Coping: Living in the Future, 10 Years Early

Better early than late, I guess. In 1983 I was pioneering computer data over radio – just 10 years early. And in 2003 when we bought this place in the Outback, a fair number of our friends thought I was nuts. (They were right, but that’s not the point.)  Instead, I was just 10-years early.

Point is that recently had an article “Prepping for Doomsday: Bunkers, Panic Rooms, and going Off-Grid.”  The article is worth your time to read.

Why? Because we have been right. Skee-daddling out of Big Cities as fast as you can is the only sane thing to do.  A key quote from the article:

“Of course, for some survivalists, cities will never feel safe. These are the folks who need to go far off the grid. But even this age-old concept is getting a makeover, and a business plan.

Some real estate companies are seeing big increases by specializing in “survivalist properties”—large parcels of rural land with homes targeted specifically to preppers, with full fortification and self-sustainable food and energy options. After all, why not grow your own tomatoes and kale while you wait out the end of the world as we know it?

For example, sales at American Redoubt Realty, a real estate firm nestled in the heart of prepper country in northern Idaho, are up 50% over the same time last year, says real estate agent Todd Savage, who specializes in such transactions. His clients typically hail from Texas and California.”

We moved to a rural area in 2003. Way ahead of fashionable.  And except for the crummy roads, it’s a fine place to live. Now that the rock pit has played out.

There is ample space to grow just about all you care to eat. And if you like venison, our neighbors are mostly bow hunters and the local deer population would feed us all, at least for a year or three, with what we can collectively grow.

We’ve tried to take a somewhat balanced approach to developing our little piece of the Outback: There are three “on-ramps” to the Internet, and we may partner with a neighbor for a fourth.

There are several large, open fields now where trees haven’t taken over, yet. These are being held fallow for now, but I’ve thought about a unit or two of cattle, having had our fill of Boer goats.

A bonus to the fallow fields: They seem to be loaded with wild rabbits. Good for a couple of years, but over time, Ma Nature will bump up the snake population to balance that.

And we’ve learned a good bit about when NOT to drive a tractor on your land – after hard rains in summer, tire marks may be there for a year.

In short, it’s a very different way to live, but as rewarding as my 10+ years living on a 40-foot sailboat. Going from less than 200 square feet on a boat to having 1.253 million square feet takes a little adjustment. But it can be done.

What’s encouraging about the article is other people are seeing, it, too.  Either I’m running fast, though, or a whole bunch of people run slow.

Sign of the Times:  Social Idiots

It takes a bit of intestinal fortitude to run counter to the crowd, so this morning a short numerical lesson on  why independent thinking is so important.

By 1 PM Monday, we were just passing one million references on the Google News search engine to the term “gorilla killed”

At the same time, the search “achieved success” lagged at 855,000.

Better grades had 770,000.

The search for “good investment” came up with 700,000.

Oh, and “prepper” had only 38,800 hits. 

25 times more headlines on the dead gorilla than on prepping.  And we wonder why so many people are “average?”

The Radio Detective

So there we were, ah, at last: a Holiday.

Elaine made a grocery list and went shopping because somehow the toilet paper supplies had about run out.

Toilet paper is one of those prepper curse things: Yes, we load up, every so often, but the materials seem to break down in six months to a year of storage. That’s because of the clay used to make some brands soft. If you want real shelf life, that Itchy & Scratchy stuff – about the same consistency as toilet seat covers (a/k/a ass-gaskets) will last considerably longer, but while we wait for the end of the world, we’re going easy on ourselves…

That forever TP is more common the closer you get to the Mexican border…what that means, I have no idea.  But fluffy lives all over the north, magazine-like paper in the southwest.  You notice these things.

With Elaine off to the store to restock, refresh the emergency beer supplies, I was left to play with the ham radio.

Problem: What the hell was wrong with the 40-meter (7 MHz) band? Why, it was a 50 db over S9 noise level. Unusable! Unacceptable!

Enter: The Radio Detective

You’ll recall a couple episodes back I explained to you on the way to check your home for radio noise: Portable AM radio tuned to the high end (1650 KHz) of the dial (between stations) and walk around the house, pausing particularly in areas where you are thinking about putting in ham radio or shortwave equipment.

Since my noise was band-specific, I picked up the Tecsun 660 receiver, dialed up the middle of the 40-meter meter band and started to walk around the house.

Then outside – since I am suspicious of misnamed smart meters that cause blips of noise around the top of the hour – to see if that was the source.

It wasn’t.

I banged on Panama’s apartment. “Say, Panama, I don’t suppose you or the Mrs.  installed a 10-megawatt spark-gap transmitter in the past day, or so, have you?”

No, no spark-gap transmitter or small electronic wall-warts that haven’t been dealt with before.

Dang.  More detection was called for.

Back in my office, I started working down the noisiest side of the room. That was the side my electronics bench was on. Everything was unplugged.

The special daylight spectrum reading lamp was unplugged, as well.

And then it hit me!

Elaine and I both used the treadmill the previous day. There on the handsome electroluminescent display was 1.8 miles, just paused waiting for one of us to work up the motivation to press on.

Not on a holiday.

Everything else had been unplugged…so I killed power to the treadmill.

Suddenly, the 40-meter band was as quiet as church when building fund contributions come up.

This led to a quick Morse contact with a fellow down south of Tampa somewhere, but by then, it was getting on toward full daylight. Under such conditions, the band usually begins to “shorten up.”  200-300 miles mid-day is a fair guess.

Nevertheless, the morning was a huge technical success: A new noise source had been identified.

And just in time for me to talk myself out of a planned 3-mile jaunt on the treadmill.

You don’t want to create any unnecessary noise on 40-meters…” I told myself.

And not wanting to ruin a good holiday with a workout, I convinced myself that the best thing to do would be leave the treadmill unplugged for the indefinite future.

Which is, I swear, exactly how you earn the Radio Noise Detective Badge.

The Further Adventures of Marsh Green

You may not know Marsh, personally, like I do. But he works for a paint company.

Come to think of it, it’s the Restore brand.

We recently bought a four gallon jug of the Restore 46536 Deck and Concrete Resurfacer, 4-Gallon, Marsh at Amazon.  Honest: It looked green on the Internet. A fact I explained to our UPS guy Brent who lugged it off the truck in early April.

Waiting for a properly warm day, I prepped it for Elaine to apply – she was anxious about getting it put on to cover up the raw (but treated) deck on the front of the house.

As I opened the can, I heard what every home handy-bastard fears: “You know what dear? That doesn’t look GREEN at all…more off to a gray-blue…”

Faced with a tone verging on insubordination on the job, I did what any upper-60’s blow-hard would do: “Well, you know paint always looks different after it dries…

Thus reassured, organized labor applied a coat per the manufacturer’s directions.

And then it dried. A day or three passed.

George, this is more like naval battleship gray.”

Label says Marsh so it must go off to green somewhere in there… let’s try a second coat…”

Being a male of northern European extraction, the odds of me being color-blind to green ran somewhere north of 15% – even before the recent eye doctoring.

But this morning, truth can be told. Elaine’s made it abundantly clear that while the Restore is a fine product, my ability to discern color was terrible even before the eye surgeries.

After 8-weeks of drying, it still looks about the same color as a destroyer escort.

The happy marriage (and therefore UrbanSurvival) lesson herein is simple: If you’re male and over age 13, or so, consider letting your partner make all the color choices.

You will be glad you did. Trust me on this.


Coping: Living in the Future, 10 Years Early — 7 Comments

  1. A hardware store here with a paint section had on the blending bench a notice;
    Under no circumstances will paint be tinted for a man without a note from his wife.

  2. I always thought you had the best ‘survival platform’ to live, and it gives me pause when your thoughts turn to going back to the city ‘to be near the kids’. You stay right where you are, pardner! Better early than one day too late. Things are not going to get any better than they are right now, and likely to get considerably worse… soon.

  3. Oh George-
    Have I been thinking about your well thought out situation down there in Tyler? I visited Tyler once upon an eon ago. Yup.
    IMHO I invite you to consider this:
    For the toilet paper issue here is an easy install. I’ve been installing and uninstalling mine for over a decade wherever I move to and won’t do without it. I got spoiled. As a nurse I highly recommend it.
    Easy peasy install. I’ve got it down to 10 mins and no leaks at the input valve.
    You can get spoiled with them and talk about DO THE NUMBERS!
    Easy on the septic (very little if any toilet paper)
    Warm water or cold depending on how hot it is outside.
    Hygienic for certain.
    Less than $70 w/shipping.
    In ten years = $7 a year give or take a penny, compared to the cost of paper? And septic flush out?

    I was watching an old movie last night and you came to mind. Wilfred Brimley taking an eye test at DMV to drive- he flunked, covered up his car then went swimming in a pool of space pods, cured his eye issue. Went back to DMV read the bottom line of the chart and drove again. Like your flying. heheheh
    His character even had that crusty sense of humor. Loved him. Not sure your doctors emerge from space pods though. Nothing would surprise me.
    The movie? Well talk about living in the future- I am ready to do some outback too- Cocoon. 1985.
    They didn’t need money where they went and if they did the Antarians seemed to cough up plenty of FRNs somehow. Now that is skill.

  4. I have let The Lovely Mrs Wizard make the color choices for many years… she once matched a sink to a formica laminate perfectly without a color chip after two weeks, sight unseen… but it can also lead to unfortunate color choices, like the cat-sh** yellow-green of our bathroom.