#39 How will you recognize the cataclysm when you see it?

March 5, 2009

A worried reader recently asked me, Exactly how do you define “cataclysm?” How will I know one when I see one?

Good question. You don’t want to pull out your cataclysm kit and run for the hills if you only have a disaster on your hands, not a full-fledged cataclysm.

It may help to think of a cataclysm as part of a continuum of troubles that runs from everyday trials and tribulations to an outright nobody-but-the cockroaches-survive apocalypse.

Cataclysm ContinuumIn between, you have your misadventure, disaster and your cataclysm.

Think of it in terms of survival. Most people will survive their tribulations (bad hair day) and the ordinary misadventure (US Air Flight 1549). In this day and age most people even survive a disaster. A cataclysm, not so much.

But the best-stocked cataclysm survival kit won’t help you in the case of the apocalypse.

Next time something bad befalls you, or you read about some crisis or other in the news, try to place it on this continuum. As you do it more and more, you’ll start to get the hang of things.

When the cataclysm comes, you’ll recognize it for what it is. You’ll be fit and ready with your skills and stockpiles while everyone else is still twittering on about their very bad day.

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#38 Blend in

February 7, 2009

When the cataclysm hits and marauding bands of your unprepared neighbors tear through the ‘hood looking for a bite to eat and some fresh water, your ability to stand out in a crowd will be definite disadvantage.

Note how this wily crayon cleverly blends into its surroundings

Note how this wily crayon cleverly blends into its surroundings

You’ve cultivated your own personal style and developed strategies to draw attention to how you are completely unique in the world. That’s the American way, after all – rugged individualism in the search engine optimized era.

After the global climate change cataclysm, though, you won’t want to show up on your hungry neighbors’ armed analog equivalent of a Google search for “local food.”

To the contrary, you’ll want to blend in and not be noticed. You’ll want people to pass you right by without seeing your well-stocked cataclysm kit.

Get started now. Start taking note of those background people in your life. You know – the invisible ones you don’t usually see. Study their habits of dress, behavior and driving habits.  They have a lot to teach, and you have a lot of bad habits to lose if you’re going to go unnoticed and survive after the cataclysm.

Crayon photo by EJP. Click to see more camoflaged crayons.


Ebola: Coming to a temperate zone near you

December 31, 2008

The Wildlife Conservation Society has identified twelve relatively uncommon diseases that are likely to become much more widespread after the global climate change cataclysm. Listen here to learn more:

To download the mp3, right click here.

Or click here to read tip #34: Diversify your immune system.

[No Fun by Iggy Pop and the Stooges]


#37 Learn to talk to people face-to-face

December 28, 2008

Apparently, a whole generation of people is growing up unable to carry on a conversation with another human being face-to-face. They’re so used to email and texting with their friends, they’d rather do that than actually see them in real life.

The Onion

Source: The Onion

Great if we want to reduce the spread of communicable diseases. Not so good for after the global climate change cataclysm, when batteries run dry and the electrical grid collapses.

Imagine, you’re going though life just texting along, when your iPhone suddenly goes dead. You realize the last time you plugged it in, it didn’t actually juice up. You look up from the phone, only to discover the water has already risen up to your knees. What do you do?

You can’t start emailing or texting for help. You’ll have to shout. I know it sounds frightening, but you will have to talk to the people around you. They may be family, friends or even strangers. If you don’t know how to carry on a verbal conversation with the people who planned ahead for the cataclysm, you’ll have a lot of trouble getting them to row you to safety or share their freeze-dried Brunswick stew with you.

Practice now. Put down that phone or PDA and talk to someone. You may find it less efficient than email. It will require more words, and you may have to talk about things that aren’t on the topic you started with. You’ll have to use entire words. Then again, you may be surprised to find out it takes less time to say “by the way” than it does to say the letters “BTW.”

smileyYou’ll also need to make facial expressions and hand gestures appropriate to the content of your words. To do this, imagine the kind of emoticon you might use with certain statements, and try to make your face look like that. Many people of the older generation learned this as children, and may be able to help you.

Start talking now, lest you find yourself texting underwater.


#34 Diversify your immune system

October 7, 2008

If you thought mononucleosis was bad, check out ebola.

If you haven’t yet, you may get a chance to try.

The Wildlife Conservation Society has identified twelve relatively uncommon diseases that are likely to become much more widespread after the global climate change cataclysm. See, as your local climate changes, pathogens that couldn’t survive there before will suddenly be able to. You’ll have to diversify your immune system if you want to survive.

Thanks to WCS, we know what diseases you should start preparing for now. The “Deadly Dozen” are (in alphabetical order)

  • Avian flu
  • Babesia
  • Cholera
  • Ebola
  • Intestinal and external parasites
  • Plague
  • Lyme disease
  • Red tides
  • Rift Valley fever
  • Sleeping sickness
  • Tuberculosis
  • Yellow fever

I once had a yellow fever vaccination, but I don’t have a clue what “babesia” is.

As we all know, the keys to avoiding illness are 1) keeping yourself fit and healthy, and 2) washing your hands every five minutes. So start with that. The next step is to beef up your immune system and diversify it.

Check the Centers for Disease Control website for reports of the deadly dozen popping up. I found a report of babesia in New Jersey from 2003. That will help you keep track of the geographic infection creep, and might show where you can visit if you want to try to to build up antibodies.

Whatever you do, don’t rely on those antibacterial soaps to save you after the cataclysm. They do more harm than good, and they’ll run out long before the deadly dozen pathogens do.


Forget the Wall Street bailout – it’s time to get out your abacus

September 25, 2008

After the cataclysm, swindlers and sociopaths will come out of the woodwork. With the right preparation, you can protect yourself from some of the worst. But you’ll need to be able to count your own change. Get an abacus and learn how to use it, or learn some basic math. Listen here for more, or read the post at blog52.wordpress.com.

Or click here for the mp3.

[Solar Race by the Ventures]


#31 Learn to count your own change

September 13, 2008

How many of us skated through elementary school without ever really learning our times tables? I know I’m not alone in this. Especially since the advent of electronic cash registers and hand-held calculators, we haven’t really needed the ability to do even basic math in our heads, have we?

Post-cataclysm calculator

Post-cataclysm calculator

But there I stood at the office supply store yesterday, trying to figure out whether buying paper by the ream was cheaper than buying it by the box. A ream = 500 sheets, and at least I know my five-times tables, but I kept thinking the math in my head must be wrong if it was coming up cheaper to buy five reams, rather than a box full of five reams of the same stuff. So I called up my trusty cell phone calculator, and sure enough, I was right. Those tricksters! Playing on my belief that buying in bulk is always cheaper! Hah! I showed them, and I saved myself five dollars.

But it got me to thinking about what I’ll do after the global climate change cataclysm. You’re standing in the flea market, trying to figure out whether it’s more economical to buy your moldy rice by the scoop or the sack. Your cell phone is long dead. What are you going to do? Just do the rough math as best you can? Or do you make wild guess and hope for the best?

Then how do you know if they’ve given you correct change if there’s no electronic cash register to show what you ought to expect? OMG, how do you subtract $17.49 from the twenty you just handed over? Or subtract seven cowries from the large mollusk shell you just handed over in payment?

You have two choices here.

Option one: get an abacus and learn how to use it. Millions of people all across Asia do just fine with them, and whose economy is doing better these days?

Option two: learn some basic math. Start with addition and subtraction at a bare minimum. Take on those multiplication tables once you’re feeling confident.

After the cataclysm, swindlers and sociopaths will come out of the woodwork. With the right preparation, you can protect yourself from some of the worst. But you’ll need to be able to count your own change.

Abacus photo by Shenghung Lin