September 11, 2005

parry thrust parry


One thing we can agree on, regardless of your politics. Remember the following mantra when the worst happens. When the waters come, the bridges come crashing down, the fires erupt, the winds howl and you look towards the orange horizon of what once was your village, you must know by now: Nobody is coming. You are on your own. Only improvisation and your guile will get you through this one. You can tell stories of your escape later, but right now, you must escape.

Read the Maus books, or watch this man's escape from New Orleans: from both you should take the lesson that it will take ingenuity to get through whatever hell is thrown at you. If you don't fancy those odds, then an ounce of preparation can be your insurance.

Tessa and I bought our little place in Columbia County in the months after 9/11 - we thought it was just a place to store furniture from her deceased father, but later we came to understand it as a refuge when things in this country got too out of control. Later, we stocked the basement with canned goods, bottled water and various grains, but now that I've done the research, I didn't do it any of it correctly. If the last four years has taught any of you anything, it's to do these things correctly.

The solar panels and the Prius are all part of the larger picture: yes, we don't wan't to be "part of the problem," but they are also selfish ways to survive when life gets lean for everyone else. And now that we've got little Lucy to rear, I'm edging closer and closer to being "apocalydad," the weird guy in the basement that constructs his own bullets and has disturbing ham radio friends.

In New York City, we're a target for all the big terrorist attacks, but also a debilitating snowstorm that could render us mute for a week, not to mention a repeat of the 2003 blackouts (imagine them lasting more than a few days). Here in Los Angeles, there's always that 8.0 quake around the corner, felling every freeway bridge and collapsing cheap apartment houses.

Yes, I will go back to ranting about bad pop songs and telling butt-sex stories about Carolina eventually, but right now, every single one of you should spend fifteen minutes discussing your escape plan and putting together even a tiny little "to go" bag for you and yours. My Aunt Marilyn, who is Mormon and thus knows a few things about how to survive for a year in a closet, gave me this list for a start. Even if you only buy a few of those things, you'll be stunningly better off.

My family has this meeting place for those of us in Manhattan, as it's an easy jaunt: just take Broadway to 242nd Street and look for the "Comfort Station." We haven't worked out anything in LA yet, but absent a tsunami, the beach where Rose hits the water seems good enough.

Progressives and liberals all thought the government would take care of them in emergencies, but it's obvious this particular administration couldn't save a cat stuck in a tree. Conservatives don't believe government should have to do anything, so you guys ought to be prepared anyway. All I ask is that you people just talk about it for a few minutes. It's a hell of a lot better than spending your last dying minutes surrounded by human feces, your last insulin shot having been stolen by a thug with a gun, awaiting a Greyhound bus that will never come.

I never quote old blogs, but I like this one: "A contingency scheme is a flimsy parasol against the vicissitudes of a wicked world - and everyone knows the easiest way to get God to laugh is to make a plan - but having the Comfort Station is a cool salve for our worst thoughts, even if we pray we'll never need that kind of comfort."


Posted by Ian Williams at September 11, 2005 11:33 PM
Posted by: Tanya at September 12, 2005 6:02 AM

Personal responsibility? Coming from the mind of someone born between 1965 and 1985??? I thought I was the only one...


Posted by: scruggs at September 12, 2005 6:08 AM

"Nobody is coming. You are on your own."

The scary thing is that out of the few people who did come to NO initially, 3 of them were Dook sophomores. They just packed up their Hyundai, forged credentials, and breezed right in to drive some random folks out of town. They've been on all the news shows with big Duke logo backdrops behind them. So, on top of a city being destroyed, people sick and dying, and families being separated and losing everything, Dook gets a PR boost & photo op!

So, no preparations for me. If a disaster strikes, I'll wait for Cherokee Parks and Wojo to arrive with the calvary.

Posted by: Kate at September 12, 2005 6:10 AM

I think your Aunt Marilyn and my Aunt Cheri are the same person. She sent everyone in our family a list almost identical to the list you posted, minus the farm reference. We laughed about her list at first, then checked out what we had on hand and realized that if the Carolinas had a natural disaster, we wouldn't be laughing for long. We didn't even have a complete first aid kit! Now my mom is trying to get a few things together in our basement... whether there is just a power outage or another terrible ice storm, she and my dad will be able to get by for awhile. It never hurts to be prepared.

Posted by: Dan James at September 12, 2005 7:52 AM

I use a water purifier for hiking & camping trips. I would guess it would be quite useful in end o' world situations. While a purifier won't safe you from big waves, earthquakes, and ice storms they will save you from the Hershey squirts.

Posted by: kjf at September 12, 2005 8:16 AM

just the other day my daughter (who lives in LA) called and asked me what she should do to prepare for an earthquake and i had to admit i had no earthly idea. (and told her to call her brother) which got me to thinking what are you supposed to do in an earthquake???

Posted by: Bud at September 12, 2005 8:54 AM

Water. Nothing matters more. Most emergencies last about 3 days. A person can survive for several *weeks* without food, but only a couple of days without water. Each of us should have at least 3 gallons per person on hand. That's a gallon per person per day.

No the water in the toilet tank/water heater don't count (you can't take those with you if you have to evacuate, can you?).

"I use a water purifier for hiking & camping trips. I would guess it would be quite useful in end o' world situations. While a purifier won't safe you from big waves, earthquakes, and ice storms they will save you from the Hershey squirts."

A purifier is a cool thing to have, but it only works if you have fairly clean water to start with. It will protect against giardia and such, but not against petrochemicals or radiation. I'm not sure it would save you from E. coli either.

Besides water, my kit includes-

-3 days of dehyrated/canned food and snacks
-A small backpacker stove, fuel and cookpot (and spoon!)
-Clothing suitable for wet, windy or cold weather
-First aid
-A battery powered radio

It's also a good idea to keep your car's gas tank filled at least halfway.

Remember: you're always welcome chez moi for apres hurricane parties. I always keep a little rum on hand, you know, for emergencies.

Posted by: KTS at September 12, 2005 10:23 AM

Potassium Iodide, in case of radiation.

Posted by: Salem at September 12, 2005 10:41 AM

I put together something similar to the 72hr kit after 9/11, but I had two problems. Batteries will always let you down. So now I have a hand/crank solar assisted radio and two of those new flashlights that you shake. Also, with three kids, those super cool medical/survival kits are way TOO easy to raid every time you run out of Neosporin or Imodium. Always knowing where you can find a screw driver or a flash light can be tempting.

Posted by: Ian at September 12, 2005 12:35 PM

I can't believe that slideshow link stopped working, it was incredible.

kjf: my feeling in an earthquake is to try and find a way out of town that doesn't involve a bridge, which might not be possible. In LA, the PCH might be a good option assuming no rock or mudslides.

I dunno, all of this feels a little silly, since you're most likely going to have to think on your feet without any of your prepared items. I read somewhere that your brain works at 20% capacity during an emergency, so I'd just make sure that 20% is really going at a nice clip.

Posted by: Kevin from Philadelphia at September 12, 2005 5:47 PM

By the way, did I see "bomb" on that list from your aunt?

Posted by: Rebecca at September 12, 2005 8:08 PM


EXCELLENT list. Thanks so much for sharing.

Water is absolutely the most important thing. If you do nothing else to prepare for disaster, just go buy a few 2.5 gallon jugs of water and put then in your garage or basement.

By the way, LL Bean sells a really cool little crank radio. I just ordered one.

Posted by: david at September 12, 2005 9:38 PM

“You are on your own. Only improvisation and your guile will get you through this one.” The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord. —Proverbs

“...selfish ways to survive when life gets lean for everyone else.”
The great divide continues.

It is actually this very kind preparation for apocalyptic emergencies that fueled this country’s first cultural obsession with all things “extreme sport utility” and led to the all pervasive land rovers, hummers, and personal all terrain armored 4WD. There was a time in NYC when kids were sent to school wearing couture flak jackets. The coming zeitgeist, “Delirium praecox: A choice between the pathological states of paranoia and schizophrenia.” — Sanford Kwinter, was well documented in the exhibition “The New Urban Landscape” held in 1988, ironically at the World Financial Center Battery Park NYC. This was prior to the first bombings, and successful aircraft attacks.

“SUGGESTED FOOD STORAGE PROGRAM FOR ONE ADULT FOR ONE YEAR” — A year! Holy cow! You can’t take all this with you if you have to evacuate either. Two words: sailboat, Hawaii. Two weeks travel, pack for three.

Around the world sailing record is 71 days. No hope to escape nuclear winter, not even as a groundhog. Head south. Mexico. Patagonia. Build a new civilization in yet another wilderness. Bring all the neurosis along. You can’t run from trouble Brer’ rabbit.

“No the water in the toilet tank/water heater don't count (you can't take those with you if you have to evacuate, can you?).” Well technically you could drain them into other containers. It wouldn’t be that hard.

Bud — the gas tank should be kept full. Less fumes that way and least likely to explode.

KJF She should call her fire station and ask about CERT training, or follow these links:, in Northern California it’s referred to as NERT.,

“Abesnt[sic] a tsumami” not sure about LA but Oregon has Tsunami alerts...

Regarding backpacker stoves for emergencies - look for one that will accept white gasoline (car fuel) like the coleman peak one. Some will run on three or more different types of fuel. If it has to run on those compressed gas canisters... Not so good.

Posted by: badbob at September 13, 2005 9:49 AM

Self-reliance- makes sense to me. Although I'm not selling all my mutual funds for gold just yet.
it ain't my nature to hide or run away.

Aren't theses scenarios one of the reasons Mormons have an obligation to have a years supply of food on hand? Ian- I'm sure your kin in UT have a lot more details.

Missing is one big thing- having an implement for self-defense. Low tech baseball bat or garden machete vs. pistol, rifle, shotgun. Personal preference.

Nah.. it's gonna have to be a baseball bat. It is illegal to own a firearm in NYC. Too bad, which pinhead came up with that law?


Posted by: david at September 17, 2005 10:12 PM

FEMA’s new escape plan, ‘The Washington Post today has a story on FEMA's plan to buy 300,000 trailers, mobile homes, and RV's, to house people, at a cost of $5 billion dollars.’

So, with the next hurricane folks can just ride their mobile home right up the delta. Wahoo!

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