Prepping: Buy Flash, Ubiquity, or Quality?

For your Reading File:

Before we jump in to this morning’s notes on superior prepping and living the ideal “strategic life” there are two books you ought to have on your reading list because they are great values.

One is Gaye Levy’s “Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage: A Practical Guide to Storing Food For the Long Term.” It’s a quick read and free this weekend for Kindle readers.  If you have an earlier version of the book, you should be notified of a free update when viewing the book in  your Kindle library (or online) by going to “Content and Devices” in your Amazon account.

Second book moves over into the “spirit Realms.”  Under $2-bucks is “Calling Things That Are Not” which is by far the best book on mastering “creation” as a “co-Creator-in-training” you are likely to find.  Wonder why prayer often fails?  Here’s your answers…

Flash, Quality, or Ubiquity?

Since I read all the comments posted on Urban, I often catch a very subtle shift of where people are “thinking next.”  IoW: Where consumption trends may head in coming years.

The comments section was “alive” this week on the subject of cars.  Commenter Andy get’s all whipped up with a 1,400 HP Mustang hill-climb car called the Hoonicorn.  Then heard from reader Phil, a Porsche 911 driver here in Texas.  I pay close attention to Phil since I’m a recovering 930-widebody pilot myself.

Taken together, these cars are what I’d call “Flash.”

By Friday morning, however, reason showed up. Looking Outside the Box commented on how much more comfortable an old Checker Cab would be.

checker marathon from wikipedia
Checker Marathon

If you’re not into automotive history, Checker Motors – which went bust in 2010 – built something called the Checker Marathon between 1961 and 1982.

As you can see, the Checkers were not going to give Ferrari or Lamborghini a run in the styling department.  But, one ready Pappy Ure almost bought one in the mid 1960’s was they were built to run easily over a million miles.  Same kind of engineering (safety, survival, long life) that goes into Over-the-Road trucks from Kenworth and that ilk.

The mere mention of a Checker speaks reams about utter build quality.  That’s why Checker was hugely successful as a taxi cab maker.  We have to wonder if Uber and Lyft couldn’t learn a little something?  Is there room in today’s disposable world for an energy-optimized smaller version of the Checker?

You see, I hope, why this is our pick as representative of automotive quality.

Fine….but what cars have met the test of ubiquity?  (*Everywhere you look-ness)?

If you flip over to the Wikipedia page here, you will find many data sets to consider.  We tend to view the global best sellers as really ubiquitous:

There were (and remain) incredible vehicles, even today.  I can’t think of anything cooler than driving my old (bought new) 1968 Beetle…sadly sold it decades back.

Worldwide sales figures can be a little misleading.  The Model A for instance, was in a far less densely populated world.  When launched in 1908, the US population was 88.7-million.  That’s a model A for every 5.37 people alive at launch time.

The US population was 129.8 million when the Beetle was launched, so penetration works out to only one Beetle for every six Americans.

What places the VW in our “most ubiquitous” running in that virtually all the US sales began well-after World War Two.  I remember the debate raging in the Ure clan when uncle Joe bought a 1953 (might have been 54) Beetle.  36-horsepower and flip-out turn signal semaphores, the whole clan had been in the war and except for “brother Joe” the rest seemed to think it was “too soon to buy anything German.”

What made sales for Volkswagen was their brilliant US-created – by Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) – “think small” advertising campaign.

All of which gets us to looking at the market and wondering what is America’s present mindset?

Certainly for “flash” the Tubbs and Crocket Miami Vice (or Magnum P.I.) Ferrari’s were totally awesome.  That kind of “flash” seems to be embodied in the plug & play cars from Tesla, at least in the small screamers category.

Quality?  A few cars are coming with 100-thousand mile power train warranties.  But can you find a car built to run a million miles today?  Good luck on that.

And what about ultra-light mini cars?  Well, we about cried to read in the Green Car Report this week that “Daimler’s Smart brand has announced that it’s pulled the plug on the U.S. sales of its only model, the Fortwo, which went all-electric just one model year ago.”

When Elaine and I (eventually) move back into (pseudo) civilization from here in the Outback, I’m thinking it would be fun to have a “collectible old man car.”

On our most recent gambling foray up to Lawton, Oklahoma, there was a Corvette club regional meeting.  And dandy low-slung rides they were.  Except, after 70, I’m less inclined to jump in and start slamming through gears.

Something more sedate?  Maybe an old Rolls or Bentley would be fun.  Except, while they speak of quality,, the reality is a Checker would kick their ass in the million-mile department.

So that has me wondering about buying a recent Smart FourTwo with the gas engine.  Maybe it will zoom into “cult status” along with the 1953 to 1961 Nash Metropolitan, which was in many ways second only to the VW Beetle as a “small-to-micro” car.  Still, at age 70, will I survive far enough into the future for such a “novelty” to make sense?

My friend Gaye has a working compromise in her pampered powder-blue T-Bird (first of the new body style). I’m not sure if even Survival Hubby gets to drive it.

Picking the “right” automobile for prepping is a personal thing.  I’ve been thinking about a Hummer H2 or H3.  Not that they will roll a million miles, but they can off-road a bit.  But, if rock-crawling your way out of a collapsing urban core is your shtick, decent-sized tires and a lift-kit on a Toyota 4-by might be a decent pick.  They tend to last a good while and they are nearly ubiquitous.

Our reader the Ecuador Expat summed up the problem of declining quality this way:  Are you willing to pay the higher cost of even a toaster that will be usable by great grandchildren?

Ah, the larger economic questions scream back to center-stage.  If we go from 5-year toasters to 50-year toasters, then only one-in-10 toaster factories will be needed.  Only one-in-10 toaster-makers, too.  One tenth of the container loads…and you quickly see how crappy (disposable) quality is a dandy business model.

When my buddy the Major was down here last week, we talked about where it all started.  I held up the arrival of the “annual model” to save the failing auto industry.  Authoritatively, Wikipedia nails it:

“Alfred P. Sloan extended the idea of yearly fashion-change from clothing to automobiles in the 1920s. His company, General Motors, was the first to introduce planned obsolescence (in cars) by means of making the production date, and thus the car’s newness or lack of it, visually discernible.”

The Major, however, disagreed, citing the case of Société BIC S.A., commonly referred to simply as BIC and stylized as BiC which in the early 1970’s set the “disposable society” on fire with their “Flick Your BiC” ad campaign:

“Dupont explored the possibilities of marketing a disposable lighter, developing an inexpensive disposable lighter called Cricket, which it introduced in the United States in 1972. Later that year Bic was test marketing a disposable lighter that could provide 3,000 lights before wearing out; Bic introduced this lighter in 1973.”

Who do we blame?  Sloan’s my pick, but the Major picks BiC which was basically founded as a “disposables company” in the aftermath of World War II in France.

Either way, between the effects of compound interest and stripping of planetary resources (and the necessary coming death of constant-growth economic models) we need to get out of the work-addiction and begin making smarter choices throughout life.

If there’s to continue being life, that is.

Write when you get rich,

Prepping: The Trunk Check

Warren Bouffant and his little Brit-speaking gecko insure our vehicles,  So, every six-months we get new insurance cards in the mail and that’s a dandy way to trigger a ton of prepping checks. Even in huge outback of East Texas, it’s a short walk from the glove box to the trunk for an inspection.

What should be in the family car’s boot as an emergency/prepped kit?

The answer is extremely variable.  If all you drive if 6 miles, you might be able to get away with nothing and never notice.  Always within walking distance, right?

Driving the 1,287 miles of the Alaska Highway?  Well, that’d be a different kettle of fish.

A lot of prepper stories begin with a preachy party about how everyone needs this and that.  But, it simply ain’t so.

Since we are seldom more than a 4-5 hour walk away from the ranch, we don’t pay as much attention to the bug-out-car concept as much as if we lived in one of them peopled chicken coups called apartments and condos by city-dwellers.

The biggest “risk” for us is communications going down,  I try to remember to put a charged up 2-meter ham radio somewhere  in the vehicle before departure.  (Elaine won’t let me drill holes for antennas in her Lexus.  But it here only fault, so Mr, Acquiescence shrugs his shoulders…).

When we do venture  a 3-hour drive (call it 180 miles) or more out from home, we begin to slide over into the “geared-up” column a bit.

It begins with a gallon of water per person, in small Aquafina or whoever’s bottled water.  Sure, you can save some money buying one gallon jugs, but perhaps you’ve missed lugging a big judg around?  8 bounds in small containers is a lot more comfortable for lugging.

We also keep two LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking, Camping, Travel, and Emergency Preparedness.

There’s a flashlight, NOAA weather radio.  Several rolls of toilet paper, a couple of cheap school backpacks. Didn’t look for the poncho.  A few granola bars.  First aid kit.  Space blanket, one small tarp, a para cord bracelet, plus a knife or two.  Oh, and some long-range bear spray.

Oddly, the one item that Pappy always carried (and it was used a surprising amount) was an old G.I. folding shovel. If you off-road, you can dig out a stuck vehicle…dig a poo-hole, or dig in a fox hole and repel…oops!

Amazon has an assortment any of shovels so which one it “just right” really depends on where you plan to go roaming.

Up north, one of the shovels with some saw teeth on it might make sense.  For under $20 bucks, an SOG Folding Shovel Survival Shovel – “Entrenching Tool” F08-N 18.25” Foldable Shovel Camping Shovel w/Wood Saw Edge + Tactical Shovel Carry Case. But, we are always skeptical when something is called a “tactical” anything since we can gin-up our own can of olive drab spray paint. A folding buck saw is more useful for real survival.  Or, this little $28 gem:Gerber Gator Saw It’s not a full-sized wood lot saw, but I’d pick the Gerber over a sharpened shovel, most days.

On the other hand, if you are not up north and don’t need to keep a fire going all the time, just a simple shovel like the TABOR TOOLS J35, Folding Shovel, Survival Spade, Camping, Gardening, Snow Removal, and SUV Emergencies, Entrenching Trowel Tool Featuring a Steel Rugged Edge Blade, Includes Carrying Pouch with Loop  is $14-bucks and if you feel compelled, you could spray paint the cover, if it really matters to you.  (I once turned an HF radio into a “tactical” radio with a can of spray paint and some shock mounts, but that’s a story for another day.  Sold well, though…)

Other thing that’s missing from the trunk (which I will be taking care of shortly) is a good pair of sneakers  and thick socks for both of us..  When we’re “out of the area” the walk-home trip could be a bit long and, like going up to Oklahoma to see a show at one of the Indian casinos, we may be l”out” several hundred miles with Panama Bates guarding the house..

At that kind of range from home base, the gear begins to increase.  Several days of MRE’s, more toilet paper, more water bottles.  But there’s a lot of other stuff that moves up the list.  Lead throwing equipment (ahem…) to augment bear spray.  A folding buck saw, maybe the hatchet goes into the kit.  More clothing, depending on time of year. Sun block and bug spray.

The “hidden money” also depends on where you’re driving and how far from home.  When we were flying around the country in our old Beechcraft, we got into the habit of carrying enough cash to pay for fuel all the way back to KPSN.  That was some real money at extreme ranges because the Beech drank 10-gallons an hour at fast cruise. 15-engine hours out is 150 gallons time $5 a gallon…do the math.

A wad of twenties in the car may seem excessive, but when you sit back and review things, there are a wide range of potential “headline events” that could make a hidden a roll of twenties  the smartest investment you every made.

Say the Internet goes down.  Massive cyber attack.  How do you pay for gas?

When we go somewhere, like Tulsa a while back to see Tom Jones, I made the mistake of not gassing up upon arrival.  That slowed our departure a good bit next day.

People who are ranging “widely” should be able to procure gasoline any number of ways, not the least of which would be using an under $20 –Made in USA -GasTapper () Power Equipment Model w/filter – Gas, Oil, Water, Fluid Changer Pump for Lawnmowers, ATV’s, Quads, 4 Wheelers, Power Equipment, Motorcycles, UTV, Generators, Tractors – Search “by Gentap” to see other versions

My thinking – yet to be field-tested – is that with a sufficient roll of twenties and the siphon one might be able to buy their way back to home base or at least walking range.  From wherever that was, we could break out the hiking shoes.

Bugging Out or Just Getting Home?

If you are already well-established at a survival platform, as we have set-up our place up to be, then a short list of items for the car is all that’s on the “normal” checklist for when car tabs or insurance cards come in.

  • Everything to change a spare tire is in working order and tire pressure checked.
  • Half dozen pair of nitrile gloves.
  • Quart each of motor oil, brake fluid, and power steering fluid if you are paranoid about breakdowns…
  • Roll of toilet paper.
  • NOAA radio, spare cell charger cable, 2-meter ham radio.
  • Case of water.
  • Granola or protein bars (or jerky, or whatever turns your crank).
  • First aid kit.
  • Flashlight (waterproof and batteries checked).
  • Folding shovel.

Ranging further out (to 200 miles)

  • Walking shoes with thick socks
  • Weather appropriate clothing
  • LifeStraws
  • More MRE’s
  • Bear spray (and lead dispenser)
  • Fire steels and charcloth kits.
  • Fire-starting blocks.
  • Serious knives (marine folding of Bowie – either one is damn useful)
  • Para-cord
  • Space blankets
  • Blue tarp (or two)
  • Traction mats if going off pavement
  • Add to first aid kit:
    • Benadryl
    • EpiPen’
    • Pepto Bismal or bismuth tabs
    • Aspirin
    • Elastic bandages
    • DEET or equiv.
    • Mosquito helmets
  • Small overland kit (mainly the sighting compass)
  • Basic road map.
  • Basic car repair tools (wrench set).
  • Electrical tape
  • Recheck fuse spares are aboard…
  • (Pappy also insisted on a spare headlight and a spare tail light…)

Beyond 200 miles, think about:

  • A Haywire Klamper  Some rubber tape is good, too/
  • Buck saw, hatchet/
  • Basic fishing tackle
  • Flare gun
  • Case or three of MRE’s
  • More water
  • Case of toilet paper
  • Consider an overlanding GPS with trail maps and three sets of batteries.
  • 3-sets of batteries for everything
  • 100-hour candles (3)
  • 100-200 watts of solar panels
  • 500 W inverter
  • Good pop-up tent
  • Cheap digital volt meter
  • HF Ham radio and emergency antenna.

Of course, no one will actually do this because we are all so comfortable that we don’t think such extreme prepping would ever be useful because things will always be “normal” right?

On the other hand, toss in a $60 Sportneer Camping Tent 2-3 Person Automatic Instant Pop Up Waterproof Camping Hiking Travel Beach Tents for Family Groups and some cooking gear and we’re all going camping…

More prepping thoughts Saturday…

Write when you get rich,