Been raiding.

So, raiding. It’s the new thing. All the cool kids are doing it. Thought I’d give it a go.

Turns out, in the town, the power hasn’t even gone yet. There was even power to the pumps in the gas station on the way in, and nobody in sight. Guess there’s a limited number of cops left to go round, and they’re sticking to the banks and the major food stores. Nobody was guarding the road blocks, but then I didn’t see any other traffic. Maybe they’re guarding road blocks further out towards the freeway, and I’m just in the middle of an exclusion zone. It looks like I’m pretty much on my own here, and I’m hoping that means everybody else got evacuated to some kind of quarantine place and I got left out, rather than, you know, the alternative, which is kind of creepy. I don’t pass many houses on my way into town, but the few I did, I tried not to look in the windows. The nightmares are bad enough without that.

I worked out how to pump the gas – I’m not the first, cause there’s about $25,000 on the dial. Not a cent on the till, so I didn’t bother leaving cash just for the next guy to pick up. I didn’t bother with the rest of the town, cause I’m pretty much OK for food, water, ammo. Realized when I got back I coulda done with some cooking oil, but isn’t that always the way? I’ll stock up next time I go in, and I’ll plant some sunflowers to press my own oil in future.

So I got seed in the ground and food in the stores. To answer Mei’s “recipes for disaster” meme, I’ve been preserving plums, since I got a good crop. Here’s my Mom’s recipe:

1. Put 1kg of fruit, minus the stones (yeah, I only made that mistake once) and about a cup of water in a pan and heat it till it boils.
2. Lower the heat and simmer it for about 30 minutes, or until the fruit’s really soft.
3. Add 1kg sugar and stir it in till it’s dissolved, then bring it all to the boil again.
4. Boil it for about 10 minutes, then scrape off any bits on the top and let it cool for 10-15 minutes.
5. Put it in jars that you’ve warmed and sterilized in boiling water and put the lids on while it’s still warm. They should pull the seal down as they cool and pop when you open them up for the first time.

I used the preserve to baste a roast chicken. Real cooking! Mom would be proud. I reckon there’ll be enough preserve to see me through the year. The chicken was from frozen – have to use all that up before the power goes for good. Tomorrow I’m going on a sort of self-interested mercy mission to round up any ownerless poultry or cattle in the area. Fruit and vegetables are what I know, but they’re not what I want to live on forever.


Where I belong

Meritocracy, e.g. A Modern Utopia by H.G. Wells.

Meritocracy, e.g. A Modern Utopia by H.G. Wells.

A place for everyone, and everyone in their place. This is just a little sinister, but of course Wells was writing without the benefit of hindsight that we now have about “socialists” who favour rigid hierarchies with a faint whiff of eugenics. Meritocracy is often a very appealing concept to those who get to define merit. Freedom is being satisfied with your allotted place.

See the story behind this quiz at

Which Utopia are you building?

So, on top of my life falling apart, I get a meme calling me a fascist just cause I think people should do what they’re good at. Figures.

I guess it’s difficult for people to get where I’m coming from. Kids who grow up on farms are supposed to spend their teens longing to get away to the big city. My school buddies did. Carla did. But I was happy with where I was and what I had. I knew I was where I belonged. Mom and Dad never got that. They always wanted me to have some ambition beyond the farm.

Way I always saw it, I had the W4, why did I have to go anyplace else to do what I wanted? Why would I go to college to draw comics when there’s hundreds of online vidcast courses I could do from here? I only agreed to go on that Extreme Research thing to get my folks off my back about “new experiences” and “meeting people”. Sure, I enjoyed it, I had new experiences, I met people. But what good is meeting somebody you never get to see again? What good is wanting to be somebody you’re not, and going looking for things to want other than what’s right in front of you?

Now, all those opportunities everybody bugged me to go chasing after are gone, and all anybody wants is to know where the food’s coming from. Everybody’s got to re-evaluate their ambitions. A farmer is pretty much the best thing you can be now. Staying here turns out to be the best career move I ever made. It’s just a shame my family will never know it.

Making it up to Mei

The holiday-makers have gone home, so I’m back in my house, and we got most of the spring harvest in – well, enough to get by, maybe, just about, if we find buyers.  It’ll be a tough year, and we’re ass-deep in debt, but if we do well in the fall we won’t have to sell up.  Hey, if we can’t get buyers, we’ll just have to live off the land for a year.

It’s quiet here today.  Carla and the folks are away doing a stall at a series of food fairs, along with most of the town – some famous vidcast chef’s doing a promo on growing, picking and shooting your own food (like he invented it) and just about every suckass in the county wants to get their produce or their face on the set.  I’m taking care of stuff back here, but I got a cold, so I’m taking a well-deserved rest and spending a few quality hours with my ImmerXen Gamesphere.

After that, I’m going to take back some time to concentrate on the important things, and I want to try and be there for Mei more than I have been, get up earlier so we can be on SkIMp for longer, see if we can keep things going.  I didn’t even answer her last meme, so here it is: I’m a deep-pan pizza – a little cheesy at first glance, but plenty going on under the surface.  I’m at my best at home in front of the homeset, with friends and family.  You can cut me into pieces, but you’ll never finish me off, and when you leave me cold, you’ll be back for more in the morning.    And if that don’t work for ya, there’s this:

I don't believe you would-chuck me.

I don’t believe you would-chuck me.

Manifesto for nothing much

So, Mei’s meme this month is Disaster Manifestos. What emergency measures would you enforce if a pandemic broke out? It’s a tough one – I’ve thought a lot about what I’d do, just for me and my family, but I guess I never thought much about anybody else, or what everybody should do. I just wanted to make sure everybody I cared about would be here, so I wouldn’t have to worry about it. I look at what the governments around the world are doing with quarantine camps and communications lockdowns, and I can see it’s wrong, but I can’t really see what else to do. Honestly, I can’t think of a good solution that’ll work for everybody – most people are fucked, it’s pretty much just the ones who get out of whatever plans the government put in place who are going to survive. So I guess I’d say everybody for themselves. And even I wouldn’t vote for that.

I really hope the US government have come up with something better, cause I guess you all heard about the confirmed cases on the West coast. They reckon it’s the slower-moving Eastern European strain, not that virulent Australasian one, so I think we should be OK. Airports and national borders got closed up beginning of the month, and now State borders are shutting tight. It makes sense, but pretty much screws us for the Spring harvest. Not only have Marelys and Jaivin’s gang not been able to get out of Puerto Rico, our back-up plan is now no go. We’ve been trying to get a loan to pay local workers, but we can’t find enough (money or workers) so we’re resorting to tourists. My voluntary quarantine’s been cut short, and I’ve had to vacate my house so it can be used as a holiday home for cheapskate city families who get a free country break in return for 4 hours a day harvesting – and jeez, they’re slow, you’d think they’d never seen a damn beanstalk before, and I swear they’re eating more than they put in the basket. We’ve pulled in every favour and drop of goodwill from friends and family, too. No good asking neighbours – they all got the same deal themselves. I haven’t even been able to speak with Mei for a week cause I have to be out in the fields 8 hours a day picking beans and beets. I look like a damned beet.

Carla was talking about selling the necklaces Granma left her to get in a stock of anti-virals from a drugstore on a “genuine” medical socnet, but I told her not to trust that shit. For a start, it could be anything, and even if it is real Reliflu, it won’t stop you catching shit, it’ll just suppress the symptoms a little longer and let you spread it. Better to spend it on stocks of tinned and dried food and keep away from people. She said, “Guess you’re right, Jack,” then she did it anyway. Why do I bother?
Seems like everybody’s keeping a stock of Reliflu or something like it “just in case”. Next time we get a head cold going round here everyone’ll start chugging them like candy, and we’ll probably breed some kind of superbug. Maybe that’ll fight off the bird flu, like Godzilla. That’s about as near to a plan as we got round here. I’m just not leaving the farm.

Like a boy scout…

So Mei’s meme is, what are we doing to prepare ourselves for Blood Flu? It happens this is something I’ve put a little thought into – well, not for Blood Flu specifically, but y’know how it is when you watch those old disaster movies and you look around your place and you think, “Well, I’ll store my food supplies in the waterproofed basement and run a dynamo from the tank and keep a cache of weapons in that roofspace and split the ammo and fuel supplies between the buildings with thought to that vulnerable point on my perimeter where there’s no direct line of sight from the water tower and—” you get the gist. I’m not saying I think it’ll happen, but this is one of the ways I spend an idle hour. So I reckon I’m pretty well prepped.

I figure, I’m in a good place for it if it did happen. We’re way out from centres of population, and we can hole up here indefinitely – long as we learn to really like beans and squash, or maybe breed woodchucks. If the mains water goes we got the tower that sees to most of our irrigation needs outside of a drought, and would serve pretty well as a watch-tower if we had to defend the perimeter from looters, zombies or whatever. We got stores of food and the means to grow more. We got shelter, weapons, enough of us to defend ourselves and not too many to feed.

I guess the main thing I’d need to do is secure the perimeter a little better, cause at the moment it’s just a wire fence. I need to make sure I got a range of foods stored, and something to purify water that’s been sitting in the tank. I need fuel for the generator in case the electric goes. None of this stuff is hard.

So I guess no need to worry about me – I’m pretty much all set. If anything went down with the outside world, this is pretty much the safest and best place I could imagine being.

All that’s missing is Mei. But nothing we can do about that now except wait, and hope.

My suspicions are confirmed…

You will survive: The Zombie Plague

You will survive: The Zombie Plague

You know how to keep a loaded gun by your side at all times, guard your perimeter and, above all, DESTROY THE BRAIN.

You’re a lone survivor, probably because you killed all your potential team-mates in your over-zealous attempts to defend your little piece of rock with a flag on it from the living dead. It is the fate of those who live by the gun to live and die alone.

You could get a dog, but I suspect it would end badly.

See the story behind this quiz at

Which apocalyptic disaster will you survive?

Not sure about the lone survivor bit – I see myself as leading a team against the encroaching hordes – but hell, yeah! I’m ready for them.