Like most of you, I have been glued to the news feed watching the slow burn of the Covid-19 virus slowly spread across the planet. Although it hasn’t affected my life that much, I have spent the last 3 years in preparation for an event like this. I spend most of my time now in isolation with my wife and worrying about the welfare of my parents both of whom are over 80 and have a myriad of health issues. In the past, I have talked to people about stockpiling a year’s worth of food and been treated like a mentally ill paranoid freak (which I totally am). The reality is that as long as the food keeps growing and the Teamsters keep driving, things in this country won’t deteriorate. Once either one of those things gets affected this country will quickly spiral down into chaos. This article is about how to prepare for an uncertain future, and how to keep yourself sane in these totally insane times.
It’s all about food and potable water
As folks race to panic buy all the toilet paper I gotta say people need to examine their priorities. You can survive indefinitely without toilet paper, good luck surviving without food and water. Dried beans are amazingly inexpensive and can store for a long time and still be edible. There are lentils that were discovered in Egyptian tombs that still sprouted, that’s thousands of years. Spending lots of money on MRE’s or dehydrated food is pretty dumb when you get dried beans for less than $1/lb. I eat mostly dried beans and rice and lots of veggies for the last 10 years and I feel incredibly healthy all the time. You can buy a year’s worth of food for one person for ~$200 (conventional) or ~$400 if you want to go organic. If you don’t have a gravity-fed spring as we do then it makes sense to get a hand pump and mount it over your well so you can collect drinking water when the power is out.
Start a garden, you really won’t regret it
The best thing my wife and I ever did was to start gardening 6 years ago. Nothing I’ve ever done has brought me as much pleasure as planting seeds and watching them grow. We now have 4 acres at her house under cultivation and I have 43 acres at my place full of nut and fruit trees that will produce tons of food with almost no inputs. In about 10 years we will be able to feed hundreds of people with that bounty. Investing in the stock market suddenly looks pretty dumb when you can plant a 30 cent chestnut seed and produce a tree that will conservatively produce $10,000 worth of nuts over a 50 year period. When things deteriorate like they inevitably will there are only 5 things that will have any real value: food, water, seeds, antibiotics, and ammunition. When the SHTF your stashed money and gold aren’t going to be worth much. You might be able to wipe your ass with those bills, toilet paper has been in short supply as of late.
Washing your hands works way better than hand sanitizer
American’s obsession with Purell is beyond me, in my opinion, that stuff is incredibly nasty and there is no scientific proof that it really kills ‘99.99% of all germs’ as it claims (they are currently getting sued for this bogus claim). Here’s a thought experiment, if Purell works better than hand washing then why don’t surgeons just take a little squirt before they stick their hands inside of your body? Wash your hands, use soap that has no fragrance, scrub the back of your hands and your thumbs.
In public, I use a respirator, gloves, and safety glasses
I use a 3M P100/Organic Vapors respirator when I’m in public. This sends two messages, 1) that you’re not sick (it doesn’t stop the germs from getting out of the mask) and 2) you’re not taking masks away from health service workers who need them. Since these respirators have a one-way valve that dump your used air, they do not protect others if you are sick, they only protect you. P100 masks work far better than N95 masks, but they are not specifically designed for ‘liquid’ particles. When the masks are not in use I carefully put them in the sun so that the UV rays will kill the virus. This can take several days. For gloves, I find that Nitrile gloves are best and work for many days. If you wear gloves in public then you only need to wash your hands once when you get back home. From the moment I step out the door I put the gloves on and leave them on the whole time I am in public. I’m not doing all these things to protect myself, I’m doing them to protect everyone else. You can get 3M safety glasses for about $1-2 on ebay. The virus can totally infect you through your eyes so glasses are smart.
Create a ‘safe zone’ in your home
Everything inside my home is considered ‘safe’. When we bring anything into the house including packages and groceries we put them aside and don’t touch them for 2-3 days. The virus can live on plastic and metal for 2-3 days. The gloves, respirator and glasses I leave in the car and I just don’t go into town more than once every 3 days so even if these items are covered in viruses when I come home, the next time I go out I know that they are ‘safe’. Lately, I’ve been trying to start a new fashion at home by wearing black winter thermals all day with tighty-whitey fruit of the looms over top of them. My wife says I look like Superman, but I think she really means Superdork. If you’re looking for the best birth control out there, wearing underwear on top of your thermals will work wonders.
Stop binging on Netflix and just read a book
I love reading, this crisis has given me a lot of time to sit and read. I find that if I watch over 2 hours of TV I always feel like crap. Read a book, or better yet get lost in an incredible series like The Expanse, the original Dune books, The Lord of the Rings or the Ender’s game series. There are few things as enjoyable in life as a good book. I am incredibly addicted to reading and have read literally thousands of books with my Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. My entire entertainment budget is my Kindle Unlimited subscription which is about $5/mth (normally $10/mth but goes on sale almost every year during Black Friday).
Get outside and protect your mental health
Since the start of this Pandemic, my wife and I have spent many happy weeks at home planting things and making complex compost piles. She has decided to get certified with the Soil Food Web and now we spent a lot of time behind a microscope looking at soils. We are trying to create incredibly good soil that is full of fungi, bacteria, and predators. It’s incredibly fun and it occupies a lot of our time. The certification process cost us over $7,500 including materials, but it is worth every penny.
Stop worrying about the end and just go ride an ebike
The cities are empty and so are many of the parks. Don’t congregate and party on the beach with your friends, take off on your ebike and go exploring on your own. I think of the last several weeks of isolation as a welcome vacation, not as an end of the world scenario. Worrying that the world is going to collapse into chaos is not going to stop it so you might as well enjoy this ‘time off’.
We’re all going to die. The reality is that although we’d rather have it be later than sooner, we just can’t decide when it’s our time to go. Life is a gift that we should cherish every second of.
Enjoy the ride.