Coping: Prepping Versus Personal Threats/Aging

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,

29 thoughts on “Coping: Prepping Versus Personal Threats/Aging”

  1. On a trip to central Europe, I noticed farmers didn’t live on their land individually but in villages nearby. I concluded this is a result of being overrun in the past by invaders. Individual farmers wouldn’t have a chance against a group. Small towns, away from cities are your best bet for survival in the future.

    • Don speaks great truth – has everyone seen the Mad Max and The Road Warrior movies? In a societal collapse, the scum of the earth will practice a scorched Earth policy, picking off the easy targets first, then either attacking each other or going after collaborative, like-minded groups who are much harder and more costly (in terms of supplies and ammo) to defeat. The old adage that an army is stronger than the sum its individual pieces should be kept in mind. Humanity survived repeated disasters in eons past through common sense and a common defense. This does not negate the value of prepping – which is vital in hurricane, earthquake, snowstorm or tornado stricken areas, and a smart backup for power grid issues (solar flares, EMP attacks, grid hacks, etc.), at least until group survival becomes the best logical option. Ultimately, those who live alone will likely die alone.

    • Having spent many years in an out of Europe, I can explain this system IMHO
      1) Remember they started with Fif-Dom’s which were run by assorted ruling class. Thus areas for hundreds of years plus have been set up that way.
      2) After WWII – when they rebuilt they kept the same plan! Why you may ask? Because they realized that in war you need to still need to produce food! Thus Farm Land then Forrest were locked into the local planning boards.

      I have always liked the idea since this gives every community the opportunity to have access to farm land! Unlike our planning that doesn’t help a individual or community to be able to produce produce or animals.
      On that not both of my parents and grand parents talked about how they got through the depression by growing food in the backyard garden!

      Where would the average American be able to do that in a planned city today’s?

  2. George,
    At 74 I’m still on my bit of land and loving it. With regard to planning your life around a medical emergency, I would suggest you take a quick read of Karl Denninger’s thoughts at . We should all plan to die one day – but I would suggest that you seriously consider what is it worth to you to live a bit longer in a compromised condition. I’ll take my peace and quiet and a few days less and go to meet my maker with a smile on my face.

    • Bravo, well said. You hit the nail square on the head. I been sending Geo emails now and again questioning him on WHY he has such a fixation on getting old and having medical care etc. I am 83, I don’t worry about all those things at all.

  3. Might not be such a bad idea, if you could build a new small house with a fantastic integrated greenhouse with lots of light indoor for food raising. And an earth-source heating system.

    • I too would like to see how you’d go about constructing an “invisible” greenhouse as part of a urban survival oasis. Will you be able to find something with an onsite water source, an artesian well, presumably? Would you choose a partially earth-sheltered design for the house? With everything you’ve learned so far, how would you construct a from-scratch residence that would be both functional and aesthetically pleasing, as you move forward into late middle age?

      I have one of the SunJoe electric rototillers. It doesn’t do much unless I break the sod first, which wasn’t exactly the original plan.

  4. “As to the apocalypse and social breakdown, patience please.”

    yeah I had figured march – August for the financial adjustment to happen.. then trump got into office. ( which surprised me since money talks and there was a ton of it being dumped into his adversaries not to mention they tried everything to stop him including wanting to rewrite campaign laws.. LOL ) Now I think we actually might have a chance if our congress will give him a chance to do what he is trying to do.. rebuild a manufacturing industry put people back to work and start taxing incoming goods and services.

  5. “Everything is NOT a business model”

    I’ve seen the “this is your brain on drugs”… your last few columns must be the “this is your brain on different colored lights” Take a hammer and smash the light crown and throw the pieces away. Don’t ever experiment with your OWN brain. I hope the effects wear off… we need you back.

    • scenario 1: I felt energized after wearing the light crown and plowed the field in record time.
      scenario 2: Subject went catatonic for 30 minutes after treatment, suddenly jumped up, ran outside at full speed and plowed an acre patch in high gear.

      Maybe try passing out the “party hats” to guinea oops I mean house guests and observing impartially.

  6. Yes, everything is a business model, Family and roles of husband, father, hunter farmer, wife, mother, garden,house, child care, training daughters and fathers training sons. farming blacksmith baker, candle maker, GM Hospitals doctor offices, government armies.. All business Models..Schools, ALL Business Models.

  7. George, you’re spot-on in that prepping is baseline and can be done anywhere. For the past 22 years I’ve lived in a suburban townhouse in Wichita KS and it was during the Y2K hysteria I started to “plan ahead”, started out small with just extra TP, but today I have converted my most secure basement room into a mini-bunker with most essentials and capable of off-the-grid comforts for a good 6 months.

    You’re also quite correct that it all boils down to location/location/location. In my case, Wichita is a fairly quiet city with full amenities but lacking in the daily high-octane drama of larger metro areas. I chose my townhouse for several reasons, beyond just size and price. It’s also on a metro busline, my credit union is 1/2 block away, with a convenience store and full grocery not too much further.

    The tradeoff is that McConnell AFB is 1/4 mile from my patio and it has long been listed as a secondary nuclear target [at one time it was even a SAC HQ with B1B’s cruising the skies like so many Klingon Birds Of Prey, and AF1 still flies in for regular maintainance at the Boeing plant just south of my house] so in the endgame my preps may become moot.

    But in the meantime, I can enjoy the nightly strains of the Star-Spangled Banner as it plays from base loudspeakers at dusk everyday. And you know? It’s still very comforting whenever I hear that familiar anthem knowing that someone has my back!

    • Gregory raises a point about proximity to military bases which also applies to clusters of military retirees. On one hand I live near Patrick AFB and the Kennedy Space Center which are presumably juicy targets. On the other, push comes to shove in domestic disorder, what could be better than a place with heavy armament and disciplined people not afraid to fight, whether on active service or not?

  8. ‘Everything’ may not be a business model, but homestead prepping is more than a ‘team effort’. The American version of back-to-the-land isn’t built on successful models of multi-generational farm efforts, but instead built on a perverted Frank Lloyd Wright ‘everyone deserves a slice of the fruited plain in their front yard’ ideal. Which gave us isolated communities of must-drive-to-and-from, manicured lawns, and HOAs that won’t let you have hens, a garden, or any house color other than beige.
    I’ve seen it many times in my older relatives and friends, and now am planning for my 60s+ the same way: unless you have a farm hand/trusty tenant (or a big family that knows what hard work is, and does it daily without whining…good luck) to help around the property, homesteading is too much work for the retired couple.
    G’Ure…you could check out the little town of Carnation, over the ridge from your son…farm community, on a big river that goes to the salt, backs up to the cascade foothills, 2 hrs from Canada, 45 mins to seatac. We’ve got a distillery now, and the new local restaurant’s clam chowder is very tasty.

  9. George: I currently reside in the Seattle area (working to get out) and having spent two years in Iowa recently I was agog to realize the snow dump yesterday essentially shut this city DOWN yesterday. Shades of my time in DC when two inches of snow would close the Fed Gov for a day.

    No UPS, no garbage pick-up, no school. All for about four inches of snow – and I live in the hills to the East.

    And the locals like to think they are prepared for a big earthquake? Oh brother!

  10. Deer find vegetation up through arbor vitae to be ‘salad’. Even small cottonwoods in winter get gone. Experience shows vegetables in the wild don’t seem to survive. Drat!

  11. Great minds think alike. My SunJoe chipper arrived last week. I only have 1/3 acre, but it’s tropical jungle!

    • I think Sun-Joe makes great stuff, including the chainsaw, but I need a bare minimum of a tractor mounted chipper, or better still, a 12″ towable one. Out here in the semi-desert, wood grows like no tomorrow!

  12. Don’t know if you’ve read it, yet, but Cody Lundin’s “When All Hell Breaks Loose” is an incredible urban/suburban/anywhere survival manual. It’s on my “Books For The Rest of My Life” shelf. Don’t leave (your present) home without it! You can live with confidence anywhere after reading this book, I believe.

  13. Been reading here for a bit over 8 years…lot’s of good stuff…made some bux thru Ure suggestions….I homestead and have for 10 years going. U were a sensible voice crying from the wilds….what the hell happened to you these past few months?
    I am Ure age..and you encouraged me thru your blog to keep going…And I am so glad for it!
    But you are now bailing out on a wussy health concern….Geesshh G…we all R going to die one day…..get over it man.

  14. Living in a small city is just fine, provided things remain as normal as they are. If money becomes worthless, how would one obtain wheat? To me, advancing into elderliness requires a change in one’s sense of priorities. One’s health becomes a part-time job. One may no longer look at projects and think like a thirty year old. Everything is going to take twice as long to do, period. Oh, and the wheat? Potatoes are very nutritious, and they do not need to all be harvested at once. Planting several different kinds of potatoes would be wise, out of an abundance of caution, as practiced by the Andean Indians.

  15. There’s a difference between worrying about getting old/dying, and knowing that you WILL die and you need not get too old at any age. I’m George’s age +- and I studied medicine, among other things. Stay healthy and then die. Medicine is good for helping traumatic events, but survival post-MI is an iffy thing, and medicine will take your money and give you a few days or months – maybe. Many MI’s can be handled without intervention and are medically “silent”. The bottom line is that if you live life as an “elder”, and never accept the term “elderly”, you can live well and die quickly. I have no intention of dying in a hospital and having my wealth(such as it is) be taken from my family. Best to die at home, or in the back 40 somewhere.

    The bottom line is: Without regard to safety, “Where do you WANT to live?”.

    • Medicine will take your money anyway. People don’t think about it but walk into any nursing home and take a look they have a couple of boxes of assorted stuff a few pictures and their memories..Most of them had to sell everything off in order to pay the what five to fifteen thousand a month expenses..In a post apocalypse situation does anyone truly believe money will have any worth.. or gold or silver.. remember during the early 1900s and the depression over in germany.. it was cheaper to burn money than buy wood.. and there were literally people with bushel baskets going to the country from the city to get vegitables with it.
      Just imagine.. your in the deserts of africa where people have to walk up to fifty miles to find food and an abundance of water.. now go out there and take with you a tanker of water and a truck load of food.. then take a pile of cash and see which one they will take. the cash is toast.
      My suggestion has always been to get a small group together and finance a farmer in exchange for a lower interest rate and a cow pig and an acre of garden space.. he will jump on it.. you will have food.. my mom use to tell me how during the thirties they would walk miles to get to a farm to milk a goat.. in exchange she did mending and cleaning etc.. for the once a week goats milk.. My father shined shoes did odd jobs in chicago and sorted exchange for his work he got the over ripe fruit. and discarded shoes
      when they finally moved out of the old homestead they had enough food to feed a small family for a few years there are hundreds of older people that went through the depression.. I once worked for a guy that his family with twelve kids lived in an abandoned train car….
      My grandmother had a small container garden that she grew they had a dozen chickens and two laying hens..
      Today if something was to come up.. well cash isn’t worth anything it is just a piece of paper, gold well you can’t eat gold it is pretty shiney but in a real life catastrophic event it has very little use.. now copper or the poor mans gold is a working metal and has thousands of uses..Prepping in a small town is commonly done.. even in an apartment complex you can have a nice patio garden JMHO

      • bushel baskets of gold and silver.. to trade for food from farmers..
        a useful tool.. give a man a fish and he will have a good meal.. give a man a fishing pole and he can feed his family..

  16. Just to re-iterate a caution on the light helmet/crown: Blue light can real0ally around the winter solstice and the- months before and after. I was renovating and threw blue tarps up for curtains, and I learned this the hard way. I took them down and everything changed for the better. I do think deep red light 660-680nm does help, especially after dark. I’ll be doing more research soon when Ebay delivers. I’d worry more about heart and other issues with a lot of blue light than red.n That said, blue white light is great at midday for working and staying alert.

Comments are closed.