In Case of Depression #2 today.  Since we covered some of the basics of the economic and social drivers already, so let’s move on to the “worst case” minimums to think about as we edge toward the uncertain future.

We have seven quantitative measurements to consider:  Housing, Food, Environment, Communications, Transportation, Energy, and Finance.

Together, these comprise a kind of ‘tag-cloud’ that defines how you live.  It’s a useful exercise to make a list of fallback positions for each of your major Life System.

Let’s run through some examples starting with Housing.

Before we begin, let’s clarify the objective of this “thinking exercise:”  You don’t need to run out and buy a zillion dollars worth of canned goods or freeze-dried.  This is all about mental agility practice.  It’s like learning to look at things differently.  With this in mind….

Your Primary Housing position is the one you presently hold.  Let’s say that you live in a condo with a spouse.  Along comes the Big Bad Event (BBE) and you no longer have a condo to head home to.  What do you do?

We begin with a simple analytic matrix:  Was it Wind that blew it over, as in hurricane Michael a couple of weeks back?  Is it police action due to an ‘active shooter’ on the block?  Maybe an earthquake has leveled it.  Flooding, perhaps?

The three main purposes for your assessment are first, not being in harms way.  Second is to assess a possible return time or date.  And the third option is to consider your contingency housing plans.

Two examples:  Power lines have fallen on your home due to a quake – or there is still that ‘active shooter’ down the street.  In either of these cases, a trip to Denny’s for some easy comfort food, and maybe a snooze in the car and the problem is likely to resolve.  Cops will get the bad people and the power crews will (eventually) get the lights on.

The worst case is there has been something like a quake or a forest/range fire has wiped out your life’s work.  This is not so good.  This is when you find out if that offsite backup of critical documents is really worth a damn, or not.

It also is when you can work through your back-up housing plan.

  • Can you move in with your pal Jimmy across town?
  • If no, how about aunt Suzi in another city?
  • Hotel or motels? Leads to a homeowner insurance questions doesn’t it?
  • OK, how about camping gear?
  • All gone?  Burned in the trunk?  Credit cards, too?
  • Tisk. tisk.  Got a blue tarp or tent in the trunk of the car?  Do you have a back-up mailbox?  Way to get the mail or FedEx when the new cards and the insurance check shows up?

We forget that real live humans go through this kind of process every time there is a flood.  With river warnings up recently, we were worried about that again.  Not for us (we’re on a hill) but people in the area do live in lowlands…

Living in a tent is not something we would recommend, but lots of people have done it – some for extended periods of time.

Here’s the critical next step:  When you get down to a possible contingency that might be useful in the future, GENERALIZE as to where the solution you’re noodling around has been used before.

An example of living in tents?  Hmmm… how about a search for [camp life of the gold miners] on Google or whoever’s search engine?  This will bring you a lot of practical information about that kind of life and from here, you begin building your own KNOWLEDGE TREE by reading Around Key Concepts.

Reading up on life in a tent is sure to come across some mentions of [tent stoves] and off we go on another useful reading project.  Why, first thing you know, you have some projects you can build to keep around the patio or back yard.  In a pinch….

If you want less commercial and longer content, one of my “quick knowledge acquisition” tricks to is append the search with “.pdf” and then you will only get items that are really pertinent.

When I appended .pdf into that simple tent stove search, my second “hit” on Google at the time was a 2008 Norwegian University Master’s Thesis on improving combustion in wood stoves.

Going “this deep” may seem absurd, but it’s genuinely useful in becoming a better-rounded human. While certain US States are really down on wood stove use, this paper starts off with this useful through on the first page:

“Wood is a renewable energy source considered to be CO2-neutral with respect to the global carbon cycle, i.e. provided that we do not fell more timber than what it grows, the combustion of wood does not contribute globally to the greenhouse effect. Annually, the growth in Norwegian forests exceeds the felling of trees. Therefore, in Norway, the forests will actually benefit from human activities.”

Which doesn’t seem like a big deal unless you live in an area where supplemental wood heating is useful.  Or, if the crap hits the fan in which case the more you know, the better off you will be, relatively speaking…

Getting the study approach, here?

Let’s go on and do another:  Food is next up on the list.

What shall we model?  EMP?  Good one.

OK, you get off work today just at the time all the electricity goes out and although your car should start, you owned one of the 13 percent of cars that won’t.  But, starting isn’t the issue because you were planning to gas up after work.  Absent gas, and needing to go shopping, what’s your plan, sport?

Assessment is where we begin:  Is this EMP or just a regional outage?  Turning on the car radio and dialing around, we are shocked at the lack of static.  Bad sign.

Well, off to home we go…assessing food prospects along the way.

You arrive – and sure enough, the lights are off.  “Assessment…where’s my cheat-sheet???”  Oh, here we go…

(Sorry if it’s fuzzy..hit the link up top for a cleaner copy…)

This will allow you to do some pretty good meal planning:  You know what’s frozen (don’t open the door – use that lump between your shoulders so things stay cold…you do have a nearly-photographic (semi-eidetic mind, right?  Common among our readership…).

After going through this exercise – assuming you built a small camp stove in the first part of the article (what’cha been doing all this time, lazy-bones???) you will be able to take refrigerated and frozen foods to their almost-danger point, then cook (killing germs, right?) and get a couple of days more life out of ’em.

About the  10th day on Oatmeal, though, you’ll be seeing the value of (what’s our next step?)  GENERALIZING.  Food storage problem.  Toss in water, too – even more vital.

This is where you get creative…

As part of that process, grow your KNOWLEDGE TREE and go deep on whatever catches your intgerest by reading .pdf’s which is where deeper knowledge is found oftentimes.

But you see the point:  Model a Mess,  Assess, Test Solutions, Load Knowledge Tree – you won’t need to spend as much, but you will be needing to stock your brain with lots of high value thinking.

One book on local foraging can give you a lifetime of calories. Edible Wild Plants: Eastern/Central North America (Peterson Field Guides) or Amazon has more than 2,400 books on foraging to paw through over here.

Oh-oh – see that?

Lights are on!  Guess that wasn’t EMP…No Judgement Day tomorrow so it’s back to work on the electronics bench, then (what are weekends for, after all?)  After that, I have a tent-stove to build…

Write when you get rich,

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