Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Long-term Prepping As We Age

I believe that I've mentioned elsewhere that my earliest interest in preparedness was started by reading books like The Swiss Family Robinson and My Side of the Mountain as a young teenager. While entertaining, I can look back now and see how unrealistic they were.

One thing both books had in common is that they put one person or a small group in a situation where they had to plan for long-term survival with little or no help from outside. They had whatever supplies they had with them, whatever they could find in the environment around them and that was pretty much it. At least in My Side of the Mountain Sam, the teenage protagonist, has some help from the local librarian and access to the local town.

In my early years, say late teens and early 20s, I was in the mode of "I'll take my backpack of stuff and restart civilization on my own in the woods." Ye flippin' gods I was ignorant in those days. Thankfully I never had to actually do any actual surviving.

For some years after that, I was a lapsed survivalist. But my work in Y2K remediation opened my eyes to just how fragile our civilization could be, and I, like a lot of others, started to prepare just in case all our efforts came to naught. Fortunately, we were good at our work and with the exception of minor and easily overcome glitches, Y2K went down in history as a footnote in terms of disasters.

The door, once opened, didn't close. I had a wife and small children, and it was my duty to take care of them no matter what the situation. Despite Mrs. Freeholder's skepticism, I began building stocks of "beans, bullets and band-aids". Over the years, a number of things crossed our path that brought her to the point of view that at least some of those preparations were not such a bad idea after all, but she has never been completely on board with the concept of preparedness.

In my own planning, I've never thought that preparing for a single scenario was a great idea. I have no problem looking at the disasters that are most likely to befall you as starting points, but my prime thought has been that if you design your preparations (and for that matter, your life) for resiliency and depth, redundantly covering the basic needs, you should be able to ride out any situation that can be ridden out. Even now, as I have to reconsider what is and isn't possible as we age, I still think that is a sound methodology.

So, as we age and find ourselves with fewer birthdays left to celebrate than we have celebrated, how, if at all, should our view of prepping change? So far I see four big areas to consider.

First, as we age, we are more likely to develop a chronic medical condition. Generally, these will make the sufferer dependent on some form of modern medicine, such as drugs, either to function normally or to function at all. I've mentioned my own problem, hypothyroidism. When I run out of my stockpiled thyroid hormone supplement, I'll be next to useless in a month or so. Others, such as those dependent on blood pressure or heart regulation meds, will die in days or weeks when their supply runs out. Still others, dependent on drugs for mental stability, will become dangers to themselves or others shortly after their supply runs out.

Second, even without a chronic medical condition, as we age we are less able to put out the large amounts of physical effort that a full grid-down scenario would require. Everything that we have machines to help with now will have to be accomplished by muscle power if the grid is down. Even those among us who are "genetic freaks" and who have aged remarkably well will eventually show the strain. For that matter, so will even the best conditioned 25 year olds.

Third, disease will be another big area of concern, since as we age our immune system becomes less able to fight off invaders. While they're available, get immunizations such as shingles and pneumonia, and keep your tetanus booster up to date. If an event occurs, careful attention to hygiene will be necessary for both young and old in order to prevent disease and its spread. Cleanliness will truly be next to Godliness. Lastly, quarantine will become necessary and common once again when a communicable illness strikes.

Fourth, age effects us mentally. We are less able to learn new things, less mentally agile and overall slower mentally. Our reflexes also slow down. These things can be offset to some extent by various sorts of mental exercises, exposure to new situations and possibly dietary supplements. This does not even address the various cognitive disorders that can arise with age, such as dementia and Alzheimer's. While this is much further down the list of concerns, it may be the most frightening in a long-term scenario, because it will generally be untreatable.

Survival, especially in a long-term scenario, is hard work at any age, but most challenging for those over 40 or 45. Every author or thinker who has considered the subject in depth has predicted that the death rate in the over 50 age group in a long-term survival scenario will approach 100% within a year's time. I agree that without strong efforts on the part of preppers that this will probably occur, and in my particular situation is why I am no longer planning for long-term scenarios. I can't make it and knowing Mrs. Freeholder as I do, she probably won't either. It's a sad conclusion to reach, but fortunately I don't think our chances of seeing one of those scenarios occur is very great. My planning is concentrating on being able to survive something like a long-term socio-economic slump on terms of the Great Depression plus.

For those who are not in the same situation as we are, this is the best reason to build your community of friends who can be counted on in an emergency now. A mix of ages, sexes and skills, and within reason, a larger rather than smaller group that is physically located near each other will be the best asset to be had if things get really bad. Even in a long-term "slide" scenario, I believe this will still give you the best chance to make it to the other side. You can have all the beans, bullets and band-aids you want, but without people, I don't think they'll be useful.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Prepping as we age--social isolation and loneliness

“My last friend died last week. I don’t know one single person on this earth anymore. Not one.”

As a human being I read that story and my heart aches for that man. Not just because as a person I feel for him, but I have seen elderly people in my family and Mrs. Freeholder's family who had similar feelings. Nothing will take the wind out of your sails quite so thoroughly as your father looking you calmly in the eye and telling you that he is ready to die.

He was quite serious. His wife, my mother, had been dead for a bit over 3 years by then and his health was deserting him. I could see the signs that the end was approaching, and I think he could as well. He passed on, quietly, before another year was over.

As we grow older, we are warned to guard against many different things. Be sure you don't outlive your money. Be sure you have medi-gap insurance. Be sure you rethink your house so it's easier and safer to live with as your physical abilities change.

Exactly how can you be sure that you don't outlive everyone you know?

In some ways, that was what happened to my Dad. Sure, he had me, the only child, and my wife. He had his grandkids, who he loved very much. And that was pretty much the sum total of the people he had left on this earth. He had outlived everyone else in his family, or lost track of them for various reasons. His friends were mostly dead. Those that weren't were caught in his situation, physically unable to drive safely. None of them could carry on a phone conversation because all of them couldn't hear very well. (Winning World War II  carried a lot of prices, one of them being the hearing of the men who were on the front lines.) He didn't really know his neighbors except to wave at them if he saw them, and that happened infrequently.

I visited several times a week, we took him out to eat at least once a week (or as he became less able to get around, brought it in to him) and I called the remaining days. But that isn't much of a substitute for a social life.

It's been documented as far back as 2013 that social isolation and loneliness can be deadly to senior citizens. Continuing research only confirms that finding. I have no doubt in my mind that it contributed to my father's willingness to die. I don't think it was so much that he wanted to die, really, as it was he didn't want to keep on living the way he was living.

Even being 30 years younger than he was when he died and in much better health, I can understand. Having retired early, my social life has been rather dramatically scaled back--you don't realize how much of your life revolves around your job until it doesn't. And I had nothing ready to take the place of my "friends from work".

Unlike my Dad, I am quite computer and Internet literate, and spend probably too much time in front of a computer. While it might have opened up something of a new world for him if he had chosen to open himself up to it, it's already a part of my life, so it isn't going to add anything to my life. To the contrary, I've recently been cutting myself off from the so-called "social media", finding that it is nothing but and OCD gratification loop and a time suck when you have nothing to keep it in check for you, like a real job.

I do have my hobbies, and while they do have their social sides to them, they aren't the sort of thing that gets you out of the house a lot, except to the range, and it's pretty hard to have a conversation with earplugs in and firearms going off randomly around you. Those of you who have hobbies that are more social, keep them up. They may well be a life line as you age.

Having caught up a bit on the comings and goings at SurvivalBlog last night, I caught myself wondering how this particular concern will work out for the hardcore prepper folks who have relocated to the "Redoubt", where humanity is spread rather thinner than it is in my location.

The consideration my wife and I have been giving to moving toward larger concentrations of humanity rather than away from them (Heretic! Burn him!) have in part been driven in part by this very concern. We're looking for things to get us out of the house and out among people--concerts, ball games, exhibits of various sorts. All the things that as preppers or wise individuals concerned with our self defense we've been striving to avoid or minimize all these years. It feels...odd and alien. I haven't lived in an urban area in well over 20 years, and the concept makes the muscles between my shoulder blades tense up. Still, it's something that needs to be looked at. Aging in place isn't going to be good if it also ages you prematurely.

Fortunately, I see no danger of my turning into some lonely, wizened old man just yet. I'm looking around to see if there are jobs that I might jump into in a part time fashion, or maybe some volunteer opportunities. There is a VA hospital nearby that may need a hand. There are also a couple of small museums that might need a docent.

Let's not have any of us not knowing anyone on this earth.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

I apparently did something stupid...again

I have this habit of managing to do dumb things when doing maintenance on this blog. This time I have magically hosed the generic blogroll. I'm going to put it back, but it strikes me as a really good time to winnow it down to the blogs that really interest me now, as opposed to those who interested me at some other time. I suspect this list is going to get much shorter.

If your blog gets trimmed, please don't take it personally. My interests have a habit of changing often.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Another school shooting

And once again, the blood dancers, gun banners and general know-nothing idiots all come creeping out from under their rocks. Cockroaches have better manners.

There isn't a media outlet today that isn't simply seething with their blather. Look, I'm sympathetic with the parents' losses; for crying out loud I have two kids myself. I'm not a monster.

That's the point. I'm not a monster. Our 19 year old shooter is your monster. Not Smith and Wesson, not the gun store who (legally, it seems, much to the chagrin of those above named) sold him the gun, not the ammunition manufacturer, not Uber, not the company who made his breakfast cereal. I'm sorry to break that to you.

I'm also sorry to break it to you that no, once again I and my fellow gun owners will not be taking responsibility for this twisted little waste of protoplasm's actions. My ARs killed no one yesterday. They stayed in the safe, minding their own business. Which is what all law abiding gun owners' guns do, except when we decide we'd like to go exercise our civil rights and hunt, plink, participate in a shooting sport or some other legal gun-related activity.

Nor will we be cooperating with with whatever version of gun grabbing you have in mind this time around. I've seen all the old canards trotted out, some of them in new clothes, such as the piece on FoxNews by someone named Liz Peek who claims it's time for conservatives to stand against mass murder. Funny, I didn't know that conservatives supported mass murder. I've never seen that on any elected official's--conservative, liberal or otherwise--list of campaign promises.

Of course, Ms. Peek also thinks that we need to get rid of "high-powered rapid-fire guns" because they are "too dangerous". Of course, she also says that full auto guns are illegal and "Hunters or those who enjoy shooting clay pigeons don’t use semi-automatic weapons."

When you are this damn ignorant about the subject you choose to opine on, there is no fucking way I'm going to take a word you say seriously. Go sit in the corner and be quiet, the adults are talking here. Should you decide to educate yourself on the subject, then I'll be gracious enough to give you a fair hearing.

Others are demanding that the politicians do what they do best and "do something". God save us from politicians doing something. That's how we find ourselves in the various social and economic messes we're in now. Politicians, please count to 10. Take a deep breath. Then take a vacation--for a few months. When you get back, then we can discuss this with cooler heads.

Sure, I'd like to wave a magic wand and make it so that these things didn't happen any more. No thinking, feeling person wants to see another mass murderer trying to get the high score. But there is no magic wand, and that's what all these people want. And no matter how had they wish for it to appear, it won't.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The ultimate triumph of socialism

The ultimate triumph of socialism is rapidly becoming obvious in Venezuela. Every time I read one of these articles I wonder how much further they can sink before the people revolt, and every time the answer is apparently "a little further."