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September 20, 2008

Thanks Ma

Filed under: Guest Poster — admin @ 2:47 am

The following letter was sent to me by a good friend, Rick Powell, who is more family than friend. Rick lives in the Greater Cincinnati area, and, like us, recently felt the wrath of Ike. It is published here at my request and with his permission. This is the first of three installments of this series. This serves as a good reminder of what being an American is all about … self reliance, independence, initiative, and preparedness. If you’re looking for someone else to blame for your lack of preparedness, you need to either read up or move on The letter is included in it’s entirety, including postscript.

LONG before i became a “Heavily Armed Right Wing Extreemest with an Attitude”,,,, i was just some kid living in sandy eggo.

Way back then, living in ‘Earthquake Country’, there was an intrinsic understanding, that when ‘stuff happened’, it was the RESPONSIBILITY of the INDIVIDUAL to do everything in your power to NOT become a ‘victim’…

This RESPONSIBILITY extended beyond the INDIVIDUAL to the FAMILY, beyond the FAMILY to the COMMUNITY, and then, and only then, beyond the COMMUNITY to the City/County/State/Fed..

I personally believe, some folks may have either forgotten that, or maybe never learned it.

Now, taking into consideration, that i grew up in Earthquake Land, I can understand that maybe, just maybe, someone living in an area that is IMMUNE from ANY type of ‘DISASTER’, could miss this whole concept. like, for example, folks living in Ohio, where the biggest thing you gotta be concerned about is maybe a Tornado, or maybe a widespread power outtage, or maybe even a big Ice Storm, or some flooding, or maybe some civil distress, and of course, the regularly scheduled Thunderstorm, which knocks out power, blows trees down, tears roof’s off, floods basements, or, God Forbid,,, the leftovers of a little huricane making it’s way to Canada, and meeting up with a cold front along the way… you know,,, little bitty issues like that. absolutely NOTHING compared to an (OMG) Earthquake. (is there maybe a little sarcasm there? hmmmm?)

so what just irk’s me to no end, is people who think it’s SOMEONE ELSE’s problem, ANYBODY’s problem but their own…..

and i gotta say, personally, I think, Duke Energy has done an INCREDIBLE job in restoration of power, considering that half their normal crew’s were in TX working IKE recovery, when IKE made it’s way here to THWAK us. i mean, come on, two days into the recovery they manage to muster 1200 linemen from out of state, complete with untility trucks, and not to even mention what they have managed to do on the supply side. SO GET OFF THEIR CASE… sheesh……

anyway, back to my main point……

i grew up with an ‘Earthquake Bag’. at least, that’s what Ma called it.

now that i’m a HARWEWAA i realize that what it REALLY was is a Bug Out Bag….

now, we’re not talking anything extravegent here. in fact, it was setup in ‘layers’……lemme ‘splain….

the Family (me, ma, dad) had a ‘bag’, it was about the size of a bowling ball bag, it was some goofy floral looking soft sided zipper thing, about 16″ wide, 6″ deep, and 12″ high, with convient carry handles. i really have no idea other than that, to describe it. ma said she got it at a garage sale for 25 cents. but that isn’t the important info you want to know,,,, what you want to know is WHAT’S IN THE BAG,,, I CAN’T REEEEEEEEEEEED!!!!!,,, no wait, not bacon,,, hangon,,,, reset…..

In the ‘Family Earthquake Bag’ was the following… (trust me, i remember it well, cause twice a year, we ‘inventoried and updated’ the FEB.

in no particular order….

oh, also, most of the items in the bag were contained inside either ziplock bags, or firmly wrapped in saran wrap, so that the ‘important stuff’ would stay dry if this thing was held underwater for 2 hours…..

the ‘info packet’.. this took various shapes over the years, but allways contained the same stuff….. Names, full legal names, of us, including dates of birth, social security numbers, employer info, bank account info, physician info, medical info, relatives, key friends, memberships, where legal documents were stored, titled item info, etc. etc… basically, a summary of everything that someone would NEED to know, if they found our rotting bodies under a pile of rubble somewhere after ‘the big one’.

the ‘key packet’,,, spare keys for EVERYTHING,,,,, each one labeled with what it was for, including but not limited to: car key(s), house keys, safety deposit box keys, combination to the ‘safe box’, locker key at the golf course, the spare spare key to Pearl’s house,, etc.. so, even if all we could do was grab the bag on the way out of the house, because it was ‘the big one’, by golly we could get into the car, drive it to the golf course, and get a pair of golf shoes and a hat out of my dad’s locker at Cottonwood, then drive to LA, and let ourselves into Aunt Pearl’s house.

the ‘medicine packet’… yep, at least a 10 day supply of whatever meds whoever may be on. how were these obtained????? well, every month ma would take one ‘dose’ out of a month supply, and put them in an appropriate ‘container’, and when there were 10 days in there, (yep, 10 months, one ‘dose’ per month), it went IN the bag, and the old one came OUT of the bag, and got used…. this did NOT include the insulin. yes, my dad was an insulin dependent diabetic,,, sooooooo, in the fridge, there was ALLWAYS a ‘soup thermos’ in there, being kept cold. and in the freezer there was always a baggie with just enough ice in it, to fill the ‘soup thermos’, specifically set aside, just for that, and in the medicine packet, was an extra syringe, and needles (a month’s worth of needles), to support the insulin use..

the ‘first aid kit’… nope, nothing fancy here, some bandaids, a little bottle of iodine, one of some mecurichrome(sp?), an ace bandage, some antibiotic goo, a small tin ‘thing’ of aspirin, some ‘medical tape’, a baggie of cotton balls, the smallest bottle of isopropyl alcohol i’ve ever seen, and the ever present tweasers.

the ‘personal hygene bag’,, ew, tampoons, ew, soap, a little bottle of shampoo, 3 toothbrushes, a ‘travel size’ tube of toothpaste, a comb, a hairbrush, a couple of rubber bands (for hair), bobby pins, a razor, 5 razor blades, and a small pair of scissors (theoretically for the control of nose hairs), and a fingernail file. (hey, i didn’t come up with this list…)

the ‘paper products’ bag…. a whole roll of toilet paper, a small package of ‘facial tissues’ (yuk), a ‘notepad’ (conviently provided by ‘La Mesa Market’) a stubby pencil (conviently provided by Cottonwood Country Club), and, a WHOLE ‘dry cleaning bag’, (the thin plastic bag that your clothes come in when you get them back from the dry cleaner’s).

the ‘other stuff’ bag…. two packs of smokes. 6 packs of matches. various rubber bands, paper clips, safety pins, a small sewing kit, an eyeglass repair kit, chapstick, straightpins, small pocketknife, a little compass, and a couple of pages of local maps from an old phone book. there were quite a few ‘other things’ in this ‘bag’, which i’m really not sure i could identify if i saw them. think of it as the Junk Drawer…..

let’s see,,,,what else,,,,
a bag of socks, (two pair for each person),
a bag of underwear (two pair for each person),
some sorta rubber hair covering thing.
a snub nosed .38 (loaded), and an ‘extra’ load of bullets for it.
two small flashlights, each with an extra set of batteries.
a small transistor radio, and an extra battery for it.
a deck of cards.
a pocket sized New Testament Bible.
some sorta ‘rosey’ thing. (looked like a string of beads to me… never did actually figure out what it was)
two collapsable cups
a spoon, butter knife, fork,
a can opener (the one that would make a triangle sized hole in a can, or could pop the top off a soda bottle with the other end)
a can opener (the one that would actually OPEN a can of veggies or equivalent)
a small can of orange juice (for my dad, if he had a ‘reaction’)
two cans of (yuk) vienna sausages, which i believe have a shelf life of approximately 270 years.
two packs of chewing gum.
a small bag of hard candy
three disposable rain ponchos
a handkerchef

and probably the most important thing,,,,,a bag of ‘money’, including coins (for the phone), and ‘cash money’, so if we could, and needed to, we could ‘buy stuff’. (i think it was enough to get a FULL TANK of gas, and purchase a month’s worth of insulin and syringes, and an extra $10 in mostly change)

yep. a whole lotta ‘stuff’. i think the most expensive single item (other than insulin related stuff and the .38) was the socks. most of everything else, was either obtained at a garage sale, or at the ‘swap meet’ (old time term that refers to what we now call a flea market), or some ‘freebee’ from one place or another, or at the ‘dime store’ (i think you could call odd-lots a ‘dime store’), or with things like the socks, and underwear,,, they were ‘last year’s model’ usually. although, mine were usually ‘next year’s model’. some string, (i think it was actually stronger than just ‘string’, in fact, i think it was some stuff that Aunt Pearl got, that was used to ‘wrap’ wire bundles. all i know, is it was STRONG STUFF, MUCH stronger than just ‘string’, i’m thinking here, it had a ‘working strength’ of around 100 lbs or so.). and of course, some ‘duct tape’,,, BEFORE it was called ‘Duct tape’.. not a whole roll, just ‘some’, probably about 5 or 6 feet.

yep, really huge outlay of cash, i mean,,, like, almost FIVE DOLLARS TOTAL……

but by golly, we had one…..

now, remember, that was the FAMILY BAG…. the one that HAD TO MAKE IT OUT THE DOOR with the first person who got there.

we kept it very close to the front door. usually in the bottom of some ‘cabinet’, or in the ‘coat closet’, or somewhere, as long as it was 1) out of the way, and 2) easily accessable while running, screaming out the front door.

then, there was ‘the drill’… well, not really a ‘drill’, but more like a ‘walkthru simulation’, every 6 months, usually corresponding with the semi-annual ‘restocking and inventorying’ of ‘the bag’,,,,,this was where we identified just what actions were ABSOLUTLY REQUIRED, in the event of ‘the big one’….it went something like this: whoever noticed the earthquake first, would yell EARTHQUAKE, and make sure everyone else was awake, and aware. this was PRI ONE…sometimes known as ‘PASS THE WORD’ (that’s navy speak for DROP YER COCKS AND GRAB YER SOCKS), and of course, this was situational, obviously, if we were all sitting around watching Walter Cronkite, it wouldn’t have to be soo ‘dramatic’..

then, whoever was closest to the fridge, would identify themselves as the ‘Kitchen’ person, and proceed in an orderly fashion to obtain the ‘soup thermos’, the little baggie of ice, and all the available insulin bottles, quickly scan the stove to make sure all the burners were off, same with the oven, and then proceed directly out the closest door, and head for the ‘safe spot’ (i’ll explain that in a sec).

then, (actually, all these actions would probably occur simultaneously), whoever was closest to the front door, would identify themselves as the ‘bag’ person, and proceed in an orderly fashon to obtain the ‘earthquake bag’, proceed out the front door, and head for the ‘safe spot’….

And, finally, the poor sap that was left, was to go directly to the ‘power box’ outside, and shut off the mains power to the house. (back then, there was a big ‘switch’ on the outside of the house, on the main power inlet, that all you had to do was grab and pull, and it would cut off all the power going in. not like today, where that box still exists, but at least on ours, it’s got a metal cable ‘seal’ on it, that prevents it from being thrown,,, and not to be removed under penalty of law, or some krap like that……, anyway, the deal was to ‘cut power’ to the house, then head for the ‘safe spot’..

obviously, this was dependent on a couple of things,,,,,
1. we were all home.
2. the house hasn’t fallen down yet.
3. somehow, we all were dressed.

yeah, dressed,,,,the MOST important thing was shoes. you could be in the shower,,,, earthquake happens,,,,, and the NUMBER ONE priority was,,,, GET YER SHOES…..

yep, you end up outside, wet, naked, wearing shoes…. but you know what? in ‘the bag’, you at least had a pair of socks, and underwear. oh, and you could comb your hair. yeah, i joke a little here, but seriously,,,, the last thing you want, when there are windows breaking, and ‘stuff’ falling around you, is to not be able to RUN because you were barefoot. yeah, you may be buck arse naked, with various body parts ‘swinging in the wind’ but at least you wont get all cut up on your feet with broken glass…. REAL ISSUE HERE.

fun stuff huh?

but the overriding factor, the number one thing, was to get that bag to the ‘safe place’…

what was the ‘safe place’????

well, remember, this was all about earthquakes,,, so, the ‘safe place’ was a specific location, where ‘nothing would fall on you’. of course, this varied with where we lived. you had to check the buildings, wires, trees, rocks, signs, whatever may ‘get knocked down’ and ‘squish you’.

all in all, the point of this, was that, when ‘the big one’ happened, we could ‘make do’ for at least a few days, without needing ‘help’.

cause, after all, ‘help’ was for people who were unable to ‘fend for themselves’. people like ‘old folks who can’t move real good’, or people who were ‘crippled’, or ‘po folks’ who ‘couldnt fend for themselves’.

sounds simple don’t it….well, lets see, it WAS…

we had everything we needed ‘in the bag’ to ‘fend for ourselves’ for long enough, that we wouldn’t be ‘part of the problem’…

we could wash (assuming we could find water), we had cups, utensils, meds, first aid, clothes, Toilet Paper, fresh socks, and skivvies, we could comb/brush our hair, file our nails, keep our lips from being chapped, entertain ourselves, inform ourselves, and we could ‘read the good book’, and ma could count her roses. if we got real hungry, we could chew gum, we had some hard candy to keep our sugar levels up, we had all the information required to contact whatever bank/work/club/relative/friend or ‘important thing’ that we may ‘need to know’.. or for whoever ‘finds our rotting corpses’, so they can notify ‘someone who cares’ as to the status of our ‘rotting corpses’..

basically, we could ‘get by just fine’ until ‘things settled out’….

helluva idear huh?

of course, there was more to this than just ‘the bag’.

there was an ‘attitude’. the attitude, was basically that our ‘situation’ was mainly OUR responsibility. NOBODY ELSE’s. it was OUR PROBLEM. no matter what.

you know, last sunday, the remnants of hurrican ike, came thru our area ‘with a vengance’. we were out of power from about 2pm sunday, until 7pm tuesday.

i thank God, that my Momma made ‘the bag’ soo big of an issue, because for the basically 3 days that the power was out, the single biggest issue we had, was that we didn’t have internet access. yep. that was the biggest issue. and it was only an issue, because it caused me to have to actually GO TO the datacenter so i could check the servers. that was it.

thanks ma. you learned me well.

/Rick

p.s. after my mom passed away, and her ‘stuff’ was shipped out to us, in one of the boxes, i found her earthquake bag, that she still had, and kept ‘current’, until the day she died….

and she STILL had tampoon’s in it…. (yuk)

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