I also began to realize that I needed to prep for something that's increasingly as likely as earthquakes: large-scale civil unrest, which I witnessed a taste of in the streets that night. I began to think of how people act when they're scared, including and especially law enforcement. I started to think about home security, transportation options if fuel was limited, how to access information without the internet. I studied natural disasters and their repercussions around the world as a way to understand how to keep myself and my community safer.
There are many other ways to get returns on your capital, but most are associated with limited liquidity or significant outlay costs. One well-known exception are publicly traded companies. Businesses usually go public because they want to expand their operations - say, build a new factory or hire more workers. Instead of getting an expensive loan, they put themselves up for sale, allowing people to purchase and trade fractional ownership in the company. The investors' willingness to pay for this privilege depends on two factors: the intrinsic value of the enterprise (its assets, debts, operating profits) and the "hype premium" - the faith in the company's long-term prospects and the health of the entire industry. For some companies, the intrinsic value is modest, and the premium is huge; their shares are usually subject to violent price swings on even seemingly minor macroeconomic news. For other, less exciting businesses, the situation may be the opposite.
For powering more serious electrical equipment, a generator is a popular choice for people living in the backwoods. That said, this option comes with an interesting trade-off: if you were ever to face a contingency that may last for a longer while, it may be more important to conserve fuel for driving, cooking, or heating, than to use it for keeping the lights on. A fully-fledged solar installation helps you avoid such dilemmas, but costs an arm and a leg. A possible compromise is a jury-rigged solar setup done at a smaller scale: if you hook up 100W panel ($160) to a deep-cycle lead-acid battery ($60) and a low-cost inverter ($30), you gain the ability to recharge laptops and phones, or even power several desk lamps, a decent-size fan, or a small refrigerator. The whole contraption costs around $250 and is easy to stow away if you're not very short on space.
Auckland is a thirteen-hour flight from San Francisco. I arrived in early December, the beginning of New Zealand’s summer: blue skies, mid-seventies, no humidity. Top to bottom, the island chain runs roughly the distance between Maine and Florida, with half the population of New York City. Sheep outnumber people seven to one. In global rankings, New Zealand is in the top ten for democracy, clean government, and security. (Its last encounter with terrorism was in 1985, when French spies bombed a Greenpeace ship.) In a recent World Bank report, New Zealand had supplanted Singapore as the best country in the world to do business.
Keep your firearms in a quick-access safe if you have young children or expect people with kids to visit you every now and then. A safe is also a good way to deter opportunistic theft; a clever hiding place will also do, but criminals often have the same ideas as you and know where to look. Be smart about picking the right safe and placing it sensibly: you don't want to have to walk to the other end of the house, or to fiddle with keys or rotary dials, when every second counts. Electronic combination or biometric safes are usually pretty good, unless you go for the bargain bin (don't).
Civilians such as forestry workers, surveyors, or bush pilots, who work in remote locations or in regions with extreme climate conditions may also be equipped with survival kits. Disaster supplies are also kept on hand by those who live in areas prone to earthquakes or other natural disasters. For the average citizen to practice disaster preparedness, some towns will have survival stores to keep survival supplies in stock.