Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Okay, so this is the post where I out myself as a possible CrazyPerson. (Enjoy!)

I don't know if you've noticed, but the economy is kind of crap, and we've been enjoying a nice long slide for many years now. This is concerning to me, because in addition to personal health and the health of my loved ones, I also like a healthy economy.

So maybe you agree or not, but I'm not seeing our economy improving significantly over the next five or ten years. I sure hope it does, and I'll certainly be doing my very best to promote the ideas that can effect that kind of positive change.

However, we have been taking some steps to mitigate the crappiness that we are currently having to deal with, and preparing for future crappier-ness, too--just in case. Some of the things in our general plan include(d):

Revamping our personal financial health. Over the past three years, we have paid off credit card debt, refinanced the house, shifted assets here and there, played many games of Musical Investments. We've cut expenses where we could--no more cable or satellite, the basic phone land line (which we never answer, sorry to everyone who calls it!), getting rid of subscriptions, etc. We sold Brendan's beautiful, beautiful car because his commute changed from 8 miles round trip to 54 miles and we just couldn't afford to keep fueling that car up with gas.

We now have a budget and are (generally) good at sticking to it. Today we are WAY better off than we were three years ago, and we are always reviewing our financial picture to find ways to improve it.

Improving my personal health. Over the past decade, but especially the past two years, I have been working on improving my own health. This is good thing to do even when the economy is SUPER OSSUM, of course. And I was well on my way toward making these same improvements without economic concerns.

But I do have them. If we get national health care, it's in my best interest to be in the best shape and best health possible. Because socialized medicine will necessarily result in shortages that will have adverse effects. In fact, sometimes when I need motivation to finish a workout at CrossFit, I will chant to myself "ObamaCare, ObamaCare" and somehow that helps me reach a little deeper down to make it through the workout. I really do this, and sometimes my coach will come up to me mid-WOD and say it to me: "ObamaCare!"

So in addition to losing lots of weight and doing the CrossFit, I've actually found a primary care practice for myself. It's a family practice, so the kids and I are all going to the same place now, and Brendan will be switching over, too. I need to get all up to date on my shots, too. Fun.

Preparing. We've always had a half-assed emergency kit. In Atlanta, we are not subject to many natural disasters, so I'd never really felt the need to go, well, whole-assed with it. When I was a teenager, we lived south of Houston on the Gulf Coast and you better believe that my parents had a really well-stocked hurricane kit. And we used it more than once. But here? We had those awful floods two years ago. That kind of got my attention. And, we did get a hurricane (Opal) once, and we get occasional tornadoes (like a couple of weeks ago), and once we even had an earthquake (in 2003). But generally, we're safe from natural disasters.

The thing that really made me think of getting our emergency kit together wasn't the floods or the tornadoes, though. It was when we had a gasoline shortage here, because of storms and hurricanes elsewhere. It's important to recognize that even if you think everything is hunky-dory in your immediate vicinity, what happens somewhere else far away can affect your daily life, too.

That gas shortage REALLY got my attention. Because even though I do generally appreciate producers of wealth and the processes by which wealth gets created, having to drive and drive to find a gas station that had any gas at all to sell really drove home this point: THIS STUFF DOESN'T JUST MAGICALLY APPEAR FROM NOWHERE.

People have to DO things to make this stuff show up at convenient places for people like me to purchase them. And when people can't do those things--whether the cause is natural (like a hurricane), or whether the cause is man-made (like doing things to the economy that will create shortages)--when people can't do the things they need to in order to produce and deliver products, we will ALL suffer the consequences.

I even wrote a post about this at the time and here is what I said back in 2008 (emphasis added, wasn't in original post):

One final musing: when things rumble and bump in our economy, due to natural causes or government-made ones, shortages like our gas situation are going to occur. Big bumps, big problems. In my more paranoid moments, I wonder what will happen if the economy goes boom! I shouldn't take it for granted that I'll be able to find gasoline. Or insulin. How hard will that be to find in an emergency, with the government "helping" with price ceilings and regulations that will shackle the very people who make it and the people who need it. It's very scary to contemplate showing up at the pharmacy and facing an insulin shortage. Because you just expect it to be there, just like you expect gasoline to be at the gas station. Damn.

Insulin is kind of a big thing here, a deal breaker, if you will. Argentina had some pretty major economic issues a few years ago, and insulin became scarce. This will happen in America, too, if (when) things get bad enough. Just like the gas shortage in Atlanta.

So I've been stocking up on medicine (did you know that many medicines are still good past the expiration date?) and food and batteries and stuff. We have a plan for conserving insulin and needles. With Ryan's Epi-pens--well, we're kind of screwed because that medicine is one of the few that really doesn't last well past the expiration date. Though he'll be fine if he can avoid peanuts, which he can do, though that means I've had to be extra careful about what kinds of food we put into our emergency kit.

And I've got a list of what we've got, what we still need, and the "nice-to-haves." I've got expiration dates on my inventory list, too, so I can easily check what might be expiring (food-wise, mostly), and rotate those items out for immediate consumption and replace them with items with expirations further in the future.

There are still more things I'd like to do to prepare. I am interested in learning to grow more of our own food. Again, this falls into the "good to know even when the economy is rocking" category. I am interested in learning to do things like general car repairs (oil changes, etc) as a way to cut down on expenses. I'd like to learn to do many things to be more self-sufficient, if only because it'll be cheaper and hey, knowledge is power!

So. There you have it. If you, too, are a fellow Paranoid CrazyPerson, feel free to drop me a line or leave a comment and give me more ideas about preparing for disasters (natural and man-made)!


Kyle Haight said...

While I am a fellow 'crazy person' I don't have any specific recommendations for you right now. I just wanted to say that a session on "preparationism" would be a terrific idea for next year's ATLOSCon, assuming you can find someone who can speak intelligently on the issue.

Jenn Casey said...

That's a great idea, Kyle! Even if we can't find an expert or passionate layperson, maybe we could have a discussion roundtable on the topic. Thanks for the idea.

HoneyFernDotOrg said...

You have outed yourself as a prepared person.

I have some bouts of serious "what-ifs" and am actually rather more freaked out than I let on. Having a business that depends on the economy going well is not the best idea I have ever had, and starting it in the middle of a recession? Also not so bright. We have an "utter disaster" plan, but I am more concerned about the "sorta disaster" that seems to be like a grape slowly turning into a raisin - drying out and concentrating the awful until it is an untenable situation (e.g., the slow creep up of grocery prices, the lack of raises and paying work, the cost of everything inching up slowly). One day we will look around and realize how utterly terrible it is, almost without our knowing it, since we have had our heads down and are slogging through each day.

Phew. That sounds like a big pile of crazy. But that's what I am more concerned about.

What is ATLOSCon?

The DO said...

Nah, you aren't crazy, promise! I was raised Mormon (so I know crazy when I see it:) and that came with the tenant of two years of food storage. They intended it for the second coming, of course, but it's amazing how much better prepared you feel when you have that kind of back up. It isn't practical for everyone (we are military and move a lot) but the idea is sound. Many a Mormon family has put food on the table after job losses because of the food they had set aside. I'm totally with you! My biggest hinderance lately is stocking Paleo. It takes more effort than simply stocking beans and rice!

T.L. Ryder said...

One thing we know from reading H.G. Wells "War of the Worlds". A very important disaster preparedness item is having a designated meet up spot in case you are separated when disaster strikes.

You should have several of these-- from "If there is a fire in the house, everyone go to the front curb when you're out" to "Meet at Aunt Patty's if the tornado destroys our house when we're not home together." Plus back up locations if Aunt Patty's is gone or the curb is also on fire, etc.

Ryan Moore said...

I think a preparation class would be great for ATLOSCon, there was a track along that lines at Dragon*Con (unfortunately I didn't get to attend any of the panels on it). I've got a 3 day bug-out-bag with basic survival supplies/food but nothing long term yet.

Lynne said...

I'm with you in fits and starts. The line between crazy and prepared hasn't even started to blur yet! We have lots of totally sane prep work ahead of us regarding finances as well as food storage and energy sources for a limited time without utilities. (My particular bit of crazy regards potable water.) I'd sign up for the "preparationism" talk!

Juniper949 said...

Also, this reminded me that I need to add a towel to my disaster kit. I learned that from Douglas Adams...

But yeah, we should have some designated meeting places!

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Said from one crazy-paranoid person to another: Good for you!

My sisters still think I am nuts, but last year when the EG planned to retire, we planned to "go Galt." We bought a ranch in western New Mexico, and we have become preppers. We have food storage--and I can with Mormons down in Luna--and we have also stocked up on medicines, books--I bought the Way Things Work--and we have become good (instead of so-so) shooters. I now have two rifles and a side-arm. (Ranchers need guns for protection of their stock, if nothing else). But also ammunition will become very valuable--a kind of money, iff you will--should the Schumer hit the fan.

We have "go-bags" that contain the basics--food tablets, water, medicines and other useful stuff--just in case our car should break down in a storm or we get stuck in the middle of nowhere--or if we have to walk away from our home or car.

One thing I never though about was cash--in the early days of a protracted crisis or during a short-term disaster--cash can be very useful. I am told it is good to have a mix of silver and paper. So we are getting ready to have that on hand, too.

Good luck on prepping. I may be crazy, but I feel a whole lot better knowing that we are ready for many different kinds of small and large disasters.

When did it become crazy to "be prepared"?

Tony White said...

The ObamaCare reminder is a great idea. It is also a helpful reminder when making food choices. As important as exercise is, diet is even more important.

TJWelch said...

A basic preparedness site is http://www.ready.gov/ , although of course the Federal government does not have a stellar record when it comes to disasters...