Most preppers don’t actually have bunkers; hardened shelters are expensive and complicated to build. The original silo of Hall’s complex was built by the Army Corps of Engineers to withstand a nuclear strike. The interior can support a total of seventy-five people. It has enough food and fuel for five years off the grid; by raising tilapia in fish tanks, and hydroponic vegetables under grow lamps, with renewable power, it could function indefinitely, Hall said. In a crisis, his SWAT-team-style trucks (“the Pit-Bull VX, armored up to fifty-calibre”) will pick up any owner within four hundred miles. Residents with private planes can land in Salina, about thirty miles away. In his view, the Army Corps did the hardest work by choosing the location. “They looked at height above sea level, the seismology of an area, how close it is to large population centers,” he said.
I don’t care if freezing doesn’t kill the bugs. The flour will be used to cook something. It will go into a baked item or be used to coat something for frying. Now I am not saying we shouldn’t take precautions against infestation. What I am saying is there has to be a balance. At what cost (in money, time and effort) is it worth it to make something absolutely safe? Personally, I don’t want to lose focus.
Religion, however, has everything to do with survivalism—there are things about your faith that affect the way you live, Fletch says, offering me an example. “Today, a great deal [on the menu] was the special you had,” he says. “Every one of the specials had pork in it. Well, depending on your belief system and where you’re coming from, Dan, you could’ve made several decisions about me.” He’s right; I could’ve thought he assumed the breakfast was on me, so he ordered the most expensive dish on the menu. And those assumptions, he says, can break up a group. “If 99 percent of the people in your group don’t eat pork, and you bring in some person eating a ham sandwich next to you, that’s going to cause some conflict.”
The fundamental rule is to not be greedy: within the scope of this guide, your goal should be to preserve capital, not to take crazy risks. If you are tempted to put your money into Tesla, Twitter, or some penny stock mentioned by your third cousin, you are not thinking straight. Pick about 10-20 boring companies that seem to be valued fairly, that are free of crippling debt, and that have robust prospects for the coming years. Stay clear of financial enterprises, of highly speculative sectors such as biotech or solar power, and of heavily regulated industries that lack the flexibility to deal with sudden economic shifts (say, airlines). Relatively safe picks can be found in no-frills domains: basic chemicals, staple electronic components, profitable freight railways, mechanical assembly manufacturing, home and office supplies, and so on.
Is it stereotypical that the AARP crowd would be the ones to spend three hours talking about metal detectors and canning and caving at a Pizza Hut on a Monday night? Probably, but that’s what I bore witness to in this event room; its combination of exposed wood and stock-photo decor felt like an Olive Garden inside a pirate ship. Up front, the scraggly white-bearded, Bad Santa–lookalike Andrew: rested one foot on a chair, gripping the mic, just like Randall said he would be.
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