Update, "Jericho" and MAD

Some time back, I'd promised a multi-part post on Building Tangible Margin: Heading Out. Parts of it are done, but it's still simmering. Quite a daunting thing to try to encapsulate in easy reads for a blog. Never fear, though, it's still in the works. In the meantime, if you have questions or comments re: preparedness, let 'em fly. If I don't know, I'll try to get you pointed in the right direction.

I recently mentioned the new series "Jericho" on CBS. If you haven't seen it, I think it's worth checking out, for entertainment value if nothing else. It does have promise for getting that ultimate piece of preparedness equipment—your brain—in action but could go many directions. The first episode aired last week on Wednesday and Saturday night, but you can also catch episodes online. I'll be catching it as I can.

Just a quick aside re: nuclear attacks (part of the premise of "Jericho")—some dismiss the concerns over nuclear attack as “fear mongering” or paranoia. While that may be true in some instances, the fact remains that we are in a uniquely vulnerable situation, much more precarious in many ways than we were during the Cold War. During the Cold War, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. were in an arms race, amassing nuclear weapons and trying to win the world to their various political perspectives. Though the number of weapons was astonishing—easily sufficient to destroy both countries and their allies—attacks were kept in check by the threat of MAD, or Mutually Assured Destruction. You launch missiles at us, we’ll launch them at you and suddenly Australia is the superpower of the world. There is no MAD today. The thousands of nuclear weapons around the world are only mostly accounted for and our enemies today are not strictly nation states but elements within and across borders (Terrorists Without Borders, hmm...). There is no sense of self-preservation keeping nuclear weapons from being used. So, while the feared scenario of a nuclear “holocaust” with missiles raining from the sky will likely never happen in our lifetime, the possibility of limited attacks is more real than ever and much more difficult to predict or respond to.

Isn’t that cheery?! Now go check out some 30-Second Bunnies Theatre (thanks for introducing me, Jase!) then check the expiration dates on your potassium iodide (KI).


Tornado Warning!

Civil Defense sirens went off tonight in Chicago alerting us to a potential tornado. This is the first time I've heard them go off for anything but a test. No tornadoes ever touched down, fortunately, but here's how things went and a couple of observations.

We'd seen on TV that a tornado warning had been issued for our area. I looked online for more specifics and listened to the NOAA weather radio. Though dinner was in the oven, we didn't want to chance it. We shut the oven off. I cleared the floor in our walk-in closet in case we needed an immediate spot. Then we all got shoes or slippers on. Jen stocked the diaper backpack and pulled it on. I grabbed the keys to the storage area, hung a flashlight around my neck, stuck my cell phone & NOAA radio in my pocket, and pulled on my bugout bag after swapping out the water filter for a second liter of water. Then all four of us headed to the basement.

I opened up our storage stall, got out an electric camp lantern, our folding chairs and two sleeping bags. As I was doing this, the CD siren went off. My daughter became frightened, so my wife wisely told her that it was OK and that we were going to pull the sleeping bags over our heads and play like we're camping.

The siren went off for a few minutes then stopped. Not long after that, the NOAA radio reported that the warning had been cancelled and we packed everything back up and headed back to our dinner.

All in all, I think it went well. We didn't panic. We knew what to do and did it quickly. Though our basement is only half-deep (it has windows), I feel pretty confident that huddling together in the middle of the room with two large sleeping bags spread over us would've protected us well from any flying glass. We had redundant emergency lights with us, two liters plus of water, a couple days worth of food, multiple means of communicating/signaling (cell phone, whistle, lights) and the sleeping bags would have kept us warm and dry.

What surprised me were two things: 1) The siren went off after we'd already taken action and relocated. What caused the delay, I wonder? Don't you want to give people as much warning as possible? 2) Nobody else joined us. Now, it's a Friday evening and many folks may be out and about, but it's not like this is a two-flat. We were the only folks in the basement.

Kudos to my wife for being so quick-thinking and taking decisive action and to my daughter who, though afraid, behaved herself very well. My son fell asleep once we pulled the sleeping bags up around us. Smart kid.

Anyone else hit the basement this night? What's your plan for tornadoes?


Not Off My Rocker...Yet

In case you think I'm off my rocker with this preparedness stuff, it seems that it's becoming mainstream. (Well, maybe we're all off our rockers...)

Take a look at Amazon's "Emergency Preparedness " store. It seems pretty good and even has checklists (Wish Lists?) to help you prepare. They're probably not the best source for some gear, but put items on your Wish List then you can watch for sales easily without having to search all the time. Good for finding out what you're getting for your birthday, too...not that any of us would ever do that.

And, have you seen the previews for the new show "Jericho" on CBS? A small Kansas town is surrounded by nuclear strikes on major cities and loses power and connection to the outside world. This could go a lot of different ways but may end up being a good look at the physical and psychological impact of such a scenario. Incidentally, it appears to be a slight reworking of the book Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank, a great novel about surviving in a post-nuclear war world.

Even the bright and challenging Marvin Olasky has weighed in, talking about personal responsibility post-Katrina. Read his column here. If you've not read his World magazine it's a worthwhile Christian news magazine.

Though I tend to dislike trendiness, this may be a situation where the passing fad is of some value. Disasters like 9/11, Katrina, etc. tend to get people riled up for a few months then they fall back into their old comfort zones and sense of security. Hopefully, with or without painful reminders, there will be more and more who decide to adopt preparedness as a lifelong discipline.