There was a murmur of shock yesterday when I hinted that Elaine and I might actually sell the homestead here and look for something in a small to medium-sized town for the next chapter of life.

A reader we’ll call Jonesy offered this:

“So the gloom and doom self reliance model you have been preaching for years is now no big deal? And moving into a condo is self preservation ? What happened to the total Apocalypse and social breakdown we were all warned about ? Every thing is a business model i guess .”

No, everything is NOT a business model. And I will ignore the “troll bait” at the end…but I will explain the rest of it, if you promise to think about it.

First, the “doom gloom and self-reliance” hasn’t changed. Just because we move from the sticks to the cleared land of a small town doesn’t mean we give up on prepping OR self-reliance. WTF? Where did you come up with that notion? Good gravy….Dude, we can be prepped anywhere…get a grip.  This is not an either/or deal.  Prepped is baseline, location is a different issue.

As to the apocalypse and social breakdown, patience please. I think if you look at where we were as a country 20 years ago and compare it with today, you’ll see a good degree of social deterioration (all those “dividers” are actually making progress) while at the same time, our likely conflict with China is not going anywhere.

I’ve told you this more times than I can count, but maybe Jonesy didn’t get it: Eventually we will do another global war – it’s just how economic depressions end.

As to who it’s with? China has a growing population, an excess of males, and they have a growing energy hunger. Eventually they will have to go adventuring. That means both territorial as well as “sphere of influence” expansion.

But, that has only a limited impact on what we/Elaine and I do to personally be best prepared for the future.

Let me back up: Suppose you are 50 years old. Where is the best place to live in order to optimize your personal longevity? Certainly not in a big city, since random acts of violence happen (you can have Chicago). A mid-sized town is better, but the really great mid-sized towns have a way of exploding. I recommend periodic trips through Boise, Idaho at rush-hour as a reality check. Boise is now a medium-large town that started off small. In terms of investment, dandy place.

But for us – more than 15 years ago – we decided that we would have to go through multiple lifestyle and location changes. Remember, we were wild sailors and I did 11-years on the ultimate preparedness platform, an ocean-ready offshore sailboat.

When I rolled up enough money in the high tech world, we moved to the rural part of East Texas as fast as we could. I don’t think either of us would trade it for much of anything, except Life itself.

So here’s the point Jonesy missed: The Reality of threats to Life itself mean that at some point your odds of dying will change depending on your location.

My son, being in emergency medicine, often reminds me that “Dad, if you’re going to have a heart attack, please do it in Seattle…” His point is that from “drop to shock” (heart attack event to arrival and application of an automatic external defibrillator is often under three-minutes. Yeah, Seattle is that good and that fast. It’s the Formula One of emergency medicine.

The actual calculation we all make goes something like this, Jonesy:

Question 1: “What are the odds of having a heart attack between now and 2024 – at which time I will be 75?”

Based on family history, I’d put that number around 40% at my old body weight (and BMI) but I should be able to reduce that to the 20% range by reducing my BMI to normal.

Yep, working on that and from my all-time-high I’ve dropped 30 pounds and four belt notches but I need to drop at least another 30 to get even near something good. 50 pounds would be better, but I’m doing it in a reasonable way, losing a pound or three per week.  Not so much I get skin flabbiness, though.

Still, even though I am “on plan” no matter what I do, there is still the 20% heart risk (maybe that’s for everyone, or darn near) and Elaine is maybe  at a slightly higher risk because her mom died from heart troubles and her brother has multiple stents. For the two of us combined, risks might be in the 30-35% range.

So in the next X years, we know that risk is going up.

Question 2: “What is the likely timing, odds, and nature of the expected apocalypse?

I hope you’ve noticed that we don’t go around predicting global subsidence events, nor do we believe the stories about Planet X coming by.

What we DO believe is the combined powers of economics and demographics. China will need to build a huge middle-class, and we are in our long-discussed “Manufacturer’s Resource Wars.”

As to the timing, that will be at the end of thre Second Depression which puts it out as far as 2030, but the South China Sea could blow up tomorrow over a single naval misunderstanding. Plus there’s the Strait of Hormuz off on the side as another flashpoint.

I think odds of an apocalyptic war are about where our shared health risks are (30-35%) and we can re-assess as we get closer to 2024.

My point is, the profile for two people in their 70’s is much different than people in their 50’s.

As a chart (*oh boy, here comes another Ure spreadsheet) it might look something like this:


I .hope this explains it for Jonesy.

It says at age 50 today, it’s clear that until out past 2032 there are fewer health risks from being in the sticks than there are from any coming apocalypse.

On the other hand, when you look at actuarial numbers north of 70, you see mortality takes a big enough upturn that our risks from a health crisis are likely to be gaining such that risk of death from that will be higher than risk from war or whatever.

The main thing is you’ll see that we are both working on serious health changes (vitamins, exercise, and in my case weight loss) in order to hold down the combined risk of a health crisis to under 30%.

Still, no matter how “conditioned” and how “healthy” we work at becoming, “the numbers” tell us that in the next year or three, it would not be unreasonable to move to a place where healthcare is prompter than out her in the woods.

Will we hate the move? Oh, hell yeah.

We were having our afternoon toddy Sunday as 12 deer wandered through the yard. Ours being something of a no-hunting haven for these guys. We can take deer if we need, but not till Wal-Mart and Brookshire’s run out of food and we get well into our stored provisions.

So there’s the long answer: Young people – of the sort that can rebuild America should be going rural like crazy. See Oilman2’s latest over at the site, too. OM2 is the 12-years younger than me prototype, lol.

Going back into the earliest horizon’s of time, Elaine and I bought this place from a wonderful couple who were just flipping into their 80’s. At that age, even with only the 12.82 acre parcel, it had become too much for them. And they only had about 3-acres cleared for the house and outbuildings.

Now, we have added 16 acres and and about 13-acres are ready for goats or whatever, but damn is it a lot of work!

Note that the previous owners did not publish books or write web columns.

So in addition to the actuarial tables driven considerations, we also look at things like higher-speed internet, not having to spend so damn much of communications costs, and so forth, as part of the equation as well.

And then there’s the “team” aspect.

Right now, Elaine and I are a very “tight team” in that we do projects together. I can’t think of a meaner thing for me to do than stick her with the job of cleaning up the complexities of my life and multiple hobbies and all the farm crap. On the other hand, I wouldn’t want to go through her earthly goods, either. But together it can be a shared experience of paring down to essentials, including the hunt for a new home…and to us that’s what makes life worth living: A string of dandy adventures we can both share and enjoy.

Hope this clarifies our thinking.

And yeah, no matter where we go, six months of food and necessaries are still baked in the cake.

When the diet is done, my daily maintenance calories will drop 30% or more, so at least prepping on a caloric intake basis will be less strenuous, as yet-another benefit.

Around the Ranch:  Sun Joe Chipper

M ay be the neatest little yard tool around for some tasks I hate – namely the huge collection of twigs and small sticks shed by 29 acres of trees.  The solution? 

imageSun Joe CJ601E 14-Amp Electric Wood Chipper/Shredder.  Yes, $104 and change.  But time is money.

Only gripes so far??  By the time I got it assembled and the rest of the chores done on the daily list of crap, it was sprinkling and I don’t mix rain or sweat and plug-in electrics. 

Wheeled it up to the scrap pile under the 12” chop saw, found some victim-wood and yep…chips just fine.

Now, if we could get a nice day…

Also, martini time Monday we celebrated the arrival of our first tomato sprout in the cold frame that sits on the seedling mat in the greenhouse.

I’ve put in, gosh, something like 48 beefsteak tomato starts and anything that doesn’t go into the garden will be dropped off around the property to see how well “salad in the wild works.  Eyeing a space down by the creek for lettuce..most shady spot…

Staged are 28 bok choy plants and a dozen yellow squash.   One squash plant here will feed an army.

Figure we will have plenty to freeze this year and give the vacuum sealer a good workout.

Next garden project is “tiller roulette” to see if I can get the old beast going for another year.  We picked up the Black & Decker 20V Lithium Ion Cordless Garden Cultivator/Tiller for keeping rows cultivated  Always fun to see if the Blue Ox (the 7 HP kick-Ure-butt front tine tiller) kicks over..

I’ve standardized on the B&D 20V series for just about everything:  Hedge trimmer, small chain saw, pole saw, cultivator and string trimmer. 

If/when we sell, everything will stay with the property (tractor, tools, etc including the solar etc.) since a local farm/land bank will finance this as a farm which means people can get more than just a box and some dirt in the home deal.

Trying to get all the gardening and home improvement done by April 15 so when the weather gets turned back up to Bake/Broil I can focus on eating with a side of cultivating and raking.

First tomatoes seed in Jan 30 so 45-days out with any luck and a warm spring.  March 16th?  That’d be too cool.

The climate drift this year is marvelous for East Texas growers, though.  Have to say,  I’m impressed.

Kid’s didn’t necessarily appreciate hearing about it with the snow in Seattle/Tacoma Monday.  They’re young and they can deal with it.

Write when you get rich,