AuthorTopic: How I Survived the Collapse: Chapter 1  (Read 14565 times)

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How I Survived the Collapse: Chapter 8
« Reply #30 on: December 16, 2016, 02:06:41 AM »

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on December 16, 2016


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For Karl, his mind was also racing as he exited Kenny's road onto the logging road, making his way down the 6% grade and then back up another 8% grade to get back to the paved road.  He was exhilirated, but also needed time to think.  Instead of making the right to take the most direct route back to his property, he made the left to take the scooter for a cruise on 135 to Quinn's Hot Springs Resort.  It was a pretty long drive along the Clark Fork River to get there, but they had a great selection of beers in the Tavern there, and live music on the weekends as well. The Harwood House restaurant had fabulous food. The drive was near the end of the range of a round trip for the scooter, but there was no problem with plugging in there for a recharge for a few hours while having a nice lunch and a couple of beers, then spending some time soaking in the mineral hot spring water.  That always made his arthritis melt away.  So no worries about running out of juice on the way home.

Karl opened the throttle up for the drive, sometimes hitting 80 but not really pushing the scooter to the limit.  This was not a good day to die on the highway.  He had taken a few spills on the gas powered motorcycles he had owned before the ZEV in his younger days when he was not so cautious.  He was fortunate not to get too badly banged up himself, just a dislocated shoulder on one occassion and losing some skin on another, but he also did total his prized BMW R100 RT in the mid 1980's, knocking one of the cylinder heads off of the horizontally opposed twin cylinder air cooled engine, which was the state of the art for air cooled motorcycle engines before BMW went to liquid cooling technology like cars use.

Along the drive he passed the usual number of cars going in both directions, which was not too many but still a reasonable amount of traffic.  It was a beautiful early spring day, and the usual number of locals were out to enjoy a day of Happy Motoring and picnicing along the Clark Fork River.  It was so easy today to make this almost 90 mile trip from where he lived to Quinn's, but once his scooter gave out or he could no longer recharge it with his solar PV, Wind Turbines and Microhydro system, even getting there on Horseback would take a couple of days.  By foot, probably a week at least, although he doubted he could make a hike that long with his arthritis.

For all the people driving gas powered internal combustion vehicles, the timeline to when they would no longer be able to make the trip to Quinn's was likely a lot shorter than he would be able to do it on his ZEV.  Based on depletion rates and the ever deteriorating geopolitical situation in the Middle East, Karl couldn't see any way the Happy Motoring lifestyle was going to last more than another 5 years, while he felt he could probably get 10 years out of the ZEV if he didn't wreck it.  He had a spare battset for it, and he didn't put that many hours on it each year that he would burn through the expected charge cycles of the Li-I batteries that fast.  His electric generating equipment would probably last at least 10 years with good maintenance, and he had plenty of spare parts for that stuff also.  Ten years was probably all he had left to go zipping around the highway anyhow, at 66 already that would put him at 76.  Maybe he could make it to 80 if he was lucky, but 76 was plenty good enough if he could make it that far.

Before the gas actually ran out at the pumps though, most of the clientele at Quinn's probably would be gone before that, as they simply ran out of working money to buy enough gas and then pay the pretty exorbitant prices at Quinns for the craft beers, the fine menu and a day soaking in the mineral water.  Karl had already noted a decrease in the total clientele from the lively days of the 1980s and 1990s when he frequented it the most.  Quinn's actually was around even before his time, going way back to the late 1800s.  That was the Gilded Age, attracting the wealthy Robber Barons of the era, but how well Quinn's could attract enough clientele in it's current incarnation to stay open once gas was scarce was an open question.

Quinn's also was no longer the simple log cabins and baths in the native springs it was back in those early years serving just a few of the outrageously rich pigmen of the era, it had grown to a large resort with big industrially produced pools fed by the hot springs and dependent on plenty of electricity from the grid to keep all the systems operating.  The motif still LOOKED like the rustic kind of log cabins you would expect in the Montana mountains, but in it's current incarnation just as dependent on industrialization to function as the city of Missoula.  Without the steady weekly flow of visitors, maintaining the economics of the place to pay for all these ammenities was a dicey proposition.

Besides that, all the fine foods, wines and beers that were served were all brought in from 100s if not 1000s of miles away, many coming in from across continents.  As international shipping declined and trade declined, all those scrumptious delights currently available in the Montana mountains would disappear.  Maybe gradually, maybe suddenly, but they were bound to disappear, along with the Happy Motoring Amerikan Middle class still left patronizing the place.

As Karl pulled up behind the tavern and plugged in to one of the outdoor outlets to recharge the scooter, all that was still in the future though, and Quinn's was still a great place to hang out for a relaxing day at the Hot Springs.  Even though he was basically a Hermit, during the season he had always been a regular at Quinn's and was well known by everyone, management and staff alike as well as the regular patrons.  Plugging in the scooter was no big issue, everybody knew his ZEV, it was the only one of its kind around and when he parked it and plugged in, everyone quickly knew that Karl was in for a visit.

He walked in to the tavern and was greeted by an old acquaintance, the head bartender Big John who usually got Karl his drinks for free since he would always spend money freely everywhere else in the establishment. John was known as "Big John" because he stood 6'6" and weighed 245, and nobody gave no lip to Big John.  Legend was he came up from Lousiana after a fight over a Cajun Queen, and a crashing blow from a big right hand sent a Lousiana man to the Promised Land.  Big John.  Big Bad John….(credit lyrics: Jimmy Dean, Big John).  Billy was at the Piano, and Paul who was a Real Estate Novelist and Davey who was still in the Navy and probably would be for life were talking at the bar as always. (credit lyrics, Billy Joel, Piano Man). Well, it was sort of like that anyhow. 🙂

"Great to see you Karl!  You're in early this year!  What's up?" John inquired.

"Oh, nothing special" Karl lied, "Just felt like giving the ZEV an early spin this year and getting out on the road. Beautiful spring day we have here this year!"

As a matter of habit, Karl didn't give any details of what was going on at his doomstead, even though the long term employees mostly knew around where it was located, though not specifically.  Over the whole 40 years he had owned the place, he only had a couple of visitors actually come to the Earthship, and that was long ago.  His cousin Ingrid had come for a visit early on, and promptly pronounced him nuts to the rest of the family back in Wisconson.   Then for a while he got to know one of the other cabin owners who came up regularly in the fall hunting season, who although he wasn't a prepper or doomer was a very down to earth guy with a good sense of humor.  Karl gave him permission to hunt on his land, and he ran across the earthship on his own, despite the fact it was fairly well disguised being built into the side of the mountain.  They stayed friends a few years in the 90s, but Martin eventually sold the place when he moved to Canada in the aftermath of 9-11.  Karl had considered going ex-pat with him after this mockery which put even Tricky Dicky's antics to shame, but he had too much time and energy invested in his doomstead and couldn't bear the thought of leaving it and starting over somewhere else.

"So what would you like?  We've got some great new craft beers on tap this year."

"Why don't you give me a Sampler selection", Karl replied, rehearsing the same line they had been using since John had become head bartender a decade earlier.  The selection of beers changed every year, and on his first trip of the season to Quinn's John would pour one of each into a 2 oz shot glass, which Karl would sample.  After the first round he would decide which half of the selection he liked most, then repeat the process for another half or so, until he was down to just 2 or 3 for the final decision.  Whichever beer that was would be his selection for the rest of the season.

Karl and John talked across the bar about all the latest in news and about the business at Quinn's, which after the 2008-9 financial crash had recovered, but seemed to have dwindled again the prior year.  All were hopeful though that the 2018 season would see another recovery.

After choosing a nice rich full bodied Lager as the best beer and with a nice little buzz on, it was time to go soak the bones in the hot springs, then come back later for a nice thick and juicy cut of Prime Rib and a couple of Maine Lobster Tails for dinner.

"Reserve my regular table for me for 6 o'clock." Karl told John.  "Maggie working tonight?"

Maggie was even more of a fixture at Quinn's than John, she had been waiting tables there for nearly 30 years.  Karl had even dated her back in the days he was still actively seeking the opposite sex, at least for conjugal purposes if not for a long term relationship.  She had taken a few years off when she got married and had a kid, but then returned to Quinn's after her divorce, raising her daughter Karen as a single mom.

John's expression turned sad, a mist came over him and Karl could see tears welling up in his eyes.

"Maggie died over the winter.  Leukemia."

"Oh God." Karl sighed.  "She was only 56."

"We would have contacted you for the funeral, but nobody had your phone number or email address."

Karl silently cursed himself.  His obsession with secrecy had exacted another price in his life.

"There is a small bright side to it though.  Her daughter Karen took over her spot after the funeral.  She graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, but so far hasn't been able to land a job in the field.  She's waiting the tables until something turns up."

Karl hadn't seen Karen for years, just meeting her a few times when she was hanging around Quinn's while her mom worked.  She was an adventurous girl, and on one occassion he did go rafting on the river in a group of regulars and employees from Quinn's with her, Maggie, John and a few others. She also kayaked the river on her own, and had been a nationally ranked White Water Kayaker in her teens.

"It will be nice to see her again." Karl said quietly.  "At least I can express my condolences."

"I'll let her know you're coming when she gets here.  Now go soak in the hot springs.  It'll make you feel better."

Karl nodded.  A sauna and a nice long soak was just what he needed.

Since he hadn't planned the trip to Quinn's before leaving for Kenny's encampment early that morning he didn't have a bathing suit with him, but he always left one that John kept for him on occassions he stopped in.

"You have my suit in the back John?  I didn't bring one with me."

"Yea sure.  Keep an eye on the bar for me while I go get it."

John was back quickly with the suit and a towel, and Karl headed down the hill to change and hit the sauna before soaking in the mineral water.  As the dry heat soaked into his body and the sweat began to flow out of his pores, the experiences of the day also flowed through his mind, like the water flowing down the Clark Fork River.  He had experienced more elation and more sadness in any one day that he could remember in his 66 years of life.  Living alone and for the most part eschewing close relationships, he didn't usually have the kind of mood swings that come when wonderful things happen and when tragedies happen to friends and loved ones.  Hermits, Monks and other Solitary individuals are different than the population of people who marry and have families in this way.

Karl meditated on Maggie, remembering the good times they had had together so long ago.  The camping trips, and even the Las Vegas vacation she prodded him into taking her on when she insisted he had to "see how the other half lives".  Even though the whole place was a sickening example of Amerikan Kulture, he DID have fun gambling in the casino, as just about all math oriented people do, especially those who played in the Big Casino on Wall Street. He still was actively doing that, making much bigger bets on the emerging Dot Com Bubble.  Karl could count cards, he knew the systems and had a nearly photographic memory.  He won enough money to pay for the trip 2 times over at the blackjack table, and gave all of it to Maggie to help her out, as she was struggling to meet bills at the time.  He got a nostalgic kick out of seeing Chuck Berry perform, one of his favorite rock music acts from his childhood.  He remembered the walks in the moonlight, and the soft kisses at night.

He knew Maggie wanted him to marry her, but by the time they met he was already well entrenched in the solitary lifestyle, and once it became clear to Maggie he wasn't going to change his mind, they drifted apart.  She met another man, a lawyer from Spokane who was vacationing at Quinn's and married him, disappearing for about 5 years.  Then she returned to Lolo after a divorce and came back to Quinn's, and they became friends again, although not lovers this time.

Thinking about Maggie and the good times they had together gave him some peace of mind, and he said a silent prayer for her, in his own Panentheistic way.  He closed off his meditation on Maggie, and his mind wandered further onto what to do with Kevin, and how to approach this idea of creating a tribe of people to live on their land after TSHTF?  Who could they find, and how to approach them without appearing crazy?  How to keep security on the land while not relying so much on stealth and secrecy?  These were hard questions, and would occupy his mind for the whole week, until Kenny returned from Missoula.

Karl felt relaxed and at ease as he exited the hot springs pool, showered and put his street clothes back on.  His joints felt better than they had all winter; he felt almost like he was 20 again.  OK, maybe not, maybe more like 50 he laughed to himself.  He was mighty hungry though, since he hadn't eaten anything since breakfast with Kenny that morning.  He walked on back up the hill, looking forward to a fine meal of Prime Rib and Maine Lobster Tails, washed down with one of the many fine wines in the list at Quinn's.

Walking into the Dining Room at the Harwood House restaurant, the Maitre'd Adam recognized him immediately and gave him a big smile.

"Karl!  You're in early this season!" He remarked.  "John said you were dropping in for dinner.  Got your table all ready!"  Pro Forma, Adam walked Karl over to the table and handed him the menu and wine list, although he really didn't have to look at it.  Neither one changed that much from year to year, although periodically they would get in a new Head Chef with some different specialties, so it was worth browsing the menu to see if that was the case this year.  He was pretty set on having the Surf & Turf though, which was always on the menu regardless who was chef.

Adam walked off, and a couple of minutes later after he had had enough time to do some wine list & menu browsing, the wine steward came over to ask him what he would like to drink, and he chose an Amavi Cellars Cabernet, out of Walla Walla Washington.  He always picked a fairly local wine to go with dinner.

He was still sipping the wine and looking through the menu when Karen came over.

"Nice to see you again Karl!" she said with a bright smile.  "Know what you want for dinner yet".

Karl looked up to see Karen, who had the same stunning combination of jet black hair and bright blue eyes as here mother, although her hair was cut a good deal shorter than Maggie wore her hair.  In fact her hair was even shorter than Karl's, since he tended to let it grow and only trim it through the winter, taking only two haircuts a year in town, one in the spring and another in the fall before winter set in.

"It's great to see you too Karen.  You look so much like your mom…" Karl said wistfully.  "I am so sorry to hear about her passing." he said, taking her hand.

"Thank you Karl.  It was rough.  She wouldn't do chemotherapy or radiation therapy.  She wouldn't go in hospital and she said she was going to die in her own bed."

"That sounds like Maggie, alright." Karl nodded.

"She always talked about you Karl.  She called you "My big flame"." Karen said with a smile.

Tears welled up in Karl's eyes, and he had to wipe them off with his sleeve.  There was an awkwad moment of silence, Karl simply did not know what to say.  Karen broke the silence.

"We all have to move on though…" she said.  "Now, what's for dinner?"

Karl composed himself, closing the menu.  "I'll have the Prime Rib and 2 Lobster Tails.  Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Asparagus." Karl replied, trying to keep back the tears.

Karen brought the meal a few minutes later, and while he ate he let his mind wander back more to the time with Maggie, realizing the empitness her passing had left in him.  He was connected to people, despite his years of solitary living.  Looking into himself, he wondered why he had chosen this path?  Maybe he should have married Maggie?  Maybe he shouldn't have cut himself off from others the way he did?  How could he be so callous?  How could he break her heart this way?

As he finished the meal, Karen came back over to the table.

"Can I get you anything else Karl?" She asked?  "Maybe some Desert?"

"No, I don't think so Karen.  That was quite enough food.  Maybe a cup of coffee though.  I have a decent drive back to my place.  Need to be on my toes on the scooter."

"Sure, I'll go get some java right off!" she replied.

Karen had been in turmoil the whole night, and her emotions were running wild.  She knew this moment would come some time while working at Quinn's and she had tried to steel herself and make ready for it, but even so it had been so hard not to blurt it out when Karl started crying over the loss of Maggie.

Karen brought the coffee back to Karl's table and set it down.  Karl took a sip and smiled.  "Same great Quinn's coffee."

"Karl, can I sit down with you for a minute?" Karen asked.  "I have something to tell you."

"Sure Karen, have a seat." Karl replied, wondering what Karen wanted to say.  What was there really left to say?  There was just the sadness.

Karen sat down, and Karl noted that her hands were trembling.  He reached for his cup to have another sip of coffee, and then Karen told him what she had to say.

"You are my father." she said quietly.

Karl dropped the coffee cup, and the only thing that kept him from falling off his chair was the fact both arms were on top of the table.

"Oh my God." was all he could say.

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Offline RE

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How I Survived Collapse: Chapter 9
« Reply #31 on: December 28, 2016, 05:29:49 AM »

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on December 28, 2016

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"So WTF happened out there Kensoto?" Kareem asked.

"The Skulls and the Storm troopers got into it.  It was a drive by shooting, but the guy they shot had a friend down the street who took out the driver as they were trying to get away. He was carrying serious heat, a .44 Magnum, blew a hole straight through the front windshield, Dirty Harry style. The guys in the car ran for cover, and I was caught in the crossfire.  I managed to get behind a dumpster, and then both sides must have called for backup because two other cars showed up and a bunch of guys on foot.  Bullets were flying everywhere.  The sirens started coming and everyone started running.  I used the confusion to sneak down the alley and get behind the dumpster where Eagle found me."

"Do you think you got snapped by any security cams?" Eagle asked.  "If you did, they're going to be looking for you."

"No, I don't think so, at least no good shots of my face anyhow.  I had my Hoodie pulled over like always when over in that neighborhood."

"Even so, things are going to be really hot for a while, especially if any cops got shot.", Billy Joe remarked.  "You're going to need to lay low for at least a month until it gets sorted out and your arm heals up.  If they pull you in now with that hole in your arm it will defiitely tie you to the shooting."

"B-J is right." Kim added.  "They're also bound to get here eventually in the investigation, although right now they are focused on Skulls and Storm Troopers according to emails I hacked into from the prosecutors office."

"I can probably go down to Atlanta, there's a community of West Africans there.  I think my dad might have some relatives I could stay with.  I'll need some money though."

"No worries about the money, Kensoto.  Terminators got you covered.", Kareem reassured him. "Kim, get a couple of G's out of the safe, that should cover him for a couple of months."

"Somebody's going to have to drive him down.  He can't take a bus or plane out of here now." Jose reasoned.

"I'll do it." Eagle volunteered.

"OK, you guys leave this afternoon at rush hour.  Less chance of being pulled over with a lot of cars on the road.  Once you're out of Montana, you should be OK overnight on the drive.  Remember though, you have Montana plates and they may be on the lookout for those.  I don't want both of you getting caught.  Stay at the speed limit on all the roads.  Kim, can you route it for him?  How many hours to make it there?" Kareem asked.

"Sure, give me a minute…", Kim replied.  "32 hours, 2100 miles, all interstate".

"Too long, Eagle will miss too many classes.  That will look suspicious.", Billy Joe pointed out.

"I could drive him to Portland and he can get a bus out of there. I can be back by morning", Eagle suggested.

"That's a better suggestion.  You'll also need some fake ID.  Kim, we got some ID's, right?"

"Yup.  I'll need to do some picture substititution though and print out the card.  Should be ready in an hour.  It won't pass muster if they check the Bar Code on it though."

"OK, sounds good.  Kensoto, travel light, one backpack of preps.  Kim, give Kensoto another $1000 for busfare and travel expenses. Kensoto, you can buy what you need in Atlanta.  If you can't find relatives to stay with, find a Tent City and hang with the Homeless. Pick up a tent and sleeping bag at Walmart. No motels, no place you need to show an ID if possible. You know the drill.  Blend in, be a Gray Man.  Stay out of trouble.  If you need to communicate, use encryption.  Your own cell phone should be off and in a faraday cage with the battery out. Eagle, your cell phone also should be secured before leaving HQ.  All communication should be via Kim's secure server in Iceland, and all encrypted.  Kim, give Eagle and Kensoto 2 of the secure laptops to use for communications.", Kareem barked out the orders.

"Will do chief", Kim replied.

"OK, everybody but Kim, Kensoto and Eagle, back out on the street like all is normal.  Hopefully they won't roust us here, too busy trying to round up Skulls and Storm Troopers for a few days at least I think.  Kim, keep monitoring the police scanners.  If it looks like they're gonna hit HQ before 3PM, Eagle and Kensoto gotta get the fuck out of Dodge and take their chances before the cops come for a look see."

Kareem looked at Kensoto seriously.  "Kensoto, remember, 2 months is a best case scenario.  If the cops do put out a warrant for your arrest, you'll either have to face it down or you'll have to go underground on a permanent basis.  That will be your choice.  Terminators will support you either way, we'll get you the best Criminal lawyer around if you face it down.  If you wanna stay uderground, we'll help you get some bizness going in another town outside of Montana where you might be recognized.  Drugs, Prostitution, Fencing stolen merchandise, whatever works."

The hours between the end of the morning meeting and afternoon rush hour were tense, both for the Terminators out on the street and for the ones holed up at HQ.  As Kareem had predicted though, the Gestapo was far too busy trying to round up the usual suspects from the Skulls and the Storm Troopers to bother themselves with the Terminators, known to be a pretty small gang and the drive by wasn't in their territory.  3PM rolled around, and Eagle and Kensoto got on the road in the company Nissan Sentra, their "Gray Car" purchased to blend in with other typical cars on the road.  Eagle took on most of the responsibility for the drive to Portland since Kensoto was injured and had only one good arm to steer with, but Kensoto relieved him for a couple of hours at the end so he could nap before having to make the drive back to Missoula.

The two men hugged outside the car as Kensoto pulled his Bugout Bag from the trunk of the Sentra in front of the Portland Bus Station, not knowing when or if they would ever see each other again.

"I owe you my life, Eagle." Kensoto said.

"You owe me nothing Kensoto." Eagle replied. "You are a Terminator.  The Oath demands we are there for each other when the need arises."

"Yes, I know.  I just hope that someday I can be there for you as well."

"You will be Kensoto.  Now, get tough and get going here!  You got a long bus ride ahead of you.  Send us messages when you can get a connection and it is secure enough.  Wait at least a few days.  We'll send messages to your secure email account when we have a better idea of what is going down."

Eagle and Kensoto clasped hands, and the goodbyes were said.  Kensoto went inside the Bus terminal and bought a ticket on the first bus out of town, heading to Los Angeles.  It wasn't on the direct route, but putting more distance between himself and Missoula as fast as possible was more important than waiting for a later bus going more in the right direction.  He paid for the ticket in cash, sat down in the bus terminal to wait, and then caught a few hours of nap time on the bus to LA.  It was a long road ahead to make it to Atlanta.

Eagle got back in the car for the return trip to Missoula.  They had made good time with only one stop for gas and they bought some sandwiches for Kensoto to bring on the bus ride.  His adrenaline was flowing and the drive back was only about 8 hours, but  he coffeed up at the first convenience store and settled in for the ride, although still concerned for Kensoto.  What if it had been him?  Leaving at such short notice from all your friends, not knowing if you would ever make it back, in trouble with the law?  He admired Kensoto's stoicism in the face of all of that in front of him.

As Eagle made it back into Montana in the wee hours of the morning, the newz was all over the radio about the shooting in Missoula. 3 cops shot, 1 dead, 2 in serious condition.  4 Gang Bangers dead, 6 wounded.  Eagle pulled the car into a Flying J truckstop outside of town and accessed their free Wi-Fi with his Secure Laptop, firing off an encrypted message to Kim.

"Back outside Missoula safe. Kensoto off safe in Portland.  Safe to return to HQ?" Eagle sent in text.

A message came back in a few seconds.  Kim was at his station manning the communications as usual, keeping track of all the police scanners and all the emails he had hacks into.  His night had been close to sleepless also.

"Yes, still safe.  Cops still looking for Skulls and Storm Troopers.  Terminators not on the Radar yet.  Bring it home."

"10-4.  Coming in."

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How I Survived the Collapse: Chapter 10
« Reply #32 on: January 11, 2017, 08:06:41 AM »

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Karl was in shock.

A first impulse was to question Karen's declaration, but in his heart he knew it was true.  He had always known it was true, but he had pushed it down and rejected it, as he had rejected Maggie's love for him. He couldn't take responsibility for Karen and live the life of a Solitary Man that he had chosen for himself.  His tears began to flow freely, there was no holding them back now.

"When did you find out?  How long have you known?" Karl finally asked, gathering his composure.

"Mom told me in her last months.  She didn't want to burden you with me and so she married Porter, who I thought was my dad.  Porter turned out to be a philanderer though, always cheating on mom, and she got tired of it.  So she came back to Lolo and back to work at Quinn's.  I never got to know Porter all that well, since I was only 5 or so when they got divorced, and I never saw him afterward.  She never wanted to tell you though, because she knew it would force you into a relationship that wasn't in your nature.  She told me before she died because she thought I should know and make my own decision.  I wasn't sure until I came over to the table I could go through with it, but I had to."

Karl didn't say anything immediately, he was torn with his emotions.  Looking deep inside himself, he cursed himself for his selfishness, and though it was far too late now to make up for it, he was going to do what he could to make it right.

"I am glad you told me Karen.  I believe I knew this, but could never admit it to myself.  We need to talk more.  A LOT more."

"I don't want you to think I expect anything from you.  Mom said it wasn't in your nature to be with others, you mostly like to be alone."

"That was true Karen, and it's how I lived my life, but now I am sorry for it.  I'm not going to live that way anymore.  There are important things happening, and you need to know about them."

"I can't talk now Karl, I have to get back to work."

"When is your next day off?"

Karen pulled out her smart phone to check her calendar.  "mmm, not until Tueday, but I might be able to trade with Theresa and get off Monday."

"See if you can do that." Karl replied.  "let me give you my phone number and email so you can let me know."  Karl wrote down his contact information on a napkin and handed it to Karen.  He couldn't remember the last time he had done that.

"OK." Karen said.  "Here is my contact information."  Karen handed him a business card, titling herself "Engineering Consultant".

Karl smiled.  "Oh that's very professional Karen."

Karen laughed. "Yea.  If I could find somebody to actually consult for, it would be really good!  OK, gotta get back to work.  Emily is covering my tables and I told her I wouldn't be too long."

Karen left the check on the table, which was for a bit over $100, so he left two Ben Franklins on the table, and walked outside to his ZEV, his heart racing.  The night was crisp and clear, but temperatures had dropped so Karl pulled his gloves and windbreaker from the storage compartment under the seat, unplugged from the outlet and flipped on the circuits.

The ride home was smooth and clear with few cars travelling, as it was already close to 9PM and the day travellers had mostly left already, and vacationers at Quinn's were settling into their cabins for the night.  The drive was full of emotions and thoughts, so much to consider.  How could he make up for all the lost years with Karen?  How could he work with Kenny to build a resilient community?  The thoughts were all jumbled, and there was no way to make any sense of them, so he let them go to just enjoy the ride, in the near silence of the ZEV electric motor, humming peacefully as he finished the drive back to his Earthship.

"It will be great to have some visitors finally." Karl thought to himself.  "I'll be able to show them my permaculture garden and my raised beds, and they can meet my goats Keebler & Kookie and my horses Mr. Ed and Pegasus!"

He was feeling great about this until he opened the door and walked inside the Earthship.  The place was a MESS!

Although Karl was quite organized and meticulous with his garden, he wasn't so good about keeping his digs too neat.  Cleaning up could always be left for "tomorrow", although tomorrow didn't come too often for cleanup.  Like many old bachelors, Karl was a slob.

"ACCKKKK!" Karl exclaimed aloud, even though there was no one around to hear him.  "This place is a fucking pig sty!"

Frantically, he started cleaning up, but then realized he was thoroughly exhausted and emotionally drained from the day.  "Tomorrow, I'll clean up tomorrow" he thought to himself.  "I MEAN it this time" he reinforced to himself, and then flopped down on the bed.  His eyes closed and he was off to dreamland in seconds.  As the sleep overtook him, he realized how much his life had changed that day.  He had a new friend in Kenny, another prepper who saw what was coming, although a whole lot younger.  More than that, he had a DAUGHTER!  Everything he had done, all he had built was not for him, it was for HER!  There was only one possible explanation for such improbable events to all happen that day.  It was the Finger of God.  It was his last thought of the night.


Foghorn Leghorn the Rooster awoke him at daybreak, and in half-asleep fashion as usual Karl headed to the coop to see if there were some eggs to collect, and got about a half dozen nice ones.  He dropped them on the counter in the kitchen, got some Maxwell House brewing in the drip coffee maker, then headed on autopilot into the shower to start waking up.  The shower got him about half wakeful, and the Maxwell House did the rest.  He scrambled up 3 eggs with some Moose Sausage and home fries from his potato tower for breakfast, then looked around at the disaster area he had to clean up.  He couldn't remember the last time he had done a full clean up, it had to be at least a decade.  He had two days to get it done!

Well, it wasn't going to get done sitting on his ass, that was for sure.  First up, the Kitchen!  First order of business was his breakfast plate and the skillet he used to cook with, then the stove and oven.  He had all the cleaning supplies needed in his preps, just he never used them. The dust on the can of EZ Off Oven cleaner looked like Pompeii after the ashfall!

Cleaning out the refrigerator was an even more gruesome project.  As he worked toward the back, there were leftovers probably from the Reagan era with entirely new forms of life growing inside.  Well, he thought, at least they will make good compost!  Mopping the floor was another major project to get through the layers of grime to the beautiful terra cotta tiles he had carefully laid down so long ago.  Mopping wasn't enough, he had to get down on his hands and knees to scrub, scrub and scrub some more.  By the end of the morning though, the Kitchen was gleaming like new!

Checking his email over lunch of a salad from his raised beds and a bowl of chicken soup, there was the usual collection of spam and newsletters from stockbrokers, but also a note from Karen.

"It was so great to finally get this off my chest and be able to tell you the truth. You are a sensitive soul, just like mom said.  I spoke with Amelia and she will take my shift on Tuesday?  Where should we meet?"

Karl was tempted to write a long response, but kept it short.  The feelings he had could only be adequately expressed in person, face to face with Karen.

"I also was glad to learn of the truth here Karen.  We have so much to talk about.  I want you to come over to my place on Tuesday, but it is rather hard to find right off, unless you have a good gps.  In any event, I will come to pick you up on Tuesday morning.  Where are you living?  Can you send me the address?"

After deleting the spam and making a couple of minor changes in his portfolio based on the latest and greatest news and recommendations, Karl moved onto the next big project, the bathroom!

The water from his well was rather hard, and the calcification in the toilet was so thick and hard he needed to use a chisel to get it off the porcelain.  Steel wool just wasn't good enough.  The shower curtain had too much mold on it and wasn't worth trying to clean.  It went into his rapidly accumulating bags of garbage to take to the dump, or as he liked to call it, "the land of away".  Despite the fact he had tried to not create a lot of waste of this sort over his life, he still had made his share of it.  All the bubble wrap and blister packaging of items he bought over the years probably would have been a mountain in and of themselves, had he not burned most of that stuff himself.  That contributed still more CO2 to the atmosphere.

How many computers and laptops and peripherals had he gone through since buying his first Radio Shack TRS-80 back in 1977?  It was impossible now to count them all, and each one full of heavy metals and other polluting waste, most of which never really got recycled although he did bring the ones that no longer worked or were obsolete to the recycling center.  How many cars and motorcycles did he go through beginning with his first Ford Mustang Convertible he bought brand spanking new off the showroom floor on credit after getting his first job on Wall Street right after college?  Almost too many of them to count also, although he was pretty sure he remembered them all.  How much gas had he burned in all those vehicles over the years?  That was impossible to calculate.

Karl mused on all of this while scrubbing the toilet and hitting the bathtub and shower and sink with Comet Cleanser, and silently forgave himself for all of it.  He didn't really have much of a choice over all those years, that was the culture and society he was born into, and there wan't really a whole lot of choice along the way.  He couldn't have set up his doomstead without a good deal of money, he couldn't have brought in all the materials he used to build it without a pickup truck, and he couldn't have gone food shopping without a car either!  Although he was probably 50% self sufficient now, even that had taken him years to achieve.  Whether 100% self-sufficiency could be achieved after industrial civilization collapse really took off remained an open question.

Dinner time approached and the bathroom was finally done, sparkling clean now like the kitchen.  He would head into town tomorrow to pick up a new shower curtain, as well as some new bath rugs since the old ones also were beyond salvation.  He made an easy dinner out of a can of Campbell's Chunky Soup, to which he added some frozen tortelloni cheese filled pasta to to fill it out some more, along with sprinkling on top his own goat cheese.

Checking his email once again, there was another message from Karen off her smart phone from work with her address and a query what time he would get there to pick her up?  Karl was eager to get her and easily could have got there by 7AM since Foghorn was crowing usually around 5:30 or so, but he knew she worked pretty late at Quinn's so told her he would pick her up at 10AM, and give her a chance to sleep in a little bit.

Karl worked a little bit more in the evening to get the living room cleaned up.  It wasn't nearly as big a job as the Kitchen and Bathroom had been, but he took time to move furniture around and wax the hardwood floor. Monday's jobs would be his bedroom, office, and the guest bedroom he never used and had become a vast closet of preps.  He would also need to rearrange the garage to fit all those preps, and probably load up a whole lot more garbage to send to the Land of Away at the dump.  He might even have time to wash the windows and spruce up the outside of the earthship, as there were quite a few weeds growing around the place.

With luck, it wouldn't be too embarassing to bring Karen to his place.

Karen.  His daughter.  He shook his head again as the realization once again hit his consciousness.

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How I Survived Collapse: Chapter 11
« Reply #33 on: January 19, 2017, 08:33:43 AM »

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on January 19, 2017

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The dinner with Kirsten had really thrown Kenny for a loop.  He still couldn't quite believe she wasn't playing a practical joke on him, but when she offered him to come back to her dorm room and kissed him goodnight, he had to start thinking it was for real.  He didn't take her up on the offer, not because he was any kind of prude, and even though he hadn't dated much in High School he did have some experience with sex so it wasn't nervousness.  He first "did it" with one of his cousins on a float trip down the Clark's Fork River when they snuck off to go wild berry picking.  Since taking up the landscaping business, he had "got lucky" with a couple of bored housewife MILFs, so he wasn't doing too bad as a Lothario.

The main reason he turned Kirsten down was because of the plans he had made with Karl for the weekend.  He wasn't 100% certain of her yet, and he thought Karl probably would not be comfortable about him bringing another person to see his doomstead yet, even though they had discussed the need to start developing a group of people to occupy the land after TSHTF.  He needed to brainstorm with Karl how to do this but not have it get out of hand.

Prior to heading out to the doomstead, Kenny stopped in at the coffee roaster and bought 5 lbs of a Costa Rican blend he really liked as a gift for Karl, and gave him a call to see if there was anything else he needed from town.  Karl said he should stop and pick up some Dog Food, which seemed odd because Karl hadn't mentioned having a dog when he told him about the chickens and goats and horses.  Why would he skip over the dog?  He also told Kenny he had some really important news for their plans, which really got his curiousity up.  Karl sent him the GPS coordinates for his place so he could come straight over, and they could use that as Home Base for the weekend and he could park there.

Kenny looked up the location on Google Earth to scope it out for an idea of the layout before the drive in, and from low magnification it pretty much just looked like the rest of Lolo National Forest.  Zooming in though, he found the logging roads and then found what appeared to be a clearing on the beginning slope of one of the smaller mountains, and what appeared to be a fence line.  He couldn't make out a cabin though, but figured Karl probably had it hidden under the trees.  Panning around the area, he spied an array of solar panels and 4 large wind turbines.

Following his usal pre-trip checklist for vehicle inspection, Kenny checked the pressure on all the tires on the van and trailer, checked all the lights and signals and made sure all his supplies of fuels were topped off and all the equipment tied down and secure.  Never know when TSHTF would come, and after so much prepping Kenny didn't want to be caught with his pants down at the wrong moment.

The drive to Karl's place went very smoothly, it was almost the same as the drive to his own place, just a few different turns at the end.  The logging roads into Karl's place were a little wider and in better shape than Kenny's, probably they were still used periodically and maintained by Weyerhauser.  Turning into Karl's own road, compared to Kenny's road in it was practically an interstate highway and quite easy to negotiate.  He finally came up on the clearing, and wedged under the trees were a couple of carports, constructed from full logs with a green roof, and covered by the tree canopy basically invisible from the Google Satellite.  Parked under the larger carport was a HUGE Chevy Pickup, another HUGE Chevy SUV and then a small and old Ford Escort which looked really out of place next to these two monsters which were quite new, although the pickup had a few dents.  There was another couple of open ports where he could fit his Van & Trailer, but before doing that he wanted to check with Karl in case he needed them for some other purpose.

Over in the smaller port were Karl's EVs, two small off road scooters, a larger one that he had been on when he visited Kenny, a really massive one that looked like a road racing bike, an electric trike with a dumping bed on the back and an electric Polaris Ranger with a trailer.  They were all plugged in an charging off the Solar PV panels and Wind Turbines Kenny spied up the mountainside.

Kenny whistled to himself, then said to nobody, "Jeezus, what a setup!"

Karl came walking around the pasture fence and waved.

"Yo Kenny! You made it!"

"Yea, not too hard, I scoped it out on Google Earth before I came.  How did you know I was here?"

"Cameras and Motion detectors" Karl replied, pointing at one of the cameras on the carport roof.  Got em everywhere."

Kenny nodded.  "Yea I just ordered some of those from  After you sneaked up on me last week I figured I needed some early warning."

Karl laughed.  "Yah, e-toys are an essential for the paranoid doomer."

"Here, got a present for you." Kenny said opening the back door of the trailer and taking out the bag of Costa Rican coffee beans and handing it to Karl.

"Woa, nice bag!  That should last a few weeks!"

"Also got the Dog Food." Kenny said pointing to two large 50 lb bags.  "You didn't mention having a dog last week."

"That's because last week I didn't have one.  My old Labrador retriever died a couple of years ago.  Just got a new one, sort of anyhow."

"So is that the big new surprise you mentioned?"

"Umm, well part of it.  My daughter is here also.  She's up in the house."

"WHAT?  I though you said you weren't ever married and didn't have any kids!" Kenny exclaimed.

"That's what I thought last week.  I found out about her right after I left your place.  I went over to my favorite hangout Quinn's Lodge.  She's the daughter of a waitress there I used to have a relationship with back in the day, when the hormones were still a driving force."

"You're sure she's really yours?" Kenny asked.

"Oh yea, I'm sure.  I really knew it all along subconsciously, but I wouldn't let myself admit it."

"Well that does make things a little different, that's for sure. " Kenny mused, wondering to himself if he should bring up his meeting with Kirsten.  Since he still wasn't sure of her yet, this probably was not the right time, so he held off.

"What about the Dog Food?  Should I bring a bag up to the house?  Where IS the house anyhow?  I couldn't find it on Google Earth."

"Oh, it's not very visible from the air.  It's an Earthship."

Kevin nodded, he was quite familiar with the technique, it was discussed often on the Doomstead Diner.  He even considered building one of these on his own property, but if he was going to put a permanent structure there, he had decided ona Monolithic Dome instead.

"Earthships are very cool." Kenny said, hoisting one of the dog food bags onto his shoulder.

"Throw the dog food on the trike Kenny.  You can sit on top of it in the bed and I'll drive us up to the house.  Bit of a walk for carrying 50 lbs, even for somebody in your physical condition."

"That sounds good." Kenny replied, throwing both the bags onto the bed of the ZEV Trike.

Karl unplugged the trike and they headed quickly around the pasture and up toward the Earthship.  Kenny thought how good it would be to have one of these on his landscaping jobs.  He could probably pull a 60" mower attachment with it and handle some bigger properties.  They arrived at the front door in about a minute, and Kenny had to whistle again as they came up on the huge expanse of glass and the house embedded carefully in the side of the mountain.

"Holy SHIT Karl!  This place is HUGE!  How long did it take to build?  That's a LOT of excavation work!"

"I built most of it over the first 10 years." Karl replied. "I didn't dig it out by hand, I cheated on that one and used a Caterpillar backhoe and front end loader.  I did a lot of finishing work afterward though, and there's always some new project to undertake.  A prepper's work is never done!" Karl laughed.

Karen came out of the house along with Huckleberry, and Kenny instantly knew that she was in fact Karl's daughter.  She had the same piercing blue eyes and the same high cheekbones and jaw.  About the only thing different was her hair was jet black and Karl's had gone gray, but he surmised that in his youth Karl probably had that same hair color.

"Hi Kenny!" Karen said with a big smile.  "Karl has told me a lot about you!  Seems you turned his whole attitude around and that's what got him over to Quinn's."

Kenny nodded, and kicked the dirt a bit.  "Meeting Karl changed my thinking a lot too.  Seems like things are changing for all of us really fast."

Karen spied the dog food on the bed of the trike, and so did Huckleberry.  "Hey, we better get these bags into the pantry before Huckleberry tears into them!" she exclaimed, easily hoisting one of the bags onto her shoulder.  Karen had the powerful arms and strong shoulders and lats that came from years as a whitewater kayaker.  Kenny was impressed with the ease with which she lifted the uwieldy 50 lb bag, and then himself lifted the other one, trying to make it look as easy.  His work in Landscaping and his daily workouts pumping iron at the Fitness club had built a lot of muscle as well, but Karen had a good 4" in height on him, looking close to 6' tall.  Testosterone made up the difference there though, and they were about equal in strength.

Once the dog food was safely in the pantry and away from Huckleberry's inquisitive nose, Karl set about brewing up some Java in the kitchen and Kenny and Karen sat down in the living room to chat.

"So you're another doomer like my dad, he told me."

"Yea, I've been a doomer since Junior High, when I started reading the Doomstead Diner."

"Dad told me about that blog.  Said I had to read up, so I've been reviewing it the last few days.  What a load of reading material to work through!  There's more in there than my whole college reading list!"

Kenny laughed.  "Yea, you won't get through it all in a few days, that's for sure."

"What I did read is pretty sobering though.  I mean, I knew we were in bad shape economically and that we elected an imbecile for President, but I had no idea the whole of Industrial Civiliation was teetering on Collapse."

"It's pretty depressing when you first realize it.  Lots of people become very nihilistic and misanthropic once they get it.  Reading RE's philosophy helped me stay out of that trap.  Once I started prepping up, it gave me a purpose and something positive to be doing.  Maybe it's all gonna end, but it won't happen overnight and in the meantime I would like to live a while longer."

Karl came over with the coffee and sat down on the large Italian leather recliner Kenny and Karen had left open for him, sitting themselves on the matching Italian leather couch.  The whole living room set faced the large open fireplace, and above that was a brand new 72" OLED Monitor and TV.  Although Karl spent most of his researching time in his office, often before going to sleep he would sit in the recliner or lay down on the couch and do a little more net surfing, or watch one of his favorite old movies from his DVD collection, like Last of the Mohicans or the Outlaw Josey Wales.

"Yup, even I would like to live a little longer, especially now that you two showed up in my life!  Now we have at least a start on a community!" Karl said, his eyes sparkling with a glow that had not been there the last week when Kenny met him.

"I've been thinking about that all week Karl." Kenny said."There are a couple of folks I landscape for who I think would be good additions, and some people I know from High School also."

Karen chipped in as well.  "I think there are good people at Quinn's too that we could bring in. Big John for one, Roger who runs the rafting adventures and a bunch of the kitchen and wait staff."

Karl mused.  "I'm concerned though about moving too fast on this.  Even if all these people are good people, if we let on too early about our Doomstead, the location will get out to many other people.  This land area can only support so many, 200 or 300 with my land and Kenny's possibly, and more if you count National Forest land.  I don't want to be inundated with 1000s of people showing up when TSHTF."

Kenny shook his head in agreement.  "Yea, I think we only want to tell people we are very sure of right now that we even have a place, and if we bring anyone here, they shouldn't know exactly where it is…"Kenny's mind was racing now, thinking about how to bring Kirsten out to the Doomstead.  "I could bring some people out in the back of my van, it doesn't have windows.  They wouldn't know exactly where it was."

"The problem with that is though, if we don't tell people about it NOW and they don't know how to find where we are when TSHTF, even if they know we want to establish a sustainable community, how will we do it?  They won;t know how to find us or how to contact us." Karen questioned.

"Karen is right about that. We have a Catch-22 problem here.  If we tell too many people about it now, and information spreads via the net and social media, we could be inundated.  If we don't pass out information now and TSHTF, the right people won't be able to find us." Karl added in clarification.

Kenny frowned.  "That problem is a real bear. I'm not sure how to fix that."

A few minutes of silence ensued, and a few refills of coffee were undertaken as Kenny, Karl and Karen contemplated on this problem.  Karen finally spoke up.

"Maybe we should contact RE on the Diner?  Maybe he will have an idea.  From what I have read so far, he thinks outside the box all the time and comes up with some pretty novel ideas to problems like this."

"That's not a bad idea at all Karen. " Karl replied.  "Kenny, do you want to contact RE or should I?  Send him a PM maybe."

"I'm not sure Karl, which way do you think would be more secure?  I can send off an encrypted message and use a public Wi-Fi server in Missoula, and route it through some Proxy Servers.  RE put up his Public Key for GPG4USB 256 bit encryption, I can send him my Public Key and get a communication going." Kenny suggested.

"That sounds better than what I could do from here Kenny.  You should make the contact with RE."

"OK, I'll do that next week." Kenny agreed. "Now, I've got some projects for this weekend.  I want to go up to a Lean-to I built in Lolo National Forest and see how it is doing and get it spruced up for Hunting season.  I want to go for a Big Horn Sheep this year."

"Big Horns are tough to get Kenny, and even tougher to pack out the meat.  Getting it all back to the Doomstead is not a one person job."

"I figured to do the butchering and smoking up at the lean-to, then just pack it down a bit at a time." Kenny replied.

"That might work, but still a lot of trips if you want to get the hide and bones and make the most use of the animal possible.  I'm no good for packing out that much meat, my knees are too messed up.", Karl said.

"I could help pack it out dad." Karen offered.

Karl brightened considerably with this suggestion.  "Yes!  That could work.  I could also ride up about halfway there on Mr. Ed with a travois, so you would only have to pack down to where I can still ride to.  How far do you think it is from where you have the lean to set up to where a horse and travois could make it?", Karl asked, even though he already knew.  He didn't want to let on to Kenny that he had been up to the lean-to and improved on it.  Mr. Ed was able to negotiate the trip there to within 500 feet of the climb up.  The last 500' were tough on Karl's knees, but with some icing each night and some ibuprofen and occassional percocet, not intolerable.

"I'm not sure.", Kenny replied.  "Maybe within 1000' I guess.  I haven't done any horseback riding, so not sure what a horse can negotiate on these slopes."

"I can ride Kenny.  Why don't we take a trip up to it this afternoon to see about planning for this hunt." Karen said.  "Where is it?"

Kenny pulled out his Samsung Galaxy Mega and brought up Google Earth with his encrypted & stored location information for the lean-to, then zoomed out to show where Karl's place was relative to the lean-to.

"Oh, I know that area." Karl said.  "The horses can make it most of the way.  The off road ZEV electric not quite so far up.  Karen can ride Mr. Ed and I will ride Quick Draw.  You can ride my ZEV.  You'll have to foot it a ways longer than us, but not that far, maybe a 1/2 mile.

"AWESOME!" Kenny replied.  "I sure hope it held up since I left it.  I have some sutff in the trailer to do improvements."

Karen was excited about the trip.  Even though she was brand new to doomerism, anything in the outdoors was a great pleasure for her.  Kenny was also really cute and smart, even though he was a few years younger.  Very likable guy, unlike most of the guys she had dated in college.

Karl and Karen went out to the barn and got Mr. Ed and Quick Draw saddled up for the ride, and Kenny got his tools and hardware out of the trailer.  They loaded the stuff onto travois pulled by the two horses and a small trailer that the ZEV could pull along the route.  They also packed along some sandwiches of Goat Cheese and Hardboiled Eggs for lunch while on the mountain, and got underway.

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How I Survived Collapse: Chapter 12
« Reply #34 on: January 27, 2017, 02:48:36 AM »

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Published on The Doomstead Diner January 27, 2017

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Karen's anticipation of spending the day with her biological father at last kept her from getting to sleep the night before, and then she popped out of bed early at 7AM, despite the fact Karl wasn't coming until 10.

There was always a lot of speculation around Quinn's as to what Karl really did for a living, whenever he was asked he would just reply, "I'm a financial advisor".  Karen's mom Maggie had shared the exploits of their trip to Las Vegas and all the money Karl won at the Black Jack tables, so there was a good deal of speculation he was a professional gambler, or had been in the past.  Others speculated he was a Billionaire Recluse like Howard Hughes.  Whatever he was, he never seemed to be short of money to spend at Quinn's, and he always was driving really nice pickup trucks or motorcycles, before he got into the electric scooters.

Karen took her dog Huckleberry out for a run to work out some of the nerves and keep the big Siberian Husky in shape.  Huckleberry was a great dog her mom got her for her 16th birthday, and Maggie looked after her while Karen was in college at UoW.  Now at 7 years old she was in her prime, and gave Maggie a real run for her money when they were out on the trail together.  Huckleberry was faster in a sprint, but Maggie had more endurance and could wear her down on a long enough run.  Huckleberry also wasted a lot of energy, often sprinting ahead then doubling back, or running off trail to investigate whatever seemed interesting to investigate.

Despite the cool weather of an early spring morning in the Montana mountains, by the time they got back to Karen's duplex condo in Lolo that Maggie had left to her, she was covered in sweat and Huckleberry was panting hard.  She took a nice long shower, and then made her usual breakfast of french bread and cheese, two hardboiled eggs and thinly sliced nova scotia smoked salmon with capers on top. Huckleberry got her favorite dog food meal, Taste of the Wild Southwest Prairie, and Karen wondered about whether Karl would want Huckleberry along for the visit?  She had forgetten to mention her, and it was a little late to ask now.  If not, she could leave Huckleberry out in the small yard out behind the duplex in her doghouse.  Huckleberry was used to this, as she often had to spend time alone in the yard by herself, both while Maggie was at work and then now Karen.  Huckleberry had trouble figuring out what happened to Maggie, although she knew that Maggie was sick and had stayed by her bedside until she passed into the Great Beyond.  It was the only death of a loved one Huckleberry had ever seen though, so it was hard to figure out why Maggie wasn't there the next day and never came back.  Karen was very familiar though even though she hadn't seen her too often while in college, but she remembered well playing with her when she was a puppy.  So the adustment wasn't that hard, and after a month or so Huckleberry settled back into her old routines, other than the fact she got a lot more running and exercise in with Karen than she had with Maggie.  That was a lot of fun.

Promptly at 10 AM, Karl pulled up in front of the condo, driving an enormous nearly brand new 2017 Chevy Suburban, loaded with all the latest and greatest electronic gizmos like wi-fi and bluetooth as well as gps and a backing camera system.  Tacked on the front steel protective grate was a 12,000 lb Warn winch and air compressor as well.

"Jeez Karl, that car is a BEAST!" Karen remarked coming out front to greet him.  "I thought you only drive electric vehicles?  I would have figured you for a Tesla."

"Nah,  If you want some real power, you gotta go with an internal combustion engine.  My two wheelers are all electric now and I have some small electric work vehicles, but for carting stuff back and forth to my place I've got this and a Chevy C4500 Kodiak pickup truck.  I figured this would be a nicer ride since the Kodiak is a couple of years old and a little beat up now.  Still smells brand new!" Karl said with a smile.  "So you got any gear you want to bring along."

"Yeah, I have a bag packed with some stuff.  I was wondering though, would it be OK to bring along my dog Huckleberry?  Do you like dogs?" Karen asked.

"Oh sure, I love animals.  I've got chickens and goats and a couple of horses. A couple of outside cats too Felix and Garfield who periodically show up. No dog right now, my Labrador Scooby Doo died a couple of years ago and I haven't got a new one yet.  He was around for 15 years and I haven't been able to replace him yet.  Maybe this year though…"

"Wow Karl, that's quite a menagerie!" Karen exclaimed.  "I'll go in and get my bag and some stuff for Huckleberry.  Be back out in a jiffy!"

Karen returned quickly with a small daypack and Huckleberry who followed along right on her heel with no leash.  Huckleberry eyed the Suburban somewhat suspiciously, it was way bigger than the Ford Escort that Karen drove.  However, when Karen pointed in the back and ordered "IN", Huckleberry made the jump up into the rear compartment.  "Good Grief, this car is even bigger than my doghouse!" Huckleberry though in amazement.

"Do you have a leash for Huckleberry?" Karl asked as they got in the front seat of the Suburban.

"Yea, its in my bag but I don't think I'll need to put it on her.  Shes a good dog and doesn't run off.  Although, she hasn't been around chickens and goats, so no telling there."

"So Karl, when was the last time you had anyone come out to your place?"  Nobody at Quinn's has ever been there, even my mom never got out there.  She said when you guys were together that you either bought a cabin at Quinn's or stayed at her place."

"Oh, it's been a long time Karen, I had a friend with a cabin nearby who came over while he was living near me, but he moved up to Canada after 9-11.  Before that even longer, right after I moved to the property in the 1970s one of my cousins came to visit.  She wasn't too impressed and thought I was off my rocker.", Karl laughed.  "Never came back.  It wasn't as well built up as it is now though.  Hope it doesn't put you off the way it did her."

"Oh, I'm sure it's beautiful Karl.", Karen replied, silently wondering to herself what the place was really like.  Maybe it was some kind of Underground Bunker?  Karl was well known by everyone at Quinn's to be a Doomer preparing for TEOTWAWKI, or "The End of the World as We Know It".

Still, if he had chickens and goats and horses, the whole thing couldn't be underground, Karen reasoned to herself.  Keeping all those animals underground was a mind boggling idea, although the engineer in her started to calculate how much space would be needed and how to power it all up.

"So how big is it Karl?  Like how many acres?"

"Oh, it's pretty big." Karl replied, declining to put numbers to it specifically.

Karen laughed.  "Karl everybody at Quinnl's knows THAT!  Could you be a little more specific?"

Karl smiled.  "You'll see."


As Karl finally brought the Suburban to a halt, Karen remarked, "You are right Karl.  This would have been tough to find, even with a GPS."

Getting out of the car and looking around, she could see some raised beds and potato towers, and some split rail fencing with a pasture and some goats &  mangalitsa pigs nosing around, but at first did not spy either Karl's house or the barn.  Maybe he did live underground after all?"

"So Karl, where do you actually live?  You got some kind of Bunker or something?"

Karl laughed.  "No not quite, only about half undergound.  It's an Earthship, and its built into the side of the mountain.  You can't really see it from this angle.  Follow me around the fence here.

Walking around the fence line, at first Karen saw nothing, but then focusing her eyes as they came around about 90 degrees from where they parked, she spied it.  Built in to the side of the mountain with all glass facing to the south was what looked to be a Hobbit House on steroids, it appeared to be around 200' long with windows popping out of the ground in various places, and no real idea how deep into the mountainside it had been cut.

"Good grief Karl, that place is HUGE!"

"Oh, it's not that big." Karl replied.  "It only goes in about 30' at the deepest and part of it serves as a barn for the horses and goats and a chicken coop. Then some storage areas for preps."

Karen shook her head in disbelief.  Not only was the Earthip immense despite Karl's downplaying it, looking around the pasture and counting in the driveway, there had to be at least 50 acres, if not 100.

"You must have 50 acres at least here Karl." she said.

"Oh no, more than that." Karl pointed up the mountain behind the Earthship.  "See up there?  That's mine too."

Up the slope of the mountain about 1000 feet Karen could see what he was pointing at.  There was a large solar Array and 4 large commercial grade Wind Turbines on Towers.  Karen's eyes opened wide.

"You own all of that?" she asked incredulously.

"Oh yes, everything on this side of the mountain and down the other too.  It's Karl's Mountain.  At least that's what the property deeds say while BAU holds up and I can pay the taxes on it anyhow."

"So all the folks at Quinn's who speculated you're some kind of eccentric billionaire were right?"

"Oh hell no, not that loaded.  Not sure what the whole portfolio is worth these days, and some of it is not too liquid either, like the land itself.  Maybe $100M."

"Well, that's still fucking rich Karl!".

"Nah, I'm just Upper Middle Class.  You gotta have at least $10B these days to be considered rich."

"Yea, right.", Karen remarked, rolling her eyes.

"Come on inside, lemme show you around the place." Karl said.  He was feeling much better now, since Karen was clearly impressed with the place.  Living the kind of isolated life he did, he didn't really feel all that rich, although he knew by the numbers that he was.  Mainly he just felt like he had done pretty well financially over the years.

Walking inside and looking at the polished wood floors and sparkling clean kitchen all lit up by the big windows, it looked like a showpiece from Better Homes & Gardens.  Karen took pride in keeping her Duplex clean and neat, but this took it to a whole new level.

"You're a great housekeeper Karl!  Not too many single men are so tidy!"

"Uh, yea, sometimes." Karl coughed. His knees were still sore from the hours spent scrubbing the tiles in the kitchen and bathroom.

"Would you like a snack or something to drink?"

"I had a pretty big breakfast this morning, not too hungry yet. A cup of coffee would be nice though if you have some."

"Oh sure, I'll brew some right up.  It's just Maxwell House, I don't get into town much to buy fresh coffe beans."

"Maxwell House is fine Karl, I'm not too picky." Karen laughed.  "Mind if I check out the rest of the house while you make the coffee?"

"Sure." Karl replied.  "Make yourself at home. My home is your home."  The words spilled out of his mouth almost without conscious thought, and the warmth he felt as he said them was something he had never before experienced in his life.

"Uhhh, well, is it OK for me to start calling you "Dad", instead of Karl?" Karen asked nervously.

Karl felt the joy in his heart overflowing, and the tears of that joy followed closely behind.

"Yes Karen, that's OK if you want to.  It's going to take me a while to get used to that though."


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How I Survived Collapse: Chapter 13
« Reply #35 on: February 02, 2017, 02:32:34 AM »

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Published on The Doomstead Diner February 2, 2017

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Karl & Karen got Mr. Ed and Quick Draw saddled up, and Kenny attached the custom trailer that Karl had built for the ZEV off road scooter, throwing in some supplies and tools he had brought with him in his own trailer.

While he had built the original structure of the Lean-To out of all local and natural materials and stone tools he made himself, Kenny wasn't a slave to being a primitivist rewilder.  Mainly he was just practicing his skills.  He decided he would finish it off with the help of Industrial tools and products, purchased at Home Depot.  As long as the place was there and up and running, it only made CFS (Common Fucking Sense) to use the stuff while he could still get it.  Making lashings out of strips of bark worked fine, but Zip Ties would be a lot faster!  Hacking down a sapling with a stone axe wasn't that hard, but it would go faster, easier and neater using his Li-I battery powered Ryobi Reciprocating Saw, Circular Saw and Drill.  Those went in the trailer too, along with some extra batteries, a few assorted hand tools and some hardware.

Kenny pulled the ZEV up next to the paddock, and Karl and Karen soon joined him mounted on Mr. Ed and Quick Draw.  Both were sturdy quarter horses bred for work and pulling loads rather than great speed.  Huckleberry had been running back and forth between Quick Draw and Mr. Ed the whole time they were saddling up, and the animals had quickly become fast friends.  Huckleberry decided quickly that both horses were clearly friends of Karen, and so needed her protection too. Huckleberry would not let anyone threaten Karen or her friends, if they did, they would see the other side of Huckleberry, the MEAN side that would take no prisoners.  She would protect them as though they were her own puppies, and any assailants would regret the day they were ever born when the jaws of the big Siberian Husky closed around the soft neck and sent them to the Great Beyond.

"OK! Let's get on the Trail!", Karl said gleefully.  He couldn't wait to see Kenny's reaction when he saw the improvements he had made to the Lean-To.  Also, just the experience of being out on a beautiful spring day in the Montana Mountains on Mr. Ed together with his DAUGHTER (he still had trouble believing this) and a Prepper and fellow Diner Lurker was enough to make him positively gleeful.  He could almost forget that Industrial Civilization was collapsing all around them and all days in the future would not be so wonderful as this one.  However, he was alive at this moment, not in the future, and this day was one he would store in his memory bank to help make it through the tough days coming down the pipe.

Kenny pulled out his Magellan GPS to plot out the route to the lean-to, but Karl waved him off.

"No need for the GPS Kenny, I know how to get there from here.  I know that location you pointed out on Google Earth."

Kenny shook his head in disbelief.  Karl knew the territory so well that one look at Google Earth and he knew how to get there, without a GPS or even using a compass?

"You can guide from here to there without a GPS or even a compass Karl?  That's amazing!"

"I've been living up here for 40 years Kenny.  There isn't a square inch of this territory I haven't walked or ridden over at some point, and that spot is a regular one for me.  It's a great position for spotting Big Horn, you chose it well."

Kenny flushed with pride at the compliment from Karl.  He had hiked around quite a while to find that spot, which both had good visibility for around 270 degrees and enough dwarf size trees to give the Lean-to some protection from the wind.  He crossed his fingers that the structure was still up, there had been some decent T-storms since he last visited it, and it would be depressing and a lot of work to reconstruct if it was knocked down.  Not to mention embarassing in front of Karen, who was starting to get his hormones flowing as he looked at her sitting comfortably and in control of Quick Draw.  Quick Draw was a magnificent specimen of the American Quarter Horse breed, standing over 16 hands tall and weighing close to half a ton.  Karen herself was close to 6 feet tall and her years of whitewater kayaking gave her an upper body physique that most men could only dream of having, powerful shoulders and biceps that rippled with the muscle sinew.  While Quick Draw was a great quarter horse though, Karen was even MORE appealing!

Karl had been a little dishonest with Kenny, in reality he probably could not have routed there without GPS or compass had he not spent a few weeks travelling back and forth there every day to spruce up the Lean-To.  But he wanted to surprise Kenny with that, and he also didn't want to waste time with the stupid routing of the GPS, which didn't account for terrain features that the ZEV off road scooter could handle, or even some spots the horses could not traverse.  He had to ride the route several times before he could find a decent enough trail where he could get within 500 vertical feet of the lean-to on Mr. Ed pulling a travois.  Those last 500' were the toughest for Karl, his knees were not too happy about climbing these days.

Karl led the Convoy across the back country, although Huckleberry often went scooting out in front to make sure the trail was clear of other predators, doing Recon for the patrol.  Kenny had some trouble riding the scooter slow enough to stay behind the horses, and occassionally had to drop his feet down and slide them along the dirt and grass to keep balanced.   While the scooter had nice knobby tires that gave good traction, it really wasn't designed or capable of making transitions over big obstacles, high grades or cliff faces or even streams with water depth much over 6".  Like all wheeled vehicles, they are only really functional on flat ground, preferably with Roads designed for their travel.  Thus in really mountainous areas, wheeled vehicles never were developed, even after the development of metallurgy necessary for durable wheels, hubs and axles.

What did strike Kenny as curious was that the trail Karl was guiding them on appeared to be somewhat worn, like it had been travelled somewhat regularly by animals or people.  He periodically checked his GPS, and while it was not on the direct route suggested by the Magellan, it was weaving in and out around it pretty closely.  Why was there such a trail from Karl's Doomstead to the lean-to?  Kenny concluded this must be because Karl himself travelled this route, he had said that he had been to the spot before.

Karl and Karen were able to ride the horses closer than Kenny to the lean to, and Karen was able to make it up there easily before Karl, who trudged up the slope slowly, his knees aching every step of the way.  Kenny had almost a 1/2 mile to traverse on foot after parking the scooter and was well behind them, but almost caught up to Karl on his way up the slope because Karl's progress was so slow on this last stretch up.

Kenny reached the campsite sweating fairly profusely, as he had run most of the last half mile with a 50 lb pack of tools and batteries on his back and then climbed upward as fast as he could to catch up with Karl.  When he reached the campsite, he was SHOCKED.  Not only had his lean to not been knocked down, it wasn't even the lean-to he built!  It had solid posts driven into the ground, and it had a thatched roof impermeable to rain.  The walls had been mudded and were virtually impenetrable to wind.  There was a Wind Shield and Break in front of the fire ring to prevent smoke from blowing into the lean-to.  There were two meat drying racks leaning against the interior wall of the lean-to ready for use by the fire to dry freshly butchered meat!

Kenny was briefly confused, but then it quickly dawned on him.

"Karl!  You did this!  When did you get up here, when did you find it?"

Karl laughed.  "Hell, I watched you build it to begin with!  I was right over there, watching through my Zeiss Binoculars and Nikon Spotting Scope." Karl informed Kenny, pointing across to his own mountain, just a mile away on the back side.  After you packed up your camp earlier this spring, I came up here to spruce it up as a gift."

The gratitude and depth of friendship for Karl he felt on hearing this was enormous, tempered only by the fact it worried him how easily Karl was able to watch him without himself ever knowing of Karl's presence.  While having a friend and fellow Diner around was a big positive, getting used to the fact that trying to stay completely invisible was impossible was a bit difficult.

Kenny inspected the reconstructed lean-to and shrugged his shoulders.  "Well, I guess I pulled all the tools up the hill for nothing.  This fucking thing is solid as a rock."

"Actually no, there is quite a bit more we can do to improve this." Karl replied.  "Getting stuff up and down from this perch is quite the pain in the ass, especially with bad knees. I had a hell of a time getting the bigger posts up here, I had to use some pullies and block and tackle and it was still a hell of a workout.  Packing down a few hundred pounds of meat might be a bit easier, but not much."

"So what are you suggesting dad?" Karen asked, her engineer brain working furiously.

"Well, I thought we might try to construct a more permanent system than the pulleys I used, sort of like a cable car maybe, or a funicular railroad.  Just not sure how to lay it out and hook it up yet, or which would be the better choice.", Karl replied.

Karen's sparkling blue eyes lit up like they were on fire.  "YES!  We could build that" she said eyeing the terrain.  " I think a 2 part system would work.  We can lay some track for a funicular railroad up that stretch over there…" she said, pointing at the steep part from where the horses were, "…then we could run cable back to where Kenny parked the bike."

"What if the Rangers find it?" Kenny brought up.  "This is National Park Land, not our land."

"Highly unlikely the rangers find it, all the public trails they patrol are on the other side of the park.  However, it is possible that some of the other hunters who use this part of the park will run across it, although there are not too many of them and I know most of them."

"We still need to disguise it well though." Karen remarked.

"We should make the arrangement portable and disassemblable." Kenny suggested.  "We can cut saplings to use as rails and stack them along with brush along the route, and place them down when we need them.  We can string the cable only when we are using it, long as we have the attatchment points fixed."

"Yea, that would work." Karen said.  "We just need to clear the route for the funicular railroad and identify the trees we will use to fix attachment points for the cable system."

With a new project to undertake, Karl, Kenny and Karen began to scope out the route and begin the clearing for the railroad.  Karen got the route laid out, and Kenny went down the slope to find decent size saplings to use for rails, cutting them down to uniform 8' lengths and dragging them back up the hill.  Karl busied himself on the bottom part of the slope back to the ZEV to figure out a cable route that would work, which unfortunately had a couple of pretty large Western Red Cedars that would need to be worked around in some fashion.  Either they had to be cut down, or the cable would have to have a couple of joints in it.

"I don't think cutting them down is a good idea at this point Karl.  It would make it too obvious we have disturbed the forest.  Removing the stumps or grinding them down out here would be about impossible." Kenny said once informed of the problem.

"Kenny is right." Karen observed.  "We'll just have to cable in sections and transfer loads across the connections.  It will slow it down some, but still be a hell of a lot faster than packing shit up and down the slope."

By sunset all three were pretty exhausted, and they got back on the trail to Karl's doomstead.  Not much of the railroad and cable system had been constructed, there was still a lot of work to be done there, and a good deal of hardware would be necessary to purchase at Home Depot.  Over dinner of BBQ Moose Ribs and Baked Potatoes from Karl's Potato Towers slathered in Goat Butter and sprinkled with Bear Bacon Bits, they composed a shopping list for hardware that Kenny would purchase at Home Depot the following week.  Kenny would have purchased all the materials himelf with his JP Morgan Chase Debit Card from his bizness account and taken the tax deduction for the pruchases, but Karl would not agree to that and handed Kenny 5 Benjamins from his safe to help with the prepping.  Advantage in going all cash on this was there would be no record of the purchases or who made them.

Karl was most beat after dinner and around 10 pm excused hiself to hit the hay.  Kenny and Karen seemed to like each other too, so maybe there was a romance possible for them, Karl thought?  Best to leave the young folks to themselves to work this stuff out, and step out of the way.

"Damn, that was a hell of a day and a lot of fun!" Karen remarked to Kenny as they sat on the couch in front of the fireplace.  "Doomerism isn't all that depressing when you are working and planning!"

Kenny laughed.  "Yea I discovered that when I was in Junior High.  Life goes on, until it doesn't anymore.  That happens to everyone, regardless of a collapse.  You have to live your life for the now, and do the best you can to plan for your future, whatever it might be.  I have no control over what went on here before I was born, and I don't know what will happen after I die either.  For right now though, things are in a pretty pitiful state, so to me the best thing to do is to spend my energy getting ready for worse times to come."

Karen's rapid exposure to the world of doomers between her father, Kenny and the material she had so far read on the Doomstead Diner was pretty overwhelming, and despite her urge to flirt more with Kenny and invite him to sleep with her, she resisted.  She definitely didn't want Karl to think she was a slut who would sleep with any guy she met for sure!

"I'm pretty beat Kenny, and I have to work at Quinn's tomorrow.  I'm going to turn in." Karen said, finishing the last of a Rum and Coke.

"OK Karen, sleep tight.  See you in the morning for breakfast!" Kenny replied.  He was very attracted to Karen and wanted to make a pass at her, but he still was thinking about Kirsten too.  It was so much easier in High School when he barely dated at all, now he had two females bouncing inside his hormone driven brain, and they both seemed lovely and luscious, although in different ways.  It wasn't easy getting too sleep as headed out to the van for the night's rest.  As he drifted off to sleep, his final thoughts were the old saw, "Women.  Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em."

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How I Survived Collapse: Chapter 14
« Reply #36 on: February 08, 2017, 02:56:58 AM »

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Waiting for the bus out of town in Portland was nerve racking for Kensoto, but buying the ticket went smoothly and the clerk only glanced at the fake driver's license that Kim had forged, using an Atlanta address and the Georgia format.  The license wouldn't do him any good if he was driving and pulled over by a Trooper and it was checked against the Georgia database, but for typical tasks like buying bus tickets, beer or a cheap motel room, it was just fine.

Once on the bus, he blended in well, most of the other passengers were either Black or Latino, with just a few White Trash sprinkled in.  Bus travel was the main transport for the underclass, particularly for undocumented migrants.  Once in Los Angeles, he once again had a wait for the next bus heading for Denver, and after buying his ticket he elected not to wait in the Bus Station, where he might be accosted by a Gestapo agent.  He left the station and took a local bus over to a movie theater to catch a film, and then to a Wendy's for a meal.  He headed back to the bus station about 20 minutes before the bus was due to depart, and once again had no issues.  Listening to the news reports on the Radio, there was nothing about the shootings in Missoula on the National Newz as of yet, so he began to calm down and was able to get some shut-eye on the bus to Denver.

From there it was on to Indianapolis, then Pittsburgh and finally on to Atlanta.  He was pretty exhausted after all the days of travel trying to sleep in the bus seats, but dragged himself over to a library where he finally turned on his secure smartphone and laptop to get on the internet and fire off an encrypted message to Kim via the Iceland server that he had made it to Atlanta safely.  Kim fired back a message with a couple of names and addresses of relatives that Kensoto's parents had furnished him, and let him know there was ongoing investigation of the shoot-em-up, but so far the Terminators had not been rousted.

Rather than calling his relatives looking like a disheveled mess, even though it was slightly risky Kensoto elected to take a Bates Motel Room in a Motel 6 where Tom Burdett had left the light on for him, and a few cockroaches also.  Still, the bed was fairly comfortable and did not seem to be infested with bed bugs, and he needed a good night's sleep and a shower.  He stopped at Walmart on the way to the motel and bought a couple of changes of clothes and an airline size carry-on Wheely bag to supplement the small Bugout Bag Backpack he had travelled with.

After checking in, Kensoto took a quick shower and changed into one of the fresh sets of clothes purchased at Walmart.  Then over to the Bates Motel laundry to wash the clothes he had been sleeping in for the last week, which were pretty stinky by this point.  While the clothes were in the washer, he took a walk across the street to the Popeye's Fried Chicken and bought a 5 piece Spicy Chicken Tenders dinner with  a side of Red Bean & Rice and 2 Jalapeno Peppers and a large Coke as takeout.  Returning back to the motel and almost getting run over by a bus trying to cross the 4 lane secondary road, he dropped off his food in the room and then went over to the laudry room to shift his clothes into the dryer, depositing another dozen Quarters into the slots to get that running.

Returning back to his room, Kensoto flipped on the TV to see if he could find anything to watch while consuming the Popeye's meal, but after futiley punching through more than 100 channels, the best he could do was an Infomercial on Weight Loss featuring some skinny girls doing Yoga.  So he left it on that while eating, then went back to collect his now industrially cleaned and dried clothing and folded it then packed it into the recently purchased wheely bag from Walmart, so it would be ready to go the following morning.

Morning came and he felt reasonably refreshed after a shower and a couple of cups of pretty thin Motel 6 Coffee.  Prior to Check Out at Noon from the Motel 6, he gave his cousin Mohammed a call, to see if they could get together.

"Mohammed!  Guess who?" Kensoto asked when Mohammed answered the call on his Iphone.  Kensoto hadn't seen Mohammed since grade school in West Africa, so he wasn't entirely sure he would remember him.

"No idea.  Who?", Mohammed inquired suspiciously.  The caller did know his name though, so it probably wasn't a Bot Call.

"It's Kensoto!  Your cousin!  I'm in Atlanta!"

"Kensoto?  Really?  I thought you were in Montana, at least that is what my mom & dad told me."

"It's a long story.  Can you meet me this evening for dinner?"

"Sure!  Why don't you come over to the house?  Mom & Dad would love to see you!"

"Uhhh, no not yet." Kensoto said carefully.  "I have some stuff to talk over with you first."

Mohammed sensed immediately that Kensoto was in some trouble.  "Trouble" was a regular feature of life for everyone in the West African community in Atlanta.

"Oh, OK.  I work in the warehouse district here as a Lumper.  I did 2 years at the Community College to get all my pre-requisites for a major in Nursing Science and maintained a 4.0 average, but there is a 2 year waiting list to matriculate into the Nursing Major.  So I am living at home with my parents for now and just taking what jobs I can get. There's a Bar & Grill near here called Casey's that serves up a decent steak.  Is 6PM OK?  Do you want the address?"

"6 is good.  I will find it on the Internet, I don't need the address.  I'll see you tonight".

"OK, sounds good." Mohammed replied.

Although it would have been easier to just have Mohammed text him the address, Kensoto wanted as little information stored on servers and his smart phone as possible.  Although the audio was likely recorded and stored, it was more difficult to search with bots.  Besides that, as of yet neither he nor Mohammed appeared to be on any Radar over the shootings in Missoula.  So it still seemed pretty safe to communicate this way, although once he got together with Mohammed he would advise him on how to send encrypted mesages over the SMS network using GPG4USB 256 bit encoding.

After checking out of the Bates Motel, Kensoto killed time until dinner by heading over to the Public Library and signing on to their Wi-Fi with his secure laptop.  Searching on Google revealed that Casey's was on the other side of town and would take at least an hour to get there on the bus system.  He still was not too encumbered with gear though, just his Bugout Bag Backpack and the recently purchased Wheely Bag for additional clothing.

Kensoto made it to Casey's just a little late, there had been a considerable amount of traffic and the bus trip went slower than he had expected. He was used to Missoula traffic and distances, and Atlanta was another bear entirely, so his estimates of time were off.  When he finally made it to Casey's around 20 minutes late, Mohammed recognized him immediately and waved him over to his table, where he was passing the time sipping on a 24 oz Sam Adams Boston Lager from the tap and an appetizer of Fried Onion Rings.

"Damn Kensoto, I thought you were NEVER going to get here!  It's great to see you!"

"Great to see you too, Mohammed", Kensoto said with a genuine smile of relief, giving his cousin a big hug.  "It's been a trial.  I could really use a beer here."

The two cousins sat down at the table, and Kensoto ordered a Foster's Lager from the tap, and munched out on one of the Onion Rings on the stand on the table.

"So WTF is going on Kensoto?  Why all the secrecy?

"Big shit went down in my neighborhood, I got caught in the crossfire.  I had to GTFO of Dodge in a hurry.  I just was in the wrong place at the wrong time, on the way to meeting up with my friends.  There was a big shooting match between two gangs and I got hit by a stray bullet.  I'm down here laying low until it hopefully dies down.  I'm not implicated at all as of yet."

"Shit, that is bad." Mohammed nodded.  "How long are you going to stay down here for?"

"Hopefully only a month or two.  I have enough money to get by.  Not sure what I am going to do for housing yet though."

Mohammed pondered for a bit.  "Well, it's probably not a good idea to come stay with us.  If you do get implicated, they'll be checking into all your relatives, and we all came over at the same time."

"Yea, I thought of that.  That's why I didn't want to meet at your parent's place.  My phone is pretty safe, the account is anonymous, but it's still a good idea to use encryption in all communications.  Do you know how to use GPG4USB 256 bit encryption?"

"Uhhh, no.  I've never had anything that serious I was worried about being read."

Kensoto took some time to explain how Public and Private Keys work, and then how to install the software on his computer for encrypting messages.  They ordered a couple of NY Strip Steaks and Potato Skins for dinner while working out their communications protocols.

Finishing off his steak, Mohammed got back to the housing problem.

"It's probably OK for you to come over to stay the night at our place.  If you get implicated later and somebody sees you, we can just say you stopped in but we haven't seen you since.  I'll call some friends tonight to see if I can find someone you can Couch Surf with.  If you can contribute to the rent, it will be easier."

"I can easily contribute $500/mo for a good spot to sleep for at least the next 2 months", Kensoto replied.

"Oh, that's a lot.  I don't think so much will be necessary just for a couch spot.  $200 is probably enough."

"Important here is not to reveal my real identity.  My forged Georgia Driver's License says my name is Ibrahim, not Kensoto.  You should always refer to me as Ibrahim now, not Kensoto with anyone.", Kensoto advised.

"Yes, understood 'Ibrahim'.", Mohammed said with a wink.

With the plans settled for the evening, they ordered desert, Apple Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream, and Kensoto picked up the whole tab courtesy of the cash the Terminators dropped on him to make his escape from Missoula and the clusterfuck of the shootings at the 7-11.

After dinner they headed back to Mohammed's parent's house, where he had set up in the basement and his parents were providing him with free rent.  Upon arriving, Mohammed's mother's eyes lit up in happiness.

"Kensoto!  You made it!  Your mom called me and told us what happened. You are welcome to stay with us as long as you need to."

"No mom, Kensoto and I talked about this already.  It's not safe for him or for us to stay here.  This will be one of the first places the Gestapo come looking for Kensoto if he gets implicated in the shootings.  I am going to find some friends he can couch surf with for the time being."

Adding to this security precaution, Kensoto gave more advice.

"Also, don't talk with my parents anymore on your cell phone.  Let's just communicate through the secure channels that Kim has set up for this.  No emails either."

"OK, I guess that is a good idea." Mohammed's mom replied. "This is so tragic!" she said, bursting into tears.

"Well, hopefully it is temporary and this will blow over in a couple of months." Kensoto replied, felling guilty he had worried her so much.

"Yes, I' sure it will.", she replied without much conviction, but managing a weak smile.  "Meanwhile, are you hungry?", she asked.

"Oh no, Mohammed and I went out to dinner.  I'm stuffed.  Looking forward to a good breakfast though tomorrow morning!  I've eaten enough Egg McMuffins for the last week to last a lifetime!", Kensoto declared with a laugh.

"I will make the best breakfast EVER tomorrow morning Kensoto.", Mohammed's mom promised with a smile.

Kensoto and Mohammed headed downstairs to the basement of the McMansion where Mohammed had his digs, and lit up some Ganga to mellow out.  Then Mohammed began calling friends to find a couch for Kensoto to sleep on, while Kensoto played Grand Theft Auto V on the X-Box on the Big Screen OLED TV Mohammed got hot from one of his lumper friends at the warehouse.  After about the 5th phone call and Kensoto had blown away a few dozen bad guys on GTA5, Mohammed finally located a couch at a reasonable price of $300/mo with 5 other guys in a McHovel across town on the wrong side of the tracks renting out at $1500/mo, less utilities.

"I'm going to need some transportation to get around town, Mohammed.  Can we stop by Walmart tomorrow before you drop me off to pick up a bicycle and bike trailer?" Kensoto asked.

"Yea sure.  We'll need to get up pretty early though, because I need to be on the docks at 8am if I am going to get at least 2 truckloads to unload for the day.  I'll tell mom we'll need breakfast for 6am."

Mohammed headed upstairs to inform his mom on the early wake up call time, and Kensoto rolled one more splif for the night before sack time.  The two cousins shared some memories of childhood in West Africa, and recounted some of their experiences since making the migration to the FSoA, then hit the hay for another sunrise in the morning, and new adventures in their lives.


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How I Survived Collapse: Chapter 15
« Reply #37 on: February 16, 2017, 03:43:22 AM »

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Published on The Doomstead Diner February 16, 2017


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Karl woke up early, and set about his usual routine of collecting chicken eggs, milking the goats and watering his raised beds, then headed inside for a shower and to brew the morning coffee.  The sound of the water running in the bathroom and the jostling around in the kitchen awakened Karen, and she followed Karl after he finished the morning cleanup, and took his humanure out to the compost pile, covering it with wood chips, straw and leaves to let it ferment.  Although he had a flush toilet and a septic system installed, he hardly ever used it, not wanting to waste the precious nutrients and fertilizer contained in his own excrement.  He had installed the septic and toilet early on in building the earthship, before he had learned all the techniques of Permaculture and how to compost your own waste to recycle it, but had hardly used it over the last decade.

Karen observed Karl taking out his morning poop and emulated him, shitting into the clean bucket that Karl had left next to the flush toilet after taking his own waste to the compost pile.  The bucket had a nice Camping Toilet seat on it and was quite as comfortable to poop in as a normal toilet.  Actually even more comfortable since the squatting position was closer to the normal position Homo Saps who do not use toilets take in defecating.   Kenny heard Karl and Karen trudging over to the composting area, and took his own bucket of shit from the van, and then walked down to the stream to give the bucket a rinse out before putting it back in the van, in it's storage compartment beneath the bed with his 1 gallon piss jug.  Rather than taking a shower as Karl and Karen had, Kenny took a Sponge Bath utilizing water from one of the two 5 gallon water containers he always kept topped off in the van.  One container held non-potable "grey water" which he usually got from the streams in the area and was used for washing purposes, and the other contained his drinking water, which he generally got from the Missoula City water system, filling Up a gallon jug every so often when using a public bathroom in a convenience store, of at the Fitness Center where he worked out in the mornings.  He also had a water filtration and purifying system, including a small distiller he could use to distill otherwise impotable water if he had to.  That generally had not been necessary so far for him though, through the last winter he simply melted snow for drinking water.  The streams in the area also were generally quite clean and free of pollutants or bacteria, and just boiling some water from them was good enough to make it potable.

Kenny wandered up the hill to the house after getting dressed, and found Karl and Karen busy getting breakfast ready in the Kitchen.  He poured himself a cup of black coffee, nicely brewed from the fresh coffee beans he had brought with him from the gourmet roaster in Missoula.  It was WAY better than Maxwell House!  Kenny was not looking forward to the day when good coffee was no longer available!  How would he manage to get going in the morning?  This aspect of the future was not something he liked to contemplate, it might be better just to be BBQed up by Zombies!

"I've got to head back to my place after breakfast, I have the Sunday afternoon shift at Quinn's." Karen said.

"Why don't you cut back on your hours at Quinn's and spend more time out here?  Karl asked.  He was really enjoying having Karen's company.  "Huckleberry really seems to like the place and all the extra space to roam around, plus she seems to have made friends with Mr. Ed and Quick Draw." he added as an enticement.

Karen frowned, thinking.  "I don't know dad.  I'm not sure I am ready to be a full time doomer yet.  Plus, most of my friends are at Quinn's, and if we are going to get a community together I need to spend time with them."

Karl nodded his head, slightly disappointed.  "Yea, that's true.  Having the condo in Lolo is also good to maintain so probably just a couple of visits a week on days off is the best plan until we have a SHTF scenario."

"I'll make sure to get days off on the weekends so I can be here when Kenny comes." Karen said, smiling at Kenny.

Kenny smiled back, looking forward to getting to know Karen better and working with her.  Her engineering knowledge would come in very handy with many of the projects he was hoping to build.  The only problem was Kirsten, he couldn't stop thinking about her either!  The female companionship thing was getting complicated, and Kenny could almost see why Karl had chosen the life of a Solitary Man.  Almost.  His close companion behind the zipper of his Levi Strauss jeans argued otherwise.

After doing the dishes and getting her bag packed, Karen got Huckleberry into the back seat of the Ford Escort and headed back out to Civilzation in Lolo.  Not that Lolo was much of a town of course, but it still ran on grid electricity and had a local grocery store, and the drive on State Highway 93 wasn't far to the Walmart Supercenter either.  She was still adjusting to the idea that all the conveniences she had taken for granted growing up were going to disappear, although neither Kenny nor Karl could put a precise finger on the date, nor even could RE on the Diner.  The more she read though, the more convinced she became that these folks were right, and things would probably start to deteriorate faster with the election of The Donald as POTUS. She had been a strong Bernie Sanders supporter during the primaries, and was devastated when the nomination was stolen from him by the criminal Clinton Gang.  Besides all the economic and climate problems she was becoming aware of, Global Thermonuclear War seemed a strong possibility also with a clown like Trump in the White House.

Once the goodbyes were said, Kenny and Karl waved to Karen as she headed out the private road and back to civilization and they walked back toward the Earthship to get ready for a day of prepping.

"So, what kind of plans have you got for today Kenny?  We can't really do much more work on getting the Cable System and Funicular Railroad set up until you pick up more hardware next week at Home Depot in Missoula."

"I have a couple of projects to do over on my property I brought some supplies for starting.  I want to put together a picnic table that is more permanent for outdoor eating than the folding table we had breakfast on last week, for one thing."

"That shouldn't take long between the two of us if you have all the materials, maybe a couple of hours." Karl replied.

"Probably not." Kenny agreed.  "Although staining it and coating it with linseed oil and polyurethane will need to be done over the next couple of weekends.  I also have a bigger project to start on, I want to excavate and build a Walipini Greenhouse on the property as well."

"How big a Walipini were you planning on excavating?" Karl inquired.

"I was thinking about 20' by 60' " Kenny replied.

"That is a fucking BIG hole to dig Kenny!" Karl laughed.

"Yea, I figured to dig it out would take me most of the summer, doing a little each weekend."

"Fuck that idea." Karl replied.  "I'll rent a Daiwoo Back Hoe and Front End Loader and we'll get the excavation done in a weekend, no problem.", Karl proposed.

Kenny laughed.  "Yea that certainly would speed things up!  I didn't really consider doing that because first off I didn't want to spend the money on the rental, and second I've never used one of those monster machines."

Karl waved his hand in the air.  "The money is nothing.  A weekend rental for a Back Hoe costs maybe $1000 the most, and I think I can get one maybe for free from a contractor in Lolo who built a lot of the cabins up here.  I own several of them and had them built as rentals and for sale over the years.  He'll probably let me use one for a Moose Roast or some Venison."

"Well as long as you drive it Karl, I'm certainly good with that!", Kenny laughed.

Karl threw a few of his own tools into Kenny's trailer, and they made the drive over to Kenny's property via the logging roads.

"It sure would be nice if we could take a more direct route from your property over to mine." Kenny observed.  "We gotta drive over 20 miles here, but your place is really less than 5 miles away as the crow flies."

"Yea, it would be nice to have such a road, but tough in practice to do. There are 3 other privately owned properties between here and your place, and we would need permission from all of them to build a road, or even just cut a decent trail.  I know the people who own these properties, at least I have talked with them a few times.  They are well to do Dentists and Doctors mostly who would not be amenable to a road being build on "their property".  Isolationists mostly who just like to have their own hunting land and a nice summer cabin to vacation with the family."

Kevin sighed and nodded in acceptance.  "Yes, most of the people who actually still have enough money to make preps and buy land still buy into the old memes, and wish to 'go it alone', not working together with others to 'Build a Better Tomorrow', as RE often says in his Tag Lines.  You and me are rare breeds I think, unfortunately, thinking about the fate of others as we plan for ourselves.  Most people brought up in the acquisition culture of the Industrial Civilization cannot grasp this, and desperately hold onto their meme of Private Ownership of property."

"A direct road isn't really necessary right now though, the surrounding roads are not too bad, although the road up to your property is not being maintained these days.  In the future, after TSHTF, we can maybe build a more direct route. It would be a big project in any event to even make it passable for my Polaris Ranger EV.  We would need to build a couple of bridges and do quite a bit of earth moving too."  Karl concluded.

Construction of the Picnic Table went pretty quickly, just a matter of bolting together the 2X4s for the most part for the table top and benches, just using the stock 8' length for both.  About the only thing the least bit tricky was cutting the 45 degree angles for the X-pattern legs, which just took a quick line from a protractor to do.

After finishing the table, Karl and Kenny took a walk around the property looking for the best spot to excavate the Walipini.  Kenny used the opportunity of the exploration to bring up Kirsten.

"Karl, I have a little problem.  On Friday before I drove up this weekend I met someone who I know from High School.  We are supposed to go camping next weekend together and I am not sure if I should bring her to my property or not. Karen is also supposed to be coming up next weekend and I want to see her too."

Karl let out a belly laugh.  "Did you ever have to make up your mind?", he said, quoting the title of an old song from the Lovin' Spoonful written by John Sebastian Kenny had never heard.  "Man am I glad I left that shit behind, it can drive you insane."

Keny nodded. "No shit.  First in High School I couldn't get a date to save my life, now there seem to be females everywhere.  It's driving me nuts."

"No worries Kenny, you only have about another 40 years or so of being driven crazy by this problem." Karl said with a grin. "Once you hit your 60s it calms down some, although some guys never escape it."

"Only 40 more years to go?  Shit, we'll probably be extinct by then!  I'll never get any peace!" Kenny said semi-sarcastically.

"Life sucks, and then you die.", Karl remarked philosophically.  "Far as it goes, I'd love to see you hook up with Karen, but far be it from me to get in the middle of anyone else's love life, that's even worse than managing your own.  You'll have to figure that one out for yourself."

"Gee, thanks Karl, you're a fountain of wisdom." Kenny remarked sarcastically.  "What about the other problem though, should I bring her up here, or maybe just go over to Lolo National Forest and do some camping there without telling her about the property?"

Karl gave this some thought for a bit as they reached a nice portion of the property that had a slope facing to the south for excavating the Walipini.

"Probably not a good idea yet to bring her over here, until you are more sure of where you are going with it.  You could bring her to the Lean-To though, and Karen and I can meet you there.  Then you can really experience torture trying to make up your mind." Karl remarked.

"Great!  Another fucking pearl of wisdom from the wise Guru! Kenny remarked with an eye roll.

Karl pursed his lips. "Personally, I think it would be rather humorous."

"For YOU maybe!" Kenny replied.

Karl shrugged.  "It's your problem, not my problem.  Now, what do you think of this spot for the Walipini?  Good southern exposure, nice slope to cut into."

Kenny let go of the discussion about the females.  Karl was obvious not going to be of any help, and actually seemed to enjoy his suffering.  He vowed to himself to get revenge on Karl for this someday.  He'd find a female to sic on Karl to invite to the community!  He couldn't be as immune to the attraction as he made himself out to be!  That would serve him right!  Kenny satisfied himself with this nefarious plan and got back to discussing the Walipini.

"Yea, this looks pretty good, although it's a lot of trees to cut down.", Kenny remarked with sadness.

Karl shrugged.  "The trees are no more permanent than you or me, and someday after we're gone new ones will grow in their place, or maybe they won't if the climate change gets bad enough.  Meanwhile, if we're going to grow enough food beyond what we can hunt and gather out of Lolo for a full community of people, we're going to need more than just my raised beds and greenhouse garden."

Kenny nodded in understanding.  "Yea, that's true.  Sure will be plenty of wood for the next couple of years for cooking and heating and campfires.  Lotta wood splitting to do."

"No worries on the splitting Kenny, I have a Champion Hydraulic Wood Splitter for this.  I quit on splitting with an axe and wedges when I hit 60."

Kenny still had trouble believing Karl was 66.  Other than his complaints about arthritis in his knees, he was even bigger and more robust than his daughter, maybe 6'3" and 220 lbs.  He looked to Kenny to be in his mid 50s.

"A hydraulic splitter will certainly make that job easier.", Kenny remarked.  "We'll need to get it over here though to get the job done."

"No problem there, I can drag it over with the pickup, it's on wheels.  Once we cut the trees into sections, Mr Ed and Quick Draw can pull them over to the splitter back in your campsite area."

"That works.", Kenny replied.  It was getting late in the day and the sun was beginning to set, so the two friends walked back to the campsite to get in Kenny's van and head back over to Karl's place for dinner of some Smoked Trout from Karl's freezer, honey glazed peas and carrots from his garden and from his bee hives and butter from the goat's milk.  They spent a couple of hours surfing the internet for Doom Newz, beginining with the Doomstead Diner, where the regulars were all napalming each other as usual.  They spent time together composing up a PM to to send to RE once Kenny got back to Missoula and could use an anonyomous connection to the internet.

"Greetings RE!

I have been a lurker on the Diner almost since you began it in 2012.  I am a regular reader, and get many of my ideas from your website.

Currently, together with a friend we have a large property in the lower 48 we would like to get a SUN☼ Community going on when TSHTF.  However, we are highly concerned about security and about simply inviting people to the place now, which would make it too widely known.  We estimate our possible carrying capacity for our land to be about 200 people, although it could be substantially more since the properties are adjacent to a large National Forest.

Do you have any suggestions on how we might find some people, but not necessarily give them the location of the Doomstead at this time?


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How I Survived Collapse: Chapter 16
« Reply #38 on: February 24, 2017, 03:35:32 AM »

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Published on The Doomstead Diner February 24, 2017

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PM Stream on the Doomstead Diner Forum Private Message Channel (PM) between Kenny & RE


Greetings RE!

I have been a lurker on the Diner almost since you began it in 2012.  I am a regular reader, and get many of my ideas from your website.

Currently, together with a friend we have a large property in the lower 48 we would like to get a SUN☼ Community going on when TSHTF.  However, we are highly concerned about security and about simply inviting people to the place now, which would make it too widely known.  We estimate our possible carrying capacity for our land to be about 200 people, although it could be substantially more since the properties are adjacent to a large National Forest.

Do you have any suggestions on how we might find some people, but not necessarily give them the location of the Doomstead at this time?



Greetings to you also KK!

5 years is a long time to Lurk!  Better late than never though.

Balancing the need for maintaining security and anonymity while at the same time developing a community is pretty tough nut.  Let me ponder on this for a night.  Right now, how many people know about the property?"


Right now just 3 of us.  Me, an older guy and his daughter.  He's a kind of hermit and has been around here since the 70s.  He's a lurker on the Diner also.  Paranoid about security so he doesn't post to websites, just reads them.  I use anonymous proxy servers.  None of us have any real close friends, but both me and Karen do know quite a few people from back in "civilization".  I still work back there, and just come out on the weekends in my Stealth Van & Trailer to prep up my property.  I glommed that idea from the Diner. 🙂


Cool!  I'd love to see some pics of your rig!

What's your money situation like?  Do you have enough to prepare for such a large community when TSHTF?


We're pretty OK for money, Karl has more than me but even with that I don't think we could build everything for so many people just on our own.


OK, that's enough for tonight, I'm going to have to ponder on this to work up a plan.  I'll PM you tomorrow.


OK, sounds good.



OK, I think I have a plan.

You are going to need 3 Levels for potential community members, with different levels of clearance.

Level 1:  The people you vet and REALLY trust, who you could bring to your doomstead now to help build things before TSHTF.

Level 2:  People who you pretty much trust to at least have your email addy and phone number, and who you can tell that you have a doomstead, and if things get bad they should get in touch with you.

Level 3:  People you trust least, but might be helpful to have, especially if your total numbers in Level 1 and Level 2 are not sufficient to protect and defend your doomstead.  These folks you should have their phone number and in a SHTF scenario send them a text with the lat/lon of a meeting point somewhere away from your property and told to bring an FRS Radio for further information when they get there.  They should have specific times when you will be in range to contact them via the FRS.  You can also set up a website on free WordPress space where they can go for information, with a password to get in to members only area.

Of course, if the internet goes dark before the L3 people are contacted, the website won't work.  However I think in most situations we'll know things are going south with at least a few days before the web is out for good.  L2 people will need the cell phone network still operational, that should last a bit longer.  If it is safe enough and you know their physical location, you might go out looking for them, if you have some means of transportation.


That sounds like a pretty good plan RE!  I will run it by Karl and Karen next weekend and see what they think.


Hope it works out OK.  Hey, besides taking some shots of your Stealth Van setup, could you take some pics of your doomstead and what you guys are setting up?  I'd love to blog about it.  You can keep all the location information anonymous and no pictures of your faces or other identifying information.  People should know that there are SUN Communities that are being set up.


I'll ask Karl about that too.  As long as there is no identifying information, I don't see why it would be a problem.


Also, we should make some plans for SUN Communities and independent Doomsteads to stay in touch after TSHTF.  I've got a shortwave setup here, do you have shortwave?


Karl has a shortwave.  I'll get his call sign and we can decide on frequencies to check.  Also exchange Public Keys for GPG4USB encryption and some verbal passphrases.


Uggh.  I keep screwing up with that.  Don't use my current Public Key.  I need to make a new one.  I will send it to you next time we talk.


OK, sounds good, I will contact you again next week after I speak with Karl and Karen.


Great!  Talk to you next week!  Hasta la Pasta!


Kenny copy/pasted the PM chats with RE into an encrypted file on his smart phone, so he could go over the ideas in detail with Karl & Karen the following weekend.

Otherwise, it was back to the grind of mowing lawns on his Zero Turn Mower for the week, finding spots to park the Stealth Van for the night that wouldn't be rousted by the Gestapo, and shopping at Home Depot for all the gear necessary to start construction of the Funicular Railway and Cable System to move gear up the mountain and game meat back down.  It was a long list of stuff, and each time he read through it he realized something was missing.

On Wednesday, his smart phone rang, and he jumped.  His phone almost never rang, only occassional calls from clients with some emergency like a downed tree poking its way through the rooftop of the McMansion.  An evening call after bizness hours almost never came.  It was Kirsten.

"Hi Kenny!  It's Kirsten!  I was wondering if we are still on for going camping and climbing this weekend?  My last class ends at 4 o'clock tomorrow, and I am free after that for the whole weekend.  I have been looking forward to this since we got together last week so I hope you are still up for it!", Kirsten said in her most perky and attractive voice she could muster up.

Hearing her voice and enthusiasm on the smart phone, Kenny's close friend inside his Levi Strauss jeans got uncomfortably active, and there was no way he was going to resist this time.  Besides,he had formulated a plan with Karl to bring Kirsten up to the Lean-To instead of to one of their own Doomsteads, so this aspect was relatively risk-free now.

The bigger risk though is how this would play with Karen, who he also was very attracted to?  He had pulled up on YouTube a music vid of "Do you ever have to make up your mind" by John Sebastian and the Lovin' Spoonful that Karl had referenced in their chat on this issue, and he was stuck in exactly this predicament.  However, there was no course of action on this other than to face down the problem and try to deal with it.  While he felt up to the challenge of dealing with Collapse, he was not so sure he could deal with the challenge of dealing with two attractive women in the same place at the same time.  However, when collapse finally comes, they would both be in the community, so he figured that he might as well work out the problem beforehand if possible.

Thursday afternoon arrived, Kenny finished his last lawn mowing job and headed back for his storage unit to exchange out his Landscaping Gear for his Camping Gear in the enclosed trailer with the heavy duty Master Locks to secure his possessions.  He hit the Fitness club for a workout and showered, and put on fresh clothes for picking up Kirsten at her dorm room on campus.  One of the things he had learned was that generally women were not attracted to stinky guys and it was a good idea to be clean and neat if you wanted to get laid.

As he neared the Missoula campus of Montana State University,  Kenny fired off a text to Kirsten over the SMS network to let Kirsten know he was on the way, and upon arriving found her already out on the sidewalk with her backpack and gear bag, dressed attractively in cut off jean shorts and a halter top, as it was an exceptionally warm spring day for Missoula, with temps in the 80s Farenheit.  April had warmed up considerably over the last few years.

Kenny got out of the van to greet her, and help her get her gear into the trailer.

"Hey Kirsten! Great to see you again." Kenny greeted her with, trying to keep his Johnson from stiffening too much, since driving with a Woody was not very comfortable.  "We can put your gear in the trailer with all my stuff."

"It's great to see you again Kenny!" Kirsten replied enthusiastically and gave Kenny a big hug, her chest pressing up against his chest.  This was unfortunate for Kenny, since now Mr. Johnson was straining the seams on his Levi Strauss Jeans, purchased ON SALE at Walmart for $15 and sewn up by child labor in India, and Kenny was not sure these jeans could take the pressure.  The Zipper could easily give way! Quality Control in Indian clothing factories is not that reliable.  It was a real test of Indian clothing manufacturing. Fortunately, the seams were double stitched and held firm against the pressure and the zipper was a well manufactured one that was imported to India from a top Zipper factory in Brazil.

Kenny opened the rear door of the trailer for Kirsten to throw her bags into, and Kirstens eyes opened wide when she looked inside the trailer.  It was just STACKED with preps, although neatly arranged on shelving purchased at Home Depot and fitted neatly into the trailer.

"Good Grief Kenny!  We're just going for a weekend camping trip!", Kirsten exclaimed as she saw the gobs of preps that Kenny had stacked in the trailer.

Kenny laughed.  "Kirsten, you know I am a Doomer Prepper. I never go anywhere without enough Preps to keep me going for at least a year in case TSHTF while I am on the road.  I don't wanna get caught with my pants down at the critical moment.  I've been at this since I was in Junior High, and I am NOT going to be caught out when TSHTF!  So I am always fully prepped up for the long haul.

Kirsten shook her head.  Kenny was totally serious about his prepping, and it was INCREDIBLE!  But of course, she had only seen the trailer so far.  It was still tough for her to grasp that all of Industrial Civilization was coming to a close.

"Well, at least I know I am going camping with the right guy if Civilization Collapses over the weekend!" Kirsten replied with a giggle.  "So, where are we going?"

"I built a Lean-To in Lolo National Forest.  Well, actually I built it with a friend and fellow Prepper, and he'll probably meet us there.  There's a mountain across from it where Big Horn Sheep cruise, and I'm going to go after one in the next hunting season.  Lots of good spots for some rock climbing there too if you are of a mind to do that.", Kenny replied.

"Oh, that sounds TERRIFIC Kenny!  I can't wait to see the Lean-To!", Kirsten effused.

After getting her gear loaded in the trailer, Kenny fired up the big V-8 motor in the Dodge RAM Van and got rolling on the road to one of the parking lots surrounding Lolo National Forest, and threw on a playlist of some of his favorite tunes stored on his Samsung Galaxy Mega smartphone for music background on the ride.  It was mostly stuff his mom had ‪played over and over in his childhood from the 70s & 80s, from rock bands like Queen, Jethro Tull, Heart and Metallica.

After arriving at the parking lot, Kenny and Kirsten strapped on their backpacks and filled their water bottles for the hike in, which was pretty long from the closest parking lot, about 8 miles.  The last part of it there was no trail for, so had to be guided via GPS.

Kenny was astonished at Kirsten's speed on the trail, he had trouble keeping up with her.  Despite her small size, she was amazingly physically fit and coordinated, and nimbly traversed obstacles on the trail that slowed him down.  Her pack was not as loaded down as his own with gear, but it was still quite substantial in size and from behind her (which he usually was), all you could see was the lower 2/3rds of her legs.  He was disapointed her butt was not visible, it would have made the hike much more enjoyable.

They broke for lunch a little past the halfway point, a meal of Freeze Dried Mountain House Lasagna cooked up quickly with Kenny's Jetboil butane fired lightweight cooking stove, and once reinforced with more good calories, finished the hike off trail and up the mountain to where the Lean-To was located.  Upon arrival, Kirsten was flabberghasted.

"Good grief Kenny, this isn't a 'Lean-To'!  It's a freaking PALACE!"

Kenny laughed.  "Yea, that's really my friend Karl's work, not mine.  I built a pretty rudimentary one last year, but Karl snuck up here earlier in the spring and spruced it up to his specifications.  Karl goes first class in all his prepping work, if Karl does it, it's the best that can be done.  He's a pretty old guy and has been at this game since the 1970's."

"Wow!  That's a long time to wait for TEOTWAWKI!" Kirsten remarked, using a term she learned from Kenny in their first conversation over dinner.  "When will he get here?"

"Sometime tomorrow I think.  His daughter Karen should be coming also.  She's really nice, I think you'll like her.", Kenny said hopefully.

The mention of another female coming got Kirsten's antennae up.

"Are you friends with Karen too?", she asked.

"Sure, she's really nice!  Pretty new to prepping though.  Karl didn't even know she was his daughter until recently."

Kirsten tried to read Kenny to see if she could discern if there was more to "really nice" than he let on.  It was impossible to determine.

"Well, at least we have the Lean-To to ourselves for tonight.", she said with a sly smile.

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How I Survived Collapse: Chapter 18
« Reply #39 on: March 23, 2017, 03:44:08 AM »

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Published on The Doomstead Diner March 23, 2017


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Losing her beloved husband of 20 years was rough for Kellie.  Watching as the man she loved so much descend into depression and alcoholism after losing his job as a middle manager for a tool and die factory where he worked his way up in the ranks over the years of their marriage was incredibaly depressing.  The factory was moved to Mexico, and all the local workers were laid off.  To make ends meet, Kellie had to go to work as a low paid cashier at Walmart, and their son Kenny himself not yet out of High School contributed as well, doing work cutting lawns.  Her dearly departed husband Max had secured a job as a night manager at the same Walmart, but his unhappiness in the position and his fate was evident every day, as he drank himself into a stupor and chain smoked Camel Straights.  They did make ends meet though, until he died from a massive coronary while in an argument with the day shift Supervising Manager.

When Max died, Kellie could no longer meet the payments on the mortgage to their McHovel, but fortunately there was still some decent equity in it and she was able to unload it and take around $60,000 out of it after the Banksters took their cut of the pie and the tax man took his.  She gave half to Kenny, and dropped the other half in her own Credit Union account as a buffer against ending up Homeless and Freezing to Death on the Streets of Missoula, MT.

Kellie was also fortunate her older brother Kyle had become a successful Dentist in Spokane, and not only offered her free rent in his Guest House on his McMansion property, but also a job as Receptionist and Records Clerk in his Dental Office, located in a strip mall in a lower middle class suburb of Spokane.  Kyle's 3 grown children were sprinkled all over the FSoA pursuing a variety of careers, and besides his main work as a Dentist Kyle pursued a variety of hobbies, Beekeeping, Gardening and running a grid tied Solar PV 36V system for his McMansion and to charge up his Tesla Model X EV that he used to commute to work at the Dental Office from the Gated community where his McMansion was located.  Kyle's wife Alicia worked as the Office Manager and Bookkeeper, so all 3 travelled together to work in the Tesla, making for an efficient commute for 3 people, relatively speaking next to all the solo drivers in ICE vehicles they had to combat in traffic every day anyhow.

Kyle also loved dogs, and had as companions a huge Labrador Retriever named Scooby Doo as well as a Siberian Husky named Balto, and his wife Alicia's dog Blood, who was a West Highland White Terrier..  All the dogs were purebred Males, and periodically Kyle would rent them out for breeding purposes with other owners of females of the same pedigree, pocketing the stud fee.  It was one of the many small biznesses he ran besides his Dental office although it wasn't too profitable, mainly a labor of love and a way to keep the dogs from going nuts unless he had them castrated, which he could not bring himself to do.

Kyle's wife Alicia and sister Kellie had become even closer friends once she moved to Spokane than they had been over the years, and often they would all have dinner together at the McMansion, or Kyle would spring for a dinner out at one of the fine restaraunts or music bars in downtown Spokane, where he would generally vent on the load of taxation which was driving him out of bizness.

"It's fucking INSANE!  The goddamn Corporations and Billionaires pay NO TAXES, and meanwhile the fucking Goobermint is soaking me for every dime of profit we make drilling teeth!  Dental insurance is a fucking joke, and the patients can't afford the Root Canals and Caps, and now they're all flying to Mexico to get it done cheaper there!  They get a Mexican Beach Vacation in the process, and it's STILL cheaper there!  I can't even sell the fucking bizness to a young Dentist, because they are too broke from the student loans they took out to get a Dental license from the ADA!  I gotta buy a new fucking Xray machine every 5 years because new and zippier models come out and I gotta compete with the Dr. Joneses in the next strip mall over!  Before I even have the last Xray machine paid off! "

"Calm down,sweety." Alicia advised, patting his hand gently.  "You're going to get a heart attack if you keep this up.  Why don't you order a nice bottle of Pinot Noir and mellow out a little here?"

"Yea Kyle, mom and dad always were telling you to put a lid on it when you started ranting, I remember that when you were in High School and I was in kindergarten.", Kellie added.

Kyle sighed.  "Yea, OK.  I gotta get my mind off this shit."

Kyle flagged down the wine steward and ordered a bottle of 2007 Willakenzie Estate Pinot Noir Terres Basses from the Willamette Valley in Oregon for $120, which was a good deal more than the $50/bottle he paid for it by the case to store in his Wine Cellar.  However, for a fine dining extablishment like the Wild Sage Bistro, the markup on the wine wasn't too bad. "Anybody got anything else to talk about?"

Kellie decided it was a good time to bring up a concern and desire she had for some time since leaving Missoula. "Well, I was wondering if you guys might want to take a long weekend trip with me over to Missoula to visit Kenny?  I haven't seen him in over a year, and even though we talk on the phone every so often and exchange emails, I would like to see how he is doing.  He's still living his TEOTWAWKI Collapse Prepper obsession and living out of his Stealth Van.  He says he bought some land by Lolo National Forest and is building on it, but I still worry about that lifestyle and what he is doing.  It's just so odd.  Nothing I could ever say would get him to go to college, even though he could have had a full scholarship anywhere.  He got a perfect score on his SAT's you know and had a 4.0 GPA in High School.", Kellie said proudly.

"Kenny was always a really bright kid." Kyle recalled. "He sure did grow some amazing Ganga with his hydroponics setup!  That was some of the best shit I ever took a Bong Hit off of!", Kyle laughed.  "He does need some Bizness lessons though, I would have paid him double what he charged me for that shit!"

"So how about we take a trip there next month for maybe 4-5 days or so?  We can add some hours during the week so we don't sacrifice too much income from being away from the Dental Office.", Kellie suggested.

"That's a good idea Kellie.", Alicia replied. "We could go to 7PM instead of 5PM and make up the hours and not reduce the income.  I would like to see Kenny too and how he is living.  That business of living out of his van really seems extreme. I thought you said he was making good money in his landscaping bizness?"

"Well, he was doing pretty good with it when I left, so I think he probably still is, but it's not really a money problem for Kenny.  He probably could afford to rent an apartment or even buy a small house on a mortgage, but he's a "kollapsnik" as he calls himself.  He's been that way ever since Junior High.  He's convinced Industrial Civilization will collapse in the near future and is obsessed with preparing for that.  So he spends his money on what he calls 'preps' instead of on living a normal life."

"Oh that's just nonsense!" Alicia exclaimed.  "We just have some economic problems right now, it's a business cycle problem.  Elon Musk is developing new batteries and soon he will have a colony on Mars as well!  All this talk about civilization collapse is just ridiculous.", Alicia said in a huff, rolling her eyes.

"Well, I'm not so sure Kenny is wrong, sweetie.", Kyle replied to his wife. "It's not just the economic situation, as bad as it is.  There are a lot of Climate and Environmental problems ongoing as well.  I haven't had any problem with my Honeybees so far, but some of my friends in the Beekeeper community have lost their hives.  Without the pollinators working full blast, we'll have a lot of problems keeping enough food growing for the 7.3B People currently walking the earth.  The weather around here is getting really erratic also, first we had drought and now we are getting inundated by atmospheric rivers in the atmosphere full of moisture dropping buckets of rain down all the time.  Makes growing my raised beds in the back yard very difficult!  Your own sister is still cleaning up from the last flood in Seattle too!"

"Floods happen all the time!", Alicia retorted. "That's why you buy Flood Insurance!  President Trump and many others say that we do not have a climate change problem!"

The difference of opinion over climate change problems and environmental issues was a sore spot that Kyle and Alicia had argued about on quite a few occassions, along with having some differing political views and voting for different candidates, but mostly they were able to get over these differences because their love for each other was so strong.  Still, it did get difficult periodically.

Kellie interjected to stop this arguement between her Brother and Sister-in-Law from getting out of control.

"Well, whether climate is the problem or the economy is the problem,I still think it would be nice to go visit with Kenny and see how he is doing!  Last time I talked to him he said he made a new friend near where he bought his land, and he has a new girlfriend too!  I would like to meet her for sure!"

Alicia relaxed and let go of the Climate Change debate, which always bugged her.  Even though subconsciously she was aware it was ongoing, it was something she just couldn't allow herself to believe.  She enjoyed her life too much as a former chauffer for her 3 kids, playing bridge twice a week with the other upper class moms she had known for 20 years and shopping regularly at Nordstrom.

"Yea, it would be a good change of pace from the usual vacation to Hawaii in any case." Alicia responded.  "We could do it over Memorial Day Weekend and add a couple of days to that on either side."

"Yea, that sounds like a good time.", Kyle agreed, sipping some more Pinot Noir while he munched out on the Rack of Lamb with Cabernet Sauce,  Asparagus Hollandaise and Garlic Mashed Potatoes he had ordered for dinner.

"Great! It's a plan, as long as it will work for Kenny anyhow." Kellie replied happily, munching out herself on the Lobster and Clam stuffed Fillet of Sole, Spinach Souffle and Loaded Baked Potato she had ordered for dinner.  I'll send Kenny an email tonight and see if we can get it finalized.

After finishing dinner with some Ecuadorian Espresso and Chocolate Mousse, the 3 headed back out into the parking lot and jumped in the Tesla for the drive back to the McMansion. By the time dinner was finished, the traffic had abated and they made it home in half the time it took during the morning rush hour commute.  Kyle plugged the Tesla into his fast charger for an overnight top off of juice, then went inside with Alicia to throw a DVD on the 70" Samsung OLED Big Screen TV before bed time.  It was Alicia's turn to pick the movie, and she picked one of her favorite Chick Flicks, "When Harry Met Sally".

Kellie headed for the guest house and settled down in front of her laptop to fire off an email to Kenny.

"Hey Kenny!  How's it going?  Haven't heard from you in over a week!

Listen, I was talking with Kyle and Alicia, and we were thinking of coming for a visit over the Memorial Day Weekend.  Would this be a good time for you?

What kind of gear do we need to bring?  Do we need Tents and Sleeping Bags?"

Kenny's Samsung Galaxy Mega smartphone buzzed in the bottom pocket of his cargo shorts just as he was pulling in to one of his favorite Stealth Parking spots in Missoula, a lot for Joe's Auto Body Shop whose owner Joe he cut grass for and who gave him permission to park there at night, as long as he was out before the shop opened at 7AM.  Joe had even given him keys to the shop so he could use the bathroom at night if he needed to.  As good as this arrangement was, he still didn't use it every night, because the Gestapo would catch on too easily.  Staying under the Gestapo radar and moving around between spots was an important aspect of Stealth Van living.

Reading the email on the smart phone, Kenny elected to get parked and settled in for the night, then fire up his All-in-One Dell Desktop unit to write a response to his mom.  Keyboarding on the Dell which he had accessorized with a state of the art Razer Gaming Keyboard was much quicker than working the virtual thumboard on the Galaxy Mega screen, which was better than the tiny ones on IPhones but still not very good.  It was even better than the voice to text recognition program on the Samsung, which often got words wrong and he had to go back and fix them manually, slowing things down considerably in SMS Text communication.

Once he got the van parked in an open spot between a Hummer with a crunched front quarter panel and a Mercedes that had been rear ended, Kenny sat down at his desk behind the driver cockpit in the comfortable Italian Leather Executive Office Chair his father had picked up at the final auction when his Tool & Die factory was moved to Mexico.  His father had sat in that chair before him for nearly a decade once he moved from the factory floor into management.  By the time he got it, the upholstery and leather were pretty shot, but Kenny bought all new foam and new leather and reupholstered it himself, so it was pretty much as good as new.  He made some adaptations to the base so it would stay locked in place while he was driving around, but could be quickly released once parked to be able to slide on the casters and swivel around.

Kenny's desk and the rest of the interior of the Stealth Van were constructed mostly from Bamboo, which he got in Barter trade from an old Japanese Bamboo Master working outside of Missoula, in return for interning with him and assisting in the harvesting of the Bamboo.  Kenny was also learning to play the Shakuhachi Flute, which was a relaxing way to spend many evenings by himself in the van.

"Hey Mom!  Sorry for not getting in touch this week.  Things have been really bizzy here with a lot of changes going on for me.  I am working together with my new friend Karl and his daughter Karen and my friend from High School Kirsten to get our properties ready for SHTF Day and setting up a SUN Community here.

You and Kyle and Alicia are more than welcome to come for a visit!  You don't need to bring tents, we have plenty of them and I will set up my F-Dome for all of us also, and we can also spend a lot of time at Karl's place, which is a PALACE for Kollapsniks like us.  You might want to bring your own sleeping bags and pads though, and backpacks if you want to go hiking with us into the National Park.

I'll let Karl know we are having a Convocation over the Memorial Day weekend and that you guys will be coming in.  Email me when you have a firm date for arrival.  I know you haven't figured out how to use GPG4USB encryption yet, so I will meet you in Missoula and we can drive to the Doomstead together.

Can't wait to see you!  I miss you a lot.



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How I Survived Collapse: Chapter 19
« Reply #40 on: March 30, 2017, 02:23:44 AM »

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on March 30, 2017

Discuss this artile at the Collapse Narratives Table inside the Diner

Kenny had barely gotten out of bed in the van on Tuesday morning when his cell phone rang, causing him to jump.  He still wasn't used to getting phone calls so often, especially ones that were not during business hours.  Looking at the screen, it wasn't a number he recognized either, but it was from his local area code so probably not a Bot Call.

"Hello?" Kenny greeted in typical phone fashion.

"Hi Kenny!  It's Karen. I got your phone number from my dad.  I was calling to see if you might want to start working on your horseback riding skills this weekend.  We could also go do some Kayaking on the Clark's Fork River.  I have a two-paddler Kayak along with my single we could use.", Karen invited.

Kenny's mind was racing.  He certainly wanted to take Karen up on this offer, but what would he tell Kirsten if she called?  Well, when she called was more like it.  A quick brainstorm hit his gray matter though, since he had just received an email from his mom.  He would tell Kirsten that he had to go to Spokane to visit with his mom this weekend!  Brilliant!

"Sure! That sounds great Karen!" Kenny replied enthusiastically, as Mr. Johnson woke up from slumbering in his boxer shorts.  He would have to take care of this problem himself before going out to do his day's work on the lawn tractor.  Riding around all day in the hot sun on the Zero-Turn Mower with a stiffy would not be fun, so Ms. Hand would get a workout this morning.

Karen was a little concerned after the slight delay in Kenny's response, but his enthusiasm was evident in his reply, so she figured he must be interested in her.  Probably he's cheating on Kirsten she thought to herself, and had to figure out an excuse to give her for not getting between the sheets with her over the weekend.  However, all's fair in Love and War, so she wasn't going to let this bother her!

"Cool!" Karen replied. "We can meet at dad's Doomstead and do some riding around the pasture for the first day, then head over to Quinn's to do some Kayaking and have a nice dinner.  They have great food!  It's expensive, but I get an Employee Discount.  You can meet some of my friends too, Big John the Bartender and Alexis the Maitre 'd and Julia the Head Chef and the rest of the staff.  It's a great bunch of folks! Then on Sunday we can maybe go riding to the Lean-To if you take to riding OK on Saturday."

"That sounds like a terrific weekend Karen!  Should I pack some formal clothes for the dinner at Quinn's?  It sounds fancy.", Kenny inquired.  He didn't have much experience with high end restaraunts, so he wasn't sure of the protocols in such places.  Fancy restaurants to him were chain restaraunts like Olive Garden, Red Lobster or Outback.

"Well, Quinn's isn't TOO formal, but most of the guests do dress for dinner in more elegant clothing than cargo pants and hunting vests with lots of pockets for their preps.", she laughed, knowing Kenny's basic form of dress.  She figured he didn't have much more than that given his business in landscaping and his weekends spent out preparing for the Collapse of Industrial Civilization, along with the fact his Van and Trailer living arrangement didn't have a ton of room for storing many different sets of clothing.  She wasn't yet aware of his Storage Unit system for keeping a lot more preps than she had already seen, including different types of clothing.  Mostly those other clothes though were winter gear, vests of different weights dependent on weather, rain gear etc.  He didn't have any real "formal" clothing.  He did wear a suit to his High School graduation,but he had given it away to the Salvation Army because it no longer fit.  He wasn't the skinny teenager he had been in High School anymore, he was 20 lbs heavier with solid muscle mostly in his shoulders and chest and had grown another 2 inches as well, mostly in the long bones of his legs and now stood close to 5'9".  Not as tall as Karen who was close to 6' if not maybe a bit more than that and WAY taller than Kirsten who probably did not even hit 5' in height, but still bigger than he was in High School.  So neither the jacket nor the pants fit anymore.

Kenny laughed.  Karen had already noticed what his clothing style was and had him well pegged.  "Yea, OK Karen, I'll stop by Target and pick up some more "appropriate" clothing for dinner at Quinn's.  I don't want their first impression of me to be as a Psycho Rube Prepper!  Some of these folks might be good members of our SUN Community after TSHTF!"

"Yea, I already thought of that Kenny.", Karen replied.  "Glad you are OK with 'dressing for success', at least for a dinner anyhow!"

"So what time should I get to Karl's place on Saturday morning?", Kenny asked.

"Earlier the better!" Karen exclaimed.  "Can you make it by daybreak at 6AM or so? That way we can get the riding lesson done and make the drive over to Quinn's and be on the river by the afternoon."

"Well, that's pretty early for me since I have an hour drive to Karl's place, but yea I think I can make it.", Kenny replied, agonizing over the early wake up call for Saturday.  He would have to get up by 4:30AM to get cleaned up and presentable and then make the drive to Karl's Doomstead by 6AM."

"GREAT!", Karen replied.  "Be sure to bring your A-Game, because the river is running big right now with the spring runoff from the Rockies.  They're not even letting the guests raft the river right now, the flow is too big.  Only the Whitewater Kayakers are out on the river right now."

Hearing this newz, Kenny got a little nervous.  While he had done some canoeing and flat water kayaking over the years, he had no experince with Whitewater Kayaking, and going down the Clark's Fork River at the height of the spring runoff was probably not the best way to start this sort of adventuring.  However, he certainly was not going to appear to be a fraidy cat to Karen!  Sink or Swim!  Take the Bull by the Horns!  He revved up his GUTS and sounded as Macho as he could manage, given his knees were banging together as his legs shook at the prospect.

"Wow! That sounds FABULOUS Karen! I can't WAIT to get on the river!", Kenny lied.  "At least I am a decent swimmer, and Karen was a Nationally Ranked Whitewater Kayaker, so she probably can handle it by herself and I'll just be providing backup." he reassured himself in his head.

"OK, see you Saturday morning!" Karen responded.  ""Gotta go out now for a run with Huckleberry.  She's frisky this morning, and so am I!", Karen remarked with thinly disguised sexual innuendo.

Karen hung up the phone and Kenny did a quick Relief Job on Mr. Johnson with Ms. Hand before getting on the road to get his lawns cut for the day, and a couple of tree surgery jobs as well. This was very good paying work, although the Insurance he had to carry to do this work cut into the profit quite a bit.  Still, worthwhile work as it extended his season on either end, plus whenever there was a major storm he got a LOT of work and sometimes made $1000/day this way, often paid for by Da Goobermint who would hire supplemental contractors.

He was swinging from one of the tree limbs with his Pole Saw in his climbing harness later that afternoon when he felt his Smartphone Vibrate in the lower pocket of his Cargo Shorts, but at least now he was no longer jumping when the thing fired off.  He was getting a bit more used to getting phone calls all the time now.

Looking at the display, it showed that it was Kirsten. Kenny took a deep breath and got his lies ready.

"Hi Kenny, it's Kirsten!" she bubbled up in her usual effusive manner.

"Hi Kirsten!  I'm swinging from a tree branch right now, so can't talk much but what's up?"

"I was wondering if we were going out to get some climbing done and more camping this weekend, maybe this time on our own so we can have more alone time together?", Kirsten cooed into her I-phone.

"Oh, no, I can't this weekend Kirsten.  My mom called me and she wants me to come for a visit with her in Spokane where she is living now.  She's also going to come visit here over the Memorial Day Weekend, so you'll get to meet her then."

Kirsten was disappointed, her first night with Kenny was just great sex, maybe the best she had ever had.  However, it did cheer her up some that Kenny wanted her to meet his mother, that was always a good sign that a guy was serious and not just screwing you for fun.

"Oh, that's a bummer.", Kirsten said a bit dejectedly. "Well, what about getting together Thursday Night?  We can go out for Dinner and then you can come and stay over with me in my dorm room.  I live in a suite with 3 other coeds and have my own room.  Or we could overnight in your Stealth Van.  I never did it in a van.", Kirsten giggled.

Back came the Woody, and swinging from a Western Red Cedar with his Pole Saw in one hand and the smart phone in the other, there was no relief in sight for this one.  He would just have to suffer.  There also was no way he was turning down another night with Kirsten, even though he knew he would probably be cheating on her with Karen over the weekend.

"Sure, that sounds great Kirsten!", Kenny replied with genuine enthusiasm.  "Where do you want to go to dinner?  What kind of food do you like?"

"Well, I like the Red Bird Restaraunt & Wine Bar.  It's pricy, but we can Go Dutch if you want.", Kirsten replied, concerned that Kenny's income might not be enough to drop a C-Note on dinner.

Kenny had expected Kirsten to name Red Lobster or another chain, and was a little surprised by this choice, although then he remembered she was one of the "Cool Kids" in High School who came from rich families.  Now he had TWO fine restaraunts to go to in one week and cough up the FRNs to pay for the food!  That was two more than he had ever dined at in his entire life!  However, he certainly did not want to appear "unsuccessful" to Kirsten, any more than he wanted to appear to be a Fraidy Cat to Karen and demure from kayaking down the Clark's Fork River at the height of the spring runoff.  He was a successful and macho Kollapsnik!  A Big Swinging Dick swinging from a Western Red Cedar with a 4HP Gas powered Huskvarna Pole Saw in his Right Hand and a Samsung Galaxy Mega Smart Phone in his Left Hand!

"Oh no Kirsten, its on me.  Landscaping Biz is doing real well so far this season.  I have a bunch of these tree surgery jobs to do since the winter storms this year messed up so many trees.  I'm sure the tree I am hanging from right now will pay for dinner!", Kenny replied hopefully, not sure what the fucking dinner would end up costing.  Whatever it cost though, it was worth it for another night of bed wrestling with Kirsten!  He also would get at least two evenings out of formal clothing he would purchase at Target that before the weekend.  He would have to go online to Google up some pics of what the upper class actually wore these days to fine restaraunts?  Tuxedos?  Armani suits?

Kirsten was relieved Kenny offered to pick up the tab.  Since her scumbag World Class Geochemist father had been arrested by the FBI and was awaiting trial for his Crimes Against Humanity, his bank accounts had been frozen, her mother was not receiving her Alimony payments and she had to take out a Student Loan to pay for her current semester at Missoula State University, along with the dorm room rent and her books too!  She did not have a huge debt yet, but she could see where it was going to quickly accumulate, and for the first time she realized why Kenny had chosen not to go to college at all.  He was MAKING MONEY!  She was going in DEBT!

Still, in front of her friends she played the part of the Little Rich Girl, she didn't want to be pitied and snubbed because she was poor now.  It was more difficult daily to keep up the facade though, and dropping some of her meager bank account on dinner was not something she really wanted to do, but would have done if necessary to further nail down Kenny.  He was a GOOD CATCH!  A hard working and smart guy, and great in the sack too!  Plus his friend Karl was pretty cool, and appeared to be very well off financially even if he was a little eccentric and an old Boomer. Despite the fact she felt like she was in competition for Kenny's affections with Karen his daughter, she liked her too!  So she was determined to make this work.

"OK, Kenny, I'll let you pay it this time.  But the next dinner is on me!"  Kirsten replied, figuring she would cook dinner for Kenny, as the best way to a man's heart is through his stomach.

"Sounds good Kirsten!", Kenny replied.  "What time should I pick you up for Dinner?"

"I get out of class at 4PM on Thursday.  I'll make reservations for 6PM for dinner at Red Bird."

"OK, I'll be by the dorm at 5:30 to pick you up.  See you then!"

After hanging up the smart phone, Kenny went back to work whacking off Tree Limbs and stacking them in a pile to come back later with his Dr. Chipper wood chipper powered by a Briggs & Stratton engine and turn th pile into valuable Mulch.

He returned to the Storage Unit to drop the trailer after work, and then went online to Google pics of Fancy People having Fancy Dinners to see what they wore these days.  He was gratified to see they weren't wearing Tuxedos like in the old films from the Great Depression where Nick & Nora Charles were out consuming expensive food while the rest of the population was starving, but still paying a Nickel at the Movie Theater to see how the Upper Class was living and live themselves vicariously through that.  Not too many Armani Suits either, although most of the men seemed to wear a collar shirt and tie with a Blazer.  So he elected to buy those a Target after work, along with some dress pants and leather shoes instead of his usual Sneakers or Hiking Boots.

The total cost for the outfit wasn't too bad, since it was all sewn up by cheap child labor in India and Pakistan, coming in around $100 when all was said and done with all the accesories like a tie pin, matching leather belt and a faux Gold Wristwatch.  Split over the two fancy dinners, this was only $50 for each one, and he might get further use from this clothing later, so it wasn't a completely wasted investment.

Satisfied he had his weekend plans reasonably in order, Kenny spent the next two days working long hours to get as much done as he could and not lose too much income by taking off Friday from work.  After hanging with Kristen on Thursday, he would drive to his own property on Friday to spend the night in the Stealth Van, so that he would not have to wake up so early to meet up with Karen at Karl's Doomstead.  He could get an extra hour of sleep in that way.

The rest of the week was speant pleasantly, as Kenny fantasized about the coming weekend of Doomer Sex Gone Wild.

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HISC Novel Meta: Parody vs Realism in PI-Fi
« Reply #41 on: April 05, 2017, 02:01:13 AM »

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on April 5, 2017

Gulliver's Trravels by Jonathan Swift put Gulliver in a lot of throughly unrealistic situations.  But there was meaning behind the "Little Endians"& "Big Endians".  Most people of the era did not grasp what he was parodying.  A good parody requires that only a few people can see through what you are doing with the parody.  If it is too transparent, it's not a good parody.

Discuss this article at the Collapse Narratives Table inside the Diner

Yesterday I published an article from Jason Heppenstall of 22 Billion Energy Slaves on the topic of "PI-FI", shorthand for Post-Industrial Fiction.  It's an analogy to "Sci-Fi", the shorthand for Science Fiction.  The genre is relatively new, although you could count older dystopian films like Mad Max as a part of this futurology sort of narrative.  However, probably more directly on point would be stuff like James Howard Kunstler's "A World Made by Hand".  Jason has written a novel of his own, "Seat of Mars", and I  am currently writing one of my own, "How I Survived Collapse".

Inside the Diner in the Forum, I got some negative feedback on my PI-Fi serial novel, How I Survived Collapse.  The basic gist of the criticism is that the novel isn't realistic enough.

I thought this would have been obvious, but it's not intended to be realistic at all.  It's a cartoon.  It's a parody of the Prepper Fantasy World.  It's meant to be light entertainment, it's certainly not meant to describe the reality of the world to come, or the reality of anyone living the off-grid lifestyle on a small farm currently.

I am trying to make it semi-believable by using real locations and roads etc.  I had to do some Googling to find the Quinn's Hot Springs Resort and then hit Google Earth for the neighborhood around Lolo National Forest.  All the restaurants I have dropped in so far are real places, and I Google up their menus also and wine lists!  That's the Foodie in me.  Do I know the quality of the soil on Karl's Doomstead and what he could actually grow there?  Hell no, I'm not a Permaculture PDC Professional!  However, I give him stuff like Raised Beds and Potato Towers and Hydroponics so that in idealistic theory he can grow whatever he needs on this doomstead.  He's got Hunting and Fishing available too!  A running stream to dam up and set up Micro Hydro power plant! His own Mountain to put up Wind Turbines on!  A pond for raising frogs and trout to smoke!  Talk about idealized and unrealistic!  You'll never have ALL of that in one location.

In looking at all the rest of the suppositions made here in HISC, let's start with all the utterly unreal characters in the novel.

First off there are the main characters of Karl and Kenny.  In order to have enough money to set up this idealized Doomstead, somebody had to have gobs of moolah to fund the whole thing.  So Karl got invented as a savvy Wall Street investor turned Prepper.  That solved the money problem.  It should only be that EZ to find deep pocket preppers to fund your SUN☼Community IRL!  lol.

For Kenny, you have a young genius who gets into prepping at the ripe old age of around 13 while he is still in Junior High.  Then he elects not to go to college but instead run a landscaping bizness and live out of his van.  He's an expert in Martial Arts, Fencing etc. Besides that, he becomes a chick magnet too! lol.  If this doesn't clue you in to the fact this is total parody, you have completely missed the boat here.

The women are all HOT, Athletic and Intelligent.  They're practically world class at everything from Kayaking to Mountain Climbing, and they love camping too!  How many women have you known in your life that loved camping, besides car camping with all the comforts of home? I can count them on the fingers of one hand, and that was in my younger years when they were young too.  I do know there are a few women who like roughing it into their later years, but I've never known one personally.

Then there is the Gang of Terminators, which is running in Missoula with a whole bunch of other gangs too! Are there gangs of this type in Missoula, MT?  lol, no of course not.  However, I had social issues I wanted to cover in the novel, so I invented gangs in a sleepy MT town!  Then in order to cover security and internet issues, this gang needed a hacker/computer wizard, so I gave them one of those.  They are also doing very well financially, making gobs of money selling ganja and running prostitutes too!  Everybody is just swimming in money in this cartoon!

Another criticism is related to the unreality of the doomstead life.  How were the Horses being fed?  Who was milking the goats?  Who was in the kitchen all day butchering the chickens, canning the produce and making the goat cheese?  This is one of those things like Warp Drive in Sci-Fi narratives.  You know faster than light travel isn't possible, but you suspend your disbelief for the purposes of following the narrative.  You know food replicators and matter-energy transporter systems aren't possible either, but does this stop you from enjoying an episode of Star Trek? It's FICTION!  That's the "Fi" part in Sci-Fi or PI-Fi.

Now what my critic Farmer MacGregor apparently wants is something grittier and more realistic, telling the tale of the REAL life of the small farm doomsteader like he is.  If that's the kind of PI-Fi novel he wants, he should write it!  lol.  But then he will say, "no I don't have time to write this, I have to go outside and milk the goats for real".  So he wants me to write this story, except I don't want to write that story, I want to have some fun writing!

There is enough dystopian shit going on IRL that I write about in non-fiction every week.  In order to counterbalance that and lighten things up some, I write a parody novel which by it's title is upbeat, since you know from the get go at least the main characters will survive.  You can root for and identify with your favorite cartoon character and wish you were that person.

Nothing in this novel is the least bit realistic and should not be taken an attempt on my part to paint a realistic picture of our current world or the world to come.  For that I would have to write something far more dystopian and I would find writing The Road or Children of Men to be a rather depressing exercise. lol.  Besides, it's been done.

On the other hand, fantasizing about a bunch of preppers who have plenty of money to buy all the toys they want, where all the women are gorgeous, sexy and hot to trot and where everybody lives Happily Ever After is a lot of fun! 🙂

I slip in a lot of references that only regular Diners who have been around a long time will recognize.  For instance, the whole Romance Novel parody aspect of this comes from a Diner whose ex-wife wrote Romance Novels and who ran a website dedicated to this genre.  Such novels are very popular amongst the women folk, and the collapse blogosphere is sadly deficient in this demographic.  A Survey on this came up with only 14% female readers across a half dozen or so websites I posted the survey to.  I toyed with the idea of writing more graphic and steamy sex scenes similar to the ones these novels have in them, but elected to keep it light there. lol. I personally do not like either pornographic novels or movies, I always found the depictions of sex to be rather disgusting even when I was bizzy doing it myself.  I don't know if this will draw in more female readers, but it's worth the effort and fun to write also as long as you're not writing all the grimy sex details. lol..

Another parody I have a lot of fun with is all the gadgets and gear that Prepper Websites like Canadian Prepper are hawking all the time for sale, or at least to get a freeby from the company producing the item for themselves.  So every time one of the characters needs some gadget, I go Googling on the web to ‌find a "best in class" item and drop in the brand name and model number. lol.  There is NOTHING this group of intrepid preppers does not have!  Short Wave Radios, Electric Vehicles, Solar Panels and Wind Turbines, Micro Hydro power, and of course Gunz and Ammo out the WAZOO!  I haven't got to it yet, but Karl actually has RPGs and C4 Plastic Explosives stored in an abandoned shaft in his Gold Mine! lol.

Despite the fact this is all intentional parody, I'm still trying to communicate important ideas in a lighthearted sort of way.  It IS important to prep up to enhance your survival chances (and they are small regardless how well prepped you are).  It IS important to form community and gather more people together for self-defense and to distribute out the work load and have people who are good craftsmen in one area or another.  It IS important to consider security issues, self-defense and protecting yourself from the ever more invasive Police State. It IS important to consider transportation issues and how you might work around them for at least a transition period.

Sci-Fi almost NEVER reflects the future in any remotely realistic fashion.  Ever see "Starship Troopers"?  Not the LEAST bit realistic, but absolutely HILARIOUS!  How about "A Boy and His Dog", with the young Don Johnson as the survivor and Blood his Telepathic Dog locating girls for him?  lol.  Also hilarious.  Why does PI-Fi need to be any more realistic and serious than this stuff?  It's FICTION! Have some fun with it!


OK, now that I have taken this week in meta commentary to defend my approach to the HISC Novel, next week we will return to the novel and Kenny will hook up with Kareem to buy some Ganja. 😀

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Offline Nearingsfault

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Re: How I Survived the Collapse: Chapter 1
« Reply #42 on: April 05, 2017, 04:10:50 PM »
Starship troopers was one of my favourite books by Heinlein.  Its not the book's fault Hollywood ruined it.
If its important then try something, fail, disect, learn from it, try again, and again and again until it kills you or you succeed.

Offline RE

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Re: How I Survived the Collapse: Chapter 1
« Reply #43 on: April 05, 2017, 04:22:39 PM »
Starship troopers was one of my favourite books by Heinlein.  Its not the book's fault Hollywood ruined it.

I don't think Hollywood ruined it at all.  That was one of the most hilarious Sci-Fi flms of all time.  Right up there with "The Blob".  :icon_mrgreen:

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How I Survived Collapse: Chapter 20
« Reply #44 on: April 12, 2017, 02:05:04 AM »

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on April 12, 2017


Discuss this article at the Collapse Narratives Table inside the Diner

As Wednesday rolled around, Kenny noticed his bag of Ganja was running low, and he needed to replenish the supply.  He really missed being able to supply himself with the Medicinal Weed by growing it hydroponically in the basement of his old McHovel. He couldn't wait to get his Walipini built with Karl's help using a big ass Daiwoo Back Hoe and Front End Loader so he could start growing some nice Sinsemilla in there for his personal supply, and perhaps a Cash Crop now that at least Medical Marijuana was legalized in Montana.  Perhaps until the Walipini was finished Karl would let him grow some in the Earthship Greenhouse area?  He'd have to ask him about doing that.

Meanwhile, his main source of reefer was his friend from High School Kareem, an immensely tall black guy around 7 feet in height, although a bit thin and lanky.  Kareem did his business out of the Mall, generally parking himself on one of the benches in front of the Macy's Anchor with his Wireless Ear Buds on listening to Rap Music and surfing the internet on his Iphone.  He wasn't hard to miss even sitting down, since even sitting he was still taller than most of the shoppers heading into Macy's.

Kareem was sitting on his bench, trying to act like all was normal and it was just another day out at the Mall selling the Mary Jane.  Normally, he got very little in the way of flack from the local Gestapo, generally there were bigger problems to attend to than a small time Ganja seller, and he also paid out a few bribes as necessary.  However, these were not normal times, and the investigation over the Drive By shootings at the 7-11 was still ongoing.  The Gestapo had shown up the previous night at Kim's Auto Body Shop during the evening meeting looking for Kensoto, who was pretty well hidden couch surfing in Atlanta in the West African community for the moment, with fake ID as Ibrahim Kanshasa.

All the Terminators at the meeting were questioned by the Gestapo, but they did not get much information.  The Terminators had several days to get their story straight, and the line was that Kensoto had gone missing the night of the shootings and nobody had seen him since.  When they finally left, Kim immediately sent an encrypted message to Kensoto that he was now on the Radar and would probably have to make a decision of whether to return and face a probable indictment, or to stay permanently underground as a fugitive.  There was still no word back from Kensoto, and the whole clusterfuck was keeping him preoccupied.  When Kenny tapped him on the shoulder he was briefly startled since he was focused on playing Sid Meyer's Civilization on his I-phone and blasting Kanye West into his earbuds.  He pulled out the earbuds and gave Kenny a big smile.  He was a good customer, even if he was a little far out with his Doom scenarios, although Kareem was starting to think he might be right.

"Yo Kenny!  How's it going dude?" Kareem greeted him.

"Oh, you know the usual.  Cut a lawn here, dig a hole there.  Haven't seen you at the gym lately, you're going to get flabby!", Kenny joked.

"Yea, things have been busy lately…", Kareem responded without going into detail.  Much as he would have liked to unload to Kenny, he wasn't that sure of him yet.  He had proposed the idea of offering himmembership in the Terminators, but so far no decision had been reached.  "…so, you still 'preppin up' these days?", Kareem asked changing the topic.

"Sure am!", Kenny replied. "In fact, I have a new plan for developing an off grid community for when TSHTF.".  He pulled a card out of his pocket, a Level 2 card with his cell phone number and email address on it. Considering he was buying reefer from Kareem, he seemed safe enough to give a level 2 card to. He also would be a good person to have around, he was a mighty intimidating presence at 7 feet tall.  "If things go south in a hurry at some point, give me a call or email me.  I'll let you know where we have our Doomstead set up."

Kareem took the card and dropped it in his wallet.  The "we"" Kenny used sounded interesting.  He always thought of Kenny as a Loner, it was interesting to find out that he apparently had friends involved in his collapse planning.

" 'We', huh? Got yourself a Gang of Kollapsniks?", Kareem asked, semi-sarcastically.

Kenny laughed.  "Well, I wouldn't exactly call it a gang, but there are a few of us.", he responded without specifying any numbers or the fact his "gang" currently only consisted of himself, an old guy and two really HOT women.  He'd have to get to know Kareem better before he let on any more information about the Doomstead.

"Well, thanks for the invitation, if we do get the kind of collapse you were always spouting off on back in High School, I'll definitely give you a call.  Here's my card too." Kareem said, handing him one of the Terminator's Biz Cards with their Public phone number and email, which Kim monitored and filtered for malware and viruses.

Kenny noticed immediately that the email address was on an Icelandic Server with a .ic file extension.

"Wow.  Iceland Server!  That's cool Kareem!"

Kareem laughed.  "LOL.  Doomers aren't the only ones who need to be concerned with security.  In our business, it's pretty important too.  Kim our IT guy is a total freak about this stuff.  Speaking of which, are we doing any business today?" Kareem inquired.

'Oh, definitely!", Kenny replied.  "A couple of things.  First I'd like to pick up a Kilo of tha shit from Colorado if you still have some.  That was pretty good and better than that Mexican trash you laid on me a few months ago."

Kareem laughed.  "Yea, that shit was not the greatest, I admit. But you can't always get the real good bud from the small suppliers.  We do the best we can, and try to keep at least something in inventory all the time.  Let's take a walk out to my van, I have a couple of different varieties available this week.  The Colorado ganja is gone, but I have some from Idaho and from Oregon, along with the Mexican shit which I'm sure you don't want even though it's a lot cheaper."

"Yea, understood.", Kenny replied. "Speaking of suppliers, I was considering getting back in the business of growing, now that Medical Marijuana use has been legalized in Montana.  However, since recreational use still isn't legal, I could use some underground help in distribution."

"I'm your man!", Kareem said, flashing a big smile.  "I remember smoking some of your bud in High School, that was really first class ganja!  How much do you think you'll be growing?" he asked, as they reached the van.  "Let's go for a drive, I don't want to do the deal here in the parking lot, too obvious."

Kenny got in the passenger seat and Kareem got in behind the wheel, barely squeezing in with the seat all the way back and a raised roof on the full size Ford Econoline.  A quick drive over to the rear parking lot of an abandoned warehouse got them the privacy necessary to do the deal in relative safety.

"Probably a couple of kilos a month once I get my Walipini fully set up.", Kenny estimated.  "I may have a small amount of product this year from a smaller greenhouse arrangement, but full production not until next year, or maybe over the winter working with grow lamps and heating the Walipini."

"Sounds like a decent amount of smokeables.", Kareem replied as they got out of the Captain's Chair seats in the front of the Van and Kareem opened the side sliding door for Kenny to have a look at his current inventory of products.  "We can work out the pricing and split of profits once you have some product.  If it is as good as I remember, I probably can get $100-$150/ounce for it retail.  So should make a few grand a month easy, long as we can move it all anyhow."

"As long as the FRNs are still working, that will be a good supplemental income. It will buy a lot of good preps.", Kenny replied as he sniffed the Ganja from Idaho and Oregon to compare. He didn't bother with the Mexican trash. The Oregon buds were considerably fresher and more pungent in odor, so it was a no brainer.  "How much for the Oregon bud?" he inquired.

"Good choice." Kareem nodded.  "$120/ounce."

"Any discount for larger quantity?", Kenny asked.

Kareem sensed a big sale in the making.  Most of his clients could only afford a half ounce or less at a time, and often he would sell by the joint.  This sale could make his whole day!

"I'll go $400 for a 1/4 pound.", Kareem replied.

"DEAL!" Kenny replied, reaching in his back pocket for his Snakeskin Wallet he had made from a Rattlesnake he decapitated with a Fast Hatchet when out on a camping trip during High School.  Withdrawing 4 Benjamins from the wallet, he handed them over to Kareem, and Kareem took 4 Ziplock Glad Bags of the Oregon Bud from out of the secret compartment in the bed of the van.  It was almost his entire stash of the stuff that he would carry around at one time in the van.  Most of the inventory was kept at various secret locations around Missoula, and he would replenish as necessary.  Only the very top officers in the Terminators organization knew where these drops were, himself and Kim.

"Excellent deal!", Kareem said as they boarded the van for the trip back to the Mall parking lot. "I will talk to the rest of my officers to see their opinion on taking you on as a supplier.  It would entail your joining our organization and taking the Terminator Oath of Loyalty."

Kenny considered this as they pulled into the parking lot at the Mall.  He wasn't a big Joiner, generally having preferred to work on his own over his years as a prepper.  However, the decision to try to create a SUN Community rather than go it alone as a Solo Doomer meant that this sort of joining and cooperating with others would be necessary.  It really would depend on the other people in Kareem's Terminator Gang, and what the Oath of Loyalty said.  Gang Bangers generally had a bad reputation, but Kareem seemed like a decent guy.  Also, Gang Bangers generally had pretty good fmiliarity with weapons, and those might very well be necessary to Protect & Defend the Doomstead against Zombies & Rogue National Guard and Police forces.

"I'll give it some thought Kareem.", Kenny replied cautiously. "I'll have to talk it over with the rest of my group."

"That's fair.  I need to talk it over also.  Maybe we can get together next week and work on it."

"OK, send me an email when you work something out." Kenny replied getting into his own van.  "Right now I gotta get back to work!  Got a big ass lawn of an ER Doctor to cut today!"

Kareem waved as Kenny drove off, and then walked back inside the Mall to see if he could make a few more sales for the day. The sale to Kenny already made his day, but every bit of profit was good, and besides it kept his mind off the problems Kensoto was having, somewhat.

The issues of both Kenny and Kensoto would have to be discussed in detail at the next meeting of the Terminators.

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