Rural Neighborhood v Wilderness

Where do you think is the best place to bug out to when the SHTF and you’re faced with a survival situation?

Which is the best and safest location for your family, a rural neighborhood or the wilderness? 

The idea of living in the wilderness or somewhere in the woods is self-explanatory, but what exactly is a “rural neighborhood”? I define a rural neighborhood as a small residential community, located at least 50 miles away from a metropolis, and outside the limits of any nearby town or village. These are places where county laws apply. Some communities matching this description are gated or have restricted access. 

Which is safer?

Both options have pros and cons, and I’ll try to cover everything you may face at each location. 

Pros & Cons for Both

A rural neighborhood and a shack in the wilderness are ideally located to escape the immediate effects of a devastating attack. Both are remote enough to reduce, if not eliminate, any direct impact from a chemical attack. And both are probably safe from follow up attacks as well.

If a biological attack were to occur, being so far away from a major population center may help insulate your community. However, this will only slow the spread of the contagion because members of the community may be exposed through work in a nearby city or metropolis, as we’ve seen with Covid-19.

The only way a rural community will stand a greater chance of being protected from a biological attack is if a massive nuclear assault happens at the same time. The immediate reduction of population caused by the nukes, when combined with the disease, will hopefully slow or stop it before contaminated survivors reach your community. Remember that no community is 100% protected, and one day the disease will reach your community.

I just hope our failure with Covid-19 and its variants don’t haunt us when a true biological attack occurs[1].

Another good thing about both locations is that your neighbors will likely possess firearms. Having armed neighbors adds to the area’s overall security, and serves as a deterrent against would-be robbers, looters, and vandals. A local militia can be formed to protect the community from hostile outsiders who may attack or steal resources.

Rural Neighborhood – Pros

More Eyes = Security

Ordinary people are less likely to commit a crime if someone is watching, because the possibility of intervention is too great. Even if nobody is present, the threat of witnesses coming out of the woodwork has prevented many crimes in the past. However, you shouldn’t rely on these passive security concepts once people start getting desperate.

Defense

Once supplies run out and ordinary people become desperate, raiders will come and try to take what little resources your community has. Thankfully, your neighbors will probably be armed and will make it easier to form a militia to defend the community. 

Point of Entry

Most rural residential communities have limited entry points, which should make it easier to predict where intruders may enter. With that said, don’t focus your entire defense on the obvious points of entry. You need to interview your neighbors to locate commonly used trails and start patrolling those areas. 

Vacancies

Another benefit to a rural community is that many of your neighbors probably don’t live there permanently. Those neighbors have a home in the city and may not survive the journey to their second home. This adds to the looting potential[2]… I must stress that the community, as a whole, must agree to break into vacant homes to loot and distribute any resources found within. Everything must be transparent, and an accurate account of supplies acquired must be recorded. 

There can’t be any question as to what was taken and later distributed because that will cause suspicion of hoarding or favoritism. I’d also recommend the community be prepared for the possibility that an owner may return. If that happens, the community should reimburse the owner for the “lost” resources. 

Rural Neighborhood – Cons

What makes a neighborhood safe, can also backfire…

You must remain vigilant against busy-bodies because those are the neighbors who’re most likely to stir shit up and rally others in the community against whatever the cause of the day is. They will try to organize community programs and publicly shame those who don’t participate in their pet projects.

The danger you must watch out for happens when those busy-bodies try to force an entire neighborhood to pull resources, just to carry their dead-weight. If these people are given any position of power, they may trespass onto your property to conduct a “safety check” or “resident survey”. That may sound innocent, but they’re true goal is to spy on you and your property and see if there’s anything valuable worth stealing[3]. When public shaming doesn’t work, they will rally your most desperate neighbors into a communist uprising against you.

Everyone’s a Capitalist when times are good and they have a nice 401k, but when the SHTF, they all think it’s a grand idea to be a Commie.

The Wilderness – Pros

Seclusion

The chances of someone finding your home in the middle of an overgrown forest aren’t very high. This inherent seclusion adds to security because would-be looters can’t steal what they can’t find. Even if your home is in the open desert, the likelihood that someone will trek out to your remote hideaway are low[4]

Secret Domain

Since there’s so few neighbors, that should mean only a few people know the lay of the land. You and your family will know where to stash supplies and where to hide if being pursued. Ideally, this should also mean you’ll know where the best places are to set up boobytraps.

Living off the Land

Living in the wilderness means you’ll have more land available for foraging, hunting, and farming. If you have an acreage in the woods, you can lay out traps for small animals and forage for nuts, berries, and other edible vegetation[5]. You can clear some land to grow a farm, or use a natural clearing.

Room to Expand

If you’re the trusting sort or know someone trustworthy with the skills to survive, you may have extra space so they can move in with you. I’m not willing to take that risk with a stranger. At least not until I know the person’s character and have developed some sort of working relationship. 

The Wilderness – Cons

Access to Medicine

Having a home in the wilderness means getting help during an emergency will be much harder than living in a community, which may have a doctor and medical supplies.

If you’re bit or stung by a venomous creature, or have a heart attack, you could die before reaching medical assistance. Or, if you slip or trip down a steep hill and break a leg, you will have to perform first aid and make the journey to the nearest known medic… in agony. 

If you suffer a minor injury and don’t know where to find treatment, you may be forced to let your body heal itself. Humans have been getting injured for millennia and the body knows how to put minor breaks back together again[6]. The drawback to letting a fracture heal without professional assistance is that it may not heal correctly.

Security

Living in the middle of the woods will help keep your home hidden, but the rough terrain will mean that any intruder willing to venture into the woods could come from any direction. It’ll be up to you and your family to ward off those intruders and secure the property. 

Remember when I said that raiders will eventually come to steal resources? Living outside of a community means you may be on your own to defend yourself when they attack. If there’s some sort of radio or sound-based alarm system[7], help may not arrive fast enough to save you and your family. 

Squatting

If you don’t own the land, you’re technically a squatter. What used to be called “squatters-rights” won’t exist if the SHTF[8]. If the original owners of the property show up and demand that you leave, you have the moral obligation to do so. You could try to negotiate with the owner and ask to stay a bit longer as a guest, but be prepared to leave if they refuse.

Alternately, what happens if it takes several days to reach your bug-out location and you find squatters living on your land? It’ll be up to you to evict these trespassers who’ve been mooching off your hard-earned preparedness. I’m writing an article on this subject and hope to post it in a week or so.

***

There are many advantages and disadvantages to living out on your own or within a community. You should be cognizant of the problems you may face when making your bug out plans or buying a property with this type of scenario in mind. 

Personal circumstances may make it impossible for you to choose where you’ll evacuate. Especially, if you cannot afford to purchase a second home or property, or don’t have family to take you in. Regardless of the situation, it’s always good to be prepared for what may happen… wherever you end up.


[1] True Bio-Attack: Some people hypothesis that Covid-19 was a soft attack against the western world. I will only mention this possibility because it certainly seems interesting that China and other totalitarian countries fared the best during the outbreak.

[2] Disclaimer: I do not condone or advise anyone to commit any crime.

[3] Resident Survey: When I lived in a large apartment complex, I once caught a maintenance worker inside my home “checking for water-leaks”. The overly nervous worker finished his token search and left. I noticed some things were missing, and changed the locks on the door when the facility said it wasn’t going to do anything to fix the problem.

[4] Desert: I’ve always been a huge fan of Frank Herbert’s: Dune series. While becoming a “desert creature” has a certain appeal, I’m too “water fat”. There aren’t any nearby deserts to make it practical, so I’m not trained to survive in a desert environment.

Much of the information contained my survival articles will not apply to desert survivalism.

[5] Edible Vegetation: If you don’t know if it’s edible, DO NOT EAT IT. That includes but is not limited to: fungi, berries, flowers, nuts, or any other part of a plant (root, leaf, or stem). Nature can be tricky, some parts of a perfectly edible plant can be poisonous.

[6] Medical Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, and any perceived advice in this work needs to be regarded at the same level as an “old wives’ cure” or as part of fiction.  

[7] Alarm: Bells have been ringing for millennia. They’ve been used to warn of pending attacks, natural disasters… and dinner.

[8] Squatters-Rights: This legal protection of criminal trespassers should never have existed in the first place.

Bridge

On the bridge of his cruise ship, the Captain glances out the windows. The ship is leaving port and part of departure protocol is to examine the hull to ensure the dock didn’t damage the ship. He grabs the bridge of his glasses to remove them and raises his pair of binoculars  and peers through them.

The first thing he sees through the lenses are a few old ladies playing Bridge on the deck. He shifts his gaze outward and examines the hull. He commands the Yeoman-Purser to record that he observed no damage to the ship from the dock.

The Captain lowers the binoculars and rubs the bridge of his nose to help alleviate the eye strain. He replaces them to sweep the area in front of his ship. He carefully examines a bridge his ship must sail under. He’d normally be looking for any sign of corrosion that could cause debris to fall as they pass. This time, he’s looking for something far more sinister… Protesters.

He recalled the last cruise and how one of his wealthier passengers had an accident while eating. Her bridges came loose while eating a jawbreaker and the dentures went down her windpipe. She had to be rushed to a local hospital to extract the foreign object from her esophagus.

The Captain had to bridge the conversation between the cruise-line’s legal department and the passenger’s family. He apologized for the inconvenience, but the ship cannot remain at the port while she recovers. They need to decide if all or part of the family will remain at port. The cruise line would be happy to assist them with finding lodging and passage back home.

Once they reached their destination, the bridge crew was surprised to see reporters and protesters were picketing the entrance to the port’s embarkation building. Apparently, the family was furious their vacation was ruined and posted on every social media platform about how the cruise line is marooning them in a foreign country.

After completing extra paperwork…

After performing the usual cruise checklists…

After conducting several interviews and pep-up meetings…

After 3 days at port, his ship is embarking on a new cruise.

The Captain snaps back to reality, and returns to the bridge of his ship. He feels a rush of shame for that brief distraction, and lowers the binoculars only to see the First Officer looking at him with concern. He was examining the bridge for the same hazard.

A knowing glance bridges their understanding of the situation. Speaking in unison, they both bark at the Communications Officer. They smile at each other and the Captain continues with his order to hail the port authority for confirmation that the bridge is clear of pedestrian traffic.

They stand on the bridge of the ship as it sails closer and closer to the bridge. The captain rubs the bridge of his nose before putting his glasses back on again. He’s about to order the engines to stop when the Port Authority radios back to guarantee the bridge is clear and being patrolled by local police.

The Captain tells the helms-woman, “steady as she goes.”

A relieved smile warms her face as she removes her hand from the lever controlling the ships speed. As she acknowledges his command, he walks to the front of the bridge and gazes out a window. The Captain looks down and sees his new passengers queue up to reenact the iconic “Titanic scene” at the bow of his ship.

He never tires of seeing this, and the innocent display refreshes him.

Smiling, he turns away and gazes at his bridge crew. He can see that all are glad to be leaving the last cruise behind. They are starting a new journey with fresh passengers who’re eager to be wowed at the ship’s exemplary service.

My Bug-out Plans

In this part of my Practical Survivalist series, I’ll share a few of my bug-out plans. Yes, I have more than one plan. I think it’s important to have multiple plans because you may be faced with different types of situations and need to have a general idea of what you need to do when faced with each scenario. However, you should be prepared to alter your plans as the situation demands. As Helmuth von Moltke the Elder once said, “No plan survives contact with the enemy.”[1]

Please notice that my plans are specifically tailored to my current living situation, and a family of one spouse and no children. These plans may not specifically apply to a situation you may face with your family. These plans should be used as examples only, and modified to suit your needs.

Plan #1: Primary Plan

If my boyfriend and I are both at home, if/when the alert happens[2] I’ll grab my bug-out bag and some other essentials (like a bicycle), and then run to the car[3]. While I’m doing that, my boyfriend needs to get our pets ready to travel, and grab any essentials he needs. That includes:

  1. Collect any personal essentials he can’t live without for years to come.
  2. Put the leash on the dog and lock him in his carrier.
  3. Try to corral the bird into his carrier.
  4. Grab as much pet food as he can carry.
  5. Take everything he can carry down the stairs to the first floor or the car.

This needs to be done in less than 5 minutes.

When he runs out with the pets, I will run back inside for more supplies that I may have forgotten. I’ll tell him to stay with the car because it needs to remain running and we can’t risk turning it off[4], nor can we afford to have it stolen. 

I’ll take the stairs back up and grab whatever he packed or left, along with any last-minute items I think will be useful.

By the time I get the car pulled up to the front of our home, my boyfriend should have everything downstairs and ready to be loaded. If he isn’t downstairs, I’ll have to wait for him at the car because we can’t leave it unattended. If I’m stuck waiting for too long, then as a last resort, I’ll turn off and lock the car. I’ll take the stairs up to find out what the fuck is taking so damn long, and help solve any problems he’s facing.

If the problem is an unruly pet, we may have to leave it behind… Remember, this is a survival situation and every minute it takes for us to evacuate, reduces our chances of survival.

When we’ve loaded the car, we’ll drive as fast as possible away from the city and hope we have enough time to get out of the blast radius[5]. Or, hope the car can get us as close to our new home as possible before it breaks down (EMP) or runs out of gas.

Once we reach our destination, we’ll unpack the car and stash everything into our new permanent home. The new reality will not have registered on any of our neighbors yet, so we’ll take this opportunity to drive out and get whatever supplies we can while it’s still relatively safe.

If the car becomes disabled during this plan, we will salvage as much as possible and walk the rest of the way. This contingency will be similar to Plan #2-A, which is the next section.

Plan #2-A: EMP with Family

What if there’s an EMP and the car doesn’t start. If an EMP occurs and we aren’t a charred cinder, then it’s possible that was the attack. If so, it’s possible we don’t have to worry about nukes raining down from the sky[6]. Hopefully, that means we have more time to bug out since we no longer have a working car. Let’s hope, but never assume this, and remember that…

We need to leave the city as soon as humanly possible!

Similar to my core plan, we need to grab all supplies that are portable and load them onto bicycles. We probably won’t be able to take everything we want, but we can use the handlebars (and any mounted racks) to hold what supplies we can manage. Hopefully, the tires haven’t dry-rotted and the tires are good to go, because that means we have an easy and silent way out of the city.

If we’re unfortunate and the tires don’t hold pressure, we’ll have to use them in a different way… as carts. We can distribute the weight of our supplies and pets onto the bikes. Using the bicycles as make-shift carts will help us travel on foot further and faster, all while staving off exhaustion just a little bit longer. 

Let’s not kid ourselves. On a trip as far as 80-100 miles, you will get: tired, worn out, and probably bruised or blistered. To combat that inevitable exhaustion, I plan to use every chemical advantage at my disposal during this journey. That means we will use pain killers to suppress any soreness, and “other prescription drugs” to ward off exhaustion[7]

Wait! I have a question.

How are we going to ride a bicycle with a dog in a carrier? Alternately, how are we going to hold onto a pet with one hand while riding an over-encumbered bike?

We aren’t. If we’re riding the bikes, we must be able to balance. The bird’s carrier can be used as a backpack, so that part is easy. However, the dog’s carrier is too bulky. We’ll have to put a leash on the dog and feed him a Benadryl, before sealing him into a backpack. This may sound inhumane, but it’s the best option available to us[8]. I will carry the dog because I can’t trust the boyfriend’s bleeding heart to not cause unnecessary delays.

Hopefully, the Benadryl will force the dog to take a nap in the bag.

Plan #2-B: No Car, No Family

This plan is similar to Plan #2-A. If I’m alone in the city and the car either isn’t here or doesn’t work, I will try to follow the primary plan in combination with “Plan #2-A”.

Since I’m alone, I will need to be more conservative with my loadout. If the dog is with me, he’s getting put in a bag (like the previous plan). I should be able to handle the bird carrier on my back, but if he’s too stubborn to get in his carrier, he may get left behind. 

I know it’s horrible to leave a family member, but this is a survival situation and every minute wasted means your chances of survival drop.

If my bike’s tires don’t air up, I’ll try the other bike we own. If neither hold pressure, then I’ll use the most useful bike as a cart and walk to our new home[9]. That bike will likely be mine, because it’s a hybrid road/dirt bike and the tires are easy to find in most stores.

Or the remains of those stores.

Regardless of the bike-situation, I will follow the same escape route.

Aided as such, I should be able to reach the bugout location in about 18 hours using the bike as a cart. The time may lessen greatly if I can ride it, or increase depending on road conditions or potential robbery of the bicycle itself.

If the bike survives the journey, then my family can use it while travelling to market or patrolling the neighborhood.


[1] Moltke Quote: This quote is almost certainly simplified from the original German quote.

[2] Alert: I’m not fully confident that we can rely on an alert to warn us of an incoming attack. Our government will probably react to an incoming threat at a snail’s pace, because most government officials want to avoid political backlash if a threat turns out to be a false alarm. Remember the false alarm that happened in Hawaii in 2018?

[3] Leaving Home: If you live in a building that has an elevator, don’t use that elevator when bugging out because you may get stuck inside (and help may never arrive).

[4] Leave it Running: According to a few articles I’ve come across, it’s possible that the car will remain operational if it’s running when an EMP happens. Alternately, it may have been a fluke that the car started and we don’t want to smack lady luck in the face when things work our way.

[5] Speeding: Again, I do not condone breaking the law… but if nukes are flying, do you honestly think the police are going to chase you down when their own families are at stake. And, if they do chase you, do you think any community will find you guilty for simply trying to save your family… given the “new reality”.

Heck, that community may lynch the officer for such a wasteful expenditure of resources.

[6] EMP as the Attack: I’m a big fan of the Fallout Franchise, but I’ve got to admit that I’m more worried about an EMP attack than a full-scale nuclear exchange.

[7] Blitz: Just like the Nazis of World War II, we’ll use “medicine alternatively” to get to our new home without stopping.

[8] Doggy Bag: I know there are bags designed to hold dogs and other small pets. Some even allow the dog to stick its hear out to enjoy the breeze. There are two things which don’t make this a possibility:

  1. I know our dog and getting him into one of those breezy carriers will either take forever, or he’ll fight us tooth and nail (literally, because he’s a dog).
  2. We are maxed out on storage and storing another carrier in our home is not possible.

And frankly, at least I’m making an effort to save every single member of the family, human or otherwise. A lot of families will just abandon their pets because transporting them is too hard.

Separated when the SHTF 

It’s always great to have a plan and know what you’re going to do if “The Fall” happens. But most plans I’ve read online or in books seem specifically tailored to single people.

Why is that?

Most people have some sort of a family, whether it be a spouse and/or at least one child? 

What’s the plan if you are separated from them when disaster strikes? Don’t think for an instant that it’ll never happen… I’m surprised more people haven’t accounted for this situation in their disaster planning, because a lot of things can cause your family to be spread out across an entire city.

In a best-case scenario, it takes missiles from the eastern hemisphere a little less than 30 minutes to reach targets in the continental United States. However, if an attack comes from a submarine, it could take about 10-15 minutes to reach their targets. Also, consider that our government will probably move at a snail’s pace because they don’t want political backlash if it turns out to be a false alarm[1]. That means, you have less than 10-30 minutes to get out of the city.

So, what would cause your family to be separated during a disaster? 

Life… That’s what. 

In most families, parents work and children are at school throughout the day. That’s two or three different locations everyone who matters could be located. If a disaster strikes and you can’t contact your family, you need to have a plan so you’re not wasting time running around like a chicken with its head cut off. 

Assuming you have something resembling the average “nuclear family”, I’d recommend you plan to have one parent collect the survival gear and get your vehicle ready to make an escape. The other parent, preferably female (or feminine), needs to focus on getting your children out of school.

This can take forever. Actually, getting your kids is going to be the greatest time-suck in your bug-out plan because history and bad parents have taught school officials to drag their feet. 

The reason why I recommend you task the mother or feminine partner with this duty is because they tend to appear less threatening during emergency situations than males or dominant partners. They tend to exude a combination of nervous and worried emotional energy, which makes people more sympathetic. They also tend to chat and relate with staff, and that relatability may get the kids out faster.

A feminine person can say, “I’m so worried about the situation, I just want my family to be at home.” As opposed to most dominant males, who find it difficult to do the same thing. Men may appear to be more aggressive than women in the same situation. They tend to radiate anger and frustration when under pressure, and isn’t ideal when they’re forced to work with slow-government-employees.

The school may refuse to release a child to a parent who appears to be overly nervous and panicked. If this happens, the parents should switch out and try a different approach. Maybe a different face will convince the school to release your kids.

If the school refuses to release your child after two attempts… then you need to do what’s best for your family. You may have to decide, as a family, to extract your children by any means necessary[2]

This is a survival situation and minutes can mean the difference between life or death. The chances of your family’s survival reduces with every minute that school official wastes. 

If you’re a single parent, your job is twice as hard because you not only have to collect your kids, but also the supplies you’re going to need. If this is the case, I recommend you pick up the kids first because they can help you pack. If the school will not release your kids, you got that attempt out of the way. That means when you head home, you know what extra supplies you may need to bring back so you can successfully extract your child.

Who knows, maybe things will have cooled off enough that your appearance won’t be as threatening when you return. Or perhaps the staff will have a change of heart. Or, maybe another parent put the school in its place. It doesn’t matter how you get your kids out of school, you just need to keep in mind that it’s going to waste most of your family’s precious time. 

Skeptical Relationship 

What if you’re in a relationship with a skeptic who will not listen to your emergency plans? What if they don’t take it seriously and refuse to commit those plans to memory? Or, what if they are the type of person who is so worried about you, they’ll do all the wrong things when the SHTF? 

Well, there truly isn’t helping everyone. You just have to tell them your disaster plans and hope they remember the plan. 

I happen to be in a relationship with a skeptic, and we sometimes find ourselves separated by about 100 miles because of home remodels or work. 

If I were the one to be out of the city, I will not go into the city looking for my boyfriend. Forget all those heroic movies where the lone man or mother saves the family. That’s a hopeless endeavor in real life, and I don’t want him to do the same for me if the situations were reversed. 

If I’m trapped in the city, I will hike or bicycle it out to the bug-out spot… and he should do the same. 

IF he wants to come to my aid, then MAYBE it would be a good idea if he tried to meet up with me mid-way. But that will require a lot of luck…

I can’t stress the importance having a bug-out plan. However, not all plans are made for the same type of family. You need to make your own, or adjust published plans to meet your own family needs. Always keep in mind that the longer it takes you to get out of a major city, the less likely the most important people to you are going to survive.

***

Next time, I’ll post a few of my bug out plans. Yes, I have multiple plans.


[1] False Alarm: Remember the false alarm that happened in Hawaii in 2018?

[2] I would like to remind my readers that I do not condone violence, nor do I recommend that you commit any crimes. You need to use your best judgement when it comes to your family’s safety.

Ukrainian Super-soldier

Snapshot from my neighbor’s Newspaper, the Wall Street Journal 📰 . Seen February 24, 2022

Ukrainians have historically been lauded as the best super-soldiers in modern times and science fiction.

Take a moment to look at this image shot from my neighbor’s paper. I’ll admit that when first I looked, I saw this sexy AF soldier and wanted to be his anything…

However, this man does not look like he’s looking for a date. He looks worried as hell that he may not see tomorrow.

Ponder that as you arm-chair quarterback this war. Or worse, post memes like this description…[1] :

Sexy male tomb raider-style pic with caption: ‘This is me on the frontlines of Ukraine looking for my man’.


[1] Sorry, I spent hours looking for the meme on the 3 gay groups I’m a member of on Facebook. Unfortunately, I think my comment may have scared someone into either removing the post, or the author may have blocked me instead of addressing the issue.

Fun with Names

I see words and names differently than most people and this article is an example of how my mind sometimes makes connections associated with words and names. These are things I’ve thought of when encountering the names of cities, countries, and organizations over the years. Some of these thoughts are from as far back as elementary school.

Also, the play on words expressed here does not represent any inherent judgement or bias to the culture or history of any named location.

Geographical Names

Islamabad – Is Islam so bad they named a city Islamabad?

No, it isn’t.

Russia – Do they rush through life in Russia?

Israel – Is Israel really real? … It Israel!

Iran – ‘And Iran, Iran so far away, I just ran, Iran all night and day, I couldn’t get away.’

New Guinea – Since there’s a New Guinea is there an Old or Original Guinea?

Yes. It’s located in Africa.

Do guinea pigs come from Guinea or New Guinea?

Nope. They’re from South America[1].

Brussels – Do brussels sprouts come from Brussels?

Yes, they do… sort of[2].

Canada – Can you get a can of pecan pie filling in Canada?

Idaho – I wanna go to Idaho, cuz I-da-ho!

Budapest – Buddha is such a pest in Budapest.

Turkey – Do they eat turkey in Turkey?

Not often because turkey has to be imported, and meat is already expensive in that country.

Tropic of Cancer – Does living in the Tropic of Cancer make you more likely to get cancer[3]?

Caribbean – I would like to thank the producers of the Carib bean. It’s the only way I learned how to spell “Caribbean”.

Sargent, Texas – PRIVATE! You sorry excuse for a human being! DROP AND GIVE ME 40!!!

Security, Texas – Is this where all security guards live or go to retire?

Is it truly secure in Security, Texas?

Not necessarily. According to Crimegrade.com, half the town has a B-rating and the other half scored C[4].

Dickinson – I know we’re into accepting all types of people nowadays, but you don’t have to name a city to advertise your son’s sexuality. I’m sure everyone knows.

Coincidentally, Dickinson, Texas tried to get a city flag approved this week. Option “C” sort of pairs nicely with my Dick-in-son story[5]

Organization Names

Texas A&M – Why do so many cars have bumper stickers advertising the use of an ATM 🏧 in Texas[6]

Met Life – Get Met, it pays… to introduce yourself and advance your career.

Mars – Has the candy company, Mars, ever donated money to fund a mission to the planet Mars?

I asked in July of 2021 and followed up this year, but the company never responded[7].

IBM – IBM, U BM, everyone BMs at some point.

***

As evidence shows, I tend to see words and names differently than most people. This article isn’t the sum of such thoughts I have when encountering names and words. Local events (in Dickinson) made it important to post “Fun with Names”, so that part will be relevant.

Expect to find similar articles in the future.

I’d like to announce that I’m continuing my “Practical Survivalist” series and hope you’ll enjoy the new additions.


[1] Wikipedia. (n.d.). Guinea pig. Retrieved from Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guinea_pig

[2] Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. (n.d.). Brussels Sprout. Wisconsin, United States of America. Retrieved from https://dpi.wi.gov/sites/default/files/imce/school-nutrition/pdf/fact-sheet-brussels-sprout.pdf

[3] Tropic of Cancer: I specifically remember asking my 2nd or 3rd grade teacher this.

[4] Crimegrade. (n.d). The Safest and Most Dangerous Places in 77328, TX: Crime Maps and Statistics. Retrieved from Crimegrade: https://crimegrade.org/safest-places-in-77328/

[5] Dickinson, Texas: In respect to Dickinson, Texas, according to the local evening news station, ABC 13, the city has a strong Italian heritage. This is why all proposed flag options look similar to the Flag of Italy.

[6] A&M: I just learned the “A&M” meant Agricultural and Mechanical back in the 1800s, but now the abbreviation doesn’t carry any inherent meaning except to pay respect to the institution’s history.

Texas A&M University (n.d.). Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved from Texas A&M University: https://www.tamu.edu/about/faq.html#:~:text=Corps%20of%20Cadets%3F-,What%20does%20%22A%26M%22%20stand%20for%3F,or%20%22A%26M%22%20for%20short.

[7] Mars 4 Mars: Their website indicates they make contributions to nonprofits in areas the company operates. The most prominent donation is when it committed 26 million to Covid-19 Response.

Mars, Incorporated. (2020, April 3). Mars Commits $26M to Communities in COVID-19 Response. Retrieved from Mars: https://www.mars.com/news-and-stories/press-releases/Mars-commits-donation-to-communities-in-covid19-response

Red/Blue Pill 💊

If you have an account with any of the major social media platforms, you’ve likely seen one of the many different versions of this Matrix-style red/blue pill question[1]. Most people who comment or respond to these types of posts answer with their choice and provide a brief reason to support that decision. But when I recently encountered this post, I found myself thinking about the inherent question and what consequences each decision may hold.

A quick note from the author: The points made in this story are best suited to someone who was a child during the 1990s, or earlier.

Red Pill

I noticed that most of the commentators who chose the red pill said they’d go back and use their knowledge to play the market or win the lottery to get rich and have the best of both worlds. The thing most of these commenters are missing is the red pill says: “restart your life at age 6 with all the knowledge you have now”. That doesn’t necessarily mean restart AND GO BACK IN TIME, with all the knowledge you have now.

Now think about it, would you seriously want to retain your knowledge and restart at age 6?

  1. You can’t drive 🚗
  2. You can’t work, so how are you going to support yourself? Do you honestly think your parents want to re-raise you? Are they even alive? If not, you’re going to be a ward of the state. 
  3. All your current credentials are useless and need to be re-earned because nobody will believe a 6-year-old graduated with a bachelor’s/master’s degree 🎓 That means…
  4. You have to suffer through school all over again. You’ll have to endure over 12 years of droning teachers who teach nothing to prepare you for life as an adult (things like laws, crime & punishment, how to do taxes, etc.). 
  5. You can’t vote 🗳
  6. Health-wise, reverting back to the body of a child with all the knowledge you’ve amassed may cause problems. Consider that your body is still growing and developing at age 6. All your current knowledge may force your brain to rapidly establish neural connections and grow new wrinkles. If left unchecked, all that quick growth could cause a tumor[2]
  7. You can’t drink 🍷 🍸 🍹 🍺 🥃
  8. You need to consider sexual relationships too. Since you have the knowledge of a full adult, are you technically a “Pedi” if you have sex with another person your physical age? On the same subject, do you really want to “date” adults who’re attracted to kids your age (think really hard about what normally happens to their victims).

Let’s play devil’s advocate and consider what could happen if you took the red pill and did travel back in time to your 6th birthday, with all the knowledge you now possess.

If you’re a millennial, there’s no escaping school because “No Child Left Behind” ended in 2015. That means you’ve got to slog through all those classes… all over again. However, you may perform a lot better because you learned everything already. You may even qualify for advanced placement classes, and maybe an academic scholarship later in life.

The technology we have today doesn’t exist. Do you think you can live without being able to post an update every day? Be honest. When I was a teen, LiveJournal and Blogging were THE only social media methods. LiveJournal and Blogging!!!

Also consider that access to immediate information may not exist, so you’ve got to keep any petty snowflake ideals you may harbor to yourself. People were no-nonsense back then and that kind of behavior would have earned you a black eye. 

Another thing to remember is that childhood punishments were much harsher during and before the 1990s. Nowadays, children are getting PTSD from “time out”. So don’t be shocked when you have to physically re-live an actual spanking.

Many commentators said they’d play the market or win the lottery to get rich. If you want to try winning the lottery, you’d need to remember the exact numbers and when to play them. You’re just a punk kid and can’t buy the ticket, so you need to convince someone to buy a ticket with those numbers. And then, you’d need to ensure you can benefit from those winnings. It’ll be easy for an adult to walk away with your lottery money, or if family, to squander your winnings.

It’s too risky to use the winning numbers too many times, because sooner or later, someone is going to find out you have advanced knowledge of the winning numbers and either ruin the scheme or kidnap you for the information. So, just to be sure you win the lottery, you’d have to remember or save the winning numbers until your 18th birthday. That’s 12 years…

But what about playing the market? Again, YOU ARE A CHILD. You can’t buy stocks. If you walk into a Charles Schwab, the employees are going to call the police to report a missing child. If you have nice parents, you may be able to convince them to buy stocks using your allowance money. Don’t hold your breath though.

Most Americans didn’t know how to buy stock way back when. Heck, people still thought Charles Schwab branches were banks in the early 2000s. Plus, the cost to buy anything in the market was so prohibitively expensive it detracted most potential investors.

Yes… good luck getting your parents to go through all that trouble.

Blue Pill

I’d personally choose the blue pill, because it seems simple enough. It’s just $10 million in cash, but even that isn’t without risk. For starters, how are you getting this $10 million in cash? Does it come with a receipt from a non-illegal entity? Or, is this money going to magically materialize out of thin air? 

If you can’t legally point out where the money came from, you’ll need to keep your new-found wealth a deep, dark secret. You’ll need to find a way to discretely spend it or “launder” it into the economy[3]. That means you’ll need to pay for everyday things using cash. If done wisely, you may be able to build an entire house with cash. But you’ll need to trust the workers not to take your money and run.

You’ll need to store all this cash for a really long time. Which increases your chances of getting robbed, and maybe even murdered for your money. Which also means you must hide it all away at various locations and remember where everything is stashed. 

If you receive the $10 million via direct deposit or wire transfer, then the source had better be legitimate. If not, a couple things that may happen. If the transfer came from an unknown or unconfirmed source, the bank will probably think it was an error in the system and void the transaction. Meaning, you instantly lose the money. 

Although, if the money is transferred from a known source, regardless of where the money came from, the government will be alerted and it will investigate the transaction[4]. If the government finds anything it doesn’t like, not only can it freeze your assets, but you may face time in prison. 

 ***

Overall, I think the blue pill is a safer option. Sure, there are risks with getting $10 million in cash, but the red pill has way more long-term annoyances and risks associated with it to be worthwhile. Not to mention that you’d have to grow up and endure hormonal changes and acne all over again.


[1] Wachowskis, T. (Director). (1999). The Matrix [Motion Picture].

[2] Tumor: Note that I’m NOT a medical professional. This is a hypothetical possibility and is not based on any science. If anything, consider it a nonsensical musing along the lines of: “everything may cause cancer”.

[3] Laundering: I’d like to remind everyone that I do not condone any illegal activity and any perceived instructions regarding how to commit a crime are hypothetical, and should be considered partly as a work of fiction.

[4] Investigation: I had a college professor who gave all her children $10,000 as a gift because she has more money than she can spend. She came home one night to find that our government ransacked her home as part of an FBI investigation related to funding terrorism.

The annual gift tax exclusion was $10,000 back then. Now, it about $16,000.

State Inspections are a Sham

It’s that time of year again when pretty much everyone needs to visit the nearest registered State Inspector to pay our annual bribe or “tax”. This is a necessary bribe that allows car owners to display a permit showing we have permission to use the car we already paid a hefty sales tax on. I guess the over 20% in hidden taxes that go into our $3-ish per gallon of gas isn’t enough to support the services our government provides[1]

What is the annual state inspection and why is it necessary?

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety (Tx DPS) website, an annual inspection is required to ensure compliance with safety standards. The website lists 20 or, depending on how you look at it, 21 items the state inspectors need to certify as functional[2]. The website also states that emissions testing is only required in the state’s 17 most densely populated counties (basically, the areas around: Houston, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Austin, and El Paso)[3].

And that’s pretty much it.

Why are state inspections a sham?

There’s a few reasons why I think state safety inspections are a sham. First, there’s no proof these required inspections make cars safer, and it only seems to be an extra tax imposed on drivers. Then, if you read the language of the inspection process, it becomes very apparent that one industry in particular stands to benefit from these inspections (and from pretty much every single traffic stop in the state[4]). And finally, it’s too obvious that Texas half-asses emissions testing.

Despite several attempts to drop the state-mandated safety inspection, Texas is still one of 15 states in the country that requires them. The last real and widely publicized attempt to remove the requirement was passed in the Texas Senate in 2017. But since I’m writing this article today, it means the bill didn’t go through[5].

Supposedly, the purpose of the annual inspection is to ensure that 20 listed safety mechanisms on a vehicle are functional or comply with the state’s safety standards. But before the list even starts, the inspector is required to check for evidence of “Financial Responsibility” (also known as insurance). Financial responsibility is better known as “proof of insurance”, because most people can’t afford the $55,000 bribe to the state Comptroller or County Judge where the car is registered[6].

That means the Inspector won’t look at your car unless you have proof of insurance, which also means you can’t pass the inspection.

Now I’m just a simple American writer, but it sure seems like one particular industry has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo and holding our ability to drive hostage. Which also ensures the over 22 million registered vehicles in Texas are insured by a paying customer[7].

In Texas alone, that’s at least $11 billion every year.

Another official part of the test is to ensure general conformity of the federally mandated clean air requirements. However, out of the 254 counties in Texas, only 17 require emissions testing. Which explains why we see vehicles, that obviously can’t pass an emissions test, continue to belch black smoke on the road.

If the state wants to refute my claim that the annual safety inspections are a sham, then they should require emissions testing across all counties in the state. If they do that, the fact they’re fleecing drivers for more money will be less obvious.

And the environment may thank us too.

But state-wide emissions testing won’t happen because Rednecks from across the state will go up in arms when they find out those muscle cars and trucks won’t pass inspection. They will demand a change, and/or they’ll vote someone else into office. With that scenario, we’re more likely to see our politicians ignore the insurance lobbyists and do away with the annual safety inspection altogether. 

Now, I’d like to describe how different my first and second inspections were.

I bought my first car 2 years ago and when it came time to renew the inspection, I made the mistake of going to a scummy shop. The inspector claimed my gas cap failed the emissions test, but I can easily fix it by purchasing a new cap from a nearby AutoZone.

I had no knowledge of the gas cap emissions test and what it actually did beyond the inspector telling me my cap didn’t pass the test. I didn’t care all that much about buying the gas cap. I simply didn’t want to waste any more time on this needless inspection, and was willing to jump through any hoops to get it over and done with.

While driving to buy a new gas cap, I brooded over how this whole inspection stinks of a scam. There’s no way a gas cap can determine what emissions are coming out of the car. Gas goes into your tank and the cap keeps contaminates out and prevents fuel from evaporating into the atmosphere. 

If there’s something wrong with any residue on the cap, then the state needs to go after the gas manufacturers for producing low-quality or contaminated gas. Or, the “Inspector” is getting a kickback from AutoZone for sending customers to buy gas caps or some other unnecessary part. 

When I returned with the replacement cap, the inspector told me the new one didn’t pass. I couldn’t believe what I just heard.

This is a brand-new cap! How the Hell can it fail the test?!

I must have given him one of my “gay fury” expressions, because he tested the new cap again. After a couple attempts, he handed it back and said it barely passed. He also said I may need to have the fuel filler examined in the future, but I didn’t care. I was overjoyed my car passed and I didn’t have to waste any more time on this damn inspection.

Fast-forward one year…

While doing research for this article, I learned a few things about the fuel cap test:

  1. There’s no official or technical information available online about them or what they do[8]. The most informative website I found on the subject is Amazon, and that’s only because the site needs to describe the product to sell the testers (by the way, the average price is about $1,000).
  2. They are called Fuel Cap Pressure Tests, and they check a fuel cap’s ability to hold pressure.
  3. The testers come with several adaptors to fit different makes and models of cars.

Now that I know more about the test, there probably wasn’t a problem with my gas cap to begin with. I could swear the tester being used at that shop was corroded. Either that, or the guy wasn’t using the correct attachment.

Regardless of what shady business happened last year, I was determined to get this year’s inspection done at a different business. The business I went to didn’t even do the gas cap test. All he did was ask for my insurance (of course), plug my car into the computer[9], and test my lights and horn. 

I was in and out in less than 20 minutes.

Now, all I need to do is pay for the sticker which tells police that I paid my annual tax/bribe. The easiest way to do that is to log into the state website and pay online, but I’ll have to pay a $2 online payment fee…


[1] U.S. Energy Information Administration. (2021, March 2). Gasoline Explained: Factors Affecting Gasoline Prices. Retrieved from US EIA: https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/gasoline/factors-affecting-gasoline-prices.php#:~:text=Taxes%20add%20to%20the%20price,of%200.1%20cents%20per%20gallon.

[2] Safety Standards: The website has a list of 20 items to inspect, which includes:

0. Proof of Insurance, 1. Horn, 2. Windshield Wipers, 3. Mirror, 4. Steering, 5. Seat Belts, 6. Brakes (system), 7. Tires 8. Wheel Assembly, 9. Exhaust System, 10. Exhaust Emission System, 11. Beam Indicator, 12. Tail Lamps, 13. Stop Lamps, 14. License Plate Lamp, 15. Rear Red Reflectors, 16. Turn Signal Lamps, 17. Head Lamps, 18. Motor, Serial, or Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), 19. Gas caps on vehicles, 20. Window Tint.

[3] Texas Department of Public Safety. (2021). Vehicle Inspection Program Overview. Retrieved from https://www.dps.texas.gov/section/vehicle-inspection/vehicle-inspection-program-overview

[4] Every officer doing a traffic stop asks/orders us to show our “driver’s license and proof of insurance.”

[5] Texas Senate Bill 1588: The bill was passed by the Texas Senate, but never made it to the House floor before the session ended.

[6] Texas Transportation Code, 7, Subtitle D. § 601.122 & 601.123 (1995). Retrieved from https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/docs/TN/htm/TN.601.htm

[7] Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. (2022). About Us. Retrieved from Tx DMV: https://www.txdmv.gov/about-us#:~:text=Currently%2C%20there%20are%20more%20than,’%20highways%2C%20roads%20and%20bridges.

[8] No Information: There may be some official or scientific information about them available online. But I spent about an hour tearing the internet apart using various search parameters, and I think it’s safe to say there’s “no information”.

[9] Computer: We don’t know what data is being recorded when the inspector plugs the analyzer into your car’s computer. Supposedly, it’s monitoring emissions and running a diagnostic, but I wonder is what else is being collected and saved. Keep in mind this this device is plugged into the same port Progressive’s Snapshot uses.

Pesky Pescatarian

I was supposed to be a Pescatarian last year, but that didn’t work out so well. I actually enjoy fish more than other meats such as beef, pork, or lamb. So, you’d think being a Pescatarian would be easy for me, but it wasn’t.

I’m a pretty healthy eater, so it’s not like I eat junk food every day[1]. I’m fortunate my tastes in food aren’t like most other people: 

  • I love salads and enjoy eating green leafy salads without dressing. 
  • I don’t like sweets, but will indulge if I feel like treating myself. 
  • I have mixed tastes when it comes to bacon. Sometimes it tastes good, but most of the time it’s… meh.
  • I will never turn my nose up to a good soup, stew, or gumbo.
  • I love pasta and bread. This is bad if you’re on a no/low-carb diet, and I try not to eat either very often. I love pasta so much, I became a Pastafarian.[2] 

So why didn’t the Pescatarian diet work out?

I simply don’t like the inconvenience of having to worry about what fits in a selective diet. I eat out a lot, and every time I went to a restaurant, disappointment would set in when I realized I couldn’t eat things the business was known for. I quickly began “forgetting” I’m a pesky Pescatarian and ate whatever I found appetizing on the menu.

Early in the diet, I had forgotten about the diet and had lamb for lunch. I was really excited about eating my lamb shank, but was reminded that we’re supposed to be Pescatarians. I quickly countered that I’m sure the sheep I’m about to consume was born a Pisces.

As I feasted on the flesh of the land-animal, I thought to myself:

Those pesky Pescatarians, always are discriminating against the other creatures of this earth. Just because my sweet little lamb might have had to swim once in his or her life, by accident, doesn’t mean that it’s any less of a protein than that snooty salmon he’s eating.

Just because that salmon can breathe underwater, doesn’t make it any better than my luscious little lamb. My lamb can breathe underwater too, but only for a few minutes before transcending to a higher plane of existence and becoming my lunch.

I bet if my little lamb and his salmon were in a prison together, my lamb would shank[3] his salmon in the cafeteria.

I’m jerked back from my daydream when I hear someone ask, “What are you thinking about, sweety?”

I can’t tell him what I’m really thinking and quickly reply, “How much I love you.”

“Aww! That’s sweet. I love you too.”


[1] Healthy Eater: I’m naturally a healthy eater, aside from my favorable taste in beer and wine… and the empty calories found in those alcoholic beverages.

[2] Pastafarian: Pastafarianism or the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, worships the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM). It makes light of some of the established religions and was born in opposition to teaching intelligent design in public schools.

When Pastafarians die they live on an island and can go sailing on their own pirate ship. The island has a “Beer Volcano”, which provides other beverages based on individual tastes. And there’s a stripper factory, which also builds strippers based on your tastes. The religion is inclusive and worshiping the Flying Spaghetti Monster is just a suggestion. You simply have to have the spirit of a pirate, and try not to be an asshole.

[3] Lamb shank: Get it? You do, right? (Yay to awkward middle-aged man humor…)

Also, I do not condone or promote violence of any sort.

“I’m Poz”

I’ve been fully vaccinated and had a booster. I should be fully protected from Covid, so I don’t fear catching it as much as I did when this all started. I interact with coworkers normally, but tend to stay about 6-feet away from anyone regardless of their vaccination status.

I think I do pretty good with risk mitigation and prevention.

  • I got vaccinated.
  • I wash my hands regularly and don’t touch my face.
  • I never get close to anyone outside of my immediate family.
  • I even take my shoes off at the door and shower before unwinding for the night.

I don’t have many opportunities to go out and socialize, and when I do, I don’t get close enough to anyone to risk catching anything. Actually, I think the closest I’ve been to another person was while passing someone in a shopping isle.

My Covid-risk is pretty damn low, so I didn’t think twice when a coworker chatted with me one night before the office shut down for Christmas. It felt nice hearing how great of a job I’m doing and wishing each other well and happy holidays. I left soon after and did my normal work-night routine (shower, eat, play videogames, and sleep).

Sometime that night, I got a message from that coworker saying he tested positive for Covid-19.

My heart went cold for a few seconds after reading that message. I immediately recalled how he hung out around my cubicle just before leaving work that previous night. He even hovered over me as I pointed to something on my computer screen.

Uh oh!

I did what any reasonable person would do… I tried to get tested.

Unfortunately, with only a few days left before Christmas, everyone in the city was trying to get tested before seeing their families. It seemed like there were absolutely no Covid tests available in all of Harris County, unless I went to the ER and pay the equivalent of $10,191.

I don’t love anyone enough to pay that. There will be other holidays.

While I was riding around town trying to find a Covid test, my mind kept going back to the beginning of December when I saw a couple boxes of those test sitting on the checkout counter of a CVS. I thought they were a waste of money at the time. Just that week, I started seeing people proudly post their at-home test results and joked at how they looked like pregnancy tests.

Well, I guess the joke’s on me.

Failing in my attempts to get tested, I did what any responsible person should do.

I told my family I was exposed to someone I know is positive for Covid. I told them I didn’t feel sick, but had to miss out on the Christmas party. I said I’d show up wearing an inflatable spacesuit costume to drop off the family’s Christmas gifts.

I couldn’t help but follow up that message with a joke I had just thought up:

As a gay man in his mid-30s, I thought the fear of a late night or early morning “I’m poz” text was behind me[1]

I was still feeling healthy when I arrived wearing a spacesuit costume (closest thing to a hazmat suit I could find) to drop off presents. I even did a moon-jump!

I’m not upset with my coworker for “ruining Christmas”. Not in the slightest. He did the responsible thing by telling me he tested positive, and I’m thankful for that[2].

It’s been a few days since Christmas and I’ve finally been able to get tested for Covid, but the results won’t come for another day or so. I’m glad I did the responsible thing by avoiding family, because now I’m exhausted all the time and my lungs feel like I’ve got a mild case of bronchitis.

Being ill and having to wait on my test results, are causing thoughts to creep into my mind:

Imagine what could have happened if my he hadn’t told me he was poz for Covid[3]. Without that warning, I would have unknowingly contaminated everyone at the party.

Imagine what could have happened if I did the irresponsible thing and shrugged off that warning, and went to the Christmas party without telling anyone.

Imagine what probably happened all across the nation… and around the world.


[1] HIV Poz: Thankfully, I’ve been lucky with my love/lust-life and have remained HIV negative.

[2] Ruining Christmas: I’m not a “socialist” and loath social events, even family get-togethers. Which means he may have done me a favor.

[3] Notify when Positive? There’s no law requiring your coworkers to inform you if they’ve, personally, tested positive for Covid. If you work at a large business, the infected person(s) are supposed to inform their supervisor or HR, and it’s recommended that the company/firm alerts workers who may have been exposed to someone who tested positive.

Also keep in mind that it takes a lot of courage to tell someone you are positive for an illness or disease. The person has to overcome the immediate fear of rejection, and risks being stigmatized as being “dirty”. I’m glad my coworker told me because it shows that he’s a good person and that he cares for my wellbeing.

He could have easily kept quiet about his test result.