bad accident.
posted by atrazine at 8:13 AM on April 5 [16 favorites]


I'm a prepper.

I find a lot of the stereotypes annoying and exhausting. The guy with a bunch of guns is engaging in a power fantasy, not a prep or a plan. And he broke into a thousand pieces in the spring of 2020 when he had to go two weeks without chain restaurants and shopping malls.

The rest of us planted our gardens, grew sprouts on our windowsills. We'd already bought masks by January, been topping up the pantries and laying in puzzles and games for extra time at home. We didn't brain each other in the aisles of Costco for toilet paper, we had plenty. Some installed bidets.

Prepping is thinking a few moves ahead. Buying whatever might spike in price next. Storing water, having more than one way to purify it, and, for heaven's sake, dropping off a liter or two for your elderly neighbor when there's another water main break.

It's having a one-page handout of each family member's medical information, because people forget stuff like blood types and medication lists when they're under pressure.

Knowing the cheap foods that keep a long time, having some skills, and a readiness to learn more. There's always more out there.
posted by champers at 12:36 PM on April 5 [7 favorites]


A great way to both prep and to strengthen your commitment ties is (in the US) to volunteer with CERT.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:17 PM on April 5 [6 favorites]


I hoard food due to the fact that I've suffered food insecurity in the past. Everything is organized by pull date and rotated accordingly. We have two weeks of provisions available at any one time, plus extra. We have a camper van which, in the summer, is our "Bug Out Bag," while in the winter we store the contents of the camper in a closet dedicated to that purpose. There's a survival bag in our daily driver because I've lived my life in the upper Midwest, and blizzards are a thing. And I'm a Ham (73 de KD9OFK! 20m, FT8 and WSPR mostly, CW if you've got a slow fist) I take comfort in the fact that with some scrounged parts and a length of wire I can communicate with someone halfway around the World.
Am I a "Prepper," or am I just a 21st Century Schizoid Man who has adapted, the best I can, to an unstable environment? Who knows? Who cares?? I'm just a little more comfortable knowing I've got some things covered. Plus it's fun! And my neighbors are delightful and I'd do anything for them, thanks for asking.
posted by Floydd at 5:50 PM on April 5 [9 favorites]


Community ties, not commitment ties. Although I suppose maybe both work.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:09 PM on April 5


So I listen to Fox News radio in the car sometimes, just to see what they're up to, and one of the commercials that runs all the time is this "My Patriot Supply" company that makes a variety of food packs guaranteed to last 20-30 years. This is absolutely aimed at the soft-prepper crowd, some kind of crapbox that nobody is going to actually try when there's a McDonalds or HyVee right there, but this is the thing: they lay out the scenarios. Do they mention nuclear war, or being bombed into the basement/shelter? Overrun by terrorists or Mexicans? No, their main point is that it's "better than government food lines." So it's not even that the country is destroyed! And we see that it's not disaster prep, since as far as I know everybody within my lifetime has taken advantage of FEMA services wherever possible. But this kinda government-bad-amirite plus bivouac-only military LARP plus shhh, Dumbocraps imagery is laid bare in their commercial.

I'm sure it's all about guns. It's about untraceable hoarding, and it's about being able to kill without consequence. This is where Old West and Pioneer myths and lore really act perniciously as traditions that some people think should be maintained instead of being left in the past as miserable hellholes worse than The Depression. I mean, preppers kind of assume gas will still be available, right? I don't see a cool, new e-Conestoga model or a boom in horse ownership.
posted by rhizome at 1:20 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]


I don't see a cool, new e-Conestoga model or a boom in horse ownership.

The dudes who indulge in this kind of thinking either probably have horses anyway or are of the opinion that "pssh, we'll just catch one, how hard can it be?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:03 PM on April 7


They have McMansions on the outskirts of Bakersfield.
posted by rhizome at 2:45 PM on April 7


There will be more. Despite all the boondoggles, it's starting to look more likely than not that the high speed rail will get there. Speculation is starting to be noticeable along the line. Plus, work from home. It's close enough to get into LA if you really have to. Amazon and Costco like everywhere else. And meanwhile life in the city (or even the exurbs) gets more and more expensive for less and less space, and to be near (or maybe just nearer) to things you can't afford to do...maybe you can't move to Montana, but Bakersfield is doable.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:38 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]


I'm suddenly realizing yet another connection to my book club - and a book which may have an interesting perspective on this.

One book we read was Moon Of The Crusted Snow, by Anishinaabe writer Waubgeshig Rice. The story is set n a remote Anishinaabe community, with some people still living on the rez and keeping up some of the old traditions and some leaving the rez to go to college and such. It's a poor, run-down community, so no one thinks anything of it at first when the power starts to falter and then go out - that kind of thing happened a lot, they know how to cope. Then a couple weeks later one of the kids who'd gone to college turns up on a snowmobile; he'd ridden for 3 straight days to get home, and tells the story about how all the power is down everywhere and people are flipping out, and he was just barely able to escape on the snowmobile before someone tried to steal it from him to go find food somewhere. So the community starts to pull together by pooling their food reserves so they can make sure everyone's fed through the winter (they already were sort of doing that, they just amped it up a bit).

Only then a couple days after that, some white gun-toting prepper dude rocks up; he'd followed the tracks from the snowmobile and figured well, here's a nice little place to take over....and uses the threat of guns and violence, along with promising some people a share of his secret stash of booze to do precisely that. Except - he's only able to win over some of the community, and he never bothers to learn what kind of resources the Anishinaabe know to be useful - and in time he runs out of bullets and booze and the obvious foodstuffs he's used to, while the rest of the community has bee rocking along like it always has and biding their time until they can kick him out.

I thought of it since so many of the guns-and-ammo type of prepping focuses only on the "defending property and security" angle - but doesn't really pay attention to, well, everything else that goes into making up a society (shelter, food, medical care, hygiene, care for the weak and infirm, care for children, education....). I'm sure their thinking is that if they have a gun, they can defend the stuff they've already gotten or maybe take what they need from someone else if need be ("it's everyone for themselves, yo"), but...once the WalMarts are empty, and there's no one left to rob, then what?

Meanwhile the people who know how to forage will be like "I'mma just move away from these jerks and set up a camp in those woods over there where I saw a shit-ton of beechnut trees alongside a pond stocked with crayfish, I'll be good there for a while." And they'll still be able to eat while the guns-and-ammo dudes starve to death.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:29 AM on April 8 [5 favorites]


biding their time until they can kick him out

That is not how the story of a "taker" would have ended if it were written by one of the sheepdog power fantasy types (or the writers of The Walking Dead for that matter), which is telling.
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:15 PM on April 8


Most of those gun-loving, camo-wearing Preppers want to win a battle of some societal breakdown. I'm sure that has happened in history; if it happens in the US, they'll be the ones precipitating it with their arsenal, shitty attitudes, and faith in lies.

I'm a low-key prepper because of the Big Snow of 1977, the Ice Event of 1998, the time my town had the water supply blown out in a storm, many power outages from storms. Maine gets the tail-ends of hurricanes sometimes. Blizzards and Northeasters happen.

I always kind of had Pandemic flu in mind when I bought a few extra cans of soup and made sure we had a couple gallons of drinking water. When we were told that people over 65 should stay home for a couple weeks, I was fine. That turned into a couple years of mostly staying home. There's a 1st aid kit, tool kit, and matches in the car. Wood stove & wood.

I reread what Dee Xtrovert wrote about Sarajevo. Lots of aggressive Preppers can't wait to say No to hungry neighbors at their gates. Can't wait to use some ammo on urban types seeking shelter. I have no faith at all that it would be as Dee describes Sarajevo, where people tried to maintain decency. Decency seems so lost in America right now. Anyway, I have matches; they are used to light birthday candles more than anything else.
posted by theora55 at 11:46 AM on April 20 [6 favorites]


In NA, we're blessed that the great majority of what we might possibly face are civil threats. There's definitely some low to moderate effort measures that can be done, kits, ensuring backup systems in dwellings (sump pumps, small generators/battery packs to keep furnaces on and water working, etc...). But for me, as discussed above, organizing networks (formal or not) that can be tapped into when stuff happens is probably the most important prep.

It's always been quite remarkable to me that a lot of these preppers move into remote locations, often away from friends and families, with the express purpose of cutting themselves off during a problem. In my (similar) experience, it's been 25% resiliency and 75% the social networks that get you out of trouble after problems start. Even through the pandemic when we had to physically distance, the first thing we started to do was renew and build new family and friend groups with the tools we had. And that really proved invaluable, even to this day.
posted by bonehead at 12:48 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


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