Archive for the ‘psychological needs’ Category

This last weekend I took the Complete Survivor Class from Ancient Pathways.  I picked up a whole series of skills to practice. Notice I said “practice” because, good lord, just cause I did these things once doesn’t mean I am actually competent at any of them.   We set traps, snares, tracked, snacked on plants, made jerky and stared at a whole lot of poop.

The class had many manly men and two lovely ladies.  I think it is fair to say that I was generally the least competent at just about everything.  Except for smoking bowls, this I was good at, and by smoking bowls, I mean making a bowl out of fire.

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One of the first things we learned that weekend was to whittle out a spoon. Which was handy as I had forgotten to bring a spoon, and only had a fork and knife. My spoon was incompetent. I routinely watched, for the rest of the weekend, as people whittled out far superior spoons and then pitch them in the fire.

I was a bit nervous at the start of the weekend.  First, I wasn’t sure if I was in the sort of shape to survive such a thing.  Second it snowed the night before in Flagstaff.  I was not expecting snow in mid-May in Arizona.

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This had me concerned.  In assessing my clothes the first cold morning of the class I realized if the cold held I would not be able to stay warm without looking perfectly ridiculous.  First rule of survival is PMA (Postive Mental Attitude) which is hard to do when one doesn’t look good while doing it.  O.K., maybe the first rule is only the PMA part and I just added the looking good part.

The warmest thing I had was a thick wool poncho that I had bought years before in Mexico.  I was planning on using it for a blanket.  I have only worn it on stage for comedic relief,  and I am sure the ex-military men would have met it with scoff.    Luckily for me, things warmed up.

The first thing after setting up our tests was a walking tour of the property.   Tony Nester, our instructor, pointed out the various rat and mice nests around.  Of course, I had set my tent up right beside a big pack-rat’s nest.   Once he pointed it out, it was bluntly obvious.  I never moved my tent.  I figured if I had gophers in Phoenix, I could share space with a pack-rat.

Below:  My tent and pack-rat nest.

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The weekend was simply packed with new knowledge and things worth mulling over.   Here are all the shots from the weekend. As I reflect on lessons learned and go over my half-filled notebook, I will be making a series of posts about this weekend.

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On the plane ride back from New York two weeks back I read The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson about an 1840’s outbreak of cholera in London, England. I had picked it up to see how a society deals with a widespread and mysterious threat. Of the multiple potential causes of the apocalypse I think a fast-moving virus outbreak is my leading contender for most likely cause of the fall of modern-living.  At least the fear of it could cause the greatest media hysteria and therefore become the most likely self-fulfilling prophecy.  The fear of a fast spreading disease strikes a deep frigtening cord among humans (See 28 weeks later) because it has the most unknowns. Where did the disease come from? How far will the disease spread? How is it being spread?

1840’s London had even more unknowns when dealing with viruses, I wanted to read about people’s reactions and what role fear plays in destruction.  One of the things that struck me, was how willing people were to help out their neighbors.  Even though they did not know what was killing people, even though they suspected it had to dow with something in the air (it wasn’t, it was the water) the people still ventured out to help and console their neighbors.

One of the givens the preppers (and most post-apocalyptic movies) assume is when society is faced with a great struggle, we will turn on ourselves.  Thunderdome teaches that the end times will be a dog-eat-dog world.   I have been debating this given.  The world’s most recent disaster, Japan, has multiple stories of communities coming together.  This article in particular has been bouncing around in my head.

I realize anecdotal evidence could point to both people helping and hurting each other in crisis.  Also an earthquake, or a flood, is different that a fundamental break down in society.  After all, once the waters recede, our assumption is that we will need to rebuild.  Usually humans assume they are facing one freak occurrence and not an entire breakdown of everything.  The mindset to survive in the long-term might be different from surviving what is perceived as a shorter problem.

On the other hand, when civil society crumbles, we are most likely not going to clearly see this as the end.  Hopefully, we will have built enough survival bonds during the first few emergencies with others that by the time the end of society is obvious those bonds will be strong enough to sustain us.  I certainly hope so.

A couple of weeks ago I visited New York City to see my brother.  While there I visited the Met, because that is something one is supposed to do when visiting NYC.

Of course, preparing for the Apocalypse was bouncing around in my head as I meandered through the exhibits.   The obvious question one tends to keep coming back to when thinking about the end of times while looking at art from around the world is “Is art useful?”  This is a question that has been pontificated on in countless essays, plays, poems, paintings, and movies before me.   Personally, I find pieces of art about the purpose or making of art to be boring self-indulgent intellectual masturbation.  To paraphrase a line from the great Bill Campana, they are echoes in gas chambers.

I do expect most of the “Art of art’s sake” musings expect that the art made is produced in a functioning society.    My own opinion, as an artist, is that of course art is useful and needed, but for the higher levels of Maslow’s needs.  For example, art is not as necessary for physiological needs such as water and food, rather it serves a role in the health, well-being, love and belonging needs.

The bulk of the art at the Met was originally for rich people, few was for the masses.  Probably the best example of this is the current exhibit The Emperor’s Private Paradise: Treasures from the Forbidden City.  Of course, the Met has only the best examples of various forms of art, and therefore the rich had them.  For the bulk of mankind’s history, the art for the masses was more for entertainment than anything else.  Think Shakespearian fart jokes versus Mona Lisa’s smile.  I suppose the other major form of art for the masses was the stuff found in cathedrals and temples which was more to brainwash people than anything else. Art demonstrates the wealth of a society, because it represents excess labor or at least labor not needed to plow the fields or hunt for meat.

One room of the Met has the panorama painting depicting an afternoon in Versailles.  Before movies were made for the masses, panoramic painting served the role of letting the unwashed masses visit somewhere different, see how someone else lived.  This is one of the few things in the museum intended for the masses, and yet its main focus  is still the privileged few.

One of the exhibits I particularly liked was Moyra Davey’s Copperhead Grid.  It is a series of close-up photographs of pennies in various states of decay.   The little blurb beside the exhibit stated that the piece made in 1990 was created during “the end of the 1980’s art bubble.”  The scratched and withered pennies give a “melancholy sense of loss.”  This little blurb made “the sense of loss” that was being  lamented the fact artists couldn’t sell their stuff when times are tight.  Art is, after all, the classic example of a discretionary good. You can’t after all, eat a Picasso.

Here is my list of events one should attend in order to prepare for the apocalypse.

Burning Man – techno-nerds, socialmediaeanglists, pop-culture survivalists, and dancers.  Kind of an obvious first choice.

The NRA Annual Convention If for no other reason, see what you might have to contend with later.

Some sort of organic gardening convention

 

Any other suggestions?

Note: This posting was originally written as a submission for Pool Boy Magazine,  the independent adult lifestyle magazine for badass women, and clearly a NSFW site.

Hollywood loves to play with how our sexual morals will change after humanity falls. In reality, some women living in the end times will not want to get pregnant from just any man possible.  Not everyone will agree that it “will be our duty to procreate and replace the human species.”  People will most likely continue to have sex for fun. It is, after all, the world’s oldest recreation.

So let’s assume your local pharmacy has already been raided by looters, what is a woman to do?  Without a doubt the best place to start is the Hesperian Foundation’s book Where there is no Doctor.  The Hesperian Society is committed to spreading health care to developing countries.  Their book is designed to give medical advice to a community who has limited resources, which is just what like the Apocalypse will be like.

Included in Chapter 20 is a handy reference guide outlining the various birth control methods currently available, and the varying degree of success of each to protect against pregnancy as well as STD’s.

I realize a woman may not want to rely on her ability to count on a regular basis, but Chapter 20, page 291 describes in great detail how the counting method works.  Me, personally, I would trust the Hesperian Foundation’s version over the Catholic Church’s version.  I would also recommend Wikipedia’s entry on the Calendar method as a good place to start one’s research, but unfortunately the internet will not work when the grid fails.

Now obviously the calendar method is not a lady’s first choice as an absolute guarantee against pregnancy.  So what else have we got after the modern-day pharmaceutical empire has fallen into the dust bin of history?

Let’s assume that modern medicine had ways to prevent pregnancy, and let’s assume that we no longer have modern medicine.  Let’s also assume that much of modern medicine borrowed from things people knew about plants.

The only  list I have found that describes which plants are good to replace birth control, is halfway down the comments in a long online conversation about birth control without the pill.  As we all know anything anyone says on the internet has to be right, right?

Now I, nor Wikipedia are advocating for abortions, or that people start to take these chemicals arbitrarily.  However, it stands to reason that any plant that could cause an abortion could also prevent a pregnancy.  The dosage might be a little different.  Now I am no doctor, and I have never played one on TV, but Wikipedia has a list of plants and chemicals that can induce abortions.

Consulting a local medicine/plant expert  would probably be best. I know who I would recommend in Arizona, but I can’t speak for the rest of the county.  Note, a class would be best to do before society crumbles and we have to live by thunderdome rules.

Searching the internet for birth control methods came up with a couple of  less-than-practical options.  The first is condom’s made of animal intestines, used since the time of the Egyptians.  However I am guessing putting on a goat’s small intestine might spoil the mood.

Also heavily discussed is the option to continue brest feeding.  In the Eighteenth Century is was common for women to breast feed all the way until toddlerhood in order to space out the births.   According to breastfeeding basics the mother has to be “exclusively breastfeeding” meaning the poor woman is constantly going to have the kid attached.  If the goal is to not get pregnant, and one has to have a child for this method to work, then we are left with a Catch-22

So without the pill and modern medicine a woman is not left with a lot of great options,  the sexual revolution did come after the pill after all, no?  So I hate to get all religious right on you, but perhaps the woman’s best choice to avoid pregnancy after the Apocalypse is absence or if that not is possible,  have a mutated animal as a boyfriend.

“The Omega Man”

This movie was an earlier and much campier version of “I Am Legend” starring Will Smith. While campy, it’s not a halfway bad movie….

Thoughts pondered

Would it really be that fun to be the last man on earth?

Who knows what we will lament.

The descendants of the ones who survive will be angry at the ones who burnt it all down. They will be consumed by jealously of the ones they hate. Ohhhhh, the irony!

It would be lonely to be the last man on earth.

Without hope most men give up. Children will give us hope and hope must remain.  I have yet to come across a Post-Apocalypse movie that doesn’t hit the “We must keep Hope alive” theme.

You know the scene from many  a movie.  The giant spaceship erupts the sky,  the gigantic wall of molten lava speeds towards you, or you watch a giant mushroom cloud raid neon green droplets.  You know the end is immediate so you might as well watch the last few fireworks.

For a song to make it to a list to play at this profound moment would take something special; a little joy, a little sadness, and a little bit of hope.

My current list.

1. I saw her standing her there by The Beatles sample lyric “No I will never dance with another”. Best if you are with a loved one.

2. Ramblin Man by the Allman Brothers. Because that is what we the survivors are about to embark on, a long ramble.

3. Something by CCR because anything by them is also good for ramblin.

4. All along the Watch Tower by Jimi Hendrix For all the obvious reasons.

5. Stuck in the Middle with You by Steelers Wheel because it makes one happy to be surrounded by madness.

6. Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) by the Eurythmics because it has got a great sense of sur-realism and stubbordness.

7. It’s the End of the World (And I Feel Fine) by R.E.M. because it is too glaring a choice to not include, plus it is the perfect song to dance on everyone’s graves to.

8.  Revolution by the Beatles a joyous song about things falling apart.