Travel Log

Todays commute is DTW to MCI for the Great Plains Network annual conference. It’s exciting to head out and see all the great folks connecting our research and education institutions. I’ve had the privilege of getting to know many of the leaders in this community in the last several years and I’m proud to be a small part of what they do.

Practical Preparedness Part 3

What are we not going to talk about?The Zombie Apocalypse (TEOTWAWKI)– This is the straw-man ‘The End of the World as We Know It’ scenario from movies and TV shows like The Walking Dead. The odds of this specific scenario happening are slim-to-none, but it is illustrative in some regard. However we are going to discuss getting by in more likely scenarios and if you think the zombies are coming, you can use what you learn then too.Conspiracies – There are many conspiracy theories and we won’t have the bandwidth cover any of them. This is not my area of experience or expertise. Suffice to say if your conspiracy theory involves having to be prepared for the failure of services or supply chain then what we discuss will help, but I won’t use this as the basis of any discussion. What equipment/supplies do I need?This answer also varies, but there are some solid guidelines provided by FEMA and the Red Cross. The general consensus is that at a minimum you need to be ready to get buy without services or supplies for a minimum of three days in an emergency or disaster. This means three days without water, food or other supplies coming from outside your little world. As I write this, I’m about three weeks after a nearly week-long outage of utility power in the wake of an ice storm. The power outages were widespread and I’m pleased to report that pretty much everyone I know coped with them well despite it being quite cold. I like to say that you should be prepared ideally to go at least one week without outside support, and thirty days in the event of a supply chain failure. That means a weeks worth of water and up to thirty days of food, medicine, cleaning products and other supplies you deem necessary to survival. In reality shortages of various supplies could last longer but the idea of being without food for more than a month in North America, Western Europe and the developed parts of Asia is pretty remote based on history, but your mileage may vary in other regions of the world. WaterSo let’s talk about water. Water is a crucial supply and vital for survival. You can survive three days without it, but it is very unhealthy to do so. So how much water do I need in an emergency? The short answer is one gallon per person, per day. This is is a guideline provided by the CDC, FEMA and the Red Cross. More would be nicer, and certainly you could get by with less, but it’s a great basic guideline. These linked articles are both VERY good in their own right and worth a read. FEMA Basic PreparednessCDC article on Emergency Water SupplyGiven the guidelines we have so far, does this mean you need a barrel with a gallon of water per person per day for three days to be prepared? Maybe. Certainly there are folks that do this. The recommended supply of a gallon per-person for three days for a family of four is twelve gallons. Seem like a lot? Do you have a hot water heater? My hot water heater tank holds 40 gallons. So I have that much water sitting in a tank at all times. There’s a spigot for draining the tank for maintenance and I could, in time of dire need, hook up a hose to the tank, shut off the heater so it isn’t damaged by trying to run while partially empty, and draw off the water as I need it. However, my home is serviced by an on-site well and pump, so if I need water, I simply need electricity to run the pump. Your home may be on a municipal water system and you can use the water from the tap even if the pressure is low, by simply boiling it to remove any potential contaminants before using it to drink or for cooking. Most people simply buy several large flat-packs of bottled water when they are on sale and set them in the corner of the basement, but this might not be feasible for someone living in a very small apartment. If you find yourself so-constrained, you can simply go to a home store like Lowes and buy a few five-gallon plastic buckets (with lids!) and fill them with tap water. That’s fifteen gallons of fresh water and three durable, clean plastic buckets you can use for all sort of things in an emergency. Don’t overlook natural sources of water! I live about fifteen miles from a known natural spring that produces potable water all day and night and people that live nearby use it as a water source simply because the water is SO good tasting. It’s free, you simply need to take suitable containers. Are you lucky enough to live near such a resource? It’s worth looking into. Does that all seem simple? It is simple! Remember, the biggest thing is the mindset. How you think about preparing.

The Ties that Bind

It’s a little after 6:00am and we’re slowly making our way out to open water. It’s still mostly dark, the boat is loping along on one of its two V8 engines and the skipper and I are bathed in the light of the radar, depth sounder and chart displays. I’m quietly sipping coffee. None of our party is completely awake, that’s the nature of ‘up early and at the dock before sun up’. But it feels good. The vessel is called ‘Double Trouble’ and our charter party is three generations of our family. The oldest, my uncle, is in his early 70s. My brother and I are in our 50s. My nephew is not quite 30. My uncle remembers when my brother and I were boys, fishing in a small lake we could walk to from where we lived. I remember my nephew playing with my son and falling out of the apple tree in my back yard, breaking his arm near the wrist.

Our family is somewhat scattered. My sister lives an hour away and her husband works jobs all over the state. Her son is our youngest angler. My brother and I have lost both of our parents. My Uncle has lost one brother and one sister. But we have the morning and our shared love of the outdoors. Hunting and fishing have been binding ties throughout all of our lives. From my grandfather down to my granddaughter there are pictures of us holding rods and fish, sitting in boats or even just standing on shore. There are pictures of us dressed for hunting, holding our guns or posing with game. My brother and I both took nice gobblers the opening weekend of turkey season. I’m in the tech industry, working for a Silicon Valley company, and he is a tradesman, making high-end aerospace parts and tooling for industrial machines. We have little in common for our vocation, but we both love the woods and water.

These trips always have three parts. The getting there, the fishing (or hunting) and the getting back. My brother offered to drive, so the four of us piled into his truck for the trip. The windshield time is good. We talk. Calob and I are both in tech. My brother and uncle in the trades. We all have homes, and family and past adventures to talk about. It’s familiar, comfortable. It’s much the same at dinner. And talking in the hotel before bed. But we’re in bed by 10:00 because we’re up at 5:00. And there’s coffee in the morning. Blessed coffee.

Our boat gets to the end of the channel with its protective breakwater, and dead ahead is a dredging barge and tug. The captain picks his way through the marker buoys and then opens up the throttles on both engines. There’s a pleasantly muffled growl and the 37-footer gets on plane. The water is relatively smooth and we run down to the near shore area where he and his guests caught 18 fish yesterday. It’s a gray day, but comfortable and soon the lines are set and we’re watching the rods for a sign of fish on. It’s not very long before there’s one on and my nephew is handed the rod for the retrieve. The fish spits the lure as soon as it’s in sight of the boat. We lose two more before we start catching cohos in earnest. There were a few lake trout too. Big, heavy and rewarding to fight, and not too bad to eat.

We’re on the water for seven hours. We catch a total of eight fish. It’s not exactly a haul, but these trips aren’t really about the fish. It’s our shared passion for the water, and the opportunity to spend time together, sharing a bit of our lives with our kin. It’s the good natured banter and teasing. The blue language punctuated with laughter. It’s sometimes simply bobbing our heads to the music playing on the boat’s sound system as we watch the wake and the rods. The wind picks up as the day wears on, making us feel a bit colder. I’m dressed in new Gore-Tex rain gear, but it doesn’t rain until we’re on the drive home.

On the way back to the dock we’re already talking about the next adventure. When are we fishing again? Whose boat are we taking? What lake? Have we lined up the fall walleye charter yet (it’s still spring). The ride home is quieter. I fall asleep for a bit. We’re all a little tired from the air and being up early. We’re fading back into our routine. But we’re still talking about fishing trips from decades ago. Who was there. What it was like. There’s no doubt we will get together again. Some combination of us anyways. It’s what we do. It’s the common thread. The ties that bind.