Sunday, March 21, 2021

Start getting prepared for emergencies

(My Eastern New Mexico News column for February 24, 2021)

I thought the past year had taught people to be prepared and less dependent on rescue by others. It seems I was wrong.

This has been quite the year for "preppers". Just one crisis after another, with the recent cold snap and power outages the latest chapter. If you're still not a prepper, you have no one to blame but yourself when you get caught off-guard by the next event. You've had plenty of warning, and you've seen that politicians aren't able to save you, even if they wanted to.

If I seem to harp on this topic, it's because I care about your safety and comfort.

During the recent cold spell, I heard personal stories from people who huddled in their cars for hours trying to stay warm; of school buses being distributed and parked in neighborhoods as emergency shelters from the cold; of burst pipes and house fires.

People died from carbon monoxide poisoning because they didn't understand how to safely stay warm when the grid is down.

We were lucky in this area. This time.

People have an individual responsibility to be prepared for storms, record cold (and heat), and power outages. It's not all their fault, though. They've been lulled into a false sense of security.

There's another lesson which seems obvious to me: It's a terrible idea to allow government to grant utility monopolies, decide energy policy, and otherwise interfere in the energy market. When this happens, you get blackouts at the worst possible times.

Instead of government dictating how energy will be produced and distributed, there should be a market providing it. If government gets involved, there is no market; only politics. Central planning doesn't work. At least not to the advantage of the people. There isn't enough flexibility and innovation that way.

You'll become reliant on too few options.

Central planning works well in the short term for politicians and their cronies, though. That's why they won't willingly let go. The people will have to take it away from them if anything is to change in a meaningful way.

What should have been a learning experience will probably result in no change. The wrong people are being blamed and the wrong people are being asked to save us from next time. No one is looking in the right place for the solutions.

If nothing else, follow FEMA's advice for the emergency supplies they recommend at It's a start.

(Added: Do I think FEMA is legitimate or credible? Nope. But this was written for "Themasses" who read the local newspaper. At least the FEMA supply advice won't hurt them, and would make them more prepared than otherwise.)

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Creative boredom

People differ. This is why "one-size-fits-all" mandates and legislation never fit all.

I've always found a little bit of boredom to be essential for my mental health. Not the toxic kind of boredom, such as what I experienced in kinderprison classrooms, but creative boredom. The kind of boredom that, when it happens, allows you to do whatever comes to mind, eagerly, to relieve the boredom, without feeling rushed or like you're neglecting something else. And without someone screaming at you to pay attention, get to work, and stop daydreaming.

Call it free time, with no plan and no guilt.

If I have a dozen projects nagging for my attention the only kind of boredom that strikes is the destructive kind.

But if I have nothing to do, and there's nothing I feel I should be doing, my creativity can flow.

I've had too little of the good kind of boredom recently. I used to have tons of it. My wikiup and tipi area was where a lot of it happened. It was a daily mental vacation, and I miss it. (I've been trying without success to find a replacement for years now.)

The past couple of months have been unusually hectic-- tons of projects and "obligations" in various stages of completion with no time to take a breath. 

Usually, when I'm doing some mindlessly repetitive task I get bored and can at least think. That hasn't been the case with these projects, probably because they've required too much thought and attention. They've drained my brain and my body.

I have an art project I've been needing to work on (for my dad's birthday), but without time to get bored, it just hasn't happened. It's not something I can just decide I'm going to do, like a physical or mental task-- if I do it this way it would be a failure because of a lack of creativity. I have to have time to get bored enough to get creative.

I also find it harder to let my mind come up with blog posts and newspaper columns if there's no time for my mind to wander. Recently, because of this, I haven't had time to tone down my newspaper columns for "public consumption" as much as I normally do. Not sure if that's good or bad.

So this next week, I have declared my very own "No projects week". Maybe it's my spring break. Yes, there will probably be blog posts-- if I let my mind wander, they just come to me whether I want them or not. But I'm not going to be forcing anything. I plan on boring myself into creativity and hoping it recharges my batteries.


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