Preps getting more and more mainstream...

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Preps getting more and more mainstream...

Post by Rockfish Dave » Sun Apr 05, 2009 12:24 pm

http://www.star-telegram.com/804/story/1299768.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

http://video.star-telegram.videos.vmixc ... 64&f=txfor" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Dallas-Fort Worth's 'modern survivalists' are ready for layoffs - or war
By MELODY McDONALDmjmcdonald@star-telegram.com


Jack Spirko owns a media company, is married to a nurse and has a son in college. He has two dogs and lives in a nice house with a pool in a diversified neighborhood in Arlington.

Spirko, 36, considers himself an average guy with a normal life.

But for the past few years, Spirko has been stockpiling food, water, gas, guns and ammunition. He also has a load of red wine, Starbucks coffee and deodorant stashed away.

"I refer to myself as a modern survivalist, which means I don’t do without," Spirko explained. "I have a nice TV; I have nice furniture. We are not living in the sticks, but I take all of these things very seriously."

Spirko, an Army veteran and self-described "stark-raving-mad Libertarian," is part of a growing movement of people who are preparing for a disaster — natural, economic or man-made. Referred to as "modern survivalists" or "preppers," they are taking steps to protect and provide for their families should something bad happen.

Theirs is a different breed of survivalist, far from the right-wing militants or religious extremists who hole up in bunkers, live off the land and wait for the apocalypse.

Preppers are regular people with regular jobs who decided after 9-11, after Hurricane Katrina or when their 401(k)s tanked that they can’t rely on someone else to help them if something goes awry.

"We are normal people just like you," Spirko said. "We just understand that, sometimes, stuff goes wrong."

Prompted by Katrina

Donnie, 38, a McKinney resident who is an account executive with an international trade show organization, said Hurricane Katrina opened his eyes. He spent six weeks working as a paramedic in New Orleans.

"It was a logistical nightmare getting to the area," Donnie said. "And the longer you were there, the more you realized that, in a blink of an eye, your life can be turned upside down. I don’t want to be the person in the bread line or standing in line for ice."

Donnie, like many of those interviewed for this article, agreed to talk to the Star-Telegram on the condition that his last name not be used.

"I usually don’t advertise it," Donnie said. "There are people who cast a wary eye."

He said that after Katrina, he amassed about two weeks’ worth of food. But last September, after the economy began to sour, he "kicked into a higher gear" and acquired more supplies and water-filtration systems.

"I probably have about six months’ worth of food for two people," Donnie said. "I keep about 30 gallons of water on hand, and I have the means to store another 200 gallons if I have advance notice of something going bad."

Art Markman, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, said that when people start stockpiling food and water or buying weapons, they are in a motivational state called "avoidance mode."

"You turn on the news and only hear about job losses and the prospect that things are going to get worse than better," he said. "You see signals that the world is full of nasty things you need to avoid. You’ve engaged in this general sense of avoidance. You are trying to focus on safety concerns."

Markman said the trend is not surprising, given the economy.

What exactly preppers are preparing for isn’t specific. It could be a layoff, tornado, global pandemic or nuclear war.

Internet sites devoted to survivalism often refer to scenarios like TEOTWAWKI, an acronym for "the end of the world as we know it."

"I am prepared for just about any disaster that disrupts everyday living," said Bob, 43, a sales manager from eastern Pennsylvania who runs http://www.thinkprepared.net" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;.

"... The economy is at the forefront of my concerns. The unemployment rate is soaring, and most people are not prepared to be without a paycheck for a week, much less a month or longer," Bob said.

Booming business

Businesses that sell storable foods, disaster shelters and guns are thriving.

Bruce Hopkins, owner of Best Prices Storable Foods, which sells dehydrated and canned foods, said sales "exploded" last spring and remain steady. On a single day last week, Hopkins sold $31,000 worth of storable food. Hopkins said a popular item is a one-year food supply for a family of four or family of two, priced at $4,000 and $2,700, respectively.

"I think to have anything less than a month’s food supply is foolish," said Hopkins, whose business is in Quinlan, south of Greenville. "I think it is time to stop watching American Idol and start paying attention to what is going on in the world."

Walton McCarthy, owner and principal engineer of Radius Engineering International, builds underground disaster shelters that protect against nuclear, chemical and biological warfare, among other things.

He said his business has tripled since July, when reports of Iranian missile tests surfaced. McCarthy’s disaster shelters hold 10 to 300 people and cost $105,000 to $6 million. His customers include politicians, doctors and key executives.

"What we are going through now is the Pearl Harbor blues," said McCarthy, whose company is based in Forney, east of Dallas. "All of the ingredients are here. It is around the corner, and no one should be surprised."

At Cheaper Than Dirt Outdoor Adventures, a gun store in north Fort Worth, business has never been better. Owner Dewayne Irwin said he sees three types of customers: "You have the everyday good ol’ boy Texas gun owner. You have the folks that are coming in and saying, 'I’ve lost my job and my neighbor lost their job’ and they really believe they might have to fight over a bucket of carrots or something. And you have the guys who are first-time gun buyers and they don’t really know why. It is Main Street. It is crazy."

'Going back to my roots’

Spirko grew up in rural Pennsylvania, where hunting, fishing, gardening, and canning and storing food were a way of life.

"No one looked at that back then and said, 'These people were survivalists,’ " Spirko said. "That is just what you did."

After Spirko got out of the Army, he moved to Texas and started working in communications and sales.

"I found myself in my mid-20s pursuing corporate America, working the six-figure job and traveling all over the United States," Spirko said.

And then, Y2K happened or, rather, didn’t happen.

"I thought they were absolutely crazy," Spirko said. "They thought the toaster was going to explode when it goes to 2000 or whatever."

And while Spirko didn’t buy into the Y2K scare, he did think legitimate concerns had been raised.

"Right after that, we had the dot-com bubble explode. We had the stock market crash. My portfolio went down by 50 percent overnight. And then 9-11," he said. "I started going back to my roots and started to look at ways to preserve our cash and make sure we had some food on hand."

In July, Spirko launched a podcast for modern survivalists at TheSurvivalPodcast.com. He encourages people to pay down their debt and have extra cash, water and food and an evacuation plan. About the same time, he expanded his backyard garden, where he grows tomatoes, peas, corn, strawberries, onions and jalapeños, among other things.

"We had two big scares with produce last year — jalapeños and tomatoes," Spirko said. "First jalapeños had salmonella, and then tomatoes had salmonella. If that can happen, what other things can happen?"

Gwenn, 52, a self-described "girlvivalist," runs a lodging house in Beaumont. She has plenty of water, a year’s worth of food and a shotgun for protection.

"When we had Hurricane Ike here, a lot of my tenants didn’t evacuate," she said. "While my neighbors were standing in line for MREs [Meals Ready to Eat] at the shopping center, we were grilling steak."

Keeping it quiet

Many survivalists — Spirko is not one of them — are "closet preppers."

Afraid that they will be viewed as crazy or weird, they don’t tell people they are storing freeze-dried food, canning their own vegetables or setting up an alternate location where they can go if TEOTWAWKI arrives. They also don’t want "raiders" beating down their door if a disaster happens.

Bob said survivalists are often viewed — incorrectly — as doomsayers.

"Some people think we want the end of the world as we know it," he said. "I can tell you from my heart, I hope nothing like that ever happens. I want my sons to grow up and have a great life."

Still, Bob believes that everybody should at least have a 72-hour bag of gear, also known as a "bug-out bag," ready to go.

"Survival today is more about being prepared for short-term situations, like hurricanes, floods and blizzards," Bob said. ". . . Learn some basic skills like gardening, first aid and personal defense. Become self-reliant like our grandparents were."

Jordan Mills, 30, an information technology contractor in downtown Houston, put his bug-out bag to good use during Hurricanes Rita and Ike. In it, he keeps his birth certificate, medical records, cash, food, water, flashlights, tape, garbage bags, clothes and other supplies.

Mills said he didn’t choose the "survivalist" label, but others have called him that.

"The word brings to my mind an image of a gruff mountain man with a log cabin, 10 years of food stored up and enough guns to outfit a small army," he said. "I don’t meet that image at all. I consider the chance of a total collapse of society and the end of the world as we know it to be pretty much zero. To me, survivalism is really just preparing for day-to-day inconveniences or emergencies."

A growing community

Every morning, Spirko gets in his diesel Jetta and makes the 50-mile commute from Arlington to Frisco, where his media company is based.

During the drive, he records his daily podcast. He discusses things like storing food safely, finding alternative energy options, dealing with anti-survivalist stigma and finding time to prep.

"The more I dug in, the more I learned," he said. "And then something really cool happened: This community started to build around it."

Spirko said that about 4,000 people download his podcast each day and that his audience is growing.

"People are always waiting for someone else to come and help them," he said. "To me, survivalism is just waking back up to traditional American values. I’m talking about basic self-responsibility, basic self-worth — understanding that you control your life more than anybody else.

"If you do nothing, you may not regret it. But if you do regret it, you are really going to regret it."



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Resources
Best Prices Storable Foods in Quinlan, www. internet-grocer.net

Radius Engineering, http://www.bombshelters.com" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;. Buy McCarthy’s book, Principles of Protection, there or from the American Civil Defense Association.

Cheaper Than Dirt, 2522 NE Loop 820, Fort Worth


People are always waiting for someone else to come and help them. To me, survivalism is just waking back up to traditional American values."

Jack Spirko



MELODY McDONALD, 817-390-7386
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Re: Preps getting more and more mainstream...

Post by Ricky Romero » Sun Apr 05, 2009 1:02 pm

Melody McDonald wrote:Spirko, an Army veteran and self-described "stark-raving-mad Libertarian," is part of a growing movement of people who are preparing for a disaster — natural, economic or man-made. Referred to as "modern survivalists" or "preppers," they are taking steps to protect and provide for their families should something bad happen.

Theirs is a different breed of survivalist, far from the right-wing militants or religious extremists who hole up in bunkers, live off the land and wait for the apocalypse.

Preppers are regular people with regular jobs who decided after 9-11, after Hurricane Katrina or when their 401(k)s tanked that they can’t rely on someone else to help them if something goes awry.
What's wrong with living off the land and waiting for the apocalypse? That's kind of my dream come true. I realize that the writer is trying to say that you don't have to live like that to be a prepper, which is good, but she inadvertently implies that there's an "old school" of survivalism and the individuals profiled are part of the vastly preferable "new school". And the snide jab at "living off the land" as if that were something only a total nutjob would do implies that an approach based on consumerism is the only sane way to go about prepping. I like that this thing of ours is becoming more common, but we need to make sure it doesn't become a fad or a trend, something new to spend your money on until the next big thing comes along and people forget why exactly they bought a diesel generator and a pallet of Bisquick. Remember the whole "environmental" fad of the early 90's? Folks were down as f*ck to save the world, but by the end of the century nobody gave two shits about anything. Although, if prepping did become a fad, there would be a ton of sweet swap meet deals for the die-hards once it was passé.
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Re: Preps getting more and more mainstream...

Post by Rockfish Dave » Sun Apr 05, 2009 1:24 pm

Interesting. I read it as props to being more self suffient, dispelling the usual myths portayed in movies and popular culture. Preppers are: As I read it, the guy next door. Although, I kind of get the feeling that if things go really bad it will be like the survivalist compound in 'Lights Out'. They had all the resources but not the skill or mind set to make it happen.

Just my .0002 worth.
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Re: Preps getting more and more mainstream...

Post by bioboy » Sun Apr 05, 2009 2:21 pm

this is the same crap as y2K and teh 1990 dot com bomb make sure you have money when the economy has recovered everyone will be selling their stuff and celebrating the recover. Just don't fall for it as I did. keep prepping I thought the next one wouldn't be as bad as the first two because of all the baby boomers retiring but with the drop in stock market there maybe less people retiring then I thought.

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Re: Preps getting more and more mainstream...

Post by yale » Sun Apr 05, 2009 8:35 pm

Interesting article. To me it just makes sense to be prepared for emergencies. Not a nuclear war or whatever but something like a flood, hurricane blizard or even job loss. Being able to grab your stuff and get out of dodge in a hurry is important. So is being able to survive and not end up living in a box under a bridge.
Many times we hear that we should have enough money to pay for 3 months of expenses. With the recession and all of the job loss many experts are upping those numbers. Suzie Orman, the queen of the FICO score, is even changing her tune.
Here-> http://www.usnews.com/articles/business ... -debt.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; <- she says that 8 months is resonable and to put the building of this cash reserve ahead of paying off the credit cards.
The recession has made job loss so prevalent, she says, that consumers now need to make creating an emergency fund with eight months worth of expenses their top priority.
My prep plans usually revolve around preparing for hurricanes or similar violent storms destroying my mobile home and leaving me, my lady and our cats looking for a new place to live. I don't think the world is going to end but I need the ability to drive across several states, pay for an extended stay in a hotel room and find a job. That's not cheap.
Buying extra food and other supplies makes sense too. I look for sales, buy when the price is right and stock my pantry. If I miss work or loose my job I can at least eat at home while I get back on my feet. If a storm blows through and the stores are closed I can bug in and not starve.
I'm glad to see so many other people opening their eyes and getting prepared.
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Re: Preps getting more and more mainstream...

Post by raptor » Sun Apr 05, 2009 9:31 pm

Personally I think this is good news. IMO the more people who are ready when TSHTF means fewer folks in a panic. Who know it also may lead to disasters averted because people take steps to prevent a problem.

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Re: Preps getting more and more mainstream...

Post by Jacob Creutzfeldt » Mon Apr 06, 2009 10:34 am

This quote with red wine and Starbucks coffe might sound silly, but I think it's important that you can be prepared and still live the life you're used to.
But for the past few years, Spirko has been stockpiling food, water, gas, guns and ammunition. He also has a load of red wine, Starbucks coffee and deodorant stashed away.

"I refer to myself as a modern survivalist, which means I don’t do without,"
Spirko explained. "I have a nice TV; I have nice furniture. We are not living in the sticks, but I take all of these things very seriously."
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Re: Preps getting more and more mainstream...

Post by Rockfish Dave » Sun Apr 12, 2009 6:59 pm

Yep, good to see people taking responsibility for themselves. I hope that people who read this article also understand that just buying stuff does not mean that they are ready. There is substantial amount of knowlege that goes with being prepared.

I think this guy, by living it, has made great strides in the knowlege area; I just hope that others understand without the knowlege of how to garden, hunt, fish, primitive cooking, repairing ones clothes, home security, etc. all the stuff that they buy is just crap.
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Re: Preps getting more and more mainstream...

Post by propdoc » Sun Apr 12, 2009 8:32 pm

Rockfish Dave wrote:Yep, good to see people taking responsibility for themselves. I hope that people who read this article also understand that just buying stuff does not mean that they are ready. There is substantial amount of knowlege that goes with being prepared.
But there's a lot to be said for the Masses coming to realize the Government won't be there to hold their hands and make everything better after a disaster. I think Katrina opened a lot of people's eyes there.

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Re: Preps getting more and more mainstream...

Post by Ricky Romero » Sun Apr 12, 2009 9:09 pm

Yeah, but these "modern survivalists" sound less concerned with true survival and more concerned with maintaining their current standard of living. When TEOTWAWKI happens, they still want their Starbucks and their deodorant? In my eyes, these people are not survivalists. They are afraid to live simply. They are afraid to do without. Fear and what it drives one to predisposes one to failure.
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Re: Preps getting more and more mainstream...

Post by Rockfish Dave » Sun Apr 12, 2009 10:20 pm

Ricky,

I have to admit I have 12 lbs of whole bean coffee in my pantry. It's one of my few pleasures since I quit tobacco over four years ago. Although I know that even if I ration it, I will eventually run out if things go bad long enough but I sure like my comfort "food". Granted it is in addition to my canned and dry goods.

I really don't see any problem with it. As bad as it sounds it would be like be having a roll or two of Copenhagen back in the day.

I also stock non-scented anti perspirant. Since I figure that a) I use it anyways, and b) if things go bad, not stinking up the place might mean the difference between bringing home dinner or going undetected. I read Carlos Hathcock's biography. He mentioned that he would not bath until he was concerned that the Vietcong would smell him (I'm paraphrasing). If it makes me feel human and may actually help and it only cost a nominal amount of cash why not?

Dave
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Re: Preps getting more and more mainstream...

Post by raptor » Sun Apr 12, 2009 10:22 pm

Rockfish Dave wrote:Ricky,

I have to admit I have 12 lbs of whole bean coffee in my pantry. It's one of my few pleasures since I quit tobacco over four years ago. Although I know that even if I ration it, I will eventually run out if things go bad long enough but I sure like my comfort "food".
+1 for some people it is insulin, for me it is coffee. I can go without coffee, but Lord it is not pretty.

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Re: Preps getting more and more mainstream...

Post by Abacus » Mon Apr 13, 2009 9:53 pm

Ricky Romero wrote:Yeah, but these "modern survivalists" sound less concerned with true survival and more concerned with maintaining their current standard of living. When TEOTWAWKI happens, they still want their Starbucks and their deodorant? In my eyes, these people are not survivalists. They are afraid to live simply. They are afraid to do without. Fear and what it drives one to predisposes one to failure.
Not trying to bash on you Ricky, just standing up for the yuppie survivalists, like myself.

I certainly am concerned about maintaining my standard of living. I don't want to be one of the guys living out of their bergen off the land on some mountain. I want hot showers, hot food and four insulated walls.

I do agree with the modern prepper that their approach is different and superior to the old school survivalist, that's why I have adopted it. If someone else wants to go play Grizzly Adams, hey have a ball, it's not my game.

I have a few years of food, training, kit, firearms and ammunition and I don't consider myself a survivalist. I'm a prepper. I do live simply, I'm just also COMFORTABLE. I'm not afraid to do without, I just see no reason not to.

I think there's an old survivalist saw, "don't prepare to survive the coming troubles, prepare so you don't notice the coming troubles"
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Re: Preps getting more and more mainstream...

Post by thefirebuilds » Mon Apr 13, 2009 10:46 pm

Im going to go staple this article to my family's respective foreheads.

I took a whole weekend of bullshit EVERY FUCKING TIME I pulled something out of my BOB to FIX some bullshit mess they had. Really tired of having to justify what I think is a perfectly reasonable and sane way to live my life. I'm still mainstream but since I have "stuff" that one can get at walmart im some kind of weirdo.
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Re: Preps getting more and more mainstream...

Post by Chantrea » Tue Apr 14, 2009 1:15 am

Ricky Romero wrote:Yeah, but these "modern survivalists" sound less concerned with true survival and more concerned with maintaining their current standard of living. When TEOTWAWKI happens, they still want their Starbucks and their deodorant? In my eyes, these people are not survivalists. They are afraid to live simply. They are afraid to do without. Fear and what it drives one to predisposes one to failure.
What's wrong with "wanting" X, Y, or Z? When TEOTWAWKI happens, I will likely very much miss my internet, daily shower, and radio programming (not all of it will go on, though I'm sure SOME radio probably will). After a few days, I probably will be immune to whether or not I have deodorant, but when I come in contact with other people's BO, I will probably want deodorant...for them.

I will miss being able to hop a plane and visit family. I will miss the webcam conversations I get to have to keep in contact with friends/family around the world. I'll miss being able to go to the pharmacy to buy perishable prescriptions at my convenience.

Missing/wanting is different from "being unable to survive without."

I have no problem with the old-school folks who want to live like the apocalypse has already happened. Or people who are back to the landers (though not every lander is going to fit in with the old-school survivalist group either). I have helped friends with homesteading (they didn't believe in deodorant either, incidentally, though I don't believe that they'd identify as survivalists), it was fun, though not something that I would choose to do myself without any caveats IF I had options. I just don't think it's weenie to enjoy creature comforts, ESPECIALLY pre-PAW.

Also, a $5 cup of coffee is stupid to me too (though I hate coffee and I'm frugal, so there you go) since one is going to last you perhaps a few hours, but you can get like 8 or 9 or sometimes more sticks of deodorant for that same amount if you know how to shop and clip coupons, and be stocked for almost a year. :D

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Re: Preps getting more and more mainstream...

Post by WES » Sun Apr 19, 2009 8:13 pm

Hey, there are just some things you have to have in order to survive... and some of them are what others might consider "luxury goods".

For me, it's tea. I'm almost british about my tea. As long as there's tea in my world, I'm okay, and everything else will sort itself out.

Hey, btw, his shows on TheSurvivalPodcast.com are actually really interesting. I've been listening to them in the car on the way to work. If you don't have an Ipod, you should still be able to listen to them on your computer at home.
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