Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Finally caught Apocalypse Man

I haven't been watching much TV at all lately. In fact, I didn't even know about Armageddon Week on the History Channel. It really made me think about how long it's been since I turned on a TV for something besides PS3 or a movie considering that the History Channel is one of two or three stations that I actually watch. I haven't really been keeping up with the other blogs, either, so I missed it if everyone else has been talking about it. Anyway, last night I found myself bored with nothing to do so I decided to see what was on. Apocalypse Man immediately grabbed my attention.

Right away I started picking out everything that most traditional survivalists would complain about as "bad advice" or "dumb ideas". After all, he began the show by telling people to find the nearest city in the event of a major disaster. Depending on the scenario that could be good advice, though. I've lived in the country. I've lived in small towns. I've lived in the city. If there's a bad disaster where a lot of people are dead, law and order has broken down, no help is getting to you anytime soon and you're fending for yourself then I still stand by my opinion. The city is a better place to be unless you have a well stocked retreat and you know your neighbors well. Let's face it. If you don't have a retreat then you're going to be living out of a tent or some other improvised shelter in the woods if you decide to bug out. Even if you do have one but you don't live there full time you'll have to get you, your family and all of your supplies there in the middle of the imminent mass evacuation. Then when you get there you'll have to deal with the locals. I hope that they know and trust you (and you them). It's easier to hide in the city. It's easier to find supplies. You'll have a lot more resources available. It just makes more sense for the average person. Stay home. Convince a few neighbors to stick around. Then just lay low for a few months while everyone else leaves or kills each other.

I liked the library idea a lot. Not many people would think of it. A survival library at home is great but you're bound to find yourself wishing that you had some books on certain subjects after everything breaks down. I'm not so sure about the hospitals, though. They'll be the first places that are stripped of all resources. They'll also be one of those places that people just keep thinking to go check out. I could see groups of people still showing up months after a devastating disaster long after there's nothing left that's worth looting. The restaurant idea was a good one. Crawling around in elevator shafts and climbing down the cables seems like a pretty dumb idea to me but someone who's in really good shape could probably pull it off. Swinging around on a climbing rope attached to an improvised crowbar/grappling hook is a pretty silly idea, too. If you find yourself in a desperate situation where you absolutely have to try a stunt like that please make sure that you're using actual climbing rope (not the crap that hardware stores sell) and make sure that you know your knots. That little segment reminded me that I need to brush up on my knot tying skills. It's been awhile since I've had to mess with them for anything major. The radio tips was just another reminder that I still haven't gotten off my ass and learned how to run one properly. I really need to get around to getting my ham license and some basic equipment. Finding a diesel automobile is another good tip. If you try his field expedient fuel method it probably wouldn't last longer than a tank or two unless the vehicle was setup to run on biodiesel. It's better than not having a vehicle, though.

It was a cool show. You definitely don't see much like it in that context very often. Shows like that seem to be getting more and more popular, though. Some of the advice wasn't that great. Some of it was good. Most of the stuff that I wouldn't recommend anyone try was crazy enough that they wouldn't try it, anyway, unless they knew how to do it. Obviously, there are much better options for surviving armageddon. Unfortunately, those options either require you to be extremely rich or live your life as if the end of the world is definitely going to happen. I'm not that pessimistic. Most people aren't. If it happens then I'll regret not being better prepared. I'll be better off than most, though. If nothing else this kind of show can get people thinking about preparedness, how to improve their chances and how to avoid being stuck in that type of situation. It might even give some people who think they know everything an idea or two. Check it out if you haven't already seen it.


Dustin Tarditi said...

Like any edutainment show on the subject (SurvivorMan, Man Vs Wild, etc.), you need one HUGE grain of salt to accompany the show. Damp cardboard over a fire to suppress smoke isn't a bad idea, but the flame will dry it out, then you have a tinder pile sitting above your open flame. The parkour stunts around the cityscape and alleyways were amusing, but very few people are capable of such stunts, too.

Overall, I thought it was interesting and gave me a few ideas. I think this show would be better served if it was a miniseries or even season series. A little background research on the host (I never saw Generation Kill) revealed him to be quite a capable demonstrator of these skills.

Rob Taylor said...

I thought the show was asinine. His survival strategy seems less like a plan and more like a level of a video game. At one point he recommends home invasion as a strategy.

And his concentration of fuel and electricity is Xbox survival at it's worst. You shouldn't need electricity to survive. Until the md-20th century most Americans didn't have electricity and survived just fine. And walking around with a backpack that contains a rope and crowbar is a good way to get picked up by cops and held for having a burglary/rape kit. Why not put some lighters in there so you can make a fire without going all Mr. Wizard with batteries and steel wool. With a less than 30$ investment I've got lighters/matches/fire steels to last a lifetime.

I just thought it had more bad advice than good.

The Urban Survivalist said...

Electricity makes life easier. So do automobiles. I'd appreciate any suggestions on how to get access to either in a crisis. The "generator in the hospital" idea is pretty dumb but I do think that it would be a good idea to find a diesel vehicle and run it on vegetable oil. By the time you're running around an empty city worried about having to duck bullets there won't be any cops complaining about the "rape kit" in your BOB. It'll have to get pretty close to that point before I end up wearing my BOB around any city. I think that the cops would be more worried about my gun than my rope and crowbar. I couldn't agree more with your sentiment about carrying easier ways to start a fire. I don't leave home with a lighter in my pocket. I have several more in my car along with firesteels, matches and tinder kits. The same goes for my BOB.

Rob Taylor said...

My point about the electricity is that as a survivalist I'm prepared to go without electricity long term if need be and you don't have to be a crazed survivalist to be able to live a simple non-electric life. Would it be as simple? No. But it simply isn't worth risking your life for to achieve.

Lehman's non-electric catalog is full of devices that work powerless. My survival plan includes not having access to electricity which may happen sans TEOTWAWKI with the EPA calling CO2 a poison! I have candles and the materials to make candles, lamps and rush lights. My survival larder is full of things that can be stored non-refrigerated. I have a couple of camp toilets for when the sewage stops and know where I'll be dumping waste. I have braziers (some good ones can be purchased from re-enactment catalogs) for warmth (since I have an HOA that doesn't allow upgrades to wood stoves) and several grills and emergency ovens some of which can be used indoors. Unless you absilutely need refridgeration (for medications etc) I think people are better off preparing to live without it.

Since we're talking tv here, I think Little House on the Prairie is a good example of the kind of survival we may be in for after a collapse. No electricity or running water doesn't mean no civilization, just not the one we're used to.

John Nutter said...

Many ideas in this show are quite creative. Having taught and practiced survival for thirty years, I am certain that the most valuable survival tool is our brain. The more ideas you have in your data bank, the more flexible you can be in meeting survival challenges.

Of course, it's easy to be critical, and I assure you that NO survival plan is without weakness. I wouldn't for example, want go down in the sewer, largely because it's really hard to run away from danger (which I've always taught is the best defense). On the other hand, suppose you get hit in the head and all your stuff is looted? Then some of these ways of making fire might be really handy.

So, bottom line: be selective, think things through in advance, but stock your key survival tool with as many ideas as possible. You never know when something that seemed silly at the time will pull your fanny out of the fire.

Anonymous said...

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