Hygiene after the SHTF

I’ve seen hundreds of articles about how to survive the apocalypse by using specialized skills, and/or living off a hoard of food. However, one of the most important skills most people learn during childhood doesn’t get the attention it deserves… Hygiene!

How will you stay healthy to use those skills and enjoy all that preserved food if you can’t practice basic hygiene? Keep in mind that going to the grocery store for more soap and toothpaste probably won’t be possible. That means you’ll need to be creative when it comes to your hygiene needs[1].

You’ll find alternative methods for maintaining good hygiene after the SHTF in this article. If these methods don’t appeal to your tastes, do some research and find what works best for you. However, I think the substitutions and methods listed in this article are more practical in a survival situation.

Dental

There are many things you can do to maintain good oral health. You can conserve the supply of toothpaste or replace it entirely.

If you absolutely must have toothpaste and need to make it last as long as possible, you’ve got to stop using so much toothpaste. According to most dental experts and manufacturers, adults only need a pea-sized “dollop” of toothpaste[2],[3].

That’s a blob of about half a centimeter or a quarter of an inch!

If you have a healthy mouth, it may be a good idea to further stretch your supply of dental products by alternating your brushing and “washing”. You can double the life of your toothpaste and mouthwash if you don’t use both products every time you clean your teeth. Some dentists claim that rinsing the mouth with water or mouthwash after brushing, wastes the benefits of fluoride in toothpaste.

To do this, brush your teeth at night and spit out the foam. Allow the teeth to absorb the leftover fluoride as you sleep. And then rinse your mouth out with mouthwash in the morning, after breakfast.

But what if you run out of toothpaste?

Humans have been cleaning their teeth long before modern toothpaste was invented. Most ancient cultures used devices or solutions to get food particles out of their teeth, but I must warn you that none are going to be as minty-fresh as the manufactured paste most of us are addicted to. Be aware that some of these alternatives may cause irritation, and it may be necessary to temporarily switch substitutions.

Below are 3 lists of oral-care substitutions which may help ensure your teeth stay healthy[4],[5].

Teeth Scrapers

  1. Toothbrush (by itself, or with “paste”)
  2. Floss
  3. Toothpicks
  4. Spun Thread or “Sewing String” (substitute for both floss and toothbrush)
  5. Frayed Twig as a substitute toothbrush

Toothpaste

It’s easy to make a basic toothpaste by combining: 2/3 cup of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of salt, and enough water to turn it into a paste. You can add peppermint essential oil to freshen your breath as well. Making and storing toothpaste may not be possible for some people. The following can be used individually:

  1. Baking Soda
  2. Chewing Sesame or Flax Seeds (then brush)
  3. Charcoal[6],[7]

Survival Mouthwashes

There are a few mouthwashes you can use as well. The theory behind these mouthwashes is to pull food particles out of your teeth and/or make bacteria residing in your mouth inert.

  1. Coconut Oil
  2. Salt & Water
  3. Hydrogen Peroxide (diluted in water)
  4. Essential Oil & Water (mix in salt for extra abrasiveness)

It’s probably a good idea to switch over to alternate dental hygiene methods when you realize civilization has collapsed, long before supply forces you to make the switch. Doing so gives you an opportunity to experiment with new methods, and it maintains that supply so you can switch back to a tried-and-true product if you suffer any side effects. If you don’t notice any side effects, you can save the minty toothpaste for when you’re going to be intimate. Or, if the new hygiene practices are working, and dates aren’t a possibility, you can trade that leftover toothpaste with someone desperate.

Soap

I wanted to be a nurse in my early 20s, before deciding it wasn’t the best profession for me. The most memorable lesson I have from nursing school was watching classmate after classmate fail the sanitary exam regarding soap and water. According to medical standards of the early 2000s, soap isn’t technically needed to make your hands sanitary between patients. Friction is what kills germs and bacteria, and you only need to rub your hands under running water. Washing with soap creates suds which generate more friction and trap the dead microbes, making it easier to rinse them off.

I did what I had to and pass the exam, but never trusted friction ALONE to maintain cleanliness.

After the SHTF, washing with soap and water will be even more important than it is today because it’s a valuable tool to ward off infectious illnesses. It may be an essential item to stock, but storage space isn’t infinite and you’ll eventually need to make your own.

There’s only one way to make soap and that’s by using lye[8], oil, and water. Making soap requires a lot of time and can be dangerous if you don’t know how to handle lye. You’ll also need some practice to perfect your recipe.

Below is a basic description on how to make soap in a survival situation, without refined materials.

  1. Make lye by collecting white, powdery wood ash in a bucket or container with holes on the bottom. Make certain there’s a water-tight container beneath the ash bucket.
  2. Leach lye out by pouring water over the ashes and allow the mixture to drain into a container below. Leaching may take an entire day, but doesn’t require much attention. The captured lye-water should be light brown.
  3. Boil the lye-water down for several hours until it’s incredibly thick. If you have 1 gallon of lye-water, the refined lye will be about 1 cup.
  4. In a separate pot, melt or warm about 1 cup of leftover meat fat or cooking oil (or both).
  5. Add the warm lye into the oil/fat and mix while boiling for about 3 minutes.
  6. Reduce heat and stir for a full minute, every 10-15 minutes. Do this repeatedly until the soap is golden-brown and has a thick consistency (this can take hours).
  7. Optional: Now’s the time to add any extra ingredients, such as: herbs, essential oils, coffee grains, or salt.
  8. Pour mixture into a mold and cover with a towel.
  9. Allow to cure for at least 1 week.
  10. Remove from mold and cut soap into bars. Consider using cupcake molds or something similar to eliminate this last step.

That’s the basic soapmaking process. I loathe providing specific recipes because there’s no telling what materials you’ll have after the SHTF. Search the web if you need detailed or specific recipes.

I’d like to mention a couple alternatives to soap:

Sand

People in desert cultures have used sand to clean themselves for millennia. Even in modern times, sand baths are common in poverty-stricken desert communities, because water is too precious to waste on bathing. This may sound gross to westerners, but the abrasiveness of sand does work to absorb or scrape off body oils and dead skin.

The primary problem with a sand scrub is it can’t effectively kill and remove microbes. That means your hands may not be sanitary for cooking or first aid. Another problem with sand baths is it takes much longer to cleanse an entire body, than it does with a soapy bath or shower.

Oil

Ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians once bathed using oil. They slathered oil onto their bodies and scraped it off to remove dead skin and dirt.

Roman gladiators sold their oil scrapings to fans because it was thought it enhanced sexual vigor in men and was an aphrodisiac to women. Who knows, if you’re young and sexy maybe you can sell such scrapings. If not, then I’d probably reuse the oil as a fire accelerant or an ingredient in… soap.

Soap wins in the end! (Just kidding.)

Feminine

If your family includes females at or around menstruating age, you should be prepared if/when they have a period. Women have been going through menstrual cycles since the dawn of time, so this isn’t a new problem. We’ve coped with periods long before tampons existed and will continue to do so after the SHTF.

Tampon substitutions may include:

  1. Washable cloths, rags, or clean clothes you don’t care if they stain (like socks).
  2. Unused or sterilized sponges.
  3. Toilet paper or paper towels.
  4. Gauze bandages[9].
  5. You can also learn to live with it and use nothing.

Even if your family doesn’t need them, it’s a good idea to stock a couple boxes of tampons to trade with desperate people.

***

I’ll close this article by quoting a phrase my father repeated throughout my childhood: “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” Good hygiene is immensely important during a survival situation because it helps stave off illness. And, if you’re single, maintaining good hygiene may help attract an intimate survivalist partner.


[1] Medical Disclaimer: The author of this article is not a doctor, dentist, or any kind of medical professional. The information presented is for educational and informational purposes only, does not constitute any professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult your health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment immediately. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you read on this blog, website or in any linked materials.

This article is part of a series about survivalism and being prepared for anything, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore established medical practices or avoid potentially expensive treatments. Always survive to use your skills another day by using the medical services currently available.

[2] Harris Dental. (2013, January 28). How Much Toothpaste Should You Be Using? Retrieved from Harris Dental: https://www.harrisdental.com/blog/how-much-toothpaste-should-you-be-using

[3] Arm & Hammer. (n.d.). How Much Toothpaste Should You Use? Retrieved from Arm & Hammer: https://www.armandhammer.com/articles/how-much-toothpaste-to-use

[4] Gold Coast Holistic Dental Care. (n.d.). Find out 6 easy ways to keep your teeth clean in a natural way. Retrieved from Gold Coast Holistic Dental Care: https://gcholisticdentalcare.com.au/top-6-to-naturally-clean-teeth.html

[5] Smilepoint Dental Care. (n.d.). What can I use instead of toothpaste? Retrieved from Smilepoint Dental Care: https://www.smilepointdentalcare.com/what-can-i-use-instead-of-toothpaste/

[6] Charcoal: Extra caution must be used when using this method of oral hygiene. I reluctantly list charcoal as a toothpaste substitute because it requires skill to safely produce. The lye in ash, which may be present in charcoal, can harm your teeth and gums.

[7] CBC Life. (2019, June 19). Surviving in the wild: How to transform campfire charcoal into a teeth-cleaning powder should you need to. Retrieved from CBC: https://www.cbc.ca/life/video/surviving-in-the-wild-how-to-transform-campfire-charcoal-into-a-teeth-cleaning-powder-should-you-need-to-1.5181928

[8] Lying Lye-less Recipes: There are lye-less recipes available online, but they’re lying or misleading you. Most of these recipes call for a “soap base”, which is basically soap that’s been through the dangerous lye reaction. Soap bases may be concentrated allowing for other ingredients (fragrance or dyes) to be added.

[9] Gauze Tampon: I personally don’t like the idea of using a wound-care product you may need later for something that’s not life-threatening.

Survival Pet Bathroom?

I’d like to end my recent focus on pet survivalism by mentioning another problem you may face if civilization were to end… waste. How are you going to take care of the natural urge to expel liquid or solid waste? This is easy in today’s world. All we have to do is let the dog poo and pee in the back yard, or take it out for a walk.

Depending on the civilization-ending disaster, your pet’s bathroom habits may not change. Even if cat litter runs out, your cat can easily use something else like sawdust, fine wood shavings, or dried sand. Cats can be retrained to poo and pee outside, but they won’t do it on-demand like dogs.

What if there’s a chemical or nuclear attack?

If such an attack were to happen, your pet can’t go outside because they’ll track in deadly chemicals or fallout. That means you’ll need to retrain your pet to poop and pee inside the house or bunker. This is easy for cats because they can use a litter box, but will be very hard on dogs who’ve been trained to never potty in the house.

You’ll have to train the animal to use the bathroom only at one approved location and guide it there repeatedly. You also need to keep an eye on your pet until you’re certain it’s comfortable with the new habit. If it can’t follow its training and the urge gets too great, the pet’s natural instinct is to find someplace discreet to hide the mess and avoid getting in trouble.

Please keep in mind this retraining will involve a lot of trial and error. Your pet is unlearning old habits while trying to learn new ones, and will benefit from positive or negative reinforcement. I’m sure your pet will do its best to learn new habits, so don’t be too harsh with the negative reinforcements during this transition period. Afterall, humans created the mess they’re in.

What about my dog?

I live and work in the heart of a major city and regular dog-walks aren’t always possible. My dog has used puppy pads his entire life and won’t need to be retrained. However, I fear the day we run out of those convenient puppy pads. I guess he can use leftover newspapers, but the paper won’t be delivered after the SHTF, so what happens when that runs out?

Maybe we’ll dedicate 2-3 towels for him to use and rewash them daily?

***

Think of how your pet will do its “business” if civilization were to end. Depending on the situation, it may not be “business as usual”, and you’ll need to help them adapt to the new situation.

Useful Survival Pets?

This is the third installment dedicated to pets in survival situations. People have thanked me for my previous articles related to prepping for our pets’ food and healthcare, but I’m sure this one will be more controversial and less popular. I’d like to go over which pet species will be the best and most useful companion after the fall of civilization? The most obvious winner could be “man’s best friend” (dogs), but the utility of other animals may surprise you.

I’ll start by stating that all animals can serve a basic function when it comes to emotional support and general entertainment. However, some creatures tend to be more useful than others beyond emotional attachment. If a civilization-ending disaster occurs, it’s important to recognize the value your pet can offer to the survival of your family and objectively determine if it serves as an asset or more of a liability. The information provided is based on the average or typical behavior exhibited by certain animals, and many readers will probably think their pet is the exception[1].

The purpose of this article is to remind readers that hard decisions may be necessary to ensure your family’s survival. Living as a survivor or struggling as a victim starts with being able to objectively assess the usefulness of objects, living or otherwise. When it comes to pets, that means deciding to keep, release, or make a hard decision. Reading this will hopefully make you more aware of your pets’ abilities.

Fish

Unless you have a self-sustaining fish farm, fish may be the most useless pets after the fall of civilization. All fish need oxygen, but infusing the water with it may be impossible without power. You may be able to use a solar water pump and create a “waterfall” to get the same effect, but even that may not be enough to supply their needs.

If there’s adequate oxygen, how are you going to feed your fish? Most require special food you probably can’t acquire anymore. Once you run out of fish food, those fish may best be used as food for other pets or as plant fertilizer.

Don’t wait for your fish to die before serving them as food for other pets either. There’s no telling exactly how or when the fish died. For all you know, the fish could have been killed by a bacterial infection brought on by a weakened immune system or contaminated water. Feeding it to another pet may be too great of a health risk, which means the safest thing to do with a dead fish is bury it in your garden or compost pile.

If you can keep your freshwater fish alive, the waste they produce can be used to provide nutrients in your garden. Simply clean the tank as you normally do, but pour the waste-water into your garden instead of down the drain. Don’t do this with saltwater because it will kill plants and ruin the soil for years to come.

What if you’re child has a pet fish?

Lack of power will probably cause the fish to die sooner than expected. When it happens, the best thing you can do is hold a burial in your garden. Doing so will keep your kid happy, and the fish will be reused as fertilizer. Maybe you can soften the loss by telling the kid a story about how the Native Americans once used fish to nourish plants, and/or explain it as part of the circle of life.

Reptiles

Most reptiles live in tanks their entire lives, and won’t be useful in a survival situation. You won’t be able to such a pet and it may be necessary to release it into the wild. Hopefully, it will adapt and hunt for its food.

If you have young children, tell them the lizard or snake ran away and is having a good time hunting in the wild. You can even make a token effort to look for it. Once the search is over, make sure the kids understand that your property has other reptiles which may look like your former snake, but those are wild and deadly. 

Rodents

Hamsters, mice, guinea pigs, squirrels, and rabbits are all rodents used as pets. They can technically eat anything, so food may not be an issue. But if you have a mating pair, they can create more mouths to feed. This in itself is problematic because some rodent species will eat their own babies if there isn’t enough food to go around.

Another problem with rodents is they tend to be small and fast. It’s easy for a pet mouse to get loose and lost somewhere in the house. They can die from pesticides intended for bad rodents from outside, or escape and become yet another wild pest. Should this happen and you have kids, you’ll need to tell your kids something similar to the reptile story:

“Mousey is having a grand time foraging in another neighborhood. Our property has other mice that look like Mousey, but you can’t play with them because they’re wild and carry diseases.”

Some rodents can be useful… as food. North Americans once hunted and trapped rabbits and squirrels, and South Americans eat guinea pigs as a delicacy. If you have multiple rabbits or guinea pigs and the space and know-how to start a “rabbit” farm, then you’ll have a ready source of protein for years. The hard part is convincing your family to look at Fluffy as dinner, and not their best friend.

Birds

Most birds are entertaining and pleasant to look at, and some larger parrots can pop open a beer for you. But let’s face it, most birds are a luxury and will be a constant drain on your resources. More power to you if you can afford to feed a pet bird, but consider what others will think if they figure out you own a living luxury item. 

If your neighbors are suffering from starvation, such a symbol of wealth and abundance may cause resentment. Even if you’re barely making ends meet, the simple fact you own a bird will cause your neighbors to think you’re sitting on a mountain of food. They may attack or steal your supplies thinking they’re justified doing so because, obviously, you have more than enough and you’re a vile person for holding out on them. 

Luxury birds may be worse than useless, but chickens are useful “pets”. Hens can lay eggs for your breakfast, and to replenish your chicken population. And when they get too old to produce eggs, you can eat them. 

Chickens are low maintenance because they eat almost anything from table scraps to spiders. They only require access to water and a safe place to roost. However, chickens will attract thieves and you’ll need to address that problem appropriately[2].

I’d like to finish the bird-section by mentioning falcons, owls, and other wild birds. They aren’t commonly used as pets, but these wild avians offer passive benefits by naturally reducing snake and rodent populations.

Cats

I personally love cats, but they don’t provide many immediate benefits to your family in a survival situation. They don’t follow orders or commands unless they feel like it. They won’t go on a walk with you, and they aren’t great guard dogs either.

Think of why we have sayings like: “Herding cats” and “Scaredy cat”.

While cats may not be immediately useful, they do offer a lot of passive benefits. Cats have been known to hunt and kill pests like mice and other rodents. Such rodents eat food crops, are infested with fleas, and may harbor diseases. Some larger rats are dangerous to small children and love eating the fingers of babies and toddlers.

The problem is how we use or treat cats. The usefulness of a cat is wasted if you’re just going to keep it as a house pet. It can’t kill pests if it’s trapped in the house, but it will start hunting on its own if you let it out. After some practice, a cat can acquire much of its food through hunting and may not be as dependent on you for its daily survival[3],[4].

Our family had an indoor/outdoor cat, and I know the greatest reward a cat can give you is:

  1. Love and affection by day.
  2. Peace of mind at night.
  3. And the occasional gift at the door to “enjoy”.

Dogs

Dogs will almost certainly be the most valuable pet in a survival situation. They are loyal, follow commands, serve as security, and can be trained to help around the house and farm. Dogs of any breed or age can help us psychologically cope with tragedy as well.

However, what many people deem valuable dog traits in today’s world, will be more of a handicap after the SHTF. Popular “toy dogs” are bred to be cute accessories and aren’t as helpful as larger breeds. Toy dogs aren’t completely useless, because most still have superior senses of hearing and smell. Those senses can be used for foraging, and make them great living alarms[5]. Just keep in mind that small dogs, inherently, aren’t physically capable of defending your family. They’ll try their best, but the little ankle-biters can’t do much damage compared to larger dogs.

Larger dog breeds are the best companions to have in a survival situation, simply because they can do more than smaller dogs. Large dogs are great defenders of property and do so by: sounding an alarm to warn you if a stranger is approaching, as well as intercepting and/or attacking intruders. They can herd livestock and help you hunt or retrieve prey. Some can be trained to pull small carts or wagons, sometimes without any supervision.

The overall utility of dogs over other animals cannot be overstated. They are loyal, follow orders, and will put their life on the line to defend their family. Dogs will be one of the most valuable members of your family after the SHTF, but they require training and practice. Which means you must use them as the valuable workers you need them to be… and not as mere toys.

My Pets?

What kind of pets do I own and how do I rate their usefulness? I have a parrot and a small dog, and already know they won’t be as useful as other pets. Here’s how I assessed their utility.

Parrot

He’ll make a good 1-time meal, but I need to keep a happy home and won’t mention that again. The bird’s immediate utility is limited to entertainment and keeping my boyfriend happy. We could use his droppings as fertilizer for a garden, and his feathers can be made into beautiful ornaments, fans, or feather dusters… if we can find someone interested in such crafts.

We can keep the parrot alive for years because he’ll eat pretty much anything us humans can. However, he can get loud sometimes and I fear he’ll be discovered by hungry neighbors, who may end up resenting us for wasting perfectly good human food on a bird.

Dog

I’m not going to lie. Our small dog is spoiled rotten, but will be more useful than the bird. He has a great sense of smell. If there’s a chicken wing in a bush, that dog will find it. But I don’t think we can reliably use that skill in a survival situation. It’s possible he can be trained to forage for certain plants, but training takes time, and most of that time should be used working on defenses and growing food. Plus, I’m pretty sure he’ll try to eat what he finds before we get a chance to harvest it.

His hearing is impeccable, and I’m sure he’ll be a great guard dog. He’ll have no problem alerting us of intruders, but won’t be able to intercept or attack. I fear that he may be too good at sounding an alarm, and will be the death of us should we need to hide and keep quiet.

Which pet species will be the best and most useful companion after the fall of civilization? All animals serve a basic emotional support function, but some creatures tend to be more useful than others. If disaster strikes, you may be forced to objectively assess the usefulness of your pets and decide if you should keep, release, or make a difficult decision.

Some people will deem such an evaluation as monstrous and may shun you for not sharing the same values they hold. It’s not wrong. They simply aren’t as mentally prepared as you are, or they haven’t fully transitioned to the new normal. I fear most of those people will refuse to evaluate the usefulness of their pets before the damage to the family stockpile is already done.

Always remember that hard decisions may be necessary to ensure your family’s survival.


[1] Unique Exceptions: I could retire if I earned money every time someone told me how my point of view or subject is wrong because of their unique situation.

  • I’ve got a neighbor who can walk his cat like a dog. It’s an amazing sight to watch, but not typical behavior.
  • If your pet is the top performer of your household… that’s great, but it’s not normal.
  • If you’ve been able to train an army of piranhas to jump out of water and walk on land to eat intruders… that’s great too, but definitely not typical.

[2] Violence Disclaimer: I must remind readers that I do not condone violence, law breaking, or vigilante justice.

[3] Biggers, S. (2019, July 1). The Importance Of Cats For Prepping and SHTF: Here come the survival kitties! Retrieved from Backdoor Survival: https://www.backdoorsurvival.com/the-importance-of-cats-for-prepping-and-shtf-here-come-the-survival-kitties/

[4] Sung, W. P. (2019, May 23). Why Do Cats Bring Gifts to Their Owners? Retrieved from PetMD: https://www.petmd.com/news/view/why-do-cats-bring-gifts-their-owners-38127

[5] Dogs for Foraging & Living Alarms: No dog will naturally know how to forage for specific plants unless you train them, which will take time.

Some dogs may not be great at alerting you to intruders either. Depending on breed, the sense of smell or sound may not be as advanced as other dogs and it may not detect an intruder until it’s too late. Some breeds aren’t biologically capable of producing a bark loud enough to be heard at long range (which is important if you’re working in a field).

Bird Flew

We’ve been hearing about how all these chickens are testing positive for bird flew. Chickens don’t typically fly, but they’re fully capable of flying for short distances to find food or reach a perch. 

We don’t normally see these flights because it rarely happens. When such a flight is witnessed, it scares the fuck out of humans! Early intervention is important because if one chicken can learn to fly, even for a short distance, it means others can too.

That knowledge can spread like a virus.

The standing policy for farmers or bird-factories is to report the possibility a chicken may have “flew”. Once the government receives the alert, it triggers a rapid response:

  1. The entire facility is locked down by special forces and the employees are sworn to secrecy.
  2. A team of inspectors is dispatched to do a psychological interview of the witness.
  3. Once it’s verified the worker didn’t hallucinate the incident, all camera footage is examined to verify if the bird or birds did indeed fly.
  4. The birds test positive if flight is verified and the entire stock must be exterminated.
  5. The special forces team is reassigned from containment to extermination and uses flamethrowers to sterilize the facility.
  6. The smell of cooked chicken always draws a crowd, so it’s important to have a cover story. To hide the fact a bird flew, the media is told of a bird flu infection.

Our entire food supply could fly the coop if rapid intervention isn’t taken to eliminate the infection and ensure information of the incident doesn’t make it to the media. If animal rights activists were to learn a bird flew, those hippies will demand better conditions for the chickens.

It won’t stop there. 

If chickens can learn to fly, maybe they can read and write too. Activists will demand the chickens be tested to prove if they are intelligent. As with most controversial studies, there will be mixed results and people may demand a moratorium on chicken consumption. Those social agitators will go even further and push for chickens to have rights and legal representation. Before you know it, Chicken-Scratch will become a grade-school subject!

Chicken-Scratch!

Food prices will spiral out of control while these social reforms are debated. Our civilization will be further polarized between two radical factions. Those who believe chickens are sentient, and those who can’t believe dinner can talk.

We’d end up fighting a neo-civil war on CHICKENS!

If the Independents aren’t forced to pick a side, they’ll watch the war play out in sports bars over a plate of wings. People who probably haven’t touched a gun their entire lives will try to defeat those who own 2 or more. Regardless of who wins the war, the battlefields will be stained a shade of red similar to buffalo sauce.

All because a damn bird flew.

***

Author’s Note: I intentionally inflated the government and social responses to emphasize the fictitious nature of the story. However, bird flu (avian influenza) is a serious disease our nation should take seriously. Humans don’t have much of a natural defense against this zoological version of Influenza, and the majority of human cases are terminal.

Bird flu is usually spread by migrating birds and if it’s here in the United States, it’s probably here to stay. We couldn’t even stop a bunch of rich old birds from carrying Covid-19 from their cruises and vacations from China and East Asia. So, what makes you think we can stop ACTUAL birds from flying into the country. 

Don’t shun food made with chicken just yet, because according to studies, an infected chicken is still safe to eat if cooked thoroughly[1],[2].

Which shouldn’t be a problem because I don’t know anyone who likes a rare chicken.


[1] Eileen Haraminac, W. S. (2022, March 11). Humans cannot get avian influenza from properly cooked poultry and eggs. Retrieved from Michigan State University Extension: https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/avian_influenza_poultry_eggs_safe_food

[2] United States Department of Agriculture. (2015). USDA Questions and Answers: Food Safety and Avian Influenza. USDA.

Survival Petcare

The first thing I need to say on this subject is that I’m not a veterinarian[1]. This article isn’t intended to be the animal version of Gray’s Anatomy and won’t discuss every possible ailment to befall pets. The objective is to provide a few examples to serve as reminders that pets can become ill or suffer from infections, and reiterate that it’s your responsibility to treat them as best you can. 

Treating illnesses isn’t going to be easy because our pets can’t speak and tell us what’s making them sick. A dog can’t walk up to you and say my tummy hurts like a child would. The only warning you may have of a stomach problem will be when the dog pukes on the ground. Similarly, animals can’t complain about having chest pains and there won’t be a warning until a heart attack happens.

This may sound harsh, but it’s important to realize early-on that you may lose your furry family member without any notice. Fido could be fine and dandy when you leave the house to forage, only to return to find him on the floor… dead. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen, but you should be prepared for it nonetheless.

Now that I’ve got the morbid part out of the way, let’s assume there’s nothing terminally wrong with your pet. What happens if he gets sick?

There probably won’t be many veterinarians around after the fall of civilization. If there are, those specialists will likely be repurposed to serve as human doctors and won’t have enough time to help household pets. Depending on the rules of the community, they may be forbidden to “waste” resources on non-essential animals. 

Even after things calm down, I don’t think veterinarians will be able to commit resources to household pets. If vets are allowed to work on animals at all, they may be forced to restrict their services to the maintenance of productive farm animals. 

This ultimately means you will have to treat your pet as best as possible, with what’s available. 

Pet Meds

After a civilization-ending event happens, many veterinarians will close shop and you won’t be able to get specialized pet medicines. So, what do you do if your fur-baby gets sick?

You may be limited to treating the symptoms and hope they naturally recover. Thankfully, a lot of the medicines designed for human consumption can be used on animals without many side effects. It may be a simple matter of changing the dose. 

For example, if a pet is licking one patch of skin, it may indicate an allergic reaction. Most vets advise owners to give Benadryl (or generic equivalent) to treat such allergies. The vet normally advises how much medicine to give, but if the trained professionals don’t exist, it’s your responsibility to estimate the amount all by yourself. 

The directions for drugs are based on human consumption and caution must be used when giving such medicines to an animal. If your pet weighs about the same as your kid, the child dose may be appropriate to use. If smaller than that, you may need to use half the suggested child-dose. 

A few words of caution:

  • If your pet’s the size of a squirrel, maybe you shouldn’t risk an overdose. 
  • Do not use topical creams because it may not be safe for internal consumption, and you almost certainly won’t be able to prevent pets from licking it off. 

Generally, use the common-sense most ordinary people possess.

What about fleas?

How do you treat your dog for fleas? From what I’ve read, the best method is prevention, prevention, prevention. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Bathe your pet regularly (not a viable option for cats).
  • Plant flea-repelling plants like rosemary and mint.
  • Make an herbal flea collar.
  • Mix a tablespoon of vinegar into your pet’s drinking water (test to ensure the pet doesn’t shun the water).
  • Don’t let your pet outside.

After a Flea Infestation

If you have a furry pet, a flea infestation may be inevitable and it’ll seem like you’re fighting a war on multiple fronts when it happens. Not only do you have to eliminate the infestation from your pet, but also from the environment. Many natural remedies for the home require sprinkling baking soda or salt into fabrics to kill the eggs and larvae[2],[3].  

Below are a few of the direct home remedies for treating dogs with fleas:

  • Spraying it with essential oils such as: eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree, and rosemary.
  • Bathing it with any of those same oils, vinegar, and water.
  • Spraying it with vinegar & water.

Vinegar seems to be the most effective treatment according to most of the websites I’ve browsed. If none of these treatments are possible for your household, you may be forced to keep your pets outside… or learn to live as a flea-bitten rascal.

What about Heartworms?

You need to accept the possibility there may not be anything you can do about this parasite. We’ve been told for years that heartworms are inevitable, and that’s why vets tell us to treat dogs monthly for this parasite[4]. If those normal treatments aren’t available because of disaster, that means over time an infected dog will die because the infestation will become so great it can’t properly pump blood through its body. 

With that said, I’ve read from various sources it’s possible to treat your pet for heartworms by feeding it: Pumpkin seeds, carrots, coconut, apple cider vinegar, turmeric, and chamomile[5],[6]

If you run out of regular dog food and/or make your pet’s food, adding these ingredients to your pet’s diet can be done with little effort. 

Below are some common symptoms of an uncontrolled heartworm infection[7]:

  • Mild Symptoms: Occasional cough or tiredness after moderate activity.
  • Severe Symptoms: Dog may look unwell, cough persistently, and get tired easily. Dog could have trouble breathing or even show signs of heart failure (wheezing coughing, bloated belly[8]). 

I’d like to finish by reminding readers that if your pet has a life-threatening condition, nothing can replace the medical expertise of a veterinarian. You are responsible for your pet’s medical treatment nowadays, and that will be the case if civilization were to end.

It’s your responsibility to use the professionals if they are available. I hope this article serves as a reminder of your responsibility and that alternative options exist if the SHTF. You are their “first responder” and will have to treat them as best you can, with the materials you have. 


[1] Medical Disclaimer: The author of this article is not a doctor, veterinarian, or any kind of medical professional. The information presented is for educational and informational purposes only, and does not constitute any professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

If you or any other person (and/or pet) has a medical concern, you should consult with a health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment immediately. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on a blog, website, or in any linked materials.

[2] JetPet Resort. (2021, March 1). 30 Ways to Naturally Prevent and Get Rid of Fleas on Dogs. Retrieved from JetPet Resort: https://jetpetresort.com/blog/dog-care/30-ways-to-naturally-prevent-and-get-rid-of-fleas-on-dogs/

[3] DePino, M. (2022, March 31). 9 ways to get rid of fleas on your dog naturally. Retrieved from BetterPet: https://betterpet.com/how-to-get-rid-of-fleas-naturally/

[4] Heartworm Hoax: Some websites I’ve seen have veterinarian authors who claim your dog probably doesn’t even have heartworms. That’s because heartworms are transmitted between infected animals via mosquitoes. Dogs in a major city way not be susceptible because of all the pesticides and chemicals, whereas a dog in the country probably has heartworms given the swarms of mosquitos in rural areas.

[5] PetPartners. (2021, February 10). 6 Natural Ways to Treat and Prevent Worms. Retrieved from PetPartners: https://www.petpartners.com/blog/pet-health-and-safety/6-natural-ways-to-treat-and-prevent-worms

[6] Chamomile: Chamomile may help treat or prevent other types of worms and parasites.

[7] Henriques, J. (2021, December 12). DIY Heartworm Treatment For Dogs. Retrieved from Dogs Naturally Magazine: https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/dog-heartworm-treatment/

[8] Bassingthwaighte, D. E. (2021, December 12). Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs: A Holistic Approach. Retrieved from Dogs Naturally Magazine: https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/congestive-heart-failure-in-dogs-holistic-treatment-options/

Holographic Will

I’ve worked in several fields of law over the years[1] and learned many legal terms which haven’t aged well. Jargon of this sort may sound funny to modern ears, especially when examined from a different perspective. As a life-long fan of science fiction, I always thought a “Holographic Will” sounded funny.

I grew up seeing holograms in Star Trek and Star Wars, so every time I hear someone mention holographic Wills, I can’t help thinking of the holograms depicted in science fiction. Think of how funny it’d be to arrive at court to prove up a holographically formatted Will. How might a probate judge react to such a Will?

  • Would he or she be offended at the clever use of technology which makes fun of a dated term?
  • Would the attorney or representative of the estate be chastised for contempt of court?
  • Would such a Will be seriously evaluated based on its merits?

But, how could such a Will be legally recognized as valid? I’ve drafted and managed the execution of several estate planning documents, and understand what makes them legally valid. It may require a lot of effort, but it shouldn’t be that hard to make a real holographic Will.

Making a Holographic Will

A holographic Will is a Last Will and Testament which is handwritten and signed by the testator. Holographic Wills aren’t the best method to convey property upon death because they lack the verification and witnessing process enjoyed by most standard Wills. In Texas, the entire document must be written in the handwriting of the person making the Will (testator).

Based on the current requirements, you cannot have a valid holographically formatted, holographic Will. The reason is because the court must be able to verify the handwriting on the original document. If a hand-written document is converted into a digital format, the copy (hologram) isn’t legally enforceable.

However, you can draft a digitally holographic Last Will and Testament and execute it in a way that makes it valid. This is achievable using the technology we have today[2].

What You’ll Need[3] 

  • Portable holographic projector
  • Typed Will
  • Notary with digital stamp credentials
  • Two disinterested witnesses
  • All parties need a digitally secure signature to sign the PDF.

Theoretical Process

  1. Buy a portable holographic projector. You’ll need it for a functioning holographic Will. Several are available on Amazon with an average starting price of $180. They appear to render images well and should be more than sufficient for this purpose.
  2. Get your Will drafted. Most people recommend having a probate attorney do this for you, but there are templates of simple Wills available online. A probate or estate planning attorney will be immensely helpful because of the unique nature of a holographically formatted Will. 
  3. Find a Notary and schedule an appointment for the signing. The hard part is finding a Notary who has a completely digital notary stamp, and is willing to use it to notarize a Will[4]. If you’re working with an attorney, they may already have a digital stamp or know someone who does.
  4. Corral two disinterested witnesses to participate in the signing[5]. This won’t be difficult if you’re working with an attorney because most offices use their staff as disinterested witnesses. 
  5. Make certain all signatories have a secure digital signature. This can be done using a recognized execution service like DocuSign[6]
  6. Assemble the parties and sign. The notary will verify your identity and those of your witnesses. Initial and Sign everything in front of the Notary and witnesses. There’s a section for the witnesses to enter their names and sign as well.
  7. The Notary notarizes the Will. The Notary will apply a digital stamp verifying you have satisfactorily executed the Will.
  8. Save or upload the executed Will. Once the Will is saved to your computer or SD card, plug it in and test it out. Be aware that you may need to convert the file formats to work on certain projectors.

A Few Things to Consider

This process can be done in person or via teleconference. However, there are more benefits to assembling all signatories in the same office.

  • Having all parties physically present makes it easier for the Notary to verify everyone’s identity.
  • Being in the same office reduces the chance of an error happening, and makes troubleshooting easier if one does occur.
  • If all parties are in the same office, it can’t hurt to print a physical copy of the unexecuted Will and perform the execution process the conventional way. Doing so will ensure there is a standard version of the Will in case your family experiences complications during the probate process.

Other Types of “Holographic” Wills

While writing this article, I thought of a couple alternative methods to creating a “holographic” Will. I’m pretty sure the following types of Wills won’t be recognized as legally valid because they are technically uncertifiable copies, and/or the processes involved alter the document enough to ruin its legitimacy. I mention them because someone may think it’s a cool idea to replicate, and I’d like to see the idea given form.

Holographic Printing[7]

There are a few methods to printing a “holographic” Will, but require a specialized printing company. The Will is copied onto special embossed “paper” or a sheet of glass to provide a 3D effect. The process may produce an optical illusion of floating text, and the company may be able to make the signatures and notary stamp appear more prominent.

Engraving

If you want to go big, and I mean really big, you could have a 3D crystal[8] engraving company turn your Will into a different type of “hologram”. This process is very expensive and requires a huge block of glass to legibly fit all pages of your Will (simple Wills average 10 pages). 

If you have money to burn and know you aren’t going to alter or amend your estate plan, this type of Will can do double-duty as art. You can proudly display and brag that your final wishes are set in stone (actually, glass). And once you’re gone, it’ll serve as an everlasting monument to your legacy. 

This type of Will may be perfect for a wealthy person who hates their family and/or wants to leave everything to a pet… or 20-year-old lover. Such a person can take great pleasure knowing the Will serves as a huge middle-finger to the family. 

***

When all is said and done, a Will outlines your final wishes regarding your corporeal assets. If you’re a trickster at heart, you could pull one final joke on the system by creating a holographically formatted Will. It won’t be of any official use until you die, but when that day comes, you can rest easy knowing you’ve played one last prank on the system.

Where there’s a Will, there’s a way! 


[1] Legal Disclaimer: The author of this article has worked in law for over a decade, but is not an attorney. The information or materials available in this blog or website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Information on this website may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information. The laws of one governmental jurisdiction (i.e. city, county, state, or territory) may not apply to a different jurisdiction.

Readers of this website and article should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter. No reader or user of this website should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information on this site without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction. Only your individual attorney can provide assurances that the information contained herein (and your interpretation of it) is applicable or appropriate to your particular situation.

Use of or access to this website and/or article do not create any type of professional-client relationship.

[2] Document Validation: Our courts are making great strides to modernize, but some jurisdictions may be slower than others at accepting new techniques. The processes posed in this article may not work in all courts now, but nothing can truly stop progress. It’s just a matter of time.

[3] Ingredients of a Will: Please remember that different states and counties may have different laws and requirements.

[4] Notarizing Wills: It’s hard to find a Notary who will notarize a Will. I’ve written my own Will, but can’t get anyone to notarize it. I’ve gone to banks and notary offices, and they’re all too scared to notarize it.  

WHY!?

All they have to do is say the magic words, and watch me and the witnesses sign.

[5] Disinterested Witness: A disinterested witness is a person who does not benefit from your estate. In Texas, a witness must be over 14 years of age and of sound mind.

[6] DocuSign: Some legal entities or medical organizations shun eSignatures. They sometimes require a “wet” or hand-written signature. This practice doesn’t make sense when you have a legitimate 3rd party service, recognized for secure document execution. 

If I can use DocuSign to execute multi-million-dollar contracts between major corporations, we should be able to use it to execute a multi-thousand-dollar estate.

[7] Holographic Printing: This section is intended to be an “honorable mention” of alternate methods of making a “holographic” Will. I have seen printed 3D or “holographic” images, but the science and technique is too complex to deeply explain beyond the basic theory of how it can be applied to make a Will “holographic”.

[8] 3D “Crystal” Engraving: The block used in the 3D engraving process is usually made of glass or a special plastic.

Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. (n.d.). Bubblegram. Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:History/Bubblegram

Survival Dog Food 🐕 

We love our fur-babies, but they often slip our minds when making plans or stockpiling food and supplies. Just like humans, our pets have the same basic needs for: food, water, and shelter. Most “Preppers” have water and shelter already, but what about petfood?

Before moving forward, I’d like to warn readers this article is heavily focused on dogs. Many families have other types of pets, but more families can relate to owning a dog than other pet species. The information in this article may be interchangeable if you own a cat.

What can you do to prepare? 

It’s best to continue feeding your dog the same food it’s accustomed to. Buy a surplus of dogfood and use or rotate your stockpile as supplies age. Dry dog food has a long shelf-life, and stays fresh even after you open the bag. According to a few articles I’ve seen online, the average shelf-life of unopened dry dog food is 1 to 1.5-years, and maybe longer under pristine conditions[1].

The same articles claim dogfood will stay fresh about 1-2 months after you open the bag[2]. I think it takes my dog the same amount of time to go through a bag of food. We’ve got another bag of food at our vacation retreat, but I’ve got no clue how old that bag is. He eats it just like the kibble at home, so it must be fine.

My dog has never complained about his kibble being stale…

What about when it gets desperate?

You’re running out of dog food, but pet stores were looted a long time ago. You know there’s no interest in resupplying or reopening stores based on living luxury items (pets), especially when people may be desperate enough to eat dog food! What can you do?

Can you make dog food and/or switch your pet’s diet to something else?

Making Dog Food

You can make “dog food” yourself, but it won’t look like the old kibble you used to feed your dog. It’ll look more like human food and the dog may not know the difference. 

I looked at the list of ingredients from my dog’s bag of food[3], and the first 11 items seem normal enough. They are: Chicken, Brewers Rice, Chicken Meal, Yellow Peas, Cracked Pearled Barley, Whole Grain Sorghum, Egg Product, Chicken Fat, Soybean Oil, Brown Rice, Dried Beet Pulp.

The rest of the ingredients are vitamins and additives to enhance flavor or extend the shelf-life. With this in mind, it probably won’t be too difficult to make something your dog can eat from scraps and common pantry items.

To me, the ingredient list roughly translates to:

  1. Meat
  2. Chicken Meal (Ground Bones & Skin or Scraps)[4]
  3. Puréed Vegetables
  4. Egg
  5. Animal Fat and/or Oil
  6. Rice (Most people don’t have access to barley)
  7. A finely ground multivitamin

I don’t like providing recipes in my articles because there’s no way to know what ingredients you’ll have after the SHTF. Specific recipes can be found online, but be prepared to adapt the recipe to fit what supplies you have access to.

Changing the Diet[5]

Dogs evolved to be carnivores and scavengers, so it’s theoretically possible to transition them from kibble to meat-based scraps. Be aware that transitioning to a new diet will require a lot of patience and care.

Switching your dog’s diet can be as simple as 3 steps:

  1. Gradually introduce food scraps or homemade dog food to the kibble. This has the added benefit of extending your supply of dog food.
  2. If the dog doesn’t have a negative reaction, gradually increase the scraps being substituted per serving.
  3. Continue the process until only a small percentage of food is kibble.

A few things to keep in mind regarding changing a dog’s diet:

  1. Don’t replace kibble with meat-scraps overnight. Transitioning from kibble to a different diet “cold-turkey” could make your dog sick, and may cause unnecessary food waste if the dog can’t handle the sudden transition.
  2. If your dog gets sick during the transition, it may be because the process is moving too fast for it to handle[6]. You may need to reduce the ratio of new food per serving. Find a happy medium and maintain that ratio for a week before moving forward with the replacement process.
  3. You don’t want to waste supplies, so continue using a small amount of kibble with each serving until the manufactured food completely runs out.
  4. You may be tempted to start converting your pet’s diet immediately after the SHTF, if only to extend your dog’s food supply. This may not be a good idea if you have several hundred pounds of dog food stockpiled. After all, you’ll be supplementing your dog’s food with your own. Also consider that you don’t know how long your dog will live. If it dies suddenly, you’ll be stuck with a bunch of pet food you can’t consume.
  5. Don’t be too hard on yourself if your dog can’t successfully switch over to a new form of food without getting sick. Some of the nutrients are getting absorbed into their system, but it may not be enough and you need to be prepared for the possibility your dog may not survive. On the flip-side, don’t be hard on your dog either. It’s not the dog’s fault the world has gone to shit.

DO NOT Ration Pet Food 

You must feed your dog the same amount of food, at the same time of day. You can brag about how smart “Fido” is to your neighbors all you want, but he is not capable of rational thought[7] and won’t understand why you aren’t feeding him enough.

Rationing dog food will force the pet into survival mode and it will compete with you for food. The behavior of a starving dog will change quickly. First, it will scavenge for scraps or other food to make up for the deficiency. When that doesn’t work, the dog will seek targets of opportunity and attack weaker family members to get their food. There’s nothing scarier than seeing a loving pet, suddenly bare its fangs against a vulnerable child eating or playing on the floor. 

***

It can be difficult to prioritize what to stockpile in preparation for an emergency or disaster. It’s easy to focus on human needs over our silent partners, so don’t panic if you haven’t done much to ensure your pets are taken care of if the SHTF. Just remember that you can take steps to address this issue if disaster strikes.


[1] Spinney, K. (2019). Dog food does go bad, but there are ways to help keep it fresh longer. Retrieved from Fansided: https://dogoday.com/2019/02/12/dog-food-goes-bad-keep-fresh-longer/

[2] Cammack, N. R. (n.d.). Pandemic: Considerations for Pet Food Bulk Buying and Shelf Life. Retrieved from NorthPoint Pets & Company: https://northpointpets.com/npp-journal/pandemic-considerations-for-pet-food-bulk-buying-and-shelf-life/

[3] Full Ingredients List: Hill’s Science Diet for dogs with sensitive stomachs:  

Chicken, Brewers Rice, Chicken Meal, Yellow Peas, Cracked Pearled Barley, Whole Grain Sorghum, Egg Product, Chicken Fat, Soybean Oil, Brown Rice, Dried Beet Pulp, Chicken Liver Flavor, Lactic Acid, Pork Liver Flavor, Potassium Chloride, Flaxseed, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Iodized Salt, Choline Chloride, Taurine, minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Oat Fiber, Natural Flavors, Beta-Carotene, Apples, Broccoli, Carrots, Cranberries, Green Peas.

[4] Nestlé Purina PetCare. (n.d.). What Is Chicken Meal in Dog Food? Retrieved from Purina: https://www.purina.com/articles/dog/nutrition/what-is-chicken-meal-in-dog-food

[5] Medical Disclaimer: The author of this article is not a doctor or any kind of medical professional. The information presented is for educational and informational purposes only, does not constitute any professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

[6] Sick Dog: Transitioning food too quickly may cause illness. However, the dog could have eaten something it wasn’t supposed to like: grass, a small toy, dirt, etc. It can’t hurt to scale back the transition process to be certain the new diet isn’t the cause.

[7] Rational Thought: Social media constantly provides us with examples showing that some humans don’t possess the ability to think rationally.

Rage Against Greenhouse Gas

Preface: WordPress’s word of the month for April 2022 is “Green”. Dark-green happens to be one of my favorite colors, yet I can’t think of anything I want to write specifically about the color. Earth Day was just a few days ago, so I’ll write about greenhouse gases..

***

Winter no longer happens during the months we’ve historically recognized as “winter”. When I was a child, autumn started alongside school, in late August. Winter arrived after Halloween and lasted until Groundhog Day. Basically, it was expected to be cold from November through February.

This expectation held true even in humid, Southeast Texas.

At least, that’s the way it was in the good old days. 

For the past decade, our winter weather has been expressed in frontal waves, and doesn’t have the staying power it once had. We get a few days of “winter” here and there in Texas. Sometimes, we get “winter” all at once in January or February, as has happened these past couple years[1].

This alarming pattern is seen in many of the Northern states as well. My family recently went north for a more traditional winter holiday, but was slightly disappointed by the lack of ice and snow.

What’s causing this to happen? 

I’m not an environmental expert, but the basic science we’ve been learning in school for decades has taught us these changes are caused by human activity. Our media, which may be sponsored by major businesses, spotlights natural sources of global warming gases such as: volcanic activity, subterranean gas, or gas trapped in ice. 

I tend to agree with the theory that human activity bears most of the blame for the changes happening to our planet, but who’s to say this isn’t part of a natural extinction cycle the earth goes through. For all we know the last ice age may have been caused by a long-dead civilization who tried to fix global warming. 

Alternate Theory:

For all we know, an intelligent species or ancient race of humans may have experienced the problems caused by greenhouse gasses and developed non-carbon producing technologies to help the planet heal. They may have captured CO2, methane, and other gasses to store in permafrost ice sheets. They may have thought storing those gases in ice that never melts was a sufficiently permanent fix, because, surely, nobody would make the global warming mistake again.

Perhaps that civilization’s efforts worked too well and caused the last ice age.

That civilization either died off or left the planet…

And then comes humanity, with no prior knowledge of what caused the ice age. Humanity was born burning resources and makes the same mistakes with carbon-emissions. Maybe we’re inadvertently releasing all the stored greenhouse gases as our modern pollution heats the planet and melts those ancient ice “warehouses”.

I pose this alternate theory to show it doesn’t matter who’s to blame for global warming.

It doesn’t matter if certain nations are more at fault than others.

It doesn’t matter which generation is more negligent.

It doesn’t matter how much money is spent redirecting blame.

What does matter is how we respond to the problem we’re faced with. Are we going to stick our heads in the dirt like a cartoonish depiction of an ostrich[2]? Or, will we stop burning gases and develop new energy solutions to fix the problem? 

Wind is a natural resource found pretty much everywhere on the planet. Large-scale wind energy is expensive when you factor in the cost of the unit, transporting parts, construction, and then regular maintenance over the years. However, small home turbines can be purchased as low as $150! Unfortunately, most of us don’t know how to connect the generator to a battery bank, much less the grid.

Solar is another resource available everywhere on earth[3], and photovoltaic solar panels don’t require complex maintenance like wind generators. But going solar is prohibitively expensive. Each large panel can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000. Add installation, and you may end up paying around $20,000!

I think solar is the way to go from a practical point of view. All that’s needed after installation is to keep the panels clean and clear of obstructions, and maybe replace a damaged unit over the years. It’s truly much easier to go solar and forget it.

If only we could develop better and cheaper solar technology to make it accessible to people of all incomes. If we can solve that problem, we may buy the planet enough time to recover. 

But won’t that ruin certain industries?  

No, it won’t. The mighty corporations we worship and get a pitiful allowance from will survive. Even the major oil companies will be just fine. Most oil and chemical manufacturers have a broad range of products they sell besides gas. They make additives and other materials which are used in everyday items like: cosmetics, lotions, soaps, household cleaners, plastics, some clothing materials, and much more[4].

The only people who’ll be ruined by such an economic shift are the cartels who extract the base-product, and the citizens of those oil-producing nations. The Middle East has been at war or angry at everyone else throughout human history anyways, so will we notice if there’s even more unrest in that region?

***

We may never agree about what’s causing global warming and casting blame is irrelevant. Greenhouse gases are heating the planet and melting the polar ice caps, and may be driving the extreme weather patterns we’re experiencing. What’s relevant is what we do to fix it.

Our species has repeatedly met the challenge of physical threats. So why is the threat of extinction not enough incentive to give up our addiction to wealth-at-any-cost? Someone needs to have an intervention with our leaders[5] and remove toxic industrial influences, so we can ween ourselves off “easy” money.

I fear our species doesn’t have the strength to go through that rehab program.


[1] Winter, all at once: Can you believe The Weather Channel started naming winter storms? We used to only have to worry about named hurricanes, but now they’re naming winter storms.

[2] Ostrich: According to a Zookeeper I overheard talking to a group of kids at the Houston Zoo, ostriches don’t bury their heads in the sand when scared. However, they will try to blend in by laying on the ground.

[3] World-wide Solar: You can count on light from the sun to be available everywhere on the planet except for the polar regions of the planet. Both the north and south polar regions experience months of darkness because of the Earth’s axial tilt.

[4] Petroleum Products: I once worked at a major oil company and learned what we sold and how it’s used in everyday things.

[5] Violence Disclaimer: I would like to remind my readers that I do not condone violence, criminality, or rising up and overthrowing your legitimate government.

I’m Not Stressed!

Stop asking if I’m stressed!

I’m not.

Yes, I’m aware that almost every one of my muscles has a knot. People have been saying that for nearly 3 decades, back when I was still in my 1-digits. I’ve been told I’ve got knots all over my body so many times, you’d think my knots have knots.

I may be one massive knot with a face. I’m a knotty boi[1].

I’ve been asked over the years if I want a massage, or if I want to go have a spa day.

No, but thank you. Having strangers or strange people touch and rub my body is not relaxing to me. The one time in my life I asked someone to give me a massage, they went full deep-tissue on me. The pain was so unbearable, I had to put a stop to it.

Speaking of painful massages, they really should anesthetize, or at least numb, those extreme cases who need such a deep therapy. I supposed that’d require a doctorate, so it’s too much effort for an industry with an education credentialing system based on certifications.

Not that I’m bashing the industry, masseurs, or massage professionals in general. I’m merely pointing out a possible improvement to the industry as a whole, and a new business opportunity for doctors who can prescribe the sedatives and numbing creams or injections. There’s an untapped market for that service, and charging insurance shouldn’t be that much of a problem either[2].

Anyways, I’m not stressed!

I may clench my jaw shut all the time, but it doesn’t mean I’m stressed. I’m just more cautious of how I sleep because I witnessed practical jokes being played on classmates during nap-time. And I’m not going to leave myself open for a bug to crawl or drop into my mouth while sleeping

Are you sure you’re not stressed? All that subconscious clenching can’t be good for your teeth.

If we ignore the tea-stains, my dentist claims I have the healthiest mouth he’s seen. He mentioned that my jaw muscles are so developed, I can probably bite several fingers off with little effort.

That’s probably a great ability to have in a fight or survival situation.

I’ll say it again, I’m not stressed!

I’m happy most of the time, so why would people think I’m stressed?

Aside from having an alarm scare me awake each morning… I think the only stress my body experiences is from a sudden fear I experience when getting caught checking someone out. Everyone’s gazed at a beautiful person a little too long and got caught. It’s normal and part of what makes life fun.

The only thing that grates on me emotionally is socialist media. You can post the most innocuous comment on a trending post, like: “water is always wet, even when frozen”, or point out how an image appears to be edited. And I kid you not, some special snowflake will find fault with the comment and claim you’re a horrible piece of shit for saying such a thing. Why does such an innocent comment trigger certain people to the point they try to “cancel” you?

It’s only socialist media. Trolls can get annoying, but you can always ignore or block them…

I’ll close by reiterating that I’m not stressed, so please stop asking why I’m so tense.

It’s not my fault I have good posture.


[1] Boi: “Boi” used to be the gay spelling for “boy” back in the early 2000s.

I was there Gandalf. I was there, in the year 2000.

[2] Insurance: I’m not a medical billing specialists, nor an insurance professional.

Dealing with Squatters

You survived the immediate effects when the Shit Hit The Fan (SHTF), and bugged out. By preparedness, skill, fortune, or a combination of everything, you manage to survive the trip to your new home… only to find it infested with squatters.

What should you do?

What used to be called “squatters-rights” won’t exist after the SHTF. These trespassers have put their grubby paws all over your gear and are mooching off your family’s supplies.

What you do to remove these trespassers depends on the situation. Some people may want to remain as “moral” as possible by evicting the trespassers. However, sticking to your morals shouldn’t come at the expense of your life, and you need to be prepared to exterminate the infestation.

The rural community has a lot of good and decent people, but I know from experience that it has a lot of trash too[1]. Keeping this in mind, I’ve listed a few ways that may help you overcome this situation.

With Family

If your family bugs out and finds someone squatting at your new home, here’s a possible solution:

  1. Tell the family to take key positions and cover the property.
  2. Walk up with proof of ownership (utility/tax bill, deed, keys, etc.).
  3. Announce your presence while approaching… fully armed and ready for anything[2].
  4. Introduce yourself as the owner and warn the squatters of the snipers covering the property.
  5. Show proof of ownership and ask the squatters to leave.
  6. Allow the squatters no more than 5 minutes to vacate[3]. This gives them enough time to collect personal items before leaving, but also reduces the chance they’ll try stealing things or attack.
  7. Make it very clear they’re not welcome and should never return. You may want to remind them of the crime they committed and the fact that you could have killed them, and they shouldn’t squander this second chance.

If Alone

  1. Go to a vantage point that oversees the property.
  2. Spy on the squatters to verify how many there are and plan your next step.
  3. Remain at your vantage point and announce your presence to the squatters. Let them know you’re the owner and demand they disarm. Be prepared to kill if they don’t immediately comply, or if they do anything suspicious.
  4. Attach your proof of ownership to a rock and toss it toward them.
  5. Once they review the proof, tell them they have 5 minutes to leave or you’ll start shooting.

A couple things to remember regardless of being alone or with a team:

You could try ambushing the squatters, but the risk of discovery is high. Even if you spring a perfect ambush, the squatters may panic and draw weapons, forcing you to kill them. If you end up killing the squatters, you’ll need to dispose of the bodies and defend your actions should anyone come to investigate.

Whatever you do, don’t let the squatters convince you to let them stay. These people broke into your home and stole, not just your belongings, but the whole house too. They’re not to be trusted and if you’re dumb enough to give in to their pleas, you’ll wake up to a knife slitting your throat.

Neighborly Plan

What if the squatters are well armed and look a bit too dangerous to confront? What if your family still hasn’t come to terms with the new reality and you know they aren’t prepared to shoot anyone? Or, what if the family dog barks at everything it sees and blows your cover?

I know, that’s a lot of “what ifs.”

If you happen to be friends with your neighbors, or have always been friendly to them, you could ask for their assistance in reclaiming your property. If you’re friends, they’ll gladly help you. They may even feel a bit guilty for not noticing and taking action to prevent this from happening.

But what if you aren’t exactly friends, but have always been a good neighbor? They may not be as eager to help you, but I think they’ll come to your aid regardless. For starters, most people living in the country have deep-rooted morals, and helping a neighbor in need is just something you do. After all, they’d expect you to do the same thing for them if the roles were reversed. Another reason why they’ll come to your aid is because it’s in their best interest to keep undesirables as far away from their home as possible.

Anyone who breaks and enters a home to steal resources is undesirable, but it takes real scum to steal the whole house!

What if you don’t know your neighbors or they aren’t willing to stick their necks out for your family? You may need to offer a portion of the supplies you recover in exchange for their assistance, or commit to remove the squatters yourself[4].

Personally, I think asking your neighbors for assistance is the safest plan, but you may find yourself in a situation that makes it impossible to get their assistance. If that’s the case, you should fall back on the other plans I’ve described.

A Few Words of Caution

Revenge

If you evicted the squatters and told them to move on, you must keep a constant vigil. They know where you live, how your property is set up, and how many people you have. It’ll be easy for them to return 1 or 2 days later and retake your home for themselves. It’s in their best interest to prevent you and your family from trying to retake your property again, which means they’ll probably kill you.

This is especially true if you’re alone, or didn’t have neighborly support when you confronted them.

Gossip

The squatters will tell their sad tale to anyone they see. They’ll describe your home and how “cruel” your family is. As they tell and retell the story, it will become even more exaggerated. People will eventually start believing that your family is selfish and is sitting on a mountain of food. They’ll come asking for hand-outs, and may think they’re serving justice if they attack your uncharitable family.

Heavy-Handed

It may seem like it’s in your best interest to eliminate the problem entirely, but this may have consequences too.

  1. Foremost, is the inconvenient fact that you’ll need to dispose of the bodies. Doing so will take time and energy away from moving in and setting up your own defenses.
  2. If your neighbors come to investigate, you’ll need to defend your actions.
  3. If an entire family is killed in the process, it may be seen as excessive. Technically, you did the right thing to reclaim your property and your neighbors won’t do anything against you. However, as things get progressively worse, those neighbors may start seeing you as a monster and may not come to your aid in the future.

Remember that your actions may have far-reaching consequences for your family later on.

Inside a Neighborhood

What if the neighborhood collectively decided it needed to loot your home and take everything of value? And then gave your home to some stranger to boot!

If you had to pass through security, chances are the authorities already know your home was looted and they allowed new tenants to move in. If the neighborhood leaders are halfway decent people, they would have recorded an inventory of supplies taken into the public record with the intention of returning the confiscated supplies, with interest, at some future date.

With this in mind, the leaders should have a plan for welcoming homeowners back into the community. The leadership should publicly announce your family’s return and apologize for looting your home. Once the current occupants are moved out of your home, the least they can do is return a portion of your supplies from the local food bank… regardless of how scarce food and survival equipment may be.

All of this needs to happen on the same day, or the next morning if the family arrived at night.

What if the neighborhood refuses to return your property?

I can think of a couple reasons why the neighborhood leadership may not want to return your home. One is legitimate and the other because of pettiness or greed. Both are shitty situations to be in and I’ll describe the possible scenarios which may challenge a family.

Legitimate Cause

The only legitimate reason for not returning your property is if it’s located at a strategic location or it’s essential to the community’s survival.

Maybe your home on the hill is in the center of the neighborhood, making it the perfect warehouse to store the food and supplied they stole from other abandoned buildings. Moving all that inventory to another location will require too much time and energy, and there’s a chance some of the supplies may get “lost” during the move. Once the move is complete, who knows if the owner of that building will return. They’d have to go through the process all over again.

It’s a terrible situation to be in, but it makes sense for the neighborhood to temporarily keep your home.

Illegitimate Reason

But what if that bitch of a neighbor, Karen[5], somehow worms her way into ruling the neighborhood? She’s always given your family grief over planting two apple trees in your yard. Now that society collapsed, she can’t believe her luck to be living next to such a valuable food source, and the disaster eliminated that bothersome family in the process. She can’t wait to pop open your house to see what other treasures it may hold.

Karen convinced the neighborhood to claim “eminent domain” over your home and physically rubbed her hands with delight as she watched her cronies inventory food, water, and other useful equipment. The trees can’t be relocated, so she moved one of her supporters into your home to maintain control over that resource.

But dammit! Your family’s inconvenient return threatens to undo all her hard work and planning. Karen doesn’t feel like she needs to return your property and wants to keep it… for the community.

What can you do?!

Whether the neighborhood claimed your home because of its strategic location, or someone’s pettiness and greed. The neighborhood leadership has all the power in this situation and your options are limited. If they truly need your home, they’re going to keep it. I envision a couple things may happen and I’ll use the previous scenarios as an example.

A New Hope

If the community offers to move your family into someone else’s home, you should provisionally accept the offer. Your home may not be strategically important forever, which means your family may be able to reclaim it later.

The Empress Strikes Back

A shrewd dictatorial leader will disarm your family upon entry, under the guise of a security procedure while they verify your identity and claim to the home. This will keep the family from killing Karen when she announces that you aren’t allowed to move back into your home. She’ll publicly claim to cherish you as a beloved neighbor, but the decision is ultimately out of her hands. They did an emergency review of the community’s supplies and there simply isn’t enough to support another family. Your family must leave and go somewhere else. Maybe things will improve and they can let you move back.

If this happens, you’ll have no choice but to move on.

Return of the Famil-i

People like Karen always make enemies, and your situation may be the last straw. The community should be appalled by Karen’s decision to deny a family their rightful home and banish them to certain death. Such an injustice could spark an uprising to remove her and her allies from power. If the community has a daily newsletter, the headline story may look like this:

Karen and several members of the neighborhood committee suffered various accidents overnight[6]. Nobody knows how or why this happened, but one local preacher suggests it was punishment from God for the sin of pride and not showing charity to thy neighbor. In other news, the new interim government reconsidered the decision to exile our neighbors, and would like to extend a warm welcome as they move back into their home.

If an uprising doesn’t spontaneously occur overnight, try moving into an abandoned building near the neighborhood and “squat” there until a regime-change happens. Maybe the new leadership will be more welcoming and reverse the decision.

***

Squatters are a nuisance in today’s society and will be a bigger problem if the SHTF. If you find yourself plagued by such locusts, evaluate the situation and evict or exterminate them. But do so in a way that ensures your safety and doesn’t cause you to be a pariah to the community.

It will be hard to hold desperate people at gunpoint and tell them to take a hike, but it’s not your problem what happens to them. You made the investments necessary to be prepared and these criminals shouldn’t benefit off that hard work.


[1] Trash: I have first-hand, second-hand, and gossip-pel experience of this sort of people. They’re usually drug addicts, people who’ve been in and out of jail, or ignorant “bumkins” who think it’s okay to do whatever you want because Officer John-Paul’s my cousin and will smooth everything out with the law.

Humanity may award a Nobel Prize for removing that part of the gene-pool.

[2] Ready for Anything: If these people were desperate enough to break into your home, they may be desperate enough to attack you to keep the property.

[3] 5-Minutes: 5 minutes may seem harsh, but these moochers have been stealing your valuable resources. They may have already lowered your chances of survival. Who cares if they leave some of their belongings, consider it rent.

[4] Unneighborly Neighbors: If your neighbors refuse to help you reclaim your property, you should probably keep them at arms-length. Anyone who allows such a crime to happen next to their home should not be trusted.

[5] Karen: Our society has turned this name into a pejorative term for entitled or demanding women. I once knew a loving and caring woman named, Karen, and feel a little guilty for using the term in this article. However, it is a common and relatable term which best describes the loathsome neighbor I’m envisioning.

I apologize in advance to anyone who may be so named.

[6] Accident: Remember readers! I do not condone or advise the use of violence or breaking any just law, nor do I of vigilante justice.