If you are a regular reader of this column you know that my subjects here of late have been extremely thick, and expensive. I try to be aware of just how much I am loading on, so I decided that this week is a good time to devolve into a bit of prepping theory again. I went to two movies this week, The Martian, and Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. Between the two, it was as if Hollywood put on a clinic for what survival post-collapse is all about.
I have to reveal some minor spoilers here, but I am not that concerned because this movie deviated from the standard formula for these types of movies very little. I’m also not going to get into what the movies are about, because this is the internet. Go to IMDB and see for yourself. My focus points were the lessons we can learn about actual survival from these very dynamic films.
If you see The Martian this week, notice the food bars that Matt Damon is splitting up to eat in his remaining days on Mars. They are carbon copies of the Mayday bars that I told you about in my “by the numbers” food article a couple weeks ago. He explains that he was supposed to eat 3 bars once per day, and that NASA had now asked him to eat one bar every three days. The movie is a little silly, because he then proceeds to add his “Mars grown” potatoes to this meal, so it doesn’t make any real sense. But it does highlight the numbers game that I believe survival will entail. The hardest thing that any of us will do is to add up all of our food, ration it as far as it will go, and calculate how many days we have until a resupply will be required.
From the outset of Damon’s stay on the Red Planet, all of his resources are calculated in days that he can survive on them. Some of it is lame. They skirt around a water supply issue by explaining that he has plenty of water that he can distill from the rocket fuel that his team left behind. It is actually scary close to what I hear from a lot of so called preppers. Over this last year I have spoken to a lot of people who seem to think that water isn’t a problem for them. I disagree, and I am working on a project about getting water out of your well without electricity, but I’ll save that for another day. But by eliminating the need for Damon to have to measure water, they get to focus 100% on how much food he has, and they boil it down to exact days. So when the project gets delayed 15 days, they make him stretch his food out over time.
That is, for me, lesson #1. The earlier you ration your food down to actual numbers, the more freedom you will have to stretch it.
Take a fairly likely scenario. We have a collapse of the banking system worldwide. Credit grinds to a halt. And because goods, including food, mostly are bought and sold on credit, supply chains start to fail very quickly. Most people don’t know this, but during the Great Depression, a lot of food spoiled in the fields because there was no money to pay anyone to harvest or move it to the places where people were starving. If the money can’t flow, goods will not flow. People will starve to death while food sits at the docks with nobody to unload the ships.
Let us that in that such a case, the TVs still work. As people are rioting in the streets and battling each other in the supermarkets, a government spokesmodel comes on the tube and says that FEMA is responding by bringing trucks of emergency food and water into major metropolitan areas. They expect the situation to work itself out over 30 to 60 days. Don’t laugh. There is plenty of evidence that both China and Russia are already preparing their citizens for a new “gold backed” world currency that will ultimately require the old currencies to burn themselves down first.
Do I believe the 30-60 day estimate and open up my survival food and feed the family full, 2,000 calories plus per day lush meals from day #1? Or do I figure out absolute minimums by weight for everyone in my party, and start rationing from day #1?
That is where I think this movie is pretty powerful, because at one point, and I won’t explain the spoiler of why this happens in case you do actually go to the movie, a hard resupply date comes up that is like 100 days after Damon’s numerical food supply runs out. On the barren planet, a hard resupply date is a hard resupply date, and this forces decisions that otherwise wouldn’t be made, and that are extremely risky.
In our case, we aren’t going to know when that “resupply date” might occur, but I think that even in the worst case scenario, even if it is ten years and two weeks down the road, commerce will resume. There will be a potential to resupply at some point, assuming you have something to trade of value, whether that be stored goods or your skilled labor. If you are useful to the new world in some way (see below), you will be able to purchase more food. Resupply could be your own garden, 40 days until your soybeans come up. It could be that you hunt or trap, and occasionally you’ll be able to find a wild pig. You may finally decide to venture out and find an abandoned house with a year of canned food in it. Venturing out will get progressively less dangerous as more and more unprepared people die or leave, so stretching your food as far as possible is crucial when every day you don’t have to leave the house actually counts.
The point that I take from The Martian is that you have to stretch your food from day #1, because you have no idea when that resupply will occur. If it never happens, you’ll die. At least you did your best to stretch your food as far as you could in hopes that at some point, you’d catch a break. People ask me why I don’t have a gas generator, and I don’t have one because I can only store so much fuel. How do I know when the power goes out that it will every come back on? Twenty gallons of diesel can power my refrigerator for a couple of days, or give me light to read by at night for months or even years. If you know that a reckoning has to occur at some point soon, and I am 100% sure of that, how do any of us know when that is going to happen?
The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials
This is the second movie in The Maze Runner series, and because my kids have read all the books, I have to now take them to the movies. This one introduces new zombie-like characters called “Cranks,” and this sets up a survival situation in a post apocalyptic world scenario that I think teaches some genuine lessons about what we all are going to be looking at sometime soon. I personally don’t think that we are going to see a disease type of thing for our apocalypse, but a couple scenes in this movie, from a prepping perspective, teach some really important lessons.
The first scene is when the kids escape from WICKED, who are the bad guys. They find themselves in an abandoned building that clearly people had been living in at one time. A gas generator in the building powers an elaborate electrical system all hooked to a regular electric distribution panel. If you look around the rooms, you’ll see strings of LED lights, storage batteries, and lots of wiring.
All that stuff is readily available in a city that has been gutted by solar flares and disease (this is what happened in the movie). You can pull wires and panels from just about any building, and every car has a storage battery that will give you pretty good service for several years. In this case, they were using an AC generator, so they didn’t have to worry about having DC lights on hand. Very little of that stuff exists in suburbia, or if you have a bug out property in a rural area. If you want to live with any comfort at all, you have to make sure that you have the parts to put your survival setup together.
Think about your situation. You aren’t going to run a generator just for lights at night, and if you do run a generator at all, do you have storage batteries on hand to charge up and use your fuel somewhat efficiently? Have you bought at least one solar panel? What about a wind generator? I covered a bunch of thermal generators last week actually. Have you invested in the things that will make a version of normal life possible?
Few people in the prepper world talk about low wattage, DC lighting. You can only store so much fuel or candles for light at night. You can get 12v lights meant for RVs on Ebay for not a lot of money. Many of them have standard screw in lamp threads so you can just cut the end of a regular lamp cord and wire it directly to your battery terminals. One 100 watt solar panel on a partly cloudy day will give you a couple hours of lights at night with even a 7-9 watt multi-LED bulb. The smaller RV lights in the T10 mount are usually only a few watts. You could run 12 watts of lights for 50 hours with a 100 amp/hour storage battery depleted to 50%. Please see my solar articles if you are in a quandary as to how to pull that off.
Wire, wire connectors, wire strippers, battery terminal ends, etc. Imagine that the lights went out today. What do you not have that you’d have to go out for? I ask myself that all the time.
The other lesson from The Scorch Trials is something that I hope you have already been working on. There comes a point in the movie where the kids have made it through a section of no mans land, and they find a group of healthy humans holed up in a giant complex. The humans in that gang have a leader. When we meet the leader character, he is surrounded by Ham radios and other electronics, and he goes on to say that he has been hearing blah blah blah on the airwaves. He is not a big strong guy. He doesn’t have magical powers. He is just the dude who knows how to use the radio, and how to wire lights and electronics. To this group of humans, he is indispensable.
In a post collapse world, skills are going to be the only marketable thing, and I’ve talked about this several times in regard to gardening and radios specifically. Most people in the United States are a bunch of entitled slobs who don’t know to actually do anything. There is really good comedy routine from Joe Rogan on the subject that I unfortunately can’t find right now where he says “You know what I do when the power goes out? I wait!” The point of it is that he is a dufus who doesn’t know how to do anything, so the smart people better keep doing the smart stuff. I found a piece of the sketch, this one, where he asks “If I left you in the woods with a hatchet, how long do you think it would be before you can send me an email.” Joe is one of the few people who I have ever heard distill the fact that most of us are complete dumb asses living our lives in complete ignorance with stuff that smart people created.
That’s why I hope that I have encouraged at least some of you to go out and get a real HF-capable Ham radio and a capable antenna. I personally just put up my first 80 foot multi-band dipole the other day and got broadcasts from Arizona in South Florida. If you haven’t checked out my radio articles so far, please do so, and get busy! The internet is full of Ham resources, and the radio that I tested with the new antenna was a $150 Ebay special, a Yaesu FT-101 tube radio. I’ll be posting a video of my contacts with an accompanying article soon, if we still have the time. The funny thing is that the radios that the guy in The Scorch Trials uses are all old tube radios, even older than the FT-101. The nice thing about that radio is that it gives you all the Ham bands from 160 to 10 meters.
If you don’t know how to do anything, go teach yourself out to do something useful. If I have the time here I’m going to cover everything from sewing your own clothes to making moonshine (stills are available on Ebay and they are legal to buy) to building low wattage remote sensor arrays with a Raspberry Pi, to beekeeping. But don’t wait for me. Look at your life. Look at the resources it takes to make the things in your life, and go learn how to do that! If all you are good at is consuming, you will be at the mercy of useful people. If you are useful, it is the best chance to have a future for you and yours in the world to come. And if it doesn’t happen in our lifetimes, it is a great lesson to teach the next generation. They will be fairly unique among their peers.
Lessons from Hollywood
Whenever you mention Hollywood in the pro-gun world, the hypocrisy of it all is one of the first things you’ll hear people comment about. Hollywood makes the majority of their money on violence, mostly involving the criminal use of firearms, then they dump much of those profits into liberal politics that are unanimously anti-gun. It’s crazy, and yes, Hollywood is full of morally bankrupt hypocrites, but I think there is a vein in Hollywood of people who are trying to explain what is coming, and they aren’t doing it so subtle.
Most people think of “1984” and “Brave New World” when they think about entertainment predicting the future of the civilized world, one of a police state, disinformation, and control of the masses by a few ruling elites. But who can forget “Soilent Green” (starring none other than Charlton Heston), where people were encouraged to go to extermination centers when things seemed too hopeless, where them would be turned into food for the poor. The Matrix series revealed a side of our psychology that I think few acknowledged before. We can decide if we want to take the mentally lazy way out, or we can challenge what we think we know and swallow the red pill. That same choice exists today, on steroids.
Thinking about this article, I decided to watch 1988s “They Live.” I am somewhat reticent to discuss this movie because the “They” in the movie is aliens, and I think that the “They” in our real life (probably the bankers and military industrial complex but who knows) are using the subject of aliens as a weapon of mass distraction in the truther community. I don’t think aliens, the devil or anything else super or surpra-natural are leading us down this road to collapse. I think it is greedy, self obsessed shallow thinking plain old bad people who refuse to accept that they can’t undo it all, and we are all going to suffer the consequences.
The points in “They Live” are still valid today, and it is funny when you think that the movie was made at the height of Ronald Reagan euphoria. Consume, Reproduce, Obey, Don’t Challenge Authority, Follow, Watch TV, Sleep, and Conform are all hammered down on us every day, and I would argue that it is much more blatant in a Bill O’Reilly world than it was in a Dan Rather world back in the 80s. You can look over your head on most days and see the persistent white lines behind the planes that you know aren’t contrails, but you’ll turn away and push back your mind if someone suggest that you might be one of those freaks who believe the “chemtrails” conspiracy theory. If you want to take the blue pill and see why we all should be hoping for the best but planning for the worst, go to http://www.geoengineeringwatch.org.
Next week I hope to be back with some extremely valuable experiences I have had with collecting rainwater, and it isn’t even that expensive. I’d give both of these movies a thumbs up if you want to go see them, and I think you’ll experience some tangible survival in the meantime. It is tough to wrap your head around what is actually going to go down most likely soon. I hope I’m wrong of course, but that’s the thing about not being an actual prophet. You just never really know.