Archive for the ‘research’ Category

When I first began this blog I was trying to figure out the best place to loot after Law&Order no longer plays on reruns.  My thought process was looting is not criminal when it is a matter of survival, I mean, everyone does it.   After reading the prepper blogs I have come around to way of thinking that looting is not a good plan for the apocalypse for a host of decent reasons.  First, you will be surrounded by other looters.  Looters, as a rule are a desperate and unethical bunch.  You are more likely to be stabbed with a screwdriver in a mob while stampeding out than getting enough food to survive.  Why associate yourself with these people?

So looting is out, but then a friend suggested the value of looting the dump.  This is not as bad as an idea as it sounds on first instinct.  There will be food for the chickens.  There will be things to smelt.  There will be spare parts.  The problem is that your average smuck would not know what to do with the random parts one would find at the dump.    I should take in a load for research.

Anybody been to dump recently?

Advertisements

Thoughts and lessons learned while reading “Bangs & Whimpers: Stories about the end of the world” edited by James Frenkel.

Warning: Spoiler Alerts!  So don’t get all nasty, I gave you a warning.  I summarize the basic premise of some of the stories to help me remember their points.  You have been warned. SPOILER ALERTS BELOW!

The Nine Billion Names of God by Arthur C. Clarke:  Just because lone self-proclaimed wise men are on the top of a mountain in the middle of the Himalayas doesn’t mean that they actually know what they are talking about.  Even if they have done it for centuries.   Also, who would sign up for the apocalypse?  Why would one ask God to quit?  Mr. Clarke, no surprise here, gives a solid plausible explanation to these questions.

Killing the Morrow by Robert Reed :  One man trusts his gut when all around him, including himself, falls to mind control. Aliens attack my osmosis.

We Can Get Them for you Wholesale by Neil Gaiman:  I enjoyed watching Gaiman lets his sense of dark comedy flow free. In his graphic novels, I am use to him getting more burdened down with obscurity.  A vain man  unknowingly hires other-being mercenaries to kill us all.

Not with a Bang by Howard Fast:  A wonderfully comic piece of how one sensible man reacts when the sun gets dramatically snuffed out like a candle.

Lost and Found by Connie Willis :Explains why it would be bad if the Holy Grail had been in Russia during the 1950’s.

The Wind and the Rain by Robert Silverber:  I really like the narrator’s angle to a common warning.  Think Inconvinet truth with the cold amusement of a perspective millions of years later.

Expendable by Philip K Dick: What a wonderful imagination on that man.  Would the spiders and the ants and the feral cats mourn our passing?

Finis by Frank L. Pollack:  The world burns quickly and two people kiss.

A Guide to Virtual Death by J.G. Ballard: More of a warning than a record of Humanity’s willingness to create their own end.

Emissary from a Green and Yellow World by Robert Sheckley: I really liked this one.  A wonderful comedic commentary of what makes Humans so wonderful and horrible at the same time.

The Portable Phonograph by Walter Van Tilburg Clark: Once we are barely holding on, living in caves, we will lament for the  beautiful things once-made my man.  Duh.

Fermi and Frost by Frederik Pohl: How the shit would play out in Iceland.  Well thought out scenario.  Good example of how to logically think out a world.

Ultimate Construction by C.C. Shackleton: At 2 pages long, the definition of how to switch-it up at the end.  Sandcastles made of sand might not be a bad idea when we know everything is going to melt anyway.

The Manhattan Phone Book (abridged) by James Tiptee Jr:  Lame.  It turns out to be a lecture to the reader on how the apocalypse won’t really be that fun, because, you know, of all the death also you, the reader, will probably die. WHATEVVVVER!!!!

The Man who Walked Home by James Thurber: I did not understand half of what was happening, but a wonderful story of the birth of faith and ghosts in the machines of science.

Interview with a Lemming by James Thurber: Great example of how to write a short, very short, story that is meant to only set up the end.  Makes you question the role of basic assumptions and how they lead to different logics.

The Last Question by Issac Asimov:  The end is very far out indeed.   Very very very far out.  Like a billion years far out.  Who else better to pull that off but the master?

For years I have day-dreamed about getting my doctorate in Future Studies.  There are several reasons I would find this interesting and I think my past history of teaching High School Social Studies in Mexico City and Damascus Syria, combined with the MBA and eight years working in financial Services helps make me a good candidate.  But the coolest reason to do this would be I could tell people I am a Doctor, and when they asked “What kind of Doctor are you?” I could say “I am a doctor of THE FUTURE!”

There are only two Universities that offer a Doctorate in Future Studies, one in Texas and one in Hawaii.  Guess which one I would go to?  I will give you a hint, I only linked to that one.

As future studies is about the future, I wonder what it has to say about the end of the world.  So I been goggling around to see what I find.

If nothing else, the Wikipedia article on Future studies and clicking on the words one is not familiar with makes for an interesting read.  For example, eschatology is the study of the end of the world and how various religions deal with it.  Another idea, that is rife with material for Science Fiction short stories is technological singularity, a “hypothetical event occurring when technological progress becomes so rapid and the growth of artificial intelligence is so great that the future after the singularity becomes qualitatively different and harder to predict.”

Below:   A Mural from Romania on the subject of eschatology.

Scan0073

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.

ancientpathways 082

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.

ancientpathways 001

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.

ancientpathways 005

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.

I have completed the Phoenix branch of CERT (Community Emergency Response team) application form and mailed it in.    If I don’t hear back from them then I am going to contact the Tempe branch.

CERT is all about preparing people in their community to be ready when disaster strikes.   To volunteer with them you have to take a class.  I would imagine a whole ton of the stuff in the class would be useful when the SHF.

Below is a paraphrase how CERT’s website describes the normal training.

The CERT training for community groups is usually delivered in 2 1/2 hour sessions, one evening a week over a 7 week period. The training consists of the following:

  • Session I, DISASTER PREPAREDNESS:  hazards one can enounter and how familys should react before, during and after.
  • Session II, DISASTER FIRE SUPPRESSION:  Fire chemistry, hazardous materials, fire hazards, and fire suppression strategies.
  • Session III, DISASTER MEDICAL OPERATIONS PART I: Diagnosing and treating airway obstruction, bleeding, and shock by using simple triage and rapid treatment techniques.
  • Session IV, DISASTER MEDICAL OPERATIONS, PART II: Evaluating patients by doing a head to toe assessment, establishing a medical treatment area, performing basic first aid, and practicing in a safe and sanitary manner.
  • Session V, LIGHT SEARCH AND RESCUE OPERATIONS: Planning a rescue, including size-up, search techniques, rescue techniques, and most important, rescuer safety.
  • Session VI, DISASTER PSYCHOLOGY AND TEAM ORGANIZATION: Signs and symptoms that might be experienced by the disaster victim and worker.
  • Session VII, COURSE REVIEW AND DISASTER SIMULATION

So that seems quite useful, no?

WHile I wait to hear back from them I am going to check out the videos they have uploaded to their website.

I do find it ironic that my inital communication with the Emergency First Response to Disaster people has to be sent by snail mail.

I wonder if the 2011 Survival conference is worth going to.

Marks against it

#1 It is in Dallas.

#2 It will be people pitching me a bunch of stuff to buy.  Much of it will seem necessary at the time.  Even putting aside the obvious thoughts on how easy it is to sell fear, it is money I don’t really have to spend.

#3 While the conference and hotel is cheap, the airfare makes it debatable.

Marks for it

#1 I would learn a ton.

#2 It is fun to window shop.

#3 Dallas can’t be all bad.  Sure it might have a tangled history with guns, but so does Tucson, and I can tell you that Tucson is a wonderful town.

How to Sew a Button with Amy Jean Page and How not to Sew a Button with Kevin Patterson

Thank you NealJohnson for filming!