We’re not on the bandwagon, we built the thing. But we haven’t gone out of our way to pile on or “get ahead” of the one thing everyone’s talking about right now. Why?
Because our philosophy around disaster preparation, and prepping over the long term too, has been forming since stories have been told, and will be around long after the Corona Virus Disease 19 has run its course.
And while we have done a lot of thinking about preparation, and how life changes during precisely these times, none of us have ever actually seen anything like this in our lives. This post is a collection of thoughts, opinions, and suggestions on our current situation.
Preparation Kills Anxiety
We’re of mixed opinions here about school closings and quarantines, and none of us are medical doctors, much less virologists. Funny how many experts there are all of a sudden, right? But that doesn’t mean we haven’t been watching since early January, taking notes, and following our own long term plans. All our talk about a rotating prepper’s pantry holding a year’s supply of sustenance wasn’t just stuff we were making up. And we don’t think the store shelves are going to be anything but stocked, every day.
None of us are panicking…that’s really the whole point of what we do. But none of us actually have to go to the store, either, unless we want to.
PREPPING DURING COVID19
So after much consideration, including whether or not to even discuss pandemic situations, since you’re already hearing so much about it everywhere, we decided it’s so much a core part of what we do that yes, we will put up some posts in our own, particular, often contrarian way. We’ve just got a few key imaginings, methods of approach, that have long been part of our philosophy, and not to share them now would be contrary to our passion, and our daily work.But there’s no rush. No need to get worked up at all. Even though a lot of people are getting worked up, and if that means everyone’s got a closet full of toilet paper right now, hey, if it makes some feel a little better, it’s not like they can’t make more.
So stay tuned. We’ll offer our take, without the click bait and with the usual references to great stories and other times. A little good old fashioned extrapolation. Because if you’ve got food in your pantry and a little too much TP, and all anyone can talk about is a virus, the ones who are going to make it through the best are those who treat this as a time of fascinating combinations of new technology and old peaceful habits we’ve forgotten for awhile.Just as one example, there’s nothing like an eight line Emily Dickinson poem about bees and roses, to help us remember to enjoy every little detail of this life, and we’ll talk a little bit about that, and some of the practical things we’re doing, and using.
We’ve gotten into the habit of disagreeing around here with about as much self control as that old Ralph Wolf and Sam Sheepdog cartoon. That’s probably before most of your time, but those two went at it with lethal intent, just as long as it was during work hours. Then they grabbed their lunch pails, said a cordial g’night, and strolled home with no hurt feelings.That’s not always easy, but when you’re talking passionate beliefs over what to do in life and death situations, well you’ve got to get into that habit without losing friends. It’s almost an unwritten rule around here, when someone gets themselves going on a real good rant, we listen, maybe even urge them to go overboard beyond what they normally would have said, and wait to see if they lead themselves right into a new thought we’ve never considered before. Sometimes it gets eye-rolling, other times, it works.
As you can imagine, over the last month or so we’ve had quite a few of these conversations. One of them was even over whether or not to ever mention COVID-19 one single time to our followers and customers. Especially in the US over this last week the amount of useless information, or repetition of useful information for that matter, has gotten tedious. So we tried to come up with a few concepts maybe you haven’t heard yet. For one thing, just in the last few days we’ve noticed a shift in the discussion from quarantine-at-home to “fever centers” and separating “chains of infection” by separating family members. To us, family’s everything. But if it gets to the point this starts happening you’ll be making your own call, and at the very least, one idea we thought of was making sure our loved ones had one of those backup power-banks for their phones. We hope it never gets to the point authorities deny people communications with their loved ones, and if you find yourself in a stadium without enough charging ports and you need a little love, one of those backup power banks can hold a lot of extra hours of being able to check in and reassure your spouse, kids, and parents.
By now everyone has a pretty good idea of what to stock up on, and if you follow us you might have already read about our ever evolving List of All Things. You might already know how much we believe in stories and nothing but pure attitude and imagination. And with schools closing down for awhile, theaters and restaurants, and everyone talking 24/7 about a disease, maybe it really is a better idea than ever to cut back on screen time and read a few great stories.How many times have we already turned to the Laura Ingalls Wilder books in our articles? We’re recalling the time an entire colonial region was afflicted by malaria, and Laura was the only one in her house with the strength left to crawl across the floor to bring her sister a ladleful of water. Her mother looked at her from the bed and asked her if she could do it, and she did. Then the travelling doctor came by and saved them. We think about the time Pa nearly didn’t spend the money on his new bearskin coat, but he did. And a blizzard came up before he could make it back from town one day, trapping him with nothing but oyster crackers in his pocket, for three days in a snowbank. When he pushed his way out, he found he was only steps from his front door, and his family, that whole time. Those crackers came in handy.From historical fiction to science fiction, to memoirs and children’s fantasies, there are stories of survival and grand adventures. The boy in the Black Stallion, who remembered a lesson from school about edible seaweed that saved his life on that deserted island. There are stories that have nothing to do whatsoever with survival or pandemics, but are simply grand adventures that connect us to the past and the future and get our minds right.
So, sure, pick up that extra toilet paper. Doesn’t bug us in the slightest. You know, there’s some of us who’ve had a few arguments over whether or not it’s time for those who are generally against guns to go to a range and try one out, buy one, and get some ammo for it. That was one of those Sheepdog and Wolf conversations for sure. You’ll make up your own minds about all of that. And you’re getting more advice that’s changing every day to the point you don’t need much more from us. Some of us think this is the most overblown, over-hyped, media-driven hysterical panic we’ve ever seen in our lives. Others of us think this thing is very serious, and only going to get more so for awhile. Still others think we in the West got real lucky it isn’t more lethal than the reports we’re hearing, that the COVID-19 virus is going to end up saving hundreds of millions of lives on this planet simply because we got to practice, so when the inevitable next one comes that could be a whole lot worse, we’ll be much more ready. And no matter what, you know what the best possible thing you could do right now is? Now that you’ve got that extra TP, and food, and the kids might be home, or the loneliness might be a little looming? Read. For far too many of us, reading great books has become just a concept. Perhaps a comforting one, something we might get to someday…a few friends on the shelf we haven’t yet even opened up for a real story. Well, now’s as good a time as any to revisit one of humanity’s older, more peaceful habits. A habit that separates us from the animals and teaches us many things without us even knowing we’re learning, but above all reinforces the one thing that’s more valuable than any gear or any plans: attitude.From Laura Ingalls Wilder to Cormac McCarthy, Shakespeare to Emily Dickinson, Tolkien and Rowlings to Asimov and Douglas Adams who taught us no matter where we go in the universe we’re always better prepared if we bring a towel… when you’re stocking up, don’t forget the books for you and yours. Get a few for everyone, for your shelves and on your ereader. While most of us prefer holding a book with paper pages in our hands, the nice thing about digital books is they can be accessed from a large screen tablet or that same ereader software on any number of your devices, including your phone in a pinch. If you find yourself stuck in a fever center waiting to hear if you’ve got to stay or can go home, a phone with a backup power bank can allow you to read a story that will take you anywhere in the universe. Don’t waste that juice on a movie when a book can reach deeper and realign your entire outlook, can pluck your center of peace you might be needing to tap into in a way you haven’t before.And sure, don’t forget to buy a few extra packs of beef jerky. We’re big believers in protein, too.
Take A Breath
We’re proud and a bit annoyed at the same time. On the one hand, if the worst thing we see for awhile is a few useless fights over toilet paper, well that’s no worse than some people getting into it over a TV on Black Friday. By far, the vast majority of people are being polite, picking and choosing over whatever’s left on the store shelves, and assuming that a little common courtesy and patience will help the stores get restocked, and is the right way to treat each other anyway.But on the other hand, the foreheads on our screens and a whole lot of people who like to try to get more attention on social media than the next schmoe are making what we consider to be a mistake. If there is any truth whatsoever to the old verse about sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind, then what happens if we sow fear?
So, while it’s excellent that people aren’t actually panicking, and we aren’t seeing riots in the streets–and even if we do, it will likely be isolated and small in scope–all the hand wringing, finger wagging, and general lecturing is building pressure on politicians, organizations, and some individuals who are, let’s just say, more susceptible to suggestion than others. Yes, it’s okay to urge everyone to stop going out and about as much as normal. But if you see images of a room full of young people dancing and all you think is that they are being rankly irresponsible, dangerous idiots, and flagrantly disregarding the health of others, then you might want to check your own totalitarian instinct for a moment. Because if the nation is shutting down schools and universities, sports, concerts, any other large gatherings, restaurants, bars, and now even coffee shops … and we’re still getting upset over a nightclub with 50 people blowing off steam, well we think that’s just a bit nuts.Others disagree, and that’s fine. Our point is, if a few kids having fun is going to be enough to infect the nation after all these extraordinary measures, well, things were going south anyway.
Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst
And in that spirit, to be downright contrarian to our own impulse against overreacting, we’d like to do what we always do anyway, and explore the big What-If. But not in the spirit of fear. More like imagination. More like a way to think and wonder instead of just sitting and stewing in negative emotions. Let’s say you’ve got a closet full of TP and enough food to last through a real Armageddon, but you’re still counting on emails and texts, social media and news … and the big things: running water and power. But what if an unexpected, worst-case set of cascading events occurs and we wake up one morning to discover the light switch doesn’t work, the heat or AC goes off and stays off, and the taps go dry?Do we sit and freak out and shake our dead phones wondering if they’ll come on again? Or do we look out our window at the sprouting tops of carrots and baby vines of zucchini? Do we smile at the barrels of rainwater and the renewable filtration systems we’ve created? Are we glad for the woodpile, and the other sources of fuel we have nearby?
You Only Reap If You Sow
We’ll get into all of that in our next couple of articles, with a few more specifics than we have in the past. Until then, if you’re wondering what to do when there’s not much else going on, we urge you to consider giving the screen a break and assessing your own gardening situation. Do you have a yard? If not, a deck? Need some planting soil in a few large bags? It’ll keep for a long time if you have a place to stick them for awhile. Better yet, get out the hoe and till up a patch in the yard. Buy or build that planter box you’ve been meaning to. Get a couple real big terra cotta pots and a few medium ones and give them priority on your deck for a while, or your roof if it’s flat and can take the weight. Work with your landlord or property manager if you have to. But what’s the downside in planting some of the vegetables that grow best in your region? And doing it this week…now?
At least order the seeds. We do not think there are going to be interruptions to our food supply, or water, or electricity, or gas. But the reason there are lines wrapped around the buildings is not just that people don’t want to go out while the virus is spreading, it’s that there might be worse interruptions to our way of life than we understand. Yes, the herd can behave like mass idiots and empty the store shelves for no good reason. But sometimes there’s also something smart in the mass decisions of humans. The crowd demonstrates what we’re really concerned about, even when we’re putting on the bravest face one individual at a time. The point of prepping is not to stock up for three months, or a year, only to be as desperate then as we would have been in days had we not bought supplies. The point is to be prepared for anything, including going back to the old ways for a little while, or longer. Because the only downside to planting a few vegetables right now would be you learned a little extra self-sufficiency. You learned that instead of sowing fear and reaping something awful, if you plant a few seeds you get fresh vegetables, healthy meals, more seeds, and a chance to share this miracle we call life even with its bumps along the way.
It’s Scary, It’s Interesting, Let’s Keep Talking
There’s nothing quite like watching the world scramble and in some places see amazing compassion and brotherhood but also that same day see people fighting over toilet paper. How each of us choose to react and respond is largely determined by things that occur months and years before we’re faced with something like a pandemic or a natural disaster or even unemployment. There are so many aspects of our lives that are easy to overlook and disregard when life is good, but I urge you to take some self reflection time. During this time, go through every aspect of your life and really be honest with your self evaluation of how ready you are in each area if things were to “go bad” in whatever way that might be.
We know it can be a bit overwhelming and seem like too much to take on all at once and we agree it’s A LOT. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. The first step is recognizing where there are weak areas in your life and readiness so that they can be addressed. Here at Black Ops Tac we are excited for what the future holds and for the value and guidance that we can hopefully provide to you!In the next few days we’ll be releasing some deeper dive articles into being prepared, specifically for situations like what we’re facing.