Out here in the Outback of East Texas, we are continuing with prepping for a global pandemic.  As of Friday, the numbers were edging up toward 10,000 cases and 200 dead.  A modest 2.1-percent fatality rate, except for a few asterisks.

One is that the disease can take up to 14-days to present symptoms and, during that time, a person can be communicable.

What’s more, this means (in Ure’s simple way of calculating) that in order to understand the fatality rate, we need to look more at four or five-day ago  cases and current day  fatalities.

Economic Wreckage

Some basic blocking and tackling questions here:

  1. Are you in a hurry to go out for Chinese food?
  2. Looking forward to that concert in May, still?
  3. How about signing up for an early fall cruise line excursion?
  4. Or, going out to a movie theater, perhaps?

You can see the handwriting on the wall:  As my consigliere pointed out when we chattered this week,  “UrbanSurvival readers begin projecting realistic outcomes within a few  days of an event.  Markets take anywhere from 10-14 days to get real.  And the general public?  Sadly, there will be some who never get up to speed.”

We can already begin to pencil-in some ideas about the future, though.  The biggest – and scariest – is that Peak Tech may be here.

While some of our Bay Area readers may disagree, we point to Boeing which just launched the 777-X into flight testing.  Having worked with some of the folks at BCAC when my airline was buying 737-300’s in the mid 1980s, and realizing Boeing’s considerable modeling power (anyone else remember BoeingCalc?) we can look at pandemic stats and wonder how long the 777-X program will remain alive?

With the cruise ship being quarantined this week with 6,000 passengers and crew in the Med, who wants to go on  an ocean voyage to far-away places?  Show of hands, please?

Two purchases as we continue to spread-out our pandemic prepping.

The first:  30-thousand non-GMO heritage veggie seeds,  34-varieties.  Fresher food, easier to pick and eat than go to the store and gamble.

This pandemic is a great opportunity to take up container gardening. I’m suggesting that you look into at least putting in a get-by bunch of plants and spending the 15-minutes a day it takes to keep a garden going.

Two “Texas secrets.”  Start plant indoors or in the greenhouse on the heating mats so they are 2-3 inches when last frost date comes along in March here.

Second, when set out, put a ton of mulch around them.

I’ve already made plans for running pine needles and leaves through the electric shredder…the more mulch,; the merrier and the less water use.

Also, people around here don’t give a rip about having no competing plants.  Many in the Outback toss out seedling (letting them fend as Nature intended) and let them grow with other plants (grasses and weeds) because some of our fellow Order of the Red Neck observed over a century back:  God doesn’t send out gardeners!  Yet we still see plants all over…must be about harmonizing!

Another Pandemic Prep?  Picked up another Ozone generator.  This is a super high-output unit.

To be sure, ozone generators are not well-understood by most people.  There are two primary types:  Ozone generation by light (UV-C) and by high voltage electrical discharge.

In visualizing how they work, think of it like they “burn” air and in the process change O2 into O3.  O3 is very much more corrosive, anti-bacteria and antiviral.

I happen to have had an ozone machine much of the time since I was young due to severe asthma.  The Ozone generator I had was just like the one’s acquired on eBay in past years.

First, a word (or several) about the effects of Ozone.  Good and bad.

The bad first:

  • Ozone is very corrosive to many plastics and rubber compounds.  If you have something out of rubber or latex and you want to assure long use, keep it out of ultra-violet light and pass on ozone.
  • Ozone in high enough doses can be a lung irritant.  Also not good.

The good?

  • As one Abstract (late 2019) on PubMed.gov reported:  “Oxidation therapies have shown an extremely high safety profile, lacking credible reports of significant injury beyond vein irritation. Ozone therapy, the most studied and least expensive to perform, is in itself a germicide, not an antibiotic, and improves several physiological parameters essential for infection defense. Recent reports indicate very favorable responses to both bacterial and viral disease, inclusive of Ebola. Despite lack of commercial profitability (not patentable), medicine would do well to revisit its pre-antibiotic era oxidation therapy roots, especially ozone in the current crisis.”
  • Besides treating the air, ozone also induces a charge on dust,  such that dust particles become charged, cling to one-another, and then fall out of the air weighing more.

Not everyone will want to spend $85 on a generator like the Enerzen Commercial Ozone Generator 6,000mg Industrial O3 Air Purifier Deodorizer Sterilizer (6,000mg – Black) that we did.

If you do get ozone unit, either use the timer OR get a cycling timer so it runs for a few minutes, one an hour.  The high output ozone is for getting rid of room odors and such.  Point being?  Use with an abundance of caution.

Now, one more point about ozone:  There has been some suggestion that controlled amounts of ozone may have a role in certain types of aging.  A 2020 paper (again, on PubMed) offers a report  called “Controlled ozone therapy modulates the neurodegenerative changes in the frontal cortex of the aged albino rat.”  To the best of our knowledge, this research is the first attempt to investigate whether the antioxidant properties of O3 can ameliorate age-associated structural alterations of the cerebral cortex.”

What’s more, this is not the sole indicator that there “may be somethingc there” with this ozone stuff:  ” Moreover, this study clarified that O3 exerted its effects via reducing oxidative stress, apoptosis, gliosis as well as improving neurogenesis and cholinergic plasticity. This work added to the previously proved aging – associated neurodegenerative effects and provided a new insight into the promising role of O3 to ameliorate these effects..”

Since we have always had ozone units around (they’re why we didn’t have mildew on our sailboat, right?) we use them with some confidence.

But in our Pandemic Preps – in addition to buying a lot of garden seeds, we have plans to put store-bought goods in a confined space and flood it with ozone and come back in a few hours, or we may set up a small room for longer-term treatment of packaged goods.

One last place where the ozone machine may be useful:  You will remember I had some problems last year with mold in my greenhouse.

Well, guess what ozone kills?  Yep, mold.


To clarify:  I don’t stay in the room with the high output unit on.  I run the unit for a while to “shock” a room, and then when it’s off, I go in.  Freshness remains but the ozone dissipates.  We will set up a “shock space” for groceries, but we won’t be in with them.

Another point:  Ozone kills things like foam rubber.  I know because when I ran a lot of ozone on the boat, it tornb up (*as in made crumbly) the foam rubber gaskets on a couple of port holes.

Whether it’s good for plants – as a gas – is questionable, although in low doses, I might be trying a few things.  There is some reduction in wheat output, but the data varies by region and in field settings, who knows what other factors are in play?

On the other hand, down the road, ozonated water does seem to have some application with one report, here, talking about 39-40% greater fruit (tomatoes in this study) bearing.

We like numbers like that…it’s just my old brain cells aren’t ready to figure out how to generate 4.0 mg/L water out of it.

A Word About Thieves Oil

You are likely, if you hop around the ‘net enough, to run into people yammering about how Thieves Oil can be great for pandemic times.

Well, yes…and no.

The yes part first:  Thieves oil is believed to have had its origins in the Black Palgue that swept across  Europe beginning in 1346.  It was bubonic plague and the natural reservoir (origin vector if you’re taking epidemiology) was fleas.  Any animal, but particularly people’s (dirty, no hot water to speak of) clothing could have food residues on it and therefore, shaking rats out of clothing was not uncommon.  Where there were rats, there were fleas. Flea meant plague…

The story goes that when people died, enterprising thieves found they would not get any of the bubonic rats coming toward their persons IF they put on a pungent-smelling mix of several essential oils.  The list includes Clove, Cinnamon Bark (a woof will do, lol), Lemon Oil, Rosemary, and Eucalyptus.  Carrier can be water or witch hazel.

My buddy Gaye Levy has a whole article on making the “Thieves-like” stuff (as a preventative) over on here Strategic Living Blog site here.  Smells great, but unlike to have any effect on coronavirus.

Other recipes go heavier on one ingredient, or another, but Gaye’s oil proportions are just fine.  As in many essential oil mixes, a bit of variance (to your own nose) is expected.  If you look around her site, you’ll find high quality sources for essential oil.

Main things to remember are:this is a modest protectant for fleas at best.  What  evolved from a rat and flea repellant.  Doesn’t do a lot for someone hacking andf sneezing in the QuikiMart or elevator.  N100 mask and eye protection are what you want.  And a 50:1 bottle of bleach solution.  And no air travel…and…..

Second thing (and this is first-hand experience from out in the shop last year):  Eucalyptus and Clove oil (cheaper stuff from Amazon) watered down 1 part 50-50 oils to 20 parts water does a marvelous job of keeping the shop free of mud-daubers and flying insects. (“Daubers” are large mud nest-building wasps, if you’ve never been south of I-90 and west of I-45.)

Essential oils are powerful stuff and they work well for certain purposes.  But are they “Wuhan worthy?”  Naw.  But at least you’re not likely to get fleas!  And in a diffuser?  Smell pretty good, though I prefer a mix of frankincense and lavender.

Always something new, huh?

Last point:  10-minutes of the b ig ozone machine in the shop and smells like an operating room.  So much for the keyboard…I need to get out to the shop and operate!

Write when you get rich,